November 4, 2017 I have processed a few of the images I have taken of the changing season over the pond at Friendly Forest. Because my mobility is still limited I have not been able to go out onto the forest trails, but the eye-candy is also right outside of my windows or off my deck. For images of the autumn in the forest from previous years check out this link or this link .
Here are some thumb-nail images from this fall. I believe it will help you better understand my own spirit formed by this land. BTW, the snow scenes are actually full-colour images. That is what happens with our winter light and snow landscapes.
October 28, 2017 We have had our first snow of this season, and though it is melting today, tomorrow the forecast is for a drop of temperatures and more snow. At least it held off till now. This reprieve has given the beaver that share this forest with me, even more time to add to their winter pantry. The two main adults are now huge, and I guess at about 90 pound body weight ... and that is from a close up view of a few feet distance. Earlier in the week at about 04:30 I heard a crash of sorts and assumed that bear had jumped onto my deck and probably tipped over my barbeque. With lights turned on I could not see any disturbance on the deck. Other views from the windows did not show anything out of order either. Then I opened a door where there were no windows and I saw the issue; a tree had fallen and the top landed on my roof and the beaver was busy chomping to cut off the top so it could drag it into the pond. when I yelled at it it slowly ambled off, to return a few minutes later .. Five additional attempts to chase it off, even using my .38 caliber starter pistol, it eventually seemed to say away for a bit. When things got light outside I surveyed the damage. It had taken down a tree so far from the house I had not considered it a danger to the building. I guess it had grown since I had made that calculation. Over the next few days they took down about an additional 8 or 10 trees, with all of them falling directly toward the house because we were having a persistent north-west wind that helped topple them in this direction. So, more chain saw work than my body really permitted. While I was able to do this, and there was no additional back pain while I was cutting and tossing aside the blocks, the rest of the week has proven the poor quality of my decision to do this myself. I am hurting again and having to take a higher dose of my pain meds than I wished to be the case.
I guess I have been wanting to get to full function so badly that I was over reaching.
I had done the same on Thanksgiving day. My initial goal was to host a dinner for those friends and neighbours who had been my lifeline over the past months. My initial count of about 10 guests ended up growing to 24 by time October 9 arrived. I can not tolerate turkey meat so I had settled on a Greek menu for the meal, and with a lot of planning, things seemed to be coming together. However, I also began to see the limits of my body and called on a few good friends to come early and help me with the final details. The skills of these friends got the large amount of pork back ribs barbecued, the table set, and appetizers out and guests welcomed in a manner I was unable to achieve. Pending chaos turned into a well ordered evening for a house full of family and friends. By the end of the meal I was hurting and needed to crash on my bed for an hour. When I arose the tables had been cleared, extra food stored and dishes mainly washed and stacked. The final greasy pans were being scrubbed.
What this has taught me was that while it is good for me to set goals and work to realize those goals, I need to remember that the ultimate success of those goals will depend on the good will and support of many family and friends ... of my community. It is a good lesson to remember especially given my propensity to try to do things solo.
We have had a glorious fall with good temperatures and good colour in the forest. Even though I still cannot venture to walk my trails, a good neighbour has taken his chain saw and cut out the deaf fall and beaver fell to make the trails walk able this winter. We had a few really strong wind storm that knocked down a lot of trees, the beaver dropped many across trail that came near the pond, and the different direction of some of those winds took trees that otherwise would have been sheltered by their companions.
I took some photos the other morning and will process and post some of them. The nature of light and the forest at this time renders what we see to nearly black and white imaging. The frost, snow and grey skies but still unfrozen pond water, creates some really spectacular sights. Too good to not be shared.
September 18, 2017 Bear was here last night. I have a Dolgo Crab tree growing near the house and the small brilliantly-red apples met their fate last night . I would not have minded that so much, as I know Bear needs to get ready for winter as well, but in getting the apples, Bear also broke off the main stem and left it shredded and dangling. I tried to prune it more carefully and hope that no disease will enter that wounded area. There was also a wild apple that had grown out of the base root of another apple tree that had lost all of its grafts. Many of those apples were also taken down but since there were still others left on that tree, those bitter and sour apples were less to Bear's taste than the sweet Dolgo variety.
Thrum was beginning to resemble a bear lately, and a few days ago I got her reluctantly into the shower and gave her a good shampoo and wash. She tolerated that well enough but was not too pleased with the noise and wind jet from the dryer unit. Well, today was to be the day where I took out the trimmers and scissors and brushes. The last time I tried to do that for myself was back in March, and I was unable to complete it even over a three day period. My body allowed me to do it this time with minimal discomfort and awkwardness. I can walk some and even stand in position for a while now. Simple things give a great deal of pleasure. I do not think I will ever take the importance of a good back for granted again.
While far from whole, my body is headed in that direction and I am thankful.
My sister gave me my mother's walker to use out here. It makes movement easier within the house but the smaller wheels do not work well on rough ground, so I am limiting its use to the inside of the house. Along with crutches and collapsible walkers and the wheelchair, I am essentially mobile again.
I am setting targets for myself. My latest one is to prepare a Thanksgiving meal on Oct 9, and inviting family and friends over to express my appreciation for the support they have been for me. Since I am unable to digest turkey meat I leave that traditional item off my menu. There are many other good foods that we will be able to enjoy together. I am warning my prospective guests that if a week before I am having second thoughts about being able to do what I have set out to do, my invitation might quickly be changed to be an invitation to a "pot luck" gathering.
August 12, 2017 For those who read this blog page, and have wondered about my physical recovery; I am doing much better and I can see the prediction that I will be shoveling my own snow this winter, to be a real probability.
While I am still on pain medications and anti-inflammatories, I am cutting back on the amounts and doing well with those reductions. I can move with more confidence and am able to perform most basic tasks around here without distress. I have much to be thankful for .
A message to those who have been so kind to me and have been offering help and bringing food ... I appreciate all of that, but I take back my promise to pretend to need help beyond the real need in an effort to keep the good things coming my way ... LOL There are so many good things happening that I do not need to fake incapacity to see these gifts all around me.
The biggest gift however, is the gradual return of capacity of my body. I do not know the long term prospects yet, but right now things are looking good!
While I have been nearly glowing in the realization of good people and good things happening in my life, I am also aware of the hatred that lurks in the hearts of way too many of my fellow citizens and the citizens in other parts of the world. This weekend the Alt-Right marches in Charlottesville Virginia USA, and the injuries and death that have happened there ... the extreme vitriol that spewed out of the hearts of so many when the Canadian government settled out of court with Omar Khadr, with its very thinly disguised Islamophobia, the ugly reactions after the arrest of a farmer after he shot a young man who came into his yard last year ... and on and on and on. There is a darkness inside of us that fears those who are different, that resents those who seem to be doing better than us or who are perceived to be gaining goals we do not see ourselves reaching ... that darkness may be more apparent in those who demonstrate in the streets of our nation, more apparent in those who troll the comment sections of news articles that seem to take a stand that resists bigotry or xenophobia or simple racism ... but that darkness really resides inside of all of us. It seems to be part of the very culture that we absorbed as children but which often has lain hidden or latent until we perceive our "skin to be pricked" or we are goaded by others into expressions based on fear or expression of that negative spirit that is given permission to parade in the middle of our public streets when formerly it was only whispered to others in dark alleys and private spaces. If you or I do not see that also inside of ourselves, then we are also blind and are are not a solution, but rather a part of the problem. If we cannot look into our own fears and see darkness there we will not be doing what we need to to bring light where there was darkness.
When our civic leaders take up the cause of darkness and use it to exploit others to gain power and votes, that is especially reprehensible. Canada has had its own versions of that ; consider the 2015 election campaign and even the tour of Andrew Sheer recently, and the public positions of those of his Party who went to the USA to go on right wing talk shows to declare their solidarity with the islamophobia in the USA and in its leadership. No, we are not immune to that darkness, and the challenge is very much before us. Those who never believed the Nazi and Fascist movements would ever gain ground and take power before WW II are like so many of us now . But we have the Trump win in the USA, we have the Harper years in Canada to tell us that history can repeat and that we must find darkness wherever it resides,and bring it forward to light.
July 29, 2017 I am now one week past the 263 Art Studio Tour event at Friendly forest. I appreciated my guests immensely, and thank all for coming to see my work and especially a thank you to those who saw fit to purchase one or more of my items. When others express appreciation for my work by word or purchase, it provides a validation to my efforts that sometimes is lacking when I am the only one appraising the work. One's own eye needs to be the best critic of my work, but another's eye can also provide a way of seeing things that I did not have. Thank you all!
My back situation is significantly on the mend and I am able to undertake movements and activities totally out of reach even a few weeks ago. I have been able to pull back on the amount of pain medications I have been taking and I hope to keep that reduction going as the pain lessens. I am so happy that the medications I have been using do not produce the addictive effects of the o[opioids I really wanted to avoid them even if I had to endure more pain.
I have had to ask others to cut my grass for me and my sister and a niece undertook to do a good part of my trails as well. I just wish I were fit enough to be able to walk them at this time. But that too will come as I am promised by the people at the Spinal Pathways Clinic in Saskatoon. They even tell me I will be shoveling my own snow this winter.
In large part we have had very good weather this summer, and there has been little danger of forest fires so far. For that I am also grateful. This Spring I considered the issue of getting my fire suppression system up and running, and then realized that even if I hired someone to run the hoses and set up the pump, if there were an emergency, I would not have been able to make it down to the pump to get it started, and perhaps not even be able to get to my car and drive away. That was somewhat scary but Creator was able to take care of my concerns as well in that regard.
The VW TDI scandal has hit home for me. The 2010 Golf that I have is one of the affected vehicles and I am in the process of arranging to accept the Settlement Offer and do a trade-in for a 2016 Tiguan. It seems like a real shame that a perfectly good car (except for the emissions issue) has to be junked like that. I am sure that the car is destined for the wrecking press. My turn-over date is in mid August.
In my deliberations I had to consider my increased age and my limited finances. When I bought the 2010 TDI I envisioned that to be a car that lasted me for many years to come. The costs of a new vehicle could not be justified and I wanted to get a car better suited to our winters out here. The impact of my time of incapacity this past winter weighs heavily on my considerations these days. I wonder of the sales people had another customer whose first consideration was to take out a tape measure and measure the cargo and back seat areas to see if a wheelchair would easily fit into the vehicle. Then the issue of how easy or difficult it would be to enter and exit the vehicle came into consideration. Leather seats and a sunroof were no longer possibilities for me this time. I will just need to have a durable cover for the seat for Thrum to ride. I have found dog tethers that latch into the seat belt buckle that would work better than the method I have used in the past.
Over the past week or so I have been able to spend more time outside on my deck. I can not do the work things that I would like to be doing, but I might as well enjoy the warmer weather and the sun and the view and the sounds of my forest companions. I am always impressed that my deck is so insect-free. Usually there is a slight breeze coming off the water and toward the house and that makes blood tracking difficult for the mosquitoes. Besides, they seem to gather near the ground in their blood search and ignore potential food that sits higher up.
For my friends who are still awaiting email replies, I will do so yet. I have found that my =ability to sit at the computer and compose coherent thoughts is limited l, and if you are a friend, you also know that a short message just seems to be beyond my capacity at the best of times. A man of few words when I sit at a keyboard=hard I am not. Please, I ask for your patience.
June 25, 2017 Just a quick update; there is not just one bear here, there are two. The second to be sighted is a larger brown-haired bear who has been here at least twice over the past 12 hours. When yelled at, he did leave but was back early this morning again. In my experience bears are rather territorial so one of the two will likely be chased off to other places. Unfortunately this means I will have at least one who frequents this place for the rest of the summer. It seems to have no fear of human habitation and likely has learned that houses means food in some form or other.
June 24, 2017 Thrum, my dog, has a variety of bark types. Some are directed at me and even make a kind of talking bark. However, she is very territorial and does not want other creatures to invade what she considers her space. she has alert and warning barks that differ depending on what kind of animal she spies or hears. There is a frantic and angry bark for invading squirrels that seem to know they can taunt her, especially from the other side of a window. Rabbits get a louder and deeper bark as they are clearly prey she wants to chase. but this evening, there was a different bark that was louder and deeper and more aggressive than the others. so I went to look. it was a bear walking through the garden area. The bear had heard Thrum from inside and was walking away though looking back at the source of that noise.
As indicated earlier. I had seen signs that a bear had been by the house but this was my first visual sighting. It was a two-three year old. I could not see if it was female or male. it could have been one of the cubs from a few years back who had boldly gone into anything they desired to explore as Mama bear was there to protect them. This one had a deep black and healthy and shiny coat ... not a full grown boar, but perhaps a young sow..
This sighting is a good reminder to use cautions even here in the yard area.
June 21, 2017 Happy Solstice! Happy Indigenous Peoples Day! May the gifts of Creator, wonderfully expressed in the life-giving presence of the Sun, continue to encourage the growth and development of the riches of the Earth so that we all may live in a good way.
Since the last post I am happy to report that with the kind support of my oldest brother and the rest of the family I was able to take part in a family reunion that took place in Saskatoon. All but three nephews and one husband were able to gather over the long weekend . Many thanks to all who made it happen, especially to my nieces and my youngest sister who undertook the main organizing effort to bring all of us out of our private burrows to remember our roots. It was a wonderful time for me and though I had to retreat to the hotel room frequently to rest my spine I was able to enjoy most of the planned events.
Back in the years when I was fighting with SaskPower to be responsible in how they planned a major power line in our area, I had various people refer to me as a "tree-hugger" and that not intended as a compliment. When we were being organized for the group photos initially the photographer set me up and located others around me in my wheelchair. I protested. I did not want to be pictorially remembered as the old guy in the wheel chair. A compromise was reached and I was positioned next to one of the larger elm trees in the park and, standing on my left foot and hanging on to the tree, I could pose for the photos. So I literally became a tree-hugger and that is immortalized in those family photos as well. SaskPower, do you want me to send you a copy just for old times sake?
I have had an interesting experience with a young man from British Columbia who indicated a desire to come to live at Friendly Forest while he engaged in adult upgrading and certification. In return for my support he would undertake the tasks that my bad back prevented me from doing around here. Unfortunately he was a religious fundamentalist and biblical literalist who, in the final analysis, was unable to be comfortable with my more inclusive and tolerant attitudes, and especially with my spiritual connection and prayer life in First Nations Traditional ways. To him this was paganism and something he could not accept, and in turn he could not accept me either. Although he had become a Catholic by adult baptism he brought with him the rigid fundamentalism of his Anabaptist background, except now anointed as an RC, he seemed to fill the old stereotype of the recent convert to Catholicism who had become more Catholic than the Pope. While I am sure that his decision to finally not come out to Friendly Forest was in the best interests of both of us, I had a first hand experience with someone whose views and outlook on the world was so restrictive that I wonder how much of God's wonderful plans for us might be shut out of his life. It also made me wonder how the unseen and unacknowledged views that I hold strongly are also likely limiting my own understandings that God would seek to have me discover for my own enrichment. I know it is always easier for me to see the limitation in others than in myself.
My physical recovery is slow and I need to measure the advances in small increments that are not always going in the right direction ... something my Doctor and the Physiotherapist at the Spinal Pathways Clinic remind of. I will need to have help to tend to outdoor tasks but I am managing indoors much better and I can even get to the car and undertake small trips such as a recent visit to the Doctor. What is really limiting is that I am unable to stand on my right leg and therefore, unable to walk without the aid of a wheelchair, a walker or crutches.
My limitations would have been catastrophic for my life out here if it were not for the thousands of kind supports from friends nd neighbours. They have been most helpful and I know I will never be able to repay those kind supports. Perhaps we do our acts of love for our human kin and the energy from that enters the larger realm of Spirit and is there to inspire others to do likewise. It is impossible to be cynical about the state of the world when I encounter such goodness all around me. This goodness grows and that will always be enough to overcome the darkness that also shares our life space.
On another theme, the Canada Geese who secured the nesting site on the Beaver Lodge, have had a successful hatch. Now they need to keep the land predators from finding the small goslings and making a meal out of them.
I have not been able to go out onto my trails to see if there is general bear sign. I did see sign of a bear presence near the house when I did find an old spruce block that had been ripped apart in a search for ants, and an entry into my wood shelter space where I have a freezer of food. Although there was entry to that area the bear did not get into the freezer but this does serve as a reminder to lock that freezer lid.
Enough for this time. Thank you to all whose kind supports are enabling me to be at home for this recovery period. I do not know what the future holds but I trust that what does happen will be for the enriching of my life just as my associations with you and your kindnesses has already been for me..
May 10, 2017 Today a small victory and advancement; I tried and was successful in going down one flight of stairs and going up them again. After having been restricted to the one level of my home for two weeks that was a liberating experience. Next is movement down to the lower level of the house and the return of my best friend, my dog Thrum. Although she is likely better off in the care of Carol and Dennis, and might not be as happy back home, I think that three years of caring for her has earned me that benefit. Well, maybe not, but I want her back in any case. LOL
I pulled out a DVD of Leonard Cohen in his London Concert from 2008 and I was once again totally overwhelmed by the artistry that he demonstrates. The lyrics, the poetry and the melodies, even if he does not have the best voice to communicate those other things. In fact, whenever I have heard any good artist doing a cover of one of Leonard's songs, I thought they did it better than he did. But in Concert, and with the wonderful artistry of his musicians and back-up singers, the experience is an incredible treat to the spirit.
Trees are leafing out and the wonderful time of the year without mosquitoes is NOW, and I cannot really get out to appreciate it as I have in other years. Ah, well, that gives my spirit and body even more motivation to get well soon.
I am expecting the arrival of two friends later in May. It will be great to have them here ... again food for my hungry soul. Whenever I am in the presence of a good person I feel that their goodness permeates into me and I, in turn, become better myself. These friends are good persons. And speaking of good persons, I have to testify to the wonderful goodness and kindness of my friends and neighbours. I have had their prayers on my behalf, I have shared the good food they have brought, and the spirit-lifting conversations by phone and in person. Thank you all... it is so much appreciated.
May 4, 2017 It has been an interesting winter for me here at Friendly Forest. The injury that I had in January has persisted in its effects. On the Easter weekend, an attempt to follow a recommended stretching exercise seems to have resulted in either a new injury or a movement of the herniated disk to create a severe downturn in symptoms that landed me in hospital and now in a wheelchair and a referral to Spinal Pathways clinic in Saskatoon for specialists to assess my situation.
While from one consideration this is a very negative experience, I have not found it to be so. Rather it is an opportunity for me to experience life in a new fashion, with new limits but also with new insights into what human life and the human spirit is all about. The view from a hospital bed to the limits of a wheelchair forces one to re-evaluate a lot of things. I start with the firm belief that this experience will allow me to encounter new blessings and new opportunities to grow to be the person I am supposed to be. My Creator did not "do this to me", but rather it is a part of being a mortal human, and my Creator sustains my spirit and allows me to find new channels for joy and hope. It has always been that way in my life and I have no reason to expect any less this time.
This morning the frogs have started to emerge from the pond and the sounds of the frogs and the battling geese and ducks and the sounds of the wind chimes over my deck are a source of great joy, and since I am not able to be out there doing all sorts of work, I will enjoy the sights and sounds and smells to a fuller degree and with no guilt.
March 29, 2017 This entry is long overdue. The days between Jan 15 and today have been eventful for me at Friendly Forest. In January and through February I hosted a young man who was seeing if Friendly Forest might be part of his dream to find a way of living off the land in a sustainable manner with respect for the Earth. While his search for that special location continues it was good to meet a fine and idealistic young man and have him experience the hospitality of this special place.
It was also at the end of January that I did something stupid which resulted in a herniated / slipped disk in my lower spine that has been causing serious problems for me since that time. I do not even know just what I did, if it was a single event or a series of things that created the problem. I am awaiting word on when further medical intervention will happen to try to bring things back to some degree of normal.
Today is also the anniversary of the death of my father in 1988 and it is always a day of special remembrance and prayer.
A few days ago, in the midst of a heavy snow fall, I heard the return calls of the first pair Canada Geese. Today they found a few square feet of water that the beaver had opened up next to their lodge.
The 263 Art Studio Tour is coming together. I have been making updates to our web site. Have a look by clicking on our logo:
January 15, 2017 Happy New Year to all readers of this page. I have archived the 2016 entries. You can access this and other archive files by going to the Journal Archive Index . Click on the link at the end of this page to go there.
I have just come in from a good hike in the forest. The weather has changed and is actually mild. We have had a lot of bitterly cold weather through much of December and into the first two weeks of January, so it is very nice to be able to get out without watching my dog hopping on three legs after a few minutes. There is not a lot of snow cover (we got all of that at the beginning of October and then it melted in November) so there is no insulation for her feet. She loved exploring all of the animal scents that were not available to her except around the house and yard.
Someone commented that humans start the day with a coffee and perhaps a morning newspaper or more likely, a computer or smart phone, and learn about what happened in the world overnight. Dogs go out in the morning, do their business and use their noses to read the landscape to tell them what happened overnight. Judging from my dog's reactions, a lot of interesting things happened while we slept.
In early December I removed my wood burning stove and replaced it with a gas stove. I have found that the new stove is quite capable of heating the whole house even during the extreme cold. I had some earlier concerns about that as there is no real way of evaluating that until it is actually tested in situ. With a wood burning stove heat output is dependent on so many variables; kind of wood, degree of burn, damper settings etc. and output at high burn is significantly different than a low burn level. With a gas stove output is much more consistent. The new stove is also a cast iron unit which emits radiant heat into the living room space and heats the rest by way of convection. That experience of radiant heat was what I loved about the wood stove.
With the need of firewood in the house gone I no longer had need for the hoist system and wood box that had served me so well for nearly 30 years. After January 1 I started the dismantling of that system and then reconstructed the gap in the floor and repaired and refinished walls adjacent to that and finally added tiles of the same kind that I have on the rest of the living room floor. My goal was to make it look as if that space was always a part of the rest of the living room, and I believe I have succeeded to a large degree. A few visitors here after the renovations did not even notice that there was a change, so I assume my goal was realized.
The virus that had attacked me and still seems to be doing major damage to people in this community, seems to have given up its battle in my body to seek out more vulnerable souls. A gradual return of strength and a sense of physical well-being is really appreciated. I had nearly forgotten what it felt like to have this kind of energy and not always getting tired. I am also detecting a return of appetite, and that is one factor I plan to watch more carefully as the weight I lost during the period of illness is not welcome to return.
To all, I hope you are having a great winter and that the slow return of Father Sun / Wi to this hemisphere will bring greater light to our spirits as well.
Happy New Year from Gerald at Friendly Forest!