Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day 293

the mountains were dark and cold as we pulled onto the highway. the convenience store must have been open only a short while and we left it clutching hot cups of coffee at a few minutes after six in the morning. the accordion and a few guitars are in the trunk of the van. montana here we come.

there's something about johnny cash. he doesn't sound 'too country' or, more so, we couldn't decide on the exact overall quality of his voice and sound that made him timeless. we gave up trying to figure out what makes a legend and let cash rattle on about the places he's been which, evidently, turns out to be everywhere, and soon the sky started blueing over top of dormant peaks. montana recording studio here we come.

is this the right place? are we at the wrong place? this is a house. what? downstairs and around back? okay.

luke came to the door at the side of the basement. thin. dark hair. glasses. earrings. late twenties, we later guessed. he led us inside to another door outside of a drywall and stud wall.


the landscape changed. two toned hardwood floors. maroon walls. black foamy ceiling. guitars, basses, mandolins, posters, amps, lights, and microphones hung from and stood along the wall. a hammond organ. in the corner next to the drum alcove was a dark wooden desk with crates and crates of analogue recording gear. decks. the board. sprouts and sprouts of colored cables. this place is for real.

i think it was eight thirty a.m. we continued the relationship first conceived via craigslist and began to plug in and tune. the rhythm track of drums, bass, keyboard, and some guitar were finished. soon, jeremy made it clear he intended to redo every guitar part and overdub vocals. we'll be here a while. and we were.

an analogue system is much like 35mm film photography and is becoming a lost art to the digital age of pro tools and computer settings. luke told me that once he gets some more money he'll eventually buy a mac and protools and switch. he told me this is a drawn out, kind of trailing tone. he wasn't too ready for the switch. he's used to old school analogue.

the goal for the day as outlined by him was three songs. ep. it could be done, i thought, as long as we don't spend eternity on details. we could end up here forever.

i walked down to burger king after the initial tracks were laid to pick us up some burgers. on the walk back i knew i was a sitting duck when he saw me walking with a sack of food. the homeless man's name was joe. so is mine, i told him. he was surprised and thankful for a junior whopper. he said to say thanks to the rest of the band as well.

a few hours later we looked outside and the sun was almost gone. was it a few hours? what time is it?
we left with the substantial, albeit easiest, amount of work finished for this day one. what a better way to celebrate but head to the mongolian bbq. twelve dollars gave an all you can eat meat and noodle and vegetable and spice stir fry buffet. a couple hours later there were a few of the waitresses around our table trying to help us pick a new band name. they didn't help too much, however.

melody, one of our montana friends, had arranged place for us to stay that night. our drummer dion had gone back to fernie for work so ian, jeremy, and i went up the mountain apartment and flipped coin to see who got the fold out couch bed or the bed upstairs. even though i ended up winning, we all found that ian talks in his sleep. heavy australian accent. "aye, aye, thanks mate. thanks buddy. aye aye."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Day 292

i spent some of the afternoon up in the stock room of the edge of the world snowboard shop. when i'd walked into the store i could hear the muffled crunching of electric guitar and i knew greg was in the jam room. his is the band that ours opens for on the weekend shows. we stood in the attic of snowboard boots stock and music gear and he told me about how he came about to open the store. one day this will have to be made into a documentary, i remind myself. he lent me a couple beatles books and i walked back through the slush to our house just across the street.

the annual fernie film festival is this weekend. our crew took up an entire row and from my seat i could see other artists/town acquaintances- there was a lady from the writer's guild and one of the jazz musicians from thursday nights at the brickhouse and a large group of ski/snowboard/mountain bike outdoor fanatics.

tonight a man who rowed for seventy eight days across the atlantic ocean stood at the front of the room to explain a little of his trip and to introduce the three segments of his videos. the room was in awe.

he told about fearing the thirty foot waves towards the middle of the journey and then showed his footage of the massive, rolling crashing water. other times dolphins scurried around the boat and once a massive whale glided underneath. incredible. i think everyone in the room wanted to meet the man afterwards.

tomorrow at six a.m. our band heads to kalispell, montana, for our first day in the studio. ep to come soon after.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day 291

today was perfect. so many of the elements of this adventure and life manifested themselves in this one afternoon.

it snowed deeply last night and we cruisined the mountain in powder that, in some places, was higher than knee-deep. ultimate. a clear afternoon. fir trees exhaling into and ice air. sun. my chest would have split wide open and lungs would have breathed its deepest and fullest manifestation of life and mountain air if this action were possible.

still, snowboarding in groups isn't something i like to do for long; i feel the same way about running. the presence of too many people reminds me of some sort of staggered marathon and, whether running on pavement or riding on powder, i like the solo speed and freedom of motion. me and the mountain.

after a few hours of shredding the pow alone i hitched back down into town to make food at home and chill with the boys who'd called sick to work. my a flannel shirt and a green and brown knit beanie has drawn the title 'granola' to my style. i like that. i loaded up a backpack of current reads and headed to mug shots where my friend jerri hooked me up with some chocolate milk from the other side of the counter. chocolate milk is a valued rarity for a janitor in a ski town. as i rummaged through the backpack on the black leather couch i realized that, even during past college semesters, i'd never had so many books in this bag.

people were shoveling their storefronts and cars were sloshing through the streets and i continued to the library downtown with a couple of apple fritters in hand.

all that had become so routine suddenly hit me afresh- the serious mountains. the fresh snow. the chill vibe of a tiny ski town. the apple fritters. this life. inspiration. this freedom.

i'm so thankful.

so thankful.


thank you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day 290

i'm feeling the pressures of growing up right now. there are some new decisions to make. here's the update.

our crew's plan was to stay in fernie until the end of april. recently a couple of the kiwi guys acquired difficult visas to enable them to work in the states for a year. they've watched california films and, even though they haven't been in a city as big as l.a., they're eager to head to orange county with hopes to get situated with some loving christian family who will let them stay at their house while the boys work roofing and longboard the coast. basic california dreaming etc.

australian adam was always meant to leave at the end of march and jon the swede, usually just called 'swede', is staying until mid april but is leaning towards leaving fernie a bit earlier in order to travel canada before flying back to sweden. tim is already gone as of twenty days ago and canadian tyler and i would be the only two remaining for april. tyler's mom has been battling cancer for the past year in vancouver and he's only been able to visit a couple times since summer at camp and his sfc internship here in fernie and he wants to go home for a bit before going back to work another summer at qwanoes.

you know my story. i'm really overall flexible but, to be honest, i'm feeling the pressures of knowing that i need to start paying my parents back for health insurance costs. jeep. some nights that shadowy insecurity of 'career' or 'the next five years' creep and howl in the rumblegush of the logging trucks that swhoosh across the soggy highway. i'm not concerned usually; most times i lay in the dark and hear the blacktop artery and consider this amazing situation of blessings and friends. above all that i don't want to just wander in order to try to keep the adventure and inspiration and freedom of this life. but, above even that, i've gotten well used to not relying on my own limited perspective of the horizon. faith.

i was talking with pastor shawn yesterday as i cleaned church. the creative assistant internship is still available but a particular government grant stipulates the funding be for an intern working the sandwich months between a spring and autumn college semester. the jury is still out to determine if there's another way around that but it seems that we are both eager to have the situation work out one way or another.

old notes and files have brought some quality perspective today as i headed to the organic market to read and think and be still. i was looking at a dated list of 'options' i figured i had for myself created a year ago in the midst of sophomore college baseball season. funny how fernie wasn't on the list. neither was camp- although working at one was on the 'life to-do list.' in a conversation several months ago i remember sharing a few thoughts similar to today's. i told them i was trying to do the right thing and they said, "please do. cause the rest of us are struggling and look up to someone like you."

thanks for the encouragement. i'm still trying. right now i'm just telling how it is on this side.

and finally, our band is heading down to kalispell, montana, this weekend to do some official recordings in a real studio. this is exciting.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Day 289

i have some news to share. the other night a pedestrian was killed just across the street. apparently he'd left the pub very late at night and was struck by a passing car on the highway. my guts twisted when i found out that he was the nineteen year old, free ski competitor who'd gotten second place over the weekend. we'd hung out at the top of polar peak that second day i was doing the clipboard start listing. the dude was an amazing skier.

we talked about the tragedy at the organic market tonight. the girls that worked there had some other friends in the competition and any news travels very quickly in a small town.

while at the coffee shop, i stumbled upon this article. it had been a byproduct of exploring lists of so-called 'recession-proof careers.'

and finally, i'm just posting another photograph for bulletin use. it's easy this way.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Day 288

monday morning excited everyone. it had snowed overnight and the hitching point was crowded with flake-covered riders who propped their boards under their shoulder and held their thumbs towards the street.

but, in a typical monday fashion, the vibe of the fresh snow was destroyed by a late morning rain, reducing the entire snowfall to a grey slushie. slurpee.

paul's brother jared, the one who did the band photography the other night, is heading back to new zealand tomorrow. he's been here about a month.

after he leaves our house will be down to only six guys: the two kiwis shaun and paul, the swede jon, adam the australian, canadian tyler, and me.

talks of post-season plans are beginning to run rampant even though there's still over a solid month and a half left in the 'winter'.

time will tell.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Day 287

here's yesterday night's show at the central. we were opening for our friends, 'the runs'.

the breakdown:
jeremy: guitar
dion: drums
me: keyboard and accordion

photos by jared brandon

i only played accordion for two of the eight songs. i'll have youtube video links along before too long if you want to see some live performances.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day 286

the chair lift rocked and slowly pulled up the mountain and i realized that i wasn't mad anymore. how could i be, and at who, really? if i meant what i'd been saying all these two hundred eighty five days- having faith for steps to be guided and trusting for the right things to happen- then the three hours i spent the other night trying to unsuccessfully upload that contest video wasn't in vain. the internet kept crashing and the contest site kept having errors as i feverishly uploaded, waited, failed, and then tried again and again.

i'm not one to force inspiration. its not really inspiration, i don't think, if i'd unwillingly put together some other video. i really had no inspiration until five pm on friday night. so that's when i made it and then began to try uploading a few hours later.

the same sort of principle applies to music too, that abstinence of creating or performing under any pressures other than the influence pure enjoyment of what is being done. because of that, i won't go to play piano at the lodge if its been a day where i'm physically or mentally tired or uninspired. its not only uncomfortable to have that burden but i don't want to force anything when i know that being up there would only be for reasons of some cash. selling out.

so i made the video twelve hours before the contest ended and it wouldn't load. disappointing, yes. at first.

but in the bigger picture, i had fun making it and could feel pleased in the route found and taken rather than just have using the crumby talking head footage i'd shot initially.

i lifted the bar and rode off the chair. this is the third and final day of the free ski competition and today they're not letting the snowboarding volunteers work the starting line. the skiers are maneuvering the most intense and gnarly run and rock face and they don't want any boarders to be stuck with mandatory forty foot drops. that's cool with me. hundreds of people gather at the base of the polar peak point and we all watch in awe as the competitors handle the massive wall of snow and mountain. thankfully no one was injured.

here are some pictures from yesterday taken at the same starting point as today's competition's starting line. the only difference in venue was that we used the right side of the ridge yesterday and now the left, rougher side today.

untouched snow trees. or unfortunate souls.

my gear after the hour long climb after getting off the highest lift and hiking to the peak

mountains and the town of fernie. our house is the little grey one right in the middle on the left side of the highway. hah.

the mountains on the other side of the ski hill mountains.

weary self after reaching the top

top of the world




Friday, February 20, 2009

Day 285

ultimate. this was the best mountain and snowboarding experience of my life.

the venue for day two of the adult ski competition was at the highest point of the mountain itself. that means that we had to traverse up past the highest lift and then hike for about an hour up to polar peak. there was a tiny path blazed by the narrow toes of the skiers' boots but for the thick snowboarder clogs, following these delicate steps turned out to be something close to an elephant trying to follow in the same footprint of a gazelle. there was really only white in front, white behind, and white underfoot with small don't look back. stop and breath, the air is thinner here. by the time i made it to the top i had only a base layer on and the sun was warm on the back of my head as if it were summer. from seven thousand feet there were no higher mountains in the vicinity. i could now see mountains behind the regular mountains that surround the town. the sun was bright and sky blue.

the competitors were riding a double black diamond slope from this special vantage. my only job was to handle a clipboard and highlighter at the starting gates and let people know when their turn was coming. at the end of the day, when the skiers had all taken their run, we rode down as well. intense.

there's a world wide contest in australia. the deadline for submitting a video application is less than a day away and after doing some shooting on top of the peak during some free time this afternoon, i came home ready to produce. still, i really hate talking into cameras floating at arm's length. the shots were worthless audio and personality wise. a few hours ago, finally and for the first time since hearing about the contest, i had some inspiration and reworked the footage into something all together different. internet is being horrible and i've been trying for over an hour to load the video onto the official site. my vimeo site accepted it no problems, however.

this last-second production was fun to do but i definitely tried to deviate as far as possible from the typical talking heads and shallowed reasons that i saw other applicants include in their videos. so i took away speech and added some edge. as of right now however, the video is still not successfully uploading on the contest site..

here's mine.

island reef job application from joe lieske on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day 284

the adult ski comp started today. my duty had me next to free ski world champion jeff holden under our judges' tent and i kept times of the skiers' descents and tallied the judges' scorecards as he handed them to me after each skier's run. we sat in folding chairs on the snow bundled up in parkas and layers and some of us were poking out of sleeping bags as well. good times.

it was a little weird to me, though, to know that i was sitting next to this posterized and idolized figure of the ski world and i wasn't that impressed- like we were just doing jobs that day that were entertaining, unique, and fun. cool, but collected.

it hit me today that its been over nine months without a cellphone in my pocket or my own car. i'm loving this.

after getting home from day one of the ski comp, i showered and tucked a couple books under the arm of my flannel shirt and walked over to the organic market. the girls that work there greet me by name and as we talk at the counter i notice one of my town friends already there reading at a table.

they shop was preparing the layout for a fondue party later that night and cindy, one of the owners, asked how i was doing as she shuffled chairs nearby. i answered and then asked her the same to which she slyly responded, in the same words from a few seconds earlier, "i'm tired, but it's a good tired."

this is a good life.

now tonight, i went over to nate's house to chill with gareth, who's leaving town on his way back to new zealand. a pharmacy job there is too great a commitment to forsake, no matter how tempting, to continue life here.

on the bike ride home through the clear starry mountain air, i rode past the brickhouse. jazz and blues jam night. the place was packed but i knew some of the guys and i pulled my harmonica out for a song. people took pictures of us afterwards. man this is sweet.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day 283

i've been walking about this whole town today. the snow on the street is melting again and i barely need to wear this checkered billabong winter coat. in fact, a tear has appeared in the seams of an under-sleeve and it appears that the purchase made in an american discount store in october will last only this one winter as a full time pedestrian/hitchhiker in these mountains.

i've seen the same group of strangers at least four times during errands across this small town. maybe fernie is indeed a lot like mayberry. now an old man with starchy blue jeans and a purple windbreaker, with the label 'drifter' embroidered on his backpack, bobs a few steps in front of me. i begin to describe the scene in my mind (and am never able to remember the words later on) and then almost run into the man as he suddenly stops in the doorway of the grocery store to question another friendly, fellow senior citizen about their heath. apparently its not good.

each observation and majority of thoughts of the day are run under the tracks of several hours time before shot at with the click and clack of these empty-shell keyboard strokes. hopefully, suddenly, one and then two and then maybe even three paragraphs can be shattered into black against white. text after type.

earlier, at one of the two coffee shops i visited on this day off, a kid no more than three years old had wandered from his parents' table of deep conversation. he stood tippy-toe to peek over the back of the paralleling couch. i looked up and he ducked down, but i could still see the twinkling of one blue eye in the valley of the black leather seams. i coyly raised my book above my eyes. he raised his curious blonde head. i quickly dropped my book and smiled. he smiled back and dropped his head back to his tiny nook of safety, singling his hidden vision at my next move. an old lady stopped on the way out of the shop to tell me that that exchange was the cutest thing she'd ever seen.

as is the bimonthly payday tradition, dinner tonight consists of two steaks and six eggs with four pieces of toast to sop up any liquid remains. this is always a happy day and somehow my appetite is understanding and accepting to the regular butter-and-spiced noodles or beans and rice on any other given night. still we get along well and nights like tonight seem to reforge any bond seemingly left abandoned in the lower mind. i do have two consciences.

i have three weeks to read 1047 pages of this book. interlibrary loan policy excludes renewal. this is the most interesting book i've picked up in a few weeks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day 282

blogspot seems to be having problems today. i can't see the posts on the main page and maybe that means you can't either.

i'm alright with that for tonight. my bones are too tired to post up.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Day 281

he is the newest guy in the house. even though he's staying only a month, paul's brother jared had gotten curious about the t.v. in the corner of the living room. occasionally the planet earth documentaries or a group-selected movie would play on the set. besides that, the seven of us who inhabit the house full-time have never thought to pursue anything more from the box of plastic and glass.

then it happened. jared turned the t.v. on. boom. for the first time since we've been in this house- and that's been over three months starting back on november first- the television is blaring basic cable. cnn. bravo. cmt. the works.

the rest of us reacted in similar fashions; our privacy has been invaded.

"turn it off," someone reckons.

''i don't like the vibe," i mutter.

now, instead of being able to sit in the living room with silence or with people or under the influence of the usual flow of music from the kitchen ipod speakers, there's a glare next to the lamp table and i notice it begin to steal glances and then stares and then, tragically, it seems that one can't even walk into the middle and biggest and center room of the house without silently falling into the couch and making numb eyes at the flashing.

he's the newest guy in the house. even though he's staying only a month, paul's brother jared had gotten curious about the t.v. in the corner of the living room.

and we told him to never turn it on again.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day 280

albertan families rush fernie this time of year. from what i gathered during a lift conversation with a college guy, their entire province has a holiday this weekend. british columbia and the ski resort held family weekend and invited these usually disdained citizens of the neighboring province. fleets of mid sized suvs and mini vans flood the valley here and fill the ski field. locusts.

today was supposed to be the busiest day of the entire season. my friends and roommates all came home semi disgusted and mostly worn out and with tales of mass crowds and rude people.

another couple friends from camp are visiting tonight. one of them is a pastry chef and i learned the best way to make rice pudding. good thing, too, cause i still have about ten pounds of grains left.

we had an event on the hill today that nobody actually came to do. our little events volunteer team was thankful for this, however, and since it snowed last night we were free to ride the freshest powder available for most of the day. one of the rarer, small lifts was opened and i did some big traversing to pursue what looked like billows on the side of a double black. somehow, the powder didn't understand how to fill that place but parts of the rest of the mountain were clean and pure for a few hours.

i'm honestly quite tired and have banged through this raw post and am about to hit publish. i think i have a picture on tomorrow.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Day 279

after cleaning church and spending the afternoon working on a few odds and ends projects and hitting up the coffee shop for some chill time, i decided tonight would be an especially good night to play piano in the lounge at the resort. valentine's day crowds and all.

i wondered if an evening hitch would be too hard to catch but after exactly two hundred and fifty seconds- i've taken to counting to see how long an average hitch catch takes- a lady in a new mini van slide over to the shoulder and unlocked the doors.

a usual hitching experience will go either two ways. the first involves a minimal exchange to confirm the other is heading to the same location. then the rest of the ride is spend in hands-folded silence or just involve bare bones conversation about origins or purposes of catching the ride. sometimes they're listening to the radio or a self help cd. it's true.

the second kind of hitching experience unfolds much like the reuniting between long lost friends- the kind where there's surprisingly good conversation between two strangers. that's what happened tonight.

this lady told me how her and her husband had bought a quarter share on one of the condos on the hill and that it still feels a bit weird to her to visit this ritzy place for the three or four weeks each winter. when they were younger, the two of them would drive around and sleep in their truck and either ski or camp and adventure. ''you don't need money to have fun and live right. so many people become [jerks] once they get a little more money and they lose touch with the simplicity and adventure they knew before.''

i wondered if it would it be rude to pull out my notebook from my back pocket. it stayed put and i listened harder.

even at the age of fifty she said could see her and her husband taking another trip in the truck. she especially stressed how thankful she was that her husband could do really well in his career and still not lose his sense of adventure and simplicity.

i was stunned. at the end i thanked her, saying that it meant a great deal to hear this from someone who has a lot of money but still hasn't lost touch with the same philosophies and pursuit of life before wealth. it went something like that but i was especially thankful because, in some odd way, it relieved much of the pressures that had been on my mind yesterday and this morning.

the car stopped at the front doors of the lodge and conversation paused for the first time since hopping in. i told her thanks, again, and she wished me good luck. her name was lori and we shook hands across the passenger seat before i closed the door.

tonight has ended with some more really encouraging words from some friends and people across the continent and they all have affirmed and edified my faith and inspiration as well as made me even more thankful for the valuable friendships i've found and developed and maintained along the way.

thanks so much.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Day 278

what am i doing here?

i'm usually pretty excited to be at this place and point in life where faith and blessings seem to be exploding in so much of this. i am blessed.

but for the first time in months i find myself facing heavy questions. meaning. purpose.

and i've tried to anticipate what experiences to hold onto and what i think i can build upon but, especially while experiencing this grand unfolding of adventure and inspiration and balance and faith and life, i find myself looking for a balance between yesterday and tomorrow once again. i'd kind of thought i'd gotten past most of that.

some people i know are succeeding. others failing. others trying to succeed. others don't even care. i care. i'm trying and in a lot of ways i'm trying harder than i ever have before. this has got to count for something.

and still, i'm guilty of selfishness. even worse, i'm hungry for security in the parts deeper that the usual pursuit of the simplicity and spirituality and freedom of the life of the past 277.

what am i doing here?

i still don't think that all this has happened by unguided chance. no. am i just getting tired of trusting?

i'm serious. and it bothers me, a little, to hear that people back home don't understand why i'm even out here. aside from being the best days of my life so far, i'm left with a huge inability to summarize the paths and provisions and faith-bound steps that have shown me a profounder and much anticipated enjoyment of life and understanding of spirituality. desire.

and still, i know nothing. i know more and more and more of nothing and receive more and more fragments of everything- as is to be expected, i suppose.

i know nothing about the near future and, after the first day in may, i don't know where all of this leads next. i'm ready. i'm willing. i'm trusting. i'm trying.

that has got to count for something.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day 277

there's a mug of tea sitting between the shiny buckles of the black accordion case. the box acts as a nightstand when i'm not hauling it to this or that or creating and learning with what it holds inside. a vintage, silver photojournalism book is on the lower part of this mattress/futon conversion bed and a little desk lamp hangs from above. in the corner is an amp and keyboard. and in the top closet shelf is the growing collection of over a dozen new (used and borrowed, but new in the never-read sense) books. i love my room here and outside of all this are mountains.

we're back in canada. the appearance of the red engine light on the dashboard of benji's jimmy was a situation always easily rectified. if, on the way home, it popped on, he'd simply leave the car in gear and restart the vehicle as we rolled. there. no engine light. every time. and speeding wasn't a problem because, unless we cruised downhill, the highest we could reach would be the mid sixties of miles per hour.

i realized a bit today that these are a group of friends within the bigger group of friends who are very much like minded in these manners. simplicity. adventure. they're the people who don't have the most epic snowboard pictures of themselves posted everywhere- although that is all well and good for many a folk and their first snow experiences.

as we left montana today, it was us who joked- and how seriously i'm left to wonder- about chipping in for a volkswagon van at the beginning of spring to travel down a coast or to the midwest. in some ways the words and stories of beat poets and new journalists are being paralleled in this live and are appearing in traces of breath and philosophy and in the people i meet and know. and community. this is exciting.

this is one of the books i bought at the used bookstore in kalispell. for only a couple dollars, i've been even more inspired and educated by those who proved, in the ivy league and intellectual world, that creativity and perspective are going to get you further than accepting and answering every bland question and situation of the life ahead.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day 276

the old men in the used bookstore were talking economy today. health insurance. problems. they felt forgotten- like their generation has been left behind in this sudden turn of the world. that's as much as i could gather as i browsed the mothy shelves this second day in a row. an hour later i walked out with some good finds. buying books as a traveler is an ultimate curse though. thankfully they were cheap.

the rest had gone snowboarding and i volunteered to sit today out so that the free passes could be shared easily. instead of riding a board i put some gas in a car and drove through whitefish and down to kalispell- mostly to feel new again in a new environment. i bought the bagel/banana combo for lunch again and its still under a dollar here in the usa. i went to the coffee shop in the wild west decorated downtown. tall storefronts. stained wood panels. brick. a silver bearded man in a cowboy hat and a white yukon crossed my path as i crossed the street into the coffee shop. montana.

if you're looking for some new and free indie music, the industry has finally done a righteous and well-worth favor to indie label fans by providing this website. i was excited to find special recordings of some favorite indie artists here. check some of them out if you wish.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Day 275

retail stores and cashiers and shoppers struck me in a new light today. it was a reawakening to consumerism- the cheap jewelry browsers and fitting room attendants fell under the shades of the stratifications of corporate america. i put on a new pair of shoes in t.j. maxx and felt strange, as if for the first time in my life i realized that i didn't and wouldn't buy something that had white and clean appeal. it didn't matter to me anymore.

everything else- the images on stacks of magazines in borders and the car and driver and darting pedestrians in yellow crosswalks- were reminders of when this kind of life was important to me, or at least of the similar lifestyle where i thought i could find some sort of pseudo comfort and renewal in these places. and the same layouts of the same businesses back home home and routinized lives of these people in montana transfered into my own self awareness of a sluggish, ghost-like aura that i began to notice in each step, allowing some surreal outer perspective of my movements into these stores and around isles- like i could see my last fading traces following in the lightest and least discernible layers of a foggy. i was uneasy about it all again.

the idea of fish tacos had never appealed to me, but melody's recommendation of a fish burrito made a good and pleasing lunch. later, for dinner, the four of us would find ourselves in taco bell. memories of summer nights seemed to look up from different plastic benches and seats of the cookie cutter restaurant layout.

i'd bought sweet tea, both an arizona can and a gold peak bottle, this afternoon and decided that the taste of both were as relevant awarenesses to me as any certain songs might have in regards to memories of specific past. but i had no fishing pole today. no jeep. i'm with foreign friends, answering their questions about this shopping center in kalispell, montana, of where i've never really been but who's commercialism i have undoubtedly never not seen before.

i bought a couple books from a used bookstore that boasted a collection of over fifty thousand. shelves and piles of dust and brown pages polluted the narrow floor spaces of this second-life forest. i wondered if you'd have to be half crazy to work in an unorganized and untidy ocean such as this but after the older man behind the counter had cheerfully wheezed that he'd accept five dollars for both a tom wolfe and jon krakauer's 'into the wild' books, i left happy and proud of him who understood and managed such a drafty, spine-bowled literature treasury.

now tonight we're chilling with our friends here and listening to music and making sushi. the deer on the wall are still omnipresent-gazed and i'm thankful to feel alive in this life that has suddenly revealed itself today as uniquely 'set apart' and, almost now, maybe nearly completely free.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Day 274

the crackle of pancake batter on a hot skillet was the first thing i heard this morning. i noticed that the other boys were waking as well and melanie had started cooking a breakfast. i realized that the deer heads on the wall really do seem to keep an inescapable eye on whoever is wherever in the room as i hopped from the top of a log bunk bed. the four of us guys made our snowboarding plans for the day while our montana friends here went to their respective jobs and classes.

the mountain was cold and cloudy and even at the top the skies hadn't cleared. this was disappointing, a little, because i wanted to see the mountains of glacier national park again. but the riding was fun and decent enough despite a crisp frost on most powder sections.

at the end of the day we were talking about cool it is for the four of us to have come from such different places and countries and to become friends in fernie and with the people here in montana who feel just a part as our group as the rest back up north.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day 273

the top competitors from yesterday's round were back on the mountain today. some barely one hundred pounds, the little skier children shredded lines and shot rooster tails on a different and more gnarly slope than the first. my duty was similar to yesterday's- set up tent and fencing and audio equipment and then ride and run the official scoresheets from the judge's to the person waiting in the office below. apparently one or a couple of the judges were pro skiers and it didn't surprise me to hear it because my first impressions of them had definitely made me wonder why they seemed so cocky and terse.

and so, after a late night show on friday and a six am to six pm saturday on the mountain and now this eight am to four pm final day, i'm ready to chill. to montana.

me, nate, benji, and garreth, nate's visiting friend from new zealand, are heading down. the vibe is good and i realize that this trip with friends does not include any of the original camp crew.

four chill guys have packed a rusty and rattling two door jimmy with snowboards and follow southbound night mountain highways. dreaded and bearded faces peek out from in between boards and backpacks at the custom's officer at the border crossing. he asked if we had any weed. we didn't and don't.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day 272

the elk valley night air smells of rolling mallow smoke. thick and smooth. i step into the night and imagine that a cabin dweller somewhere has kindled their stone fireplace and the grey ghost has caught another and then another's attention and inspiration and now, from down below in the middle of the valleybowl, the snow and ice and now my strides have noticed the full building of this drifting smolderscent.

i spent all day on the mountain today. our little events volunteer team was running a ski competition and we got there under early, starry darkness. besides set up, registration, and take-down, my main job for the day was relaying the scores from the judges' perch to the office below. to do this i would leave our spot on mid mountain and catch the lift to the top and ride down through the trees to where the judges were positioned. they were watching the competition from this side of the valley bowl while the contestants shredded down the opposite side. i'd pick up the cards for each round and ride down the whole mountain, swhoosh, and take the information to someone in some office. then i'd ride a lift back up and carve to mid mountain and repeat the same process as each round ended. is that even a job?

by the time we'd finished and left the sun was well gone from the sky and fading pink strokes stained darkening clouds.

fresh air. fresh snow. fresh life.

and i'm reminded.

'stand below the shadow of a mountain to be made small apart from my spiraling stride.'

Friday, February 6, 2009

Day 271

snow. finally. right now. heavy.

this comes to a perfect ending of a great friday night. after playing show and hauling most of the gear home, we returned and ended up starting a huge snowball fight in the street. some of the people inside the building emptied and joined to the party and there were big hits and shrapnel marks dotted against the brick walls of the structures next to the railroad tracks.

good times.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day 270

pictures of today. downtown and on tops of roofs and between old buildings.

from rooftop

hitch pose for church use

back door of one of our venues

front door of same venue

greg. snowboard legend and fellow musician who drives a hearse that says 'not dead yet' on the back with an ad for his board shop as well.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Day 269

the 'moving forward' playlist is on his computer and shaun and paul have declared 'goodnight tim' for the last time, thus ending a long-standing tradition of theirs that continued and occurred no matter if tim was or wasn't in the house or even within earshot of the time they went to sleep. kiwi humor.

and yesterday i asked tim if he'd write up a post for vagabonded to tell a bit of his travels and experiences and reflections of his time here in fernie. i've never really had much trouble with punctuated ends and rarely do friendships seem to share extensive farewells, but this time there seems to be a little more weight to both of the poles of goodbye.

and now, to you six continents that visit this site and to friends and family all around the world as well, i eagerly step down from this little url podium and proudly present to you- in the last few hours of his residence here in our crew- tim heine.

"Its been three months here in this mountain town where 90% of the populations mood is majorly affected by the snowfall stats that pop up every morning on the ski hills website. This season has not been a bumper season. A whole month with no real snow to speak of, and this in FERNIE, the epic powder haven of the Canadian Rockies. Listening to conversations in coffee shops and around town you get the feeling that a lot of people see snow as their right, like add that to the UN human rights charter, “a right to food, a right to shelter, and a right to at least 1 foot of powder per week.”

With no real snow to speak of and no job, I found myself with plenty of time to think, and analyze what drives this attitude of being owed something from nature. The marketing machine, that tells us we have a God given right to our weekly powder dump plays a large part in our current snow culture, but there is a lot more at play here, and this is where it splinters off and each individual has their own reason for expecting something from mother nature. To borrow a phrase from Churchill we all are “mystery, inside a riddle, wrapped in an enigma.” In one of the most spectacular mountain ranges on the planet, with a ski hill and vibrant party scene on my back, and front door I found my focus was mostly directed to the people that call this place home, for however long that maybe. “Everyone has a story worth telling, you just need to find a way of getting it out of them.”

That statement made to me by a coworker a few years ago has made me realize that no matter how outwardly boring the person seems, there will always be a depth to that person that makes investing and searching out the person worthwhile. I had the honour of sharing a flat with 6 lads who have been incredibly blessed from on high with talents and abilities that, if used to their potential, could take over the world and I really mean that. Sometimes I would walk out of my room and just about burst with excitement at the sight of the boys ready to embark on some new adventure, knowing that they have what it takes.

And yet all of us are racked with insecurities that we don’t have what it takes to be the men we aspire to be. As I was thinking about this today the story that Jesus told of Peter walking on the water popped into my head and I remembered a part from a Rob Bell book that talked about Peter’s problem not being that he didn’t have enough faith in God, but that he didn’t have enough faith in himself. And it makes sense, Jesus knew Peter could do it, and Peter believed in Jesus as God incarnate, but Peter doubted that he had what it took, that with all his baggage and hang ups, God could use him. That is what my prayer is for the lads I have lived with over the last few months, that they will remember that not only do they believe in God, but that God believes in them, that when the temptation to sell short of their potential comes, that God is there hoping and knowing that they do have what it takes to choose the better path. The wandering and erratic path that this blog post has taken, I apologize for, but that’s often how life flies, not all things resolve, and in asking one question we may get an answer for something totally different.

So as travels and adventures continue, tuck away and remember the seemingly insignificant details of life, because in the future they may be the answer to one of life’s big questions, or at least an insight to it. I get on the bus very soon and embark on a 3 day journey to get back to New Zealand, taking with me the memories of a winter of great road trips, a few fantastic days up the mountain, an appreciation and loathing for New Zealand winters, but mostly of friendships formed and deepened. We humans are after all, the pinnacle of creation."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 268

spring is here. sort of. maybe. people are scared it will never snow again and others hold fast to the hope that 'the snow will come.' they've been reciting that mantra ever since november and i've heard it repeated again just after the new years melt down.

i've got something interesting planned for tomorrow's post. it will be a big change and, in a way, i'm not even sure what to expect but i'm excited for it so please check back tomorrow for sure.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 267

memories of tiny stages and crowded rooms and hardwood dance floors and sweat and music gear float in my mind now that i've had more than just a handful of hours of sleep since the weekend night shows and other regular routines.

today is a beatles day. that was evident from the moment of awakening. yesterday was 90's music day so the counting crows and the wallflowers and the verve were the choices for play.

i hopped out of a half-started shower to go for a run instead. impulsive. the streets are mostly clear of snow or ice and the air is warm enough to wear shorts if you don't stop moving. at least i thought so when i left. my body reminded me that i hadn't gone for a run since probably june, but now after a shower and a sandwich and some chilling with the boys at the house, my mind is clear and body fresh and i'm at the organic market coffee house. the beatles are playing on a sixties station and a dread head is in head-bent conversation with a girl near my usual seat. i'm happy to go to the other side of the shop and sit down with bob dylan, hunter s thompson, and then the handful of writers in the new new journalism book.

the sweater girl behind the counter confirms that i'm here for the usual. yep. she gave me a discount on organic coffee- some sort of gold coast, australian medium roast. smooth.

i wonder if there's some sort of deep synchronicity to life and happiness because sitting here i realize that for the first time in my life i'm able to be just one person and be living one vibe that is relevant and satisfying in anything that happens. there is no formal school performance zone or egotistic-swaggered baseball demand. no big city, drive-through thoughtlessness and no flatland restlessness.

there've been some ideas in my mind the past couple days that, to me, seems best for action because of the way previous deficiency and inabilities have now been turned into ability and stability, leaving me still aware of what i had been feeling and seeing not too long ago. vague, yes, but we'll definitely come back to this. its just a hard thing to explain- left hand, right hand kind of secrecy interactions if you catch my drift.

tim leaves very soon. here is his travel playlist, peppered with past road trip and adventure tunes and aimed at the best overall travel-motion-chill-memory flow as possible. i just finished so you'll see it first.

[click to enlarge]

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Day 266

i got home today after six p.m. and was chatting the regular kind of arrival talk with paul, shaun, and jared. those three always seem to be home and in a chill vibe no matter what time it is and its a comforting expectation. there was a message from someone in the band- another venue had called our band and requested us to play tonight. the guys came by and we packed up and headed out.

now, after just returning, i am thoroughly excited and thankful and overall inspired. i chose to walk home from the gig because the dark air war fairly warm for winter but more so i knew i couldn't handle being dropped off at the house and sitting around after a night like tonight. the drummer lives near by and we walked the empty streets of a snow-lacking ski town talking about music and where we'd come from in our lives and we both shared the same vibe on the night.

i'm so thankful and stoked on all of this.