WHAT IT IS                                                 

Sitting on a lump of granite, Jackson was fascinated by what was staggering down the road. The creature had the general shape of a corgi with a face resembling that of a sheltie with a full and fluffy tail that a bulldog might envy. Her ears, stiff and pointed, were fur filled as was the rest of her body, a German shepherd pelt, thick and black with strategically embedded strands of tan to add confusion to the mix. Jackson watched as she occasionally stood on her hind legs, chipmunk style, and surveyed the surroundings as if looking for something specific.

This is some of her story; in an odd twist of fate, she was given the name Mister and she had travelled with a young couple from Yellowknife who decided on a whim to walk to the North Pole as a sort of protest against a planet on fire. Inexperience and impulsiveness caused them to  perish on day thirty-five; Mister was saved by search and rescue, flown to an animal shelter in Ontario where she was adopted by an egg farmer who unfortunately succumbed to salmonella. Having heard of the exploits of the translucent man, Mister hit the road in search of the translucent man to tell him what she seen the day the young couple died and to implore him to abandon his immense pursuits of grail. As sad as it was for Mister to think of the pain of obliteration, her trek revealed the carbon-soaked towel flapping in the wind of the revenge traveller, the conference cadet, the Arctic eco explorer and the ones whose behavior rest on a high enough plane that not even rocket mush or a stratospheric noxious brew would modify conduct, let alone imply something in their thinking was askew. The world didn’t need more witnesses or more clarification or more hope peddlers pleading the benefits of green economies and sustainable developments while trash talkers embraced dollorama squander then rolled their eyes at planetary capacities with the end game of technology liberating us from a technological tyranny, or at least a human tyranny twisted from technological threads. Mister’s resolve to predict and pronounce that showboat distress was a fool’s errand subsided when she looked at a mirror and saw not herself but a loveable Jackson looking back. A dog should not cart around human burdens, although they are gravely linked to these inevitable outcomes and Mister could not help but think her kind was on the deck of a sinking ship. In the instant Mister transformed from a messenger of doom into a dog’s dog, she wished for nothing more than dog sniffs, delicious treats, rambling walks and a world not so taken with its own bluster. It was near the Arctic circle, on an abandoned army base where Mister found a ghost orchid; the translucent man nodded…nothing surprised him anymore.


Graham never related to the word sleep, his rejuvenation was a mixture of a hypnotic image and a sensory nightmare that fixated in his head before swirling incessantly like a September hurricane ready to pummel unsuspecting townsfolk. He was one of those who thought the weakness of insight was the cloud cover that halted progress, that maimed the straight line to a fraternity where place was not a destination but a position to be earned, then cherished, then defended. Graham considered himself banished from the inner circles and gatekeepers as they rode a proactive agenda to self-actualization which excluded men like him – while using men like him. The Dirty Lifting was the rumination that inspected Graham’s insomnia, fortifying his belief that all men were born unequal and the propaganda from the other side was not only better, but better suited to the human condition. Dropped on this earth to serve a collection of options, he chose his with little care selecting a numbness neither hot or cold, neither inspired or tiresome. 

Looking out on Plot 82, Graham bristled at sight of four crop dusters, now twisted heaps of metal strewn across the fields, steam and smoke rising their flags of surrender. Walking ankle deep in dismembered mechanical insects and their biological foes, he confronted the numbness that brought him to this place…a destination that had no purpose and no defence. Radio voices crackled, INSECT agents reported, another full moon reveals, and the flight of the fight seemed primed to go on forever. Graham picked his poison years ago and the fruit of that decision was a tasteless bile that delivered him to a fence that he, or no, one could sit on. If it was the face of defeat he was now looking at, Graham would stare down the beast…if it was the face of renewal he was now looking at, Graham would alter the weakness of his insight.


blog photo 213 horseWHAT IT IS

They looked like two gladiators, huge men standing toe to toe fighting to the death. Mauls with an enormous pipe wrench and Jonsey with his five feet of industrial steel chain were caught up in a standoff from which there was no escape. The blows were lethal and merciless, and when it was all over, Mauls lay upside down in the ditch oozing blood and a contorted Jonsey swayed erratically toward his motorcycle to get his Glock.

Leo had left the small horse to watch over the 1,4 Dichloropropene and the horse would not let Mauls or Jonsey anywhere near it. In a rush, Jonsey decided a simple bullet to the horse’s head would solve their dilemma, but the horse loving Mauls was not about to let that happen.

Jonsey grasped the gun with both hands, his feet barely lifted off the gravel as he shuffled toward the animal. A mixture of sweat and blood blurred his vision and as soon as he wiped it away, it reappeared. It always reappeared, after the old man beat the shit out of him.  Time would pass until the next beating. It was not just the petty crime, the soaring highs, the crushing brawls or the loveless existence that kept him in a place of servitude where white trash was picked apart by the chatty class, the appointed intelligentsia, and the numerous elites that constantly proclaimed where such individuals belonged or did not belong. The Jonseys of the world were cut adrift from a fantasy of privilege, they couldn’t see their brothers lingering at the door of the fortune five hundreds let alone knocking on the door itself; an absurdity they might rise a beer to. At best they were ghosts, phantoms of what could have been and what will never become. With no reclamation in sight, this flight to the bottom would give the chatty class and their allies something to talk about, to discuss the proper order of who is where and how they got there.

Jonsey felt weak from his fight with Mauls, the gun seemed heavy and difficult to hold. He let it fall to his side before passing out in front of the horse.


The world is freaked out at the sight of sentient teddy bears. Peace, order and good government can be snarled up in the unconventional and the reality of such an existence becomes neither implied or stated even by those who know, and yes, some do know. It muddies the waters and untangles possibilities that we have no time for as we must ‘get on with our lives’, like that wouldn’t happen anyway. Beersey and Buttsey were keenly aware of this phenomenon as they peaked out of the trunk in a parking lot of a fast food restaurant in Truro, Nova Scotia. The INSECT agents were inside feasting,  and the cover of darkness was about to aid the teddy bear’s escape.

The two things Beersey and Buttsey needed most could be found in this central Nova Scotia town:  an agricultural college in possession of a horse formerly associated with a certain maintenance man, and a minimum security prison housing two women, Bella and Dizzy.

Valentine’s Day saw the loose rules at the prison eased up even more, with a festive atmosphere pervasive as friends and relatives roamed the grounds and special events took place all over the compound. The women of the prison loved this bash, and Dizzy and Bella were particularly struck by the horses from the college and the teddy bears from the local Walmart. During the hoopla, Buttsey telekinesed into the warden’s office, found the prison’s master key and placed it under the saddle of the horse. Bella and Dizzy were last seen riding west along the Salmon River clutching two teddy bears.


blog photo 212 flyWHAT IT IS

A Caribbean vacation was exactly what Sapphire and Cricket needed after the shoot out captured the killer of their parents. With the trial over and the man locked away, it was time to put the whole experience behind them.

Nevis possessed the tranquil lifestyle and laid back vibe they were looking for, so with suitcases packed and flights booked, Sapphire and Cricket soon found themselves walking along Pinney’s road, watching the soft waves push against the sandy shoreline. Bathed in the warm sun and sweet ocean breeze caused both to reflect on recent events and perhaps it was this susceptibility  that led the pair off the main road into a tiny cluster of brightly colored houses where children ran around at break-neck speed and adults lingered on the street side porches. One house in particular caught Sapphire’s eye with its deep marine blue wood shingles and brilliant yellow trim and its hand written sign in the front window….FORTUNES READ!

Aquena greeted the couple warmly, but instinctively knew it was Sapphire who believed in her gifts. Sapphire was ushered into a darkened back room and shown nine decks of cards, of which three had to be chosen. Three cards, one from each deck, must be selected and given to Aquena face down. She then left the room leaving Sapphire to complete her instructions.

It seemed like forever, but Aquena returned and held her hands over the three cards, explaining two cards were journey cards and the third and most important, was the destiny card. She turned them over slowly and with great purpose. The first a desolate, dry image; perhaps a desert. The second a bridge and the final card was an image of a pale, sickly man holding a child’s teddy bear in his arms, the teddy bear looking exactly like Ellie. The loud buzzing sound of a housefly and Aquena’s forceful voice urging Sapphire to heed the cards, caused her to stir from a thoughtful state and she walked slowly toward the front of the house where Cricket was waiting.


Adnan sank deep into the leather chair and although a tall man, it made him feel much smaller than he actually was. A businessman’s tactical advantage, he thought, as he waited for Slim to arrive, another tactical advantage…make them wait. The office was clean, quiet and professional, except for a small teddy bear perched on top of a file cabinet. Adnan believed it to be out of place with the rest of the office, but assumed it held a place of significance to Slim.

Inventorying the room for other oddities, Adnan noticed a housefly crawling around a window ledge and it immediately took him back to his boyhood in India. Before the visitors transformed into a human form, they looked eerily similar to this insect, large bulging eyes but with more hair and no wings… a look that took some getting use to. Most of them died off within weeks of their arrival, but Miles Hobbson did not, and he was the reason Adnan now sat in Slim’s office.

Hobbson was a Cringhig, a kind of maintenance man, aboard the ship from Mizar. Soon after the ship landed, the Mizarian who was selected to remain on earth was struck and killed by lightning and it was decided that a maintenance man could be spared for the return trip, thus Hobbson was left behind. He was given the J-Drive, a set of instructions and sent on his way. Unfortunately, the instructions were incinerated in his adoptive parent’s house fire on Nevis, and he was left with a device he knew almost nothing about. Adnan now waited for Slim with the intent of negotiating a fair price for the J-Drive.



Baines Wainscott had to see PLOT 82 for himself before venturing off to New Orleans to find Leo Barnard who seemed to have experienced the same fate as Mary Sampson. The Plot was a vibrant acreage of fruit trees, lush vegetation , natural springs and a chaotic insect and animal life. It stood out in sharp contrast from the surrounding area of bulldozed topsoil, mounds of boulders and what could only be described as a human garbage dump filled with mountains of garbage bags, discarded appliances, derelict cars and trucks and of course the ubiquitous piles of electronic waste.

Baines walked the perimeter of the Plot and when he attempted to go deeper inside, worker bees and hordes of other insects prevented his advances by hovering menacingly about his head. “It’s a portal to the land of one hundred women…they will not let you pass!” A blind man and a small horse turned and walked away.


Brown grabbed a young intern from the cafeteria and with her at the wheel, Brown climbed into the back seat of the car, set up his drone monitoring gear and began barking orders: turn left, turn right, follow the highway, down that dirt road…no not that one…that one…and so it went! Nerves began to fray after the first hour of these erratic orders and a nervous breakdown nearly occurred when the intern swerved to avoid a jogging porcupine and ended up sliding off the gravel road into the ditch. More than the porcupine, it was the teddy bear riding on its back that freaked out the young intern. Fortunately for Brown, the moths began their decent only a half a kilometer from his position, so he set out on foot to locate them.

When the moths landed on the rock, Brown floated the drone above them. A yellowjacket, bigger than most, attached himself to the drone’s camera lens, then another, then ten, then a hundred…and so it went. By the time Brown reached the rock, the weight from the massive swarm grounded the drone and the moths had vanished.


blogphoto159tree-mistWHAT IT IS

Samantha Gallant was one not to be trifled with and the Chaps would soon learn who they were up against as she kicked over the first motorcycle, then a second, then a third until the entire gang abandoned Margaret Brookside and took off to stop her destructive tirade. That was about the effect Samantha hoped for and as the gang closed in on her she jumped into Margaret’s car, sped directly toward the gangsters watching as the angry bikers dove away from the oncoming car. Screeching to a halt in a dust cloud, Margaret jumped into the passenger seat and the two women headed back to New Orleans.

Looking at one another while squeezed into a six foot wooden crate Samantha and Margaret simultaneously whispered -why-did-we-come-back-here? Perhaps it was Margaret’s naivete or Samantha’s unbridled tenacity, but the two women found themselves back at the dilapidated garage, where they first encountered the Chaps. The order went out to Mauls, a beast of a man and a loyal Chaps foot soldier, to check and secure the garage. Samantha peered through a knot hole in the crate as Mauls, a length of chain wrapped tightly around one hand and a three foot pipe wrench in the other, walked slowly in their direction. He rhythmically slammed the wrench into his chained palm sending a sharp, metallic sound echoing through the near empty building. As he closed in on them, Samantha could see headlights bleeding through the cracked, barn board siding of the garage and with the arrival of this vehicle, Mauls did an abrupt about face and joined the other Chaps outside.

Samantha knows the result of a broken knee when she sees it, and as a pilot she has seen plenty. She starred through the knot hole at two men each carrying five gallon pails of something very heavy in both hands. Their gait was crooked and wobbly, their arms unable to hold the pails high enough to keep them from randomly clipping the spongy wood floor. They were told to put the pails into the wooden crate and Samantha’s eyes pivoted from the knot hole to an ashen faced Margaret Brookside.

It is indeed strange how a few well chosen words can lift one’s spirits, can give a whole new meaning to some one’s life or can transform a simple moment in time into something so beautiful, so unexpected. This was the way Margaret and Samantha felt when they heard the words…not that crate, the other one!

A heavy mist overtook New Orleans and when the last Chap deserted the garage, Margaret and Samantha crawled out of their wooden prison. The crate next to them was the object of their interest and when they popped open the lid the four steel pails were nearly invisible, covered in every industrial hazardous label known to man:  the corrosive boney hand, the bright red fire decal, the radioactive nuclear insignia and of course the skull and crossbones. Samantha delicately removed an information sheet from a see through envelope, the contents were labelled as an experimental pesticide: 1,4 Dichloropropene-Not for Resale-Not for Import/Export-Not for Atmospheric Use-For Federal Experimental Use Only! Samantha thought of an INSECT agent she knew that might be able to help them figure out why a motorcycle gang would have such a chemical.


It had been foggy, misty and raining for the last three days, but that didn’t stop expert tracker and trapper Bulldog Snipes from his dusk to dawn search for Bill and Emma. He had been over the same area off Hwy 537 a number of times believing the frail couple could not have gotten very far. The fourth day broke as did the others, with low temperatures and a heavy mist, reminding Bulldog just how much arthritic pain he would endure that day. He walked across an old hay field now filled with pigweed, burdock and dandelions and entered a thick, dark jack pine plantation. The self pruning trees left a tangled mess of twisted and gnarled branches on the ground making his progress difficult. It was at the end of the plantation, along a small stream, that Bulldog found the bodies of Bill and Emma.

Every OPP officer has a favorite road to patrol, perhaps because of a good restaurant, perhaps because of the type of folks they tend to meet or just because of the scenery or the quality of the day’s journey. Jessica Potts’ favorite patrol was Hwy 537, a quiet secondary highway with lots of curves, slow traffic and tons of friendly people. On a foggy Friday morning, Jessica exited Hwy 17, turned south on 537 and was about fifteen kilometers down the road when she saw a black SUV down an embankment and half submerged in a stream.

After radioing for help, she inched her way down the steep embankment to offer assistance but there was no one in or around the vehicle. The plates revealed the SUV was a rental, one Floyd Smith had picked it up in a nearby city the previous day, leaving Jessica to wonder who was William Offley Jr. whose driver’s license she found on the driver’s side floor.


blog photo 48 roadWHAT IT IS

From her hospital bed Melena Schulz explained how events unfolded on that beautiful, sunny day in July. She received a phone call at her Ontario office from a former colleague she worked with nearly twenty-five years ago at the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests. The colleague insisted they meet the following day at a place called Willis Mountain, a few hours from her office.

Schulz was fast-driving her 2000 Mercedes Benz CLK-430 convertible when an undetermined number of hornets or wasps got inside the car and drove Schulz to such distraction that she left the road, flipped over six times and came to rest against a rock outcrop.


Sapphire and Cricket have an agreement that dictates they must get out on the backroads of their home province at least once a week during the short summer months. On one such trip to Willis Mountain, they came across a horrific car accident.

They immediately pulled over to lend assistance to an elderly man badly crushed into the driver’s seat. The man was delirious, falling in and out of consciousness.  At one point, he called Sapphire by the name Emma, and told her to destroy the Trichlorophenoxyacetic Acid. He then pointed a trembling index finger at Cricket, called him Bill, and ordered him to take Emma and fly away from here. He never regained consciousness and died before the ambulance arrived.

Cricket and Sapphire stayed at the accident scene for several hours. They both starred at the crumbled mini van, it’s rear bumper twisted and strewn twenty feet from the van, displaying a faded Nova Scotia flag, and the letters N.S.L.&F.D. Who was this man? How did he know their parents, Emma and Bill Bisson-Gallent.



                                                              WHAT IT IS
My brother has loudly declared on many occasions his distrust of soothsayers but his bias towards science has caused him no end of problems as well. When an old gentleman from Tomiko Lake said he knew of a green frog that placed pebbles in the shape of constellations, Cricket had to see this himself.

Our ride along Hwy 64 was uneventful and when we arrived at our destination, the hunt for the green frog was on in earnest.

Unfortunately, Cricket never found the frog.  Instead, he slipped on some wet rocks and was swept down this fast-moving creek.  I took this photo just as Cricket popped up from beneath the water.



As often as she can, Sapphire makes a pilgrimage to this waterfall to collect a few containers of water.  She uses this precious liquid to water a special rosebush given to her by a lady from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

Sapphire claims that the water gives the rose a most robust quality and it even allows the pollinators to travel great distances.  In fact, it is said, pollinators of this rose may have been seen as far away as the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver, British Columbia.



What is a fall collection and can you find yourself in a pile of it.

leaf collection 2.jpg


Sapphire informed Ellie that she was taking her to see a fall collection by Monsieur Lamouche.  Excited to attend a show displaying the latest in fashion, Ellie wore her fanciest hat.  The teddy bear managed to hide her disappointment when Sapphire showed her this leaf collection, one of many “fall” themed pieces at the art show.  The fly who had collected the leaves salvaged the day when he autographed Ellie’s program with the words, To the loveliest teddy bear.



Because Sapphire and Cricket travel a lot, Cricket often finds himself confused as to where he is when he wakes up.  He claims it is not his fault that he often gets up “on the wrong side of the bed”.  He might find himself up against the wall or pointed entirely in the wrong direction.  One morning he woke up and found himself in the middle of a pile of leaves on the front lawn of a motel in Beaver Falls.  He scrambled out just as the city truck, equipped with a supersized vacuum, came along and sucked the leaves away.


Camping alone is not the best idea.


blog photo 16 geavel pit.JPGWHAT IT IS

Cricket said his guide may have had mental health issues, he didn’t know. What he did know is that the guide just left him in the Gobi Desert to fend for himself.

Cricket had gone to the desert to photograph the wild onions that are used for food by the various creatures that inhabit the desert. Cricket used his SAT phone to contact his helicopter pilot and took this photo as they took off for Sainshand, Mongolia.



Cricket and I spend a lot of time together, but once a year on July 2nd, Cricket strikes out on his own for a couple days of solo camping in order to show off his independent streak.

He loads up the truck with all manner of camping equipment, camera gear and any supplies he thinks he may need. During one such outing, Cricket got a flat tire and because he left behind the jack, tire iron and spare tire in favour of “necessary gear”, he found himself in quite a pickle.

After scrambling up to the top of a gravel pit, he managed to get enough of a cell signal to call a tow truck. He took this photo as he waited for the truck to arrive.