Musings from a Saskatoon café… a photo essay/rant/monologue of random thoughts…

I took the bike out today. Its kind of shitty weather. It’s been raining in Saskatoon. Not raining men, not raining cats and dogs, just kind of patchy showers and grey skies. The breeze is cool and fresh. Fresh enough in fact to need a long sleeve hoodie and long pants. Thankfully there was a break in the showers long enough for me to get out with the bike and the camera and get some pictures on a nice ride.

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The tree lined avenues in this city are simply beautiful. Near the river, on the south side of the city the real estate is old, and pricey. Its in the area that I call the ‘golden triangle,’ which effectively takes in the Broadway entertainment district, the university campus and the city centre. I really would have liked to have bought a house in this area, but you need a really fat bank account to find yourself in this neighbourhood – unless you bought back in the early 2000’s or whatever. SAM_2774

It’s the kind of neighbourhood you might find yourself in if you are a lawyer, or a doctor, or a well heeled academic. You might stroll down to the local café on a Saturday morning. Everything is within strolling distance, naturally.

Kids ride bikes and young moms push prams on the sidewalk. Birds chirp in the leafy green trees, that are so well spaced that they intermingle branches above the road and provide that quintessential avenue experience.

I pulled up to the café. I locked my bike and took a couple  of pictures before moving inside. Normally, the outside of the café would be buzzing with activity with chairs and tables set out on the sidewalk. Today those chairs are bunched up. Inside there is an eclectic mix of university types, the obligatory dreadlock haired hippy types, young families, and a multitude of millennial hipster types. The young lady working at the counter makes coffees and re-stocks the in store made cookies and slices in the display window.

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While I sat at the café looking out the window I felt a sense of contentment. Any immediate worries that were on my mind melted away. I was free to enjoy the moment, for what it was. I nice bike ride and a sit in a café. I ordered a cappuccino. That’s what I normally get.

 

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Erm, I forgot that letter I was going to post… 

 

 

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A book exchange box on the street. A great idea. I have some books to exchange… 

 

People rode and walked by. A lady and her daughter entered the café and sat at the chairs nearby me and chatted over a slice of pie or whatever. A young family came in and ordered some drinks. The place was quite full.

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The fern symbol in your cappuccino. A mainstay of any trendy café establishment. 

 

 

 

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If you see this guy, watch out, he’s dodgy as fek. 

 

 

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The Broadway bridge. 

 

 

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The Delta Besborough hotel and city. She was moody today. Still pretty though. 

 

 

 

Car troubles…

So I’ve heard a saying (never actually said it, I promise) “If its got tits or wheels, it’ll give you trouble”.

That may be a little unfair because we all know that there are some reliable vehicles out there in the world that give no trouble at all. So back in 2008, when we first came to Canada, we purchased a 2002 Toyota RAV4. It’s been a fantastic little car. It’s take us far and wide across much of the north west part of North America. Here’s a quick list of the provinces and states our car has taken us:

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana. It drives great in all types of conditions. I’ve started the engine at -40C after not having plugged in the block heater.

About 6 years ago, or so, it started revving up between gears, maybe like in 2nd gear or whatever (its an automatic). It was clunking badly into reverse, and losing traction while the engine revved harder. I was pretty disappointed but having done the miles we had done in this thing I was ok with it. So I got it into the shop. The job was to get the transmission rebuilt. Price tag $6,000. “Holy fuck!” I said. We got that repair done and drove on for many reliable and happy miles after that.

Recently, that nasty transmission slipping effect has come back with a vengeance. I’m afraid it might be curtains for the little old RAV4. It would be sad to park it up, but I’m fucked if I’ll be paying another $6,000 for a rebuild on the tranny.

So now I find myself browsing Kijiji or whatever for the cheap used cars. Amazingly there seems to be some cars out there for not much money, and I only want something that starts and stops reliably and gets me to work….. happy car shopping eh?

2002 Toyota RAV4 ACA21R Cruiser:
It looks a bit like this, only shittier!

Fear of flying, sort of…..

Hi,

Flying makes me nervous. Its not the omg the plane is going to crash type nervous, its more of a general being jammed in to a small seat with dozens of other people, and a claustrophobic sensation of having to take that seat and there’s no getting up or whatever during take offs and landings.

I’ve had some moments – you could call them panic attacks. Mouth dries up, chest tightens. Its really unpleasant. I’ve had lots of flights that were not like this, but I’ve had enough to know that I generally don’t like getting on a plane. I also sometimes get headaches, normally made worse if there is a connecting flight somewhere.

But if you are going to travel, to get out and see and do things, this is a reality of our modern times….

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Book Review – Trespassing Across America by Ken Ilgunas

Hi Bloggers, if you’ve been following anything I’ve blogged about, you know I like to read books. I literally inhaled a couple over my long weekend. I read Trespassing Across America over a couple of days. It’s a great read.

First thing I’ll say about this is that the author is most definitely a poet. His words roll off the pages, like a grassy undulating field on the wide big sky prairie that he is trundling across. With aching hips, and blistered toes, every step is a challenge in this man’s quest for, I don’t know exactly what. There! Did you see how I did that – made the start of this paragraph poetic? That’s what this author does, but its just magic. I read a couple of paragraphs to a friend and it was sure appreciated.

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Anyway, the book is based on the author’s experience which starts in a dishwashing job in the middle of the north slope, Alaska, on an oil field camp. He describes it as shitty, because, well, it is. But that sets his mind in motion, and provides him with enough of a disdain for the oil industry that he’s ready to get out and make a kind of a statement-slash-personal journey of it.

What I like about the read is his endearing honesty. He’s no super hero, athlete, enviro-warrior or whatever, he’s just a regular guy with a half-baked idea, and is told by a lot of people how it couldn’t or shouldn’t be done, and he gets off his arse, and gets it done. I think that’s awesome. Really. Along the way he meets a ton of people, gets interviewed by CBC, and a number of other media outlets, runs a blog from his I-pad, and gets a bunch of help along the way. He even ended up on one of those late night talk shows.

I really appreciate his writing style, and sense of humour, and really think that this is a great read. I don’t do stars, but if I did, this would get 4 and 1/2, no bullshit.

Enjoy this book if you can get your mitts on it!

 

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Gettin’ my bell rung in Winterset, Iowa. The birthplace of John Wayne… a photo essay.

Hi Bloggers,

So this weekend I was lucky enough to get to see the birthplace of none other than John Wayne. This guy: you might recognise him.

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So the town of Winterset is where he was born. Here is his house:
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Howdy pilgrims…

But there were other sights in the town too, like this ultra creepy haunted house looking place. Deserted, empty, spooky as shit.

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Take a seat, it will be dark out here soon… nothing to worry about….

And here’s some of the town:

 

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More epic architecture. I give Iowan’s credit, when they build something they really ‘go big’, and fancy!

 

 

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I rang the bell. Yes its real, it works and its loud! Donnnnnnnggggggg! 

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A Letter from America

Hi Bloggers.

So I’m committed to not getting into posts about religion or politics. It’s just not worth it with the vast array of viewpoints and opinions. As a disclaimer, I respect other’s opinions and right to express themselves in any way they want. I don’t have to agree with them and vice versa. Wonderful. Ok, so with that out the way, I want to write about America, and more importantly Americans.

I am Canadian. Born in a Australia, still Australian, but am now Canadian, and have a passport that says so. Canadians – generally polite, moderate, friendly, welcoming, and a bunch of other things that are normally considered good. Most people in the world would agree to that – unless you have some other bias regarding religion, freedom of belief and association or whatever. I will add that Canada is a very diverse community. Really, there are ALL types in our great country.

Americans, ok. I’m going to say it, put it out there… bear with me please. Unfortunately, our American friends are  subject to prejudice from others. I know this, because being a non-American, and having been in different parts of the world, Americans get a lot of shit.

SAM_1911I am even going to say, somewhat ashamed, that I may have even personally contributed to the whole American opinion thing in conversations in the past. Ok, before you smash your computer screen or unfollow me – let me finish my rant. Why would the other citizens of the world think and talk like this? Essentially, its ignorance and a lack of experience in, well, America and Americans.

Think about this for a minute – America is projected onto the world’s media supply – good and bad, in copious amounts. Music, movies, politics, religious zealots, financial markets, big business, and a LOT of other influences. So here in lies the problem. If that is what is being projected, what are the citizens of the world supposed to think?

Let me tell you, the impression is that America is full of red-neck, gun shooting, gang affiliated, political extremists, black lives matterists, cops who shoot people, white supremacists, bat shit crazy stuff and Hollywood stars that can’t stay married or top themselves. Ok, if you are American and swearing at your monitor screen, please stick with me I am not the enemy! 

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Ok, this is where it’s a little unfair. I want to set the record straight. I’ve been in America literally dozens of times. I’ve never been shot. Never been car jacked. Never been mugged. Never seen a radical (or even a republican) politician up close. Never been to a political rally. Never seen anyone do any crazy weird shit that ends up on some of the tv shows that promote this stuff.

What I have seen is a lot of beautiful countryside and landmarks. The people are generally exceedingly friendly and gracious and hospitable. I can say without reservation that Americans are some of the most warm hearted friendly people on earth. What I’m saying is I think this country suffers from an image problem.

It’s not to say that some of the reputation that this country has is unwarranted, no. The reality is that there are some messed up things about America. There is a lot of poverty. A lot of the cities are run down and crime is a serious factor. There are many places that I would choose not to go. There are places that I have felt unsafe due to the people on the street. Having said that, I can guarantee you there are a lot of places I would choose not to hang around in Canada and Australia too. In America, all those elements I mentioned above, they do exist. But that’s not the full picture.

When you are in America, you will appreciate why Americans seem to lack knowledge about the wider world. This is a general statement, so please don’t shoot me down. American media is all about America. Typical ‘world’ news in America is normally about stories where America is directly represented or a major subject of the story. World news elsewhere has nothing to do with America. So if all your media exposure and education growing up was about America, you can’t be expected to know a lot about the world at large.

However, there are exceptions. I have met a lot of Americans that have travelled the world. I have met Americans with left-wing liberal politics. Some who are gay, and some who hate their current administration. Then the other side of the equation is represented too. The right wing conservative set. Depending on where you are, these types are much more widely represented.

Let me finish this rant by saying this. There is no one singular America, or American. It’s a very large country with lots of diverse lifestyles and opinions. It’s a great place to visit and if you come here you will be made feel welcome providing you respect the law and other’s rights and opinions.

As Simon and Garfunkel sang… “I’ve come to look for America….” What a beautiful concept!

 

Collecting firewood – North East BC

So I used to live in north east British Columbia. We had a wood stove. Lots of times, often on weekends, we would collect firewood from the bush. I had a chainsaw, and we’d jump in the work truck with the kids and dog and head out in search of a decent log to cut up. Often I would split it right there too. Its hard work but enjoyable at the same time.

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LV33 was my truck. I drove this thing up and down the mountain to go to work.

 

On this day it was very cold. So quiet too. Well away from any hustle and bustle. You can hear yourself think. Apart from the chainsaw noise, that is. I like the bush in BC. Its wild and remote, and has a lot of wildlife. Its a place where you can still find adventure and solitude. There are many walking trails and its one of those really un-trodden places in the world. All the tourists are hitting Jasper and Banff, and right here in the northern rockies foothills we have a thriving natural playground to explore.

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We lived up here for more than five years. It was a nice time in our lives.

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Beaver dams.

 

Camping at Bear Hole Lake, BC

So here’s a some pictures of where I went camping a few years ago. Just me and my daughter, then about 7 years old, and our dog. I had a rifle right by the tent, because, well, its bear country. It was a nice trip all round. Fond memories. The area is quite remote. We were the only people there. Just us, and a little tent, and the wilderness.

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Lately I’ve been thinking about doing the getting away from it all thing – hike in camping, that sort of thing. On this trip we drove in. Its a logging road, and can be treacherous because the conditions can change. I recall it being pretty cut up from recent rains and trucks driving on it. Its one of those situations where you hope it doesn’t rain because you might not be getting out…. Hope you enjoy.

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Rifle resting on tree stump near tent….

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Note to Self – Positive Reflections

So in dealing with the current situation we are all in (life), there are challenges, there are ups and downs, and there are people who help us and people who hinder us in our journey.

I believe, its all about attitude. There are no perfect situations. There will always be aches and pains, or a problem with money, or a relationship that is not what you had hoped for. What matters, is how we deal with the situations that are presented to us.

So I write a lot. Often times those writings are hand written call outs for the things I need to be more aware of, where I need to pay more attention, or what I need to let go of. Often these writings are accompanied by a flow chart, or a silly graph or some illustration that makes sense to me in a humorous or semi serious way. I’m guilty of chuckling to myself at my own wittiness. 

Sometimes those writings are shared with the people that are close to me. Sometimes those writings cause some upset or discomfort, because I may have been harsh, or made people closest to me aware of where I felt they had a shortcoming. I can be very direct and analytical and that can perhaps come out as a directive or shit-list of stuff that might be a bit too strong for the situation – which is often a reflection of my intense feelings about a subject.

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So recently I wrote some notes to myself. They are both affirmations of my intentions, and also blunt callouts of my failures or habits. I want to change, and I am determined to remain aware of those important intentions in my interactions with others. I read my notes each day. Perhaps some would see this as a little obsessive, but the reality is that my future is at stake, and I want to do better. So far, I’m happy to say that these notes to self feel like they are having a positive effect.