66 Years in the Making!
3 Plays for a Quarter!
Yes, it’s true!
Download the Jukebox for free:
play-the-jukebox PDF version
play-the-jukebox-reid-Dickie ZIP file epub for tablets and ereaders
The six Frequently Asked Questions on my blog all deal with some aspect of my personal spiritual practise – shamanism.
What is shamanism?
Personally, shamanism provides a method for me to experience life beyond the rational mind and its limitations. Ever since I was a young child I knew there was a place where imagination began, where great powers and incredible beings existed to help us and heal us. I spent forty years trying to find a way to get there. In 1994, I discovered a little book called The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner. He laid out the core elements of shamanism as it had been practiced for over 50,000 years, adapted the techniques and technology for modern people and, suddenly, I had access to the spirit world. I had found my way!
Using a sonic driver, in my case drumming on CD, the daily mind is distracted. Then, having access to that mythical 90% of the brain we don’t use, the psychic and subtle worlds are revealed. I enter these worlds with powerful intent behind each of my journeys there. Intent, while a good list filler in ordinary reality, in non-ordinary reality becomes an enormously powerful tool. The shaman’s work is to apply the intent and watch for the intentional and unintentional to occur and discern their meanings. Power animals and spirit helpers act as guides, protectors, companions and teachers. More often than not, my clarity results from their explanations of events.
Mircea Eliade, the historian and philosopher who wrote the seminal work on the topic called Shamanism, subtitled it Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. What the shaman knows that few others know is the secret of the trance, which is: the trance plus intent opens access to the scene of freedom, to the source of creativity and to sheer ecstasy, all achieved simply, safely and without drugs. Ecstasy is a major factor in all the reports in this series. I spend a lot of time there.
You find my FAQ page here.
I’ve logged some hours improving several RRR blog pages making them more user-friendly and accessible. That means there are lots of links now where before there was miles of scrolling. Can I hear a Huzzah!
Just in time for summer travel planning I’ve revamped the Day Tripper page completely, adding several dozen sites around Manitoba for a total of 60. Links are now provided for most of the posts as well as my five Year-End Reviews which give a good overview of my travels. There are a few posts with site descriptions at the end of the page.
I overhauled the MB Heritage page, changing some sites and making accessibility easier with links for all. The Sacred Places page begins with the short article about safeguards at sacred sites and provides links for all the sites I’ve visited in Manitoba and Saskatchewan reporting my experiences. Both of these pages might supply sites for your exploration this summer. Check them out.
As with Birdland, I left Churches and Houses pages as they are with the long scrolls unrolling them like a travelogue. Check these pages out for summer trip planning, too. The Schools page stays the same but is user friendly.
Back by popular demand, the Fiction page! Revamped for easy linking it has several new short stories and some old faves. Church of Kicking Tires is back with a new ending. Two other pages are devoted to fiction: Lonesomes has sixteen scripts, backstories, direction and videos for The Lonesomes. Squareaway gets you up to speed with the lives of Colloquia, Cheyenne and Grindel Squareaway from just down the block.
Astute observers of RRR will notice a brand-spanky new page lurks above the header picture. I want to provide a balanced blog that offers all sorts of heavy responsible information (ahem) as well as pleasant time wasters. Cue the Guff page. The content is a mix of over 50 humorous posts and unusual videos, most short and spunky. I intentionally left the descriptions to a minimum maintaining the surprise. Be happy.
Somehow life managed to transport me to age 65 this year placing me firmly in the category of senior citizen. Of course, I resist that as much as possible while still getting the geezer discounts and pensions that accrue to me. Turns out, for me, 65 is the new 45. I originally told friends 65 is the new 40 then I started comparing myself to some 40-year-olds I know and realized I needed to adjust my figures.
It’s become obvious from The Long View that there are at least two kinds of age: the number of years I’m around which is relevant to the system as my part of the herd, and age as a state of awareness which is relevant to me as an individual and the growth I accomplish in this life. Both need to be honoured.
The Mighty Avenger accompanied/enabled me on my 14,000 kms of summer travel, alas, for the final time. Dodge has decided to discontinue making Avengers so my moving persona will be overhauled next year when it comes time for Mother Enterprise to birth me a new vehicle. I will miss the Avenger. Over the past five summers I’ve driven ten different Avengers, all basically the same. Sitting in the car was as familiar as sitting in my living room. The performance was consistent car to car, year to year, as was the service I received at Enterprise.
My large video project The Lonesomes: 16 Prairie Stories wound up on YouTube after many unsuccessful attempts at getting it into film festivals. YouTube has the individual stories plus the entire work. Along with the sixteen short videos, I posted the script and the backstory for each story on my blog. This was the year I went after free wild samples big time, downloading hours of free images and sounds from sites like freesound.org and archive.org. This provided the basic content for a few dozen short videos which I call absurd found art. One example I’m especially fond of is called The Curve. I downloaded a short black and white video clip of a curve in a road and added the muffled sound of people walking. I decribed ten spontaneous stories of events that happened at this curve. The parameters of the descriptions were easy: each had to contain a number. I combined the stories with the video and an hour later had my piece. It needed an intro. The images of the red curtain rising and falling is perfectly absurd. Click the picture below to watch The Curve. It’s 3:45 long. Incorporating found material I created four short videos using my flash fiction stories as narratives. Click the pics to watch. Itinerary Item 1:35 Grass of the Apocalypse 1:17 I Am Aspen Smoke 4:38 God is At Home/Atomic Prayer 4:53 Along with my found art and other video documentations this year, I have been compelled by The Muse to write my coming-of-age in a small town in the 1960s novel, now almost complete. The working title is Some Stuff. My hometown provides the physical layout for the town in the story. None of the characters, including mine, bears much resemblance to anyone in particular. Instead the characters are composites of aspects and traits I’ve noticed over my life. I’ve never embarked on a project this intense or complex. It requires me to spend five to eight hours a day writing. Backed up with a solid outline, the thing starts to write itself after awhile. Characters become overly familiar and take on a life of their own. I see them at the coffee shop or grocery store. A couple of characters have suggested their own destiny to me, some quibble about a line of dialogue I have written for them, other characters will join in the debate. It’s a long conversation that goes on in my head which I empty out daily, spattering it across the pages. No matter how good or bad a character is, I am responsible for every one of them; they live and die by my key strokes. Despite that, I find the characters sometimes use me as their conduit to get the words on the page. I just type what they tell me to.
Over the past five years I’ve devoted an enormous amount of energy and time studying the Criddle/Vane family and their incredible story of survival as pioneers on the Canadian plains. Their reasonably intact homestead has been a constant source of inspiration as I followed their story with the intent of it becoming a screenplay one day. Regular readers of this blog know the homestead is a favourite haunt of mine. I visited the homestead on Monday, June 23 with my cousin Vonda who had never been there before. The house had recently been boarded up (above) so no access inside was available. I’ve felt for some time this would be an excellent idea, at least to protect it somehow. Two days later on Wednesday June 25 arsonists burned the 120 year old Criddle/Vane house to the ground. The crime remains unsolved. The sign on the left is located about three miles south of the turn-off to the Criddle/Vane homestead. Although the house is gone, documentation of it exists in several ways. One of them is my 3:55 video tour of both floors of the interior of the house which I shot in 2013. I haven’t returned to the homestead this year. I can’t really bring myself to see it without the eight-bedroom house towering over the remains of the family’s history, the enormous amount of wood the place required and the glories and tragedies the house contained. It makes me angry that more protection wasn’t given to the place; the threats to it were real and obvious. Another effect of the loss has been a dulling of my interest in heritage. Over the years my endeavors have been quite scatter-gun all over the province, dabbling in this and that. Moving past that I decided to focus my heritage energies on one location and try to make a difference there.
Deciding where to focus my energy and intent was quite easy. I just picked the place with the best heritage stuff outside of Winnipeg – Carberry. I’d helped promote the first Carberry Heritage Festival in 2013 by writing a media release for them and documenting the festival. In 2014 I was much more involved in the festival, attending planning meetings and promoting the event. A family emergency prevented me from attending the 2014 festival but it was deemed a success by organizers and the next festival is August 7 and 8, 2015. Check out the festival website. It wasn’t just the heritage buildings and unique history that attracted me to Carberry, it was and still is the people. I’ve met some of the nicest, most sincere people of my life in Carberry. When I go there I am reminded of growing up in Shoal Lake – the leisurely pace of life, the friendliness of people even to strangers, the lack of most of the crappy things about urban life and the sound and vibration of trains going through town. Carberry heritage people are very appreciative of my contributions. In addition to building the festival website, this year I also wrote and designed a walking tour book of Carberry that features 45 heritage places. I’m still working on some design features for the book but hope to have it available for the summer of 2015. Possibly the Carberry town council will help fund the book then the local heritage organizations can sell it as a fund raiser. I’ll keep you posted.
One of my heritage interests has always been Winnipeg’s grand old schools, the ones built in the first half of the 20th century. Over a decade ago I did a freelance series for the Winnipeg Free Press on the schools, even writing and designing a book on the subject that no one wanted to publish. This year I updated the school features and posted them on my Schools page. Earl Grey School (left) was my alma mater for the series which I explain in the article. The other schools already posted are Isbister/Adult Education Centre, Ecole Provencher, Luxton, La Verendrye and Laura Secord. I am posting them in chronological order by the year they were built. I expect to post six to eight school features a year. In addition to the old schools that still stand, I feature ten schools that have been demolished with pictures and descriptions. Along with posts on Winnipeg schools, the Schools page has articles on many rural schools, architect J. B. Mitchell, spiral fire escapes, live-in custodian suites in schools, William Sisler, the first junior high school and much more. I had a teacher mom and I have posted her Grade 11 exams from 1930 along with the rules of conduct teachers of the era were expected to follow. Coming soon is a feature on some of the teaching materials Mom used in the 1930s when she taught in rural Manitoba.
Besides Carberry and the nearby Camp Hughes, two of my favourite spots this year have been Beaudry Park and Alexander Ridge Park. Beaudry is a small provincial park on the bend of the Assiniboine with some hiking trails and picnic areas. It sports a bit of original tall grass prairie. Situated just west of Headingley, the park is perfect for an afternoon’s relaxation to bask in the sun or sit in the shade and work on some details of my novel. Alexander Ridge Park (left) is halfway up the escarpment just west of Miami, Manitoba. The view of the vast lake bed below is spectacular making the 75 minute drive from Winnipeg well worth it. This year the park added a new lookout tower and a washroom. I spent many long hours working out details of the book at the park. I took a couple of old buddies to enjoy the view. Afterward a drive up onto the top of the escarpment wending my way back to the city.
I have a short list of artists of all stripes with whom I will gladly go wherever they want to take me. Musically Tom Waits is on my list, cinematically Federico Fellini and fully completely Dali. Obviously I have tendencies toward the surreal. I miss Fellini’s fantastic visions and not having a new Fellini film to look forward to. To remedy that I seek out filmmakers with similar artistic motives and motifs finding two this year. I have already posted about The Color of Pomegranates (1968), a surrealistic telling of the life of Armenian poet Sayat Nova by Russian director Sergei Parajanov. Released the year before Fellini’s Satyricon, the film creates similar trance-like imagery. The image on the right is from the film. This year I discovered a more recent film The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza, 2013) that celebrates Rome as enthusiastically and humourously as Fellini’s portrait of the city in Roma (1972). Well-known and well-loved writer Jep Gambardella, handsomely portrayed by Toni Servillo (left), has just turned 65 and attends party after party in his honour between which he reminisces about his life in Rome and his love affairs while interviewing a parade of odd characters for a book. Director Paolo Sorrentino, who also wrote the screenplay, often goes full homage to Fellini as in the early scene with the nun on a ladder half obscured by a lemon tree followed by a murmuration of black birds across a chem trail. At the 37 minute point there is a scene in a hallway of two men grieving for the same dead woman that is breath-taking! Modern Rome and Old Rome mesh in delightful ways: Jep’s apartment looks out onto the Colosseum and a performance artist does her bizarre act at the ancient Roman aqueduct. Jep’s friend Stefano has a case that contains the keys to Rome’s most beautiful buildings so we accompany them on a long nighttime jaunt through empty museums, palaces, promenades and incredibly ornate rooms, filmed with a definite shout-out to Fellini’s brothel scene in Satyricon. The sources of humour in The Great Beauty are the same as Fellini’s: bureaucracy, politicians, sexuality, religion. Jep interviews a 104-year- old saint (her feet don’t touch the floor) whose minder says the most outrageous things about her. At Jep’s dinner party in the saint’s honour, a flock of flamingos show up on his balcony (above) followed by the saint’s odd reaction. The Great Beauty won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film in 2014. If you like witnessing unlikely things you’ve never seen before, The Great Beauty provides two hours and twenty minutes of it, every moment striking and unusual. It’s not for everyone but it could be for you. Netflix has it in Italian with English subtitles. Watch the trailer. Other new movies I enjoyed included St. Vincent, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy (yes, I admit it!), Gone Girl, On the Road and The Hobbit. I’ve just come from seeing The Hobbit in 3-D D-Box. D-Box is where the seat moves and rumbles coordinated with the screen action. It added four bucks to my ticket price but nothing to the movie, immediately becoming more distracting than enhancing. The only time D-Box gave me a convincing sensation of the action was when people rode horses. The Hobbit was terrific fun. Martin Freeman has the perfect Hobbit face. Two movies I especially enjoyed mastered very specific cinematic techniques to tell their well-written stories. Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) has Michael Keaton (left) as a washed-up movie superhero trying to make a credible comeback on Broadway. Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and the rest of the cast are marvelous as is the script. The entire movie appears to be one long take, i.e. one uninterrupted shot with no editing. Credit and, hopefully, some awards should go to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki for the seamlessness of the movie. The stylish technique created a floating sensation for me that lasted the whole film. If you missed its first run, see it during its Oscar run in theatres. Birdman trailer. Locke takes place entirely inside a car at night and the only actor we see is the driver. That might sound tedious but write a well-oiled script that uses modern telephone technology in a new and inventive fashion to tell the story then hire one of today’s best, though somewhat unknown, actors and the result is riveting entertainment. British writer/director Steven Knight (he created TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) is responsible for the story and the vision and actor Tom Hardy (above) is the driver. The car never stops so the film unfolds virtually in real time. Hardy says near the beginning he’s ninety minutes away from London and he arrives almost exactly ninety minutes later. Considering he has only his chest and above to act with as he talks to various people on his hands-free car phone, Hardy easily overcomes the limitation and makes the role utterly convincing. During the shoot, Hardy caught a head cold which is incorporated into the drive as one more way his life is unraveling. Tom Hardy is under-appreciated even though he’s been in Inception, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Lawless (amazing role) and The Dark Knight Rises. Next summer he is Mad Max. Maybe then he’ll get the recognition his talent merits. Watch Locke trailer.
Thanks to Netflix I watched the British TV series Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character and Martin Freeman as Watson (left). This is Sherlock for the 21st century and it’s a hoot with three seasons done and a fourth on the way. Its fun trailer. A fascinating series called Rectify with Aden Young as a newly released prisoner returning to his hometown has two seasons under its belt and returns in the spring. Netflix also has Lie To Me, one of the last series Linda and I watched together. Tim Roth reads facial expressions and body language to determine who’s lying and who isn’t. Educational and fun.
National Public Radio in the U.S. produced a 12-part podcast called Serial that revisits a real 15 year old murder by interviewing all the principals and seeking out new information on the case. Beautifully written and voiced by Sarah Koenig with very high production values I highly recommend it. Serial is available here.
Late in the year I discovered a German throwback band called the Baseballs (right) who capture the genre’s brash fun. Their original songs are often pastiches of numerous hits from the 1950s and 60s. They also rockabilly up some modern songs. On the player below hear the Baseballs jumped up versions of Leona Lewis’s Bleeding Love, Alicia Keys’ No One and Robbie Williams’ Angels.
2014 at readreidread.com was a very good year with almost 80,000 views from 160 countries. I created 132 posts during the year and uploaded 679 pictures to my blog. This year-end review will be my 1010th post. Here’s how my blogging life went month by month.
I started the old schools series with Earl Grey School (left) in all its glory. I posted an article from elsewhere on ways to rebel in the Matrix and added an absurd cut-up video called What He Rebels Against.
Though I eliminated my Fiction page because WordPress is a crappy forum for almost everything now, I posted a short fiction called Bad Men Who Love Jesus. I profiled Isbister School now the Adult Education Centre and offered a feature on the 1948 Reavis Report on the future of schools and education in Winnipeg.
Ecole Provencher was the next old school feature. This month my large video work The Lonesomes: 16 Prairie Stories (right) was posted on my blog and also on my YouTube channel. You can read the scripts and backstory here and watch the video here. I posted on movies about the Beats made in the 21st century.
We had spring flooding in Manitoba this year that caused Spruce Woods Park to be closed for a while. I did three on-site reports. The next old school is Luxton in Winnipeg’s North End. I documented the ten years of my radio career with pictures and charts in a post called Read Reid Radio.
I reported on my first Spirit Sands hike of the year, my train trip to Dauphin and the awakening of the garter snakes at Narcisse in a post called Snakes Without Ladders. I re-reported on Kevin Richardson and the lions shot with a GoPro camera. An amazing story!
I reported on my visit to the Criddle/Vane homestead discovering the house had been sealed off (left). Two days later the house was burned to the ground by arsonists. I posted a short fiction piece called Watching the River Flow, a life-changing conversation between a husband and wife
More flooding at Spruce Woods Park with on-the-spot video and pictures. The Cooks Creek Medieval Festival was held this year and I have a full report plus video. I helped promote the Carberry Heritage Festival this year and posted often about it.
A major attraction at the Medieval Festival was the Prairie Caravan Tribal Belly Dancers. I offer some background on the troupe and video (right) of one of their festival dances. The heritage festival in Carberry was a success prompting a third year. Check out the Carberry Heritage Festival website for the latest information. More short fiction What Ever Happened To the Squareaway Children – Grindel, Cheyenne, Colloquia.
An offshoot of my rooting around for found footage online I created a daily short video series called The Good Old Days which started last month and accounted for the rest of my posts this month. See two samples: Five-horse, one man swather and stooker :55 and Cigarettes, Oh Boy 1:18
I celebrated John Cleese’s birthday, offered a new short video called Tesla As a Boy. I did a feature on a 1960s radio contest where CKY (left) tried to get a town to change its name to Seekaywye. I report on Marshall McLuhan’s 1977 visit to Brandon. La Verendrye School is next in the schools series and a new found video Guitar Concerto.
I posted the feature on Birtle Indian Residential School which I shot in June when my friend Mark and I went for a drive in western Manitoba. I created two more found videos – Just This and Oasis in Space which uses the sound poetry of Kurt Schwitters as its audio. I found some TV commercials Federico Fellini produced in the late 1960s including one for Campari. Five versions of one song – The Chokin’ Kind – rounded out the month.
I kicked off the month with a feature on Winnipeg 1910 to 1919 which tied into Laura Secord School. I found some lovely old calendar art from the 1920s which got me curious about calendar art in general. On the 124th anniversary of his death I posted two short fictions about Sitting Bull with an added bit of film this year. Then I started the 12 Days of Christmas – a daily look at one of Carberry’s wonderful heritage buildings. The series was very popular. Party hats (right) from the 1930s was a timely post. Over the Christmas holidays, due to hundreds of Facebook links, my post on the Vickers Viscount airplane in Garland from 2013 generated thousands of views giving my blog its best day ever and second best month ever.
I’ll give the last picture and the last word to my namesake Ezra Reid Scholl who’s just turned two. The little guy enriches my life beyond measure. I revel in watching him grow and change and learn. Among the many things Ezra has taught me so far is there is no better reason to make a silly fool of yourself if it makes a two-year-old laugh. This picture is Ezra at 17 months. Below that is a one-minute video mash-up I did of Ezra being extra cute. Click the pic. Happy New Year!
The spring melt is inevitable, though it doesn’t feel that way with massive amounts of snow everywhere. To give you some idea of the kind of winter it’s been, I shot this from the train coming in from the west in late-March. This mountain of snow that dwarfs the heavy equipment tending it is some of the snow cleared from Winnipeg streets this winter. Click pic to start 30 second clip.
Depending on snow quality and quantity as well as melt rate, Manitoba could be in for a heavy flood season..or not. The province has another new flood watch manager who on March 31 predicted the potential for spring flooding is near normal for most of the province. Translated out of Steve Ashtonese, it’s goodish news!
In fact, the flood news is downright rosy. We won’t need the Winnipeg Floodway nor the Portage Diversion this year, well, maybe we’ll just use 10% of them. Highway 75, frequently bathed by floodwaters, won’t get a bath year. The Shellmouth Reservoir has been drained down to catch all the incoming Assiniboine River. Oh yeah…this depends on cooperation from the weather which hasn’t been very cooperative so far this year. Flood predicting is hydrological guesswork, playing the odds as discerned from computer models.
There are three Manitoba sites where flooding is very likely to occur: The Pas, southwest Manitoba and some low-lying areas of Winnipeg due to run-off. Above normal soil moisture and snow pack means The Pas will likely experience localized flooding from run-off. The Souris River, whose headwaters has above average snow pack this year, will threaten the Souris/Melita area and points south. A Winnipeg flood truly depends on a slow melt. Our sewers are old. The whole flood report is here.
If the province is inundated I will start my summer travels early to provide firsthand flood reports. Otherwise I’ll hit the road in early May.
My summer travel plans will have a distinct focus this year which can be described with one word: inside. I’m always looking for new wrinkles on old stuff. Blog readers and viewers flock to my heritage reports from inside old abandoned buildings so that is where I will focus my cameras this summer. I have a short list of places to record and I’m open to suggestions. Watch for my reports starting in May.
During our gorgeous Manitoba summers we are treated to a panoply of festivals, events and happenings.
World-renown Winnipeg Folk Festival July 9 to 13, 2014 enlivens Bird’s Hill Park for the forty-first time. Among the performers this year are Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt, John Hammond, the Sheepdogs and a hundred others. Every second year Cooks Creek becomes the scene of jousting, fair damsels, ogres, armoured hand-to-hand combat, fire dancers, jesters, archery and all things medieval. This year their Medieval Festival on the grounds of Immaculate Conception Church and Grotto will be held Saturday, July 26. At $10 a ticket it’s one of the best festival bargains in Manitoba. Watch my report from the 2012 festival. The first annual Carberry Heritage Festival last year gave the town an opportunity to celebrate and share its past, show off its wealth of heritage buildings and its hospitality while bringing some new faces to town. It was deemed a success and this year’s Carberry Heritage Festival will be held Friday and Saturday August 8 & 9, 2014. Once again I will help promote the event and document the festivities. I’ll be posting their schedule of events closer to the festival. Watch my report from last year’s festival. A brand new idea that should appeal to communities of all sizes was hatched last year by the people who promote Dauphin. They created Yardfringe, the first event of its kind anywhere. For the gist of it, read my report from last year’s event. In 2014, Yardfringe will happen Saturday September 27 as part of their Arts Alive Day. I’ll have more details as they become available. Other events are yet to be announced but when they are green-lit I’ll post them here. We Manitobans have waited with varying degrees of patience for this winter to end. When it does, all the more reason to celebrate. See you on the road.
It was two years ago today that I first proffered my blogishness online, a rather clueless beginner with massive curiosity and a tad of talent with words. My intent had been to find my audience which I accomplished in the first year. In my second year, I managed to retain and build my audience. The blog has attracted an average of 240 hits a day for the past year. Amazing! Thank you for coming back to review my latest meanderings time and again.
In my second year 185 new posts appeared on my blog, significantly fewer than my first year. I have found a nice pace for posting that doesn’t create stress, only enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment.
If there is a fly in my blog life, it is WordPress, which hosts both my blogs (www.shoallakehistory.com is the other blog) and millions of others. When I started with WordPress two years ago it was a simple and straight-forward blog builder where most everything worked every time I needed it. Today I have come to dislike WordPress greatly. Every week there is some new wrinkle they introduce that makes something more complicated, more time-consuming and much less enjoyable. The tall foreheads who administer WordPress can’t seem to leave anything alone.
The latest annoying feature is a spell check WP introduced when you compose posts right on the blog. I am certain Monty Python designed this spell check. It gives the most outrageously complicated and/or irrelevant suggestions to simple errors making it useful less than half the time. I can’t figure out how to stop the damn thing.
Regular readers will have noticed how sometimes pictures and text don’t format well together, leaving large white spaces in the middle of paragraphs. This is a recent thing due to some mysterious change to WordPress and again I am at a loss on how to fix it. Bottom line is, if you want to start a blog, don’t use WordPress. Shop for a simpler and easier blog maker.
That said, I still enjoy having a blog or two. I need the outlet and I am enormously grateful to everyone who has visited RRR in the past year. Thank you.
Buzz Buzz Buzz
What’s ahead for RRR, you ask?
The tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas that Linda and I started back in 2005 continues, beginning this Friday, December 14. This year, alternating daily, there will be six heritage churches and six heritage houses featured, all in Manitoba, of course. Something new this year: nine of the heritage buildings will have short videos along with pictures and descriptive write-ups!
On the last day of the year, I’ll post my year-end review, another tradition and one I particularly enjoy writing because I get to reflect on my life using the blog as a filter. What a year it has been! So much to report.
Starting January 1st, watch for a new feature called Sorry Notes to the Future. It’s a series of original videos which I created over the past few months combining collage, sound and story. All are very short (under a minute) and quite absurd. I’ll be posting one a day, every day during the month of January.
The past and the future are both experiences in the present moment. Thanks for being here now.
“I’ll be driven, eyes always moving, riveted to the task…”
– Gordie Downie
My list of heritage sites to visit and record all over Manitoba has largely been satisfied. More organized than ever, it was a highly productive summer of “working the list.” I just calculated my mileage for the season and the mighty Avenger and I, well, myself and three mighty Avengers, have logged almost 23,000 kms, all but 1,000 of them in Manitoba. I got to see amazing country this year, discover special places that few Manitobans know about then report them here on my blog. Thanks for reading my blog, by the way. I am grateful every day for your attention.
With my trusty, battery-sucking digital camera by my side, I’ve captured some odd, surprising and occasionally astonishing images along my path. Here are a dozen of them with brief commentary about each one.
Old Cook Stove in Abandoned Stone House
Sure, I haunt the occasional tumbledown farmhouse out in the middle of now here, sure I do. I’m not usually the first to satisfy their curiosity about what’s inside the old place. A little stone house sits atop a small rise along Hwy #21 south of Hartney. I’ve seen this old house most of my life since my grandparents homesteaded nearby. This summer I stopped at it for the first time for pictures and video. Beyond the Keep Out sign, this old wood stove was the first thing I saw through the door. I took a few shots of the interior, largely wrecked. The inset is a shot of the house. Expect more about this place on my blog and YouTube channel.
Stillborn Graves at Camp Hughes Cemetery
The little cemetery at Camp Hughes has but 26 graves in it dating from 1916. Sadly, more than half are the graves of children. Some died in infancy, others stillborn and unnamed. Several graves are simply unknown.
Strange Cloud on Prairie Horizon
No, it’s not an atomic bomb test. It’s a gigantic cloud of smoke slowly rising from a field of burning stubble. This is a common sight in late summer, ominous and beautiful at once, most are not this spectacular. I shot this traveling south out of Winnipeg along Hwy #75 in late August. I watched it for miles as the cloud grew and changed shape.
Criddle Vane in the Rain
One hot afternoon during one of my dozen visits to the Criddle Vane homestead this summer, a prairie thunderstorm came over with plenty of lightning and thunder, a little rain but no wind, just a smooth calm passing. I took this picture of the Criddle Vane house through the rain-spattered windshield of the Avenger. Percy Criddle was very wary of storms and prided himself on the lightning rods, imported from England, that adorned the roof of this house. The inset shows the house after the rain.
Wind Sculpted Formation at Spirit Sands
During a hike on Spirit Sands with my dear friend Chris Scholl, we came upon this beautifully sculpted arch on the upslope of a dune. We’d had variable winds, that is, winds from directions other than the prevailing northwesterlies, which may have accounted for this small miracle in sand.
Assessment Roll Information for Negrych Farm 1901-1930
If there was one site I visited this summer that left me in awe of how our ancestors lived and survived on the harsh prairie, it was the Negrych Homestead north of Gilbert Plains. Its ten original log buildings date from the late 1890s when the family arrived there, most of them in Ukrainian vernacular style. Each building houses materials the family improvised and used for decades. This assessment roll information traces the family’s assets for thirty years from 1901 until 1930. Click on the picture to enlarge.
Old Headstone in Wawanesa Cemetery
Humble and plain, corroding against the weather and the years, this little stone caught my camera’s eye in the cemetery at Wawanesa. What story could this stone tell?
Gathering of the Clans Picture
Being a full-blood Scotsman, this nicely framed illustration of the Gathering of the Clans had special meaning when I discovered it in one of the buildings at the Fort la Reine Museum in Portage la Prairie. Click pic to see entire image.
This isn’t my photograph. My friend Kevin Uddenberg took this picture using his smart phone which has HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology. The quality of the colours and the definition of the images is almost three-dimensional. By contrast look at the inset which is my picture of the same angels taken on the same day and time as Kevin’s picture. The difference is obvious and substantial.
Rewilding W. C. Fields for smartass purposes with bashful aplomb. During my summer travels, I noticed that the only area of the province that concentrated on growing hemp in any quantity is north of Riding Mountain around Dauphin. This verdant crop you see was growing directly behind my hotel and stretched for acres to the horizon. Besides being easy to grow and low maintenance chemicalwise, there is another sound reason why so much hemp is grown in the area: the Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers Coop is headquartered in Dauphin.
The Staircase That Killed Percy Criddle
We return to Criddle Vane homestead to wind up this odd excursion. Insufferably brilliant or brilliantly insufferable, whoever Percy Criddle was, the beginning of his exit from this life was a tumble down the stairs you see here. After moving both his families from London, England to a patch of sandy soil south of present-day Shilo in 1882, Percy spent 35 years eking out a living largely due to the true genius of his children. During a severe blinding case of Erysipelas that Percy acquired in the spring of 1918, he groped his way to the top of these stairs and tumbled the full length of them, injuring himself terribly. He died ten days later at age 73 and is buried in the family cemetery a couple hundred yards from his house. This is Percy’s headstone.
I’ve covered lots of Manitoba ground over the last ten days and the signs of change are everywhere, not just in the fields where the harvest progresses apace sending plumes of chaff and dust into the air. The red maples flame as loud as our flag. Always the leaders in changing colour, cottonwoods burn yellow in the dry dusty sun of late summer. Greens start to fade as russet and pumpkin shades emerge. An especially good summer for poison ivy, now its scarlet and orange leaves form bright carpets in the understory of shallow forests and along the ditches of the TCH. This year mountain ash are laden with large clusters of hot red berries awaiting the first frosts to sweeten up for the jays and waxwings.
Murmurations of blackbirds weave and dive across the highway coordinating their aerial sonar for the long flight ahead. Tiny flocks of LGBs (little grey birds, thank you Ed Abbey) polka along with the Tragically Hip on the mighty Avenger’s CD player. Vs of geese broadcast their lonesome message across the land. Red-tailed hawks populate telephone poles keen-eyed for their next meal, an easier feat now those nice farmers have cut down all the long crops making the yummy wee critters more vulnerable.
Generally critters get more mobile at this time of year in anticipation of winter. They plan ahead like the garter snakes who are now heading toward the nearest karst that’ll take them down below the frost line where they can overwinter thus many flattened snakes on the highways. Night critters like skunks, raccoons, porcupines and badgers populate the shoulders in larger numbers now than during the hot weather. Ravens tug at the carcasses. Nature bats last.
I caught this cluster of wild bees and several of their honeycombs over the entrance to Zoria Hall, a popular dance hall now and ago. There was honey dripping down the wall! It was a cool windy day so the bees were inactive.
In the cemetery next to the Zoria church was this beautiful white angel turning black with time.
Still driving around…
Rather than do the obvious and tout my 700th post on this blog when it occurred, I made the post something substantial and left the hoo-haw until 701, here, now.
I started this blog on December 11, 2010, about 20 months ago. The average number of posts, based on 700, is just over one post a day for the duration. I have amazed myself at the sheer volume and variety of information I’ve offered here, the creativity and the heightening of awareness the experience has evoked and the response from friends and world strangers. Special bold “Hey Youse” to the world strangers. Drop me a line some more.
Coincidentally, my traffic count for the blog is about to surpass 150,000 hits, averaging about 250 per day since December 2010. Again I am amazed at, grateful for and humbled by this response. Thank you to everyone who has visited my blog once or more. Thank you to the regulars who have subscribed to this extension of my body, mind and spirit. Thank you to the faithful and scornful readers, the doubters and the believers, the ones who know the secret of the trance and the ones who don’t. Thank you for all the perfect moments.
My friend Terry keeps checking with me to see how I’m doing for “content” for this blog and I always reassure him, there’s enough, always enough.
Unbound curiosity and the means to satisfy it – the perfect charm. I am such a lucky man and grateful every day. I refuse to rust out. I will burn out. Flow with my flame. Reid
The traditional Saturday morning Rock Paper Scissors Parade kicks off today’s collagic festivities. Four thousand floats are entered in this year’s parade; most are mere inches high, made of paper with paper motors and will likely be stepped on and crushed. Parade tip: listen for the pitiful thrashing of the broken floats’ near-spent springs, their limbs shredding away against unforgiving concrete. In the afternoon, watch a paper-making demonstration using lard, chard and Right Guard in the Cataclysmic Centre’s FU Fate Room. It’s amazing! Saturday night is the all-night street dance. The exact street has yet to be decided but Fido’s Dog Bowl, Fiddle and Ligament Band (non-housebroken line-up) will perform, as promised on the poster. Oh, we forgot to do a poster. Anyway, they are an all-dog band, a must see! The Shagging Feral Inbreds were booked. I hear they are spectacular too, dog upon dog upon dog. Elsewise, see this now!
Cassius thought he recognized the waitress. She smelled familiar when she bent toward him clearing away the drugged imps that sometimes come unglued from the bottoms of the tables. Her name tag said Veronica in fake rhinestones.
Television works so well due to its predictability. Television says money supplants skills. Television delivers people. Television is a tranquilizer that evens things out. Television allows us to be happily stupid.
It’s a big day! Keep your energy up, collagers!! Extinct hunting will happen this afternoon, despite it being controversial and all over the Big Head’s face gobs. The hunters vote on which extinct specie they’d like to kill most, a simple majority of votes decides the beast and off they go, an afternoon of complete futility, chasing something they know is non-existent, armed with weapons ranging from slingshots, bows and arrows and atlatls to submachine guns, grenade launchers and small nuclear tasers that zipline a custom hole in anything or anybody of desire. After a few hopeless, vain, senseless hours, many hunters will weep for the first time in their lives. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Tonight is the elegant ball in the elegant ballroom of the Bally Theme Hotel, Inn, Suites, Closets and Crawlspaces. The ball’s theme is Balls. “No yellow” is the ball’s only law. If you wear yellow, you’ll get kicked in the balls and/or equivalent. Should be a ball! Party on, specie!
After sitting through a long dinner with adults, little Whispa was glad to be off to her room. With her rubber stamp set, scissors and glue she assembled this poster of her daddy. She presented the little gift to her father at the table, much to the delight of the dinner guests. Whispa blushed as Daddy pulled her close to his warm smooth suit that smelled like cinnamon and exotic wind.
Umber Aja swims next to his dolphin brother, Climie, through the Gulf of Boredom as they try for the world title in tandem flexing at 8:30 every time it comes around which for the boys is just about often enough as they catch their combined breaths gulping the sewage-spoiled water. Climie almost swallowed an eyeball about an hour ago but spit it out at the last second.
I know, I know, we’re all hungover and edgy after the Shred-A-Thon but we need to focus, keep pretending we are actually in control of something/anything and move on. Are you with me on that? Good. It’s more or less a relaxing day today except for those who have opted for the voluntary public flogging which starts at noon at The Forks. I have a low tolerance for paper cuts so shant be attending. Instead I’m spending the afternoon at the forum of people who’ve been struck by lightning more than ten times. The things they say…and wear! It’s an entertainment you won’t soon forget, bluntly said. I haven’t been struck by lightning yet. Have you? Suck up these images, will ya!
Groober wasn’t sure what happened to the previous drummer in the band but he had his suspicions.
BABY’S FIRST VACCINATION
“Time for your DTaP-IPV baby. This’ll keep you healthy and happy with never a disease capsizing your future aromas,” said nurse Guido while injecting Little Ricky with the wrong vaccine. Within minutes Little Ricky saw his whole little life flash before his little eyes: biting grandma’s foot, the hydrogen filled inflatable pool and Glufus, the maniacally-jealous family dog, trying to drown him in the lake.
Collage week celebrations continue! At noon today, join me and the gang down at the Fussy Eaters Clubroom at Sunshine and Suchness. We’ll be chowing down on lymph burgers and yamato juice. Later is the hike through the Recanted PVC Forest, a rebuilt plastic imitation of a forest that once stood there, tree for tree, tick for tick. It’s a remarkable accomplishment in simulacra. Experience it before it’s against the law! Meanwhile, enjoy today’s collages.
“Of course we can convince them that one plus one equals three. They are sheep. They believe what their television tells them to believe. They sit or stand at the touch of a button. They think they are who they are told they are. Of course we can convince them…”
While Jack and his drinking buddies watched the game in the living room, Michelle, in the guise of painting the bathroom, was actually communing with Medusa.
I’ve traveled in three different directions from Winnipeg in the past week. First I headed northwest of Winnipeg toward Dauphin, one of my instinctual homes, a familiar haunt. Along Hwy #5 east of Riding Mountain National Park the clear view stretched for miles. I passed through two towns I’d never visited before, Laurier and Makinak, both on the northeastern edge of RMNP. In Makinak, in addition to a couple of old no-name churches, I found this storefront with living quarters above and to the side and a picket fence balcony, rather New Orleans style.
My trips included a days loop through several communities that I had never visited north of Dauphin. On a mission of heritage recon, my cousin Vonda and I set out, first to Gilbert Plains to get a peek at an old building that housed an interesting method of supplying beef to families before electricity. Then north to the Negrych Pioneer Homestead, one of the best preserved and complete Ukrainian homesteads in North America. The site includes this rare handmade clay bake-oven or peech. The oven is located in an extremely rare Canadian example of a traditional long-shingle Eastern-European style roof. Vonda commented on it looking very Hobbitt, very medieval. The gable end covering forms a protective porch over the entrance. Well-tended and obviously loved, we were a bit ahead of the July/August season and realized it would be much enriched by a tour guide. I’ll return with video camera in hand for that!
Northward we went to Garland (pop. under two dozen) in search of a designated heritage site, Andrew Kowalewich General Store from 1913. Alas, it was gone, torn down about ten years back by a subsequent generation. This is what it looked like.
Frank, at Garland’s current general store, showed us the artifacts he and his brother had collected in the area. Arrowheads, pounders, scrappers, fire spinners, dozens of curiosities from the past. We found Garland Airport – a real jet next to the street – and here you can see lovely flight attendant Vonda welcoming you aboard AC flight 620 from Garland to Rome non-stop.
After a picnic lunch in quiet Garland, we backtracked a bit and went to Winnipegosis. Onward to Sifton looking for Holy Resurrection Church with its squat onion domes and vertical massing. Alas, also gone, eaten by fire in September 2010. Here is what it looked like.
We finished off our day trip by revisiting the giant sinkhole near Keld that occurred at this time last year. I created a short video update on the site. Despite two of the sites I went seeking being gone, the trip was a success for the accidental discoveries like the two old churches in Garland that I’ll be featuring soon along with all the sites mentioned here.
Along Hwy #10 Vonda pointed out this old bridge with concrete balusters that was probably where the original Hwy #10 crossed Garland Creek. There is a tree growing out of the centre of the bridge. Vonda knows of other heritage gems north of Dauphin so we’ll be embarking on another heritage recon mission soon. Stay posted to this blog. Thanks for that, by the way, that staying-posted thing. Much appreciated.
In Ladywood I saw this retired store right along Hwy #12 that is now a family home. The flexing and rolling grey clouds, beggingly bright blue patches of sky and silky mists of rain were the perfect palette for its yellow roadside declaration of independence.
Next week is shaping up to be somewhat more relaxing with a day trip or two to quell the wanderlust. Have you ever been hit by lightning? What was it like?
It was almost exactly a year ago that several acres of a timothy field turned into a huge sinkhole on the north boundary of Riding Mountain National Park as you can see in the picture. My reports and video footage of it remain some of the most-frequented posts on this blog and my YouTube channel. I returned to the site this week and shot a short video update about the sinkhole.
WordPress, where this blog is hosted, has improved its statistical breakdowns of who visits their blogs. They now provide details on the number of hits country-by-country that my blog gets. I was pleased about the international scope of visitors. People from every continent but one, the usual one, have found readreidread.com in the past three months. Here’s a list of the top 25 countries and the traffic in numbers: