Picture Perfect

The nice thing about scaling back on my posting commitments for a couple months is that I’ve been able to comb through the site I’ve built this past year and tweak what’s here, refine how it’s displayed or add completely new things.

Most of this is “under the hood” so to speak, but regular readers may notice a few minor changes I’ve made to castironguy.ca over the last week or so.

One of the big things is photo galleries.

I hastily added a photo gallery plugin at the end of June as a means to do some light updates to the site in between my sporadic summer posting schedule. If you haven’t seen that I’ve been updating a Summer 2021 gallery of random photos a few times per week.

I’ve been fascinated by online photo sharing for a long time now. Fascinated? Well, intrigued and captured by the potential of sharing a medium that I love in a fluid and barrier-free way, I guess would be the better explanation.

For years, in fact, I maintained an online gallery that had thousands of photos grouped into hundreds of albums, ranging the gamut from kid-pics to be shared with the family, all the way through to a kind of semi-professional portfolio of my better, high quality images. The effort got dated, of course, content and software-wise. It was lightly hacked. I took it down, archived it and never tried to replace it.

I did replace it with social media, I guess. Over the last couple years I’ve been active on Instagram sharing photos to various curated accounts, one private for people I know IRL and a couple public themed accounts for everyone else. Yet, social media has lately become something of a tangled mess of paywalls and advertising and fake content and frustrations, so I’ve leaned away from that and other platforms in recent months and chosen to put more effort into private website content like this site.

So having added that gallery plugin I’ve been getting some photos into it, deciding how I want it to look and act, and posting some updated collections. It makes me excited to have a place to post more photos again. Stay tuned.

Fire/Smoke

The world is on fire.

As much as I love a good campfire, heating a hefty pan over some crackling logs, I love even more that I can always walk away when the smoke wafts into my face, stinging my eyes. I can stand up and step into fresh air, take a deep breath, and reset my lungs.

This past weekend all the air was a smoky haze, everywhere. There was no reset.

Image: https://firesmoke.ca/forecasts/current/

Dozens of forest fires are burning across the country.

One of my colleagues started his career as a forest fire fighter, spending years of summers helping to control burns and protect small communities surrounded by kindling. We had an amazing conversation on Friday as he talked about his knowledge of the history and strategy of forests in Canada and the different approaches taken by different regions of the country, all of which go a long way to explaining why and where those little orange dots appear on the map above.

While people joke on social media about escaping or blowing it back west, the data shows that the culprit is actually intense wildfires to the north east that are clogging our throats and lungs.

The short of it is that fire and smoke and wind and summer air currents mean that my house is not at risk of burning, but my lungs are now haunted daily by the thick, campfire-like smoke that permeates every corner of every breath of outdoor air.

Image: https://weather.gc.ca/airquality/pages/abaq-001_e.html

The effects are no joke.

People call in sick from work due to aching lungs and throbbing heads.

And we skipped our run yesterday, the prevailing opinion that we would be… might be… probably would be taking our health into negative concern by sucking down ten kilometers of smoky air from the “very high risk” and the literally off-the-charts poor air quality.

The world is on fire.

This is not new.

A few years ago we spent five days hiking in the backcountry mountains near Lake Louise. The day we hiked inbound was a clear, beautiful, sunny day, but over the week a thick cloud of forest fire smoke descended over the valley where we were camping shrouding the mountains in what seemed a romantic fog but was actually an acrid, lung-burning, inescapable haze that made the air smell and taste of char.

That same year I also ran a marathon, and due to the smoke the go-no-go call for that race was uncertain even as we stepped up to the start line.

It was not the first time the air was smoky through the summer, by far. But it was among the first of many consecutive summers clouded by a shroud of burning forest smoke. Every summer since, it seems, weeks are lost to hunkering from the attack.

Even today, the few people out and about on the streets are still wearing masks despite the lifting of the health-related bylaw, and I pass by them wondering if they are hoping to avoid a virus or to simply screen out the visible ash from the air.

The world is on fire.

Take a deep breath… if you still can.

Summer

Where I live, there exists a short and precious span of time between snowfalls. It is when gardens grow strong, trails turn green, and daylight extends well into the night.

SUHH - murr

For July and August, this blog is on a summer publication schedule: still posting, but not-daily. Check back for sporadic summer check-ins and stay turned for my regular daily blogging schedule to return this September.

In the meantime, my summer photo gallery will be updated as often as I can remember to post new pictures.

Thanks for reading!

– bardo

Dog Days of Summer

It’s officially summer here in Edmonton where I live, and the days are marked by a sharp increase in temperatures and an equally sharp decrease in my motivation to move with any sort of speed … yes, even when I’m running!

Also, it’s been a long, dark winter … at least sixteen months if I recall … and this summer seems more welcome than any of us can put into words, I think.

With the arrival of summer, the re-opening of our world (locally at least) following a long, exhausting pandemic, the end of the school year for my daughter, and the wrapping up of a huge project I’ve been involved with at my real job, I’ve been eyeing the arrival of July with no shortage of excitement.

I’ve been writing this blog for nearly six months, every day, and making it a daily exercise has not only resulted in one hundred and seventy plus blog posts since January, but has given me great motivation to go out into the world more openly, explore more deeply, cook and eat more adventurously. Six months is not long, but it has been long enough to kickstart a respectable quantity and tone of articles that I’m (mostly) proud to have online.

Of course I never wrote about how I intended to keep blogging every day, well … forever. Because… to be honest I didn’t intend that. I intended to write daily for as long as I could manage to keep it interesting for myself and for my readers, and (more importantly) for as long as I wasn’t trading the living of my life for the writing about it.

Summer is short and definitely for the living of life, and with all those simultaneous moments approaching with the first of July, I am in the important moment and existential position of asking myself if I’m following that very rule: I don’t want to sacrifice adventure to the publication cycle of a blog.

You may have also noticed that more than a few of my articles lately have been a bit … um … navel-gazing? Bland? Space-filling? I’ll be the first to admit I’ve phoned in a few posts this month. Gak!

So, here’s the thing…

I’ve decided that I’ll be switching over to a summer schedule for July and August.

This summer we have some mountain vacations planned, some technology-free camping trips in the north country to do, weekends at the lake or on the river to enjoy, and a whole of lot of intention to get away from our screens as much as possible. I will still be posting here, probably more regularly than I should, but look for my posts to be a little more scattered over the next two months as of the first of July.

Expect your daily dose of cast iron guy goodness to resume to full daily schedule in September, and with any luck I’ll have a long list of stories to catch you all up on.