Sunday, August 31, 2014

False Creek, Vancouver

Gilbert, the cockapoo first mate and I actually got off the SV GIRI anchored off Kitsilano Beach. The surprise burst of sunshine and wind blowing away some of the cloud had me figuring this was a good time to go ashore.  With the Honda 20 hp and AB inflatable hard bottom dinghy Gilbert and I headed for the dog beach.  There he had a fabulous time.  He really knows how to work a party.  I’d hardly landed the boat before he was ranging all over the beach sniffing asses and genitals of every dog there. And there were a lot of dogs.  Great place. Great dog people.
Next stop, Granville Market dinghy dock.  I love False Creek. So many memories.  When I first bought the boat my ex wife and I lived on it at Stamps Landing while I worked in Leg in Boot Square. Later we’d move to the Fisheries Dock when we had the commercial fishing license and were outfitting for offshore. We studied sailing at Coopers.  They were good years for me.  She said they were then.  I remember the joyful novelty of shopping at Granville Island Market carrying groceries back to the sailboat in the dinghy.
Today I walked Gilbert all around Granville Island (not an island really, a peninsula).  At Starbucks I stopped for coffee.  Then I walked down to the Granville docks where I stayed after the separation.  I looked at the houseboats and remembered dreaming of living there with the boat tied alongside.  The cement factory has had some famous painters turn their old silos into art nouveau.
Keeping to the 5 knots/hour speed limit, I drove the dinghy down to Science World.     I’d lived  at the marina by the stadium.  (When I say lived, I mean, I’d live aboard for months at a time, taking the boat out most weekends.)  I used to shop at the Yaletown for groceries but today it looks like there’s no dinghy dock to let boaters go ashore.  I remember anchoring in Sausalito and how dinghy docks were every where so boaters could go ashore to shop.
Passing Burrard Street bridge I saw my old west end high rise apartment building. I had a great view high over False Creek. . Vancouver has so many great views.
I enjoyed circling False Creek in the sunshine seeing how development has occurred.   I remember anchoring in False Creek on occasion.  Now a permit is required and there’s three or four times the number of boats there than used to be.  It’s all so much busier and so much more built up.  The city is becoming  dense and  more metropolitan.  The police went by on quads.  I remember when they rode bicycles.
It was a beautiful day.  I loved the water taxi ferries.  Passing out of False Creek beyond the speed lane I gunned the engine, rising onto the plane and skimming across the sea back to the SV GIRI.  Gilbert’s resting now after his big outing.  Soon enough though he’ll remember I’m doing nothing and find me a ball to throw.
IMG 6350IMG 6354IMG 6356
IMG 6359IMG 6361
IMG 6364IMG 6365IMG 6370IMG 6371IMG 6373IMG 6374IMG 6375IMG 6376IMG 6378IMG 6379IMG 6385

Vancouver - Anchorage off Kits Beach

I am mentally and spiritually exhausted.  I learned of another patient dying, another homeless addict.  I work in a methadone clinic. For some methadone is palliative care. They’ve tried many treatment centres, actually gone to AA and seen dozens of doctors and been hospitalized. For whatever reason they remain ‘junkies’.
This wasn’t a young person.  Young people come in. We get them on methadone and direct them to treatment resources.  Methadone is a stepping stone out of the deepest hole. There’s a lot more hope. The old ones, they started their journey in the ‘Sex drugs and rock and roll’ of the 60’s and now in their 60’s they’re homeless. Instead of depending on theft for heroin they come to the clinic.  It’s medical and there’s dignity.  But they still die.  I've seen more death working in addictions than I did when I was working with AIDs patient or was specifically treating depression and suicide.
I think this is four in the last year or two.  One hung himself. Another took an overdose in an hotel room. This fellow, it’s thought died of some other disease, infection perhaps, heart failure.  An autopsy won’t be done.  Obviously, if he’d just said  ‘no’, he’d probably be alive today.
There’s AA and NA and all the religious programs that work long term. The drugs become their gods and they worship them. A higher power is anything that’s of more intrinsic value to an addict than the drug which is their God. Addicts are highly religious only they worship addiction, fundamentally a death cult of idolatry.  Scientifically their brains are changed by the drugs taken over like a parasite with a host.  The drug dealers are the carriers of this infectious disease.
There’s secular programs like SMART and various treatment and recovery resources with houses and places people can live for years. I’ve seen fellows who were clean and sober so long as they were in such places but the minute they walked out the door the drug dealers accosted them and they were back in slavery.  I love the blues refrain, “I’ve been down so long it looks like up to me.”
If they continue to do drugs they die young.  Really young.  The life expecantcy of a chronic heroin addict especially as they combine it with crack and meth is at most into their 50’s . I've known 20 year olds later found dead in dumpsters.
It takes 20 to 30 years off a life expectancy. It’s hardly living. Methadone gets them out of the clutches of the dealers, away from the criminal world, offers hope.  Alcohol and drugs are fun, then fun and trouble then just plain trouble.  The smart ones get off at the first sign of  trouble.  By the time it’s just trouble it’s end stage disease.  Most of my patients have hepatitis, lung disease, some have HIV, others have heart disease. It’s a rough life, a really rough life.  So much pain for so little gain. And the gain is all false, like feeding a dog cardboard. No nutrition.  Just more and more desire.  Living the life of the lie.
Robin Williams dying has had so many of my patients on the edge. It’s been hard for me, too. So much vulnerability.  The edge is so close now.  There’s so little support too.  Rats leave a sinking ship.  Cutbacks and misallocations, graft and corruption.  People come and go.  As caregivers we’re often alone. Everyone seems stretched so thin.
I liked this fellow. I liked them all. But 2 of them I’d only just met and hardly knew but two I knew well.  We talked often.  This fellow shared his life philosophy. He was a big promoter of the free heroin injection site. Believed in a culture of drugs. Thought the government should support free drugs for all who wanted them. Liked to give out needles and pipes.  Sounded like the 60's at times.  Before Belushi died.  Still had some of the ignorance and innocence.
It was all the old "I need Mommy’s tit" argument but who was going to be Mommy to the old guys and old gals.  We were all so young once.  Entitlement.  Nihilism in a way.  We never thought that one day the Sharia's would be chopping off the heads of journalists and raping Christians before killing them.  We didn't know China would abort millions of girls and make the largest army of horny single men sharing porn pictures of white  American feminists.  We didn't know there'd still be war in Israel. We thought only as far as Vietnam way before Korea came back to haunt us.  We wore flowers in our hair.  That was the sadness in his eyes somewhere deep inside.  There's always the sense of betrayal.  
I’m always selling life, albeit sometimes subtly.  I'm also teaching self sufficiency.  Though I just did tell the joke of the white guy who went prison and there were only 3 gangs and no singles. There were the Panthers, the White Klu Klux Klan and the Latin Gang Bangers.  He said he gained a real love of Mexican food as a result of that incarceration.
I feel badly that I can’t convince someone to play in the sandbox a little while longer. Stay, don’t move on.  Now that I’m old myself it’s harder to hold onto them.  We’re all going to die.  I leave the option of life wide open.  They usually smoke cigarettes and do heroin.  The glamor advertisements of cigarettes and tobacco never included these guys faces.  Defeat. That’s what’s written in the scars and creases.  Defeat.  Hanging on by a thread.
I’m out here in a sailboat anchored off Kitsilano Beach.  It’s raining. Really raining.  A regular downpour.  I was woken by nightmares at 4:30 am. It’s been that kind of week.  Mostly I’m on a journey and I can’t get ahead. This one the vehicle broke down and I was trapped in mud.  I don’t think I’m being pursued. I just have to get somewhere and can’t go on. Another time I had to shit and the toilets were all broken and overflowing and shit was everywhere.  Another time I was on a bus and everyone was complaining about too many people on the bus so I got off and walked. I was walking in the rain and cold.  Just those sorts of nightmares. I haven’t had monsters since I was a kid.  I could do with some monsters.  You could shoot the monsters.
So I’ve been taking pictures of the Vancouver sky line.  I thought I wasn’t doing anything out here till  I looked at the pictures on my iPhone and I liked them. So I thought I’d post them.  I should be fishing. I have a license, a boat and a rod and reel. Instead I’m going to go back to reading this novel.  It’s usually noon when I really get inspired to fish then the fish aren’t biting so I don’t fish.
The novel is a futuristic detective story so far, Greg Egan’s Distress.  Reading at anchorage is a fairly pleasant rocking experience.  The anchor rode is like an umbilical chord.  A bit of the back to the womb feeling. Surrounded by blue.
It’s Sunday. If I was ashore I’d be in church.   Church is uplifting. I must’t suck on sorrow.  I’ll get up again.  Maybe later fish.  Right now I’ll post these pictures then get back to the novel and coffee.  Vancouver is pretty in all kinds of weather. IMG 6337IMG 6341IMG 6343IMG 6344IMG 6322IMG 6323IMG 6333

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Thank you God that when I couldn’t sleep I woke not from nightmares but sweet dreams.  I love the absurd associations and visits of old friends. Thank you best for the times that departed family return to remind me that this too shall pass.  Thank you that when I wake up I’m not in some refugee camp or war zone or a terribly unhappy marriage to an impossibly demanding wife blaming me for the woes of her family and expecting me to solve all her problems.
Thank you for Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Gordon Lightfoot, Stan Rogers and Shania Twain, country music, rock and roll, folk music and symphony, all those people whose words and songs and music made it possible for me to feel less alone and different.  Thank you for my dog Gilbert and all the dogs and cats who have come before him. Thank you for the fish. I always loved the tropical fish and the cacti and all the other plants that brightened up my daily life.
Thank you for family .Thank you for friends. Thank you for work. Thank you for the sense of meaningfulness that I have found in bits in this so often meaningless and frail existence. Thank you for my minister and the church and the holy books. Thank you for psychiatry and Freud and Jung and Erickson and all the great teachers I had. Thank you for patience. Thank you for PET scans, MRI, scalpels, blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes. Thank you for the medicine. Thank you for the great books of medical learning. Thank you for the texts and the study and the class rooms and encyclopedias, pubmed, and the internet. Thank you for research. Thank you for the laws and police and the good judges and the good parliamentarians. Thank you for this democracy of Canada that mostly works. Thank you for traditions. Thank you for the wonderful wilderness and land.  Thank you for our heritage. Thank you for this globe and the astronauts and space missions that have made us so much more appreciative of the space we live in and how all is so interconnected. Thank you for sleep and wakefulness. Thank you for this body despite the pain. Thank you for this life despite all the loss and sorrow.
I pray for another man dead in the Downtown Eastside. That’s 4 this year.  Suicides, disease and overdoses.  I will especially miss Alex but then I miss them all.  Remember that year of nightmares with all the faces of those who had suicided waking you every night.  And then that other year when all the people who had died in your arms , skin growing cold and clammy, eyes glassing,  Those haunted you too.  I wished I remembered more the hundred babies I delivered or all those lives who thanked me for helping a little further. Thank you for the letter from the doctor today thanking me for convincing him not to kill himself.
I know they say you shouldn’t care.  Over and over and over again the ‘authorities’ have said ‘don’t care, the patient is the enemy, it’s all about money, just follow the protocols, don’t get involved, know your boundaries, just get the job done and don’t think about them as people, they’re just customers.'
Even the judge and newspaper condemned me for ‘advocating’ for my patients.  Boundaries they say, remain aloof. They're the enlisted men and women. You're supposed to be an officer. Act like one.  Stay aloof. Keep away from them. Don't mix.  Don't live where they live. Don't eat with them.  Keep away from them.  A doctor mustn't have anything to do with patients. There are boundaries. What do you think the Great Wall of China or the Berlin wall was for. It's for your own sake.  We need walls and mortars. Be always ready to have them turn on you. Don't you know the psychopaths never get complaints. They're too smart for that. It's always the doctor who tried to save the life already gone and then the family sues him. Avoid the war zone, watch it on tv. Claim you were there. Nodd, Avoid direct confrontation.  Never let people know you don't know. Didn't anyone teach you anything.  It's all about status and money.
It’s a personal failure when a patient dies.  It’s always been a personal failure when a patient dies.  It was a personal failure when I delivered the still birth.  It’s a fight with me and God and I don’t want anyone to die on my watch.  They called that grandiose, They laughed at me praying for miracles,begging God to let this one pass. They thought I was silly.  I was the most learned and skilled but all the science and all the textbooks wouldn’t put humpty together again.  And they said I shouldn’t care. And they said they knew better and they took the money and the y were rich and they sneered at my softness. They said the winners and the survivors are all that matter. They said life is just  bean counting. They stopped doing medicine after a few years then got into places where people were afraid of them. People are more afraid of them now than they are their diseases. They stopped being doctors and became enforcers.  If they had a real sense of humour they'd be human but they're channelling kindergarden teachers and want to mommy the world because they failed their own children's.
And I moved ever closer to the centre.  My interest had been noncompliance with medical regimen. It was that first patient who died having refused to take the medication I gave him and then lying to me saying he did and dying because he didn’t take the life healing medicine and because of the lies further compounding the death. Then I learned that 80% of schizophrenics don’t take their medicine. Then I learned that 50% of jails and hospitals are filled with the drug and alcohol addicted. Then I realized that everyone was told not to smoke and whole respiratory departments were set up to treat the smokers.  Of course everyone is taught not to go to war and get shot but the whole of medical departments are devoted to ‘noncompliance with good medical advise’.
And then I realized St. Paul had said, “I do that which I should not do and don’t do that which I should”.  And I understood sin. Because I failed miserably as a husband. I failed miserably as a father. I couldn’t save everyone of my patients lives especially when I worked with cancer and aids and addiction.
I miss the light lifting. I miss the university. I miss the easy work in government.  I miss the committees and the bunkers and avoiding seeing patients and all the investigations and the talk. It was so great to talk about patients but so few had actually seen any too many. Now I’m often in court and places where they talk even more. It’s like Hollywood.  I was there. I held the dying again and again. No one else was.  They just want to be told about the blood, so they can live vicariously.  They're the silly people. They take all the money for their nonsense and say 'let them eat cake'.
All my patients are sick.  Some so much sicker than others. Of course they’re getting older and they are getting more and more illness, the cumulations of life and there’s no ‘returning’ from the aging and dying. There’s no ‘solution’ to life but death.
And I’m overwhelmed by the details. I’m overwhelmed by fighting daily to get paid for work and seeing thousands and millions stolen.  I can’t keep ahead of the thieves. I can’t keep ahead of the liars and neglect. The sins of omissions are cumulative.  I just build a sand castle and have someone knock it down.
Thank you for the building Lord. Thank you for the getting up and standing once again. I did as a child and I do as a man. Thank you for resilience. Thank you for the lessons all around me. Thank you for the examples. Thank you for the students who go back to school, again and again, all to get a better life. Thank you for patients who again and again try medications and treatments to do better in life.  Thank you for the drive to create and build and make that is so very human.  Thank you for the trading and marketing.
Thank you for my brother. He’s been such a fine example of a human being for me. Thank you for my father and mother and aunts and cousins and the cowboy uncles. Thank you for my city and country grandfathers , those great men and the grandmothers who stood tall beside them, even though they were little slips of women.
Thank you for the elderly, Thank you for hunting season.
Today I could go fishing.  There are fish to catch and I would feel good I think catching fish but I have salmon in my freezer.  I am going hunting soon.  I should get myself out on the ocean. I’ve been out several times this summer. It’s better if I get out. It’s refreshing, clears my mind, restores my soul.
I want a new dvd player because I’ve lost the channel changer on this one and I can’t want episode 2 of the NCIS with Hedy and it's not blue ray and increasingly there's blue ray and it really doesn't seem to offer anything but the new don't play on the old so I'm forced to get something new. I woke this morning and saw the whole list of things that needed to be done.
I hired the person and they didn’t file, just stuffed a month or two of papers into one file. I have that to do now. I have back logs of billing to do and will never get the missed thousands of lost money.  The government creates ticket poo bean and quarter bean and fifth bean and tenth bean and taxes everything and no one can do any work because this who idea of bean counting and silliness with the constant attack on the citizenry by psychopaths and their mirrors means that so much wisdom and genius is diverted from the real tasks.  Mozart and Bach and Einstein couldn’t live today.   I compare myself with everyone. I and everyone are constipated by the regulations and the court cases that go on for years and years because the system pays people for not doing anything so the judge doesn’t make a decision and the realtor holds out with the land so that he makes money some day in the distant future and no one is present today.
And I just want to get a Willaim Shatner story telling mind chip from the William Shatner novels and plug in and disappear. I don’t blame the drug addicts. I just blame the government for wanting everyone on marijuana and alcohol because they are lying and not giving them better housing or better public transport or new homes in mars but instead encouraging them to do drugs and holding out ‘euthanasia’ as the solution.
Thank you God for the light. Thank you god for the warm days. Thank you for the sun and the rain. Thank you for my vehicles.  I really don’t know if I should get a winch on the truck. It costs so much but I ‘m going on a moose hunting expedition and I’m concerned because so much of hunting trips has been about getting the vehicles unstuck.  I am outfitting all the time. My boat has been years of restoration and use and restoration. I think it’s amazing that I can go up into the mountains or out into the seas but the equipment and my own body have taken an incredible beating. Even now my neighbour is saying we should sail the northwest passage. I just want to sail to mexico and lie in the sun but maybe that’s my ancient love of tequila calling. The northwest passage was something. Stan Rogers.  But that first Alaska coast stretch would be a bitch . I don’t fear the north except ice flows but I’d like to be over in Europe. I love visiting churches and museums. I can’t get enough of churches and museums.  I like outdoor cafes too.  I like how they treat dogs and the humanity of Europe versus the bean counter police and jail world here. We never get more workers just more supervisors and regulators and talkers, but no doers.  I understand why apocalypse movies appeal.
I would go fishing but I’d be alone. I’ve not wanted to be a lone so much recently. Maybe laughing with Lorne reminded me too much of Bernie and Hank and I’ve not been to church so much in the summer and I miss Art and Hugh and Alyson and Julie. I can’t understand why we’re so apart.
It was so good to see Robert.
I have been so blessed with so many friends.  I have been so blessed with the greatest of men in my life, real mountains of men, like John and George.  I must make more time to be with them.  Life is better when I'm making time to be with friends.
I am thankful but said that Alex left.  I am sad about the loss. I’m sad working where death is so common.  Only the old people died when I was a country gp.  But I’ve known more death working with addiction than even when I was working with AIDS.  All week the patients were coming in talking about Robbin Williams.  Then there were those too who celebrated their depression.  The death of a star elevated their own suffering. They are the central leading lady and men of their lives and they feel they should have Andy Warhol’s 20 minute of fame.
I am so thankful for those who have helped me this week.  A crew mutinies and other sailors step forward to man the posts. The ship staggers on.  The threat is again from the staff and not from without.  I can’t trust anyone is the message. I might as well do everything myself. I can only trust those I stand over their shoulder. There is no honour. They is no pride in work. There’s just this demand for more and more money and I can’t get the money because I have to save the life and the bean counters know you can’t be watching them stealing while you’re saving their children. And they don’t care for their children. They’re grown in vats and eat humans.
I have a bone to pick with you God. Why have you given me so much work to do and so little help. Of course I know you’d say it’s my ‘choice’ then why do so many people in the world right now choose to kill each other rather than swabbing decks and watering the plants.
I don’t want to get a medal for killing something. I want to get a medal for keeping Alex from killing himself these last several years.  But maybe if I didn’t talk with him he’d not have died.  That’s the omnipotence. The truth is he was dying. Some cancer or disease we’d not found because he was smashing his arm and thought I’d send him to colleagues he’d not keep appointments or he’d show up looking like a drug addict and they were the smart rich doctors who didn’t have time to waste on people who didn’t care for themselves and they’re tired of me sending them people who don’t wash. They’re tired of helping me with the dregs. They’re making money helping the rich and famous. They would rather see people whose shoes cost $800 and I can’t blame them.  So would I . So would I.  But ….
I don’t know why I’ve wasted my life on lost causes. I don’t know why I can’t be normal and get a normal job and cherry pick and take the easy richest routes and get in those committees and talk about the work and delegate it some poor smack like Hay whose no good for anything else, won’t play, the game, doesn’t understand you break a lot of eggs to make an omelette, trouble maker,  useless shit, asshole, fucking know it all, piece of business, dirty boy, idiot, too bright by half, too big for his britches, doesn’t leave well enough alone, doesn’t understand everyone is stealing, thinks he knows God, and look at him, a loser, can’t even keep his wives happy, they hated him, lots of promise but doesn’t die in the saddle,  isn’t going to be there for us in the end. Doesn't even drink or do drugs. What a loser. Can't be trusted . Calls himself a Christian. Christians can't be trusted.
I was there when my parents died. I was there for my dogs death.  I’ve been always at work.  Everyone wants more of me.  I had a 2 year waiting list.  I selected sicker and sicker people more complicated and unusual thinking that the junior people could do the easy but now the easy gets paid and there’s no money for the complicated and difficult and the masses of stupid people always form gangs and I still have those dreams of being chased by zombies.
This started out as a gratitude list. I woke in the early early morning as I have these last three days overwhelmed by all the details and all the unfinished business. I learned to use my own new fax machine, found that a file had been uploaded to my computer and wondered why I spent tens of thousands of dollars in security for my paitients and this silly cow uploads a file wanting me to trust them that their ‘file’ so important to them that they would use my computer was ‘clean’ and I’ve spent last month removing a ‘trojan’ a half dozen times and cleaning a ‘phish’ and it’s taken a weekend because I needed to go to the apple store to get help with debugging after just one email got through all the firewalls and cost me a day and hours of work to eliminate it. And there was that files, zip files, uplifted to my main computer, right there beside the patient files that hadn’t been backed up in months because …..
So I’ve backed up and thankfully had a really bright computer guy in and now I’m feeling a little more secure but distracted.  So much vulnerability.  The demand from the authorities is perfection. They make the rules and the rules don't apply to themselves but I paid $50,000 for the staff I hired who destroyed records and computer files. I learned from dozens of other doctors about the industrial sabotage that follows terminating such people. I was so thankful for Robert Hare's, Snakes in Suits.  I worry though that I have flashbacks to that lost year of false accusations and a crack addict ho cooping the complaints process to do her destruction and a cow acting out her aggression against men because she's so incompetent and wants 'equality' for stupidity and says "Because I'm a woman I'm smarter than all men" and she reigns supreme in that little beaurocratic office where they sweeps the room for bugs afraid anyone would hear her.....but she's gone and that was years ago.... and today there's no harm just left a lot of doors unlocked and let a person into your world that shouldn't have been allowed in because they don't care for the wounded. They don't know how hard it is to talk to people who have lost so much and been so badly beaten down again and again.  I have several torture victims and all the horrible trauma people have endured and now they are fighting the bean counters too because there must be money for the parties that they have on high.  All the meetings and the talk and the chandeliers. I miss the chandeliers. I used to look up at the chandeliers and dream.
There’s all the filing to do now, all the faxes to answer, all the people to see.  I paid thousands for people to do work and they didn’t do it.  When the cats away the mouse will play.
It’s soul destroying.
I wwant to believe in my fellow man. I want to trust and believe and hope.
And yet I can be distracted. I can focus on the one bad apple in the lot and forget about the orchards of fine ripe apples.  I’ve been so blessed over and over again but this brought back that year my mother died and those psychopathic women who called themselves ‘feminists’ and spent the year stealing and attacking a man because his mother had died and they hate men and they hate mothers and they use their ideology like Jihadists.  In the end I just worked weekends and evenings. and all week.  They flogged me and like any dead horse I carried on.  I survived. They strutted and preened and flaunted themselves.  Maybe my patient would not have died if I hadn’t had to give half my time to these witches.  These evil trolls took my attention from what I wanted to do which was heal.  Not fight. But there’s no one covering our back these days. Doctors are the targets.  The enemy looks for the red cross to bomb. In the middle east they’re killing doctors for helping the enemy’s troops. We’re only supposed to care for the family of the king not the poor people, not the wounded.
I see here that those who know the tribal signs and follow only the rulings of the colour and are terribly sectarians are successful. It's who you know not what you know.
It’s the way of the world. The court. The flattery.  King Lear said it all.

And I am thankful for the colours. I’m thankful that this isn’t all in black and white. I’m thankful that I have hearing though it’s less and sight though it’s less and I have the fresh fruit and coffee  and my own bed though the dog pushes me aside a lot.
I’m thankful for all the blessings. I just wish my mind would hold onto the god channel and not so easily be distracted by the negatives.  I am so blessed this moment and this day. I’m so thankful for the breath and the chair, this table and this McAir. Thank you for my fingers.  Thank you for my eyes.  Thank you for the thoughts and the mind and it’s entertainments.  Thank you for sensation. Thank you for this world. Thank you for the gift of life. Thank you for the journey. Thank you for all the great teachers. Thank you for Saturday. Thank you for the weekend. Thank you for the night and the day. Thank you for sunshine and rain. Thank you for the plants and soil and the seas and the skies. Thank you for everything Lord. Thank you for the contrasts and the journey. Thank you for this time.
May I do better this day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Morning and Meditation

I survived my day, as difficult as it was.  I understand better the fears of St. Patrick living among the Irish pagans, himself a Christian. There are people who attach themselves to others like leeches and mosquitoes.  Their solution to living is to find a good host. St. Patrick in contrast lost to Jesus, the unseen advocate of all true believers.
This morningI woke and read the morning prayer aloud from the Book of Common Prayer.  I felt comforted, reminded too of the many many times I’d read this prayer in years of waiting and wanting.  This is the time before the return of the Messiah. This is when we wonder what to do but know that we are to carry his name to all lands.  So we say Jesus. To those who know, it means ‘god within’.  There is something more than the external dance of tragedy and comedy, electrons and neutrons.  Positive and negative. Left and right. It’s all a duality and dichotomy.  A manifestation or should we say womanfestation.  Language is so difficult in that other place of knowing.  Out here we divide, in there we join.
I’ve made coffee. Let me just pour a cup and I’ll return here. There, that is good. I’ve poured myself the first cup of morning coffee. I know there will be more. I often have another at work and sometimes one or two more in the afternoon.  This one is the best. I make it in a stove top expresso machine.  My stove has pretty blue gas flames.  I have a big tin of Kirkland coffee which I’ve added some Starbucks beans I ground in the little electric grinder. It’s my own ritual.  A ritual of moderate wealth and well being.  I know that near where I work there are poor and discouraged who will be tapping their inner arms with their fingers to raise a vein. They’ve put their powder in a spoon and cooked it with the blue flame from their dime store lighters.  They’ll draw this fluid into a syringe and inject that material into their arms. Their morning ritual done. There morning has begun. Only they’ll not be going out to play but rather going in.  Each in their own way.
When my dark black liquid boils on the stove and the rich aroma fills my little galley I take my machine and pour the magical richness into a special cup. It’s an orange Harley Davidson Motorcycle cup inscribed with the famous slogan “Live to Ride”.  Just reading that I fondly remember this last weekend’s ride to Sturgis North in Merritt BC where I heard Burton Cummings sing “These Eyes’.  But my mind drifts. There’s Creamo in a green and white container in the refrigerator. I open the door, take out the Creamo and pour it into the cup, topping it up, turning the black to a soft light brown. To this I add honey squeezed from a little plastic bear whose head sports a spout.  I take the first sip. Ah.  This drink will help me get out.  I have been within in the dreams of night returning to this place where adventures lie without.  The coffee opens me up, brightens my outlook, comforts me.  The monks drank tea.  Meditating in mountains, they turned to their little rituals with tea.  And through time, ships captains and pilots and surgeons have all joined together in these rituals of alertness.  Whereas downtown near where I work another man has slumped over returning to his dreams.  Clouds they call it.  There but for the Grace of God go I.
I meditated too, after reading the Morning Prayer aloud I sat cross-legged as I learned to do years ago as a disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda.  I reflected on my breathing.  In my mind I repeated the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 then the Dessert Father’s Prayers and rested my mind on my breathing. St. Augustine did just this very thing nearly two thousand years ago.  Some say Jesus taught yoga himself. They didn’t call it yoga then.  Just meditation.  But they used an Arameic word.  The breath has always been fascinating to the saints.  The common people think little of it.  Money is what they want.  We all like money but it’s useless without breath.  So why focus so much on little exchangeable people poop bits of money when the real breath of life is within.  I like people poop,  coins and paper and promises from banks which can’t be trusted any more than anything else in the impermanent world of exteriors.
But here within there is a sense of permanence. I don’t even think of breathing and it happens.  Over and over again like my Harley Motorcycle engine that thrums when I turn on the ignition.  But I don’t even turn the ignition. It’s always running. A perpetual motion machine as far as I and my life are concerned.  My parents certainly ignited this engine but surely with the help of Jesus. Not to say there was a threesome though the Trinity wouldn’t exclude the possibility.  Life occurred when they imagined it. The idea of me preceded my presence or perhaps my presence was only later attached to an idea.  It always astonishes me to know I’ve met those who didn’t know how they became pregnant.  There was no connection to the sexual act and their own being.  They came from villages, ignorant as humans all were before agriculture and herding.  Back in the day when we ate what greens we found and killed animals as animals killed each other.
And here I am sitting at this MacAir lap top computer typing at a keyboard. This machine is attached to a cord, much like an umbilical cord that runs to a plug that goes to wires that go out the wall and attach to a central maze of wires that collect energy from the rushing water in a damned up stream somewhere around here.  I know there are no nuclear power plants and we’re not burning coal so this magical thing called electricity must be coming from the flow of rushing water controlled by a damn with just the right amount siphoned off to power turbines which “generate’ electron flow from water flow. It’s alchemical physics, something the wonder of which is only a few hundred years old.
I began writing with a crayon, then a pencil then a fountain pen. I still love the fountain pens I used to use with their little levers that drew ink from a bottle into their encased bladder reserves which like a syringe allowed me to inject the page with ideas that would remain not unlike stone tablets carved with chisel and hammer.  I have notebooks where the ink remains upon the page, the edges of the letters showing a multitude of peninsulas and fjords where the ink has seeped out from the line to plant it’s roots in the page ready to hold on for hundreds of years like the writing in the books I saw in Rome and Jerusalem.  Old treasure. Archeological hoards. And even as I write new barbarians in Syria and Afghanistan are destroying masterpieces wrought by human hands, the art of creation, sometimes having taken life times to achieve, with a fart like synaptic experience translated to a trigger press and a rocket launch.  Barbarians.
Driving to work later this morning I’ll listen to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news and learn of how my fellow man continues to kill and rape. There are those still cannibalizing but it’s considered faux pas to talk about that, like the enemy soldiers who sodomize the dead.  Never our soldiers, only theirs. Genital mutilation is all the rage in some places but one mustn’t speak of home fried liver of ones enemy. I’m here on the west coast of Canada where the aboriginals were eating each other a scant generation back as part of the norm of that society.  My Scottish forebears still wear dresses but save their best frocks for only special killing occasions.  No doubt haggish was served with English sweetmeats at some time in the past.
I made porridge when I made the coffee.  I have a plastic electric kettle.  These plastic electric kettles that sit on a plastic pad with an electrical burner that reaches up into the bowels of the kettle are quite a wonder themselves. I press a button on the moulded black handle and a little red light glows.  In  minutes there’s a rumbling and steam emerges happily from under the lid and the whole thing shuts off when the water is boiled safe and free of all germs and pathogens, and hot and ready for adding to some other food source.
I remember my mother in her 80’s liking just to have a cup of boiled water.  I didn’t see what I do now.  There is more I love about my parents each milestone I close on them, catching up as I do now that they are resting.
I have these little packets of instant oats.  Quaker Oats.  The Quakers are that peace loving Christian group that fill the ambulance ranks and medic ranks of any war happy to help the wounded but thoroughly unwilling to engage in the killing of humans.  When they congregate in their churches they love to sit together in silence.  They are thought strange by their neighbours.  What can life be without at least the possibility of killing one ’s neighbour in a rage, a mob or sanctioned by a government decree.  How could one possibly go through life prepared to die rather than defend oneself to the death.  What an odd interpretation of the life of Jesus whose apostles surely carried knives and wore swords and were they here today would definitely favour Glock 9mm.
Come to think of it, I don’t have a Glock 9 mm.  To own a handgun in Canada I must have a residence on land, leased or rented but one with a secure safe which I can lock the weapon away in.  As it is I’m living in boats, trailers and hotels like a gypsy or cowboy, my office doubling as my home, a living room with down the hall washroom. The couch is not for sleeping or isn’t meant to be. Not that I’ve not napped on it.
I was talking about oats. Grains, The Quakers and farming.  I have a stoneware bowl. White, one I bought as a set at Canadian tire.  It’s a steal really. A four piece setting of plate stoneware that I was able to by for maybe $50 dollars.  50 dollars is what any man can make in wages in a day doing just untrained labour and I can today buy the thing that once only royalty could own.  It’s a very fine bowl. Despite the chip I can’t yet let go of it.  The rest of the plates are without blemish but this one bowl has seen much more use. Even today I fill it with the Instant Quaker Oats and pour the boiling water into the bunch of white and grey flakes and consider trucks travelling daily cross continents to bring  us these boxes of Quaker Oats. Sometimes it travels on great container ships to be dispersed around the world.  And here in my tiny abode I have a bowl full of not just oats but ‘instant’ oats.  Where once I had to soak and boil these to perfection. Now almost magically the combination of water and oats gives me a warm bowl of highly nutritious cereal. Personally I think some Quaker might very well have prayed over these very oats.   You can’t stop a Quaker from praying for world peace.  They are the original Peaceniks.  Worse than Mennonites.  The Hippies were Johnny Come Latelies to a long line of Christian sacrificial lambs.
I think I’ll get up and add some evaporated milk from another can , I rarely have milk, forgetting to buy it whereas these cans come in handy and I can keep them in the cupboard for occasions just like this.  The steel can opener, an amazing tool, that rotates a wheel and pops off a lid or just punctures a can of evaporated milk so that I can pour the wholesome white wonder all over my Quaker Oats before I squeeze some honey onto of the whole stuff.  Life is good.
Now let me eat my breakfast as the day progresses and soon I’ll have to rush off to that funnel of adventure and activity and demands and multitudes of chores and expectations called my normal day.  If I’d not woken early I’d not even be able to sit here and play with this extraordinary word processor that takes the ideas that pop into my mind and place them on a page where those can be linked to this global network of ideas called the internet. Last I looked a million or so souls on a planet of billions had read some of what I’d written or processed in just these last very few years since I began to do this thing called ‘blogging’ an activity brought to me by a group called “Google”.  There’s a baby sound to the world, like a creativity that doesn’t quite make it to the level of killing but instead gurgles and googles.  Somewhere in the world of education and libraries and people searching and sharing. And today of course, they’re using it to sell drugs, slaves, sex and everything else. But a million or so weren’t so much interested in anything more than I might be interested now in the Quaker Oats. I’m beginning the outward exploration of this day.
Breathing, aromas, coffee, taste, liquids, now solids.  The baby awakes and ……googles.
Mmmm that honey and cream and quaker oats tastes oh so good. There’s a touch of mother in this.  Comfort food.
After I read the Morning Prayers, I picked up a very special manuscript, “A Collection of Short Stories from the late Madame Therese Bourguignon” by Douglas Aikins.  It’s a real treat of a read.  Douglas is a strapping tall laughing lean French Canadian with an eye for the unusual and whimsical. As another member of the Canadian Authors Association I have enjoyed immensely each time he’s read from his latest writings. Now he’s honoured me by asking that I read his latest book presently in preparation for the publisher. Bernice Lever, an editor we are all so fond of, has the copy even as I write. She’s working on details.  Douglas wanted my opinion, mostly because one of the principal characters in his stories is a psychiatrist. That’s what I am too. So he wondered if it all rang true.  And hence I was honoured. I’m glad I’m a psychiatrist.  If I were only a lawyer or a plumber I might not get to read this book of Douglas’s but have to wait till he honoured lawyers and plumbers by giving his character their trade.  I am honoured as truly is my craft for Douglas is a writer of great talent  I am jealous of as I read his dancing whimsical expressions and hear his unique voice reveal the nuances of French and English cultures in that mythical world of rural Quebec.  I read the first chapter even before I had my coffee and knew that I would not want to rush this read.  It could have kept me in pyjamas all day if I wasn’t such a dutiful physician increasingly aware that even now I m lining up for the shower before literally jumping into clothing and with my little dog heading for my Miata sports car to join the scurrying masses in their various vehicles heading into the centre of the city to spend their days like I do in offices, constructing, building, doing, creating, networking, and celebrating something or other.  I love the way Douglas Aikins turns a phrase and spins a tale. He’s a raconteur of the old French kind, a story teller with folk lore and fantasy and characters who could well be Gods living as men or fairytale creatures.  I’m looking forward to reading this more. I opened it only because I’d taken it out of my bag and left it on the table.  Then it was what I read first after meditating.  I must learn to write as lightly as this master of words.  His sentences flows like music. There’s a symphony in his paragraphs. I could hear flute and kettle drum and worry that my own writing is too much like a bango playing in some movie like Deliverance.
My friend Nathan Pollock, another writer, definitely a fiddler of words and maybe even a banjo player,  gave me his book last month, "The Autobiography of Doctor Jack”. It’s a collection of stories and poems.  They came from conversations in a bar where Nathan wrote ideas out on napkins. I have done that as well, carrying these little scraps of writing in the pocket of my sports jacket, forgetting they are art and using them to blow my nose then trying later trying to read around the snot to learn what I'd written.
I am blessed to have such friends.  I truly am.
The Quaker Oats is gone.  My little cockapoo dog sleeping now at my feet will surely want to lick the bowl.  I’ll not let him lick the coffee cup. He’s already so full of energy he’s dropped a yellow tennis ball at my feet just in case I want to throw ball already.  His idea of Jesus is definitely a Yankee pitcher.
Not that anyone cares but if someone were wondering what Canadians do after coffee and quaker oats, I’ll tell them, that having already visited the head I’ll return there in a moment. I’ll also shave using a relatively new razor with foaming soap and hot water. Terrorists on the run have long beards mostly because they rarely have the luxury of hot water and foaming soap and Gillette razors or even electric razors.  Their women don’t shave their legs and armpits for the same reason.  When all your money goes to buy ammunition and survival equipment there is little left for luxury. The people in refugee camps are little better off. They’re all mourning losses.  I don’t have to be prepared for bombing today. I’m blessed to have lived in Canada where at best we throw expletives at politicians and complain that our damns and mines are interfering with the habitat of some endangered species. We have time for neuts and salamander because are children aren’t being killed at school, though it’s likely a whole lot were aborted in sterile rooms filled with secrets and lies.  We’re civilized.  Mostly we wash every day.
We have all this water the global warming fanatics are suddenly interested in. They’re demanding we give them our cool mountain streams when they wouldn’t send us their heat when we were freezing in the middle of our frozen winters. They laughed at our igloos but now they’d sell a ferrari to an eskimo for an igloo just to fill their long dry back yard pools. Their governments fine them if they use a sprinkler.  Here we’re drowning in water.
Even in Winnipeg a friend complained of the floods and sent a picture of a realtor swimming with fins and snorkels down the street.  The water will be gone in days.  In Alberta when the rivers flooded last year and so many homes were destroyed everything is rebuilt except for the reputation of the police who used the opportunity to break into the homes of Canadians and steal their rifles from their locked gun cases claiming they were doing a civic duty meanwhile the criminals with illegal guns were roaming the deserted buildings stealing necklaces and jewels unafraid the cops would actually bother them for the police are increasingly tasked to watch over the most devout citizen.  Everyone knows a Christian only has to turn his cheek 70 times 70. We’re counting.  Obama has militarized the police and tanks are being sent out to every town and village.  Storms are brewing.  Earthquakes.
And money.
It’s so easy to forget the beauty of breath.  It’s so easy to forget the wonder of a cup of coffee. I am blessed with Quaker Oats.
Even now I’m ready to stand in a hot shower and bathe with scented soap from India. There’s a store that sells these amazing bars of wonderfulness that come all the way to Vancouver from Bombay.  I feel like the owner of the Taj Mahal must have felt when he arose in the morning years past and thanks to slaves and burning wood he could enjoy a rare ’shower’ and soap himself with this fine Bombay soap.  He might have had maidens lathering his body. In Canada we no longer have maidens only feminists and sometimes they don’t even bathe.
A favourite poet friend, Lilija, who wrote the “Faultline” poems asked where the feminists were when Sharia Lawyers and Judges were giving the death sentence to pretty girls for allowing themselves to be raped by AK47 wielding men with beards and cowardice in their hearts.  We both know that Canadian feminists have not fought the real wars. The nitpick about Ms or Mrs or Miss, always ready to harrigan about language demanding ‘political correctness’ at all cost.  They denigrate the cause of women by demanding tokenism not believe in meritocracy. Canadian feminists would back men not women in a fair fight. In contrast my international feminist following Thai friend Aim, sees herself mostly as a woman wanting whats best for women the world over and fearing feminism per se can be hijacked by special interests. She is brilliant and powerful but had no difficulty being the most beautiful of brides. Her man surely worships her.
I must shower. My mind made peaceful by meditation is already going the way of the BBC.  All day I will be buffeted by different ideologies. Every one will talk of death or sleep and I will hold that I am there to wake them up and celebrate life even as my government is promoting euthanasia , celebrating death as the new health care solution. Save money, kill the patient.
Time to shower and look everywhere for the evidence of grace. An attitude of gratitude dispels all fear.  Anxiety kills.  God's within. All the clutter out there can not disturb the great peace.  Inside is permanence. Laugh and sing. It’s a new day. How blessed you are to live here and have these simple things which are truly miracles.  We take so much for granted.  Help me God to ever see the majesty in all your works, no matter how apparently humble. Help me never to lose sight of the little things and be thankful for what I have.
Thank you for Gilbert my cockapoo companion too. He’s slept right through this morning.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sturgis North, Canada's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Festival, Merritt, BC - Part 4 - Sunday Morning and Ride Back to Vancouver

I wanted a Bruce Coburn Rocket Launcher to kill the generator someone was running at 4 am in the camp grounds. Burton Cummings had finished long after midnight and I think I got to bed in the tent with Gilbert around 1 or 2 am. The music down the row from me was going till at least 3 am.  A large group of people had been dancing outside their tents and RV’s.  Motorcycles stopped driving about around then too but that generator was there every time I rolled over.
Little Gilbert had his body snuggled up to mine, lying on the sleeping bag for comfort. He was warm enough. I thought about getting his coat but decided against it as he seemed just fine curled up beside me on the sleeping bag and hoodie.  It’s just that whenever I rolled over, well, there was the pain in the back and hip to consider, since the ground was hard, then he’d have to realign himself to get the maximum amount of soft sleeping bag under him.  Of course at 7 am, when we normally get up, he was there licking my face, bright eyed and bushy tailed, all ready to go to work.
“Don’t you know it’s Sunday!” I asked him.  “I got to bed after 2 pm” I said.
He just wagged his tail.
I got dressed.  Getting jeans on is one thing in a tent.  Out of the tent I had to dance around getting into socks and my Harley Davidson biker boots.  We both went down to the stream. He had a drink and we both found some bushes to mark. Then I began the slow task of taking down the tent and loading my bike.  I don't move quickly before coffee.
I was actually the first Harley to rev up.  Thankfully no one shot me,too.  I rode out of the campground area seriously considering the possibility.
I parked the motorcycle where they had outdoor toilets and also portable water fountains, just fine for shaving. I used the mirror on my bike.  Then I saw some guys with coffee.  It turned out that they were a group of Gospel Riders.  I approached them saying, “I”ve already found Jesus. Could you tell me where to find a cup of coffee.”
They laughed, which is always a good sign with Christians. Don't want to hang out with the ultra serious ones who think they're the only ones God talks too. Better to be with the laughing set who knew Jesus and the disciples had to love life, being fisherman, carpenters and all. 
“We’re just going to have a  church service," said one guy,  "We'll have more coffee after that. You’re welcome to come along.”  Well I figured I could hear Father Mark at my home church St. James Anglican going “yes!”  Of course I went along.  They wanted Gilbert to come and I go wherever he’s welcome.
I liked the service too.  Jim, a fellow who’d done prison ministries and down town eastside gospel revival played the guitar and sang some of the good old Christian songs I was raised on. “He’s got the whole world in his hands”.  Only he changed that to “He’s got Harley Davidson and all its riders in his hands”.  I especially loved singing Jesus Loves me and hearing the second verse which I don’t recall ever hearing before.  The preacher then talked about love. God’s love as great and great enough for all of us. It was a good sermon. Simple. Uplifting.  Then more songs and that was it.  We walked back to the coffee pot and I got my coffee. Gilbert got a whole lot of petting too. A number of the guys said they had dogs but hadn’t brought them.  They loved that Gilbert rode with me.
We talked about God and Jesus and ministry.  Normal stuff.  I shared about my time with Terry and the West Coast Bikers. Seeing Third Day in concert in Langley.  I’d talked with these Gospel Rider folkbefore  on the Oyster Run. They meet in Surrey Monday night. I really ought to get out for some fellowship. Good guys. I’ve liked them each time I’ve met them and it’s now three or four times. The early ‘“mass” was typically ‘light’ on numbers. They were holding a second service after people had woken up. I saw more people crowding around the stage while I was leaving.
After that the vender wagon opened. I got an fried egg and ham sandwich.  Gilbert got some sausage from the vender and doggie dried duck treats I found in a saddlebag..   Nourished in body and soul we got on the Harley.  I stopped to get Laura a t shirt from Gilbert.  We’d all gone together to the first Sturgis North.  She still takes care of Gilbert from time to time.  She's definitely one of his most favourite human.
Driving into Merritt to fill up with gas there were all sorts of motorcycles.  A whole lot of people had stayed in motels. I’d opted for camping because I thought the motels would have been sold out.  That was the case in Sturgis South Dakota.  Camping is part of the fun but I think I’d rather be the guy with RV and generator next time.  Given I have a truck, an RV Toyhauler that could carry my Harley, I really do hope I can go next year in style.  Merritt sure is the perfect location for a motorcycle rally and music festival.  But a lot can happen in a year.
The Coquahalla with its 120 speed limit, high country views and winds were a real rush of a ride. I’d switched out Led Zeppelin for the Newsboys and was blasting along at 140 passing.  Felt like I was back in northern Montana or Northern Wyoming. Big open country and endless highway. Real motorcycle ride experience.  I slowed down as we began to drop out of the ozone but was surprised how quickly I was coming into Hope. It really seemed like no time the ride was such a beauty.
In Chilliwack I figured Gilbert needed a rest. He’d been such a good dog. We’d done a 170 km and used a half tank of gas.  I called my friend Lorne, another Kilt wearing Scottish descendant. He’d just had surgery so was wearing a cast on his foot after a ligament tear when we met up at Starbucks. With coffee and muffins and Gilbert getting bits of muffin to go with his water we were all a happy crew. It was a sunny day and we were sitting outside in the old downtown Chilliwack reminiscing about how we’d started doing this together 16 years ago. We’d both met through Dr. Bernie and we’d just stayed friends. It was great to jaw and jaw and jaws.  We got all caught up and then some.
Friends are great pit stops.  I’ve got to get together with Lorne more often. We do Robbie BurnsDinners and some Scottish events but it’s been too long since we just talked.  When a cute girl asked him what the cast on his foot was for, I answered “masturbating”.  What are friends for?  We sure did laugh a lot.  16 years is a long time and a whole lot of stories.  We both missed Dr. Bernie, of course. He brought us together and we’d often go to dinners which would mostly be laughter.
Gilbert got back on the motorcycle. I mounted up.  It didn’t take long then to get back to Vancouver.  The traffic was just building up from the weekend return but we got in before the worst.
Gilbert immediately found a yellow ball. I loved walking in and finding that my whole place had had a Mida  miracle. While I was away an angel had come and cleaned and tidied the place.  Gilbert wasn’t as impressed.  He had to spill his toy bag to find a tennis ball. I was co opted to throw while he fetched.  In his world then all was right.
Despite the Friday mini office crisis, thanks to everyone I consulted I have a solution and a new plan.  More work for me in the short term but hopefully a better long term solution.  Time will tell.  What a joy though to ride my Harley to Sturgss North, hear Burton Cummings, go back down the good worm hole of memory lane, experience the rush and high of motorcycling, add in a church service,  a visit with a good friend and spend all that great time with little Gilbert, a great companion and amazing biker dog.
DSCN2462IMG 6307IMG 6306

IMG 6305

Sturgis North, Canada's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Festival, Merritt, BC - Part 3 - Main Stage - Moxy, Molly Hatchet and Burton Cummings

It was truly epic to be at Sturgis North in Merritt. This is a great venue.  Beautiful mountains, regular John Denver location with Colorado high and idyllic mountain stream   But, and this is the clincher, John Denver, bless his soul, wouldn’t naturally bring to mind a stage ringed by massive Harley Davidson motorcycles.  This is Buffalo Chip outdoors.  Big boy arena.  No bicycles, sandals and shorts with pretty sweet vegan cute college girls who haven’t quite graduated.  This is leathers and men and women. Lots of vets. I love that the Hells Angels, no colours mind you, but you know whose who, and the RCMP are all there, kind of mixing. A bit like a soccer game between combatting soldiers on a Christmas Eve in a long standing war.  Everyone is nice. There’s ambulances and security otherwise.  This was a well run concert.  Really well run.  But like a  Sons of Anarchy movie truce, everyone was listening to the Biker Mommas. The Katie Sagal's had told everyone to behave or else.  All the women were here to strut their stuff and dance and have a good time. All the boys were told to leave their guns at home.
I love Sturgis for this.
Mostly, over 99% of the folk there aren’t part of that other scene.  There’s a whole lot of Veterans who ride Harley’s. They’re a central part of these festivals.  My favourite ride is the Vets Ride. The Christian bikers were out in force too.  Lots of Gospel Riders and Christian Motorcycle Association folk.  A whole lot of professionals ride big bikes. They can afford them. They're also really popular with the rural townsfolk.  City guys like the crotch rockets. They were there too but Harleys dominated. A whole lot of music lover too. Then there were the beer drinkers.  I didn’t see a lot of evidence of drugs.  Pot. Pot smoking all right. But the whole atmosphere didn’t have any of the Downtown Eastside flavour of cocaine, crystal meth or heroin.  I doubt people into heavy drugs could get their asses out to music festivals.  They certainly can't afford the vehicles, gas or price of adminission.  They’re living in poverty somewhere on the couch dreaming of being cool one day when they can kick their habit.  Lots of recovery folk come to these rallies. I expect there were AA and NA meetings happening somewhere. I didn’t key into them like I did at Sturges, South Dakota where they’re just part of the fabric of the place. Here it seemed that Jesus Loves You was more in evidence. That and the Siks. You can tell them by the steel plated turbans.
A friend said the Harley was the favourite Aryan vehicle.  Only here there were blacks and Aboriginals on the Harleys as well. The Asians I saw still seemed to favour big Yamaha’s and Suzukis whereas the Siks had Harley’s and Victories. My motorcycycle buddy Chiropractor Richard Cho rides a Harley but I wonder if there is a profile to different bike choices.  I see Harley’s wherever I travel in the world, most recently even in Russia.  I figure the true Aryan might ride a BMW but just about anyone rides BMW’s as they do the Italian Ducatis.  I think it’s more like a preference for performance. I think there’s nothing like my Electraglide for the American Highway.  My Turkish friends who rode through South America sure loved their BMW.  The english Triumph was the preferred bike for Africa.  My friend loves his Honda crotch rocket in downtown Vancouver traffic.
There’s just something special about a Harley sound too. Especially when it’s used for applause like it was at the Sturgis in South Dakota and here at Sturgis North. Besides Gilbert and I love our Harley. 
Moxy was playing early.  I’d known the band. They’re famous. I just hadn’t appreciated them until tonight.  What an impressive performance.  Real solid group.  Great vocals.
IMG 6274DSCN2461DSCN2459
I confess I didn’t know Molly Hatchet though they’re really famous.  One of their songs took me way back. I’d heard it on the radio hundreds of times but I’d never associated these great tunes with the band name.  And I loved their music. Really Southern US country rock and Louisiana Alabama upbeat blues hillbilly metal rock whatever. It was fantastic and the whole crowd was dancing. It’s stomping music.  I’ve got to get their records.  I just loved the beat.
IMG 6280DSCN2465DSCN2472DSCN2471
But what I came for was Burton Cummings. And he was worth it.  Hell I rode a Harley a whole day to see him but he’s such great pinnacle of a musician, song writer, entertainer that he’s worth the whole climb up the mountain. I”d heard him first at 17 when as head of the entertainment committee on the student council executive it came to me to hire the Guess Who for our high school dance. They’d  gone from being Chad Allen and the Reflections to the Guess Who.  I remember “Shaking All Over” but I believe the dance was 1969 or 1970 and that’s when they released ‘These Eyes” which became the US #1 single.  I confess I had tears in my eyes when Burton Cummings sang “These Eyes’.
IMG 6288IMG 6286DSCN2495
The first time I heard Burton Cummings sing was when he was with Deverons and put out the song “Blue is the Night’.  To an adolescent boy with pimples and unrequited love, there has never been a better song to sum up the true angst of the world in which love exists but not for you.  I couldn’t get enough of that song.  When you're young and a wannabe poet a song like that can really help you suck the very teat of depression dry and come out the other side ready to fall in love all over again.
Moments at a time I was wafted back to high school. it was like the Vincent Massey High School Reunion where we’d all danced and I felt totally dissociated back to 17 again.  1969 was a very special year.  Then 1970 was too.  The whole early 70’s were something else. All that time before Medical School. After I got into medical school it was a whole different world. There was simply no time for rock and roll.  My party days were over and life because a serious business.
Then there I was at a Vincent Massey High School Reunion with all these other folk in our 50’s telling stories of high school.  It was a truly special time.
Like this concert.
Denise was the girl sitting beside me. She told me she’d grown up in Grand Forks, little town in interior BC.  She’d driven here with her sister in the side car and her son on the back of her 800 motorcycle, possibly Russian vintage.  “It’s like driving a big lawnmower on the highway.”  Having got rid of the one Gilbert and I had, our Ural, for just that reason, it’s really work to drive at high speed, I could only admire her for making the day trip here.  “I just had to hear Burton Cummings”, she said.
“I love his voice. His voice is one of the greatest singing voices of all time. 4 octaves.” I said.
I love America but I loved when American Woman came out. I loved that it was banned across the states. I loved that it was this strong peace message spoken to our own allies.  We weren’t against our military back then despite the song Universal Solider and Where Have All the Flowers Gone. We just didn’t like the ‘policies’ of war that wasted young lives.  I loved American Woman.  Burton Cummings and his band did it and the crowd went wild.
Clap for the Wolfman certainly went over with this wild bunch too. Hand Me Down world was a moving tribute.  Burton is an amazing pianist.  Canada’s Elton John in that regard. Stand Tall was a real show stopper. Indeed every song he and his band did was perfection.  It was a mystical time.
IMG 6290IMG 6293IMG 6297

An incredible experience. I was up and dancing. Gibert was safe from all the cheering and dancing, curled up under a chair.  I was dancing, taking pictures, dancing, shouting.  Everyone was.  Burton Cummings is to Canadian music was Wayne Gretsky is to hockey.  No wonder he got the Order of Canada. In that regard he’s like “SIR” Paul McCartney in Canada.  A true life time achiever.
And there he was , a guy making music at a high school dance. Now a world star.  He went on to greatness like so many people I knew in those days.  It was a joy to see him at Sturgis North. He closed with Mother Nature.  Another great song.
“I never thought I’d be still doing this at 66" he said, "thank you for making it all possible.”  What a gentleman.  And no I didn’t think I’d be riding a motorcycle with a little dog into the wonders of Northern BC and camping outside in a pup tent beside a mountain stream after listening to a truly great Burton Cummings concert.  Life can be so sweet.

IMG 6303

Sturgis North, Canada's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Festival, Merrit, BC - Part 2 - Motorcycling Pemberton to Lillouett, Lyton, Ashcroft, Logan Lake, and finally Meritt

What a glorious day in Paradise.  I woke to the wet alarm clock of a cockapoo insisting that it was our normal 7 am time for rising.  I quickly dressed and took him for a walk along the river trail out back of Pemberton Valley Lodge.
I was glad to get an early start looking forward to the spectacular ride through Mount Currie and up along the so called Duffy Lake Road.  I’ve hunted through here for a couple of decades as well as camped and fished. Joffre Lakes, a favourite hiking and fishing destination is just before Duffy Lake.  Lots of wildlife.  Deer in abundance.   Beautiful wild flowers. The road has been asphalted so it’s hugely improved over the difficult road of a few years back. I loved the ride letting Gilbert run about at Duffy Lake while I took some pictures. The tough section for a biker was coming down hill still before Lillouett, still some ruts coupled with sharp turns.  Nothing terrible just has to be taken seriously.
The town of Lillouett is a really sweet place. I’ve stopped other times and enjoyed their market as well as the little restaurant.  This time Gilbert and I kept right on going.  I had to use the iPhone GPS and map or I’d have continued on to Cache Creek. As it was I missed the turn to Merritt at Lyton and ended up going up to Ashcroft, something I that added a few miles to the journey.  It was such a perfect ride with little traffic, sunshine and great roads and views.  BC Interior after the coast is kind of Arizona like in some ways. Then the trip up the Thompson River is amazing.  We actually got to see the train go through those picturesque carved tunnels along the river.
I’ve passed Ashcroft dozens of times on the way north but this time drove through the town and enjoyed stopping at the bakery.  Really pleasant little place with a lot of gentile history.  It’s still a popular retirement place and the hotel is known for it’s week and month stays for tourists wanting to explore this remarkable region.
It had been a long time since I’d driven down to Logan Lake. I forgot all the major industrial work in the area.  A few deer were kind enough to come out and look at Gilbert and I. One actually waited till I got a nice photograph. Lots of motorcycles along this stretch. As we got closer to Merrit more and more large groups.
The Sturges North Veterans Run occurred that morning and I think I may have been passed by some of the stragglers coming back from wherever the riders had got off too.  With rallies also a lot of riders just take advantage of the central place from which to ride around the neighbourhood. Lots of gas sales were happening in Merrit.
It sure felt good coming into town.  Gilbert was such a great trooper.  We stopped at the A&W so I could have a burger and he could have a burger paddy. He deserved a treat. Other bikers there told me where the venue was. Down by Moonshadow Campground. Moonshadow is one of my favourite places for camping. We;ve come up a few times even left the old RV up here as a place to come one fall.  A cool creek runs along the campground. The Sturges North Festival was along the gravel road from Moonshadow, along the creek.
First there was the big MainStage with lots of nearby kiosks for a variety of food and tents selling leather and tshirts.  Further along were other stages and finally the campground.  Entrance for the whole event was $300 but a day was a hundred and something with $25 for camping.
 I specifically asked if Gilbert was welcome and was told that he certainly was.  Later when I’d be told by security that he couldn’t be present I explained that I’d been specifically told he could accompany in all events.  I explained that he was a ‘pet therapist’ and that he was really well behaved and safe around people and other dogs. It’s okay then, ‘he’s your therapist and you have to have him with you”.  That wasn’t quite what I said, but it seemed to work.  I might well be violent without the calming influence of Gilbert.
We got a great place for the tent by the cool creek. Lots of Harley sound.  People were riding their Harleys from the tenting area to the venue area.  It was picturesque and everything was just great. We were here. Sturgis North.  This is the third year and we’d so loved the first one Salmon Arm with Steppenwolf. Only there I’d taken the truck and trailer with the Honda 250 enduro motorcycle having no place to bring the Harley. This time Gilbert and I  arrived on our big bike.  It was terrific.
After the vague seeding of an idea with Dave, and wondering if Gilbert could tolerate a long ride, here I was arriving  by bike with a tent and  ready to rock and roll.  This, after a spectacular ride through some of BC’s most awesome motorcycle country.  I was really stoked setting up my tent. Gilbert was happy to just roll in the old cow manure that dotted the field.
 IMG 6258IMG 6261IMG 6262DSCN2437DSCN2438DSCN2439IMG 6268IMG 6266IMG 6267DSCN2440DSCN2441

IMG 6269IMG 6270IMG 6278IMG 6276IMG 6273