This isn't the first time in the past few weeks I've rolled over at 3a.m. writhing in pain, in fact it's probably been nearly every day for a while now. I'm killing myself here. The fact is, my body simply can't handle the stresses I've been subjecting it to, and once again, I'm feeling the consequences tenfold. I wrote a couple weeks ago about the changes I need to make in my lifestyle to get back to a better state of health, and the only one I've had somewhat of a success with was the quitting smoking. I've maybe had nearly a pack's worth of cigarettes in the past two weeks as opposed to a pack a day. But that ain't gonna save me..
I'll admit it, sugar is my weakness. Cola too. Most specifically, Coca-Cola. I swear they still put drugs in that sh*t.. I've got to get away from it. Before absolutely none of my pants fit..
Yesterday was one of those days of great awakening. I got up at the crack of dawn to drive a couple hundred kilometers and put my brand new chest waders to the test. It wasn't just the waders that were tested, my strength and endurance barely made the cut. How the hell could I let myself slip like this? I was doing so well before I moved out here. I just let myself go. Gained more than half the weight back, picked up all those horrible habits I had finally done away with, neglecting my health completely.
The hike nearly killed me. My goodness was the scenery ever gorgeous. Surrounded by mountains, wild waterways, fish swimming around my feet, eagles perched by the dozens in the dead standing trees.. It was enough to take my breath away. If my lack of physical fitness didn't get to that first. And if I keep going on like this, I fear that hike will be the last of it's kind for me.
I don't want that.
I gotta get back on track. Now time. No more excuses. Yes I'm broke, I'm always broke. I'll be far more broke if I can't get me arse out of bed to go make money. I want to come home from an epic adventure and write about how amazing it was to get out there, and not have to bitch about how it nearly killed me. I want to hook a fish and actually be able to reel the thing in on my own so I can take it home and eat it instead of getting all down about it and going out for sushi instead. I want the healthy me back. I know I only had it briefly, but it was enough for me to know how I want to live my life. With a lot less [preventable] suffering.
So yeah, the hike. My fella warned me that it wouldn't be easy, but I wanted to go anyways. Though there were a few moments I wanted to just call it quits [not an option, of course..] I kept on moving. I didn't turn back or wimp out, I pushed through. And I'm sure glad that I did. There's something so completely humbling about being at the mercy of the rising waters, feeling the pressure and weight of the river around my body as I waded deeper to cross. One slip and you're in there, one wrong step and you're gone. I could barely contain my excitement to see the fish stir up the mud around my feet.
The sky was layered with cloudy patches, the rain came in waves. Breaks between the rain were timed perfectly for breaks in our hike. We stopped on a sand bar for a bite to eat. We could hear nothing but the sound of the water rushing past, the eagles screeching all around us, and the rain drops hitting our hoods. As I munched my timbits I daydreamed about building a tree house on the side of the mountain, facing the river, having the huge dead old tree filled with eagles as the view from my front window. I could stay out there forever.
When we finally arrived at 'the spot', the water was almost a foot higher than when we had set out. The path was nowhere to be found, so we dropped our packs on shore close to a fallen tree and cast our lines. Not six casts in, I hooked a fat silver coho. Not expecting to have a fish on so soon, I didn't have the best hold on my rod. Before I could get into a better position to reel it in, the f*cker jumped and spit my hook. Damn it! After barely a minute of fighting the thing, my wrist was killing me. Even if I had been able to keep it on the line, there's no way I would have been able to land it. Where'd my strength go?!
I stood there wading in the ice cold water until my feet went numb. I didn't want to give up. The rain came on heavy, the river kept rising, and we had to call it a day. The hike back to the van was deadly. With the water as high as it was, some of the crossings we'd used on the way out were much higher than chest level. We had to find other points to cross most of the waterways, finding ourselves to be lucky we'd left when we did. Any longer out there and we would have been stranded, or swimming quite a way with all our gear. There were many beaches on the way out that were now more than a foot under water.
The rain persisted, as did we. I noticed a little caterpillar waving in the wind atop a single blade of grass, about to be overtaken by the rising water. I snatched him up, and carried him gently in my palm for the last kilometer of the hike. For whatever reason, having this fuzzy little guy at the mercy of my path made me tread more carefully, and I was focused less on how soaked and cold I was, and more on getting us both back to shore safe and sound. It reminded me to slow down a little, and take in my surroundings. Not to panic. Just breathe.
What seemed like forever later, we finally reached the bank by the road where Delilah was parked. I scrambled up the slope, fuzzy little caterpillar still in hand, and a giant smile on my face. I made it! Despite my shit state of health, I still mustered the spirit to endure the hike. I didn't collapse in defeat at the end as I figured I might. We peeled off our gear and sat in the van with the heat cranked as the worst of the storm blew in around us.
Never again I thought. Not that I never want to do that hike again, but I never want to find myself cursing my horrible lifestyle choices for not allowing me to enjoy the nature around me the way I'd like to. This has to end now. I must regain my health. I can not be defeated, I am not weak. The choice is mine and I'm making it. This is what I came here for.
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Sitting in the valley down by the river, surrounded by mountains and the smell of cedar in the air, I tend not to care about the fact that I'm out a job this coming week. There's money to be made all around if I seek it, but right now all that matters is that I'm here.
This is what I came here for. This is where I love to be no matter what's happening in the 'real world'. This is the real world for me. I have arrived, I am home.
We scrambled down the rocks to find a spot to perch. Looking out to the waters, the life veins of Mother Earth, we are humbled to ask, please give us food today. The salmon are rolling in the distance. The sky is blue for the first time in 28 days.
November is steadily approaching, winter is coming up fast. Red and golden leaves switched out for bare branches. Several more weeks of grey skies, and snow up in the mountains. It's been over two years since I moved west. And still, I am always on the move...
Saturday, October 22, 2016
The air was crisp and cool last night, the sweet delicious smell of wood burning stoves warmed my heart. I love autumn. Sweater weather makes me smile.
It's kind of hard to believe just a few weeks ago I was praying for summer to be over, then seemingly overnight my wishes were granted. It took all summer to adjust to the days getting ever hotter, toting liters of water with me to work. The weight of the water was traded in for rain gear.
The weather isn't the only change I'm getting used to. Having my own vehicle is one of the biggest changes of my life. And finally, a winter coming where I don't have to worry about where I'll be sleeping at night. My fella and I were offered a room in his family's modular home until we get back on our feet. Having a warm bed instead of a couch or tent is a sweet treat.
It's been a good few years that I've essentially been living out of a storage locker. This week I finally pulled out my belongings to store inside the house. And to make use of.. my camera gear hasn't seen the light of day in quite some time.
Speaking of time, I've been trying to finish this blog post for a few weeks now. I just haven't had time to sit in front of a computer to write. If I'm not working, I'm commuting to/from work, or driving my arse out of the city to camp and [attempt to] catch some fish. Suppose I shouldn't complain, 6 weeks from now I'll have 6 weeks of very little work as the season winds down. Then I have to make some decisions as to what I'll do with myself..
Back in Ontario I never could have imagined myself being a landscaper. The seasons are too harsh, the heat far too unbearable in the summer, and the cold too bitter in winter to spend nights outdoors working the snow removal shift. It's been nearly a solid 14 months I've been pulling it off out here, minus the 3 month hiatus I took at layoff where I tried my hand once again in the retail scene.
I'm beginning to see that perhaps neither scene is fully for me. I love gardening, that's for sure, and I've been doing that for cash a couple days a week since i moved out here. i'd like to keep it up, but I'm exploring other options as well. I'm finally making a decent wage with the commercial landscaping, but the work plus the elements is doing a number on me physically.
It's noon on a Saturday, and here I am for the first time in a long time, sitting indoors in my track pants sipping tea and relaxing my bones and joints. I haven't been this full-body sore before without it being caused by some sort of flu. And I know I'm not sick so... something has to change.
A bunch of things really. I've been talking about it for a while, but nothing will change unless I do..
Not that I haven't done it before, change up the things I need to for the benefit of my health.. and I'm running out of excuses. My job has been a big one for me. An excuse not to take fantastic care of myself, and I can definaltely feel the effects. I still smoke, or again rather.. It's hard not to in that industry. It's a good excuse to kind of take a break [or at least do something less impactful for 5 minutes], it's a reward after a tough job done, it's a social moment. And dammit, for whatever reason, I just bloody well enjoy smoking.
And then my diet.. I need calories or carbs or salt on demand in quick to consume formats, and that rarely equals out to anything healthy. Especially since fresh things are hard to keep that way in an ever fluctuating climate. The work truck gets hot when it sits in the sun. And real soggy real quick in the rainy season when she's loaded up with us and our rain soaked gear. The job plus the commute takes up far too much of my day to take a moment to eat properly, or prepare better foods and pack them in such a way to keep them edible until I need them in a day. Plus I gotta carry that sh*t around haha.. I know, I know.. excuses, excuses.
Looking back, at least I made an attempt this year. I let circumstances get the better of me and gave up quick. Here I am again, calling myself out, this time I gotta make it stick. It's about hard work and dedication at first, but after a while healthy lifestyle becomes easier, routine, reflex, even enjoyable, if you let it be. It's always step one that's hardest.
Here we go again, thank goodness for the change of scenery. Next [and most critical] step, my health. Can't take many other steps without that one.
Friday, September 30, 2016
She's mine. She needs a little love, but for 400 bucks I really can't complain. Four hundred dollars for freedom. A few days pay to be able to get out there. I got us down to the river in the morning without depending on someone else to give a ride. What an amazing feeling.
I'm still a little rusty when it comes to driving, but I'm getting better. Just need more time on the road. My partner/driving instructor has been very patient thankfully. It's been more than a couple years since I've driven on city streets and even then, I had never owned a vehicle. I didn't decide to go for my license until my 29th birthday as I was always afraid to drive. Fast forward to today, and driving is all I wanna do.
I never said I was especially good at it, but I'm safe. I effing suck at backing in to parking spaces. My next step is to do my road test so I can drive on my own. For now she's our little adventure mobile, but come next year I'd also like her to be making me some money. Having my own vehicle means that I can carry my own tools, which means that I can pick up my own contracts for gardening. Slowly but surely, I'm getting a leg up out here on the coast.
Remember that song, "I'm in love with my car"? I know she isn't anything special, but I got the feels. I smile at her every time I open the door and see her parked outside. She's slowly coming together. We finally found a tail light harness to fix the blinker, wasn't exactly the right one, but with some creative cutting and a bit of silicone we made it work. We found the perfect sized stick to hold the back hatch open, and the driver side window rolls up and down, with a little help.
Next spring I'd like to do something about the peeling paint. And the falling ceiling fabric. I was thinking some sanding and spray bombs would be kosher for the roof and the hood, and perhaps 'hippiefy' her a little on the inside by making some sort of patchwork fabric ensemble to fix the ceiling. That's the beauty of paying next to nothing for a vehicle for me, I'm not afraid to customize or attempt to fix it on my own.
*Sigh*. So incredibly stoked to have wheels. Going fishing, shopping, this past week I had to empty out my storage locker.. and I didn't have to call anyone for vehicular assistance. Amazing. This weekend we'll be taking her a little bit further.. Sunday we're going to church. Out to the mountains, to the river to fish. The adventure continues..
Monday, September 5, 2016
I know I've said it a million times... be careful what you wish for, it might just happen. A couple posts ago I was complaining about how my commercial landscaping gig is killing me, and that I should be looking for something else to fill up my work week. That day I'd ended up taking off to go to the doctor as the heat was overwhelming, I was having a hard time recovering after each day out in the field. The following Monday it had finally cooled off. I had come to terms with my job situation and decided that I'd stick it out, considering there's only 6 weeks out of the year that the heat is unbearable. I'd just find ways to cope and carry on.
My boss and I were raking up at the end of the day, and we were talking about our health situations. She's been dealing with some issues for a long time and had told me back when I was first hired that she was going to grow the company and hire more labourers so that she could get out of the field in the next few years. A visit to her specialist threw a wrench in her plans. The state of her health is declining so rapidly that she was advised to stop working in the field ASAP as it's doing further damage. She can't stand the idea of sitting in an office, so she decided that this is it, this year will be the last season before she sells it off. So regardless of my decision to stick it out, I'll be finding other means of making money come the end of the year.
We discussed other ways to rack up some loot. She was considering getting back out on the road to chase forest fires and collect the mushrooms that come to follow. Or pinecone collecting, recycling, anything to make money on one's own time. She was throwing all these ideas at me and telling me that I should consider doing the same thing. Otherwise I'll end up like her, breaking myself to make a bit of cash. Living paycheck to paycheck simply isn't worth the damage that this line of work does to your body over time. I've got to figure it out.. there's two more months til the end of the season then I'm on my own. Again.
This is my 6th job in two years. I know I said I was retired and all when I left Ontario, but money needs to be made. I suppose I was simply retiring from the monotony of city living, from being employed by the same company for over a decade. Retiring from the idea that one needs a long standing steady career to get by in this life. I've already been living an unconventional lifestyle for years, so I may as well come up with some unconventional ways to make money. What to do, what to do.. I'm brainstorming ideas for this coming spring.
Some people find security in the idea of having a long term career to retire from, a pension, a mortgage or a lease.. I've never felt very secure in those kinds of situations. Every time I try to conform to that sort of lifestyle, I lose my shit. I feel far more comfortable and secure in the idea of being free to go with the flow. Change with the seasons, move on to wherever I need to be. It's not always easy to keep up to a pre-determined work schedule based on someone else's time when you don't know where you'll be crashing or camping out from one day to the next, or how the weather will be and what gear you'll need ahead of time. It's time to convert the money-making part of my life to match the living situation. Permanence in transience. The only constant is change.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Two years. Honestly, I didn't foresee myself still being here by now.. I'm not one to stay anywhere long. It's definitely been anything but boring. When I arrived here off the greyhound bus, I didn't really have much of a plan. I stayed with a good friend from back home, wandered around the city, and took off to the island to visit for a while. At that point I had no idea what I was doing or where I'd end up.
A lot of people move here from the east. A lot. Not many end up staying though.. at least of those I've known. It can be difficult to make a life for yourself if you don't really know anyone, or have any sort of resources lined up before you arrive. I was very lucky to have a place to crash right away, and every step from there has been a challenge and a blessing.
The first job i picked up quickly, I was pretty much hired the day I applied. I worked in one of Canada's biggest grocery warehouses receiving enormous trailer loads of fresh food orders. Graveyard shift. It used to be my favourite hours to work, but my internal clock no longer agrees. I worked through fall and winter, lived in an international hostel all the while, until I had to get on a bus back east to deal with the bit of mess I left behind.
The bus i'd taken back nearly rolled off a mountain pass in a snowstorm, and you better believe my whole life up until that moment flashed before my eyes. I'd decided then that my westward journey was not about to be over. Go take care of everything I'd set out to, and return as soon as I could. The average temperature was minus 20 degrees celsius the whole time I was in Ontario. It reminded my quickly what I wasn't stoked on about the climate back home.
As I was on my way back west I received a text saying a room had opened up in the slanty shanty. I was pretty stoked. As soon as I arrived I parked my luggage in my new room and started seeking out another job. Within minutes of applying online I was hired as a merchandiser for a hardware store. I told them right away no Wednesdays for me, I've got some gardening to do.
I kept it up until I found other outdoor work. By the end of summer I was rocking two landscaping jobs [with some pretty sweet views] and enjoying the slanty shanty home base. There was plenty of front porch chillin and days of cribbage to be played. Autumn came quick and so did the rain. Halloween night, the heavy rain washed away what was left of the shingles over my bedroom. I had to leave [and find a way to dry all my things out] immediately. With few options, a line of credit and a friend in a similar situation, I threw down on a pickup truck. The road became our home.
Winter was adventure time. I got to know the lower mainland and the mountains and valleys beyond from the passenger seat. The backroads map book became my friend. We found mud and snow and mountains to ascend and plenty of places to camp. One spot in particular became our mountain base camp. After several consecutive weeks of returning we had built furniture, a tipi to keep the firewood dry, and cleaned up the surrounding area. Once spring came and my employment insurance ran out, I moved back to town with my tent to get back to working full time, and left the truck to my friend. He built up the camp further and took care of it so there was always that place to go back to. Definately one of my favourite spots, and one of the few places on this end of the country that I felt I could call 'home'.
Shortly thereafter I was taken in by an Angel, and was granted some floor space to use during the work week. I still make use of that space [and enjoy her company] a couple nights a week, couch hop, and log plenty of hours at my partner's family trailer home renovating for the rest. Needless to say, I keep busy.
Regardless of the scenery, I do believe there's no way I would have stuck it out if it wasn't for all the people I'd met along the way. There's so many to be thankful for.. The two lovely ladies that I work with half the week, my crazy and amazing friends from the streets, the fella I hit the road with [and his sweet, beautiful dog], my rad as f*ck partner in crime, all the homies that come and go, and of course my good friend and brother that convinced me to come back out here in the first place. Let's not forget all my friends and fams back home looking out for me, and encouraging me not to give up.. for all and all of you, I am blessed. I wouldn't be who I am, or where I am without you.
Two years down, many lessons learned, and many more to go I'm sure.
Thanks for reading. And thanks for the company.