“Being famous was extremely disappointing for me. When I
became famous it was a complete drag and it is still a complete drag.” Aw gee, Van, that’s too bad, buddy. Thanks for all those wonderful years of great tunes though. Sorry it was all such a drag for you. I loved it! Hap, hap, happy b`day anyway, you old sod. Vintage: today 1945. Say something else Van: “I don’t feel comfortable doing interviews. My profession is music, and writing songs. That’s what I do. I like to do it, but I hate to talk about it.” and “I write songs. Then, I record them. And, later, maybe I perform them on stage. That’s what I do. That’s my job. Simple.” and “Music is spiritual. The music business is not.” and “Skiffle was a name that was attached to what was, in essence, American folk music with a beat.” and “You take stuff from different places, and sometimes you stick a line in because it rhymes, not because it makes sense.” Thanks Van. We’ve had a request on the all-Van request line. It reads, “Can you do an incredible funky reggae version of And It Stoned Me from 1980, please. Thanks.” Of course Van can!
Monthly Archives: August 2011
“Being famous was extremely disappointing for me. When I
In 1982, Bob and Dora Cain along with Fred Harp created a bottle house using 4000 bottles out on the Cain farm near Treherne, MB. That was only the beginning of their bottle ideas. The uniqueness of the project has resulted in a small bottle village relocated to downtown Treherne on Hwy #2. There is a house, church, well and working restroom, all made of bottles! Let me take you on a guided video tour of the bottle buildings.
“Do not think you will necessarily be aware
of your own enlightenment.” – Dogen
My new life purpose has been revealed to me with great clarity during my travels this summer. In a few words, one part of my current life purpose is to learn and be hurled into new experiences then to report what happened with honesty, without proselytization. That is what this blog aims to achieve.
Another part is helping other Old Souls find their clarity, their purpose. Spirit has given me three incredible Old Souls whom I am honoured to assist with their life work. All men, of various ages spanning two decades, my “suns” as I have come to call them, bring vast richness, comfort and energy into my life. I thrive on that and I am grateful everyday for their presence in my purpose.
Wind and rain sculpt the soft sandstone of Castle Butte in southern Saskatchewan
Most Old Souls spend much of their life soul building; for some, life is only about soul building. This is another part of my current purpose. The long trips into the Saskatchewan hinterland have given me the stimulus, the space and the solitude necessary to reclaim my humanity, to proceed with my personal evolution in a world dead set on stealing my humanity from me. Since shamanism begins at Nature mysticism and moves outward from there, my time surrounded by raw Nature enchants my soul, quickens my evolution and drives my purpose. I get healed! I get happy!
People I encountered this summer have surprised me with their understanding and acceptance of my spiritual needs. I think of octogenarian tour guide from Coronach, SK, Tillie Duncan, who told me she meets people all the time who do ritual at these places so “you’re not the only one, Reid.” I was heartened to know that bit of information and humbled by her gracious silence while I did my small rituals.
At Jack’s Cafe in Eastend, SK, over a long breakfast as I scribbled in my journal, I noticed a 30ish local couple across the aisle eying me repeatedly. When they rose to leave, she came over and said to me, “Are you a cop?” I smiled and said I wasn’t. “Well, you got something, some kinda power.” Her husband stood behind her, nodding and smiling strangely. “Do I make you nervous?” I asked. They agreed I didn’t. She sputtered a bit and said, “You make me feel…” She was grasping for the word and surprised herself it was so simple. “You make me feel happy!” We all laughed and I told them it makes me happy to make them happy and to have the best day they’d had in a long time today. I’m sure they did. He kissed her as they were leaving, giving the old town codgers gathered in Jack’s for their morning coffee something else to gossip about.
Weathered farm house built about 1905 in Big Muddy area of southern Saskatchewan
I get enormous satisfaction knowing that I have incited several people to travel to sacred places this summer, to personally explore themselves within the context of ancient aboriginal holy sites. For some, it has been life-changing. I hope to get permission to share a few of their stories with you on my blog.
I plan to keep the mighty Avenger for a few more weeks as I have a long list places to visit and record around Manitoba. Thank you for watching my videos and being my passenger on some of my travels. Many more miles ahead, the curious and the arcane await us. Stay tuned! Be happy!
This is a shot from the summer of 2010 of painted turtles sunning on a fallen log at Marsh Lake. The lake looks much different this year.
Here are three short video reports from my recent travels to Spruce Woods Park.
Marsh Lake is an oxbow of the Assiniboine River and offers a pleasant picnic spot and easy hike although the trail is closed since the lake was severely flooded by the river this spring. The first video (2:33) shows the once-verdant picnic area next to Marsh Lake and the grey flood cake that covers it now.
Red maples are rare in Manitoba, their usual habitat is in the eastern U.S. Several of the trees grow at Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park. They appear to be in full bloom but that’s not the case. Watch my short video report (00:37) on what’s going on anyway with those red maples.
Best Outdoor Sex EVER
I’m always curious what people write in the guest books at various places in my travels. Recently, at Marsh Lake, a couple of couples seemed to have excelled at one of the endless opportunities that our provincial parks offer – great outdoor sex! Watch my short video report (00:42).
A member of the cicada family, dog day harvest flies abound in Spruce Woods Park and are evident by their aerial buzzing as they fly from tree to tree. The sound is actually the mating call of male dog day harvest flies trying to attract females. The fly is about an inch long with a wing span of three inches and has distinctive green markings on its black body. Hear their call on my short video.
I’m just back from a couple of days yurting at Spruce Woods Park. Hot, hot weather – my kind of summer – and cool nights made for a pleasant and relaxing stay. Few neighbours, no sirens and a friendly firepit added to the enjoyment. As well, I hiked the nearby Spirit Sands several times. Watch my video of the accommodations at Yurt #4.
Halfway up the side of wind-swept Big Muddy Valley in extreme southern Saskatchewan sits the Marshall family cemetery. Forty-one people, all related to James Marshall, are buried there. He was a member of the North West Mounted Police and, later, one of the first large ranchers in the Big Muddy district. The view from the cemetery is marvellous as the valley stretches for miles in both directions. Join me there on video.
Amy Winehouse was the last singer that struck a chord with Linda. She reacted the same way to Amy as she did to Bruce Springsteen – love at first sight! She adored Amy, knew all her lyrics and sang along with enthusiasm. I am certain that Linda and Amy have spent some of eternity harmonizing on those great old Shirelles songs since Amy passed through. Linda loved Amy’s cover of the Zuton’s tune, Valerie, certainly one of great pop songs of the century. Two versions here: the first Amy and solo guitar which shows off her wonderful singing talent; the second with her full band on BBC. Both are enchanting in their own way. What a band!! I love Amy, as well, and feel privileged to have shared a few minutes of eternity with her here on earth. Do you think with a name like Winehouse that succumbing to alcohol poisoning reaction, or whatever it really was, had some pre-destiny to it in Amy’s case?
On Day Three, I have breakfast of eggs easy, rye toast and coffee after coffee at Jack’s Cafe on Eastend’s main drag. Lots of elbow room out here in southwestern Saskatchewan. Eastend‘s main street is wide and roomy yet still takes up just one-eighth of the sky. I thank Sharon Butala for reminding me about the sky thing. The red man and the white man clashed and co-operated around here and the places still sing their history. Sitting Bull and his people camped near Eastend, Chimney Coulee holds deep local mysteries that history barely touches and the spirit of Crazy Horse haunts a flat area on the valley floor. Watch is my short video report on Crazy Horse Camp.
Day Two in Eastend finds me standing before this pretty house. Author Wallace Stegner lived in 20 places in eight states and Canada, one of them being Eastend when he was a child. His little house, well-maintained and loved, is now a local tourist attraction and houses resident artists. Stegner’s autobiography, Wolf Willow, is the seminal work about the prairies, much of it youthful remembrances from the Eastend area. A worthy and honest read. In 1972 Wallace won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with Angle of Repose. Here’s an excerpt from Wolf Willow about how the prairies feel.
“There was never a country that in its good moments was more beautiful. Even in drought or dust storm or blizzard, it is the reverse of monotonous, once you have submitted to it with all the senses. You don’t get out of the wind, but learn to lean and squint against it. You don’t escape sky and sun but wear them in your eyeballs and on your back. You become acutely aware of yourself. The world is very large, the sky even larger, and you are very small. But also the world is flat, empty, nearly abstract, and in its flatness you are a challenging upright thing, as sudden as an exclamation mark, as enigmatic as a question mark.”
The SW Quest for Art & History is a self-guided tour of various historic and artistic places in southwest Saskatchewan, the Stegner house one of its stops. Their website gives you the entire tour.
On Day Two, Today Eastend offers us some recent and geological history wrapped into the same site, Chocolate Peak, situated just outside of town. I won’t spoil the sweet treat. Find out what I mean by watching my short video report.
It’s Day One of my three-day stay in Eastend. The little town of Eastend, SK is located in the eastern foothills of the Cypress Hills, tucked into the wide and beautiful Frenchman River Valley. Eastend has a vast history which they have traced back to the dinosaurs with the local discovery of a T. Rex skeleton back in the 1990s. What sets Eastend apart is how they have developed their extensive and varied history into a blossoming tourist industry. Glacial landscapes, aboriginals and settlers, historic events and recent discoveries have been put into perspective, developed and now bring new interest and tourists to the town despite its out-of-the-way location.
Actually, Eastend has two very good highways serving it: Hwy #37 from Gull Lake and Hwy #13 from Shaunavon. Eastend is less than a hour off the Trans Canada Highway, south of Gull Lake. I have visited Eastend regularily since the mid-1990s and watched them create an international image. The T. Rex Discovery Centre, an amazing building set right into the valley wall, opened a few years ago and offers state-of-the-art museum technology and methods to demonstrate the significance of the finding of the T. Rex skeleton. It’s a little bit of heaven for dinosaur lovers. To give you an idea how thoroughly Eastend has adopted the T. Rex as its power animal, there is a street leading to the Discovery Centre called T. Rex Drive. Next to the Centre and halfway up the valley wall (location, location, location) a new housing development is underway called T. Rex Heights! Though I didn’t shoot inside the Centre, here is my video report on the building and its spectacular location.
This is the video of my hike on Spirit Sands yesterday.
Amazing what floats! Harrowing video with dramatic ending!
Yesterday I found out the access road to the Spirit Sands had been rebuilt and opened so I immediately planned a day trip out. Today was the perfect day! About 21 degrees Celsius, constant breeze and an amazing cloudscape. I arrived about 11:30, two other cars in the parking lot. The trail was warmly familiar and I was relieved and quickened to be back there. The Sentinel gave gracious consent to proceed and I enjoyed every step of the trail. Because of the extra moisture and no one to trample the growth, the dunes are heavily overgrown this summer. Lots of grasses and yellow flowers in bloom, the bearberry fruit are bright red against the waxy green leaves and the juniper berries are turning colour. The vistas are still breath-taking, the sand sensual as ever under bare feet and Spirit abides in every grain. I took plenty of video of my hike and the dunes but for now here is a series of pictures from today’s hike.
The last picture is of trees the Assiniboine River uprooted and slammed against the bridge, now piled next to the highway. The pile is 20 feet high! The park will have plenty of firewood for the next five years.
I just talked with Manitoba Conservation in Carberry and the access road to the trailhead and parking lot for Spirit Sands has been rebuilt and is open as of today. The hiking trails have been checked and are safe and hikable. Highway #5 through the park is now open from Glenboro to Carberry. See you out there!
I have written about Star Mound in the Sacred Places series with mention of the old schoolhouse that sits next to the beaver mound. Located in extreme southern Manitoba near Snowflake, Star Mound School opened in 1886 and closed in 1962. Moved six times in its existence, the one-room schoolhouse now rests as an excellent hands-on museum on a historically significant site. The school museum retains the original desks and fixtures, books and pictures. All that is missing is the blackboard. The building is simple wooden rectangular box with steep gable ends. The porch was a later addition. The decorative features of the small flared pediments over the windows and indented frames painted red add charm.
Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and departing leave behind us, footprints in the sands of time.
Let us then be up and doing, with a heart for any fate, still achieving still pursuing, learn to labor and to wait.
In addition to a beaver-shaped burial mound, possibly one of only two in the country, the top of Star Mound offers a spectacular 360-degree view of the prairies. Rolling hills cut with treed breaks flow off to the north, shadows of massive lazy clouds slide across the land, the garish colours of the monoculture glow. Explorer La Verendrye witnessed this vista; artist Paul Kane made sketches from this vantage point. Instead of tractors, half tons and toxic canola yellow, their landscape had buffalo, tipis and tall rippling grass. Had they come in spring, they would have found the sides of Star Mound glorious with crocuses.
Today the site also offers a number of buffalo rub stones, a geodetic survey marker denoting the place’s relationship to the Canada/US border, a small picnic area, constant breezes coming up the hill and a peaceful oasis to commune with Spirit. Step out of the wind and into education as it was a hundred years ago.
Find more stories about Manitoba schools on my Schools page.
The Antonioni cottonwoods (watch Blow-Up!) nuzzle the prairie breezes leaving symphonic rustles hanging in the late afternoon air. Nuance consumes nuance. I am mostly naked, cooled by the day as I am heated by the wine. The second floor balcony of The Convent is close to heaven. Linda occurs! I am a blessed being, lucky times infinity, living that same dream in the middle of now here, an exclamation point on the endless prairie! This is what dusk in Val Marie looked like that night.