Houseguests & Hobbled Pursuits

Long-time friends travelled from a neighbouring province this past weekend and used our basement guest room as a free hotel suite while they were attending their son’s sport tournament in our city.

Six hours of driving from their house to ours has not been a particularly restrictive barrier for more routine visits previously so much as a global pandemic gave everyone pause for such travel over the last two years. But as the outbreak wanes (even temporarily maybe) and as such things go, our little bubble grew to six people and two dogs for four days, and glimpses of normal peeked back into our lives, however briefly.

Much conversation happened. And as he is a creative-minded soul, much of that much conversation swirled around our respective creative pursuits both planned and paused.

I’ve been drawing. A little. Not so much as I used to, but a little.

For those who have dug deeper into the archives of this site and clues bread-crumbed throughout, it may come as no surprise to learn that for three years prior to this blog I drew a small web comic chronicling the based-on-real-life adventures of a dad and his pre-teen daughter. A weekly comic peppered with kids-say-goofball-things and bad-dad-puns swirled around a stick of light-hearted family humour.

Our houseguest was one of my fans, and since we’d last spent any quantity of time in the same room two things have happened:

a) I’ve stopped drawing said comic, and

b) he’s started writing (but not yet drawing) his own.

“I was hoping you could walk me through how you make one.” He asked over dinner the first night. “For example, show me how you put a comic strip together and publish it online.”

“Yeah, sure.” I agreed, stuffing another mouthful in between thoughts. “I mean, I can’t teach you how to draw in a weekend, but I can walk you through my workflow. Sure.”

Putting together something as complex as a web comic series isn’t a single skill after all. Ideas turn into stories. Stories are mapped out against art. Art is compiled and refined into panels and spreads, which themselves are output as files. Files are posted and promoted and shared and enjoyed. And every one of those steps breaks down into fifteen, twenty, or maybe five-hundred individual steps and skills and practiced abilities that have been honed over decades and are yet are somehow still too rudimentary to be called expertise.

“How do you know all this stuff?” He asked as I later walked him through the multitude of files on my computer, whizzed through the act of compiling a simple strip and exporting it as a web-friendly file. “And why did you stop?” he added, mostly pondering aloud why someone who could, no longer did, while he who yet couldn’t, struggled to begin.

“Time.” I offered. “Inspiration. Priorities. Hobbled motivation.” It all rolled off the tongue far too easily. “Honestly, I don’t know.” I said conclusively. “Sometimes you just lose momentum, I guess.”

“You shouldn’t have stopped.” He shrugged. “You’re so good at this.”

And I, being terrible at taking a complement, merely laughed awkwardly and continued the tour of the comic strip factory on my computer.

Sometimes, perhaps, maybe, hopefully even… it takes a detour through an old, familiar neighbourhood, like spending the weekend with old friends, to bump one out of a rut. I don’t know if I have been yet, but …

One Hundred Daily Posts

It’s Saturday, and while there are a dozen other things I could write about this morning I wanted to pause for a moment and reflect on a milestone.

One hundred posts.

I started this blog on the first of January and keeping apace of a single post each and every day since New Years Day means that this and the previous ninety-nine daily blogs account for exactly one hundred collections of words, images, links, and other miscellaneous thoughts published and shared here.

I don’t want to get particularly introspective or navel-gazing on the process of blogging.

Rather, I simply want to make a note of where we’re at: just getting started.

Inspired By Others

I also thought it was a reasonable-enough excuse to share some links to some of the YouTube channels that I‘ve been watching. Part recommendation, part inspiration, part this is what I’ve been spending my time thinking about and where my mind is at these days, here are some other folks putting out great video content and who seem passionate about their subjects.

Watching the energy that these folks put into their chosen niche topics makes me want to participate in the creative side of the internet. With folks like these as role models, writing a hundred daily blog posts has been a snap.

Beau Miles
An Australian filmmaker, outdoorsman, runner, father, and all-round interesting guy, Beau publishes quirky documentaries about his relationship to his world by posing questions no one else thought to ask, like what if I ate nothing but beans for a while, or what if I walked eighty kilometers to work and survived on what I found along the way. If we could all live by the Beau Miles philosophy the world would be a happier place.

TA Outdoors
Mike lives in the UK and seems to spend an enviable amount of time with his dad in the woods camping, building cabins, drinking good beers, testing out various survival techniques and generally being adventurous. He comes across as genuine and inquisitive and amplifies my own interest in these same things to the point that I ask myself why I’m not making more time to be like Mike.

Glen & Friends
Just down the road a few thousand kilometers here in Canada, Glen is a skilled cook and professional food photographer who produces a high quality cooking channel with his wife that spans the breadth of the culinary landscape while staying practical and interesting. It is very “Canadian” in style and tone and my wife and I often joke that now we don’t need a YouTube channel because Glen’s got us all covered.

Simone Giertz
Inquisitive soul Simone makes my list because she inspires both my daughter and I to try to be more inqusitive ourselves. While her niche doesn’t exactly overlap with any of the topics on my own blog, I am curious about many of the things she does in designing, fabricating, engineering, repurposing, refunctioning, and generally being creative from inspired places. You may have seen her work turning her Tesla into a truck or building quirky robots, but there is so much more to discover from someone like Simone who seems genuinely curious about the universe.

Claire Saffitz
My daughter and I were fans of Claire at her last YouTube gig and still are with her own channel. With my daughter owning a copy of Claire’s cookbook, the kid is determined to be like her hero and bake all the desserts. We watch Claire’s posts multiple times then invariably out comes the stand mixer and bag of flour and the the house smells like lemon or cinammon for a while.

Primitive Technology
Even though my wife recently bought me John’s book and despite watching hours and hours of his channel, I don’t know much about him or where he’s from. His elaborate, wordless videos show him working as he spends time in a jungle of some sort building with his hands primitive tools which he uses to forge primitive kilns which he uses to bake primitive bricks which he uses to construct primitive huts and so on and on. Watching John work is a special kind of peaceful and meditative experience.

To At Least One Hundred More

I hope if you’ve been reading along with this jumble of things I’ve been posting you’re enjoying it. Cooking, travel, outdoors, and cast iron are things that swirl around my days and fill my mind and it has been a pleasure to write and share about these things here.

That said, I have no plan. No end game. No ulterior motive.

Posting one hundred blogs over the last one hundred days has been a mind-clearing experience, has given me more direction for the summer and some reprive from the groundhog-day existence of living through this pandemic with all of you.

What else can I say? Thanks for reading this far… and stay tuned the year is just getting started.

(Now I’m off to bake some bread!)

iced windows

cold draft, I shiver
and firm up my will
sunrise view obscured
through ice on the sill

sub-thirty degrees
beyond two glass panes
breach fortress of warmth
amid frosted plains

one finger to glass
turns frost into tears
releasing brief drops
from chill winters fears

raw radiant chill
bracing, brisk and bold
I draw shut the blinds
and hide from the cold

- bardo

It has been thirty degrees below zero for three nights in a row, meaning that as even as we shut up the house each night and snuggle into the warmth of our beds, the chill creeps through the cracks and turns the windows into sheets of frost.

I have reserved some space on this blog each week to be creative, and to post some fiction, poetry, art or prose. Writing a daily blog could easily get repetitive and turn into driveling updates. Instead, Wordy Wednesdays give me a bit of a creative nudge when inspiration strikes.

Writing Up a Reason

Something funny happened nearly three years ago in the months following a sad decision to shutter my sixteen-year-old blog.

I did less.

No, really.

I took fewer photos. I went on fewer adventures. I engaged less and less with new projects. I virtually stopped attempting to tackle new skills.

Admittedly, I was busier day-to-day with being a responsible human, busier outside of the fun, hobby-type things I generally wrote about. There was just less free time.

I had taken on a new job with significantly more responsibility (which brought with it more risk of personal-meets-professional exposure from some of the things I was posting) and the job overall just gobbled up more of my life.

Yet somehow, looking back on it, there was a clearly corresponding relationship between the things I wrote about and the volume of interesting things in which I participated.

Writing gave me a reason to do stuff.

I needed content for my blog, yes.

Yet, in writing I also inspired myself to think about things I had never tried, and motivated myself to try those things… then write more about having tried them.

Having spent nearly forty days on this new blog, a blog that is still very young and particularly hamstrung by a pandemic and brutally cold winter weather, I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about why I’ve decided to start blogging again with this renewed daily vigor.

There are people who write for money and fame.

There are some who write to find peace and clarity.

And there are still others who write for passion and inspiration.

There is overlap between any and all these purposes, of course, but after nearly two decades and multiple blogs, I’ve realized much of my purpose is simply to find a reason to do more. I want to write up those reasons here.

I want to cook better food.

I want to seek deeper adventure.

I want to frequent the outdoors.

I want to explore lesser traveled trails.

Writing a blog inspires me to step out the front door and make choices that lead me out into the world to do these things more often and more deliberately. It’s an aspirational space, and a source of inspiration for myself and others.