End Of The World As We Know It

As I am sitting at my computer, looking at my pile of books scattered around my desk and contemplating on just how irrelevant my life has become, I recall watching something of television last night about REM digitizing their song “It is the End of the World as We Know It”.  I have always hoped that as the technical revolution came upon us it would lead to people having a better understanding of the world around them.  It seems that the opposite is happening, the few people that take the time to access the information available seem to use it only to further an agenda rather than to understand an issue.  They take information, dissect it, and pare out anything that they deem to not be supportive of their agenda.  They use Google to replace any real understanding and crown them selves well educated and knowledgeable based on their ability to type in enough searches to find another opinion that supports theirs. This is not knowledge, knowledge is information fermented with understanding and contemplation and add a little common sense you may acquire a degree of wisdom.  We, in general, are no smarter, no more knowledgeable, and no wiser that we were 50 years ago.  Just more opinionated and less flexible in our thoughts.  We have basically created a group of pseudo-intellectuals that lack the depth to form an opinion and who are espousing opinions they do not completely understand on people too lazy or unable to access and understand an issue.

One of the casualties of this thinking is negative justification, we see it daily in political banter. One group condemns the act of a politician and another group justifies the action by listing similar actions by a previous politician.  The premise that a previous bad act or decision by some one justifies another act or decision is ludicrous.  To be specific justifying Trudeaus slow response to native water issues by pointing out Harpers inaction on the same issue bears no fruit.  The problem still exists and energy would be better used to force the person in charge to make positive steps to addressing it.  This type of argument and justification is ever present in all areas.  I recently read an article that suggested British Colombia had no right to address the environmental issues of the Kinder Morgan pipeline because of their history of bad environmental policies.  Not to even wade into the pros and cons of this issue it remains that to justify an environmental decision based on a previous failing is similar to justifying punching your sister because you have already punched your brother (yes, an over simplification).  That particular decision must be weighed and decided on its own merit and to suggest differently is just to negate your own argument.  We need address issues as the individual issues that they are, we cannot justify making bad decisions using previous bad decisions as a foundation to move forward on.

To take this one step farther, during the last American Presidential race I heard Donald Trump during one of his speeches say that we should start killing the wives and families of terrorists because that is what they were doing to others.  I will confess this was singularly the most disheartening thing I have heard this decade.  Not just because it was said, but because I knew that many people believed it.  My entire belief system is that we improve our lot by becoming better people, we cannot achieve this by justifying our bad acts by other peoples bad acts.  If we just retaliate in kind we are just different sides of the same coin, it is then just a fight to see who the best barbarian is.  The same applies to other areas, I constantly hear the justification for not adhering to environmental responsibilities because there other countries that are worse.  Again being irresponsible and justifying it by the lack of someone elses responsibility, my neighbor killed a man therefore it is OK for me to beat a man up (yes, another over simplification).  The truth is we are responsible for all of our actions and while it is important to attempt to positively influence those around , be it individuals or nations, we must always attempt to do our best to maintain our own standards to the best of our ability.

Having said that I have to confess guilt in this very area, I am not an educated man, what knowledge and understanding I have comes from a lifetime of reading and hours in front of a computer.  I have often been guilty of searching for facts and events that would further my opinion and ignoring or at least minimizing facts and events that were counter to my point.  I like all people, do have an agenda.  I will always put social programming and equality before a balanced budget, I will always put environmental issues before corporate profit and regional prosperity and will not deny that.  There is a balance that can be reached and I will support that to a degree but will always lean to my own belief system, hence agenda.

If we have financial disaster it will cause great strife and needs to avoided, however if we have an environmental disaster it will cause not only great strife but also much more death and suffering if not the end of life completely.  We can and have survived many financial upheavals, we are resilient.  However if destroy the environment it is not likely that we will be able to come back. It has been argued that we are over reacting to environmental issues and even if that is true or partly true the stakes are just to high to take that gamble.  We will lose nothing in the long term by taking care of the world we live in, we take care and maintain our homes and our cars so they will last longer and serve us better, why not our planet.

We currently sit on the edge of a cliff, we are torn by trying to maintain what we have to feed our own self interests and by the nearly certain knowledge that if continue on this path we will tumble down the cliff.   We are being pushed and pulled in both directions by people, groups, and corporations that all have agendas. We are in constant fear if we change we may destroy our standing and status quo but also if we don’t change we may lose everything.  For me the answer is obvious, I am not willing to take the chance of destroying my grand childrens future in the hopes that the environmentalists are wrong.  We are bombarded with half truths and misinformation from both sides, we are played by corporations and politicians for their personal gain. Social media is the tool to the best organized and ignorance and fear is the tool of all.  This is truly the end of the world as we know it, although we may survive there is absolutely no doubt that the world we know today will be radically changed over the next 50 years.  Let us try to make the best world we can for our descendants.  Each one of us must some how search through this maze and find a path.  Let this path be your own, do not let people who stand to benefit from your loss convince you that a short term gain is worth long term loss.  Just ask Judas how that bag of gold worked out for him.






Ungrateful Refugees

Are you aware that we have a group of refugees in this country that came in a mass of around 8000 souls.  They were a largely illiterate group who were branded dissidents in their home country for defying the power of the church and for refusing to take up arms.  They ended up in Canada because some left wing artist took up their cause and made a deal with the Canadian Minister of the Interior that not only gave them land but also promised a small amount of cash to help them develop the land.

Once arriving in Canada they traveled to Saskatchewan and were given additional concessions in the form of schooling of their own children and no military service.  This wasn’t enough and many refused to swear the oath to the crown as well as to agree to give up their communal life style.  On this note they began protesting but this gained them little and most moved on. A few stayed in Saskatchewan and to a degree assimilated.  It took another 5 years before they allowed their children into schools and many remain a tight group, who up until recently still used their native language for religious services.

The balance moved on to British Colombia where they were able to acquire land and take up the communal and pacifist lifestyle.   They continued to grow and prosper as did the ones that remained in Saskatchewan and became farmers.  However, as in many groups they had there one section of fundamentalists that just couldn’t be satisfied.  This small splinter group rebelled against general societal standards and became known as the Sons of Freedom.  They began to protest what they considered an aberration of society for the most part using arson and bombs, destroying an estimated 20 million dollars in property including government buildings, schools, and much of their own property along with that of  the other refugees who chose a different path.

Now just who are these violent and ungrateful souls that came to our country bringing with them little but their need and went on to attempt to alter our society to meet what they believed was the correct way to live.  They are no less than the Doukhobors that fled the bloody regime of  Nicholas II of Russia with the help of the Quakers and that of Leo Tolstoy to attempt to achieve a better life in Canada in 1899.  They are a very real and very integral part of our unique Canadian heritage, their actions changed some laws and  had and an affect other laws. They played a large part in the settlement of many parts of Saskatchewan and southern British Colombia and to this day play a role in the our great society.  If your or your ancestors name ends in off, such as Popoff this is likely part of your history and it is a history to be proud of.

This is but one brief story about refugees that have come of Canada, there are many similar stories of different groups.  Each group brought with it some of the good and some of the bad, it took time for it all to settle out but at the end of the day Canada was enriched by their presence and every one of has gained by their input.  Whether it was the Irish, the Italians, the Ukrainians  or another group, each bunch brought with them ideals that both changed and formed our country.  It would be easy to look at the actions of the Sons of Freedom, a very small percentage of the whole and brand Doukhobors as at best unsavory and at worst terrorists. However we can look at history and see the whole picture and I doubt there is anyone that would be willing to take that stance today.  And just on a side note there was a significant movement even in 1903 to not allow foreigners in because they would corrupt our country and take away from those already here.  Some things just never change.

My apologizes to my many Doukhobor friends for having painted them as terrorists but the unfortunate truth is if they were arriving today that is likely the brush that would be used.  Most of our ancestors came here fleeing either starvation or religious or political persecution, much as most of the refugees that come to our borders now.  Personally I find the hypocrisy of those of that have been sheltered denying shelter to those in need singularly repulsive.  To loosely quote something I read many years ago ” you climb the ladder of life with one hand extended upward for help and the other extended downward to help” I am sorry but can’t recall the origin.  Please, always remember that what we have now is gift that we have received and not deny the same gift to those that follow.

Not sure what the next blog will be but I do have one started on Religion and one on the day to day of my little world, I guess it will be a surprise to all of us.  Take care of yourselves, your families, and your friends, but never forget it is a very small world out there and we need to remember that we who who are doing well have a responsibility to those that suffer regardless of who and where they are.



Committing to Spring

Overall this has been a successful winter.  For the four of you that actually follow the blog you are aware of the struggles with depression and although they were still present it seemed significantly less intense this year.  Generally everything went swimmingly until I ran out of food, money, and firewood towards the end of February. I ended up going the best part of a month with not much more than rice and macaroni, although let us not forget the infamous meal of sardines warped in cheese slices.  When the cupboard is empty and there is no gas to even try to get to the food bank it is a soul trying experience, however it was easily survivable and once I got groceries that first hot dog smothered in onions was a truly religious experience.  I need to keep in mind that even at the worst point during this I was eating better than 70% of the worlds population.  It is easy in our isolated western civilization to forgot how bad it is for most of the planet and feel self pity. I need to remember this and on the good days make sure I am putting something back.

I went outside this morning to get the meter reading to submit for my power bill, a task much feared as this is going to be a bad one.  It was cold, windy, and inhospitable and set the scene for what would be a bad experience.  And it was a bad experience,  having run low on firewood the beginning of March I was forced to turn on the electric baseboard heaters of the 15th of the month in order to make the dwindling wood last to the end of the season.   Even though I kept the house around 12C (55F) and continued to use wood to warm it up once in a while it managed to increase my consumption by 800 kwh roughly four times what I would normally use.  That translates into about $120 on this months power bill for 20 days heat.  To put this in perspective I would estimate my savings by avoiding the use of electric heat to be around $1300 over this season.  Although that really isn’t that much in the real word real of house heating that three weeks of electric heat translated into 25% of my income for that month thus making it one more little financial problem. After all of that, it is really only a small problem and can be dealt with hopefully over the next month.

Having consulted the weather gurus and inspected the last remaining firewood I made the decision to turn to electric heaters off.  It will be tight but if the weather stays close to what is forecast and and I scavenge around a little I think I can do it.  Like all small but annoying problems this one was rooted in a larger issue. I ran out of firewood not because I miscalculated or was to lazy (as is sometimes the case) to haul it but rather because I lost use of the trailer I was using to pick it up. In spite of a great and valiant effort by several friends to get more wood hauled we just didn’t make it.  In order to not repeat this little issue again there will be a concentrated effort made to upgrade my tired chainsaw and to purchase a semi reliable 3/4 or 1 ton truck by mid summer.

All of that aside  spring is here, and I am going to get out and make life happen.  I have been sort floating in the abyss for the last month or so struggling to make it to that illusive moment when life regenerates.  I am announcing that it officially happens this coming Saturday. I have a large number of projects staring me in the face, the most of important of which is finding enough money to keep the power on and to pay Praxair and fill my welding tanks. I have three commissions sitting, one of which I may be able to complete with out the use of my oxy/acy torches so as soon as it warms up and drys up enough to work out side on to that I go.

On ward to what is happening her and now. My fantasy of getting my chicken house built this spring is likely just that, but I am holding on to getting the gallery space at least partially complete by the end of May.  As I have mentioned earlier I am no longer doing shows and events so I will be relying on my friends and patrons to help me sell my work and it is my intention to spend this summer creating.  I am going to expand out into some larger and more off the wall work but I am also going to step back to some of earlier more fundamental and simple constructs such as the dogs and cats that were so much a part of my early times.  I am looking forward to a summer of self indulgent creation  and a return to the simplicity of art for the sake of art.

Be good out there my friends, we all have so much so let us take just a little of what we have and spread it out to those in desperate need.  It is one planet, one humanity, there is no us and them when people are suffering.


Almost Made It

It is March 15th and the 14 day forecast is for good weather, I have gone the entire winter without having to use the electric baseboard heater I use for back up.  Today I turned them on.  I was so close, within half a cord of firewood, of making it.  I am not completely out of firewood but what I have remaining requires some preparation and unfortunately I am not moving so well these days. It is also too close that if I should get a cold snap I wouldn’t be able to keep the house warm.   I hauled and cut as much wood as I could along with help from Dayrl Gran , Jo Kasper, Eric Afseth, and Jamie Pollock who all made at least one trip out with contributions to the wood pile. I unfortunately lost the use of the little trailer I was using and instead of concentrating on replacing it I attempted to acquire a truck that would have been more efficient and cost  effective. Unfortunately that didn’t work out and here we are.

This has really worn on me, I am tired and frustrated with myself, the turning on of the heaters not only represents a failure to make it through the winter but is going to take away from already sparse funds that are needed to acquire a truck and even more importantly get the studio open again.  Today it has bee three months exactly since I worked on any of my own work in the studio.  This is partly because of the cold snap that began in Dec. (below -20 it is just to hard to heat the space), the lack of firewood to heat it once it warmed up, and lastly the lack of money to pay the tank rentals, fill the welding cylinders, and by consumables (welding rods, cut off discs, gloves, etc.).  The first two issues are self correcting once the weather warms up, unfortunately the last problem is on going and unless some art sells will not self correct.

I am not sure where this is going to go.  I have worked harder this year than I ever have before to try and keep it all functioning.  I have accomplished more this winter than in any other winter I lived out here but it still isn’t enough.  I am effectively in the same place today as I have been every year, doubting myself, wondering what kind of bizarre fantasy I was trying to live, and hating that I am dragging my friends and my family down with me.

What bothers me the most is that it seems every time I sit down in front of the keyboard I am wallowing in self pity.  The truth is over the last 10 years I have had a better life than I thought possible and yet it seems everything I type is negative.  I have no idea, I am not sure that there is an answer.  It seems that typing it out and sharing lightens the load a bit, but I fear all it does is burden others with my issues.  I am still kicking, I will likely make through the week (even though I am now on day 3 of no cigars)  and maybe the sun will come through and heal these old bones so I can keep on going.



As Winter Ends

It was a tough winter, a combination of long cold snaps and no snow to insulate around the outside of the house made it a rough winter to stay warm.  That coupled with a shortage of firewood partially caused by the loss of my borrowed trailer which was my only method to haul firewood has made for and to a small degree is still making for some tense days.    There is still a little wood in the basement that was delegated to the downstairs furnace and a little in the studio but both of these are out of reach for now.  It seems that I blew a knee out yesterday along with stressing some muscles in my chest and shoulders while moving stuff around to begin on the gallery.  This is not unusual but will likely cost me a couple of days of not moving to much. But we are near the end and if push comes to shove I can turn of the electrical back up and stay comfortable.

The white rice and ketchup subsistence was helped out by one of the neighborhood farmers dropping off some hamburger and some eggs, the neighbor down the street dropping of some potatoes and carrots, and yet a third neighbor dropping off some homemade soup and a few other treats (treats didn’t last long).  It was incredibly nice of them and the difference it made for me was immeasurable.  It seems that when I let my protein level drop my energy my disposition drops even faster. I look forward to spring when hopefully I will be able to repay their kindness.

As I have announced that I am setting up a small gallery which I intend to have open the end of May I have been trying to focus on this (thus the blown knee and strained muscles).  There is a long way go and I am hampered somewhat by shortages of building materials and cigars (the fuel that makes the artist run) but it has began and for those that haven’t seen the photos on the new Face Book page “Arelee Art” here they are so you can have an idea of the undertaking.



As you can see there is a bit to do.  This will give me a good sized outdoor area and approximately 200 sq. feet inside along with a side room of about 100 sq. feet (probably filled with junk).  This is not intended to be much more than an organized way to store my work, I don’t anticipate a large walk in trade here in Arelee but at least for the 3 or 4 a month that do stop in I can show them what I have.  I will have a sort of opening once it is at least close to done, even if it is just an excuse for hot dogs and beer.  Will keep you informed.

As you may note I am making an effort to put this thing out weekly and it seems Monday is the day it has chosen to be written, so on that note we will chat next Monday.  Take care out there.



Melancholy March Monday

March is here, always the turning point for me, I feel like I have defeated another winter.  It is the month of shortages, the lack of income over the winter has taken its toll and bills are piling up, the firewood is depleting faster than the snow, and the pantry is empty.  None the less there is a enough hope to get through each day and that vague promise that things may well get better.

This has actually been a good winter for me, the installation of the new airtight heater upstairs made it possible to get through with only using the electric heaters twice (the two days I was away for more than 8 hours) saving me six or seven hundred dollars this year on my electric bill.  I am nearly out of wood and will probably have to use the electric a bit towards the end but still a major victory.   So far this year I have been able to keep the satellite dish paid so had television all winter. This I know seems a little excessive, but it helps give the mind a place to be when it starts to wander into the darkness. Up until this month I ate well all winter and had cigars most of the time, again the last little bit has arrived and there will be little meat and lots of rice for the next while but as opposed to last winter when the rice and ketchup started in December this is a holiday.  I even had ice cream up until two weeks ago and cookies well into January.

Now this may sound like a little bit of whining, and I suppose it is, but it is part of the lifestyle I chose and although it is somewhat inconvenient some days it, at its worst is still the best segment of my life thus far.  I love the life I have chosen, the ability to create at will, the time to read, the time to write, and most importantly the time to just think.

There are always a few hurdles, this year a combination of not enough firewood and no money to cover the welding tank rentals or fuel for the torches sort of shut down the studio.  Hopefully I will be able to find an old truck this spring so I can haul firewood and maybe take some metal in to sell for scrap so as to pay the acetylene and oxygen tank rentals and refill the tanks.

I have managed to do pretty good on the renovations to the house and in spite of a shortage of materials am still hoping to have the gallery sort of open my the end of May or there abouts. I have expanded my living space into two rooms and now live in about 200 sq ft., I now have a work space for writing and hopefully will even have something akin to running water this year.  Todays project is finishing the closet in the bedroom and reworking the storage area to be more efficient.  Bearing in mind all these renovations are being done with salvaged material, except the screws and nails, I do not straighten old nails. I am kind of on hold right now as I need to acquire some more dimensinal lumber and some drywall, I will likely need to buy this as I have no demolishion projects lined up (hard to do demolishion with no truck).

All in all things are pretty good out here, I would like to thank those that took the time to read the last blog “The Legacy of Mathaya”,  it is the second time I have chosen to speak on this although it is difficult It is also good for me. The earlier one was a few years ago. https://ramblingsofamadartist.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/in-memory-of-mathaya/  this is the link to the first one if you are interested.  The writing isn’t the best but the emotion is there.

That is about it for today, I did title as meloncholy and at least labeled it well.  I am off to try and scrounge some firewood from under the snow and then back to the renovations.  Please take care of yourselves out there and take a look around, there are so many little things that a person can do to help out their neighbor and if we each do just one thing a week it will be a better world.


The Legacy of Mathaya


Today would have been the birthday of my fourth grandchild, she would have been a teenager today.  But she is not with us, 11 days after she was born she went to sleep, a healthy newborn baby and she never woke up.  No real answers, no understanding of why, and nothing or no one to blame.  It left our small tight knit family sitting in my daughters living room completely adrift, the only thing left in the world at that moment was even marginally real for us was the ten of us alternately comforting and being comforted by each other.

It was a long journey that started at 4 am that cold March morning, a journey that began with the loss of little girl we barely had had a chance to meet. Unfortunately it is a journey that far too many families have to take, we were at least fortunate that we already had very close and caring family that immediately closed ranks looked out for each other.  We made it through the initial tragedy simply because there were enough of us that at least one or two could be strong while the rest of us stumbled along.  The things that needed to be done got done, the funeral was arranged and somehow happened and then we were faced with trying to regain our lives.

As I noted before we always have been a tight knit family and as we attempted to regather our day to day existences it soon became apparent that this bond had become much closer.  My two daughters already annoyingly inseparable became almost as one, my relationship with my ex wife and her husband  which had for many years been good and positive became almost like brother and sister.  As the tragedy that drew us together slipped a little into the past the bound it created, or more correctly the love and loss we all felt for Mathaya created, remained and even strengthened as time progressed.  I believe each one of us came out not with just a stronger commitment to each other but with a strengthened respect for the individual importance of every member of our family.  All of us had good friends, many of which did their best, but in the end it came back to each other.  Our friends did what they could and it was always appreciated.  That situation is never easy for people and no one is ever quite sure what they should be doing and often even the most well intentioned acts are problematic, so my best advice is to just let the family know you are there for them and let them grieve in their own way.

As the years have passed we all remember Mathaya in our own ways.  I have since gained seven more grandchildren for a total of eleven, this number does include Mathaya, although she is no longer with us she remains my Granddaughter and always will.  Shortly after her passing I started writing her letters telling her about her brothers and sisters and cousins and how proud we are of them.  I tell her about her Mom and Dad and how proud I am of them and of her other Grand parents and how much we all miss her.  Most of these I burn shortly after writing them, sort of a way to mail them.  I really don’t know what each other member does individually but do know that we all have her in our hearts.  She was with us such a short time and yet she made such a large indentation on our hearts that it continues to effect us 13 years later. To a great degree she has played a large part in making us what we are both as individuals and as a family unit today.

I find this most overt at times when we all are together, in my minds eye I can see her there among the the rest of the kids.  But even more I can see her in how the other Grandchildren interact, in the care and the love they all share for each other, They have an age range of 17 years and yet brothers, sisters, and cousins are always aware and part of the family, it truly brings tears to my eyes every time I let the thought cross over me.  I watch my daughters as they oversee the entirety of our  nuclear family, two women so different and so much the same who treat the entire group of us like we are the most important thing in the world.  My oldest son Travis who long ago stopped being my son in law and became a son, even after all these years is still trying to comprehend this bizarre family he married into and still doesn’t realize what an integral and important part of it he has become and how much he has really contributed.  My other son in law Eric who was not with us at the time of Mathayas passing has become as much a part of this as any of this although I do believe he is still resisting a little but there is no hope, he is one of us and is now my son as well.

One of the things that changed it my personal life after we lost Mathaya was I realized that I needed to follow the path in my life that I thought was right and it was shortly after this I mad the decision to spend the balance of life creating and putting back to the world what little I could.  But most importantly I realized that my legacy was the children that remain after me.  And to that end my life is successful beyond measure.  As I survey my descendants I realize that each one of them brings something special to the world, each one has more to offer than me.  I realize that I am not necessarily responsible for this but hope that I at least played a small part in it.

This is the legacy of Mathaya, an 11 day old girl that barely even touched our planet yet touched so many of our hearts, not so much in what she was but in what she could have been.  Through her short life we realized the value of all of our lives.  Mathaya will live in my heart and be part of my soul, just as each of my children and grandchildren live in my world make give my life meaning.