Months went by

June 18, 2018

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The beautiful lake in Tymakov.

 

I have not been writing.  Yeah I am guilty of that.  I sit right now on a bus heading to Poland.  I have been in transit since Monday the 11th.  Where to start?  If I look at the last post, it was from the Czech Republic.  I crossed the world and back since then.  I guess I’ll go back in time and try to get updated…

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spring plantings in Tymakov

 

I spent almost a full month in Tymakov, I wanted to stay more but I saw that my Schengen 90 days visa is coming to a close, so I started to look at my options.  Non-Schengen European countries were the obvious choice, I went on Workaway and decided to try for Romania, I wrote to 6 project’s hosts on there and got an immediate response from Ami.  We clicked right away and it was decided that I’d go there in early may.  Then out of the blue I found a cheap ticket to California and decided to go see my friends after a 4 year absence.

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Pavel and Pavlina at Living Whale.

 

So it was with tears in my eyes that I left the village with Pavel and Pavelina.  It’s still always hard to leave, no matter where you leave from.  I got on a bus to Pilsen, had a last look to the beautiful villages and nature, then got on a Flix bus to Prague to spend the day then get on yet another bus which would take me to Timişoara in Romania.

Prague… so beautiful.

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I got on the bus, it was a 22 hour drive and it was exhausting.  I woke up seeing Communist era buildings in Hungary that curled my blood, the artless, only for practicality architecture is just not my thing…

In Timişoara Ami and Marty came to pick me up, after a night there we headed to Bocsa where they live; we arrived at a beautiful old house with a gorgeous garden.  My first task there was to help clean a big room that had become a storage place so that we could make a studio space out of it.  My stay there was so quiet, filled with conversations on all topics.  But it was short, about two weeks later I made my way up towards Brussels from where I would fly to America.

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Ami and Marti, the day of our mushroom hunt

 

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Tiki.

 

I took a bus to the frontier, because of disputes no bus company offers the route all the way into Bosnia.  I had to hitchhike from the last city into Bosnia.  A really fancy black Audi stopped.  The man seemed iffy to me but I go in.  He did not speak English. I had the clear feeling that he was hoping for some sort of gimmick on my part.  Arriving at the border, he took my passport to give to the customs officer.  as soon as we entered Bosnia he pulled over and asked me to get out.  It was strange, but I did not really care, per chance, a bus station was just a few hundred feet away and I found a bus heading to Belgrade, my destination, it was to leave in a few minutes, I just had time to get a ticket and hop on.

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Walking towards Moravita in Romania.

 

Belgrade was beautiful.  I stayed 3 days then headed to Budapest where  I spent 3 nights.  then it was time to head to Brussels.  I arrived late at night, then later still at the hostel I had booked.  I was exhausted, it was 1:30 AM and I had been traveling since 8 that morning.  At the hostel I was to find the key in a box, I had to enter the 4 first digits of my credit card.  It did not work.  There was no one at the reception, I rang the bell and finally I called the emergency number I saw by the door.  To make this short, lets say that the guy soon was yelling at me on the phone, would not let me place a word and he had to let me know that he had been in business for 15 years and that his system worked.  It was a no communication exchange and I finally started to raise my voice out of frustration as I could not say anything without being cut off and ridiculed.  “If you are to have attitude I am not going to help you” he retorted to my rise in volume.  I tried to calm down… “I’ll be here in 10 minutes” he said.

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in a park in Budapest.

 

Pretty much 30 minutes later he showed up.  He quickly proceeded to yell at me blaming me for leaving his 2-year-old son alone at home… again there was no way to place one word.  He went in and got the invoice for my booking.  “LOOK!  LOOK!!!” He kept yelling at me… I looked indeed and that is when I realized my mistake; I had used my debit card number… not the credit card.  I was dumbfounded, embarrassed and all the rest of it.  I apologized, he kept yelling, I apologized again, he kept yelling some more.  Then he said: ” You could apologize at least!!”
“I did, I did twice.”  I knelt down on one knee and said “Here, what else do you want?  I am truly sorry.  I made a mistake, in 15 years in business you never had anyone make a mistake?!  I am truly sorry.”  He yelled some more and left.  I was in shock.  I don’t do so well with yelling, I felt as if every nerve in my body was lifting my skin and giving me electric shocks.  I went to the dormitory almost crying.

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landing in Reykjavic.

 

Next morning I was en route to Los Angeles, we had a short stop in Iceland then arrived in the late afternoon.  From there I had many visits, conversations with friends.  Reconnected with Forrest, Mona, Hector.  Every visit would leave me kind of reeling with very strong emotions and my heart seemed to be emanating a strong vortex like energy, it was incredibly intense.

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Arriving in LA at sunset.

a week later I was on my way to Felton, near Santa Cruz and the Redwoods.  I spent a week there with Seraphim.  I got to see my bike, which brought me to tears.  I rode as passenger and went to see the Pacific.  At first I was almost scared on the bike, everything seeming too intense, the noise, the wind, the weight of the helmet, then on the way back from the ocean, a flood of riding memories engulfed me and I was half way between pure joy and wistfulness.  In Felton I also played my first concert in 18 months.  I was nervous at the start but it subsided and I had a wonderful time.

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Forrest and Mona

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first concert in 1.5 year in Felton

 

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coastal fog in the forest

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the giant redwoods.

 

After the time there, I went back to LA.  I stayed with Aaron and Sally in Upland.  There I was able to rest, catch up some work and see so many friends.  Kimberly, Crystal, the Klatch, Liz, Pat, Rye,    What a joy…  That was also when they both offered me their house to play another concert.  I had been toying the idea of playing at the Klatch but this was more organic and the Klatch had not answered me so I gladly accepted the offer.  we settled on the upcoming date of June 10th, the day before my departure.
I left Aaron’s and Sally’s home to get back to LA.  I had planned a nice journey with bus rides, but this ended up in a 9 hour slow marathon where I walked at least 6 miles with my backpacks, in the broiling sun.  From Upland to San Dimas took 5 and a half hours, it was nuts.   I stopped at the Klatch there to rest before continuing on.  There I saw my Iranian friend who seeing me so worn out left then came back with a bag of food and drink telling me that in Iran he would have invited me home to feed me and help me rest but since he could not he brought me this food.  it was amazingly generous and beautiful  I continued on my way to finally arrive at Hector’s place 9 and a half hours later.  Exhausted.  The train and bus situation in Los Angeles is beyond pitiful.

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bird and sunset on the way to Felton

 

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the loser cruiser, 3 hours late but got us there eventually.

I continued my visits, Stayed with Mona, Hector, Sarah.  Played the concert on the last Sunday of my visit, June 10th at Aaron’s and Sally.  There magic happened as we reunited new and old friends.  I was expecting to play solo but Forrest, kind and brave heart that he is drove all the way from LAX and joined me, Mona showed up with her Trumpet and Marguerite also joined us.  Seraphim drove all the way from Felton with his Go guitar, so I had the familiar instrument in my hands.  When all was done, we were outside on the street and I had this incredibly strong feeling that we are a tribe, I was reminded that I had this feeling before in California… With Forrest it was as if we’d never skipped a day, we were immediately in synch, Mona, the wild spirited, true soul joined the music with much feeling and emotion in her playing.  Marguerite was a new element, playing percussion, she added a beautiful layer of musical lace around the songs.  We all hugged on the street and I was overcome with tears.  My family, my friends… Knowing I was leaving the next day.

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with Mona in Joshua Tree National park

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Three friends, Seraphim, Sarah and Hector

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Joshua Tree sunset

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beach in LA

The next day with Marguerite’s generous help I made my final preparations and headed to LAX for my flight.  Next stop:  Reykjavic for 19 hours.  I must make a parenthesis here:  Wow Air.  I would not recommend Wow air.  They make it look really attractive:  my original flight from Brussels to LA was listed at $165 dollars.  But then it adds up.  They make you pay for a carry on bag.  The size of that carry on is ridiculously small.  If you ever fly with them, consider that if you have anything bigger than a normal day backpack you will have to pay for the carry on fee.  When you buy this at the counter it is 60 Euros.  If you will bring a check in luggage the cost up front is 70 Euros.  If you pay for check in baggage at the counter I think it is around $100.  They have these long stop overs in Iceland, that can be cool but if you are on a budget now you must count a $50 two-way shuttle from the airport to the city.  (you are not allowed to stay in the airport overnight) Then you will likely either drink all night or get a room which will be likely another 30 to 50 euros.  In the end, with luggage, my total for the flight was the same I would have paid if I had taken the Cheapoair low price and I could have brought back silly things like peanut butter in a checked in suitcase for example.  Now I could not even bring anything of that nature because of airport security and because my bags had to be pretty much empty.  We live, we learn.  I think overall the best transporter so far was Norwegian air, their fleet is superlative with the redesigned ventilation, seating and lighting.  The Wow air planes’ ventilation was horrible, the seats uncomfortable and the constant running up and down the aisle of the Barbie like flight attendants just selling anything at overpriced rates was not the greatest.

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Sunset in Reykjavik
But in Reykjavík I went. I was burned out tired with the overnight flight, but when I stepped on the streets of the city I was revived.  it was about 10 degrees Celsius, I was wearing my California sandals, but somehow I did not feel the cold.  I walked around as much as I could, to take in the sights.  At this time of year there is virtually no night-time.  the sunset was mind-blowing and the spirit of the place was incredibly strong.  I really wish to come back and go inland.  I am hoping to organize a Workaway there for at least a month so I could really get to discover this land.

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the modern cathedral in Reykjavic
I slept until 2:30 AM then headed out for my shuttle bus back to the airport where I flew to Brussels.  Again I was out of my mind tired.  I got on the 272 express and was amazed to see the bus filled mostly by a gaggle of noisy happy Turkish teens.  It felt like I was in Istanbul.  I had no idea there were so many Turks in Brussels.  I went to the Train Hostel, a hostel where some of the rooms are made with old sleeping cabins from a whole train wagon.  I didn’t see much of Brussels, I only went for some food in a mall that was close and tried to rest.  At 4 AM I had to get back to the airport for my flight to Berlin.  The skies were dark, the streets deserted.  The greenness of summer all around along with the birds singing.  It was quite beautiful.

At the airport all went well.  I arrived in Berlin and then waited for the bus that would take me to Poznan in Poland where I am now.

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a night with friends I will never forget.

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Clay, life

April 9, 2018

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Pink Floyd plays, a fire roars in the big old fashioned stove, a single light bulb shines in the center of the room. Deep breath. I am alone tonight. My hosts went out, I took a bath, washed my clothes, now there is the night quiet in Tymakov, the Czech village where I am living right now.

One of the reasons for deciding to go on this journey was that I could not afford to pay rent. I am at this very moment down to ground zero. Right now I am a seed.

Looking back,  I see that in 1989 I was also a seed arriving in Vancouver, a blooming plant grew from that seed and produced many fruits. I became Danielle the singer songwriter, recording artist, a translator-producer, an entrepreneur, I married, I worked hard and made good money. Good fruits they were.

But fruits fall to the ground and become food and shelter for the seeds, All that grows eventually yellows, grays and collapses to the ground. Of this glorious plant was, left as the cycle demands,  the seed. The dandelion seed pushed by the winds made a likely metaphor for my life.

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So in this little Czech village tonight I am having a moment to myself.  A few days ago Pavel showed me clay that he pulled out of a stack of big plastic bags. This “white” clay, as he called it, is a special vintage that was dug out of the Czech earth, where a sea existed many eons ago. I had this clay on my mind ever since he showed me. Saturday morning I asked about the plans for the day, he said: No plan, today off. I immediately decided to do something with this clay. I had no idea what I was going to do. I was too much in a hurry to put my hands in the stuff  and didn’t want to delay this moment in order to find material to build an armature, I just put my hands in the cool, damp stuff and started shaping it.

I sat outside on a blue stool, in front of a rough old table, the sun shining brilliantly on the land, the birds filling the air with their sounds and trills, there are so many song birds here, I love, love, love them… one pot with water a handful of wooden tools and this hunk of clay. It was the finest atelier one could ever dream of. What a freedom, what a quiet, profound joy. Around me, the many friends of my hosts are coming by, always bringing a small present of some homemade sort, a strudel, water from a mineral water well, or IT help. The men went to turn the earth in the back field, for a garden to come. Pavlina cooked lunch, Peter was fixing appliances, everyone contributing their skills at Living Whale.

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So destitute as I am on paper, I am living this life of plenitude.

I’ve been here 2 weeks now, I’ve come to know some of the friends, the place, the poetry of these people. So quickly, I inserted myself into this life, and so quickly I will disappear from it. Since I’ve been here I have been given so many gifts, my host is so perceptive, first it was a guitar that appeared, then I had the chance to try a pottery wheel, visit some sculptures on a couple of outdoor sites, then after wasting my ink supply, a bottle of blue ink from the communist era appeared, they tell me it dates back from the 80’s and had been waiting for me ever since. ( I am practicing the calligraphy I learned in Oleron with it) Then it was this clay, the space, and this immense kindness.

I could be tempted to worry about leaving this place, tempted to feel sorry about letting go of this little paradise, but this is that lesson again: impermanence. Life is vast, abundant, magical.

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I ended up making a horse, of course. The absence of armature meant that I had to devise something solid for the legs to support the form. I will make another one soon, this time I will experiment with sticks, Pavel who is a clay artist told me about this technique, using tiny sticks which will burn when put in the kiln. (yes after I leave and the pieces will have dried they will fire them)

I am here for now. Each day a new day. Each day like the last, each day like the first. Facing me, trying to love me, giving, helping as much as I can. I hope I can repay a bit what magnificent gifts they are bestowing upon me.

 

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Czech Republic, hello!

April 5, 2018

d35my work inspired by l’Ile d’Oléron

 

After finishing my work I left Oléron.  My heart stays full of this place, it was absolutely magical and I have a longing for it in my heart.  I hope I can return one day.  I did indeed succeeded in making this big journey I talked about in the last post: going from Oléron to the Czech Republic. I crossed France hitchhiking via Bordeaux, Nérac, Carcassonne, Nice all hitchhiking except for one bit between Aix en Provence and Nice that I did via BlaBlaCar.  It was amazing.  I got to see friends all the way through and managed to make new friends on the road.

c87 The Atlantic shore, next stop: Québec…

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Nérac

 
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In Italy I took the train, as opposed to France, the trains there are really affordable and easy, I would look forward in the future to traveling the country that way.  I was told that hitchhiking sucks in Italy so I did not even try.  Torino was great, I got to see my friend Antonio and met the Gypsy Marionettist, drank awesome coffee and really loved it until Milano where things kind of got sour between the train station and my seat to Berlin on a RyanAir jet.  Lets just say this:  if you go to a cafe in Milan 1. ask for the price before you sit or you may be charged for the air you breathe, 2. if the web site says it is a ticketless shuttle to the airport, print your ticket anyways.  3. if you fly Ryan Air PRINT YOUR BOARDING PASS.  4. If you are carrying art supplies… well, … don`t carry art supplies on RyanAir.  I`ll just add that for me RyanAir is now RyanNightmare.  Enough said.

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the Gypsy Marionnetist

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Torino

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Milano

In Berlin it is the sweet Rebecca that I got to see again.  We knew each other from the Chillout days.  It was really cool, but it was very short, two nights and I was on my way to Poznan, Poland, then to Wroclaw for a very short overnight stop, then a quick stop in Prague where I just switched busses and was on my way.  I really wish to see this city in the future as it looks absolutely amazing. I arrived around 8 PM in Plzen (Pilsen) where my Workaway host picked me up.

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Wroclaw

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Preparing for the Sweat Lodge on full moon night

Workaway.  I talked about it before: a website that connects travelers and hosts for work projects.  The travelers in exchange for their work get food and bed.  There is everything on the website, from labor camp to babysitting to bio-agriculture to language teaching, to art projects, etc, etc.  My beginning here were a bit tough, mainly because I have been a city girl for the last 5 years and have not done much exercise, let alone outdoor work so all the muscles involved in  things other than writing, talking, sleeping, sitting, playing guitar or drawing have been inactive… so piling wood and hauling bricks an building a wall felt like the Gulag to these hibernating muscles.
Thankfully the Easter weekend provided a much needed rest.  Also, we had a native indian inspired sweat lodge on the full moon (Saturday night) and that really helped in healing.

But don`t get me wrong, I am not complaining at all.  I realize that these Workaway experiences go beyond just showing up and meeting cool people.  As with most things in life, there are no accidents and I am now seeing that each experience helps me face an aspect of myself that needs facing.  So if something is very intense, I just reach in and try to confront it so that I can learn and heal.  It is a cliché but there are no accidents, especially if you do things mindfully, your choices will guide you to where you should be. Just traveling around superficially can be a sort of cool escape.  But being somewhere as a stranger with strangers, with all the challenges that come with not knowing a language, with the need to just surrender to whatever happens and trust the outcome, to be patient if you don`t understand, to be strong enough to overcome your fears and doubts.  It is really an amazing school if you allow it.  There is of course there is the bonus advantage like seeing new horizons, new cultures, be amazed by people and their visions and creations, make new friends and live unique, special moments on the other side of the globe.  It is totally inspiring.

And speaking of inspiration I feel it rise in me.  It had been a while since I have felt that kind of spark.

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So there you go, I will not go into it too deep for now.  The images will have to do until next time.

All my love.

 

The Edge of the World

March 13, 2018

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Standing on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, the wind is hard and constant. On the horizon white crests of waves approach, they come crashing on the shore of golden sand. I am mesmerized. It shines, sparkles, the water. It growls and chews at the land, the water. It speaks to me, the water.

It was a surprise visit, my host was going to buy fish and took me to La Cotinière, on the West side of the Island. It’s another world altogether, the East side is a collaboration of man and sea, a long, long relationship, deep-seated roots of humans on this Island. You feel the partnership, the water is `human size’, the people work hard but the obstacles are surmountable with perseverance. The West side, speaks of the smallness of man in front of the magnitude of this life force that is the Ocean.  I imagine the brave souls who set out on wooden sail ships to find new worlds…

The air fills my very molecules with a shimmer, it’s hard to leave and it’s hard to stay. I am being told that in the summer here, it is resort town, beaches filled with vacationers, streets blocked with constant traffic of summer revellers, villas alive with their occupants. Now it’s not like this, now most of the homes are closed up. There are mostly the fishermen and the fishing business going on.

I am on the verge of leaving Oléron. My artist residence has run its time. This has been way beyond anything I imagined; the kindness of my hosts, the passion that rose while doing the work, the wonders of discovering this place daily, the kind hearts I met while here. Every day showed me different colors, winds, air, from rainbows to snow storm, I felt energized by the oxygen itself.

I am soon to hit the road. This journey is different from anything else I have done, I don`t have a vehicle, or tickets,  I left Istanbul because I could not afford to pay rent and the Workaway was a way to go out and experience life, help, learn and get to into the world knowing I would have a roof over my head, it seemed like a logical choice. But right now there is a feeling that all is completely open, completely possible.  By chance, I happen to have many friends on this very road I wish to take; people I met at Chillout while working in the hostel, people I met in Istanbul, people I knew from before. Serendipitously, they are all on this road I wish to take. I will hitchhike, walk, I want to be free, I don`t want to be waiting for bus schedules and line up in terminals to be herded into a seat and spend hours just waiting to exit. I want to be breathing the air, on the land, just there every second of it without worrying about nailing things down.  They will appear.  Below is my tentative road.  I have friends in the highlighted cities, lets see what actually takes place as I go.

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While doing my art residence here, I felt, saw, experienced profound inspiration. My mind filling with ideas, inspiration. I see that the well is full and that is very exciting. I was wondering what next?  I think that after this journey is done, I will look for a place to create : paint, sculpt, draw, take photos, write. When I lived in Richmond BC I had that. I had this studio and I did many things. There are so many things I want to develop, clay, plaster, drawings on big boards, I want to work with good people on projects like the dragon books; creative, challenging, mind expanding .  I have skills, abilities, I wish to team up, I do best that way I think.

Speaking of dragons, I wanted to share the work I did on the second book`s cover.  It will not be the actual cover, the team decided to go for something more in line with the first book for continuity`s sake but I wanted to share that… I am getting to figure out dragons.

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Being here in France also made me realize that I have gradually closed myself off more and more, struggling. I don`t know how the finances will change, but they will (they have to!) After a magnificent start in Istanbul,  I slowly started to shut up, shut up my musical voice, shut up my social life, shut off from the noise and pollution and too harsh environment.  The political marasm affecting everyone’s spirits affected me too.  It is hard to resist the tide of a people overwhelmed by hardships.
You start internalizing this  helplessness and slow depression that stagnates in the air around you. Slowly but surely any idea besides survival seem impossible. Here, I am amazed at how vibrant the creative spririt is, no matter the age, the people make associations, events, create, build, of course it`s not all easy but there is normality in such things and that is not the case in Turkey.

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But here I am … talking all these words… I don`t know what will happen. The way life goes these days, in 24 hours life could be turned inside out, or upside down, and I am open for it. What I am doing now is plunging blindfolded into possibilities. Into currents that I know not of. Hopefully I will be malleable enough to let them take me to a new shiny coast of life and discovery.

Much love.

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Oh life.

March 2, 2018

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Wind, wind and more win, the ocean is crashing itself on the shores in a green fury, the island just remains passive under the assault, there is this feeling that all is shifting at all times, as the tides ebb and flow giving and taking, sometimes leaving an immense wall of brown mud between itself and the land, sometimes licking its coast brazenly.  My mind feels like the moon has gotten into it, affecting my own waters, I can only surrender.

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Snow, snow and snow, I was surprised by the white flurries dancing in that wind, it is also cold, cold, cold my nose hurts, my lungs protest, but my Québécois soul knows all this and rises to the surface to welcome the elements that are so much an intrinsic part of it, while my French friends are not so willing to be out to dance along with the snow flakes.

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My continental divides, my two sides of the Atlantic, my East – West conundrum, my male-female shifts, my fears and desires, all restimulated every day, every moment while I travel and disengage with my habits so it makes me feel and see more of the life that rushed on this earth at every micro second.  Not only I am traveling physically, I am traveling via the words of  Pierre Loti right now,  I read Ayizade, so I travel to Istanbul, 130 years ago through his pages, I also travel between present and past with my genetic ancestors and what they have become, Samuel de Champlain, he dreamed of La Nouvelle France, created it, le Roi Soleil, Louis XIV who had this fortress built here on Oleron. I am visiting the land of my direct ancestors, they all come from the coasts of France, those ancestors who abandoned us to the cruel English who in turn tried to assimilate us.  What a tapestry.  Words, shapes, colors, the threads, maybe I am Penelope, weaving in the day, unraveling it at night the work, keeping my freedom in the undoing of it all.  Keeping the shackles of a too well coordinated life dictated by culture off from my limbs and mind.  Turn off your TV.

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No matter where I am, what I do, it seems that I still, I remain the electron. Remember the electron from the motorcycle days?

At times I wonder what it is I should aim for, this question a perennial for me. I went to school then realized it was a joke so I left. I rode horses then realized it was indeed a strange thing to do to such animals so I stopped. I played music and then saw that there was so much ego and insecurity and just plain lack of music that I stopped. I married and thought I loved but realized it was in the end just the upholding of the idea of marriage, not love, so it ended. I tried to be spiritual then, as it seemed the only true aim but I realized that there is a tremendous amount of pride into “bettering oneself” and that the idea of bettering yourself is a basic denial of what you are and to go that road is basically asserting that “yourself” is not good enough. So I lived without anything more than food and a roof and a shower, I had love and then it seemed nothing else was needed. But life comes and makes love something that you have to let go, as new paths appear and there is no choice but to walk on, and after tearful goodbyes, walk we do.

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So

I glide, on the air, like the seagull, like the electron. It is something quite special to allow yourself to glide, to be into it, to let the wind rage and batter you as you feel how the its forces and currents connect with your feathers, your pinions. Each day could change, can change, is changing, will change. Like the tides, the clouds, the winds, the seasons.

 

Sometimes it seems that I should have a space to create things, but maybe a higher purpose yet is not to have to create anything to hold on to, like the Buddhist’s sand mandala, painstakingly made, grain by grain to be then blown back to formlessness. Maybe deaming of having a place to work is like trying to pin yourself down, to behave in an acceptable manner to your fellow humans, so to settle into one static place, isn’t it like a butterfly with a pin in the heart. It looks good but it ain’t really living.

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These vectors, connections, missions, the whole vibrational field of energies of all the beings and of the whole universe, this endless consciousness in which we course on our own trajectories, meeting, missing, colliding, paralleling and all the directional terms in existence and in usage, all of that which is life, that which we understand and that which we do not, oh what an incommensurate is-ness.

Oh life.

I feel gratefulness, for all of the beauty.  I know that I don’t know anything truly. I am just another expression, a pigment of paint on the whole canvas.  I am but a speck containing the whole of the Universe, nothing and everything.

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My wish to be able to hear, tune in, feel the truth, as I don’t thing the truth can be known as science likes to think it knows, It’s all much more fluid than that, much more feminine and curvy and mysterious. Magical. Mythical. Sensed and guessed, grazed and roused, intimated and whispered. None of the big machines, bulldozers, explosive charges that flatten beauty, life.

Oh life.

 

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Bon voyage

February 23, 2018

Woah.

I have traveled. A ferry, a bus, a plane, many cars, my feet. There I am. On the edge of the Atlantic. It is a bit unreal still. Not so long ago I was like a salmon in a spring run on the streets of Istanbul. Now I am stunned by the quietness of a small fishermen’s village. A village with much history though. Louis XIV was here, as well as the Germans during the world wars.

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I am on an Island called Oléron. L’Ile d’Oléron. It is close to La Rochelle and Rochefort. An interesting bit : Pierre Loti, the writer who spent so much time in Istanbul in the 19th Century, is from Rochefort. A strange thing to me. He went to Istanbul and came back here, I came here from Istanbul. I have seen where he lived near the Golden Horn. Now I am seeing where he came from and where he ultimately died.

France. Québec. Two more places linked together that are part of my very DNA. I am moved by words. Road signs. Masonry. I see invisible ties that originated here and link to the Nouveau Monde. There are words I have never seen, yet they touch something deeply rooted in my human experience. Is culture in the DNA? A sort of archeology of my genome.

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There is also a sort of reckoning. The French dumped us and abandoned us to the hands of the English 400 years ago and much pain came to my ancestors, our licence plate in Quebec says : Je me souviens. I remember… Yes I do remember. But today`s French people are not at all concerned with these long gone histories. A boat sunk yesterday and that occupied much of the talk in the cafe.

So, yeah. I left Istanbul on Sunday. Flew into Orly, met a French speaking Turk at the airport who helped me get on my way to the A10. I am hitchhiking. I am dirt poor. Those who say you must be rich to travel are lying. But you must put out more efforts and be willing to not know what is next. It is a zero expectation, 100% in the moment kind of thing. I like it.

The sun shines, spring is looming, there is a greening spreading, tiny blooms appearing, birds singing. I am alive.

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I made it to the freeway access ramp. I have a sign on which I wrote ‘Orléans’ that is the first big city on the way south. I took an A4 piece of paper and folded it, writing a different city on each segment. Orléans, Vierzon, Limoges. My destination is Limoges where I`ll meet a friend and stay a few nights. The first ride is with a young guy, we barely go 10 KM but at least I broke the bad spell I had 4 years ago when no one would pick us up in France… Then ride number two. Again, the driver says he`s not going far, but at least I am advancing I`m thinking. He stops in the middle of nowhere, then says to me :

« Ça te déranges si je me caresse pendant que je te regarde?

(do you mind if I caress myself while I look at you?)

– Oui. I answered as I took my bags

– T’es sûre?
(Are you sure?)

– Oui, absolument certaine.

I shut the door and shook my head. Really?? I had never been asked that question before. It seemed so stupid. His shy bespectacled face with the eyes slightly crossed. Young, maybe 25 at most. But the thing I then realized was that he dropped me off in the middle of nowhere. There was a ramp to the highway but the few cars were mostly heading north towards Paris not down this road south. I waited there with my ‘Orléans’ sign for maybe 20 minutes, I ate some of the hard-boiled eggs I had prepared, then understood that I would not get a ride like this. The sun was slightly edging down and it reminded me that I did not want to be on the highway in the dark. So I started to walk towards the highway, knowing full well that hitch-hiking on the speedways is not allowed in France.

I had been walking for about 10 minutes when I heard a horn behind me. I looked back. Cops. A big blue van with two cops in it. They first were a bit tough but I told them about the previous driver and they became immediately helpful.

“Vous avez une description de la voiture?  La marque? Le numéro d’imatriculation”

“Non.” 

So within moments I was in a French police van riding down the highway. They dropped me off at  a rest area for truckers next to a highway toll station. They lectured me for a while about the do`s and don`ts of hitchhiking in France, letting me know that by law,  I was not allowed to go on the road and between the toll booths but since it was really hard, they tolerated it if you thumbed next to the road. They then left.

I didn`t take very long for me to realize that this rest area was deserted. No one came here.  In 30 minutes 2 cars went by. I was torn, Can`t go on the road where all these hundreds of cars were passing by, but I could sit in this rest area for the rest of the month without a hint of a chance to get a ride. I walked up the area.  Then I walked down the area asking myself « what am I gonna do!! What am I gonna do!» Finally I approached the toll booths. There was no other option and I understood clearly why the cops brought it up, it was the only way out.   I looked. The cars would come so fast and just accelerate madly out. It seemed crazy, but at the same time, I had to make something happen, so from the outside of the lane, behind the cement wall, I stuck out my ‘Orléans’ sign.  Almost immediately, a car stopped. I could not believe it. I climbed the parapet then ran to the minivan. It was a family. A boy of about 6 or 7 was sleeping in his child seat, there was a big acoustic guitar case in the back and in the front, the parents. I got in and down the road we went.

“Are you musicians? I asked

“No, just amateurs. and we were on our way.

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I kept looking out. Not wanting to miss anything, but eventually I fell asleep. My 4 hour pre-flight night of sleep was catching up with me. We didn`t talk. I just relaxed. They told me they were going to do a small detour to leave me in a good spot for the next ride. A bit past Vierzon I got off. It was a gas station-restaurant road stop. I used the washroom and went out immediately. I walked close to the exit that was leading to the highway, ate a carrot and changed my sign which now read ‘Limoges’.

I barely finished my carrot that a car stopped, a young couple in a powerful car. We sped down the road, the guy telling me about music and culture in France. They too made a detour, taking me directly to the Gare Monjovis. I had made it and there was still daylight. I was beaming. I read somewhere, sometime back that ‘Happiness the overcoming of not unknowable obstacles toward a known goal.’ Today definitely was that.

When I had first tried to plan my journey it had been impossible to find a bus or a blabla car at reasonable price or time. I would have had to wait 4 hours at the bus station and arrive at 11 PM for 35 Euro. I only had to pay 2 euros for the bus to Gare Massy.

Wednesday was time to hit the road again. We had a last most excellent espresso at the ‘Fabrique du Café’ in Limoges then my friend and I said goodbyes and we headed both in opposite directions. Somehow I could never quite get my bearings in Limoges, the circular and diagonal system of roads left me baffled, especially without sun to give a a sort of compass. I went slowly, making sure I was on the right path. The idea was to reach the N 141 going West by way of Arman Dutreix road. My pack is not too heavy but the bag with my laptop is a real burden. Electronics are always heavy, but I figured out a way to wear it on my chest so I was wrapped with bags front and back which was actually an advantage because the wind was fierce and the temperature quite low compared to Istanbul. I walked about 3 KM, despite the cold, it was sunny and the silent walk was good. As I neared the autoroute, I pulled out my new sign : Angoulême.

It took maybe 15 minutes, a car with a young couple stopped, they were not going far but I figured this was good start. I got out of their car 10km further I had just put my pack back on my back when a car immediately stopped. A man in his 30`s wearing a suit and looking all business like took me in. Florian just came from a job interview, he had been up at 3 am to get from Bordeaux to Limoges. He said he aced the interview. There were two baguettes on the car`s dashboard, he told me all sorts of stories, we talked for the whole ride. Then off I went, somewhere just outside Angoulême. I put my ‘Saintes’ sign up, this guy stopped and said : this is not the way! As I looked up the road signs I realized that I had to get off this road via the next exit 800 meters further. So he said : Come in! I`ll take you there. So I hopped in the car with the bags still on my back, he dropped me off safely and I was down on a new road heading to Cognac. Wanting to be sure I was heading in the right direction I walked in a bakery close by. The woman was so kind as to call the local bus company to see if there were busses to Cognac. There was 1 but I would have to wait for an hour, so I figured I`d try to get a ride and if I was not successful in an hour I could always take the bus.

This time, Dominic picked me up. A middle aged, motorcycle rider who was now coming back from work and telling me that he was not going to do more today. He said he has been riding motorcycles for 30 years, owns a BMW 1200 and was now getting his new girlfriend used to ride. They are planning a ride to Portugal in the summer. He too made a detour to put me in a safe place, a big one at that, people are so kind to me! Then I immediately caught another ride with a musician this time. He ended up taking me 50 km out of his way (which meant 100 as he had to get back home later) And there I was. On the Ile d’Oléron. I was a bit tired but mostly elated. People are amazing.

In Oléron I will be doing an art project.  I found this project on Workaway.info a web site offering volunteering opportunities to travelers in exchange for room and board.  There are all sorts of projects, from baby sitting, language help, farm work, hostel work, meditation retreats… everything.  My project here is about creating a work inspired by the place.  Today was my first day to discover this place and my eyes are full.

Goodbye Ayvalik <3

December 9, 2017

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Ayavalik, you’ve been amazing. Yeah, I am leaving in two days. Mainly it’s a good thing, there is a tightening of the heart when I think that I will leave the sea, the trees, this clean, clean air and some amazing people.

Why you ask, the main reason is Love. One cannot live without.

At the same time, it feels like I’ve done what I had to do here. Again I had some expectations of what I was going to do, like making a bunch of sculptures but I didn’t. I have accomplished a lot of work on the translation of the Dragons of Nibiru, i am now editing my work. This place was perfect to do this, that’s kind of all I did… everyday at Yedi Cafe.

But lately, the little world I made here is kind of disappearing before my eyes: Yedi cafe (that was where I worked on the book everyday for 2 months, it had become kind of my office) well, it closed yesterday. The sculptures: I made one. Today I cured it, 20 minutes in the over at 130 C. Well I calcinated it. It NEVER ever happened in all my horse making. There was a cloud of toxic fumes coming out of the oven.. the thing just bubbled and turned almost black (should be white). All sorts of little things give me signals that time’s up here. At the house I also feel some tensions. At times being a stranger in a house creates weird tensions and this is happening now. Nothing noxious but I see and feel it and I believe my presence makes this worse. I experienced this before a few times; with a “best friend” among others where it just killed my friendship with this girl. There is a thing about adding a third wheel to a household where a couple lives. It seems to bring to light the imbalances that exist. If the couple is solid, no problem, if there are issues, things blow up. So getting out is OK.

Life is moving so fast these days. The only comfort seems to be in keeping with the motion, movements, velocity, a sort of surfing. But if you try to hold on to something, to slow things down, you’re in trouble. It creates massive anxiety as there is no control to be had on what happens. My heart is aligned with this, I feel I’m on course with the Universal forces, but my logical mind is at times short circuiting with the physical, material realities that are, where to live, how to survive, eat, and take care of the basics when you are on a speeding train?

Here are images from this paradise where the Gods dwell.