IMG_0016Luka and I have been charged by deer just beyond our house four times this spring. Yesterdays confrontation came close to being as bad as the time she was assaulted by a deer a couple years ago. I’ll tell that story first. This is going to be a long tangential post.

IMG_0033I was still doing construction and had just gotten off work. I took Luka for a walk by the gully near our house. The evening was beautiful; the sun soft and setting behind the mountains. She was on leash and we’d just crested the rise above the gully beside the community gardens. I breathed in the cool air thinking how blissful this moment was when a young deer popped up the ridge just fifteen feet from us. I was taken by surprise and stared at it for a second then waved my hand and said ‘Git outta here’ but it didn’t move and it seriously looked like it was scowling at us. Then it charged. I was so shocked it blasted right past me and started pummeling my dog with it hooves. Luka fell backwards and slipped out of her collar. I screamed, swung her leash and whacked the deer across its back. Luka bolted down the hill and I hollered ‘Run!’ which was ridiculous; she was already running. The deer knocked her down again and was stomping her. A guy on the other side of the fence in the community garden yelled ‘Get some rocks!’ I looked down but there were no rocks at hand. Luka got up but stumbled again getting hit by the deer each time.

IMG_0032They were heading straight for the busy road. I shouted ‘Stop!’ and caught up to her. The deer dropped back down into the gully and the two of us ran the block back home. Both of us were shaking uncontrollably. I checked her quickly, she was bleeding from gashes on her legs. I called Darby at work to come home right away.

IMG_0020After I hung up the phone I dialed my brother’s girlfriend to warn her as she walks her dog in the same area. After I fumbled out the tale she cautiously asked ‘What time did this happen?’

‘Just now like 15 minutes ago!!’ There was a pause and a deep exhale. She said ‘I was just across the street on the clay banks with Meggie (her previous dog -r.i.p- was black like Luka but a bit smaller) and there was this small deer she took off on. I tried to stop her but they were so fast… she chased it across the street into the gully… where you guys were… I’m sorry I think this was instigated by us.’  I was still shaking but we started laughing. ‘The deer must have come up the rise and seen Luka and been like Fuck you mother fucker and attacked!’

I have to admit when the deer shot after her, in my shock the first thing that came to my mind was (and I’m not kidding) this is the zombie Apocalypse and the animals have turned. I thought that, with the setting sun, the world was about to burst into flames and rain blood. I say this in a totally atheistic non biblical way. I guess in the heat of the moment that’s where my head turns…I suppose that’s what being raised on horror movies does to a young mind.

Darby called the emergency vet line. The attendants on call have always been amazing. She told us to press on Luka’s gums and depending on how quickly the blood came back it would indicate internal bleeding. We checked over and over to be sure and it looked good. She was moving fine, didn’t yelp when we pressed her limbs and ribs, ate like she usually does with voracity so we felt it was safe to wait till the morning to take her to our vet for a check over. I don’t think I slept that night. In the end we were very lucky, she was bruised and gashed but otherwise fine. After this we heard many stories from people who lost their dog to a deer attack. Their hooves are razor sharp and usually rupture the dogs internal organs. Since then Luka has always ran the other way when she sees a deer and the deer are plentiful here.

IMG_0026I resumed walking in that area though cautiously. If I saw any we went the other way but this spring there have been instances where we’ve been stalked. Each time it has appeared from behind and even if we tried to get as much distance from it as possible, it’s chased us. One time I stupidly had my ipod on listening to Thor really loud. Luka tried to take off and I turned around to see a deer creeping up from the trees. We ran across the street. Fortunately the road was busy and it couldn’t cross but it trailed us from the other side for at least a block.

IMG_0036Yesterday afternoon we walked the neighborhood where there is a small bricked in power station. There is an old grove of trees I thought would be a nice shady place to let Luka sniff around. A deer emerged from the upper road and charged. We ran but it kept coming. I turned to face it and morphed into a god damn wolf mother; gnashing and snarling, making my self as menacing as possible while holding Luka tight by the leash behind me. It held its ground not ten feet from us and as we backed away from it, it did not relent. It didn’t want any business with me but every time Luka came more into it’s view it would lunge forward. I kept shrieking like a banshee hoping it would give up. I backed onto a rock twice the size of my fist, snatched it quickly and hurled it as hard as I could at its rib cage. The deer bolted up the small rise in the trees but when I threw the rock Luka also slipped out of her collar and the deer seeing us apart, charged again. I grabbed Luka by the scruff of her neck and we ran to the road and all the way home.

IMG_0039 (1)Our hearts were pounding. Luka panted and trembled then slept for five hours. She surfaced at sunset needing to go out again.

IMG_9626To be safe, this time we headed down the hill to the beach where the deer usually only go in the early morning. We ran into my friend Cole walking his black lab. He was wearing mardi gras beads saying they were to get him psyched up to go to his studio after the walk and work on some paintings. I told him what happened and was still so amped the words stumbled out of my mouth in such a mess I knew I needed to write it out. He laughed ‘Would the vegan kill the deer?’ I told him I kept thinking I was going to have to tackle it if it got her and then what would I do? Wrestle it? Punch it? As we approached the bridge over the creek I yelled ‘I blame NAFTA!’ Cole looked at me out of the corner of his eyes and let out a laugh that whistled through his missing front tooth.

IMG_0013I do blame the Free Trade Agreement because our valley use to have a strong apple growing, soft fruit industry but after NAFTA, Washington state which subsidizes their apple growers started dumping their fruit into our Province on mass. Even during apple season if you go into any of the supermarkets all the apples for sale have USA stickers on them. It reached the point that the growers here couldn’t afford to pick their own crops. We were over saturated with cheaper fruit from the states and because the local fruit was more expensive none of the markets would stock it. The orchard across from my parents house had a thousand trees and he had to let all of the fruit rot. I remember looking across the road and seeing the biggest stag of my life in that orchard feasting on apples. The governments response to the fruit growers distress was ‘There’s money in wine grapes.’ Thousands and thousands of trees were mulched and now we have rows upon rows of vines. With wine grapes being a fragile crop came deer fences. Previously the fruit growers left their orchards open and the deer had safe pathways to and from the lakes. Once all these fences sprung up the deer routes were displaced and herds started to settle in town closer to the water. Now there have been several generations born in town, surlier; more or less fearless. I’ll sometimes have five or more deer eating the Hawthorn tree in my yard.

IMG_0024A few years ago we were building what Cole called the most hideous structure he has ever had the embarrassment of putting a tool to and I called it the white albatross. It’s a wine manufacturing plant and was built over an old apple orchard just up the road from my parents house. Technically it was built on agricultural land reserve and should have stayed agricultural but the money behind it ranges in the billions so it was easy for them to just pay off who ever they needed to. That’s another reason I quit construction. The small company (of whom I love each and everyone of them) I worked for took on high end jobs. I kept witnessing the privileges of the rich and it made me sick and angry. All of the environmental rules could be broken at a cost. It is so ugly and even though we all thought it was ugly, at the end of the day we were pawns to it, our pay checks came and they came on time if we kept our opinions to ourselves and kept working.

I wondered for years why Cole was missing his front tooth but was always too shy to ask. Thankfully one day on a lunch break  he told the story. He and his girlfriend were driving down the coast and came across two women and a Volkswagen van needing a push start. They hoped out and gave a hand. Cole immediately noticed the amazing pair of cowboy boots one of the women was wearing. They pushed the van till the driver was able to turn over the engine and as they paused to celebrated, he said ‘Hey by the way you’ve got a great set of boo-‘ Wham! He woke on the ground lip split open, blood streaming from his mouth and his front tooth missing. She clocked him right in the face thinking he wasn’t saying boots. Years later he sold a few paintings that left him with enough money to get his tooth fixed but then it was busted out again in a rugby match and now as a single parent of two kids he just leaves it as is and whistles when he laughs.

IMG_0045A couple doors down grazing on landscaping shrubbery.

I’ll finish off this deer tangent with one of dad’s favorite stories about taking me to see Disney’s Bambi on a Sunday matinee. I don’t remember how old I was but I hadn’t quite coherently grasped language yet. I apparently talked a lot but it was a babble only my brother seemed to comprehend. The theater was full and dad said at the opening credits I stood up wide eyed and clutched the lip of the seat in front of me. Bambi kicks off pretty brutally with the mother being murdered by hunters. The terrifying orchestral music as Bambi’s mother screams ‘Run Bambi Run!!’ Then a C-R-A-C-K. Silence; save for crows and ravens cawing at the disturbance. Bambi emerges from the thicket quietly calling ‘Mother?’ Dad said the theater was muffled with sobs as parents, irate that Disney was forcing them to broach the subject of death in an animated feature, tried to avert this by consoling their children that everything was fine. But it wasn’t and from the back sixth row a single voice shrilled out ‘Some Bloody Hunter Just Shot Bambi’s Mother!!!!‘ The theater erupted like a volcano. He said parents were carrying hysterical children out in droves while he sat there laughing and clapping proudly that I had just put together my first linear sentence. I was completely unfazed by my out burst and transfixed by the dancing meadow and introduction of Thumper & Flower. The term ‘bloody’ comes from my Australian mother who to this day still says ‘Oh bloody hell’ on a regular basis.


IMG_9595Early morning in San Fransisco I was stumbling the streets looking for any semblance of coffee.

IMG_9388First night we were in line for rush seating when the door usher gave us free tickets in the fourth row. A regular patrons friends had cancelled. Not that I would dress any differently but in my torn up jean jacket, ripped stockings and wind battered hair I felt a little out of place in this $150 seat. Darby however became best friends with the elderly lady next to him who had forgotten her glasses and asked him to read the program to her. This might have been a ruse to flirt with him all night in front of her husband who didn’t say a word.

Shostakovitch’s Ninth symphony is wild. Written in 1945, it was anticipated he would write a piece glorifying Stalin and the Red Army’s success against the Nazis. Instead the Ninth was banned for being what the Russian government called childish, circus music. It is over the top and bombastic, completely comedic. Shostakovitch was said to be a lover of satire; it can be read as a big symphonic joke. The third movement was so fast and gypsy like, players in the string section started laughing as they kept up with the runaway pace. It’s surprising that Shostakovitch wasn’t executed. He was lucky having survived The Great Purge of 1937 but also spent everyday under creative oppression and fearing for his life. He continued to write music that some scholars claim contain coded anti-government messages within them.

IMG_9452Blue Bottle coffee. The difference between single origin espresso (top) and a espresso blend (bottom). I should have paid the buck more for a single origin instead of the blend,  it was so much better.

IMG_9453Darby was very sad the vegan donut stand was only open on weekends. It was Friday. We returned on Saturday. I was sad they haven’t developed a gluten free version.

IMG_9447Note to city dwellers that have conservatories close at hand: Recital concerts are usually, if not always, free! We caught several evening graduation recitals that were outstanding. This is often the case for theatre as well. The theatre school I graduated from has dirt cheap prices and usually program more progressive/transgressive work.

IMG_9454City Lights was cool, though I was more smitten by the selection at Green Apple Books, the extensive Semiotext(e) Press section in Dog Eared Books and the anarchist collective Bound Together where I found a used copy of my favorite vegan cookbook zine Please Don’t Feed the Bears but resisted buying a second copy of it and the sci-fi, horror bookstore Boarderlands where I pawed at rare editions I couldn’t afford. When I think of City Lights I remember we were sixteen and my friend Darren had just come back from a trip to San Fransisco. He was practically trembling as he showed me the poetry book Lawrence Ferlinghetti had signed for him.

IMG_9483 Musee Mecanique. I plugged quarters into all the guillotine games and there were many.

IMG_9458Climbing to a look out I was overcome by the smell of eucalyptus. Possibly my favorite scent ever, it immediately places me in Australia. I thought eucalyptus was only native to Australia and technically it is but it was planted in California during the 1850’s gold rush. They hoped to harvest it for lumber and oil but turned out the lumber from juvenile trees wasn’t as good as the established trees back home. Now it’s considered an invasive species and the groves are routinely culled. I gathered up gum nuts on the ground and filled my bag and pockets with them, wafting eucalyptus everywhere I went and rolling the seeds in my hands the rest of the trip. I also accidentally brought some back into Canada.

IMG_9528 (8)I grabbed this from the Haight Ashbury  whole foods a couple times, it was kind of greasy but still good. Made in Berkeley. I love taro root but the leaves I’d only tried once in Fiji and it was a total disaster. I’d ordered a taro leaf soup out of curiosity. I took one spoonful and my mouth & throat lit up like a thousand burning splinters. I thought I was having an allergic reaction -which I don’t have except for the rash I get when I eat gluten now. Water didn’t wash it away. I asked what was in the soup and told her about the sensation I was having. She furrowed her brow and rolled her eyes towards the kitchen. She said I’d be fine, that the irritation I was experiencing wasn’t anything to worry about. It happens when the leaves are too mature and/or not cooked properly. She took the soup away. I guess it has something to do with oxalic acid which you can boil or steam out.

IMG_9500Cellist master class graduate recital. I avoid taking pictures of the performers. It’s the same courtesy expected in theatre.

IMG_9515I don’t take a lot of ‘pictures’ when I travel but I do take a ton of pictures of books I want to remember to pick up when I get home. This one has actually been on a list I’d long since misplaced. I haven’t read Joan Aiken but often see her compared to two of my favorite writers: Shirley Jackson and Angela Carter.

IMG_9404I also rarely take pictures in museums but this glass piece and the incidental shadow play around it haunted me.

IMG_9514I stood long and contemplated what clothes I could leave behind to fit this in my carry on bag. The answer was none. I barely brought any clothes to begin with. I travel light in anticipation of buying zines and books but always groan about how much I’d bought as I lug my pack home through the airport or on the bus. I’ve wanted the Isten: Don’t Break the Ghost anthology for some time. It’s no joke at 804 pages. Svart Records distributes it out of Finland, they say it weighs 3 kilos. I’m still seeking a decent used price cause the shipping on this is a beast.

Heavy metal is not even a genre. Heavy metal is a realm.

IMG_9402We drank a lot of coffee. He enjoyed this siphon method. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between it and a pour over but I only had one sip.

IMG_9535I totally missed that Cronenberg put out a work of fiction in 2014 but I definitely want to read it.

IMG_9497Oakland artist Amy X Neuburg’s Hunger Strike with the SF chamber orchestra. This work explored Americas Industrial Prison Complex. It was also a free show.

IMG_9513Late brunch at Citizen Fox *. I was a bit stuck with few gluten free options and normally wouldn’t think to pick a bbq bowl but holy shit was I glad I did! Tempeh, house made bbq sauce, grits, green beans and brocolini. This was so good. Happy to see a new vegan restaurant packed and busy with a Sunday crowd, the people there were awesome too. We also went to Indochine and I had the best kimchi ever. Gracis Madre for tacos. Shizen twice cause all vegan Japanese and the iconic Greens. *I just discovered we basically caught Citizen Fox’s last Sunday in operation because of ongoing building permit trouble.

IMG_9579Last night on route to Taka Kigawa’s piano performance of the complete piano etudes of Gyorgy Ligeti, I had to pause and appreciate this Vaughan Bode inspired mural. We grew up on Bode’s subversive underground comics. As teenagers I horrified my brother when I came home with a skateboarding shirt that had co-opted an image from one of Bode’s comics. I thought it was cool cause it was referencing him but my brother was pissed at the appropriation. I cut the image off the shirt and sewed it on a bag.

Quick & busy. A burst of city life. We walked the distance of a marathon or more each day. That’s one of the reasons we can drink so much coffee and not feel too fucked up off of it. Though I always go through a detox period trying to rescue the last gasp of my adrenal glands from these trips. Next one for me, other than work related, probably won’t be till the HP Lovecraft Film Festival in the fall. I await with bated breath.

IMG_9273You haven’t changed. I’ve heard that twice so far this year. A couple months back a family friend from the island was visiting and handed me this thick manila folder. She said it contained my school projects from grade three. She had borrowed it from mom for inspiration programing her own grade three curriculum. She said I had to revisit it because –You haven’t changed. Flipping through it my brother and I laughed our asses off. I planned to share it on Instagram but felt some of the pictures needed longer commenting than I care to type on tiny iPod keys. Then I forgot about it.

The other day a beautiful silver haired woman was buying a few books. She looked up at me and asked ‘Lysette?’ I brightened, as anyone would when they hear their name and especially for me, when it’s pronounced correctly.

‘I thought it was you… you surely don’t remember me. It’s Ms. Xxxx. Your kindergarten teacher.’ Her face sparkled ‘My – You haven’t changed.

She asked what I had been doing all these years. I gave her a very condensed run on life sentence ‘I’m a stage manager for a rural outdoor theatre company but it’s not full time so I worked as a carpenter for six years between contracts but I am taking a break from that and helping out here with the family, for now… if I lived in the city I would likely do theatre full time but for right now, living here, it’s good.’

She left with her books and my parents, who were both in the shop in other rooms thought it was rather strange the five year old me is recognizable. I joked with a friend recently that I am often mistaken for being ten years younger – though I never know if that’s a compliment or an insult but to be recognized thirty years later seems like a stretch.

IMG_8686At this point our shop was split into two stores on different streets in town. One called Books ‘n Things and the other FTF Books. When we amalgamated into one space it simply became The Book Shop, though our business license is still FTF. It’s nice that I still feel this grateful for my family. The best part is the accompanying story about Jonathan (no idea who I was referring to) cutting his foot and acknowledging the day wasn’t going well.

IMG_8683 Truth. Life is nice and mean.

IMG_8670How do I even unpack this one but let’s just skip to K. I’m not sure if ‘killer’ was already slang in the 80’s for being something cool, or if I literally identified with violence but seeing as I chose V for violent… by grade three I was already  invested in anything macabre; monsters and horror movies. Singer is mysterious. I don’t sing. I dropped out of choir in theatre school as soon as it wasn’t mandatory. Weird and X-rated are probably still two of my favorite words. Interested (rather than interesting) and Terrific Trier are astute personal observations. Obedient is the biggest lie on this page.

IMG_8676‘Hates me’ I love that. Sad that at this age I was already aware of my otherness to my peers but I didn’t fit in with my so called friends.They were a bunch of prissy middle class assholes. The movie Heathers resonated with my elementary school experience more than high school. I love the lower left drawing of the doctor making a mistake that causes organs to fly out of the patients body. I think the picture above it is of dad (hahaha the comb over) with a big wooden spoon. My brother and I remember if we were being brats and dad got fed up with us, he would pick up a mixing spoon and chase us but never hit nor catch us. We would scream and run around the couch with a mixture of fear and exhilaration until we collapsed from exhaustion and would finally go to bed.

IMG_8672It’s cut off but the part at the top is about if I had an owl I wouldn’t get picked on. Aside from my shitty friends there was a pack of older boys that would follow me around at recess and tease me. In retrospect I think it was because they liked me but I thought it meant there was something terribly wrong with me. In my opinion introverts really suffer when attention is drawn to them. When it happens, I want the earth to open up and swallow me. I wonder if I meant ‘through’ (obviously misspelled ‘throw’) as in to toss a mouse into the air for the owl to eat, or regurgitate it? Could have been either, or.

Our dog Jack must have run off into the orchards. He would disappear for brief periods of time but always came back. Years later I watched him die of lung cancer when he was twelve likely from the pesticides sprayed in the orchards. Jack was one of the best. A huge blue heeler cross. He had the body of a wolf with heeler markings. He was probably crossed with a German shepherd.

IMG_8684 (19)Robotec. Amazing. When I read ‘I love Evil!!’ I was like – Uh, I guess? Then realized I was talking about the massive crush I had on Evil Ed; Brewster’s best friend in the horror movie Fright Night. The scene where the vampire (Chris Sarandon one of the suavest vampires in cinema) corners Evil Ed in the alley and tells him ‘They won’t pick on you anymore… I’ll see to that’ before turning him into a werewolf. I watched Fright Night over and over, identifying with that and thinking – Ed, I accept you and we could be best friends. I remember my infatuation, in part because he turns into a werewolf, it seems a bit much for a six year old but it was probably less romantic and more about friendship. Next best part ‘Lunch! Lunch!’ and that hockey games usually don’t air until the evening. The passage of time with which my sister would stay in bed. Living around orchards we always had barn cats, at least three at anytime coming and going. One was named ‘Pussy’ and no parent should ever let their kids call a cat ‘Pussy’. Ever.

IMG_8678Dad has always had very liberal views on censorship but did draw a line at us perusing the extensive nudie mag section in the bookshop. We did it anyway. Since the internet has decimated the adult magazine industry, our restricted section houses vintage mags and true smutty smut smut but mostly erotic art and photography books.

IMG_8680Alley. Flood. Ghastly blood.

IMG_8674 Being blind eyes closed.  My favorite part is the bleeding tree.

IMG_9272The assignment was to write a letter to a fairy tale character. Always sympathizing with the wolves, my letter was to the Big Bad Wolf wishing him luck on his future endeavors.

IMG_8689The cover of my koala report. I love his little arms. I did hold a very drugged out koala in Australia once. It’s claws and weight cut through my skin. I don’t think they let people do that now, or at least I hope they don’t sedate the koalas anymore.

IMG_8687And finally randomly on the back of a page in no relation to anything else. This was my brother’s favorite of the bunch. I am positive this guy if from an early 80’s movie but I can’t figure out what. I’m going to wake up in the middle of the night and holler a title into the air and when I do, I will do a single post on that name. There are so many more but I’m stopping here. It is somewhat comforting to look back and see I had a pretty clear idea of what I was into (and am still into) at such a young age. My blood family, dogs, books, horror, gore, wolves and companionship. My perception of the world as absurd was honing itself too.

IMG_9023My youngest sister is getting married this summer and I’ll be out of town on contract. The brutal thing about professional theatre is once that contract is signed you do not take time off. We produce a show in four weeks or less; there is no idle time and everyone is indispensable. But it’s my little sisters wedding! Without a car this summer and a really shitty bus schedule from a remote outpost I was trying to figure out how to get to her wedding and miss as little rehearsal (actually tech. Seriously Dana, this couldn’t be a worse day for me) as possible. The simplest thing to do would be to hitch hike. Dust off a thumb that has logged a lot of time on the road.

Growing up in this valley where I live there’s a town, however small, every 10 to 15 minutes by car. Before my friends and I could drive we got comfortable sticking out our thumbs and climbing into the back of orchardist trucks to go see bands or hang out in the park with kids from other towns. As my confidence grew I could hitch hike in 5 hours or less to the city and sleep on roof tops with new found friends and hitch home over the weekend.

I’d get picked up by other hitch hikers -road karma- or the occasional person that would confess to me it’s something they never do but were doing it cause I was a young woman. I could tell they at least got a thrill out of it. A lot of the time it was just old tradesmen on the road, bored and looking for conversation; occasionally curious about what else but maybe my naivety always saved me from further propositions… in reality just dumb luck.*


 I trusted my gut instinct to refuse rides. I’d try to find a way to be nice about not getting in the car making up a lie about where I was going. It often resulted in the guy spinning out and spewing gravel all over me while shouting profanities. I’d congratulate myself on clearly a good decision.

One time that didn’t happen. We were 15 years old, my friend and I were in a town about 40 minutes south of home. A car pulled over on the outskirts and she hopped in before I could access the ride. Two guys with huge grins asked if I was getting in. My guts screamed Pull Sara the fuck out of the car but I was tired, it was cold out and late. I got in. The driver kept smiling and saying ‘You like to party?’ Sara was in the front seat falling asleep, head bobbling and mumbling ‘Yeah… sure… I like to party.’  I was in the back seat panicking I have got to take control of this!

He started talking about getting drinks. I finally I spoke up ‘Our night is over. We just want to go home. No partying.’ The smiling stopped. I affirmed this several more times. He pulled over on the pitch dark highway and said ‘Get out.’ Headlights came up behind and blinded us as we climbed out. Two cars full of guys pulled up and that’s when I realized how grim of a situation we were in but gathered all of my will that this was not going to f-u-ck-ing happen.

There was confusion as the other guys thought we were just swapping cars. Sara and I started  yelling at them to leave us alone. They peeled out and a couple minutes later came back menacing at us. As if being left in the gloom we’d change our minds but we just screamed more. They scowled, called us bitches and drove off. We wailed into the black night; the stars and darkness.

I figured it would take us about four hours to walk home which was fine but what if they came back? We were walled in by mountains, barbwire fencing and ranch land. The road was the only route home.

A tow truck driver pulled over and offered us a ride. His face was kind. He was freaked out that we were walking the highway at midnight. We told him what happened. He had daughters on the cusp of being teenagers and asked us to promise we would never to hitch hike again.


This seems to be the only picture I have of us actually hitch hiking. After a brief stint living in the prairies in the late 90’s  Joslin (left), Amanda (right) and I  were getting the fuck out of there and heading home, across the boarder into the mountains. I think Amanda was singing a Misfits song to her bag of jujubes. We were picked up by two guys in a jeep. With no room for our bags, they piled them on top of me and Joslin in the back seat. Our bodies were so tightly wedged we had to hang our heads out the back, faces up to the stars, laughing hysterically how we couldn’t hear or feel anything. The wind tangling our hair together. Our legs fallen asleep.

I spent two & half months hitching around New Zealand. Everyone that picked me up was great. It was summer; people were laid back, curious and friendly. I headed to Australia to visit family for eight months. Australia is similar to the rest of Canada in that the cities are hours and hours apart with little else in between. I flew into Sydney to stay friends in Newtown. I figured I’d just hitch my way down to Melbourne and around Victoria. My friends in Sydney were aghast at my plan. This was shortly after the hitchhiker serial killer Ivan Milat had been convicted, who inspired the horror movie Wolf Creek. Friends and relatives alike said ‘We will buy you plane/train/bus tickets – no one hitch hikes anymore.’ I reluctantly conceded.

I landed back in BC where Highway 16; cruelly known as the Highway of Tears, started getting more press ** Then Robert Picton’s farm was exhumed. I hitched home that Christmas from the city through a snow storm on a desolate road. I was picked up by a trucker who half way through the five hour journey pulled a switch blade to my throat while he was driving. I stayed calm, partially due to shock but also because I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of inciting fear. It called his bluff. As fast and incomprehensibly as it had happened, he laughed and handed me the knife to look at. Switch blades are contraband in Canada. He thought it would impress me. He was fucked in the head but ended up being nonthreatening once the scales were balanced. The rest of the ride I did grip the door handle staring at the winter wasteland wondering when I would jump, yet acknowledging we hadn’t passed another vehicle in miles. It was a white out on top of the mountain. No one was on the road.

This was the last time I hitch hiked. I settled into a routine going back and forth from the rural theatre to the city then relocating in my home town because was closer to the theatre and had the bonus of the family bookshop for the off season. Although I immediately decided I wanted to do carpentry during the off season which required a reliable vehicle for getting to remote job sites at dawn. The privilege of my own car, catching rides with friends or grappling with the awful bus service has kept me from needing to hitch. Thinking through this wedding quandary I found myself nostalgic and convinced it would be the cleanest solution for getting to her wedding in time.


That is until I recently watched Joseph Ellison creepy 1980 slasher Don’t Go in the House where the Psycho like killer finds women in need of a lift and takes them back to his mother’s house under the guise ‘It will only take a minute won’t you come in?’ Watching this eerie flick alone, obliterated any romantic notions of the autonomous freedom I had of being on the road.

Don’t Go in the House affirmed if I can avoid it, there will be no more hitch hiking in my future.

*A further rant on my dumb luck ** Despite reasonable assumptions that there were/are several serial killers active over a forty year period along The Highway of Tears; the reason Highway 16 received prominent national press was because a Caucasian tree planter had disappeared. I cannot ignore the likelihood that my, for the most part nonthreatening, experiences hitchhiking had a lot to do with the fact that I am blond and white. I have to acknowledge there was more than ‘my dumb luck’ at play that I can sit here and reminisce my hitch hiking days.

IMG_8924IMG_8923An older gentleman asked me if we had literature in French. I said, we do but it’s in the very back of the store, follow me and I’ll show you where. It’s a bit embarrassing taking someone back there as they invariably laugh ‘You weren’t kidding, it is the very back of the store!’

He was looking for Francoise Sagan’s: Bonjour Tristesse. I apologized that the books were vaguely in order. As he looked on one shelf I stooped down and started digging through the first box; lacking confidence that we would find it. I picked a pile of books off the second box and my eyes focused on the purple & white lettering. I chirped, grasping the book ‘I found it!’ I handed it to him and he immediately turned to the Paul Eluard poem at the beginning of the novel and read it aloud.

IMG_8851I stood transfixed. My French is poor but the way the words softly spilled from his lips I understood why the cliche of young women falling in love with older Parisian men exists. He wasn’t reading for me. He needed to hear the words for himself and when he was done he quietly sighed ‘Perfect.’

He expressed how grateful he was I’d found it for him. We lamented the closing of bookstores of late and the loss of a great shop in the city that use to specialize in languages other than English. Personally, I would visit it for their excellent graphic novel section. He stopped to share the prize with his wife. I surreptitiously took this picture before they bought it and left.


Farewell Sadness
Hello Sadness
You are inscribed in the lines on the ceiling
You are inscribed in the eyes that I love
You are not poverty absolutely
Since the poorest of lips denounce you
Ah with a smile

Bonjour Tristesse
Love of kind bodies
Power of love
From which kindness rises
Like a bodiless monster
Unattached head
Sadness beautiful face

-Paul Éluard