Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 203

i'm really tired. the weekend was good as were both border crossings.

i'm also really starting to understand and appreciate cultural differences. styles. 'cultural norms' as old prof kanwal would say.

i think it be best now to take a pause. enjoy silence. read and sleep.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 202

i couldn't keep my eyes of the sky after crossing the border. a corrugated cloud cover rippled gold and grey and the stiff layers of clustered trees stood like cardboard cutout props on a massive stage. montana. the tinted van windows filtered the yellow glow outside to create a scenery like a vintage, 70's picture that is musty and of low contrast.

twenty friends assembled in kalispell, montana for american thanksgiving. kiwis, aussies, canadians, and us. i can say us again cause i'm on home soil. it's a weird feeling to be back in the u.s. so quickly after living and getting settled in a new country.

montana is a brutal place to become reacquainted with a sense of driving direction after getting to know a small town where everything is in walking distance. long, horizon-pointed roads don't help the cause of trial-and-error direction finding either.

i'd been looking for this book for several weeks in canada and was stoked to find it in the bargain section at borders. that, along with this brought great joy.

dinner was amazing and was wonderfully and gracefully prepared by our montana friends. we'd all brought various odd and ends to add but we're all thankful for their hospitality and good work all around.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 201

pawn shop bob said he'd sell me the accordion for one hundred fifty bones. said he'd be alright with breaking even on 'what he paid' for it so i'm going to make a down payment on monday. selling the ibook g4 came at a good time so i'm afloat for another couple months.

i played piano and harmonica at the coffee shop tonight and a couple of the guys from last night's jam at the brickhouse came around to say hey and give some encouraging word. the whole experience was a blast.

a friend from home asked where i'd recommend she traveled this summer. where. hm.

if i gave an honest opinion on where to travel, i wouldn't send you to any certain place. just get in a car with as much cash as you can earn in the next few months and go somewhere new. live simply and be ready for anything. that's my highest recommendation.

try it. do it. for a week. for a month. for a year. funny how they don't list 'learning how to enjoy life' as a class in college. who is 'they.' isn't college where you go to get straightened out and assembled in your ability to function in the world? hey, look. i got this in my email a couple second ago.

enjoy life and give back as you go. this is the ultimate.

we're heading down to montana tomorrow for an international american thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Day 200

live music sounds better against a brick wall. it looks better too.

there's a jazz pianist in town who'd apparently 'heard of me' and, although i'm not sure how or why or what that even means, he made some contacts and invited me to the brickhouse tonight for thursday night jazz and blues jam.

there was a xylophone, bass, drums, electric guitar, and a couple saxes and, after some introductions, they were more than willing to give me a shot on they keys. the flow was there for both the piano at the fingers and the harmonica on the lips. neither had ever felt so alive as they did during that jam and round of solos. i was honored by the other guys to hear that 'no one has ever come up and outplayed the piano before.' we've exchanged contact info, so i think tonight might be the beginning of more good musical things.

also the rounding off of the number of days has clicked again and landed on an even, solid number on today's american holiday. happy thanksgiving to everyone in the u.s.a.

i never imagined, specifically, that i'd be gone this long, but if you've been reading along so far then i hope you too can understand the purposes and paths that have been presented and developed in the past two hundred days. our household is heading to montana on saturday to share an american thanksgiving with friends there, so i'll feel at home and the rest of the international house will get a new experience.

tomorrow night is my first, solo gig in a coffee shop. i'm pretty pumped especially after tonight and am starting to wonder if having the job on the ski hill fall through was really a big blessing in disguise.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day 199

tim. tyler. adam. shaun. paul. me.

kiwi. canadian. australian. kiwi. kiwi. me.

our community was completed today as shaun and paul hopped off the charter bus and crossed the street to enter our house. we do live in a good part of town. they'd been in calgary since the end of camp working as roofers and making some solid dough, so it made sense for them to keep their opportunity until their jobs on the ski hill started training this week.

tim has flown back from new zealand after leaving camp and canada in may. we'd had some good yarns, that surf trip, and had climbed mountains and 'outrun that cougar' of which whom had either still been pursuing us or not carried no relevance that day in a dusky forest of world class, wild cat population. after struggling with circumstances and decisions, tim had suddenly left vancouver island in june to begin his first semester of university back home. at the age of twenty-three, he gives no impression that a viable, higher education had been temporarily paused in pursuit of alternatives such as numerous world travels, a natural acquisition of a variety of international library memberships, and work on canadian oil rigs. he heard the word and has come over to join the community.

tyler is the seasonal intern for the snowboarders for Christ organization chapter in fernie and who's arrangements for this house for us were the biggest reason, in our minds, for our group to be assembled in fernie. he also sometimes works at the 'edge of the world' snowboard shop which is also right across the street and just past the hostel and greyhound stop. we really do live in a good part of town.

adam and i have shared the longest fernie experience of our group since we arrived and stayed in late october. he left australia and social work with an around-the-world plane ticket, ready for a new experience and perspective before turning twenty six. every time we'd be meeting new people in town, i'd constantly get the song 'adelaide' by ben folds stuck in my head after he shared his home. sufjan stevens had a song that could sometimes overtake this mental repetition when it came my turn for introductions, but a chill, awkward sufjan rarely beats a piano rock ben folds.

me. you know me. i hope, by now. we rocked up into town two weeks before move-in date and with faith and a personal list of major, important details to determine for the possibility of survival in this place. friends, a job, connections, opportunities, and a temporary home were soon provided. then on day 170, if you remember, i'd lost hope for the first time in the possibility to continue the trip, the adventure, the transition, and this story. and again, answers and means of a bigger perspective than before were soon provided.

i had been looking forward to today since september first. this beginning. this is a beginning. summer and fall have been spent. the mountains are waiting and holding a collection of patchy white dust and a colder and crisper air comes rushing down the highway each day. shawn, the pastor at church, happened to find me walking to the coffee shop two days ago and, as i accepted a ride, he told me that although the snow may be late this season, it is coming soon. the new beginning is coming soon.

hopefully now you've got a better idea of the big picture. maybe you feel the anticipation of what's to come. i think we needed that- a step back to acknowledge the place that we've finally and together arrived after all setting out on individual and unconnected adventures over six months ago.

i look forward to introducing the rest of our friends and community soon. be ready. there are many.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 198

i get older today. it has come fast. still, a big realization came around the age of twelve when i suddenly found my mind telling me that turning '18' or '21' wouldn't be 'bang you're now this age' moment. you just open your eyes that morning and keep breathing and the calendar does the rest. the other day a friend from home and i were discussing birthdays and i wondered if all birthdays are meant to be realized about six months after they actually happen- as if they're a delayed cycle and we really end up breaking into our new number several months after the actual day of birth. like a good pair of jeans.

i imagine one of those signs from the outback that would say 'last stop for gas' for the next insane amount of kilometers. twenty-one is that shiny road sign, just down the road from the 'welcome to eighteen' gas station, but in small print under the 'last stop' part is another sentence. 'see you when you're fifty.'

special thanks to the friends that made this the best foreign birthday. seriously. good times.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Day 197

after showering off the lingering pungency left from yesterday's stop at a natural hot springs, i made some pancakes and coffee. actually, there's a lot to be said about the weekend as a whole that i never got around to describe. a van filled with music gear and three musicians are driving to their first gig together through canadian rockies valleys and cliffs and ledges and stopping for cheap coffee at gas stations along the way and analyzing the newest death cab album. stuff like that.

the sun is warm on my back through the big window in the kitchen and we just put a large map of canada on the wall. rockford and the chicagoland area barely made the cut in the deepest south of the paper and, in fact, command the map's only outcropping of green land against an otherwise consistent straight white border. there's just enough room to see home and i've been looking at the map for a while now and finding this visual presence of home a satisfactory addition to the wall. i like maps. once i bought an atlas and followed lines and highways in my mind and across the paper to various places on the west coast. like seattle. portland.

i did get birthday cards in the mail today. and a package. thanks very much. in the box from home was the book 'through painted deserts' as requested. i've got it in my hands now and am reading it again after a year of last putting it down. part of the introduction says

"everybody has to change, or they expire. everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.''

and also

''i didn't know, when i was living it, that it was about leaving home.. thanks for letting me go.''

i'm not sure which one that all this is meant to lead to. yet.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Day 196: what if

i was inspired at the sfc conference last night. because of the late-night castle adventure after the gig, there wasn't time to post up this addition so here it is as part of today. and tomorrow.

the sfc conference's stories about its organization and especially the rider's aid program made me feel a little guilty.

wait. stop reading. just follow the link for a second. i'll wait for you.


to be honest, i feel that our group is here this winter for a reason and purpose. i think that's been well established already and i'm thankful for that. still, i'm here in a different country under unusual circumstances and trying to think of ways to support myself and survive in this new life.

i'm telling you this for a reason. a good reason. keep going.

i've mentioned it before. money. there's usually never enough. whether you're a millionaire with frozen cash or if you've got a raised paper cup and smelly hoodie on the sidewalk or a family or if you're some twenty year old kid who's in some random ski town in canada for a season because he fully believes that it's where he's meant to be, then maybe we'll never reach that imaginary benchmark we all have in our mind- the one that changes like the one that i had in my mind. even tonight my cousin, as he so skillfully does, asked a random question while chatting online. 'what would you specifically buy with $5,000 cash in hand if you had your immediate expenses paid?" i couldn't think of too much.

i think it would be awesome for me to commit to trying to support someone else this winter. this could be something with rider's aid or maybe i'm gonna look up what it take to sponsor a child. this is the most relevant time, i think, where life itself has become a huge reminder of selfishness and living simply and within means. being content. there was a conversation about a week ago with a friend where we were discussing the manner of trying to follow the ways of Jesus in a culture and life that's programmed so differently. usually its easiest to give when there's plenty to go around. it takes effort just to begin to be willing to interpret and find applicable ways to do this. i know that last sentence might sound unfounded and i might add some examples later, but i'm trying to take hold of this idea. this idea is starting to become real to me.

this is the bottom line.

there isn't going to be a better time. maybe you could get involved too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 195

thick. heavy. darkness.

our van, loaded with instruments and gear and the three of us, traversed a mountain pass on the way to banff. this was last night and i couldn't wait for morning. for light and mountains. we were put up in a sweet hotel and now i'm spending the first part of this saturday around town. banff is made of logs, concrete, and large stones and has the canadian rockies at its doorstep, but downtown reminds me of disney world. tourists. trend traps. popular. not at all like chill old fernie.

we wandered through a massive, castle hotel earlier. huge. i wouldn't have been surprised to see mr tumnus creeping past one of the full-wall fireplaces or hiding behind a heavy, ornate wooden door. if i'd stumbled upon a large lion sunning himself near one of the huge windows in a corner of one of many ballrooms, i would have quickly and quietly apologized for the interruption and run straight for the wardrobe. it was that kind of place.

now i'm in a coffee shop, naturally, to read and chill and work on a script for a documentary project until we have to set up for our gig tonight. once you come to terms that a two dollar coin and recently acquired quarter won't get you very far in a tourist town like this, opportunities strangely open up. i owe myself nothing and owe nothing to this place.

people are holding skis and snowboards or packages or each other's hands as they follow the sidewalk a few feet through the glass. even in the castle, i overheard a group of tourists saying 'we're in a new place with nothing to do now,' giving the male in the group the opportunity to suggest 'spending money in a bar.' that kind of travel is society travel.

tonight we're doing music for the conference and i've been doing video during this morning's session, so i'll be producing a highlight reel of the weekend for their website.

i'm almost out of power and this place is too full to find another place within reach of a plug. i'm out.

it should be added now, much later tonight, that we went back to the castle to explore at night after our gig. sweet weekend in banff.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 194

i eat most meals by the long window
under watch of the mountains.
the awkward staring between the two of us
has subsided. it's safe to say
we're now just mutually curious neighbors.

in this transition of all this, there's a keen, sometimes misunderstood, philosophy being twisted and strengthened.

you have to learn the rules in order to know how to best break them.

music is a thriving platform for this and i think that's why i like bob dylan and the beatles the best.

formal education is there to inform and provide knowledge in a rush of headaches and meeting requirements, but if you're taught to learn, you're just as better off anywhere else. that's another reason i like this place. a couple others in our community share this same perspective on learning, so we're always collecting and trading books or going to coffee shops in the afternoon to chill or read or discuss.

we're heading to banff tonight to do music for the weekend sfc retreat. should be good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day 193

if you ever wanted to scrape the surfaces of other cultures, i have a bona fide, discounted solution for understanding australia, new zealand, and the united kingdom. and you don't even have to fly across water.

go to canada.

to be honest , canada, as lately as a couple years ago, hardly held more cognitive detail than a simply assumed tundra that was once really sick on the east coast. americans might not pay much attention up here but they know us.

commonwealth citizens get open work visas for canada and, for most, the canadian dollar is worth more than their home coin, so there's a huge number of australians and kiwis and english working here for seasons or sending converted money home or just up and moving here. the currency conversion is probably a big part of why its uncommon for americans to try to work here. still, the overall headache process might still have to do with a situation involving a salty tea party that provoked some war and a command involving the whites of the eyes.

apparently, most kiwi girls won't give you the time of day unless you have a solid path of conversation planned if an introduction is initiated by a guy. another one of the biggest ways that the southern hemisphere people function in comradeship is with their hassling personalities. meant in fun, the banter and tearing strips off one another affirms deep friendship. it's true. i see it. there's a ton more cultural differences but overall, it's just as likely to meet a canadian as it is southern hemisphere denizen up here.

there's much to be said about canadians too. guns and beer in public stores are never present and most people don't even lock their doors. hitchhiking is still hitchhiking, but i'd rather do it in british columbia than in the states. there was that one dude, though, that i thanked and kindly denied once i noticed a crossbow casually sitting across the passenger seat of his pickup truck.

i'm falling into a bad habit of watching documentaries at night and not forcing a move to bed until 5 am then resulting in a staring at the ceiling for another hour thinking of ideas that seem good at the time and then finally falling sleeping with a mental list of notes until noon when i roll into broad daylight with matted hair and recollection from a few hours before.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day 192

i think i'm back on track here after the past couple days of distractions and failing to channel a few dozen of ideas and thoughts i thought i wanted to use. they're mostly gone now and, as usually happens, i haven't moved fast enough to chase those ideas escaping like a zipping currency wandering down a windy city street. remember though, i did find a ten dollar bill on the ground the third day of being here. that was cool..

anyways, i got an awesome package today from a friend in vermont. filled mostly with organic, hippy food made in the state, the box has come at a great time and, after picking the mysterious box up from the post office, i walked down the block to mug shots. inside the coffee shop, a friend paused her work behind the counter to join the unwrapping and sorting through the collection of fair trade coffee, snacks, granola, and a coffee thermos. thanks very much.

i reached an important point today. faith has been huge so far and has been a strong and growing element through what's been developing, but i'm starting to feel like i could give back more to these people who are helping us all get started. everyone is kind and is doing or giving a little bit of furniture or food or cash and our group as a whole has been well-adjusted as a part of the bigger community here. still, as i munched on a free, oldish cinnamon roll in the coffee shop this afternoon, i've decided to start reminding myself to look harder for ways i can give back to the people who've helped get us settled.

i also justified spending coin on coffee. again. if you use the same terms of analogy that smokers too must have to budget to feed their addiction, and i'm no smoker, then spending much less on something as harmless as coffee doesn't seem like too heavy a loss in either effect or price. that's what i'll keep telling myself until i start a full time job.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day 191

i feel like i should explain yesterday. i had other thoughts to draw from the day but every time i retreated to a coffee shop to be still and chill, friends from town would cheerfully appear. i have no problem with this really and am thankful that there are friends everywhere now in this town. i'd just had that letter on my mind the past few days and am planning on sending it to don miller as soon as he accepts my facebook friend request. i'll be sure to share a response.

my birthday is now suddenly a week away. this has become the second, total realization of this nearing occurrence. time flies. life is good.

4/6 of our house members are here. unsimplified fractions don't matter to me. in hearing the other's stories, i'm fully believing more and more that this group has been arranged and pulled together in this house in the middle of town for this winter for a developing and exciting purpose. i've never been more alive.

if you're interested, there's a print on wallblank for the rest of the week. you'll see it. if you don't even like it, i'd encourage you to visit back again to see what else is presented in the following days.

p.s. i need some new books. i've read the collection i've brought and bought along the way about 5 times each now. if there's something you're willing to share and part with, i'll hook you up with an address and with the promise that the material will be shared once again after a reading.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day 190: letter to don miller

dear don miller,


i've read your blog and most of your books. now i have a question and it has nothing to do with words in the pages and bohemian prose that i enjoyed reading.

also, i'm not attempting correspondence as a 'fellow writer' or whatever else i see a ton of people labeling themselves as in their post responses and suck-up attempts. i'm just human and so are you. so let's talk.


i read painted through painted deserts. blue like jazz. searching for God knows what. most of to own a dragon. the blog. i've been to imago dei in portland and went to two services on one morning just to try to grasp as much real-life truth and fellowship and spiritual-awareness that i could as an outsider. i went to common ground and bought a book at powell's. i drove around the roundabout and shiny joan of arc statue. i say all this because

i want to know what it feels like, for you and from you, to be where you are today.

and this isn't an interview where one-liners will satisfy me. this is important.

i'm on the 'road' and was once really inspired by through painted deserts. this adventure i'm having right now has so many parallels to that story and the people and opportunities and these blessings have been more than i've ever experienced in my entire life. i'm serious. i have a baggie of coins that i buy lunch with every day. three dollars fifteen buys two bananas, two fresh bagels, and one of those weird president's choice fruit sodas. there's simple goodness and more happiness than ever. everything, from trying to scrap together work in foreign canada, places to stay, means to get around, and so much more have been daily provided- each according to their greatest need and in the right hour. i took a job as a church janitor after attending their service on the same morning. one of the guys offered an open room in his house for me and my friend before we move into our own place with five other awesome guys for the winter. community, you know all about it.

i feel now like what i felt when i read painted deserts but i'm living that life, part on the road and now settling down a bit for the winter, except with no car or phone and with the addition of snowboard gear. and here's why this is pivotal.

i checked out your flickr. nice camera. i saw a picture of a house you now have. nice place. i saw the pictures of the famous people who are your friends and i think that you're famous now as well. congrats.

but i want to know, what it feels like for and from you, if you feel that you are the same person inside that you were when you were living that simple life of faith. obviously the story was worth writing about. do you like yourself now as much as you liked it and the quality of life then? is faith as real and valuable in your story today?

this is a huge question for me because now i'm here, far, far from home, and through 190 days of adventures that i never could have planned or imagined, i want to keep this journey of inspiration and perspective forever.

God. me. faith. life.

this post was revisited and edited on april 12, 2010, for a contest entry for as it stands i've never heard back from mr. miller but we've all experienced the days and adventures following this day's post until these chronicles came to conclusion on day 383. what a story it has been.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Day 189

where to start..

after a morning of doing music and starting to record for the video production at church, about twelve friends from both here and montana came over for lunch. to our house. my house. tim, our fourth roommate and friend who's been mentioned in much earlier surf trip posts, arrived today too. how sweet is that.

about a dozen of us all chipped in and made a community lunch and as people chopped tomatoes and others cooked pasta and asked where pots and knives were kept, i remembered that one place of young people living in wisconsin that i've mentioned before and realized that this is it. it's all here. we have an awesome thing going. then we played a rather large game of croquet that stretched across and around the narrow yard.

two large meals in one day are kind of rare these days, but tonight was the church dinner parties so we were in luck. there's a list of willing hosts and hungry attenders and then we're all assigned a place to go in order to meet people and eat. one of the guys from church asked a bit about my story and then began a response that immediately pricked my ears.

''you're here for a reason''

back at 'the turn of the century,' the church was praying for a younger and diverse crowd of people to come to town and grow in the congregation. these past couple years have seen such an increase. the pastor is youthful and insightful and the services are laid back and yet filled with honest and authentic people. we're here and things are happening.

even today at church this morning, a friend came up and gave a ''grandpa hi five'' and while she slapped skin, she said ''i was blessed and now you are too'' and deposited some food money in my palm. out of the blue. in a time of need. without many words being said.

we have an awesome thing going.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 188

there's been developments lately that were kind of hard to put away. the first real struggles of community, i guess.

we all do the dishes and stay on top of washing towels and things like that in our house, but this was the kind of thing where it seemed that people started to feel like they needed to push themselves up a little more or put someone else down in order for a good time to happen. i don't know how to explain it as a whole because there was a bit more cultural connotation, but i saw it getting to some people here. by the means of initiating a group confrontation the situations was solved. thankfully this is early because, with this being the middle of the first of five months, i could already see the problem getting bigger in the future.

there are friends from montana up for the weekend to visit. they'll come to church in the morning and i'm still trying to decide if its alright to wear a flannel shirt to a conservative church even if they do have a laid back dress code. we are leading a bluegrass-style worship service. i think these are both grey areas for them, so it'll be interesting.

i've decided on the flannel. we'll see how it goes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 187

realization- i'm not restless anymore. i realized this at the coffee shop this afternoon where i get greeted by name now. someone recognized me in the grocery line too. small town.

one more realization- having that job on the hill fall through was a really good thing. i remember that day 170 where i thought that these plans and means and everything had fallen apart and the trip was over.

now, tonight, i'm honestly able to say that i'm not gonna care a ton if i don't snowboard every other day.

i'm giving space to these thoughts here. to let them breathe.

this town and new friends and setup and venues have been the best place for music to grow. to be concentrated on. inspired.

our band was offered a gig to lead worship for a new year's, weekend activity. i'm pumped.

i went to the pawn shop today and met bob, an old man who walked slowly through his narrow isles of dusty and forgotten possessions until we stopped at the collection of three accordions, all of which sat like sleeping, open mouths of teeth in their individual and faded velvet cases. he promised me a deal on one when i had some money but wouldn't say how much. i could tell that he was still shrewd.

nate, a dread-head new zealander, is in fernie for the winter after his Bible school fell apart at the beginning of the term. he came over and we cooked some cheap steaks under the drone of moby and whilst an annie leibovitz documentary played on my computer.

i made this over the past couple days. the tea house might want it for their window. i'll show it to them soon.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 186

i went grocery shopping today with thirty five dollars. that's a huge deal and i can afford it now that i get paid tomorrow by the church for the first two weeks of janitorial service.

food is still definitely more expensive in canada, exchange rate in mind, and i passed the boxes of seven and ten dollar cereals to collect the elements listed on a scrap of paper. unfortunately, the store was out of sinderella, nutella's close and more down-to-earth cousin. generic, but i like her.

after depositing and sorting the goods in my designated food drawer in the kitchen, i spent the afternoon chilling at another coffee shop reading and making some plans for projects and designs. there are several skills i've been able to continue to develop out here and i'm finding continual inspiration in this place. handfuls of chill coffee shops within walking distance are a great benefit to this.

then after a day of both sunlight and snowfall, and sometimes both at the same in a surreal manner like a rainbow's appearance in a summer thunderstorm, the mountain's white dusting glowed and massive clouds above held dashes of yellows and reds.

i'm starting to feel narcissistic again because all this writing about me and my day and life. there's more happening. i might start describing people more. i might start writing as if for a book- exploring ways that this story could be told in a more fulfilling and broader perspective. i'm open to suggestions.

try this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 185

you know those moments, mostly conversations, where you wish you had a pen that was a recorder or a tiny video camera to tape a story on the spot of its conceiving moments? its the kind of stuff that would make an awesome, 5 minute mini-documentary.

i have those all the time and it happened again today.

i am in 'downtown' of an already small town after walking a few blocks from home in the light drizzle of a grey mountain afternoon. the air is still humid for mid november and i savor these days before the sudden and lasting drop hits us all.

the tea house is a small coffee shop owned and operated by two people from church and who's son plays drums with us on sunday morning. they cheerfully remembered me from sunday and the piano and harmonica. there's no wifi here, but that's okay. i have text edit. and i can finally concentrate on some design and reading. i bought a book of tennessee williams' collected stories at a used bookstore in some beach town in california a few summers back. the book has accompanied almost every trip since then.

the owner told me about not having wifi and continued to talk a bit about society and failures to communicate in the context of internet availability in most every coffee house. i agreed completely and, seeing as i had no internet hah, we kept chatting at the counter.

i like the layout here. there are muted earth tones on the wall and paintings of local artists for sale on the walls. there's a particularly attractive corner, out of the way, in the front of the shop. the street and sidewalk is on the other side of three, long windows and a fireplace is tucked away from both the front door and counter.

i asked if he has live music. we talked some more and have ended up scoring friday night gigs here starting the last friday of november when they start staying open later to enhance the attractiveness and personality of downtown. he wants to help support christian artists instead of anyone just looking for a buck and said that he was already a big fan of our music. between the keyboard that greg offered last week and the band mates i've already made, i'm really excited about this opportunity that's been given me.

rainy afternoons can be exciting after all. i've swallowed the last cold drops of coffee and might design a poster for them to advertise their shop and the new live music on friday nights.

p.s. we were invited to lead worship for the snowboarder's for Christ group's annual leaders retreat in banff. awesome. looks like i'll get to check that place out after all, dad.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 184

there's enough snow in my beard to make a small snowman.

another day's work finishing the 'jackhammer and busting up the concrete around a resort hot tub' project has stunned my face's movement ability. this happened to be the same hot tub that our hotel manager friend gave us access to a few weeks back. it snowed for most of the day while we worked on the mountain.

it's been good to work these two full days. i'm going to buy a piece of meat tomorrow night and cook it into a steak to celebrate. this also to just narrowly avoid having rice and beans for three straight nights.

in respect to the retro, i've found some old material. like high school old. it didn't win a prize in the senior year poetry contest, but it won me. then and now.

the highway

the highway was filling with eager heads,
all excited that this was their time,
everyone thinking the road wouldn't end,
the pathway to making a bigger dime.

looking ahead as they cruise along,
faith in each other has left no doubt.
groups spring up, composing and singing songs.
closed eyes, lifted heads, ignore other routes.

from the entry ramp, he views their road.
he watches their pace with sparkling eye.
not vain was the depart from his abode,
thinks of life and looks to the open sky.

desire to find what can't be bought,
instead joining the trip that's re-run,
he gives them his back and his eyes grow taut,
arms crossed, head now facing the setting sun.

going west he nods his head.
gas tank full and day quickly fading
the car he drives is now his bed
with new marvels to see, the world is waiting.

foolish, no. he took the chance,
ready to begin a longer ride.
leaving behind the train of ants.
"i can always get on from the other side."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 183

there's enough cement dust in my beard to make a small sidewalk.

a day's work with a jackhammer and busting up the concrete around a resort hot tub has stunned my gripping ability. this happened to be the same hot tub that our hotel manager friend gave us access to a few weeks back. my wrists ache now and i don't know how to further describe the disoriented and spastic feeling of trying to pull a stuck and live jackhammer out of the ground, but i can still use my fingers to type and click. i want to take a shower and dust myself off, but my hands aren't ready for anything close to that just yet.

still, i'm pleased. i got these couple days labor at a perfect time of need.

i wrote both my documentary-maker/videoproduction/film professor and the maker of my all-time, favorite documentary before the music dies. i have a couple pre-production questions and incredibly, they've both written back within a day and both are willing to correspond aid for the process. that's awesome. my prof recommended this book.

hmm. i'm living on rice and beans right now, but maybe i can justify it if i make some money playing music soon. or my birthday is in two weeks. probably not.

dang. two weeks. that's honestly the first time i've put that into context.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Day 182.5: Six Months With Yourself

today is my equinox of sorts. six months. word.

we did music this morning for church. people dug the harmonica and everyone was excited. the vibe was incredible.

people brought their best home creations and there was a bread and soup meal after church. pastor shawn had talked about relationships and making efforts to talk to people, new people, and to engage new relationships and during the meal i met some cool people who've inspired me to explore ideas of a couple new places and pursuits.

i wanted to say that i'm starting to feel like i'm losing touch with wordsmith abilities here. i was reading some of the old posts linked in the concordance of cool and colloquial dates and stories. they're descriptive and alive and not just lists of sentences. in my mind, i realize that this has been six straight months of daily posts. i am getting kind of tired.

still, these daily occurrences are exciting and more than worth writing down. this life is worth remembering and sharing.

there's a dusty but solid accordion at the pawn shop. i played it a few weeks ago. i haven't mentioned it to many, but i've wanted an accordion for a long, long time. jeremy, one of the guys in our band, got excited at this idea and said he'd chip in fifty bones towards its purchase. we're gonna talk to one of the cafe owners at church to see if we can play some chill stuff in his shop in order to make tips for the purchase. i might start teaching harmonica lessons too because some people want to learn.

but seriously, how sweet would an accordion/harmonica combo be? give me a winter with that and i'd be down to tour the world and make money as i go.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Day 181

i'm sitting at the kitchen island on the log benches and eating rice. last time, my first time, i cooked two cups. good thing i was hungry enough cause two cups of cooked rice turns out to be huge. i'm experienced now. one half cup added to a can of 87 cent maple baked beans has done the job quite well.

in all honesty, i love living like this. even more though, i love the perspective and the motivation to keep living like this.

i've been here about three weeks. in that time, we met and stayed with brand new friends from church, i got hired as the janitor there, then the pastor, myself, and the head of 'snowboarders for Christ' have started planning a video production for the church. i've been able to join the church worship team and we play tomorrow morning, i've met a ton of cool people, have made some connections to play piano in a lodge restaurant later in the season, and a few of us have started a band.

not a bad three weeks.

i like walking most everywhere. i like quarters and dollar coins. i like making rice- so far at least. i like bananas and bagels. i like all this.

i find it much easier to write when i am in a conversation with a person rather than the public. thanks very much for all the messages and encouragements. sometimes i take lines from those and include them in posts. personal. i want that.

i was thinking today about the proverbs verse that talks about 'trust and in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight' and began to wonder if maybe life isnt supposed to be all planned out and that if you do what that verse says and trust and take bold steps, then maybe you'll experience more and deeper life than ever imagined.

anyone can do this kind of thing in their life too. i want people to look inside and see if they can change things where they are right now.

to live simpler
but live fuller

Friday, November 7, 2008

Day 180

i felt my first cold, dark mountain morning and was out the door and picked up before 7 a.m. i was on the road to cranbrook, the closest, biggest town to fernie and the location of the nearest and last government building i needed to visit to become officially legal in canada.

i had a one way ride from someone from church. a kleenex covered the dashboard clock and was only occasionally checked by the chatting driver to decide whether the lightless speedometer needed another push. there were elk in frosty fields and a darting deer that we almost, almost, almost hit. i was dropped off in town by 8 a.m. and had a half hour to kill before the government building opened, so i followed the trail of people walking with steaming coffee's and up the sidewalk into the morning's first open business.

after some coffee and creative thinking and note making for the church video project, i was in and out of the government building. the s.i.n. number was achieved and i got a ride back with 'one of the best bowlers in kimberly.' alex was cool and had some awesome stories.

i didn't have much planned for the afternoon, so i went to the 'edge of the world' snowboard shop. the owner, i've mentioned him before, remembered me. out of the complete blue, he offered the use of his portable keyboard for our band and for any other performance i'd want to use it for. i didn't even know he had one since he's got a punk band. seriously, just a few days ago, jeremy had mentioned that we'd just need to pray for a keyboard for me and then a guitar for ian, the other guy in our trio, to be able to play gigs and 'tour'. today, it was provided.

greg's legendary history with snowboarding, his stores, and music is more than captivating. his eloquence, stories, and less-than sixty year old zeal would make a great documentary. i mentioned that to him and, in the storage/jam room, he shared that he has been keeping written compilation of history, memories, and stories already.

just the kind of thing you would start making a documentary with.. maybe after the church video project... i'd be stoked.

by the way, while hanging out tonight we started talking about thailand. i was curious and apparently my friend's friends have done three week trips where they've survived modestly on two hundred american dollars. hm.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Day 179: Recapping 'All This'

it's been nearly six months, so here's a quick look back with the addition of today's developments. i'd planned on doing this on the exact date of six months of being gone, but have decided to share today and also not postpone in order to keep that day free for what it brings.

here we go.

in the rush of wrapping the sophomore baseball season on a thursday and scheduling finals to be taken on friday, i packed and got a computer on a saturday and left home in the early, dark hours of sunday morning. in all this, i didn't buy return airfare. i had no idea how to explain to my parents that i had an odd sense that i might not be coming back after the summer at camp. i knew no one in canada. i had no idea that there was a place called fernie.

all i had was a head of ideas, a sense of adventure, some college education in video work, and a one way ticket to the west coast.

that alone sounded like a dream in itself. it still does.

from may to august, relationships and friendships were formed and developed at camp. videos were produced and adventures were had and some music was made. then plans for fernie came together and i had no idea how to explain them to home. the ceiling of the bunk above mine turned into a familiar friend during the last week of camp's sleepless nights and, even though people were interested and willing to talk, i couldn't answer their questions of where i was supposed to go before heading to fernie beginning of november.

a new friend in washington stepped up huge and was able to offer a place to stay. i did chores around the house and tackled some landscaping and am thankful for the relationships formed during those two months. still, i needed a permit and sin number to legally work in canada for the winter.

i'd been in contact with people already living in fernie via trying to make friends and managed to develop some contacts for work. although none of those actual opportunities worked out, they gave hope enough to try.

finally, after being denied entrance via a greyhound and re-entering days later to meet friends in vancouver, we stayed in a best western in fernie complements of a friend's parent's frequent flyer miles. due to website repairs, communication with the next night's potential member was lost, so we loaded our luggage into shopping carts and headed straight to church for the sunday service. i knew about this church, surprisingly enough, because kirk's dad had been this pastor's preaching professor at trinity western.

so we arrived for church and ended up meeting a dozen or so of new friends and of which some who offered us their extra rooms until we moved into our house. this hookup provided more than a place to stay and helped us meet people and get involved in the things that go on here. during that same first morning of church, they announced the need for a new janitor. perfect timing.

now, a few of us have started a band to begin playing in fernie and nearby cities this winter. one new friend has offered meals in exchange for photography lessons. i'm involved with the church worship team and we play this sunday.

but today, day 179, an exciting and huge part of the big picture of this journey has been laid into the newest position and next step. the pastor and one of the heads of the 'snowboarders for Christ' ministry and i sat down in the office to plan a video production to display and engage both the congregation and community in the ministry and potential of fernie fellowship church.

as a relatively new attender to the church, my own story supports some of the printed goals and visions that the pastor and church have listed. we sat in the office discussing and planning the best ways to create a video to present their passion. the meeting clicked from the start and it was the most real and good and whole and exciting place that i've ever been. the pastor even acknowledged the divine appointment and purposes that seem have been united in all this. all this. all this.

if i, or even you, have been looking for a purpose in this departure and sometimes obscure, but faith-based steps, i believe that a huge, huge part, down to the smallest details of relationships and connections and faith, have led to be plugged into this community and church. this winter. this year. this time. this place. this beginning. all this.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Day 178

i'm dead serious as i put out this first matter of business tonight. please feel free to email me rice recipes. i went grocery shopping today and got one of the few twenty-two pound bags on sale for about five dollars.

i heard in church on sunday that community forces you to be honest with yourself as a person. you can't be just anything you want, by yourself, wherever you happen to be and in whatever comfortable conditions. something like that.

i'm starting to feel and see that as reality. differences in cultures and overall ethnicity have started to show me this already. i hope you don't mind honesty here because i means no offense.

"i'll just hop on your computer to check thisorthat if that's ok"

"i should just write thisorthat quick"

"you want to hold this etc, etc, etc"

those are only a couple examples i can think off top of my head that i've noticed especially in aussies and kiwis. most of their conversation is like banter and, although regular manners aren't always evident in their questions, i think they mean just as well.

still, it can rub the wrong way. but i'm glad to have noticed it this early and to not be alone to have never noticed at all.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day 177

i'm trying to decide if it would be right to just go ahead and post up without saying anything about election. maybe you're like me- you've heard enough about it from everywhere. even people in canada care. a lot.

so. i'll be waiting up here for you guys.


we moved into our house finally. i'm still up in the air about a couple decisions that need to be made, but either one looks good.

the kitchen is long and open and has an island with large, log benches. that's where i'm at, on the flat half of a lifted tree, sitting next to the wide window. the first real snowfall of the season has just stopped and the accumulation on trees and grass are doing their best to hold the white better than the pavement. the highway is visible from where i sit and there's a side street next to us. already, the people we know will stop by the house or wave as they drive by. the fernie stop n shop convenience store has lived up to its name. it's right across the side street and i'm on its wireless right now. over and above that, the nearby mountain is in clear view, giving perfect indication of the day's snowfall conditions.

tonight i was googling things like 'cheap meals' and the like. just getting ready. then i happened to find this quote..

“they take great pride in making their dinner cost much; i take my pride in making my dinner cost so little.”
henry david thoreau

Monday, November 3, 2008

Day 176

the month has turned over, finally bringing with it the first real threats of winter.

we started a band tonight. three guys present an accumulation of potential with piano, harmonica, acoustic/electric guitars, drums, bass, mandolin, and violin. not all at once, of course, but an equal level of skill with at least two of each instruments is an exciting collaboration.

tonight is the last night in the house of jesse, jeremy, jez, and scott. their friendship and kindness and hospitality came all at once during our first days here and leaving tomorrow to cross town and move into our fernie crew's house will not happen without some sadness.

we've finally made it, though. camp's long over. it's good to have come so far.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day 175

there are developments, good ones, but it's really late right now and i don't see much value in speculating.

on the other hand, there are some events come round.

i'm on WWW.WALLBLANK.COM today and there was a great deal of time spent on slimming down the art's story into that little paragraph, so at least check it out. if you really want to help me out, you can buy the print and story, together, for your own home, office, barn, trailer, car, ceiling, beach house, or ship.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Day 174

i've been in correspondence with a traveler who is familiar with and involved with chris mccandless's family.

i officially started my janitor job at the church today. key and code, i entered, did my business, logged my labor time, and happened to lose the next few, quick hours playing their new baby grand. this is sweet. i did happen to find a mysterious stairwell that houses hundreds and hundreds of buzzing, trapped flies. i don't think many people go into that place. one of the ladies of the church happened to stop by while i was there with pizza, so she gave me a free lunch and a bag of chips.

we went to a hockey game in town tonight. there's a juniors league of twentyish aged, nhl hopefuls and the competition is a huge source of entertainment for a ski-town. they even fight, which for the majority of hockey spectators who regardlessly admit or deny it, is a huge incentive to go to a game.

finally, in replying to an email from a friend from high school and trying to summarize the high points and events of the past few months, i'm honestly able to fully respond  to the question that i think i am living the dream. it's not america's dream because i don't have much money, but i have good friends, a desire for deeper spirituality, and a simplified lifestyle that's opened my eyes to a new way of living and thinking and feeling. it's so life-provoking in itself to be able to finally live this way through faith and being excited about God's plan. i know that might sound selfish now, and i understand that his plan might lead some other way some day, but through all this, i'm discovering what it might take to be able to follow it then as well.