thursday night in the north country and lads this one always goes into the books as the longest night of the week!!!  cause we are on the road home tomorrow, back to the beautiful ladies, but we can’t make the move until 1130 a.m. at the earliest.  so here we are.  in the north.  waiting for the out.
which is weird cause back in the old days it was like climbing the walls, borderline cabin fever but that has all changed.  times are different up here.  and you have to remember what you’re advertised to do. 
spent the last two business days at the lake, just down the road not far, with the entire group.  we were trying our hands at netting some fish.  we placed the net in yesterday and went back to today for a looksie but no dice.  i guess the fish were swimming somewhere else last night.  i was hoping to see some big old walleye in there but nope!  maybe tomorrow.  course we won’t be going with them tomorrow, i’m going to hang around here, watch the what ifs, and placing the gear in good order for the drive home.
we are not planning on much for this weekend.  the only thing i absolutely have to see is the Norval Morriseau show at the National Gallery of Canada.  it opens tomorrow and you can bet i am going to be walking in there on saturday afternoon!!!  there is a six panel piece in that show that hasn’t seen the light of day since 1977 and its the very group of paintings that turned me onto the woodland thing way back in art school, circa 1985ish…  "Man Changing into a Thunderbird", lads that is the one that did it. 
so that is the scoop.
i know it isn’t much. 
but hey, we are here and it is now!  and thank our lucky stars its been a mild winter thus far and we have january behind us.  just 60 more days of heavy winter remain!
keep our fingers crossed!
wednez, march 8th…  and i got the blues…  the girls are gone.  they are flying down to visit the folks in florida and all three of them are on the road for the next two weeks.  that means i’m going to be home and alone for two weekends…  i don’t like that sound of that.  it is suppose to be very mild in the city but that isn’t going to help out much.  when you got the blues everybody knows…   up here in the bush: the skies are overcast and the wind is out of the north and it aint safe to go on th lake nor is it any fun in the bush with the snow about 5 feet deep.  so its back to the old clubhouse at 4 and we got nothing in the hopper.  times are tough when you’re girls are away.
march 29th:  i am so lonesome i could cry…
april 12th:  wore shirtsleeves today for the first time.  have rain but no thunder.  might have to wait till next week for that.  won’t be seeing the full moon as we have rain in the forcast for the next 2 nights.  we are up here for one more!
april 26th:  it snowed all day today.  looked like the middle or late october this morning but it was kooky because there were birds in the trees, the type that sing the songs you would associate with a hot july afternoon.  but there they were singing with jumbo snow flakes coming down…  weird experience.  i had packed my dirtiest jungle gear away for another 6 months but found myself this morning digging it out and putting it back on!!  thought those days were behind us but there you go!  it just goes to show. 
i’m all aches and pains up here over the past 3 weeks as we have re fired the old weight lifting program and man that has reached all those hard to get to places in this man’s body!  but i have plans for the summer time you know and i want to make them.  i have dates and i want to make those too!  and i won’t be making them sitting down for longer than a half hour or so. 
read something very interesting on the cbc website.  it was a quote:  "never waste an opportunity to be yourself."  guess who said that!  well who ever it was i enjoyed those words and are something i am going to take to heart, especially this friday night when i pack my sexy bags and go to Montreal.  dang right you can never waste an opportunity.  absolutely dang right.  
also read a cool music lyric:  its the blues of course but i liked it very much but as i write this i think you know what?  i am going to save that one for later.  it was just that bluesy and that cool.  
i just looked at the photo stash here on this machine and this was the photo that reminded the most of what its like up here during that long and devastating winter.  cept i can’t see it so i guess i don’t have this spaces thing figured out yet!  but if you can see it, i can’t begin to tell you just how frosty it was when we were out there that day.  thank goodness its behind us.  i am looking forward to some beach time where the big clothes are gone and the little clothes are on!  woo hoo!
anyway.  i am rambling here i know.  its the cabin fever thing setting in.  you see there is no one around to chat with or do anything with.  i am totally and fully and completely on my own.  its just me and my paint brushes and the great wide open that is the snow covered wilderness.  so i shall leave it at that and keep from boring you to tears or sleep. 
ApE ril 27th:  sometimes when you are out here and alone, you have these strange thoughts.  they come over you as quickly and as quietly as cabin fever.  today i was out and i saw a range and thought what the view must be like from up there.  refer to the photos i added in my north country album today.  its a beauty cliff face and the lake, well i don’t know what the name of it is but i can tell you right now, if you drowned in it, no one would ever find you.  i saw a pair of loons sailing on it and they seem to manage just spanky.  i took the jungle trail totally unprepared for the wilderness.  stupid street running shoes and my hair hanging loose, no gloves and no weapons of any kind.  no knife, no bayonet, no rifle and no side arm.  nothing.  if there was something out there with big teeth and claws, i’d be in the news tomorrow: missing instructor still missing…
see this isn’t like that dreamy spirit animal stuff i keep hearing about down south.  you can’t talk these animals up here in the wilds into doing anything.  up here they are real and on the same plane as you.  up here they are big and have huge teeth and extremely sharp claws.  and chances are when they see you it aint going to be no spiritual connection.  its going to be teeth to meat connection.  and it aint going to be your teeth.  its going to be theirs.  there aint no nicities about it.  you get killed and eaten.  they make off with your eyes, heart and lungs, maybe your liver and kidneys.  that leaves a terrible corpse for the RCMP "if" they ever find you.
so this is what i was thinking up there.  meanwhile i could hear something ghosting me.
and i could see the shadows sweeping over the trees.  there were giant buzzards circling and they kept coming back to where i was trooping.  it gave me the creeps seein those big dirty birds sailing effortlessly over the cliff side…
i was wondering: is it going to be me or is there some one else up here…
cause we are up the road from montreal 3 full hours.  if anyone wanted to dump or take care of something, that place would do it.  of course no one would drag a corpse way up there on the cliff…
then i heard something in the trees…
sounded like a breath, like an exhale.  i stopped and waited there for 10 minutes at least.  then i heard some twigs snapping.  the twigs that are left on the conifer trees at the base.  that is what i heard snapping.
you know when you’re out here you are scared all the time but when you hear that sort of thing you are petrified! 
what are you going to fight a bear with when you have no arms?
coarse language?
man it just aint going to fly up here.  you are going to be killed on sight!
my grandfather made it to 101 years.  i hope i have some of that in me.
may 30th…  whew!  lads its a hot one.  and its going to be hot all week.  now we aint complaining cause we are surrounded by water but still, we have to put a few hours in the classroom before we get into the field exercises.  just 5 weeks in the north country remain.  you stand at this side of the year and say wow!  that went by quick!
june first, 2006…  beauty way to start the month: sunny and breezy and not too hot.  yesterday was like a walk in oven.  we held the troops up in the shadows of the big pines to keep them cooled but i don’t know how well it worked cause by 530 yesterday afternoon there seemed to be a lot of kooks wandering the old sandy and dusty jungle spread.  we said good bye to all of that and went down to the airfield for a couple of hours.  the old strip is 2 kms long and is worth a visit.  we stood out there and of course there were no planes coming or going, but the view was fantastic.  we had a grand view of storm clouds brewing and approaching.  we haven’t had too much rain up here in the last couple of weeks so it was worth while to stand around and get soaked.  the rain didn’t last long!  soon the heat was back up on high and the bugs too were swarming everywhere.  so we left that place behind and rejoined the company still hunkered down in the shadows of the pines.  poor cats.
well i am feeling pretty good.
cause i know i am on my way out today!  i am leaving in half an hour and going to the south for some rest and relaxation.  its going to be good to get home and get that little girl’s arms around me!
woo hoo!
plus i’m booked at the Merlot for 7 p.m.  that swanky diner is on top of the Marriott hotel.  and the floor moves!  so while you sit there you get to see the whole city, 360 degrees worth in about 90 minutes.  and i know we will be there for at least 2 hours.  looking forward to it.  i hope our old buddy, the waiter, has our usual table set up for white vino cause that is what i am in the mood for!  looking forward to that.
and its kooky cause you can be here in the morning, in a pretty far and remote and kooky and frills free place, but at dinner time be in the best restaurant in ottawa.  its a total and complete 180.  and sometimes that is not an easy thing to adjust but hey, you have to and you want to.  that is the bottom line.
so adios boon docks.
i am on the road to some sweeter times and climes!
4 weeks remain in the north country.  today’s date:  june 6th, 2006.  wrote in a message this morning: june 6th, 1944, to see if the troops were paying attention and surprise!!  they were. 
the drive into a place like this at this time of the year is done entirely in daylight!  430 a.m. lads its time to get up!  nothing too exciting to report except for two large moose.  one came out of the bush and crossed the road just in front of us.  the other was laying there dead as dead can be, its guts splashed out all over the place.  looks like someone hit him in the hind quarter.  won’t be long before the ravens arrive i said to my associate. 
other than that: nothing much.  i can tell you the heat is up super high.  so up here in the bush, its not only a cooker, but dry and dusty too!  the lake here is big but i’ve only swam in it once and that was last october 5th and 6th…  with the autumn colors on the leaves.  we are a good distance away from that!
june 7th, 2006:  i found this book from 1994 in the rubble up here…  the book, life after god, by douglas coupland, i remember really had an impact on me.  there was something in those words, pages and pictures that struck a chord with me.  it was like hey!  this guy is writing about me!  even though many of the adventures the character was getting involved with were not me.  but the feelings, yes those were me.  it was a wicked time in my life, back then in the summer of 94.  wild and crazy times were most definitely developing but it was all in good fun and i hope some of those girls don’t speak badly about me.  but they probably do.  anyway.  i found the book up here in the rubble and flipped it open to page 150 and read the little paragraph and looked at the picture of a balloon floating away.  then i flipped to other pages and read some more and totally could not get into what this guy was thinking or feeling.  i thought wow is that stuff empty.  nothing!  300 pages of nothing.  man times have changed with you! 
good lord am i tired!  eyes falling out of the eye sockets tired…  i’m up here, its tuesday, june 13th, 2006, and wow am i feeling it.  been up here almost 10 months and when they cut me some slack in just 3 short weeks, i am going to be so happy!  put this place behind us and forget about it for the sweet summer months…   aaah…  just have to hang in there.  we’re looking at just 14 business days to go.  right now the door is wide open and there is cool breeze coming in.  the woods are filled with bird songs.  you can sit here and listen to them all day if you had to.  the landscape is very green.  the water is very high on the lake and those sandy beaches, i guess we won’t be seeing them again until september.  as for me: i just want to get back home to my family.  i am tired of all this.
june 20th, 2006: lads the end is very much in sight.  next week, next friday, is the end.  and we be hitting the road shortly after that!  life up here though remains unchanged.  found a can of something in the mess tent and cracked it open, to find soup of some kind, but it had been there for so long it had turned into a thick, grungy gel…  it was akin to alpo…  and i said there aint no way on this good earth i am eating that!  so i tossed it over the cliff.  its gone.  just like a bunch of old vids i’ve been lugging around for what?  12 years or more…  work related stuff from a job i am never going back to.  so what am i lugging these heavy video tapes for?  i deep six’d 30 of them yesterday and am thankful for doing so.  lessening the load.  its what i have to do these days.  all this old stuff, cobwebbed and dragging along, no one is going to watch those anytime soon so out with you!  whoosh!  i wrote a letter to my mom last friday morning and was going to post it when i got back to the city.  of course i didn’t, so there it is sitting there staring back at me.  my guess is its never going to get sent.
just like a lot of things around here…
june 21, 2006: longest day of the year…  started it out waking up on the couch.  that isn’t a pretty picture.  but looked around and saw where i was and went back to sleep.  only to be hustled up off the couch at 5 to see what all the racket was about outside.  seems the locals were into the sauce last night and a big old barney had developed right outside the cop shop door, which is just a door over from my place.  the women were loud and wild, spitting and nashing their rotten teeth.  after that cops had them settled in prison, quiet returned and i was back to the couch.  and dreamt!
in the dream i was back home, but not at the ranch.  i was home on treasure island.  michelle was there and we were looking over the great lodge.  i had a big maple blaze in full service in the fireplace and we were very happy because the place was ours.  we had bought the island.  and i was looking forward to telling mom the place was now officially back in the family.  what a dream!
i woke up from that, around 6 and thought dang!  that was a dream?  why can’t that one become reality? 
then fell asleep and dreamt i was climbing a mountain.  i was very close to the top and wondered if i had gone far enough and thought nope, i have come all this way, i’m going to the very top.  and there it was within range.  so i walked up there and found myself at the very tip, which was a spooky place to be!  the tip was unstable and there were rocks crumbling away under my feet and the view was grand but the footing terrible and i realized i’d made a big mistake going there.
i finally got the day started at 8. 
you see, in a normal jungle scape, like the one back home, you could get up and muster the troops at 5 every morning and have a great time.  up here, the jungles are infested with bugs of every sort.  i am serious!  when i go out there, it takes about 10 seconds for the deer flies to find me.  and they just don’t quit.  there are hundreds of them.  swirling about your head and its very unpleasant.  then there are the mosquitos.   you get them in the bush by the millions.  you look down at your bare arm and see about 20 of them digging in.  that is why you really need your thick jungle clothes and boots all year round, no matter how hot and humid it is. 
then there are the ants.  they cover the forest floor.  trillions of them.  if you stand in one place for longer than 10 seconds you will be covered in ants.  and that too, is a very unpleasant experience.
you don’t have these problems back home in the woods and fields around the ranch.  and of course you sure don’t have these probs down in ottawa. 
anyway.  just 7 and half days remain.
so our out is not far away.
june 28th, 2006: this is it!  i am the last one standing.  everyone else is gone gone gone!  and this old school house is pretty quiet.  so i’m here alone, kinda wondering what next…
cause right now there is no direction. 
so here i am.  alone with the ghosts of the remote northern wilderness. 
man you can really change your locations in a very short time.  i was back home at the ranch over the weekend, living in paradise.  even hit the brookwood brae golf and country club for the first time in 7 years.  times have changed mega since my last drawing back of the blade. 
but i have lived thank goodness and am very happy to be here.
monday i was back in the old poison city and that too was a very weird experience.  walking around the downtown streets, as a stranger.  some of the old haunts are now closed!  tried to call a few old friends and the numbers had been changed or disconnected.  and the  bus ride from suds to ottawa was horrific!  i should have taken the train.  or a plane.  the bus is no way to go.  at least not for me. 
i spent 8 years in sudbury.  that is a long time! 
didn’t walk up old fairview avenue though.  i guess that stroll will have to wait until the next time i can pass through the community. 
as for up here:  in the deep dark woodlands, i have no idea what is going on.  so i’ll just stay here until lunch time and go back to my filthy apt., which has been trashed again by someone who came in over the weekend.  they just can’t seem to leave my place alone.  i’ve been broken into and robbed i don’t know how many times this year.  but in breaking in, they have really turned what was a brand new pad five years ago, into a shamble today: smashed door, broken windows, leaks in the bedroom man you can’t sleep in there!  they stole my mattress.  broke the washing machine. 
what else?
well i don’ t know right off hand but anyway, we are leaving it all behind come this friday.  that is when i shall be going back to the city and switching clothes and going to the good city of montreal for an evening out, dancing and fine dining.  and this place will be eased out of my memory. 
good plan huh?
june 29th, 2006:  she’s one day at a time up here.  and when times get really tough, its one minute at a time!  kinda like today, as in right now.  but the word around the campfire is we could be out tomorrow at this very time.  which is going to be some fine looking roadway action cause i have plans for tomorrow night!  and its going to be a far cry from where we be this very moment.  just have to keep our fingers crossed that all goes well.
aint seen much of anything in the last 24 hours except two dead snakes and some moose tracks.  oh yeah…  several dead frogs, squished flat on the road.  aint no one going to cry over any of that, especially this boy. 
mid october 2006, after Thanksgiving:  added a few photos today of my big time commute to work…  that bush trail has been my to and from for 6 years now and you know what?  i think my times up there are soon coming to a close.  been back up there 30 days and times are tougher than the last.  we didn’t get that big old warm spell like last year so there was no swimming with the autumn colors and leaves.  in its place we got some cold cold rain and some big old winds, knocking down trees all over creation.  all the while i was thinking about opportunities elsewhere.  what kooky times must be going on in other parts of the country.  i guess i’ve had my fill of that woodland commute.  and i’ve certainly had my fill of living alone through those windy nights, waiting for the sunrise, not speaking to anyone cause there just aint anyone out there. 
november 25, 2006:  the old woodlands are still a place of peace but man you have to watch yourself!  been running around up there, along those trails and taking in what could be the last of the easy going.  usually at this time there is snow times ten but this year, the ice is forming and the woods are dry and cold!  those clear skies and sunshine over the past week was just too good to pass.  so we hit the trails for one last run about and i snapped a picture of the lake.  no loons.  no ducks.  and no geese, those wise guys have all split the scene and headed for warmer climes.  meanwhile we stay with the chickadees, the rabbits and the partridge and i wonder why… 
december 14, 2006:  holy mackinaw its mild up here in the north country.  mild like 5 degrees.  we have tons of snow and its in the melt mode.  so walking around out there is not an easy task!  to make matters worse, i’m still not in my winter jungle mode and man i need those big old boots now!  not next week.  ah well.  in one short week, one week from today, i’ll be out and on christmas holidays!  that is going to be sweet.  cause we’re taxing it up here.  taxing it and maxing it.  not a good combo when you are this far away from home.  but these mild climes sure do take the edge off. 
still…  i’d like to be home today.  i’d like to hear those stories the ladies have.  and of course i would love to see those ladies.  all 3 of them. 
december 21, 2006: last day in the north country.  let me tell you this boy is going to be happy to be on the road out of here!  cause man i am tired!  tired of being away from home.  tired of wearing these dirty old jungle clothes and tired of eating those scuzzy old jungle meals which aint fit for a mule, truth be told.  the good news is the sun is high and bright and its the first time we have seen those blue skies in 3 weeks!  no kidding. 
before i take off for xmas, visiting with the families, man i need a couple of mental health days.  i am sending the ladies on ahead.  they can go and have some fun down there and i am staying in the capital city at least one day on my own to unwind.  i need that.  cant go walking into a room of civilized folks straight out of this place!  i need a day or two and so i am taking it. 
have to love those mild climes.  its 0 degrees today.  not bad this close to xmas.  i know in years past i have driven home through a blizzard!  not today thank goodness. 
january 10, 2007:  we’ve been back in the north country just a couple of days, 2.5 worth when bamboozle…  out went the power supply!  that was at 8 this morning.  i knew something was up cause it was like living in a walk in freezer!  i woke up and it was mighty frosty!  i never minded any of that as i got myself started for a day in the ice box wilderness, she was minus 16 degrees at 8.  hit the forward position and not only was the power out, but the water supply was off!  we got into it about an hour before we had to shut it down for health reasons.  so!  we saddled up, the whole lot of us, and headed south!  so really, i’m here in the capital city in recline mode with the lovely ladies.  it isn’t any warmer down here!  but we can’t complain cause its been very mild up till today. 
its nice to be home mid week for an evening but i’m kinda wondering too, just how long is it going to take them to right whatever went wrong up there today.  it could be an off day tomorrow.  and you won’t hear me complaining if it is!
on that first day up there, we hit the lake and with the mild climes, i knew the ice wasn’t safe to go out on.  i told the troops to stay along the shoreline but of course some of them didn’t and took off running, heading for the shoreline across the way and we, 3 of us, watched, holding our breaths cause we knew it was only a matter of time before they went through. 
but somehow, they made it.  we were yelling at them all the way but they wouldn’t listen and i thought man this is going to be a dark day in our history books. 
but.  somehow they made it.
we were standing there watching the madness and suddenly there was a loud crack right underneath us and it went right between one of the troops feet!
we of course ran like hell for the shoreline and made it but i looked back out to others and thought oh boy…  one or two drownings coming up.
needless to say we aint going back out there again.  its the bush trails from now on, or until some of these young folks learn to follow orders a wee tad better…
don’t know if that is going to happen.
but we’re staying off the lake for now.
we were on our way to our island hide out.  which i was looking forward to seeing but that mad capped adventure put a damper on the fun and games of working in the wilderness.