Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More Photos

I have been mostly working hard at my full time job, but have squeezed in a bit of photo scanning.
The editor, for "Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off" has been changed, and while that slows things down a bit, it is also positive. I understand that the new editor is awesome! I still don't have an ETA for publication release , but that will come soon.
So far, my business card is being well received. A warm welcome to all the new visitors!
I thought I'd share a couple of the pictures I have just scanned. The shots are (1)from 1964, probably right after Christmas, and (2) the fall of 1979. In 1967, my youngest sister joined our family, but in '64, there were just five of us.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Christmas Poem

Yesterday morning, I awoke early and staggered into the bathroom. It was still dark out, but somehow, covered with the cobwebs of sleep, I had a thought. It was like a tiny candle at the other end of a long, dark hallway, but I saw it none-the-less. It was an idea for a poem.
Now you should know that I write poetry, but not on command. Sometimes, I have poetry-moods - when I write several masterpieces, followed, of course, by poetry droughts, when I wonder how I ever wrote anything poetic, and cannot imagine creating anything new. Well... the drought is over...
Oh, and if anyone would like to use my copyrighted poem for non-commercial use only, you may copy it, print it out and have fun. Here it is:
A Lamb's Tale
By Davis Bigelow
I slept in the field,
That night, when they shone.
Their heavenly light,
Was brighter than dawn.
I heard sacred words,
But had to remain,
Away from the child,
On Bethlehem's plain.
The shepherds all left.
I trembled in fright.
Would I be quite safe?
In the dark of the night?
Silence was rent,
By my a little lamb voice.
I'd have looked for the Christ,
If given the choice.
But such was my a lot,
To wait for the word,
That my Shepherd would tell,
Later on to my herd.
I 'ner saw for myself,
Though I lived, oh so close.
I could choose to believe,
Or be deaf like a post.
But my young Shepherd friend,
Was honest and fair.
I hung on his tale,
'Bout Bethlehem there.
The night Christ was laid,
In a manger with hay.
The night God came down,
For men's souls for to pay.
I felt in my heart,
That the tale was right.
My ears heard the truth,
And my heart filled with light.
Like me, some men are.
Their eyes never see.
Some hear just the words,
And believe, just like me.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My New Business Card

First, I'd like to welcome all the new readers. I hope you enjoy my blog. My website still isn't quite ready, but soon. I am trying to animate the introduction screen, using my new logo. When I say "I", I mean Josh, (my daughter, Amberle's boyfriend). He does computer animation, so I left the task in his capable hands - or is it his mouse?

My adventure to Red Deer, this past Thursday and Friday, ended well. Thanks again to everyone who helped out with that. To reload, for my return trip, I had to drive south-east for an hour and a half, so I didn't get home until late. But I did get home!! :D

My website may not be ready, but I have finally completed my business card. I spent hours playing with logo designs! Last night, when I went to pick up my repaired truck - (I do hope it stays working this time!) - I took my business card to get printed. For those of you who only visit me online, here it is - larger than life of course.

Oh, there is one more matter to tell you about. Sadly, I never got to 50,000 words written by the end of November. :( Considering my extremely busy life, writing over 14,000 words in 20 days seems pretty good to me. The good news, however, is that I am going to finish the novel to see if it really will be 50,000 words in length. :) Maybe I'll save the rest for next November. I have a five page outline , so I should, in theory, be able to shelf the project and begin again right where I left off. I am considering publishing the novel on line - perhaps a chapter at a time on my website, but the ideas are still swirling. Anyone have a recommendation for me? (If you wish to get in touch with me, but don't want to leave a comment here, you can go to my profile and email me.)

Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm Sure I'd Rather Be Writing - Where Its Warm!

Well, I wish I could report more writing, but I do too much working instead. Yesterday morning, I left Taber, Alberta bound for Red Deer with almost 44 metric tons of sugar beet pellets in my two trailers. Everything went well, except that my truck was in the shop and the one I borrowed had poor heat. I got loaded up quickly and was off. The next few hours were spent flying down the highway while regularly scraping frost off my side windows. When the sun finally came out, it helped a lot.
I drove north, deciding to take Highway 21 (A two lane road with light traffic) instead of Highway 2 (A four-lane road with heavy traffic). At 110 kph, as I powered up to climb out of a long, deep coolie (a valley), I caught a glimpse of something in the ditch behind me. It was a puff of snow shot into the air. I gazed into my driver's side mirror in time to see a pair of my trailer's tires rolling through the ditch and into nowhere land! I had felt no strange vibrations or had I seen anything to betray the problem when I had inspected my trailers two-and-a-half hours before. At the top of the hill, where the road widened, I pulled over and had a look. All that was left of my tires was the mangled hub and chewed up brake pads! I was so glad I had taken the less travelled road!!! A 300 pound, 100km per hour, rolling projectile would not have done good things to a car! Or the occupants!!!!
Eventually, I drove slowly, the 19km to the town of Acme, Alberta where the good guys at Redline helped me out. We returned to the scene to get the lost tires. They were still together, complete with the heavy steel brake drum attached. Weird, that they didn't come apart.
Once back in Acme, I was given the repair news. I expected to find a Wile-E-Coyote parts supply store in the tiny town, but was disappointed. Some of my needed parts had to come from Calgary - the next day! Joy! Well, one of the guys just happened to live either in or near Calgary, and offered to pick up the parts I needed on his way to work. I left Acme hoping to be back on the road by 9:30am the next day.
I drove to Three Hills, Alberta and checked into the Super 8. Very nice! And better than that, it was warm!!!! I felt like Sam Magee from Tennessee in Robert Service's poem, "Since I left Plum Tree, down in Tennessee, this is the first time I've been warm!"
Right now, it is nearly 8am, the day after, and I am eating an awesome breakfast at the warm hotel/motel. My cold truck is plugged in outside waiting for the key to return. (Must I go back out there??? It's -17 Celsius!) I'll let you know how it turns out...., but Kudos to Lori and the rest of the Super 8 staff in Three Hills as well as to John and the other workers at Redline in Acme. Thanks for coming to work and thanks for the awesome jobs you are doing!!! :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Suit, a Coat and a Snow Shovel

Nine thirty on Wednesday morning, I found myself southbound through the town of Coaldale, Alberta. It all seemed ordinary – I mean, I have driven my Super B grain truck through the small town who knows how many times? This morning, however, things were different. As I rolled through the stoplight and passed the school, I was alert for moving cars, trucks and people. About a block south of the school, something caught my searching eyes. It was a young man dressed in a black suit and standing beside a pure white car. Our first snow had fallen overnight, and the streets weren’t exactly the place to stand in your shiny black dress shoes. I did a double take. Nevertheless, there he was, big as life.

My second look was longer than the first, and in those few seconds, I formed an opinion. In those few seconds, I jumped to conclusions that, while not certain, I felt that they were probable.

The car was a clean, white hearse. Just in from the curb, where the car sat, an old lady walked on her snow-covered sidewalk. She was holding a snow shovel and looked careworn. From its colours, her coat appeared to be borrowed from the 1970’s, yet it seemed sound. Compassion welled up within me as I took it in. The clean-cut gentleman, standing by the white car, appeared to be waiting for her. She had probably just lost her husband, yet there she was, cleaning her walks and wearing a coat that she had carefully looked after for decades. Perhaps she had looked after her failing husband with the same tender care? My semi rolled on by, but I was left with a chest full of feelings. Compassion. Respect. Admiration. Would I just go about getting things done if I had just lost my wife? I felt convicted by my conscience. If that happened to me, I would most likely be holding the pity part of the century! What an example of doing what all living things should do – live. Live, in spite of whatever troubles may come.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Of all things... A lighthouse cartoon!! Cool!!

This past week has found me putting in lots of hours at work. Sorry I haven't got to posting, but finally, here I am. A few days ago, my daughter's boyfriend sent me this link to a lighthouse comic strip. I laughed and laughed. Maybe I found it so funny cuz I have some practical experience with this sort of thing, but maybe you all will enjoy it too.

As for my first fiction novel, "In Ravenscrag's Shadow", I am approaching 10,000 words, but I'm not quite there yet. For the most part, I have written it on my laptop, utilizing tiny blocks of free time in my workday. For those of you who don't know, I drive a double trailer semi, hauling grain around so that cows can eat, get fat, and ... well, you know the rest. I often have to wait for other trucks to empty or to load, and whenever it looks like a few free minutes will present themselves, I grab on with both hands. Since I have so little free time, this technique is also how my first book was written. That book is more appropriately named, however, "Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off". Some days, I take out my laptop and three seconds is all I get!

Speaking of
"Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off - Volume 1", the editor is still working his magic and I am just waiting (and writing more stuff). I do expect to hear something soon. On a very positive note, my publisher has taken a look at my artwork (I do my own interpretation of west coast native drawings). He liked it very much and wants to include most, if not all of it in Volume 1. It takes me a long time to complete a piece, but I do have a few to choose from. I need to get the 8 1/2 x 11 inch drawings digitized soon. Maybe this weekend - if I don't have to work again.
Later.... and Thanks for dropping in.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My First Book Review

"The tale of a family that turned isolation into adventure. Bigelow's
writing style draws you into his world, with descriptive and personal
language that has you hearing the laughter and smelling the salt air. A
piece of real, live Canadian history, "Three Seconds On, Three Seconds
Off" is enlightening and uplifting story-telling.

Bruce Streibel
Faculty of Fine Arts
University of Lethbridge

Thanks for the literary ride. Cheers!"

The "Comments" option?

One of my readers was kind enough to write a note to me on her blog and let me know that she could no longer post comments on my blog. I looked into it, and hopefully the "comment" option will appear on this post. If I did repair the problem, the repair wasn't retroactive. I tried editing my last post, and then republishing it, but that didn't work. Here goes nothin'

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lest We Forget...

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place;
and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead.
Short days ago
We lived, saw dawn, felt sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved,
and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up your quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw The torch;
be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Written by Doctor Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) John McCrae (1872-1918) of the 1st Field Artillery Brigade wrote this poem on May 3, 1915 after the battle at Ypres. The poem was later published in "Punch", December 8, 1915. John McCrae served in the Canadian Army.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Worthy Adventure!!!

You won't believe it if I told you! (But I'm going to give it a shot anyway.) As of the evening of November 4th, I am writing a fiction novel of 50,000 words - by the end of the month! Sounds wild? Check out the website that is hosting this wild event. http://www.nanowrimo.org/ OR just click on my link at the top right of this blog.
My daughter, Amberle as well as her boyfriend, Josh both told me about it so I took a look and was hooked.
Here is my progress so far:
Nov 5th - Outlined the basic plot and story from start to finish.

Nov 5th, 6th - Researched names for the characters and places - (they all came from the place name list from the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan).

Nov 7th, 8th, 9th - Assigned names to everyone and everything in the novel. Expanded the story into detailed structure. It went from a one page outline to five pages.

Today, Nov 10th - Strap on my microphone and tell the story to my computer - (it will write it from my dictation). I'll let you know how far I get.

A brief outline of the novel: Glen McPherson and Stan Calderbank leave their wives, Lille and Alida (respectively) at their base camp near a beautiful lake nestled in the Mistawasis Mountains to pursue a five day backpacking adventure. Near the end of the first day, the two middle aged men are exploring off the trail when they fall, badly injuring themselves. The area is several hundred yards from their packs and is extremely rocky and rugged. Big C (Stan) sustains a broken femur, three broken ribs, a concussion and several cuts and bruises. Stan's trauma is worse because, during the fall, Glen is knocked unconscious and partially lands on top of Stan. Glen is also bruised and bloodied, but is still able to move about. His left ankle is so badly hurt that he's not sure if it is broken, but it cannot bear any weight.
The two adventurers know that no one will come searching for them for five days, and that they will have to survive unaided. The remote area is home to bears, among other creatures, so Glen will not leave Stan alone while he hobbles the five kilometers back to their pickup truck to get help.

9:49AM - 812 words written
1:51PM - 2431 words written - I love this fiction thing - it is so awesome!!! :)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Warm "Hello"

This past week or so, my blog has crossed a language barrier. I have been visited by a woman in Madrid, Spain who is writing a novel. Her blog is in Spanish, but she left some English comments on my blog entry dated Oct 6, 2007. Her blog is http://desierto1.blogspot.com/, for anyone wanting to visit it. (There is a little English for the uni-lingual.) A few other readers have also visited my blog, and I find it so awesome! A visitor from New Delhi, India, one from Torino, Italy, two more from Spain, one from Singapore, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, Jamaica , Norway, Korea and a few others have also dropped in, bringing my list of non-North American visitors to at least twenty. In my upcoming book, just past the fly leaf, it says,
my family and friends
and to all of you,
other friends
I haven’t met…
When I layed the humble beginnings of this blog, it never occurred to me that so many would be so interested so soon. I mean, I haven't even published yet, and a curious audience of nice people are already gathering in anticipation. So far, no one has even mentioned a stash of rotten vegetables they are waiting to throw. :) Now I have imaginations of unpopular, Medieval, outdoor, stage plays! :) :) I shouldn't have gone there, but oh well. Now that I have, can't you just see the smelly old hag at the back - the one with the ratty hair, rotten teeth and oozing lettuce? "Incoming!" I can hardly type for the laughter!
At any rate, the very kind reception I have so far received on the World Wide Web, is both amazing and overwhelming. So... thanks... Thanks to all of you, other friends I have now met, and to you who will yet drop in for a visit. It is good to meet you all.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More Pins & Needles!

Hey, "Three Seconds" fans here is the latest skinny on "the book"! As of today, I have digitized 245 photographs and separated most of them into individual files, using their respective years of creation to create a rough time line of images. The result is nicer than I anticipated, especially as far as the slides are concerned. A lot of the slides have a month, year and number printed on them, so when I add a digitized slide to the file, it automatically goes to find other slides in the same sequence. I love computer technology!!! :)

In the last couple of weeks, I have also done some preliminary work on Volumes II & III, and am still in the process of separating the approximately 60 titles I have left. I am excited to begin writing the stories. Sorting them only teases me. Of course, coming across photos that will go in any one of those 60 stories doesn't help either. I sure love to write!

The other awesome news is that today, believe it of not, I created the very first hard copy of Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off - Volume I. It took me about an hour to print it out, and another ten minutes to punch holes in the pages so it will fit in a binder - a large one, considering I couldn't print double sided. At 245 pages in length, it is heavy! (I am secretly pleased!) This actual, real, tangible manuscript is off to an interested reader who plans on condensing their impressions of my 245 pages into a couple of lines of testimonial to go on my website. (The site is nearly finished, but not quite yet... wait for it... wait for it.... OK, if you must, you can keep checking at davisbigelow.com, but I will announce its birth.)

I do have to run now, but thank you all for dropping in to visit me. I think it is amazing how many people are excited about this project. Talk to you again soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

All About Perspective

I read a post this morning that got me thinking about how we see the world around us. It was a short description of a series of fairly unimpressive events, but when the events were combined into a singe snap-shot, they took on a charm that was impressive. At least for me. As I mused about why the story had transformed so dramatically, I realized something that now seems obvious.

Ironic isn't it that the best stories are often captured from seemingly ordinary events of life? All we have to do is notice. Whether we know it or not, I sincerely believe that we all live extraordinary lives. It is true that perhaps they are boring and mundane to us, but not to everyone. Anyone who’s existence is foreign to our own life's experience usually finds our life’s story fascinating, engaging and maybe even riveting and entertaining. The vantage point of another's perspective is what we often lack. Instead of feeling like our lives are a miracle to savour, we sometimes hang our heads and feel insignificant.

Here is Traci's story about her young son, Luke.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Slides, Slides and More Lighthouse Slides

I have been working hard on photos, and yesterday, I digitized 80 slides. It was sweet to see scenes I hadn't looked upon for many years, and sweeter still to know that they are now preserved in a modern medium that I can use and share with all of you. Here are three of my favourites. The top right is of my Dad in 1959, looking northeast with Pointer Island in the background. As far as the other small one goes, I took it in 1976 - looking Southwest at the sunset from the back porch of the big (middle) house on the lighthouse. With the big one of the rainbow, I got artsy, and composed it sideways. Photoshop came to its rescue and it now I think it looks pretty good. In the spring of 1976, I got my second camera, complete with a B&W darkroom. It was a dream come true! My first camera had been a waist-level Brownie which had served me surprisingly well for many years. The 35mm SLR (previously enjoyed by a former owner) came with a couple of lenses and a 2x converter, giving me the lens options of 50mm, 100mm, 200mm and 400mm. At age 16, tripods were for someone else. I thought I could hand hold every shot at any shutter speed and unfortunately, I did. As you may already have guessed, not all the shots I took were free from camera shake. Although, all the years of holding a pair of binoculars steady did help a lot. Oh that I could go back in time with my tripod!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Passion? Let me think about it.

Thank you all for your comments. I find it very refreshing to hear from fellow authors.
It seems that you all have a common knack of seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary and the gift of being able to put the precipitating thoughts and moods into meaningful words for others to relish. I've decided that that is precisely what I love about reading books. I get to see through the unique glasses, telescopes and microscopes of others.

Yesterday, as I was driving my 900 kilometers, I spent some time pondering, and focused a lot on Ajoy's (September 28, 2007) comment (on my blog) about passion. I don't consider myself a passionate person, yet perhaps I am. I really love the richness of life, and seem to notice more flowers along its scenic path than many others I meet. One of the sweetest parts of my job is being able to witness the majority of sunrises and sunsets in a year. In many ways, I think they are like me as well as all of you. Same old sun and sky - day in and day out, yet every dawn and dusk is singularly unique and worth my rapt attention.

As I pondered the meaning of passion, I realized that I probably misunderstood the meaning. I looked up "Passion" and here are most of the synonyms - according to the Reader's Digest Family Word Finder:
emotions, feeling, warmth, heart, ardor, fervor, fire, intensity, sentiment, rapture, transport, ecstasy, intoxication, enthusiasm, earnestness, gusto, eagerness, vehemence, obsession, fancy, craving, urge, desire, hunger, thirst, idol, beloved, infatuation, flame, inamorata. Although I don't feel all these things every day, I do feel most of them - I guess I'm guilty as charged Ajoy.

In your comment, Ajoy, you asked, "How in the world do you live with such passion from day to day?" I hadn't really thought about it, but now that I have, that insightful question deserves an answer:
My life hasn't always been this way. Nearly fifteen years ago, my life hit bottom. It wasn't a trip and fall and scraped knee sort of thing, but more of a plunge down a deep, dry well with a face-first landing on the rough stone bottom. It was my own fault, and it was painfully obvious to me that I required a lot more than some fresh makeup on my face. It took a while, but eventually, I re-defined my life - for the better. Ever since then, I have tried to live life as if every day was my last. I haven't always succeeded in that, yet my day-to-day struggle along the path of life has carried me far. I feel a bit like the frog described by Boyd K. Packer - "You can't tell how high a frog will jump just by looking at him."

As a result of the profound changes to my mental and emotional habits, I lost my near-photographic memory, but I got benefits that outweighed the loss. I suppose that I am the same core person I always was, but today, my new mental and emotional habits allow my core person to interface with the rest of the world in a profoundly different way than I ever used to. To me, life is new every day. Each person I meet is a unique creation with as much value as I have. If I pay attention, I can learn something from anyone I meet. Today, I set goals and reach them. I am on the grand adventure of life, and who knows what awesome things I will discover today? How can I help but feel such passion? Look at what awesome things I would probably miss if I did not? ... Thank you for asking.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Emergency Recall

This afternoon, as I was roaring southbound in my 140,000 pound semi, I passed a working ambulance heading north. Now, in the course of my travels, I pass many emergency vehicles, but for some reason, this particular one seemed different. Somehow, as the red flashing lights filled my eyes, it also filled my soul. Unexpectedly, I tasted the bitter and raw sadness of a loved one fading. I recalled some of my own hospital encounters.

The first that came to mind was with my young daughter - the one in the photo at the top of Crowsnest Mountain (See my blog entry for Sept 22th, 2007). She had contracted a depressed skull fracture in a sledding accident, and had had a seizure right in her mother's arms at the scene. As young parents, we were scared! I think it was still February, and snow and ice smothered and challenged our prairie landscape. A flurry of activity soon whisked us to the Alberta Children's Hospital, in Calgary, where some skilled doctors and fancy surgery began our child's recovery. After a couple of days, when we arrived home to our other children, I naively wrote in my journal. I concluded that perhaps this trauma would be all we got for a while. I suppose I leaned to the distorted notion that life is a math equation consisting of good and bad experiences separated by an = sign. When some trauma is added to the bad side, an equal amount of smooth sailing must, by necessity, be added to the good side of the equation, thereby maintaining balance. As the years have passed, I have amended that narrow view.

My son, also in the photo at the top of Crowsnest Mountain, was born with kidney trouble. When he finally required medical intervention, the event made my daughter's head trauma seem like it belonged on the "good" side of my deluded math equation!

Diana and I spend months at Ronald McDonald House, both supporting and being supported by other parents of distressed children. I witnessed sadness like I have never imagined! Such innocent babies, toddlers, children and teenagers - all with one thing in common - suffering! Tears were abundant at Ronald McDonald House, and fell without apology from the eyes of both tender-hearted mothers and life-toughened fathers. I saw some kids recover and other kids die. My heart still aches at the memory! I wondered why my son was spared while other families had to suffer such unbearable loss.

The realities of driving my 82 foot semi returned, obscuring my poignant memories. I glanced in my driver's side mirror and noted the ambulance's light fading with distance. I negotiated a left hand turn in heavy traffic, and began mechanically shifting up through my myriad of gears. The roar of my 475 horsepower engine drowned out all other sounds, but my memories returned to the surface.

At first glance, life is not always fair. Perhaps not even at second glance, yet in some ways, life is extremely fair. The fairness does not, however, lie with external forces, but within the quiet chambers of the human soul. Each human soul is endowed with two great capacities: the ability to endure intense suffering - without complaint, as well as the ability to assist others who are also struggling in the war-torn trenches of adversity. I reflected again on the ambulance. Moving rapidly in the opposite direction, there was only one thing I could do. I offered a short prayer to my God. A prayer asking for the stricken victim and his or her loved ones to be comforted during this traumatic event. After all, when all is said and done, it seems like life's biggest tragedy has its roots in our own rebellion against undeserved trauma. Accepting our lot in life and moving into the sunshine of life in spite of our troubles seems to be our greatest triumph. It is a triumph that I, personally, don't have often enough! If we can change something to make ourselves better, then I think we should do all that we can, but if no power of change rests in our hands, then it is probably better to accept life on its terms and move on as best we can.

Monday, September 24, 2007

What do you think?

When I finished the maps, and showed them to my wife, her first comment was, "What part is the water?" Well, that got me thinking.

On an ocean chart, the water is white and the land is yellow, so I made some changes. However, I could use some additional opinions. So, which map do you like better, the one with the colour green with white water or the one with yellow land and blue water?

(Other than the colours, the maps are identical)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Crowsnest Mountain Adventure

I've been working hard at my job as well as on the photos for Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off, but last Saturday, I took a break for some fun. Now to everyone reading this, my "fun" may not seem like fun at all, but I found it awesome!
Two on my children and I arose early and drove to the Crowsnest Pass in southwestern Alberta. Once at the trail head, we, a group of ten of us, proceeded to climb the highest mountain in the region.
The trail was familiar to me, as was the burning muscles in my legs. Mysteriously, I always felt much more powerful when I wasn't fighting gravity with every step. It was my eighth attempt to climb this mountain, and I was going to make it!
As the minutes melted into hours of ascending, the struggle became more mental than physical. My lungs were straining and my heart pounded in my ears.
With 800 meters below me and 340 more above, the air began to thin and my respiratory system took notice. I sat at the top of the second chimney, panting while waiting for our entire group to assemble. My feet felt hot so I unlaced my boots, then scanned the horizon. I had seen the view from this barren, windswept place seven times before, yet it was as if I was taking it in for the first time. Several meters from my booted feet, small cascades of monotone scree chirped and cascaded under the fingers and toes of scrambling climbers as one by one, all ten of us reached the open area at the top of the chimney. To my right, Seven Sister Mountain jutted into the sky, but its breathtaking, towering peaks were now below me. To my left, I could just make out the steel pipe holding the summit marker. I was going to make it to the top yet again!
Once the last of our group had struggled to where I sat, I re-tied my boots and trudged onward and upward. After another hour, I overheard something that made me grin through my pain. Another seasoned climber and my good friend, Decon, said, "So... you want to climb it again next year?" The lady, who had been asking Decon to take her up Crowsnest Mt. for two years, panted her reply, "This will be... my only time... going up here!" She was determined to reach the top, but it would be a once-in-a-lifetime event. We struggled on.
As I slipped and slid on the unstable scree, the wind began to intensify. The day was warm, but the wind chilly. I scrambled onto the thin edge of the mountain and got my first look into the expansive valley protecting the twin communities of Blairmore and Coalman. The shear, two thousand foot drop, beginning only centimeters from my tentative toes, churned butterflies in my stomach and dizzied my head. The view was amazing! The summit was close, but the fierce wind tore at my exhausted body. I smiled and plodded on.
About ten minutes later, I reached the crown of the mountain . The view was breathtaking under a deep blue sky, punctuated randomly by a few puffy white clouds. With my head 2785 meters into the thinning atmosphere, I scanned the expansive horizon, absorbing the rugged beauty and splendor. A light breeze swept the summit while warm sunlight streamed down on us. One by one, all ten of us gathered at the pinnacle. It was sweet to have made it to the top for my eighth time!

PS. Today, as I write this entry, Decon is climbing Crowsnest Mountain again, this time with his son, daughter and a few of his son's friends. I have a dog house to build, or I might have tagged along. (My sweetheart just frowned and shook her head at the "tagging along" notion.) Hey, is it possible to have too much adventure? Perhaps, but I'll let you know if I ever find that unconquered pinnacle!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nine-Eleven Remembered

It is September the 11th and I had an emotionally charge day. As the minutes passed and the sun rose and set, I remembered the good and the bad that I knew about this day. I felt glad to be alive and not the direct victim of a terrorist attack, but I realized that I am a victim - we all are. I was pained at the thought! Since the fall of the twin towers, we have probably all looked over our shoulders a little more... Paid attention to things that might have just gone unnoticed in a long forgotten yesteryear. How sad for those many who have lost loved ones. My heart ached for the injustice dispensed so cruelly to them... Fathers and mother who will never play with their children again, or contribute to the good of our society... Hushed children, whose tiny flames of potentially brilliant light had no chance to burn brightly with the others who survived.
In our modern world, so many are so good, yet a few lurk with intent to destroy. The scary part of it all is that as a human being, I have both potentials within me. Only my freedom to choose factors powerful. I hope I never forget the pain that comes from wrong-doing.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Elevations, Tiny Towns, Marker Lights & Nautical Miles

Good morning,

Since my manuscript went off to find its new destiny (with the Editor), I have been concentrating my efforts on finishing the maps for the book. I don't know about all of you, but I find that a good map is tough to resist. Tolkien & Terry Brooks certainly added to their epic fantasies by using awesome maps. Mine are not the product of imagination, however, and perhaps that makes them even more interesting. You can not only look at the ones for my book but you can then travel to the location to get a hands on, eyes on experience with their reality.

So far, I have prepared five maps. Here they are - three of them are ready to go. Do you think they need anything different, or should I leave them like they are? (I've had to reduce their resolution size to post.)

(Just click on an image to enlarge it.) Enjoy....

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Updated Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments --------------------------------- Pg i

Introduction -------------------------------------- Pg iii

Maps Pg --------------------------------------------- v

The Middle of Nowhere? – 1960 -------------------- Pg 1

My First Home – 1960 ---------------------------- Pg 15

A Soggy Halloween – 1963 ------------------------ Pg 32

Terrified - 1964 ----------------------------------- Pg 41

The Secret Tunnel - 1964 ------------------------- Pg 47

A New Flag – 1965 to 1967 ------------------------ Pg 52

Dinah – 1964 to 1967 ------------------------------ Pg 60

A Surprise Start - 1966----------------------------- Pg 69

Over The Edge - 1966------------------------------ Pg 79

Dark Haired Surprise – 1967 ------------------------ Pg 86

The Goat – 1968 ---------------------------------- Pg 90

Tattered Traps & Make-believe Monsters - 1968----- Pg 97

High and Dry - 1969------------------------------- Pg 100

Measured For A Casket - 1969 -------------------- Pg 114

Dad’s Lesson On Mercy – 1693 to 1995 ------------ Pg 127

Windows & Waterspouts - 1970 ------------------- Pg 144

Tag - 1972 --------------------------------------- Pg 154

The Gap – 1973 ---------------------------------- Pg 159

A Wolf In The Forest - 1974 ---------------------- Pg 168

Gloomy Day Miracle – 1974 ----------------------- Pg 176

Ruby Throats - 1974 ----------------------------- Pg 183

Deluge and Oars - 1976 -------------------------- Pg 186

The Good Samaritan - 1976 ---------------------- Pg 200

The Maker of Hockey Pucks - 1976 --------------- Pg 207

A Cruise To Remember - 1976 -------------------- Pg 211

Rivalry at it Best - 1978 -------------------------- Pg 218

One Last Ride - 1979 ---------------------------- Pg 224

Glimpses of the Future – 1982 -------------------- Pg 238

Glossary ----------------------------------------- Pg 241

The Manuscript Is Finished!

Hey y’all,

As of August 30th, 2007, the text portion of Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off was completed. Since then, I have been working on the maps – which were already mostly done. I have only a little more work to do on them before they join the text.

To say I am excited is quite and understatement! I feel like I am sending my seven-year-old baby out into an unpredictable world, but I expect my new friend, “The Editor”, will feed and tend the emerging child with as much love and concern as I have.. Once he is finished, it will be you turn. Patience… your turn is coming soon.

When I began writing, some seven years ago, part of me wondered if this day would ever arrive. Now it is here, and all that remains to complete Volume I is window dressing. Exciting!!! Be still my heart!!!

Stay tuned… There’s definitely more to come!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

July 31, 2007 - Makin' Serious Progress

Hi again “Three Seconds” Fans,

I haven’t posted my book’s progress for a while, and I expect at least one of you are wondering how it is going. Since my last post, on June 5, 2007, I have completed #18 – Tag, #19 - The Gap, #21 - Gloomy Day Miracle, #22 - Ruby Throats, and #23 - Deluge and Oars. I finished #23 on July 31st and am on The Good Samaritan next.

The #20 story, A Wolf In The Forest, needs more work than the remainder, so I thought I would come back to it at the end – just in case the manuscript is not quite ready by the end of August. Things are coming together however, and are just getting more and more exciting. The last month begins tonight at midnight!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

July 31, 2007

Hi again “Three Seconds” Fans,
I haven’t posted my book’s progress for a while, and I expect at least one of you are wondering how it is going.
Since my last post, on June 5, 2007, I have completed #18 – Tag, #19 - The Gap, #21 - Gloomy Day Miracle, #22 - Ruby Throats, and #23 - Deluge and Oars. I finished #23 on July 31st and am working next on The Good Samaritan .
The #20 story, A Wolf In The Forest, needs more work than the remainder, so I thought I would come back to it at the end – just in case the manuscript is not quite ready by the end of August. Things are coming together however, and are just getting more and more exciting. The last month begins tonight at midnight!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

June 30, 2007 – Day 16 – Saturday

We slept in a little, but finally dragged our tired bodies out of the king sized bed. It was tough, but after a great breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, we mounted our white chariot and sped eastward.

Our adventure wasn’t quite over, however. An accident closed the Trans-Canada Highway and we had to detour through Vernon, B.C. We discovered a tourist trap near Vernon – there were freshly basked goods, treats, and fresh fruit. $29.00 later, we were enjoying giant cinnamon buns, almond roca and sweet B.C. cherries. Nice!

We arrived home safe and sound – with a carload of great memories.
Before the trip we were sweethearts, but now we're more in love than ever - and we're excited about our the next 25 years together!

June 29, 2007 – Day 15 – Friday

6:00AM arrived too early, but we got up anyway. We drove to Port Alberni in the drizzle, and on to Cathedral Grove to see an 800-year-old tree. Impressive!

The ferry trip from Duke Point to Tsawaassen was wet and cool, so we stayed indoors. Surrounded by the drone of conversing adults and the intense play of cavorting children, I succumbed to sleep and took a catnap for more than a few minutes. I awoke with a sore neck, but the shut-eye was welcome.

We arrived at the terminal just before 3PM and fought holiday-weekend rush hour traffic for nearly two hours. Outside our car the drizzle fell, and inside, my own personal storm brewed as the traffic came to a complete stop many times and I seemed to have the frustrating talent of always taking the slowest lane.

Finally, we escaped the jam and found the Coquihalla – the toll road that cuts hours off the trip to Kamloops. By 8PM, we arrived at the dry, inland city and checked into the Best Western Hotel. Very comfortable!

June 28, 2007 – Day 14 – Thursday

Today dawned grey and drizzley, but we were prepared anyway. Diana and I donned our rain gear and drove down to Big Beach for a last look. The tide was well out, but we mostly walked the high tide line, examining what was left by last night’s flood tide. As we rounded a small point of treed land, a black-tailed deer stood on the narrow trail, browsing for its breakfast. Its tail swished a little, but as we wandered slowly off the trail to go around it, the deer seemed to be without a care. We must have been within twenty feet of it, but it just kept on munching.

After an hour on the beach, our exteriors were dripping wet, but inside our raingear, we were cosy and dry. We went back to #24 Reef Point Cottages before driving to the Wickininnish Interpretive Centre for an awesome visit. Once done checking out the Centre’s varied coastal displays, we had two last things to do.

Back to Ucluelet we headed and while Diana went shopping one last time, I walked up the hill and bought two live Dungeness crab & a dozen big oysters. What a feed we had! We found two very tiny pearls in the oysters, but otherwise, the feast was fit for royalty.

With our stomachs well packed, we thought we’d better make the car match them. Once everything we could put in the car was in it, Diana and I soaked for one final time in our private hot tub while the gentle rain refreshed the moss-covered forest that grew all around our balcony. What a peace-giving conclusion to our final day in paradise.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

June 27, 2007 – Day 13 – Wednesday

The Cadillac VAN ISLE 360 was about ready to commence as Diana and I arrived at Amphitrite Point Lightstation this morning. Forty-one of the forty-two sailboats were milling about atop the relatively calm water, their captains anxiously awaiting the signal blasts that would come from just behind where we stood. The final starting signal was preceded by three separate air horn blasts: a ten-minute warning horn, followed by a five-minute warning and then a one-minute warning blast. The morning was perfect for the many spectators to witness the start, and at 10:00am sharp, off they went – well, slowly, because there was hardly any wind blowing.   

Before driving toward Tofino, we stopped for a bit of gift & souvenir shopping. There were so many nice things! You’ll just have to visit this place and see for yourself!

After the shopping, enroute to the Rain Forest Walk, we stopped to see the passionate people surfing at Incinerator Rock. The day was nice and warm, but the water was not.

A few minutes past Incinerator Rock, the lush, emerald forest engulfed us and Diana and I entered a tranquil world all our own. Although close to the busy highway, no sound from it reached our ears. Along the deeply shaded pathway, we stood beside a tree that had been a seedling in the year 1271AD - when Marco Polo was trekking for China! Sporting my “old” 47 years of life, I felt rather insignificant indeed standing beside this 736 year-old! As I left the world of moss-covered, towering giants, I felt I had just walked out of the pages of history, having had the privilege of taking a brief glimpse into the distant past. To think what those ancient trees had lived through!

Once back in 2007, Diana and I returned to Florencia beach and down the 75 wooden stairs to the waiting sand. The tide was out a little more than it had been on our last visit, but the incoming swells had diminished in height and were much less noisy. Again we enjoyed the wonders and marvels of the inter-tidal region as gentle crested waves broke into a chorus of white froth over the cream-coloured sand. It was good to get our feet wet again and to stroll hand in hand.

About 8:30pm, we finally pulled ourselves away from the peace-giving sand and surf. For the final time, we reluctantly climbed the stout, wooden staircase to the wooden pathway that led to the parking area. A two-minute drive got us to the Wickininnish Beach Restaurant where we enjoyed an elegant desert at a window table. As the warm sun was trying to set, we gazed out at the handful of devoted surfers, still cavorting it the surf. What an awesome view at the end of a gorgeous day!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

June 26, 2007 – Day 12 – Tuesday

Today dawned bright and warm, but it was laundry day anyway. We gathered our quarters and headed to the Ucluelet Bubblemart, figuring on spending some boring minutes watching water and soap move around. Wrong!!

Upon our arrival at the laundry mat, we found a small magazine outlining a local yacht race. The Cadillac VAN ISLE 360, a 580 nautical mile circumnavigation of Vancouver Island was well under way and, for the 42 participating sailing vessels, Ucluelet was the stopping off point for “Leg 9” of the race. Curiously, I looked up from reading the magazine and around the small building. Within a few moments I had met Jack & Mike, shipmates from the Carene, one of the participating vessels. Before Jack & Mike finished their laundry, we visited a little and I promised to watch them start the race again tomorrow morning. (June 27th)

After our clothes were cleaned and dried, we headed to Florencia Bay & South Beach. Florencia Bay was named for a ship that was wrecked there, but to us, its beauty was the opposite of what is must have been for the distressed crew on that fateful day. It seems incredible to me the sea can be so beautiful one moment and so terrifying and destructive the next, and yet I shouldn’t be astounded. I spent a great many years as both its captivated audience as well as its hypothermic victim – depending on the day.

After a few wonderful hours of wandering the soft, sandy shores of Florencia Bay,
my sweetheart and I climbed the 75 wooden steps back to the short trail leading to our car. We were tired, but decided to pay a short visit to South Beach before heading back to our cottage. A few minutes later, we were on the wooden walkway to South Beach – only 800m away. The signpost failed to prepare us for more stairs, but we navigated them anyway.South Beach was very small and made up exclusively of tiny pebbles. With the arrival of each successive wave, thousands of brine-drenched pebbles roared in puny protest under the incoming surf. It was secluded, rugged and beautiful. 

Friday, June 29, 2007

June 25, 2007 – Day 11 – Monday

The day dawned bright and sunny – for a change. I squeezed out a little time to write in here, but Diana got up and off we went again. Today, we went sailing. Yeah!! Diana was so worried about this planned event. For weeks she regularly talked about it – nervously, but today, all her nightmares came true.

We drove to Grice Bay, just south of Tofino, and put our kayaks together. Once assembled, down went the centreboard and up went the sail. Oh yeah! Now it did sail nicely, but the real candy was that Diana liked it so much that she wants to go again at home where we have stronger winds!!! I had hoped she would enjoy herself, but this was totally unexpected.

This strange looking photo is of an under water kelp bed that we sailed a few inches over top of.

At one point, a giant rainbow ring – a sure sign of a storm coming in a few days, corralled the bright sun. Under its warmth, and pushed by a light breeze, my fishing was unsuccessful, but the sailing was so fun! The GPS indicated we travelled for a total of 7KM with a maximum speed of 6.3KM per hour.

Our only trouble was that we forgot to take food, but under our grins, just our stomachs were complaining.

June 24, 2007 – Day 10 – Sunday

Last night was a terrible night. The rain fell without stopping, although it did lighten up a few times.

When morning finally came, we hurriedly packed up. Breakfast was a bit rough. Due to the soggy weather, we could only get to our grapefruits, but they were good.

Once packed up, the weather miraculously cleared, so we spent several hours walking the sandy beach. Combers Beach was wonderful! The sun came out to dance on the waves and the four-foot surf crashed in rhythmically as I strolled with my sweetheart in its warmth. It was wonderfully romantic.

When we finally left the warm cream-coloured sand, we drove back to Ucluelet and checked into #24, Reef Point Cottages. The cabin was beautiful, but after a shivering night in the pouring rain, it was as close to being a palace as I have ever enjoyed! A lower-floor bedroom, balcony and hot tub below a main floor living room, kitchen, bathroom, and upper balcony. Wow!! And I thought the beach was going to be the nicest thing I saw all day!

June 23, 2007 – Day 9 - Saturday

Moved out of Cabin #12 into the cold west coastal rain. It poured all day while we drove the 40+ kilometres to Tofino, stopping at many beaches and tourist sights along the way. Mostly, we stayed in the car and planned our future visits for less “liquid sunshine” days.

We took in Tofino’s exotic stores and the outdoor market. The people were friendly and we met a local photographer, Wayne Barnes, at the rain-soaked outdoor market. His photography is great, but he has no Internet presence for you to visit. I guess you’ll just have to come here to see
his work for yourself. Wayne seemed to especially enjoy photographing massive waves crashing onto jagged rocks and shooting their foam high into the air. Impressive!!

After exploring the sights in Tofino – wandering about in our much appreciated rain gear, we drove a few minutes south to Green Point Campground and set up our tent in the pouring rain! The weather remained cold and we got soaked! Are we having fun yet?

We had planned to eat in camp, but it was too rainy to cook under the thick sky, so we drove back to Ucluelet for a wonderful supper at the Canadian Princess Resort, a restaurant in the dining room of a luxury ship of yesteryear.
Following the fine supper, we swallowed hard and headed back to our tiny, portable apartment in the rain.

See the tiny river bed that ran through our camp all night?

June 22, 2007 – Day 8 - Friday

5:15AM arrived so unexpectedly that I didn’t even hear my alarm. Good thing Diana did! 5:50AM found us pulling into the crammed parking lot above the Government Wharf in Ucluelet. Being raised on a lighthouse, boarding the waiting 30-foot fibreglass boat felt normal to me, but to Diana, it was sort of like skydiving on her very first plane ride. Jeremy, the owner/operator of the M.V. Tight Lines, was both accommodating and confidence strengthening, and in moments, we were gently powering out of Ucluelet’s narrow and secluded harbour towards open water.

A four-foot ground swell, carrying a two-foot chop greeted us as we sped from the confines of the protected harbour into the vast Pacific Ocean. A nasty sea for a smaller boat, ours handled exceptionally well, and in less than twenty minutes, we were
slopping along with our salmon lures trailing behind us.
The humid chill of the offshore breeze was soon interrupted by a tug on the tip of my 9-foot rod, and a split-second later, I was fighting the first catch of many. The large Red Spring Salmon turned out to be the biggest of the day, and my arm will remember him for a while! Next, Diana took her turn with a Sea Bass. It was awesome to see the look on her face as she fought and landed it.

Jeremy was 8 for 8 in landing our catches with his net, but between us, Diana and I lost 4 before they reached the boat. Two of my salmon were a bit too small, but still, we went home with six nice fish.

As we trolled and travelled to four different locations we saw bald eagles perched on sea-bound rocks and soaring overhead, sometimes twittering to each other in their own unique language. Farther inland, a small black bear foraged on a dark outcrop of rocky beach as we trolled by, reeling in another salmon that he probably would have appreciated.
Soon our charter time was up, and Jeremy sped us back towards Ucluelet. He headed for a narrow passageway, between some exposed rocks and the shoreline, when suddenly he pointed to a frothy patch up ahead. Two Humpback whales cavorted close to shore, and blocked our route! Jeremy slowed to a snail’s pace as we drew near. The whales put on a little show for us as we passed, but as I held my camera at the ready, I secretly wished for a little more drama.

After eating some big salmon steaks,
we cut, wrapped and froze the rest of our fish. The afternoon was well upon us as we drove to Tofino, stopping at several scenic places along the serpentine, 40KM route. Rain had begun before we were finished eating, but our spirits wer high. Once done looking around Tofino and area, we headed back to #12, Reef Point Cottages for a late supper of more fresh salmon. Mmmmm!