Archive | August, 2013

2 days in the City…

30 Aug

I feel good. I like this cabin/ commuting idea. A 2 hour transit ride- which includes a bus, a ferry, another bus (or hitch) and a 20 minute walk up the hill to my place. That’s kinda nothing; I’ll need to get a vehicle at some point soon because I get off in the middle of the night and have a 2 hour wait before buses start but I’ll figure that out.

I also like the “work at Insite (you know, Vancouver’s injection site)” and live off-grid combination. It seems like I get to tend to 2 different extremes- the extremes of addiction and mental health combined with the extremes of self-sufficient living. There’s a unity in that that is important to me.

The staff at Insite had to deal with a stabbing incident Monday night of this week. I wasn’t directly involved in receiving the person at the front desk but the fallout of violence ripples through the place. As a frontline health facility we usually receive the victims of these acts  but this time we instead had the perpetrator come in, shaken, crying, trying to hide the bloody weapon under our front desk, insisting that it was self-defense, retribution trying to find its way in the door by way of a pipe, more anger, threats of violence.

The following day I didn’t make it back to my cabin. I met with a friend after work instead and then the math of commuting didn’t work- commuting 4 hours (return) to sleep for 5 hours so I spent Tuesday as an itinerant sleeper- snooze in the coffee shop, relax on a beach, stretch out under a tree in a park to read. This last occasion, when I was picking my tree, a youngish woman emerged from the nearby bushes, obviously homeless and with mental health issues. She efforted to speak to me through hand signals and pointing. I responded to her by saying that I’m pretty sure she can speak, and that she is welcome to speak to me but that I was tired and was going to relax and have some personal time under this tree. She sat down beside me while I got my book out and made myself comfortable. She eventually reached over and poked my arm then very guardedly, quietly told me that “They (pointing to a random group of people sitting in the park). Can see (pointing to her eyes). You (pointing to me).” I told her it was fine and that I had nothing to be afraid of and neither did she.

She got up and went to a tree and tried to pull off some limbs, then went on her way around that area of the park, doing a variety of rituals, then would return to sit beside me, sometimes silent and sometimes speaking to me in her guarded, tangled speach. This repeated over the course of an hour, her repeatedly appearing to sit beside me on the grass. On occasion I would fall asleep with my book on my chest and wake up to her sitting quietly beside me. As I engaged her a bit each time her story emerged. A boyfriend years ago broke off with her, then married another woman shortly after. Together they put some voodoo on her and continue to send people to harass her, being unaware of her powers of telepathy. Therefore, she knows what they’re doing. So everyone, except me apparently, was sent to upset and disrupt her. I tried to see if there was any help or intervention she would respond to, and when I mentioned a doctor she left me, stating that I didn’t trust her. Strange tale but it’s somehow strangely affirming when someone in such a state of distress finds an orbit of safety or comfort around you.

Returning to my simple little cabin last night (Wednesday) I was weary and looked forward to sleep. The long awaited rains started. Which means the long-awaited roof leak appeared, as did rodents themselves eager to escape the downpour. The first occasion I was awakened by rodent noise I chased a mouse (I think/ hope) down a hole in the floor which I was able to cover up. The second occasion was a little different in that as I lay on my mattress on the floor shining my flashlight toward the food storage area a rat, heading for the same hole and finding it covered up, was forced to change course and charged right at me across the floor. I flailed, kicked and shuddered, made an unmanly fuss then spent the next hour hunting it down with a fireplace poker. Never found it and, despite despairing never being able to sleep in that place again, soon found myself laying down and waking up late morning, completely refreshed.

I think i can sleep anywhere

Samsung2013 180


On having mad bush skills…

26 Aug

I chopped a tree down today Samsung2013 198


Look how it ended up Samsung2013 200

Perfectly beside the driveway.


Here’s my advice on Timber-felling, coming from someone who knows… nothing beyond taking down saplings

Hold the axe. Hit the tree really hard with it. Hit it again. Do that for about an hour. Stand back. Feel a crazy rush.

70 feet from the base of the trunk to the top of the canopy. Still buzzing actually, much later in the day. Hands shredded by blisters, body knows it worked today.


My introduction

22 Aug


Hello. How are you? I am fine.


This is my introduction.

I am a man. A father. A single father (meaning, 3 days of every week my exclusive job is to be the exclusive parent to two young daughters). I have lived in Vancouver Canada for a long time, most recently spending the past 7 years in Vancouver’s notorious little “ghetto” affectionately known as the Downtown Eastside (DTES, to some). I am employed. For the past 5 years (I’m mid-40s but with a charmingly youthful approach co-existing with a prematurely geriatric crustiness, what a package!) I have finally been appropriately employed as a Harm Reduction Worker, which means nothing to most. What I really do is work at Insite, the first and currently only legal supervised injection site in North America. It is a job I am proud of.


So this is my introduction. Me introducing myself to any who might read this and my introduction, finally, to making a frickin blog entry. I have, for years, had a meta to-do list (along with a thousand other lists consistently lost in a pile of good intentions and crap handling). And a blog has always been on that list. I have registered a website in the past and my hope was to be able to give voice at some level to the Struggle from my angle on the planet. And to track my own struggle and my commitment to struggle on.


The Struggle? I can describe it from any angle, for me or for others. The Struggle is about justice. It’s about resistance. It’s about transformation, confrontation but ultimately compassion and love, especially those times when all that is witnessed seems to be hatred, discord, injustice, and chaos and the temptation to be the same burns you alive. Then struggle on.


But the Struggle is also about the interior landscape. Health- physical but especially mental and spiritual health. Regarding mental health- I have a weird window. The best (or perhaps easiest) description might be ADD. The more appropriate is the Buddhist term Mind Monkey (or Monkey Mind, but Mind Monkey is really what goes on). When sitting still, the monkey jumps from tree to tree. Simple words to describe an immense mystery. Most people can parallel this experience to a degree, but my monkey is a beast. And those who know me well can attest- mine is a brutal beast. Yet I struggle on.


And regarding spiritual health? I am a champion doubter. And a champion Jesus emulator. And a champion pluralist. And a failure at all of the above- even doubting.


But the real struggle? I just moved into a derelict, desecrated, defaced, yet undeniably incredible cabin in the woods on a mountain on an island right close to Vancouver. I couldn’t be more amazed. And now I have to make it both habitable and appealing for my two young daughters.


And I have a tendency to repeatedly get in over my head. Yet it appears I struggle on. And in some manner this is my expression of hope for others to continue to struggle on.

Honoured to make your acquaintence