May 18, 2003 - Aug 26, 2003


26-08-2003 I welcome the reader to this page.  I have come to the conclusion that some readers have book marked this page and go to it directly.  You may have noticed that I have added  visitor counters to a few pages on this site, and I consistently find that this page gets more visitors than the home page which would ordinarily be the access point for a web site visitor.

I appreciate the interest in this site and hope that you find things of interest to you on a continuing basis.  I have been making a few things for my FF Products line but have not yet taken the photos to post on the site.  I have also been maintaining my walking / hiking trails and have hosted guests who have appreciated the opportunities provided by the trails.  I have also been busy with other visitors to Friendly Forest, and my own continuing search for "the face of my God". ...  Perhaps I need to amplify that expression.

Over many years when people have inquired about what I was going to do with my retirement years, I would simply reply that I would continue to seek the face of my God, as I had been doing for the previous part of my life.  That answer usually did not enlighten my inquirer, so sometimes an explanation was appropriate.

I believe the primary human quest is to explore  the relationship each of us has with our Creator, and that building this personal relationship and coming to know its implications in our lives is "coming to see the face of God".  I also have added that I believe my next great life adventure is going to be leaving this life and seeing my God "face to face."  When that happens, and my vision is not limited by my own spiritual shortcomings, I hope to have already come to know what my God looks like, so that I don't go off looking for  my God / Creator in the "other / wrong" place!  Although that is intended to have a bit of humour to it, it also expresses what I think is a fundamental truth. 

A few people have pursued the inquiry and asked what I mean by this.  I explain that I believe my God will look like what  God's presence to me has been during my lifetime, and that from my Christian heritage, I believe the face of my God is presented to me primarily in the form of my neighbour, the poor, the weak, the young, the burdened, the one I have reason to dislike, and the human faces I have not seen because they have been distant or my limits have prevented me from considering them my companions on a single journey.  I also see the face of my God in the non-human creation all around me, and during the later years of my life, in the natural environment of the forests and  lands of where I live.  During the past year I believe I have been especially gifted to come in contact with the face of my God through traditions and spiritual practices of other cultures and religions, especially the traditions and spirituality of the Aboriginal peoples of this area. 

It is my religious conviction that there is only one Creator / God of all things and all people, and that this God's interaction with humanity and the rest of creation has been consistently one of loving care.  Given that, it is not surprising to me that the spiritual development of humans all over this globe and through all time has been similar, and that when  individual experience with Creator is honoured, that it leads us to expressions of reverence, gratitude, petition and thanksgiving. in other words, to worship.  It is also normal that this worship, when shared between fellow travellers, shared between fellow worshippers, that it should create ritual and ceremony that involves the larger community of humanity sharing its collective experience with God. 

Through time different cultures and traditions have developed, but the forms of ritual and prayer and ceremony have very substantial and significant overlaps and similarities. After all, human beings are essentially unchanged for many thousands of years, and our Creator /  God is forever unchanging, so it is to be expected that we share a similar cultural and faith evolution.

I have come to value the spiritual expressions of the Aboriginal peoples that I have come to know, and believe that this exposure reveals to me more facets of the face of God so that my spiritual connections might be strengthened and enriched. 

What I have come to be increasingly distressed by is my perceptions that organized religions seem to have more concern about the power and control of their religious leaders than they do about supporting and enhancing the spiritual connections of their membership / believers  to Creator/ God.  In so far as this happens, those religious organizations have nothing to do with what is really important, and just serve as vehicles for the baser traits and motives of humanity.  In so far as they nurture the spiritual growth of individuals and in so far as they bring together the collective spiritual riches of individuals, they serve  a good purpose.  We can also learn a lot from the  spiritual experiences of other individuals and other peoples. 

If you have some thoughts or reactions to these ramblings, I would appreciate your feedback.

17-08-2003 Sunday AM   We have been having very hot and very dry weather here.  A year ago I invested in fire supression equipment to protect the house and shop areas.  Right now, the pond water has dropped so much that the intake hose does not reach the water .  This presents a problem for which I am trying to find a solution.

I went for a walk in the forest during the mid afternoon at the hottest part of the day.  The forest floor crunched underfoot and plant leaves, especially the understory plants, seemed to have their leaves at half mast!

I have been doing a bit of turning and have started to laminate different woods together for turning blocks, following a pattern I have been using with my other wood items for some time.

A client brought by a large wooden bowl turned from Magnolia wood.  It had developed a stress crack coming in from the outer rim.  I will try to repair it for her using a special glue and using a web clamp to hold things.  I think it should work, but I also know that pulling a piece of wood in on a crack simply re-establishes the internal pressure that led to the crack in the first place, and creates a risk of another crack developing in the future.  The finish seemed to be a thick varathane and that too has developed hairline cracks in the finish which make it not suitable for use for foods or things with oil or liquid components.  The client will try to refinish the entire piece.  The wood is very attractive and the bowl is very simple.

I have added a few things to our VOTENGA.CA site.  I finally got around to writing a letter  with a few general concerns about where I see Saskatchewan agriculture going.  I have sent these off to various papers but I do not know if they will be used.

During the week I received an invitation to a supper.  Some friends from St. Peter's area had come out for a visit and I was being invited to join them for supper.  I had a very nice evening, and was delighted when they returned to visit by coming out to Friendly Forest on Friday afternoon.

Earlier on Thursday I hosted a group of young people and their leaders for a Forest Visit.  These fine young people were from Prince Albert, and spending a bit of time in the forest was intended to be a break from city summer existence.  I would welcome them back at any time.   The forest has been a gift to me and gifts are given to be shared.

Later this week I hope to be able to spend some time with another friend who has agreed to speak with me about what I experienced at a recent Sundance ceremony at Whapeton.  I am at the stage that parallels the "mystagogia" stage of the Catholic RCIA program where, after experiencing the mysteries of the sacraments of initiation, the newly baptized reflect on the experience and try to understand and absorb the implication of the experience for their future lives.  I trust that my friend Ken will help me to find deeper meanings for myself in relation to my connection to my Creator / God.

I pray for the gift of healing and renewing rain on this land and on our people.  We stand in need, and our need is known.  What we do not know is what other needs our loving Creator is responding to in our lives and how the continuing dry period is part of that.  Perhaps it is needed for us to better understand the levels of destruction we have done to Mother Earth, and to motivate us to wake up and do what we can to help the earth heal from its wounds. 

As I attended our church services last evening (during the summer we meet Saturday evening rather than Sunday mornings) I thought of the many who are in need of healing and prayer.. the many whose lives are overwhelmed with concerns and difficulties of health and of relationship.  I also prayed that I have the wisdom and courage and generosity to respond as I am able to some of those needs and so be one of the many hands of God in my community.

09-08-2003 Saturday AM at 06:30.  I have some bacon on the stove sending  the sweet aromas through the house, and the other things for a breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs and mixed fruit is ready to start cooking.  I am waiting for a second breakfast guest. 

During the past week I was sorting out from the weekend art show and sale.  Generally the experience was a good one, with reasonable monetary returns.  Once back home I scrambled to unload, unpack, and then get to a custom project to make two  tables for a home.  These are oak, simple design and with a laminate top to suit the situation with small children in a one-table home.  The space was limited so I have made two units.  The larger will remain in place full-time, while the smaller one will find a home in the living room unless there is demand for a larger sitting for a meal with guests. 

I have also sent off a larger set of walnut and birch chess pieces to a customer in Ottawa, and have made shipping arrangements  for the table / chest / trunk special order.

I have a guest with me for a while and there is the regular drop-in company that keeps things rather busy here in the summer months.  Yesterday I was pleased to welcome a family from Calgary who had come out to visit their adopted trees in the Forest of Protest.

I have a few people inquiring about my political campaign.  I am not sure what to make of some of these inquiries.  Sometimes I get the impression that they are expecting me to be spending every minute glad handing or knocking on doors or kissing babies or something like that.  I am not planning to change who I am for this campaign.  I am not a professional politician, and if that is what it would require to be that, I never plan to adopt that role.

In a discussion with a neighbour the other day I verbalized what I have realized for some time now.  My commitment to the New Green Alliance and a more Green political future for this land is a major commitment for me.  I am ready to devote four or more years of my relatively short remaining life expectancy to a public service that will gain me nothing on a personal level and only stands to benefit future generations and other peoples' children.  Given this very real sacrifice that I am prepared to make, I particularly resent some of the poor taste "political" jokes or comments that people make.  Perhaps this personal involvement on my part has awakened me to another dimension of public life and given me a better appreciation for the fact that not everyone seeks public office for personal gain or unworthy motives.  Anyone with comments on these musings?

01-08-2003  Friday Morning at the beginning of a new month.  I have packed my Friendly Forest Products for the weekend sale at the MacDonald farm site.  I wish I had a few things of other types that I did not get time to make, but I have a rather good selection of new materials and new kinds of things that I have been making.  And since the sale is featured as "Recent Work" by the five participating artists, that is probably appropriate.

During the week a customer came to pick up a special chest built for his wife's jewellery, and before he would take it insisted that I sign it as a piece of art.  that was very flattering since the customer is an artist himself. 

For anyone who is interested in coming to the show / sale, it will be at the farm yard of Myles MacDonald and Meg Shatilla which is located  along Highway # 2, directly west of Hanson's Hill, which is 29 km north of Prince Albert.  Featured are works by Myles MacDonald, Donna Smith, Tim Moore, Colleen Watson and my own work.  The hours are from 12:00 noon till 22:00 for August 2, 3, and 4th.

I have placed images of a few other items on the Recent Work Gallery 1 page.

CBC Radio also announced that Weyerhaeuser is logging to 10 metres of the water of resort lakes in the north west, and this with the full approval of the government.  That is a serious threat to many people and to the riparian environments of much of the boreal forests.  I have reacted and written a letter that I submitted to print media.

27-07-2003  I have reached the point of putting the finish on a custom jewelry chest.  I have also found another section of Green Ash which I am turning. To see this recent work go to Recent Work Gallery 1.

The day will be busy on several fronts, but before things get too far along I need to take some time in prayer.

19-07-2003  Saturday AM. The morning is a great one with fine weather, though a good long rainy day would also be appreciated.  I really should just take the time to sit back and enjoy what is here, but as usual, I am driven to go about scurrying to do things that I deem need to be done.  It seems as if I am too afraid to find out that if I did not do these things the world would not end, and the real nature of my relative importance / insignificance would be made know to me.

I have my trail clearing saw repaired and I will get around to doing trail work, and I will do it..

I have several wood projects on order and I will get them done ...

I have a house to clean and a green house to weed, and I will get that done..

I have food to prepare and events to plan for, and I will get them done.

I have a political campaign to work at, and I will do it..

I have a spirit that needs to be nourished and I will take time today to pray and speak to my God/Creator!

Later I will take some photos of recent work and share them here, but today I am going to pray.  I will pray as well that God / Creator bless you, the person who has visited this site and is reading this.

13-07-2003   On the Home page I have featured a photo of the smoke billowing up from the "Pasture Fire" that took over more than 30,000 ha. a few weeks back.  The photo was from Friendly Forest about 7 km away from the fire.  Later in the evening, as the fire grew the sky images were even more awesome, but I did not have my camera at hand.

I have been making some more things in the shop this past week, but have also had to take time for various errands that could not wait.  I have been turning a few things from green birch, leaving some bark on the items.  The problem  is always allowing the items to dry without serious  shrink cracking.  I have found that a bit of cracking is OK as the spaces will close when the whole item has reached a uniform level of dryness.  I did not think that I wanted to use PEG to stabilize the wood and have the resulting waxy character to the wood.

On Monday I was a guest of a friend for a wonderful supper.  We also had time for some leisurely walking through a different kind of forest than I have here at Friendly Forest.  Thank you my friend!

On Wednesday I took a bit of time to go hunting for some wild sage, as there is none growing in this part of the forest, the sage being more an open, arid land plant.  I headed south and soon began to find traces in the roadside.  The further I went, the more I found, finally discovering three distinct kinds of wild sage.  I offered ritual prayer and tobacco offerings for the gifts of mother earth, and for a new appreciation for what I discovered by taking the time and exploring the native plants that still grow in some unspoiled areas.  Since then I have been trying to dry the plants in a manner that will retain the natural volatile oils that make the sage so special and fragrant.

For Sam; I was able to do the rubbing out finish on your chest/table .T the multi-layers of varnish had cured sufficiently to do the finish work.  I will be in touch with you soon to discuss shipping arrangements.

The skies graced this area with about 8 mm of rain last night. This came along with an incredible lightening storm... most of which I missed as I slept a sound sleep.

I need to get more work done on this site as well and complete the updated look I started a few weeks back.

05-07-2003  The forest received about 2.5 cm of rain over a few days of intermittent showers.  What a gift from the Creator!

The St. Mary High class of '78 has a 25 year reunion in Prince Albert this weekend.  I was only able to attend the evening social on Friday.  It was great to see the people who came, and I salute the organizers for their efforts and the positive and friendly spirit in which everyone was made welcome.  Those 25 years probably went faster for me than it did for most of the class grads, but that is OK... their time will come.  What struck me is that they are a good ten years older than I was when they were in my biology classes  in '78!

I have been making a few things on my lathe lately. I will post them in Recent Gallery 4.  I need to have more items for a sale at the beginning of August.  I will keep you posted about the sale in later Journal entries.

I have been harvesting some more Yarrow from Mother Earth, and while it is drying in the house, the aroma is a gentle reminder of that gift.


30-06-2003  I know that summer is here when the number of my unexpected visitors doubles or triples.

Friendly Forest is a great place to visit, and if I did not live here already, I would want to visit as well.  There is something about the beauty of a forest and water that draws the human spirit. And when you can enjoy it without having to pitch a tent and sleep with a rock or a root digging into your back, and you can step into a hot shower rather than a a bone chilling dip in a lake or river, and being able to relax indoors or even in a screen gazebo without having to plaster on the insect repellant,  the enjoyment is enhanced.  "Roughing it" is fine for a while, but doing it full time is not exactly what I appreciate, ... in any season.

I have finally used a special piece of Mexican Bocote that I have had in my shop for years.  I decided to make four "tea boxes". When I finished the only pieces left were the wedge pieces that came from cutting the mitre corners for the box sides.  I need to post new images on my Gallery pages and will do so soon.. OK, I know I promised that before, but I will do it!

We have had some rain and are hoping for more.  It will not take much more wind or warmth to make the forests tinder dry again and vulnerable to a major fire. 

A few days ago I received the first contribution for our New Green Alliance campaign fund since I sent out our brochures.  I am thankful for that support though I admit it seems very strange for me to be receiving a contribution rather than for me to be giving one.  This political candidate thing is still quite strange for me...

A few  images from a forest in blossom:


22-06-2003  As the visitor will likely have noticed, I am modifying the appearance of the pages on this web site.  I am converting to a cleaner looking page header and navigation bar.  I started to add flash buttons but took them out in favour of the simple form you see above.  This format takes less file space and will load faster and I think fits the general appearance of the pages better.

On Friday evening we finally had some rain here with  slightly more than 2.5 cm or 1 inch.  We need much more, but it should reduce the forest fire hazard for a while.  On Wednesday a major fire started just to the north and east, and driven by a strong south wind it rapidly became a major fire .  If the wind had been from the north this whole area with many residences would have been under immediate threat.  We thank our Creator/God for the gift of rain and ask for more to renew the parched earth.

People have noted that the trees are showing signs of major stress.  Many large spruce trees have already died, those still living are loaded with cones this year, and the Aspen trees produced a great abundance of seeds and consequent 'cotton fluff'.  Many older, larger birch trees have died or are dying when ordinarily they would still have had many more years of growth before maturity.  Even smaller plants are putting out abundant and very early blossoms.  I guess it is Mother Earth's creatures way of preparing for death and a renewal.  I recall advice given to people who want house plants to blossom... keep them root bound and do not fertilize them... they will be under stress and will blossom to try to reproduce before they die.

Good news from Regina;  the New Green Alliance has nominated a series of candidates to contest the next election in that region.

I have gotten some time in the shop now that I have the repair parts for my band saw.  I really missed that tool during its down time!

Yesterday afternoon I thought it was time to gather some yarrow plants for drying. I made a tobacco offering and thanked Mother Earth and God for letting me share in these gifts, and  then I also made sure that I did not harvest all from the area and instead of pulling them out, cut them off to leave the chance for a renewed growth later this season.  Even an old codger like me can learn how to do things better and treat God's gifts with greater respect.

18-06-2003  06:55.  Breakfast is finished and I am about to get going on the tasks of the day.  I need to drive to Prince Albert to meet with a customer who wants a special table designed, and then to a visit  regarding input to a special door for a chapel room at St. Mary High School.  I worked there as a teacher and principal for  a total of 25 years, and the building is undergoing a major renovation.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hosting a group of students and adults from a Saskatoon school.  The group wanted to include Friendly Forest as part of their spring field trip.  The visit brought back my own memories of taking student groups on nature field trips during my years as a biology teacher.  My dog friend King was super once again.  he genuinely likes people of all ages, and seems to appreciate them even if they are not seen as a potential source of food or another play-ball companion.  I am quite happy about that good disposition in that I do not need to worry about the many guests who come to Friendly Forest.  Extra grooming and cleaning up hair from a spring-shedding dog is a small price to pay for what he brings to this home in the forest.

On Tuesday the pre-election brochure that I had printed made it into mail boxes of residents of the Saskatchewan Rivers provincial constituency.  My goals were to let the electors of this area know that the NGA exists, what basic NGA values are, and that the NGA will be an electoral presence here in the next election.  The brochure also directs the reader to the WWW.VOTENGA.CA web site for more information.  I have been spending a lot of time creating the pages for that site and I hope I am giving it the character that the visitor wants to see in such an information site.  any feedback would be appreciated.  If you visit the site and do not find what you wanted to see, email me and let me know.

I need to spend some time in morning prayer before I really get activities off for the day.  A friend recently re-supplied me with sage for smudging, and I really appreciate the aroma of smoking sage.

09-06-2003  June 9.  Again I failed to keep my weekly update.  For anyone who checks regularly, sorry about that.

I have been caring for a house guest for a bit over two weeks now.  He is elderly, diabetic and needing some degree of regular support.  Although I feel honoured to have him in my home I recognize that with my usual tight agenda of events and work, some other things are not getting done.  For those who may have been inconvenienced by some delays on my part, I apologize.  However, I know that I have chosen the better turn  and am doing what is really important in our human relationships.

I have finally completed the preparation of the pre-election brochure and have it at the printer now.  I hope to get it out for postal distribution later this week.  My inexperience and a clear desire by the printer, Gateway Quality Press in Prince Albert, to do a very fine job, has resulted in a few delays.  The firm is choosing to use Photoshop to prepare the printing plates and I had my brochure as Corel Draw files.  There appears to be a problem with converting things over, and I have had to convert my files to Corel Draw 8 from my original Corel Draw 9 formats, then find that the resulting files are too large to send to their email because of server limitations, break the file into smaller components, and because of Corel Draw 8 refusal to recognize a few font types, to send on the fonts to the printer's computer, and then finally, to resent all the graphic elements as original jpeg files.  I guess I will ask more questions before I begin another project and do things in a manner that saves me the time at the end... for example, keep ALL the component files for one job in a single folder!  The image files were resident in all sorts of other folders, and I had to do a real hunt to find them all, wasting time all along the way.

Our Forest Fringe Citizens' Coalition has also been involved in trying to get SaskPower to rectify the problem that resulted in our May 25 fire here.  SaskPower had left their cleared corridors wide open.  A car with some young people had driven down  one section near my home and got stuck.  The hot manifold started a fire and the vehicle started on fire and exploded, setting off an instant large forest fire.  If not for a completely unplanned and fortunate event, we would all have been burned out!  A Sask Environment water bomber returning from a fire run to another fire near Montreal Lake spotted the fire as it happened and called in immediate support.  With the conditions and the fierce winds that afternoon, a few more minutes would have made it too late to stop and we would have been burned out.  THANK YOU SASKPOWER FOR CREATING THE SITUATION THAT NEARLY DROVE ALL OF YOUR OPPOSITION OUT OF THE FOREST AND DESTROYED WHAT YOU LEFT OF THIS FORMERLY INTACT FOREST! 

I genuinely wish to thank SaskEnvironment regulators for joining us in urging SaskPower to take immediate action to prevent future vehicle intrusion and renewal of fire threat down these cleared areas.  At the end of the week flimsy plastic snow fences have been strung along some of the access points to provide the indication that the area is supposed to be closed, but not providing any real barrier.  For example, along my property, the snow fencing is simply slipped over  steel rods that serve as posts.  it is very easy to either push it over or to simply push the fencing down along the rods and then walk or drive over the fencing. 

SaskPower's Bernie Bolen has told the SaskEnvironment regulator that they plan to speed up the installation of the permanent fencing  before the full completion of their construction.  After the many previous declarations we have heard from Mr. Bolen and other SaskPower officials, I guess we will only know the truth of that promise  when things happen or don't happen as stated.  Our four year history with that Corporation gives us no basis for trust in what they say.

I will try to post a few images of recent wood work, but I withhold a promise as to when that will be done.

26-05-2003  May 25 was an interesting day at Friendly Forest.  It began with a fantasy morning of bright sun, perfect temperatures, new blossoms through the forest, gentle breeze and no bugs in sight.  By mid afternoon I and my neighbours had to evacuate because of a forest fire that came within 1 kilometre of my home.  The images on the Home Page are thumbnails and will link to a larger image of that day.

I have an elderly friend staying over as guest.  I quickly got him and my dog into the truck and started the fire pump by my pond to get the sprinklers going over my buildings, and then we left.  When I returned one time to add more fuel to the gas tank of the pump motor, the helicopter was scooping water from my pond to drop on the flames nearby.  The photo of the water bomber dropping water is near the end of the control efforts which were successful.

Unlike many parts of saskatchewan the area of the northwest including this region are tinder dry and have been parched for several years.  We hope and pray for rain... lots of it.

I have also been busy with the site and preparing some possible pre-election materials at :

18-05-2003  I have really broken my promise about weekly updates this time!  You may have noticed that the image to the left has changed somewhat.  I took out the distracting stucco cement and gave it a neutral backing.  Someone with a dubious sense of humour might protest by saying that the background that I removed was the most attractive part of the former image!

I have continued to work on the site and it is coming along  to my reasonable satisfaction.  I have actually more work done than is visible at the site.  There are a series of candidate pages that are just about ready to go but have not been linked yet because I am waiting for some final confirmations about parts of the content.

I have also made a trip to Meadow Lake in the north west part of this region to attend a meeting about the NGA called by a friend and possible candidate for the  constituency.  In doing so I took three hours one way to get into the constituency next to the one for which I am a candidate.   This is a big territory to cover!

The scenery was beautiful, and the unity of geography and economy along this parkland and forest  zone is remarkable.  Except for highway signage, one could easily mistake any particular spot for a location several hundred kilometres away.

This is Sunday AM.  It got cold last night and for a while even snowed.  This morning the sun is out but the thermometer still reads -5 degrees C.  I put the heater on in the green house until the sun has a chance to warm things up there.  I have my tomatoes going strong and the cucumbers are out of the ground too, so I do not want to lose them.

At the end of this week I will be receiving a guest for a while.  This is an elderly Catholic Priest who is currently in Ontario for some holiday time, and then is returning here for a final month of ministry before taking retirement at age 84!  We are good friends, and I have learned to cook for his diabetic condition and he enjoys the beauty of this country home.  it will be a pleasure to have him here.  He is a good and holy man and will bring God's blessings with him.

I continue to focus my prayer with a traditional smudge, and that may generate some interesting discussions too.

The Premier of Saskatchewan has decided to not call an election this spring, so that gives me a bit more time to prepare.  This decision to be a candidate for election is quite a new thing and I am learning as I go... learning a lot of things!

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