Linda Studley

Can't Put the Pen Down…

Cheaper Gas and Greener Grass

Apparently smoke isn’t going to be the only issue in our trip down south. Now the fuel prices in the lower half of the province seem to be skyrocketing! Okay, time to do the research… now a site that reports the price of fuel at different gas stations in British Columbia has taken its place in the ‘Favourites’ folder along with ‘Drive BC’ (for road conditions), Environment Canada’s ‘7 day forecast’ (for weather), ‘Air Quality Advisories’ (how bad is the smoke?) and, of course, a listing of every sani-dump in the province.

I don’t remember doing this kind of cramming for a holiday before. Is it just me or has the world become a more complicated place to navigate? I remember previous trips to the coast being, basically, toss the suitcases in the truck, fill up the tank, buy some munchies and start driving. Yes, we encountered high prices that we didn’t expect and flag people with stop signs; we just didn’t know where they’d be ahead of time.

So is it a good thing to be this ‘prepared’ or does it just end up focusing your attention on all the things that could go wrong? The element of surprise is always waiting around the next bend in the road, so, in the end, is it worth it to do all this advance research? Do I run the risk of concentrating so hard on finding the lowest fuel price that, eyes on the webpage or the map, I miss the beauty along the way. Bill doesn’t have to worry about that, he’s driving so he’s aware of his surroundings at all times (at least I certainly hope he is!). But how easy it could be for the passenger to become an obsessive navigator.

I’m going to have to watch out for that.

IMG_3106.JPGAre we seriously considering moving south? Well, it’s September fourth and Bill just came in to tell me the frost f***ed our corn. You figure it out, sigh…
Greener Grass

They say the grass is always greener
On the other side of the fence
and I’ve agreed and thought the adage
made a lot of sense.

Until recently I realized,
much to my chagrin,
that I can’t see the colour of the grass
when the snow’s up to my chin.

 

 

Out of My Head – poem

pen and ink drawing "Bamboo Soul" by L. Studley

pen and ink drawing “Bamboo Soul” by L. Studley

Out of my head grow vines that hang
down and spread across the page
or pluck absentmindedly
at guitar strings.

Out of my head spring thoughts that dangle
ephemeral carrots of enlightenment;
pearls of wisdom that may or may not
have ever seen the inside of an oyster shell.

Out of my head creep words that splash,
images that hum, notes that spell
out the insides of me,
the parts I didn’t realize were there.

Out of my head the procession slows
and I know I need to step out
into the world and refill my pate
so I can go out of my head again.

 

As a writer and an artist I am asked ‘where do you get your ideas?’ (as I’m sure all writers/artists are asked). I just can’t put a finger on it. They’re just there in my head. I don’t know exactly where ideas originate. All I know is that if I don’t go out into the world with my senses on ‘receive’ every now and then, I stop generating ideas; or, at least, they stop coming or start repeating.
Kind of like the self-aware robot in the movie ‘Short Circuit’ I need “input”.  Then somewhere inside my head someone hits the ‘blend’ button and it all gets smushed together and the fun begins; I start using the resulting ideas, images, words, notes to generate poetry, art, lyrics, music – out of my head! What a joyful mess!

 

Nearly Ready to Rumble…

yesterday (Thursday, Aug 31) was our last day of work, but we’re not leaving until AFTER the long weekend to avoid the traffic and campground congestion. Upon checking the air quality website for BC (You can find anything on the web), we decided to book a hotel room for our stay overnight in 100 Mile House. It seemed like a good idea to avoid breathing in the smoke as much as possible and – since the rooms are air conditioned – we figured that would be more comfortable all around. I know that air conditioning isn’t perfect; but it’s better than smoke. We’re going to be staying at the Ramada; we’ve stayed there before and liked it.

We haven’t planned too much but we hope to be down on the Sunshine Coast by the evening of Sept 6th. We’re looking forward to visiting my Big Bro, George Connell and his delightful partner Pia! George is an artist, a writer,  and a musician who will be having a CD Release in October.  Pia is an outrageously talented potter/artist. I hope you’ll treat yourself to a visit to their websites.

Georges icom

georgeconnell.ca

pia

piasillem.ca

 

 

 

Campers Are Better – A Poem

A camper is better than a tent
No canvas folds, like slightly moist maps incapable
of refolding to their original intention, heavy
and smelling gently of mold.

A camper is better than a trailer
With its awkward backing and wild
gesticulations from directionally challenged, strategically
stationed passengers who immediately
step out of hindsight.

A camper is better than a hotel
Imagine that hundred dollar difference burning
a hole in your pocket at the souvenir stand.

A camper is better than sleeping in the back seat
of your car on top of a hard shell
guitar case when you don’t know
where you’re going. Don’t ask,
it’s a long story. Just take my word for it.
A camper is better – for now anyway.

 

Life with a Capital L – The Dry Run

     We are taking the month of September to explore down on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island. Because we want to be as mobile as possible, we decided to leave the RV trailer parked and we bought a used camper to plop onto the truck. It’s an older camper – Who am I kidding – it’s a blast from the seventies.

     Anyway, we decided to take the camper out for a trial run this weekend; just to see what we’d forgotten to pack. The list included many things, like a trash can, laundry detergent, and a teapot, but, most importantly, we realized that four inches of foam is just not enough padding for a comfortable sleeping experience. Two nights on the torture rack should be quite enough motivation to add a hunk of memory foam as a topper. After all, we’ll be sleeping in the camper for the better part of a month and there’s only so much pain and suffering a 60+ year old body can endure in the name of having fun.

     We landed at Riley’s Crossing around dinner time on Friday and spent a very enjoyable evening visiting with Cynthia and Randy, and also getting reacquainted with Joy Kruger and Mike Raymer (The Big Weee) – https://www.facebook.com/TheBigWeee/ who were visiting from Victoria. (below left to right: Mike, me, Bill, Joy)

mike-linda bill joy

    On Saturday morning, Cyn and I went to the Dawson Creek Farmers Market and bought some very scrumptious veg (local) and fruit (okanagan). Discussions ensued about the relative merits and digestibility of kale. I still maintain that kale is just over mature cabbage with a really good PR manager. (please don’t bother telling me all the delightful ways to prepare said noxious veggie; I’ve ‘blechhed’ for the last time; I’m not going to try it anymore)

     We parked the truck/camper down by the pergola, which is a bit of a walk from the house, and Cynthia gave us the use of the ‘side by side’ to get to and from the house. I’m a pretty tentative driver. But Cynthia coached me and I actually drove it for a tour of some of their back trails! 

     I have brought along my digital slr camera and its manual. In the spirit of living Life with a capital L, I’ve decided to spend my passenger time reading up and figuring out all the buttons and dials. And hopefully getting some good experience and photos for the blog. I’ll also be checking myself out on my new Surface computer – like an oversized tablet yet with all the computing power of a laptop, the Surface promises to be another great way to document my capital L search.

     On Saturday night we all went to see The Big Weee perform at Diamond Willow Retreat. (Thank you to Dale Crocker for providing music during the dinner, and thank you Karen McGowan for the dinner.) Joy and Mike are extremely talented buskers, up from Victoria. They blend their very original original songs with cover tunes that had everyone singing along. Their energetic and enthusiastic performance and their easy rapport with the audience, surely a product of their busking experience, provides an engaging and entertaining musical experience. Check out this YouTube video I uploaded of The Big Wee playing Chula Vista.

      After the show we reconvened at Riley’s Crossing for a campfire at the Pergola (yes, the campfire bans had been lifted) and yarned and sang our way to midnight. 

     Riley’s Crossing is truly a gem – and Cyn and Randy are gems too. They often host visiting musicians and cyclists and couch surfers, so there’s always the possibility of meeting someone interesting when you go for a visit.  The Big Weee are not only talented musicians, they’re really nice folks. As far as I’m concerned this weekend was definitely Life with a capital L. I declare the trial run a success!

A Nomadic Vacation

I haven’t written anything for a while; seems ‘life’ gets in the way. That’s not really true, is it? Life isn’t something that gets in the way of enjoying your existence, nurturing your creativity, or entertaining your inner child. Lowercase ‘life’ isn’t really living; it’s just racing your inner clock to get ‘things’ done in time to fit some arbitrary timeline.

Uppercase Life. That’s what I want. And for the month of September I intend to have it. (Not just me, my partner Bill is driving). So stay tuned for Life blogs – coming soon. 🙂

Retrospect

Sometimes,
as the old name ghosts
through the new label.

Sometimes,
as I empty the folders,
shred the contents.

Sometimes,
as I delete them
from database and list.

Sometimes,
the mortality is deafening

Oh, To Be

2016-07-10_Oh To Be_Thomas_Corsan_Morton_-_The_gypsy_caravan

Oh, to be a nomad and walk away
without a backward glance
knowing home is not a place on a map
but a tent I pitch over my heart, wherever I roam.

Oh, to be a gypsy and ride away,
heart dancing ahead, beckoning me onward.
All that I need I carry with me,
it is a peace desire could never bring.

Oh, to be a traveller and drive away
with a soul big enough to encompass all.
Why scrabble for a scrap of soil freehold
when I can hold the world for free.

Oh, to be a wanderer and drift away,
footsteps light and eager on countless pathways.
To leave behind the heartache of change
and our inability to accept the pain of it.

Oh, to be
just to be.

 

(painting -Thomas Corsan Morton “The Gypsy Caravan”)

To Live in Harmony

Everyone deals with pain. We all struggle with insecurity, alienation, and fear. Instinct gives us two choices; fight or flight. Wisdom gives us another choice: reason. Earnest, unbiased, drama-free reason.

To discuss a problem reasonably, dispassionately, with the only goal being a resolution that works for everyone, is not easy but it is always productive. It is a place where “I can” is more important that “you shouldn’t”. And it is a place we should visit regularly if we want to live in harmony.

When problems persist we need to look at our actions with an eye to seeing patterns, triggers, and habits that generate problems both for ourselves and others. Sometimes just acknowledging these things can help us overcome them. Sometimes we need to find ways to change the patterns, disarm the triggers, and reroute the habits. Be aware. Be mindful.

Problems exist in the present, solutions exist in the future (until achieved), and causes exist in the past. The only one we have no control over is the past so do not give it more weight and importance that it deserves.

Instead of telling someone what they are doing wrong, tell them what they are doing right. Build on ‘right’ rather than tearing down with ‘wrong’.

Anger is not an emotion, it is a reaction to an emotion.

Anger unleashed is the voice of fear, a weapon used to gain control, a vent for feelings of being overwhelmed.

Anger suppressed is the armour of pain, a shield carried by the misunderstood, a wall built by exhaustion and despair.

When you are calm, non-judgemental. When you are willing to look for a solution that works, not only for you, but for everyone involved. When the goal is harmony rather than hierarchy. Then so many solutions will appear that your only problem will be which ones to choose.

Smile and repeat.

 

 

 

Ghosts

Does the scent of the rose garden, aflutter
with wayward petals,
waft  through your open door?
Does it bring back memories of wild roses in June?

You stand silent in the historical village,
a transplanted log cabin complete with furnishings,
a lonely anachronism waiting
for familiar footsteps at the back door.

Few tourists will climb your steep stairs.
Some whisper of a face they’ve seen,
peering from the second story window, curtains twitching.
Ghosts may linger in this house
but I feel only peace.
Peace with a touch of sadness.

I imagine seeing my life, my home,
through an outsider’s eyes as they shake
their heads at the wood cook stove,
the gas lanterns, and the crank telephone.
“ How did they live like this” they ask each other.

And I hear the ghosts cry back “Well.
We lived well.
By the strength of our own hands
we cleared the land, built our home, grew our food.
We worked, we sang, we danced.
We cried, we laughed, we loved.
All else is meaningless.”

And I smile and nod as the silence flows
back into the corners of the room.
Be content ghost.
I hear you.

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