The Treasure that is Mimi

Yesterday, it came ‘home’ to me again.

Mimi is not only a marvellous partner, she also has a real gift in guiding children.

We were looking after our son, Sander, and daughter in law,Frederieke,’s children, Isabella, Vienna and Elena.

They are 4, 2 years old and little Elena is 9 months.

Mimi brings all kinds of fun things with her and soon it is a real party for the children.

AS soon as Mimi, Oma, comes in the children are intriged.

They are happy and know what to expect.

About two weeks ago Isabella was decorating our Christmas tree and she was ‘doing’ a scrabble game at the same time. she had 14 letters and told Mimi:’Oma, soon I’ll be a teenager when I am 14′.

Oma said “what will you do then?’, Isabella answered “I’ll be a tooth fairy.I’ll go to people’s homes and get their teeth…..Here Isabella paused and gave it some reflection, it dawned to her that collecting people’s teeth is a “yakkee” job …

Weii Oma,she said, I’ll be a regular fairy and i just fly around.

It’s a real honour to be grand parents. Elena is all smiles when she sees us.

Than there are more grand children like Keegan who is fabulous in soccer and guitar playing (classical guitar)

His french is tops. His sister Sanne plays the violin and is a good sport in keeping her little brothers Tearyn and Ayvin motivated.

And then there is baby Juniper who already likes hockey games.

st. Alphonse

The wide open landscape of the prairies inspires the soul. My uncle was a priest in St. Alphonse, Manitoba, for more than 40 years. The one time he came to  The Netherlands, where I lived at the time, I saw a man with a wide open vision. He told me of the ‘howling’ wolves around St. Alphonse. He brought with him the camaraderie and close companionship that people have in small prairie towns. He displayed that real Canadian outlook.  To me that was ‘the spark’ towards emigration to Canada. As a boy I listened to the vivid  experiences my parents spoke of  what it meant to have no food during the winter of 1944 in The Netherlands. My mother went, just to get a loaf of bread, on her bicycle without tires from Utrecht to Zwolle and when she had the loaf, it was confiscated by the Nazi’s. I strongly felt the desire to be there where the food comes from. One can not eat office space! In Utrecht I was surrounded by offices that dealt with activities  overseas…… Gerrit happened to live close by the Canadian Embassy ( see under ‘Life as it happens’ ).I received a letter from the embassy stating I was admitted into Canada. I had received a visa for life!I told Mimi that my emigration to Canada was now a fact! She was fine with it. (see earlier in the story ). Through the horticultural school there was a connection with a young farmers and horticultural students program to assist you with work overseas. One selects the area where you want to work and they match you with an employer. This arrangement would be valid for one year.I applied there and soon there was a connection with V. nursery in Pitt Meadows BC. For a ‘whopping’ $1.25 per hr I started applying pesticides on their extensive stock. I was working in the field with immigrants from India who spoke Punjabi. The management spoke Dutch/English. Often we were working together to pull sawdust trucks out of the mud. Sawdust was used as a base and on top of the level raked sawdust we placed all the potted plants. I met Neil and we got along just fine! His parents were looking for boarder who was willing to pay $150.- per month. for full room & board. I ended up living with his family and was able to earn extra through helping with haying in the evening.
Pitt Meadows means: fields full of peat, Hunfeld means: Hun=peat &; feld=field…I had come ‘full circle’. My grand father had emigrated to The Netherlands from his dad’s farm in Heede, Germany, in 1892. Their farm was part of an area of peat bogs called the ”Bourtanger veen'(peat bog of Bourtange). Soon I noticed a large white Chevrolet with a blue roof top ‘circling’ the nursery. This went on for a couple of weeks. I thought let’s go and see who that is. The driver noticed that I started walking towards him, so he stopped the car, got out and introduced himself to me. His name was case and he offered me 6 x the wage i earned now. My job would be landscaping, he left his card with me.
I quit v nursery and they started to contact the Dutch Consul in Vancouver. According to them, I had broken a contract, I thought, what contract? I got a letter from the Dutch Consul, she wrote that I had made a spectacle of the Dutch young farmer’s program and truly they would not be interested to help other young farmers. They revoked the 1 year visa I apparently had with them. I promptly wrote the Consul back about the fact that I had received from the Canadians a visa for life and I was given an opportunity to improve my condition, wouldn’t you?
The Irish saying proved to be true: ‘Never work for your own country man! My first job with Case was to repair his ceiling in his office… (see earlier in the story..) In 1997 Mimi and I decided to take Elza & Twila to visit Uncle Sander in St. Alphonse. Since the trip would involve a drive there and back (about 5500 km), I had Bill rebuilt the engine of our Plymouth Voyager to ensure a good trip. We were off. We were camping along the way. When we came close to St.Alphonse, we saw an older man standing by the road side. The man was in deep thoughts…I felt that we were having to slow down our life to adjust to the much slower pace of his life. The man pointed to some cloud formation saying:”It was the same formation of clouds when my wife died”. I respected his pace and ‘slowed down’ in my thinking. He pointed to the left and we were on the way again! It was a welcoming sight to see my uncle again. We were treated like royals, especially by his adopted family Renee & Elsie. Their farm is on a river’s edge, a very picturesque sight, but recently subject to flooding. Their son, Marc, had been a great companion for my uncle. He often honed his skill by playing chess and placing large medieval ships in a bottle.On the prairies I learned the meaning of Simon & Carfunkel’s song: Listen to the sounds of silence”.Sitting behind my uncle’s church overlooking the fields surely was a marvelous sight. Two years later, Elsie phoned, and told me that my uncle had passed. I flew to Winnipeg and was picked up from the airport by Renee’s cousin. My uncle’s body was on display in an open coffin.
The out pouring of love was overwhelming.
At his funeral the church was packed, where did all these people come from, considering miles & miles of grain fields..
On my uncles night stand was a book: This noble land by James Mitchener open on page 42….

Moose hunting in Canada (BC) 2

Frank and I went close to km 47, traveled up a side hill and walked up the road with riffles ‘on the ready’. Frank tells me to walk like a moose. I needed to go pee but I worried that I could give away my scent, but when the wind was in my face and Frank was not watching ,I quickly answered my call of nature anyway. The wind had just turned in my favor! The art of hunting gives a person an interesting sense of focus. Your mind becomes a ‘pencil point’, sharply looking out for the one thing: The illustrious bull moose and not just that: He has to have three points on his rack and ideally posing for you to enable you to count the three points on his rack, than standing still to give you time to aim your riffle and than finally giving you the chance to fire away. And what a beauty: a freezer full of organically grown meat. I wished Mimi and children were here to enjoy this ‘timeless’ scenery. The water of the Sakunka River is crystal clear, reminding me of the Cowichan River on Vancouver Island. The Sakunka River is full of trout fish. When we came back to our camp site from the morning hunt, Diana shared that she saw a cow elk, a mule deer, a buck, a doe and…fresh moose tracks. The three of us sleep in the Ford ‘cap’ camper. Frank and I sleep over a rear wheel each and Laird sleeps across parallel to the drivers cap. The entrance is a climb over the tail gate while holding up the window ‘flap’ above the tail gate.At three am I needed to pee, to get out would surely wake up every one, so I decided to hold it up but towards four am things were getting quite ‘dicey’. Luckily Frank started to really snore, a sound of sawing fir logs, so under this cover noise I decided to make a dash outside but just as I pushed open the window flap Frank stopped ‘sawing logs’ and asked me where are you going? (later I learned that his concern was well grounded since we were in Grizzly territory). When I came back the ‘sawing’ of ‘logs’ continued! You see even at night the hunters are on the alert!
Frank is preserving the bear hide by putting more salt on it. The ‘fine tuning’ consists out of cutting little sections of fat away and anything that might spoil the hide, such as cartilage, extra salt gets added to those areas. The meat gets hung up on a line tied between two trees. Nature covers the meat with a ‘preserving coating’ once the hide is removed. All you have to do is cover the meat with a cheese cloth and a tarp over that, to keep the rain and dew out. At the moment there is a fairly strong wind blowing. Tonight’s hunt proved the art of complete hunting: one and a half hours of totally standing still,being quiet’, listening, smelling and watching for the bull moose to arrive…..I had learned to totally standing still for such a long time in the Catholic church, standing in a choir through three night masses! The only difference was that we had to sing than while right now it is absolute silence!
The wood-stove in the tent works wonderful, just like at home, we burn chicken bones and all other debris for total clean up to not at-track Grizzly bears.Diana and Jon baked me a birthday cake fresh from the wood-stove. I had the cooking challenge Mimi often faces : everybody, but Diana, told me not to to cook porridge tomorrow morning, as they wanted to go on an early hunt. The next morning early on I felt I should cook porridge any way….by 5 am I had a steaming pot of porridge and everyone ‘dived’ for it. I barely had enough just like what Mimi faces: She’ll cook for us 4 and the oldest children ‘show up unannounced…there is always enough though. At around 7 I saw a white tail deer looking straight at me. Harvesting meat is a tricky job,one does never know what the harvest is gonna look like. I surely gained more respect for the meat we eat. Harvesting meat is much more complicated than harvesting carrots! Jon is making a delicious prawn dish with York steak, cream corn and mashed potatoes with pepper corn sauce. For 3 days the steaks were marinated in a wine garlic spice mix sauce.. So much for roughing it in the wild! Diana marked an elk fleece that poachers had left as we discovered later. The bear carcass was gone completely. September 29: Great care is needed to preserve the bear meat, there are big black flies that stick their depositories through the cheese cloth and they deposit little white eggs on the meat which if not removed develop into maggots. So we remove the little white eggs and put on an extra layer of cheese cloth around the meat. I got up at 5.15 am, started the wood stove and cooked porridge for every one. Around 7 am Frank and I parked the explorer on a side road and hiked up the mountain, I waded through the creek while Frank balanced himself to cross the same creek on a fallen log. We continued hiking up towards a valley where we would ‘park’ ourselves until 7 pm. from this vantage point we could oversee several sections where moose like to hang out. Our silent patience was rewarded: at around 10 o’clock we saw a cow moose up to 25 feet away. It displayed it’s healthy shiny fir and looked at me with it’s big brown eyes and walked on ever so silently. This encouraged us to wait for the bull moose to appear…We also saw a large white tail deer buck and I spotted a black bear who seemingly went for a walk. In the evening Laird told us why it is so hard to find moose: In winter their is a thick layer of snow reaching to the belly of the moose, so it has to ‘plough’ through the snow, leaving a large track, at the end of that track one would find a tired moose, a perfect prey for the enormous amounts of wolves that plague the area this year! Wolves are much lighter than moose and simply walk on top of the snow following the track and in the end find the tired moose.
The over protected wolves have caused a Hugh imbalance at the cost of the recently still healthy amounts of moose in this area. During the day, the clouds kept on rolling in and when we were all in the tent tonight the rain started to come down. Frank checked the bear meet and rearranged the tarp above it just in time! My task was mostly to hold up the light, chop kindling and start up the wood stove. Jon is making biscuits for all of us in the ingenious stove bought at a Mennonite sale for $2.-. Today I found half a moose rack with 2 points laying besides the stump I was standing on, contemplating what a complete rack exactly would look like. Our tent looks like a picture of early Canadian living, (except for the 8 freezer boxes) with Frank as the clan elder stirring in the cook pot.
To be able to attract a bull moose we must behave like a moos, think like a moose and move like a moose. Seen in the light a fore mentioned it seemed perfectly normal to walk behind Frank , stooped down and at Frank’s suggestion putting my hand on his shoulder. In this way we walked through the bush carefully avoiding Frank’s heels. After a while I improved on ‘the works’ by laying a ‘stick connection ‘ on Frank’s shoulders so avoiding Frank’s heels all together! We now looked like a ‘long extended moose! Here follows a list of the most important hunting remarks: Is it fresh? Does it move?( some times one is looking at a black burned stump, thinking it’s a black bear) Does it have three sticks on it’s rack? Which km? My chamber is full, is yours? I’ll put my clip on.The safety is on, ready to go. Some of my personal terms: Silent presence; marking my territory and I can smell ‘m. Poop in all it’s shapes plays a major role here.
A tricky thing for hunters is caused by logging clean ups. During the winter months, just before the planting of the new forest, all stumps and left over branches are burned. It leaves the hunter with a puzzle:Is this a black stump or is it a black bear, sniffing the air? (see under: Does it move?). I often saw one through my binoculars and told Frank twice: “I see a black bear”, until I didn’t dare to mention a questionable bear sighting for fear it would be seen as another “cry wolf” type thing when I really see a bear!
Also the rack of a moose looks like a sun bleached upside down stump. It takes a discerning eye to figure out reel from unreal. The beauty of government planning unfolded in front of us today!
We stopped to talk to two BC park rangers we met here with their pickup truck and a large trailer loaded with two quads. I asked them: “where is the park?” On the hood of their truck they unfolded a map which showed there was no access to this park. Highway 97 runs along a steep rock cliff where no entrance to the park is possible. Some bureaucrat ‘plunked’ a park in the middle of nowhere! Remember how Frank snores while sleeping? Last night Laird found out what to do to solve the snoring bit: Simply move the feet around a bit and you will have a peaceful sleep! In tonight’s hunt we went to the foothills of km 20. As I was looking through my binoculars I heard something, so I looked behind me and there was a bull moose. He was just as startled to see me as I was startled to see him. He slowly walked across the hill side and disappeared in the fir clusters. My first thought was ‘Frank’. So I quietly walked up to him but we humans are noisy. The moose was quiet, almost as if an invisible hand had put him there.
Beavers had built a large dam here which resulted in the appearance of a large lake here..
Last night we had a tremendous thunder storm accompanied with strong winds. The truck was shaking and it felt like it was going to lift. The tent was open and looked like a balloon. The kitchen stove and tent became soaking wet and the stove pipes were undone…. After the storm the resulting silence was incredible! I was grateful to be up at 5 am to see a fay-nominal sight in the sky. Words cannot describe it ; There I saw the unfolding of a green ‘curtain’ ‘sweeping’ through the sky, making more light than a full moon. I had heard about this but had never seen it until now.They slowly started fading and I managed to get a fire going after I put the stove together just in time to cook a large pot of porridge. Finally everyone came ‘around’. They had missed the Northern lights!
The area is full of blue spruce and looks like it’s landscaped. I found wild Erigeron, blooming in purple splendor. These hills and mountains are filled with birds & beasts like: elk, moose, whitetail deer,black bear, grizzly bear,mule deer,porcupine, chickadees, bush robins, coyotes, lynx, squirrels, mink, wolverines, caribou, mice, grouse, pine martin, chipmunks, rabbits, ducks, wolves, ravens, eagles, magpie, Canada and stellar jay and many more..The rivers are filled with trout and other fish.
This morning’s hunt found us on guard for the bull moose in partly rain mixed with snow at km 49. At 11 am we cleaned up and ‘packed up’ camp with strong winds coming at us. We’re planning to sleep in the truck in Prince George. Like Gypsies we’re rolling into the outskirts of town… I’m writing this as we drive home along a gorgeous highway from Chetwynd along Mc Leods lake.

Moose hunting in Canada (BC)

On September 22nd. 2000 we loaded Frank’s explorer in the morning and drove to Cache Creek, where we met with Laird, frank’s brother. After lunch we drove to Quesnel than via Prince George to Chetwynd where we arrived at 12 midnight. I rode with Laird and we talked about what I called the “silent conviction” of Europeans when we put the the BC logging practice into perspective, especially when Laird, while visiting his daughter in Spain, observed the total clear cutting practice in the Pyrenees. We arrived in Quesnel where we had dinner at Denny’s, from there onward to Prince George, where Laird bought another radio phone to connect with Frank in the third vehicle which we decided to take when we left Cache Creek. We ended up parking for the night along highway 29 to Tumbler Ridge. We heard a lot of tanker trucks – for a so called ‘dying’ town- of and on during the night hours. Later we discovered that the entire highway was newly paved! When we had breakfast in Chetwynd we learned that water had to be hauled from Tumbler Ridge to Chetwynd in connection with the oil spill in the Pine river near there. We set up our camp at the Sakunka river at the corner of Mt. Palsson and Mt. Merrick. The three of us slept in the back of Laird’s truck. We fell some dead trees and chopped fire wood for the week following; we set up the ‘shower’ and an out house. We observed fresh moose tracks, coming from a bull and we prepared for the afternoon hunt. Frank & Laird’s wood stove which we set up in a large army tent is very ingenious and I could put my wood burning expertise to good use, even though the wood was a bit damp.
We enjoyed an evening meal fit for a king! While looking at the night sky I marveled at the amount of visible stars on the firmament. There is no light pollution here in stark contrast with Vancouver & The Netherlands where the sky is always ‘orange like.It’s a little harder for girls/women to be here in the wild but Diana is a real gem in the woods. Our hunting party consists of Frank, his son Jon and his wife Diana, Laird and me. Sunday morning I shot my first grouse, Frank shot two and Jon one. After we all team up, the cleaning of the grouse is somewhat of a chore and there is not much meat on them. I aimed for the head to help him out quickly but hit his foot it took two shots with a .22. Later Frank and I went up a side hill leading to an abandoned “wood-s kidder” road where I recognized the in-famous bear smell and sure enough it lead us to a black bear. In my binoculars he was very close by. He licked his nose to enable him to smell better and since the wind blew from us to him, he must have picked up our scent.Yet he still walked to wards us. Frank noticed a typical bear ‘marchioness’ in which he showed he was the king and we his subjects. We sat down by the dusty road side and after a while the bear decided to wander off.Frank has a bear tag on his hunting licence and could have ‘taken’ him, but on the logging road it would have been a risk even though the road was very quiet. This morning I cooked porridge with dry oats and water for every one and all were happy! Away we go to wherever the wild life leads us based on their fresh foot prints. This lunch I heated up soup and every one liked Mimi’s lemon moray n pie. Then we left for the next hunt. The whole day we could smell ‘bear’ around the sites we visited.As Frank and I set out to walk on a ‘deactivated’ side road the smell became very strong. We noticed foot prints of cubs and real big ones. The main thought was: Grizzly! so it was good we carried a loaded riffle for shear self defense. Frank did a few ‘voice activated’ moose calls, which in my opinion sounded better than the ‘plastic’ sounding whistle calls. We slowly and ever so quietly made our way back to the truck and went out to check out one more side road. at km 13 we met Jon and Diana as they were driving out they radio’d ‘bear’ on the road! Frank missed his first shot. The bear ran unharmed but came back and continued eating. The next shot the bear ‘dropped’. We marked the spot, went back to the camp to pick up the trailer and brought he bear back. It was getting dark. Our camp is easy to find, it ‘sits’ exactly at the spot where the Sakunka River flows into The Burnt River.
The evening brought us moose lasagna made by Laird’s wife Ruth. Delicious. Bush life gets better and better.
I’m curious how we’re gonna ‘tackle’ the bear. For the night he will lay under a tarp on the trailer.
I cannot help but think it might be a blood bath…..we’ll see tomorrow. The next morning Frank went with a sharp knife to separate the velvet black coat from the body of the bear. The blood shown was neglect-able and it transferred me 300 years back when the Inuit did virtually the same thing! Nothing is wasted, what we do not eat is left and one should see the ravens and wolves coming for this meal! Frank built a shower and it surprised me how little water one needs to clean up! Out of an eighteen point seven liter bucket with a shower head attached one can take 5 showers! People can learn from that in regards to the ever increasing need for fresh clean water. When I look at the ‘bear coat’ and the section where his head was, one can easily see how the Inuits made warm coats with very little sewing to be done. It requires skill full ‘coat separation’ even I could give some advice not to damage or smudge up the ‘coat’. Than Frank separated the the bear’s head from the ‘coat’ showing me it was a bear of ‘little brain’. It is not hard to believe in our creator when one takes a bear apart. The design is masterful, the way the skin folds around the eyes to make it water proof! All is meticulously designed to do the job and do it well for a bear. There is a sense of ‘timelessness’ that we in urban life so desperately need! Later we go for our evening hunt. Around 7.30 pm we had a response to Frank’s moose call. Than Diana spots a large Elk. The next day, September 26, we looked at the remains of the bear’s insides. The magpies had started to clean the rib cage methodically and had not touched the middle and back section. To be continued–

The birth of our five children

It was November 21 1977  around 8 o’clock in the evening. I had come home from the logging camp earlier that day and was  thankful to be home. I noticed on Mimi an intense, focused look in her eyes, so we decided to go to the Maple Ridge Hospital. Our doctor, a former car mechanic who once compared the blood in our bodies with the oil in an engine, was not there but a nurse was.

The following night was a rough night for both of us especially for Mimi.On regular intervals the nurse would come and the first time she came, she measured the birth canal entrance which worked out to be two and a half cm dilated. By around 8.30 am the next morning, our doctor came, accompanied by two students and he summoned Mimi to push. At one given moment he exclaimed: “You’re not gonna quit on me now, come on push”. poor Mimi, who had a whole night of labor behind her back, did not deserve this kind of rough treatment.  Never the less I saw the top of the little baby’s head ‘crowning’ and a few pushes later at 9.05 am November 22 1977 our oldest was born. The sun was shining in and it had snowed. The logging camp was closed down for the winter, so I could stay home and be with Mimi and baby. So I did not want to leave, but after the tagging of Mimi and baby with Mimi’s name on both tags, the nurse told me I had to go….. I could come back with visiting hours. Once home I phoned our parents and siblings and told them about the birth! I went to Kmart and bought all that a baby and it’s Mom would need. A t the grocery store I bought fruit and cheese with crackers and returned quickly to Mimi & baby. Mimi & I felt very rich. Also we felt it was a special privilege to be able to name our baby.We settled on the name of Femke Rudolphina Catharina after both Grand mothers. The name Femke means: A woman well spoken of with good speech in her mouth.I managed to stay the whole day in the hospital with Mimi & Femke. The next day we decided to go home and be at our ‘nest’, where we now 37 years later still live. On September 13 1979 at 7.30 am Mimi was already ‘doing’ laundry and had Femke dressed already. I lit the wood stove and soon the house was cozy and warm. Mimi once and a while experienced contractions, which we thought were ‘braxten hick'( test) contractions but we both felt I could do my work today. I went and felt like hurrying up, so I rumbled over 1st Avenue in Mission and was ‘flagged down’ by a RCMP officer. She told me that I was travelling 110 km per hour. I told her that my wife had contractions, that she was dilating and all the things associated with imminent birthing.She looked at me and showed empathy. She gave me a warning and I was free to go. So I went ahead doing my landscape maintenance jobs for B.C.B.C. I came home at around 4.30 pm. and found our neighbor, Pete, counting how far the contractions were apart.I was happy to be home now.We had a new doctor in Mission so we hopped in the Datsun 510 and drove out to the Mission Hospital while Femke was looked after by Eilene , Pete’s wife. We arrived at Mission Hospital at around 5.15 pm.They were renovating Mission Hospital, there was a loud noise of jack hammers and saws. Our doctor came in his hobby farm clothes. At 5.30 pm our second child, a son, was born. We observed a special birth this time as our little boy was cradled in my hands with the umbilical cord still attached to Mimi. I carefully lowered him in the warm water bath and he opened his eyes and looked at me! I was thankful for the nurse standing besides me because the little boy was slippery. I gave the nurse a gentle ‘kick’ at her ankle to make her aware that I needed her support, than I clipped the umbilical cord and the little man started ‘whimpering’.
We named him Sander Willem after my uncle in Manitoba and Mimi’s dad. Sander means helper and defender of man-kind.
On August the third 1981 at around 9.30 pm we decided to go to The Mission Hospital. This time Mimi’s sister, Christa was with us and accompanied us to the hospital.Our neighbor and friend, Joke de Vries looked after our 2 children. After intense labor our daughter was born at 3 am August 4 1981.
We carried her home the same day later on.
A few months earlier Mimi had a day time vision. She ‘saw’ several rows of raspberries with children harvesting berries, one row was empty and there was a sign in front of it with a date on it and the name Theresa.
As the date did not match the birth date, we decided to name the new baby Christa Maria Theresa, after Mimi’s sister Christa.
The name means: Christian harvester.
On September the second 1986 at around 11 pm, we decided to call our friend and neighbor Martine van Ingen to stay with our 3 children. Mimi and I went to the hospital and after strong labor at 3.30 pm September 3 1986 our daughter was born. She was born with her hands folded as if in prayer. Our doctor carefully unfolded the two hands. We named her Elza Rose. Elza is a Hebrew word meaning the joy of the Lord and Rose is after Mimi’s Mom.
In January 1990 we came home from a concert by Twila Paris and as we drove up on 266 street I knew the baby in Mimi’s womb would be called Twila.
On February the second at 8.15 pm we called Joke de Vries to look after our 4 children.We were off to the hospital and after some intense labor our 5th child was born. We named her Twila Fransisca Anne, after Twila P. and Mimi’s dad..
The name means ‘double strength’.
The average weight of our babies at birth was 7 pounds & 4 ounces.
Our quiver was filled with 5 ‘arrows’.

The Garden

For 28 years I was Head-gardener at the estate just east from where I still live. To create a garden is to search for a better world. The gardener is guided by a vision of paradise; it is based on the expectation of a glorious future.
Bearing this in mind; one always approaches each task with great optimism.
The following describes some of those tasks:
One windy November day I cut down the Maple tree located near where the top bench is now.
My assistant suggested a pea soup break. We walked up to the cottage, where Pearce’s house is now, we had our soup and walked back only to discover that at the very spot where I had been cutting the Maple wood was now laying the top of one of the fir trees…..The master pruner ( the wind ) had blown out the fir top while we were gone…..
Every morning during the first two years, I cooked porridge for Dan.
Dan was a 43 year old Morgan horse. The porridge consisted of a mixture barley and oats taken from a special blend; I shared breakfast with Dan. When I told Mr.w ( the estate’s owner) he told me simply:” The food is probably medicated”…….Before Dan came to the garden he used to run very fast; I never saw Dan run ; not until one snowy December morning; he skipped his breakfast, ran up the hill to the creek at the top and…..dropped dead at the creek…It took me quite some time to drag the remains through the snow with the small Bolens garden tractor, to the stable where the ‘knackerman’ could pick him up….
Many years later Mrs. H. (the new owner) came and brought 5 horses with her. One day she had to be away….I was pruning in the bottom half of the estate, when I decided to check up on the horses….They all had broken out and were happily, their tails swishing,standing in Mr. Smith’s drive way, his gate wide open….it took quite some persuasion; but I managed to get them back in the pasture!.
The need arose to construct steps through the south garden towards the swimming pool.
I needed Cedar slabs to fulfill the task. I was instructed by Mr. W.not to fall any Cedar or Fir trees…I found the perfect Cedar tree at the west side of the top pasture in the forest.
It was leaning over, a perfect candidate! So I cut the tree down but it decided to lean against a fir tree. I climbed up the leaning cedar tree and made an under cut at the branch it was leaning against.
I quickly made it down; I had just put my feet on the ground when the wind blew the tree down, the tree missed me by a horse hair width. I quickly cut the steps; dug around the stump, cut it under soil level; covered the remainder with soil; hauled the branches to the nearby fire and hauled the steps to the south bed ready for installation!
The next day Mrs.W complimented me about the ‘lovely’ material I used for the steps…..
Mr.W. stood on the east side corner of the deck around the house; I was standing on the pool deck below; when I noticed that the deck on which Mr.W. stood, ‘dropped’ at least two inches….The fir beam, supporting the deck had totally rotted away. With the help of Haney iron works I replaced the rotten fir beam with a steel beam, which is still in place today.
Winters meant also falling trees and getting rid of stumps. Many sections of the grounds could not be reached with a machine; so I ‘armed’ myself with a come along; ax; chainsaw and loppers to remove those stumps by hand….a slow but rewarding job. It seldom happened but one day Mrs.W. was walking in the garden when I needed to pee…I was just ‘filling up’ a mole hole, when Mrs.W. came around the corner…Oops controlling moles the Dutch way!
For sixteen years I also functioned as a noon hour supervisor at the nearby Whonnock elementary school. In order to properly do that I needed to groom and change clothes. This day I was wearing loose fitting boxer shorts and they came down with the pulling down of my dirty jeans.
I was just bending down to retrieve them when Mrs.W. walked in……
One day I was cleaning the inside of the pine tree, west of the house,when Mr.W. walked to his car (Marquis). In a dark voice I said:”Good morning Mr.W.”; He reacted by putting down his briefcase; looking around and only seeing the “talking” pine.
Where the ponds are now there used to be a swamp covered with blackberries. In order to construct the ponds I needed to control the constant mud flow coming from the north west corner. The only way I figured it could be done was to haul truck loads of giant boulders and place them with the high hoe in that corner. It worked but it added $ 4000.- to the approved price of $60000.- Mr.W. was in Hawaii so I went ahead….Only when the plants, that I planted in between the rocks,started to mature a bit did I get the nod of approval…..
The garden water pump house is at the lowest part of the grounds. When we used the water, it resulted in a lot of on & off turning of the pump. I had to replace a lot of pressure switches. Until I had an idea: Place a large tank at the top; so the pump stays on a long time filling the tank. I went ahead. The tank was hauled in at the end of the top pasture hanging from a chain which was attached to a high-hoe. than suddenly the chain broke….It is amazing how quick a tank like that picks up speed when rolling down a steep hill….It went towards the house…All I could do is just watch….The tank rolled on until it got stuck against a fruit tree stump, where the north grass is now.
To retain the path ways at the south end of the house I decided to install concrete curbs. In order to build the curb south of the house I needed the cement pumped in place. This involved the large ‘arm’ of the pump truck to be brought over the roof of the house….a real concern is that in case of a burst, the house could be covered with cement like icing on a cake.It went all right but not without giving me a sleepless night!!
“It will live out my time”, was one of Mr.W.’s favorite sayings. One day I was Showing Mr.W. a section of the driveway that had the potential of washing out….you can guess his response……six months after his passing the drive way washed out….it had lived out his time…..
Many amazing things occurred, to mention one; Mr.W. used the marquis like a pickup truck.It had a big trunk. He simply was very fond of that car.
One afternoon while cultivating the Iris slope I received a vision in which I ‘saw’ Mr.W. behind the steering wheel of the Marquis in danger. I prayed for his safety..that night Mr.W. came home in a small courtesy car…..Much later Mr.W.’s brother in law, Fred, told me what happened:
At the time of my prayer Mr.W. was inspired to press the accelerator going very fast saving himself from harm.a car had gone through red and hit the Marquis in the back, driving practically through it thereby totaling the Marquis.Had Mr.W. not sped up the car would have hit him………Mr.W. had the car restored…….

Life as it happens 2

He lived in Vancouver with his teacher wife and he invited us to a party on our 4 days off.

Mimi & I went.We were the only ‘pale faced’ people there and things went quickly out of hand. One dude started to aggravate us and quickly started to become ‘physical. Bill, my new found blood brother, came from the kitchen and was true to his word; He beat the guy up and sent him ‘down the road’.  We shared some dried moose jerky, which tasted real good! We said our goodbyes. Needless to say, Bill visited us a lot and always with a bottle of whiskey until he moved with his wife up north. He told me: If we meet again, our deal stands; I will always come up for you!

A s kidder is a machine with a cable in the back that you can ‘let go’ or pull up to pull logs. The machine swivels in the middle and you can make a “V-shape” for maximum stability while pulling logs from a side hill. One night I was in the cook’s shack have myself a bite to eat, the cook showed me a booklet and opened it up on the page where it stated;”When you tip over a machine, stay in the machine, never jump out , because if you do jump out the machine will land on top of you and kill you”! The next day I had logs to skid along the main logging road. It had rained allot and the road edge was unstable. The log I was pulling was heavier than the ones I had pulled before and suddenly the road edge caved in and that caused my s kidder to tip. I tumbled down the hill twice while holding on with all my might until it landed against the only tall fir stump and it landed on it’s wheels with the engine still running!! It made a loud noise since the exhaust manifold sits on top of the roll-bar and was damaged. I crawled up the hill and i must have looked as white as a ghost. The guy at “the landing” had radio’d the medic, just in case.One day I was driving my crummy loaded with diesel fuel, dynamite and B-line and my trusted shovel (no Dutchman goes drives a crummy without a shovel) It rained badly and I started smelling something bad, a burning smell. or something. I decided to park the crummy. I opened up the hood and saw flames, I grabbed my shovel and quickly shoveled loose wet gravel from the road on the flames. Luckily the flames had not reached the gas line yet. It was coming from the exhaust manifold. When the flames were dozed with the wet gravel, I had a closer look: automatic transmission fluid was leaking on the exhaust manifold, causing the fire.  If I had reacted slower, there would have been a crater from the explosion. There was no radio in the crummy. Finally a logging truck came down, the driver saw my predicament and radioed to the camp office, a mechanic was on his way. When he finally arrived he took a roll of ducttape  and “fixed” the automatic transmission fluid line. Needless to say I had him drive the crummy back. The nine day shifts were hard on Mimi and me, there were only four days together and two of these were lost in traveling, and preparations for working in the bush. I decided to take Mimi on the plane to the logging camp, as she never had that experience. Having done that, we closed of a chapter in our life. When Mimi came from the Netherlands she had to board a plane as well. Before that, she’d never been on a plane before. She had to board one alone, going to a new country, where she only knew me, whom she had not seen for half a year. I wrote her letters every other day.Once I phoned her. In those days to phone The Netherlands one had to phone the overseas operator for The Netherlands in Montreal.The operator would queue your call and you’d hang up. This time it took 3 hrs for the operator to call back with the statement:’you have a connection, you can speak now’. Mimi was expecting our first child and she worked for the social service with ‘mentally challenged’ people, whom were called clients. Mimi drove a van with 6 clients on board to various activities.Once she was close to the USA border and all the clients got it in their heads that they wanted to drink coffee in The States.The border guard at Sumas surprisingly waved them through. So they had coffee in the States, but now going back into Canada:Mimi just had her driver’s licence and the 6 clients had no I.D.’s plus Mimi had a big ‘belly’ full with our first child.needless to say it took them 3 hrs to get back into Canada.Once at Christmas, the staff, at the place where the clients lived,needed a well deserved break.We ended up looking after a group home full with clients in various stages of behaviors.By now we had two children, Femke and Sander.Mimi had made large jars of blackberry jam and had put an opened jar on the table.One of the clients took the jar and slurped up the entire contents! Femke was pointing to the client exclaiming ‘He ate it all”.One important part of the day is medication time. All the clients had to sit around the table and were not allowed to be excused from the table until they had swallowed their pills.I felt I was in the movie ‘one flew over the Coo-Coo’s nest’ with Jack Nicholson. The name of the place was ‘quiet acres’, but was hardly quiet at all! One night, in spite of our precautions, one client had wandered of and was picked up by The RCMP.This client happened to be poodle naked. We were thankful for the RCMP doing their rounds. While I was at the logging camp an uncle came to visit from the Netherlands.He arrived at Vancouver International Airport. Mimi would pick him up with our orange fargo pickup truck.He arrived wearing a long black robe. It was quite a sight: Mimi pregnant with Femke and this priest. They lost the way made a wrong turn some where but they arrived at the USA border!The border guard told them how to drive home! We had just bought our 5 acres with a house built in 1918!.With this uncle, Uncle Hans,we with a machete in the hand for chopping the blackberries walked around the 5 acres while my uncle asked God to bless our acreage and bless us with lots of children! the buying of 5 acres of land proved to be a ‘God sent’.One Sunday morning Mimi & I went for a drive to the other side of the hill where we lived in the Major’s home.We noticed a plywood sheet sign at the beginning of a driveway. The letters where freshly painted and said; ‘House with acreage for sale by owner’ with the owner’s address.We went to see them, Phyllis & Alec where their names. It was February 13 1977. Phyllis was counting silver dollars and she gave us each a silver dollar and told us to come back the next day as she did not want to make arrangements starting on the 13th. We came back the next day. They wanted 65000 dollars firm.we had $10000. saved and that was owed to us by my boss, see earlier in the first section of my story.Also, in order to qualify for a government second mortgage, the purchase price had to be $55000. or less. I suggested to pay them the $10000. so they could drop the price to $55000.and we would qualify for the government second mortgage, with those funds we could clear the land. Phyllis said:’ This all sounds double Dutch to me, you think it will work?” I assured her it would all work out and it did!. While clearing the land we needed a flat deck truck, so we could easily move all the firewood I cut & chopped.We found an add in the paper offering a large 2 ton GMC flat deck truck, affordable for us. One problem we could not insure it for the road, except for a day license to move it. I told them to write that all down and they did. With the Dooley in the rear I was able to move a lot of fire wood. A few weeks later a bailiff came to the door to claim the truck, a tow truck was on it’s way…..Here you’ll see how efficient Mimi & I work as a team:Mimi had just baked an apple pie and we found out we could retain a bailiff for up to a day to sort things out.We wanted our $8000. back before the truck was removed.Mimi kept feeding him apple pie while I went out to Surrey to get the money back. I found out at which bank the company, which sold the truck to us, had an account. After much ‘ado’ I got a bank assured cheque and could phone Mimi to let the bailiff go.

My first post looked like an ‘enormous word pile’, but was a treasure to read….

I ended my first post  in the logging camp, where I worked various jobs , so I continue where i left off…..and  I lit the fuse; you could see the spark following the B-line and than Ba, Ba, Ba, Bang set apart for each drilled hole, a total of 4 bangs just split seconds apart.  In the beginning  I set too long a time lapse between the warning whistle blow and the actual explosion that people would say “Well Dutchie when are the fire works gonna start”.    They nick named me boom boom Dutchie.  I also  took too long a time  to finally blow the whistle sign “All is clear”, resulting in long times of silence…….well better be safe than sorry.  Dynamite sticks are ‘funny’ things; you can burn them and there is no explosion, but if you would hit a dynamite stick with a hammer it would explode…So the sudden speeding up of the spark by means of the B-line causes the explosion.

One time I wasn’t sure and I felt the risk of  un-exploded dynamite  present to be high , this ,if it was so with one blow of the blade of the bulldozer (D3 CAT) could set it off. So I put a whole case of Dynamite on the ‘rubble’ , wrapped the B-line around it lit the fuse and voila the big explosion , the road was ready for building…..There is a real camaraderie among the machine operators in the camp. The same holds true between the people working the slopes: The Hook-tender; the Rigging- slinger  and Choker men . I was in this camp the only non aboriginal working the slopes and it didn’t take long when I was approached by one “dude” “If I wanted to become his ‘blood brother’. He asked me one night in the bunk-house. Things wouldn’t work for me in the crew unless I did ‘it”. The procedure is simple: equipment needed: Two persons, two wrists and one clean sharp knife. You cut a small incision in each wrist ; than you hold the bleeding parts together to mix the blood and voila the blood brother bond is ‘born’. I told him that I understood the noble concept but I might have a disease and that would flow into you……I told him that the Dutch alternative was to drink a bottle of Balantines 12 year old whiskey on it …it would have the same effect. You get it? He did ; we would each bring a bottle of whisky.. He invited my wife and me to a party after our work shift was over. It was there that i learned the real value of my new found ‘blood brother”bond….to be continued..

Life as it happens

Marvelous Canadian winter. My daughter (third child from five). dances on water,  frozen,   at a lake in Kilaloe,Ontario and after a flight to Vancouver, she decided not to dance on the water of Rolley lake, BC; but stays instead on the shore line together with her Mom (my wife).

It is 38 years ago since I moved to the “new world” Today I was reminded about this fact since my daughter in law was studying Canadian history in preparation for her citizen ship exam tomorrow in Surrey. I had one uncle, a priest, living in stAlphonse  Manitoba.  I was one of the hundreds of graduating students from horticultural colleges , country wide, from The Netherlands that is, who ,after one year combined employment with various companies in Holland and abroad, discovered that there was more land in the world and that Holland was not the center there off !!! My uncle in Manitoba could not help me, in the physical sense that is. My friend lived close to the Canadian embassy in The Hague and I came there almost daily! I managed to secure an interview with one of the Canadians there, a gentleman from Burnaby BC.. After  an interview and a medical exam, I was granted a visa for life (a big pink sheet)…Through the horticultural college I found a program that arranges employment abroad. I signed up and found employment in the Fraser valley at a Dutch immigrant’s nursery. I was placed in the field together with people from the province of

Punjab , India. I became friends with one ofthem, a young man frm about 16. I taught him how to drive a tractor. I worked a 48 hr week and made a “whopping” dollar twenty five an hour!!  I had to think about

an Irish man I met in Cork, Ireland. He told me:”Never work for your own Country man abroad” It’s mint tea time.later I write more.
speaking about Irishmen: I was a backup player for a Dutch rugby team whose sister town & team was Cork with it’s team ‘Highfield united”. We flew there and deeply enjoyed Irish hospitality.We stayed at Laurel’s guesthouse which was run by a charming old lady and having tea with her was an adventure!! She would stand in front of an ancient dresser, open up a drawer; put something in the cup and than poured the tea…when she put down the cups and went away to get some cookies, I exchanged the teacups quickly and enjoyed a peaceful cup of tea with her …We had a tour of Murphy’s brewery with lots of tasting along the way throughout the tour that eventually brought you to the tasting room, if you made it there. After two games; they did not need a spare player,  so I hitch-hiked to Bantry.I always wanted to be a private estate gardener and  seeing Bantry House with it’s phenomenal view over Bantry Bay, confirmed that again. 7 years later I became the head gardener at an estate overlooking the Fraser river(see pictures).As I was overlooking Bantry House & Bantry Bay;  my thoughts went back to the summer of 1959. I went with my aunt to my uncle`s estate in Lichtervoorde (NL). He had a  20 hectare estate with a pond full of frogs and a tea house.His gardener, Jan showed me his tools and his fast collection of Exbury azeleas and of course the pink Hydrangeas…It was time to leave Bantry and I was hitch-hiking when a Volks wagen bus with 5 nuns gave me a ride all the way to Brandon, not too far from Cork. The weather changed to rain; I found an unlocked  car at a car wreckers place. I had a `safe`place for the night, so I thought.  Towards midnight  a boy & a girl opened the front door and without looking back to where I was he took her on his lap and did some inspired biological explorations.  Thank God I did not have to sneeze in what seemed an eternity they left after he or she threw a garment to the back. It landed on  me and that gave me slight worries; what if they come back…It was shivering  cold and that made me move faster and I got a ride to just outside of Cork to where my team was, nicely in time for a game of rugby. Because I was so cold, I was super fast and out ran every one.  I made 2 Try’s. The Irish team brought us to the airport and even got in our plane!! Imagine that with our security these days. Let me introduce myself: Of the 7 children I am number 4. My place in the family became more defined during holidays.

To the left you see the family I was brought up in: I am the little guy to the right of my Dad. There are 2 sisters and my brother above me and 3 sisters below me..I am perfectly in the middle. Activities , while we were on holidays , were divided often like this: The 3 oldest went with Dad & the three youngest went with Mom. I remember one holiday we spent in Valkenburg, The Netherlands: The 3 oldest went on a boat trip with my Mom. This boat trip took them on the river The Maas to Liege (Luik), Belgium. The 3 youngest went with my Dad to The “Three Country spot . This freshfromthetaplocation is in the Dutch province of Limburg at the Southern spot. The three countries were The Netherlands, Germany & Belgium. Three youngest; three oldest….What about number 4; me ? The owner, of the Hotel we stayed in, walked to me outside in the hotel’s garden and he invited me to come along in his car to Belgium, to get some supplies for the hotel.  I went along. When we came back in the late afternoon; the Hotel was surrounded by the police; apparently a child was either kidnapped; lost or may be far worse…later we discovered that I was the child. Years later at my parent’s 25th anniversary we stayed at a hotel in Vlissingen, The Netherlands, same thing happened ( no police this time): There was no room in the hotel for the chauffeur and me. For us two rooms were arranged at a smaller hotel in town. In my room at the night-stand I found a Gideon s Bible. I was touched by the verse where it says: God so loved the world that he sent  His only begotten Son that  who so ever believes in Him shall not perish but will have ever lasting life! Since then, I would be often alone but never lonely!I  met  Gerrit at The Horticultural college in Utrecht (NL). We both were born in a big city and our fathers had a ‘city’ job.  Gerrit’s dad was a banker, my dad a clothing merchant.. we were not from ‘The” Westland” , where all the other fathers had their employment in the Horticultural field. Soon Gerrit told me  about his huge wall painting  he had started on the wall of his bedroom  at the Hendrik van Deventer street  in The Hague. I lived in Utrecht, roughly 60 km’s from  The Hague.Gerrit wondered whether I would like to admire and to help with the wall painting. That was the beginning of our friendship. We recognized in one and other a deep seated sense of humor Many weekends we spent at the Hendrik van Deventer street  and Gerrit’s wall painting was in our eyes much better then The Nightwatch by Rembrandt. Gerrit showed me the day and night life of The Hague and Scheveningen. Regularly we stood in the center of The Hague with our Red Cross collection tins to gather funds for the work of The Red Cross.   We had lots of fun emptying the tins at the bank where Gerrit’s dad worked. At  the bank we did all the counting of the funds collected. It was there where Gerrit’s dad gave me my first Canadian dime! We both loved the great outdoors and soon we ‘hatched’ the idea to travel on our BMW motorbike to Amsterdam , take the boat to Gotenburg (Sweden), and from there to  Loenvattn (Norway), where  Gerrit’s parents had rented a summer cottage. I can still hear the emotion in Gerrit’s moms voice:”Ger, must you two really go on that dangerous motorbike all the way to Sweden? once the boat arrived in Gotenburg (S)  Gerrit & I  and our Bike were ‘receiving a real “Swedish treat”. The customs officers directed us to a small garage type of building; we had to enter it and as soon as  we were inside they firmly locked the door. We had to undress completely, also our gas tank was taken from our bike; it was emptied; everything, including our clothes , was thoroughly inspected. Our conversation was a mix of Swedish  (Customs officers) and English (us). We finally were allowed to put our ‘undies’ back on. Than they left. So i said to Gerrit : Lets dress and go,  just as we were dressing and gathering our belongings a customs officer came back in; stamped our passports ( Not enough ink),  and summoned us that we could go. After putting the gas tank back on, storing our tools away, we finally were ‘en route’. Later we heard on a camp ground that because we looked ‘kinda’ rough  the customs gave us the “Royal Treatment”. Later we discovered that marijuana and ‘booze’ were a problem in Sweden. Particularly in small towns we saw man with “bulges’  under their long over coats; hiding bottles.  Soon we arrived in Taby, a bedroom community of Stockholm, where my cousin with her husband and 2  children lived. In Stockholm we learned something about the “fabled” ship building of the Dutch in the  1600’s, the Golden age of Holland. Two Dutch ship builders, the brothers  Hendrik & Arendt Hybertsson had designed and built a Huge cargo ship that could hold more cargo & cannons than any ship ever  built. The ship is called the Vasa, it was built in 1625 and………sank on it’s maiden voyage!  We enjoyed the hospitality of my family. Their 2 children, 7 & 5, spoke Swedish fluently and often had to translate for their parents! after 2 weeks we ‘hopped’ on our bike heading north. We set up camp at the strangest spots; traffic roundabouts, parks  and ‘real’ camp grounds, as long as it was grass. We finally arrived  in Ostersund at the Stor lake. The next day we traveled a little further and pitched our tent at the edge of beautiful Torrajan lake.  this was real wilderness camping. There was no ‘organised’ camp ground. it is in this lake that I ‘banged” my head on a rock, while diving,  and I was unconscious for about one day.  Gerrit had carefully ‘dragged’ me out of the water and stayed with me in the tent. We were too remote and the Swedish nurses were on strike, we had learned earlier.When I ‘came around’; Gerrit told me that I with a quiet ‘muffled voice’  was talking about guardian angels………Later I learned that I most likely have ‘scar tissue’ in my brain from this accident. After a few restful days, I slept a lot after that accident, we traveled to Ostersund and it was there that our BMW bike broke down and we had to sell it .We received the equivalent of 2000 guilders  paid in Kronen. Partly by bus, partly by hitch hiking, we arrived in Loenvattn (N)  

where  Gerrit’s parents were staying at their summer cottage. From Gerrit’s Dad I learned how to filet a Trout and bake it over an open fire. The first trout I cleaned ended up in the bush, as the slippery fish slid out of my hands. Later on I’ve got the “hang” of it. We left the cottage en route to Kristiansand (N). We  pitched up our tent at a ‘primitive’ camp ground. the wind blew so fierce that a rip appeared in the tent and the whol tent blew away!! Gerrit’s head popped out of the sleeping bag like the head of a turtle, and ‘ dryly’ remarked:  ‘the tent blew away’…..The fresh smell off evergreen forests was the first impression Winfried and I had of Finland..and in Helsinki old ladies walked in brightly coloured dresses the kind you see in a shorter version worn by teenagers in Holland. We also noticed a lot of police to keep the fast moving cars, filled with members of the European community under control. Each car had the flag of the nationality of it’s occupants up front in a standard. There must have been an international convention in Helsinki.  We were eager to explore nature, so we left Helsinki and we ‘caught’ a ride to Lahti.  We ‘found’ a lake that was at the edges full of water lilies (like Whonnock lake, we discovered later). We swam to the center of the lake and back. Than …..Mosquito’s !!!    The ferns were smaller than the same ferns in Holland. we noticed the remainder of comparable vegetation was ‘behind’ as well; we figured it was because of our location in Finland was higher & more North than Holland.  In the village, people look surprised to see two tall blonde men; girls turn away, shy and curious at the same time. It all breathes an atmosphere as if they saw people like us for the first time! We caught a ride and arrived in a village called Nikkaroinen. In the center of town we found a green grocer where one can buy virtually any thing. Also here we noticed curious faces and we noticed that Finnish people were on average smaller than Dutch people.  Finnish hay is of a lighter colour than Dutch hay but it sleeps fantastic!  A large dog lead us to a friendly farmer and his wife. Their daughter, again a mix of curiosity and shyness, puts her hands on her breasts and runs off.The farm house is simply furnished but it has a TV set. The farmer’s wife fills our thermos with ‘vesi’ (Finnish for water). She pointed to a bus stop and we took a local bus to Jyvaskyla, where on the market, a friendly girl helped us to get some oranges. She even spoke English! We catch a bus to Kinnula. In the bus again people observe us with a mix of curiosity and shy ‘watching’ . A girl drops a coin; it rolled towards us, she was too shy initially to pick it up….than she looks quickly at us, grabs it and runs to the back of the bus. Late in the evening we arrive in Kinnula, where, we found out, the bus driver lived. The bus company’s are mostly ‘one man shows’. The sky looks fantastic; orange-like colours, magnificent. The next morning we walked ‘sweaty’ and puffing because of the heat. We got a ride from a truck with open sliding doors. It stopped in the next village where we saw a lake!

Hooray, we can wash ourselves and catch a fish!  at the same time I made a fire and Winfried caught a trout, together we had a meal fit for a king! It is getting late in the evening, I’d say it’s around 11.30 pm. The sun just set,the sky is beautiful out here! We found a boat and rowed to an island where we set up camp (“OUR ISLAND, see drawing to the right’). The next morning two Finnish boys were on ‘our’ island. They were initially shy and laughed, they said ‘joa’ and they understood what the fish tackle weights were for. We had language difficulties, they should have never build the tower of Babel….Their names were Tuomo and Jari. Winfried said:”Either they are fooling us or they want to destroy everything. They look at everything  the way aboriginal people looked at the equipment of the ‘pale faced’ people. Tuomo was blonde, rude and he investigated our ‘stuff ‘, Jari had slightly darker hair and was ‘sneaky’. They left. In the evening Winfried and I visited two ‘new’ islands, not far from ‘our’ island. When we came back , Winfried lifted his bow-net he had placed near our island. there was a bass in it. He caught a trout as well.  We roasted the fishes for dinner. The next morning Winfried woke up with 12 mosquito bites around his elbow, no problem any where else, crazy creatures those mosquitoes. It’s now about lunch time. The two Finnish boys came back and stand besides me , they get stung too and they say ‘au’ as well! Now they are ‘fooling around’ with Winfried’s fishing rods. They say ‘taskiriota’, whatever that means. ‘Kaksa”? They are now near our food supply and strike with their hands through their hair, they throw something flammable on our fire and make no move to leave us alone. We can ignore them completely, it makes no difference, they keep on throwing stuff on the fire. By the way, just before those boys came back we rowed to the main land and in the village we bought half the supply of  ‘maitoa’ (milk) costing us FM31,50. We calculated that we could spend FM25,- per day,, so that was not bad. I read my book and tell Winfried every once and a while what is happening in my book..The wind blows through the trees and makes a ‘rustling’ sound, the waves ‘babble’ against the two boats  (our boat and the boat of the Finnish boys). The pea soup was delicious. The 2 boys start to stir in our soup, what’s left of it. They are picking up stones and the beam that we  use to sit on is ruined, our licorice was discovered; with my cutting pocket knife they are ruining our tree support….The best idea is to look angry . They finally seem to understand and they stop for a moment….and than they continue.  They finally leave , their little engine starts badly; they are touching our stone that holds the rope that keeps our boat ‘in the harbor’. They are gone! The wind turned. It blows now to the north side of the island. With the wind we can hear music sounds, while our oatmeal porridge is bubbling . Across the water some Finnish people are having a sauna; tomorrow we are trying to have one too. Every once and a while I read aloud out of the Hobbit..Frodo went on his voyage and meets Tom Bombadil…We saw a marvelous sunset at 11.30pm! After a walk over ‘our’ island is it nice to sit around the fire again. The island is 68 meter wide and 82 ‘steps’ long. The mosquitoes are nagging us….In the village store the whole family is coming out to help us getting our supplies. back at ‘our’ island we dive in the water which is the only way to get rid of the mosquitoes. when you come above the water they right away sit on your nose to do their ‘evil’ deed!.  Come lets sit around the fire, Wim is reading out of his book!  The west wind is coming up, it blows away the mosquitos. There are less of them now and it is cooling down.

The next morning we decided to pack up and go.We used the boat for the last time , once we were on the other side, we walked to the main road. Not a single car stopped! Dark clouds were building up , it looked like a thunder storm was brewing. The first raindrops…..Than we decided to take the bus to avoid getting soaked.The bus brought us to Kokkola, the bus was also the mail transporter. We  walked the town of Kokkola. We had never before seen so many beggars for money or dope or ‘Olut’.From Kokkola we took the train to Oulu where we arrived at mid night. Winfried got out of the train and than the train started to move with me still in it. Thankfully the powers that be saw my dilemma and the train stopped again to let me out. We got a ride from 2 Finnish people in the direction of the campground . It worked out that these guys were drunk so we wanted out.. We found a couple of on duty “poliisi” officers, who put us in the paddy wagon and that’s how we arrived at the campground at around 2 am. We met some hitch-hiking boys from Amsterdam; we exchange some advice, pitched up our tent  got in and fell asleep. The next morning at the showers we noticed something peculiar.The Finnish people are smaller therefor their showers are so low that you almost have to lie down. Not one tent on this campground is the same, I think that’s amazing. There are lot’s of cars, there is lot’s of noise, gasoline fumes and a bung of Norwegians with loud screaming children. For the remainder it’s cool. There are big & heavy & severe looking guards  who keep a sharp eye on every thing & every one; all this motivated us to leave today for Kemi to be free! While eating strawberries we arrive in  Kuninkaaniemi, a small village with a baari, where the locals celebrate their Saturday nights while enjoying an “Olut”, from which they’ll get amazingly intoxicated. A lovely girl pours us a fresh cup of tea and we talk a bit with her. We’ll cal it a night and go and found ourselves a hay shed, where we after I read some of Frodo’s adventures fell asleep…that is except Winfried, who was battered by mosquitoes. Hitch-hiking is a challenge but……finally a VW van stops; an answer to prayer since two buses had passed us. This ride brought us to Tervola, a small place in Lapland. The mosquitoes are terrible here, in a baari we meet a man from Germany. Outside we see lots of poorly dressed boys who looked at us with big eyes.  Finally we find a peaceful spot at the edge of a lake. We could finally wash ourselves! Nature is incredible here. The moon shines over the water while straight across  from the moon you see the reddish glow from the setting sun in the crystal clear sky.  The moon is getting brighter and brighter. The wood is damp, more so than the wood we used for burning in Lestijarvi. It had rained here much more and it was a challenge to build a good fire! We are here 70 km from the Polar circle and you can see a different population here. The people look like the people  from Mongolia. Also it turns to dusk; it does not get dark! The sun sets at around 10.30 pm and rises at 02..15 am!

      To the left you see the scope of our hitch-hiking venture!. Every once and a while you feel a fierce sting, and another nagging mosquito sucks at your blood, some you kill, others escape, repellent works for a short while; it mixes with your sweat , diluting it’s effect. The natural enemies of mosquitoes are birds; they eat them. We saw a few birds like swallows, crows and a bird that sounds like a working hedge shears. We could use more birds up north, so they could eat all the mosquitoes! The water in the lake is pure and very clear, one can just drink it without the fear of getting ‘beaver fever’. The older people here  are friendlier than the younger people. Also you can get here large quantities of raisins. The farmers here easily give you a ride! The evening is settling in, we both are drowsy and feel strangely light-headed, may be it’s the intense sun shine during the day that causes the light headedness. I found some edible plants,  fiddle head ferns, we ate them together with baked trout. It’s a gorgeous night and the wind took care of most of the mosquitoes.   We got a ride to Rovaniemi, the city looks pleasant. We could not find the center, but there was a market. For FM50,- you can buy a ‘beautiful’  antler candle holder. We just buy some straw berries and put our luggage at the depot at the railway station. After that we were ‘doing town’. Back at the station we met a German couple from West Berlin,  we found out that there is an early morning worker’s train to Tornio.  We decided to  spend the night around the station. A Fin came to join us  with a large bottle of “Alkol”. This is the second time today that we are offered a drink. The first time it was from two Finns with a down syndrome son. They shared with us a drink that tasted like ‘Campari’.  later a friend of the Fin ,a Lap, came with a bottle of something that tasted like berry gin, 38 proof. He taught us some Finnish words like: Piemel (girl from the country), Mimi ( ‘old love’), Kima ( beautiful shaped woman), Krapula (hang over). We all chose to stay on the small section of grass besides the railway station. I am reading a chapter out of The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. The nights here at the polar circle are definitely colder! We hope that the ‘poliisi’ doesn’t chase us away……The German man goes into town to get some supplies; we stay with his girl friend; the Lap & the Finn. I decided to ‘explore’. Soon we were together again and we had a cozy conversation. Which plague would be just as effective as the ten plagues God sent to the Egyptians? We all agreed:: Mosquitoes, although I wasn’t sure whether the Finn & the Lap knew what we were talking about. We all hum or sing “Jungen komm bald wieder nach haus…we really got into it when the station chief  summons us to get of the grass; didn’t we see the sign? So we all walked across to the edge of a creek where we spent a restless night, the sun shines brightly at 03.30 am. We did what we call in Canada a fireman sleep. We took the early morning work-train to Tornio. We pitched up our tent in the middle of the city along the edge of a river. We slept the whole day; it rained all day! We did a small evening walk..We exchanged our last FM”S into  cheese and walked across the border into Happaranda, Sweden. After 2 hours of hitch-hiking in Happaranda, we get a ride from two reporters from the NorSveridgeTidning (North Swedish News paper) in Lulea.  They were writing an article about hitch-hiking in Scandinavia. They took pictures from us with a Hasselblatt camera. The head office of this paper was in Lulea, 195 km from Happaranda. We were featured in the weekend edition of that paper. They treated us to a lunch and we where dropped of along the highway where we caught a ride to Skelleftea. It was there that we discovered that we left the fishing rods in the reporter’s car. So we hitch hiked back to Lulea and the car was still parked in front of the news paper office. I tried the hatch of the car…….it was unlocked, hooray, our fishing rods are back. We ‘caught’ a ride to Skelleftea, 269 km from Tornio (SF) .We set up camp near a lake in a forest not to far from the highway, as we are planning to travel on   the next day. We made some tea      and I read  to Winfried about the adventures of Frodo. After about one hour, early in the next morning, we caught a ride from a Swede. Communication is a challenge; He speaks Swedish fluently and we speak Dutch, English & German . We bring our thoughts across by means of simple drawings. It is a nice long ride (258 km), all the way to Ornskolavik. The E 4 meanders like a ribbon through the Swedish forests.

We are dropped of in Ornskolavik and decided to have a picnic. After the picnic we walked along the E 4 and a Swedish boy stopped and offered us a ride  for about 20 km, where we would have a better chance to get a good ride, according to him. so we stuffed our tent and luggage into his tiny Morris and drove off. I noticed shampoo all over the back seat, after about 9 km in the ride. Our shampoo bottle had cracked  and I managed to contain the flow of soap. The boy was a ‘kindred spirit’  and did not seem to mind. He dropped us off at an intersection. And….promptly we got a ride in a large camping van from two Germans. They get the idea to go swimming, so we stopped as soon as we saw a lake. It was great to go swimming and we had a great time. Our ability to speak German added greatly to the merriment. We say our goodbyes in Sundsvall, an industrial town. In Sundsvall we walk along the E 4 and discovered a Camp ground, where we decided to spend the weekend. We finished reading the adventures of Frodo. It is now Saturday July 21 1973. I went for a walk and picked some strawberries, Wiinfried thought that was cute. We slept lots and were really able to catch up on our sleep.A few girls (of around 15 years old) are ‘showing off’ in front of our tent. There is also a Dutch couple here from Rotterdam. In the evening we sat on the beach, made a fire and cooked oatmeal porridge….we had a good conversation…It rained a lot today. We walked to a little village, Kocheby, and noticed a large group of people heavily drinking. The next day we swam allot, we also noticed that we were more south. The deciduous trees look more full & fresh in leaf; the grass is lusher. We are close to the sea and the water is a mix of fresh water & salt water (around 70% fresh & 30 % salt water) The East sea is small and there is a lot of fresh water run of from Scandinavia into the Botnic gulf. The camp ground is a little ‘dull’, we picked up some bread (not as good as the Finnish bread). We wrote post cards & mailed them. I hum a tune and play on my mouth harmonica. We both would like to be back in Lestijarvi (SF), why, we haven’t got the faintest idea; we were finished with the place yet….it was more peaceful; this campground here in Sundsval is on the noisy E 4 highway; there is an airport close by (we hear planes fly over)…. In the evening it quiets down and you just hear the waves hitting the shore line and the crackling of the open fire! We cooked oatmeal porridge and made tea. For the first time since long, we had a full stomach. When we sat by the fire , we noticed heavy dark clouds approaching…according to what we see, it’s raining in Sundsval. We lay in the tent and hear the first raindrops falling on the tent. The wind is turning and we now smell the stench off the aluminum smelter in Sundsval. It’s too bad that we finished the second part of frodo.  Oh well you can’t have it all… Tomorrow we hope to reach Stockholm. The next day started promising, although hitch-hiking didn’t go too well but…….after two hours a green small Renault stopped, driven by a Swedish beauty, Ditte, with her son. She was glad that she did not have to drive alone to Stockholm. We were glad as well!! She asked Wim to drive, which he did most of the way. Winfried played the guitar and at a restaurant we drank coffee. We also kept the little boy occupied.  She invited us to visit at her home and meet her girl friend, Monica, who was a ‘body builder’. There would also be a few bottles of wine….She didn’t have a strong bladder; we had to stop often. Finally we stopped at her home. It was very cozy inside. Monica & Ditte sang and played guitar , they fed us and we did elbow wrestling with a candle; I almost burned the back of my hand as Monica almost succeeded to push mine down but I managed to push  back  and won…..We had a glorious time when all of a sudden we were  told we had to go because…blah, blah….after a ‘moving’ goodbye we were dropped of at the  E 4. After about an hour we ‘caught’ a ride with a bank employee who dropped us of  at my cousin Els in Taby , Right in front of her door!!

e We had a bit of a conversation with Els and her mother in law; we placed our baggage in the room; stopped the loud ticking clock and fell asleep instantly. The next day was very cozy. We went with Els to Stockholm; we noticed spectacular grave yards and the next day as well we played with Els’s children. Two days later we ‘caught’ a ride from Sodertalje to the place where we are now, just besides the E 3 to Gotenburg. We slept along the E 3 and very early we walk along the E 3. It’s 20 km to the next village, so we decided to stay on the, not so ideal, spot. Winfried had to pee and just as he started I ‘caught’ a ride. Winfried was able to quickly stop and he joined in. The ride brought us to Strangnas, where we have a bite to eat and where we sleep under an awning. Polis across from us and a pesky Mercedes which head lights shine at us with regular intervals. It rains the whole night. After a bit of shopping in Strangnas, where we made the mistake of buying 3 liters of  sour milk and frozen bread, we got a ride from a farmer, who dropped us off 150 km further down at a Motel-kiosk, where we ate something. Wim noticed an older gentleman eating at a table close by us. He decided to talk to him. It worked out to be an American coming from Auburn (Wa, USA). He had never taken any hitch-hikers because he thought it was to dangerous. After he checked our luggage and after he checked us over , the fear melted away. He was born in Minnesota in 1905 and when he was 16 he owned already a 750cc Harley Davidson. He had been a test pilot and once he almost crashed his plane. His wife had passed just half a year ago. He just bought this brand new Volvo. While overtaking big trucks he would say:” go aside big boy”. I got to drive his car to the next coffee shop. When he dropped us off at the ferry to Denmark he liked us so much that he gave us all kinds of ‘goodies’ to eat. When we arrived in Denmark, we found a campground 2 km north of Frederikshavn. We bought something to eat. Most food in Denmark is endorsed by the King. On each package it says: Leverandor Til Det Kgl Danske which ‘boils down’ to the fact that all Danish food is fit for a King! Frederikshavn reminded us of a village in the Dutch province of Zeeland. All houses are build with brick. We found a cozy ‘pub’. We had a couple of beers and we noticed that as soon as we had finished the small bottle, the bottle was speedily removed. They did that to not create the idea that we were on a ‘drunk’, we learned later on the campground. The bartender was relieved that after two beers, we still were  sober! (Danish beer has 2% alcohol). The sky was clear and hundred’s of stars were visible. We decided to watch a movie. It was a thrilling horror movie. The movie was fun but the Danish commercials made us ‘giggly’.The next day I got up early; cooked oatmeal, made the tea, filled our thermoses and woke up Winfried. We packed and were nice and early at the highway. After more than 4 hrs. of hitch-hiking I concluded that the Danish people are shy, Winfried concluded that they were afraid. Any way we took the train to Alborg.– My thoughts went to the wide open landscapes we had seen, confirming that I  am looking for a large estate to further develop and maintain. That’s why you will see pictures taken at the estate I ended up building and expanding—Once we arrived in Alborg, we walked in the direction of Arhus. After 3 hrs of trying to ‘catch’ a ride , we decided to  walk back to the station and we took the train to Abenra. In Abenra we bought supplies and after a good hike we found a small beach where we made a fire. It is good to sit around the crackling fire! We throw some more drift wood on the fire. We are overlooking a bay where we see fishing boats casting their nets. We slept well. We both had strange dreams. Every morning we share what we dream t.  After breakfast, oatmeal and bread with ‘stinking cheese” , we decided to stay a while. For the first time in my life I found a bottle with a note in it. The note read: My name is Pia and I am from Abenra. We have been together for more than 6 weeks and there hasn’t been any discord between us. When you read in the history books and you read about Willem Barentz        and his friends, who made a trip to Nova Zembla; after just 2 weeks they had major discord! But that was  in 1666, ‘the primitive years!!’. Yet, when you look at it from another perspective, one could say: “History repeats it self”. In our case that doesn’t hold any water…’Exceptions confirm the rule”, so the saying goes. We are doing beach exercises now. We discovered that we both can throw a 20 kg stone over a distance of 5 meter. In long distance jumping, we both do 3.5 meters. (a meter is a bit over 3 ft.) I was just planning to do ‘a number two’ behind the bushes, when a guy suddenly appeared. He was shouting at us to get the ‘ #!!@%&**!’   out of here, this is a private beach….blah, blah…With our gift of persuasion, we managed to stay one more night and we did not understand Danish. His shouting and demeanor were clear: We had to move on! Our Bal-lad says it all:

The life of a wanderer

is oh so fine

and oh so hard  (2x)

Well one day

there came a man

his face as ‘yuck’ as a rotten peach

he threatened us and cicked us of the beach

he said: “It’s mine”.

That’s what he said, the swine

and with his gun he took aim

for us it was an unfair game

we gathered our belongings and tent

winfried’s  leg was on the mend

from the gun shot of this mean old man

us poor souls all weapons we had was a pen……………here follows the original Dutch:

‘t leven van een zwerver is o zo fijn en o zo hard  (2x)    Wel op een dag kwam er een man, z’n gezicht zo zuur als de azijn,  hij schopte ons van zijn  terrein  en zei toen ‘Het is van mijn’,  zijn vuil gezicht, z’n kannon op ons gericht,  we schraapten ons boeltje bij een,   Winfried gewond aan zijn been, we gingen toen zo zielig heen…….And this is how we ‘found’ ourselves along the E 3 highway. Soon it began to rain and we found shelter in a small shed. After the rain got lighter, we got back to the highway and………got our first ride from a Danish man. He brought us over the border, at Krusaa, to south of Flensburg (D), Germany. We ‘caught’ a ride to Hamburg Haupt Bahnhof. There were a lot of “rough’ looking people there..We found a Chinese restaurant; had a bite to eat there and decided to take the train to Oldenburg (D). Once we arrived in Oldenburg we walked west-ward; slept under an overpass and we were very early, in the heavy fog, standing along the highway in the direction of Groningen (NL). An attractive young German girl gave us a ride to about 4 km from the Dutch border. We walked across the border into Nieuweschans(NL). We ‘caught’ a ride in a Mercedes ‘limousine’, driven by a German. He dropped us off in Groningen (NL). It was a strange thing to hear all people around us speak Dutch. We dropped our tent & luggage off at the bus stop, bought ourselves fruit, bread and a magazine. Back at the bus stop we took the bus to Lauwersoog. Lauwersoog is the harbor where the ferry leaves for the Isle of Schiermonnickoog. We decided to take the ferry to the Isle of Schiermonnickoog to rest up from all this traveling. We wanted to do this in Denmark but we could not find a satisfactory spot. After an inspiring walk over the island, we got to a beautiful wide beach near the east tip of the Isle. We set up camp and fell asleep. It’s about a 3 hr walk, over the beach and through the forest,  to the village. There I bought food and walked back. While I was gone (about 7 hours), Winfried had built a wonderful wind screen, made with drift wood found on the beach. So with a deep sense of peace and satisfaction, we’ll enjoy the wine and bread with fresh cheese, which I had brought from the village. There is a strong wind  blowing from the west. The whole next day we work at fortifying our shack, we even found some plastic, planks  from crates and ropes from fishing nets. When we were finished we had built a perfect shelter , water proof . We deeply enjoyed all the beauty that the wide beach offered us. I had brought some reading material from the village and we had just  moved from the tent to our shack, when the rain came….The shack is reasonably water proof. I sleep in the shack and Winfried sleeps in the tent. This way we lessen the chance that either one of us by accident ‘bumps’ against the cloth of the tent. When you bump against the tent cloth, it will start leaking at that spot. The next day brings sunshine. The wind comes from the south now. I walked to the village to get supplies & Winfried ‘guards’ our belongings. There was a bulldozer working on the beach near the dunes. also surveyors were at work. In the evening we both walked to the village, had a couple of beers and started our 3 hour walk back, in the dark. It was hard to figure out where we were. We were “at the end of our rope” when i spotted a shadow. Is that our shack? Yes it was! We thankfully fell asleep. The next morning we woke up to the sound of a helicopter, flying low and circling over our camp site. We decided to pack and we walked back to the harbor for the ferry to Lauwersoog, from there we took the bus to Groningen and from there we took the train to Utrecht…….The forests in Holland are ‘a joke’ compared to what we have seen up North……….—–My son presented me with a copy of the book Wisdom. In this book well known people like: Graham Nash, Desmond Tutu,  Judi Dench, Nelson Mandela & Dave Brubeck with many more, share their wisdom. It is a good read. I decided to add my own ‘5 cent’s worth’.    When you want stability, you have to realize that the center of your being needs an anchor. An anchor firmly ‘planted’, keeps you from needless ‘drifting’ and  it keeps you from aimless ‘charting’ without a goal.  An anchor keeps you firm in a time where people  need people  to set an example in ‘how to live’. During the many centuries  Wisdom endured and gave mankind stability and resolve. Denying it will cause you to be ineffective  towards the outside world.    In ancient times a king had a dream.   He gathered all his wise men  and asked them: ‘Tell me my dream and interpret it”.  The king was determined not  to tell his dream.  The wise men were greatly puzzled and went back to the king: ‘Oh king tell us your dream and we will interpret it’.  The king  stood firm about his resolve.  The wise men were indignant; ‘ no one can do what you ask of us’.  The king needed the assurance of something more…an  anchor for his soul….in the beginning Wisdom was and is  and is to come.  He is the reveal-er of secrets  and is the anchor  of your ‘inner being’.   One of the wise men went to the king and revealed  what the king dream t  and  there by  acknowledged  that   we are dependent upon that eternal  Wisdom.  Wisdom in love says : I am,  I know all things and know what is in the hearts of  people.  The greatest is love.    I enjoy my five grand children  just as much as I enjoy my five children; I know they  love each other and that will continue long after my time…………..Looking out of the window from the plane I could see way down the pathway meandering through the coastal dunes of Holland. This pathway connects the sea side town of Zandvoort on the sea with a similar town called Noordwijk on the sea. It was on this pathway my Dad and I  were on one rented bicycle. I had my Dad on the back carrier and the peddling  was heavy going up the dune and very easy going down the dune. All went well. I did notice that peddling went easier but I figured it was because I was getting used to it. So when I arrived at the top of the next dune, I decided to rest up and than I discovered……No Dad!! I had lost him, racing down one dune to have enough speed to  make it up to the next dune. I looked back  and noticed him sitting there a few lower dunes back. He was sitting in the middle of the pathway,  pretending that all was fine. As I saw the Dutch coast sliding away one more thought came to me. It  would serve as  my anchor, about which I wrote in the Wisdom section earlier. Once every month my Dad had to take the train from Utrecht(NL) to Rotterdam (NL). He did this to buy in stock for his retailing business. My Dad  had a Raleigh bicycle, which he meticulously maintained by the local  owner of a bike shop. So he cycled one day to the Utrecht Central Railway station to catch the train to Rotterdam.  This day, part way to the station, he had a flat tire. My Dad  never had a flat tire. He renewed them regularly  His Raleigh  bicycle with  a state of the art Stirmy Archer 3 speed is among bicycles what a Rolls Royce is among cars. This flat tire caused my Dad to miss his train to Rotterdam.. I was in grade 4 at the time and brother Saulus told us that there had been a horrific train accident near the station of Harmelen. It would work out to be the worst train disaster ever to happen in Holland to that date. It involved “my Dad’s  train. The section of  the train where he normally sat, was totally obliterated.    My Dad never had a flat tire since……I was flying above Northern Scottland now, heading towards Iceland and was filled with an overwhelming peace: God is there!  soon I landed in Toronto, where there was a heat wave.. As a “say good bye” present the Dutch government  gives each emigrant $56.- ‘landings money”.with my “Volkskrant” money I had a total of $256.-.After the immigration procedure (I was the only immigrant on the plane), I was free to go. I bought a single fare Vancouver, which was $246.-  I discussed this fare with the attendant and he pointed out that it was a 5  hr flight! How big “my” new country was!! After arriving in Vancouver, I ‘caught” a ride to the Fraser valley where I started to work for “my own country man” (See earlier in the story). I landed a job for a landscaper; I was waiting in his office and sat in a rocking chair. Above me was  a macrame plant hanger with in it a large “spider plant’. The waiting was long and I started rocking the chair quite vigorously until the chair “rolled” over backwards and my foot got stuck in the macrame hanger just above the spider plant. The whole “works” could not hold my weight, so it broke loose from the ceiling, clattering to the ground with the dust settling around me; it was my turn to apply for the job. My first task was to clean up the mess I had made. This landscaper I worked for owned a nursery as well. He often had us meticulously clean the planted field and weed his nursery stock. All his plants in the field were used as collateral to borrow large amounts of money for expanding his business and to build a new house. By now my wonderful partner arrived from Holland. We ended up living in the basement of the Mayor’s home. He was mayor of a  town near by. As a hobby he kept sheep and we were to look after those sheep. After the ram “visited” the ewe (female sheep); peculiar things started to happen. As “city slickers” we hadn’t the faintest idea what it was but the sheep started to “blow red  balloons” from the rear end. Later we learned that sometimes prematurely , pregnant ewes ‘think’  they are ready to give birth. They would start pushing and in doing so , the whole uterus would come out, hence forth the ‘red balloon’. All you needed to do is ‘shove the darn thing’ back in. Our wedding was held at the Mayor’s home. My wife worked at a daycare facility at the time and the owner came to our wedding celebration at the Mayor’s home as well. In the evening it looked like the whole neighborhood came out. Most of the people we didn’t know. The mayor had set up a barbecue and was cooking meat patties for the hamburgers I was observing what was unfolding in front of my eyes ;   my wife’s boss had ‘slightly’ too much of the strong drink and she started ‘leaning’ against the house just behind where the barbecue was. She started a conversation with the mayor; she did not know he was the mayor. She asked:”Who are you? ” He said “I am Jack”. she said: “What you’re doing for a living?” He said:”I am working at city hall”. She said: “Are you the town clerk or something”? He said:” I am the Mayor”. I’d never seen somebody sobering  up so quickly…..By now it had ‘ gotten’ late and people started going home. I heard a “burping” sound from the back of my pickup truck; so I took  a look, there was our Irish neighbor from below the hill, “resting up”. We cleaned up a bit and went to  bed, our wedding night……  Suddenly, it must have been two o’clock in the night, the Mayor, who slept above us, ‘banged’ with a stick on the floor(our ceiling); “hey Wimbo, I think the sheep are out’, by now it was ‘good and dark’ out and no street lights, an overcast sky, so no moon & stars to lighten up things…..I started going down hill and couldn’t  find any sheep, nor lambs. I did see some wool dragged up into a tree, which tells you a cougar got a hold of a lamb…..I started walking further down the hill. Now it happened to be that we had a neighbour living at the bottom of the hill. They had a prize winning collection of heather in all colors and varieties…………I started hearing the escaped flock of sheep making loud ‘be-in’ sounds…I never knew that sheep liked eating heather. There they all were, in the neighbor’s yard..yes the neighbor with all the prize winning heather. I left them there and walked up the hill to wake up the Irish man I’d found earlier in the back of my pick up truck and after some “prodding and poking”, he woke up and  climbed out  of my truck to join me going down hill  to where the sheep were.  We both managed to herd the sheep back up hill and into their pasture.  We also found the hole in the fence; fixed it with a whole lot of broken branches; I walked the Irishman home and came back into bed besides my bride by about 5 am. What a night!  Now it happened  so that while my bride to be still lived in Holland, I wrote her a lot of letters. I got to  talk to the bank manager of my boss. He managed a small branch of a bank and he told me he had a girl friend , he ‘gotten’ to know while on holidays in Ireland. They grew fond of one and other, but he had to go back to Canada. They promised to write  but when ‘push came to shove’, his writing didn’t ‘mount up to much’.  So he asked how I did it with my Dutch girl friend……So from one thing came another and I started  writing the letters for him. The letters proved to be successful; his girl friend ended up moving to Canada. He was very thankful  and told me if I ever needed his help ; I could count on it. Two years later, the character I’d worked for had borrowed so much money , he started to default on his payments and eventually went bankrupt. He owed me $10.000 in wages, that I could use now  for a down payment on the house and land i now live on. It looked like I lost my $10K.  The bank manager remembered his promise to me; he simply  gave me my $10K, adding it to  the huge debt my boss had accumulated. He told me I would be the last in line to get paid, he simply made me the first. I took a mortgage  for the place I still live on and to help me pay the mortgage I landed  a ‘sweet paying’ job in a logging camp.

My job(s) at the logging camp were truly a “Canadian experience’. The language and how it was used was a real eye opener. Let me give you an example: A “bullblock” was called a !@%&!(every thing to do with the anatomy of a woman and man; with a female dog added to it. A stump cable was called a %^&$#@&*!( every thing to do with the male sexual organ and what the French call la bouche….) . Need I to say more?  Before I “take off’ , I should  explain the basics of logging in the mountains of BC.  So here we go than; A Hook-tender is the person who is responsible for finding a sturdy anchor stump, which is the stump which will hold the Bull-block, through which initially runs the ‘Lead-cable’  and once ‘the loop is complete, will pull the heavy cable through. A ‘Bull-block consists of a pulley ( an inside a casing  installed wheel that looks like a car-rim) through which the cable runs.  Once the Hook-tender selects an Anchor-stump he (with an ax) carves a notch in the stump around which he installs the Stump-cable( a thick fairly short cable with a loop on either side) The Bull-block has a big ‘eye’ through which the two loops of the Stump-cable are firmly put. Now the stump is ready . a second stump is prepared the same way . .These stumps form the basis of a triangle with as top has the top pulley of the “Spar’. The Spar is a heavy machine with “tank tracts’ , that consists of a tall vertical hollow ‘boom’  through which the cable runs through a pulley at the top and from there the cable runs through the Bull-blocks right back to the Spar; forming a triangle which is called The Bite. The Spar-machine stands on  The Landing.The Landing is the widened end of a side road of a logging road, called a spur.(it looks like a “cull-the-sac” in a sub-division). The landing has to be big enough to accommodate a 966 log-loader machine, the Spar, the logging-truck  and the logs that are pulled from the side hill. Also the Landing needs to be big enough for the “Bucker’ to saw the logs if need be. Often  there is a ‘Skidder’. Now you might wonder as to how the ‘Triangle” gets established? It starts with the Chokerman. He is the one who carries the Bull-block; the lead-cable and the Stump-cable up or down the often steep hills.Than there is the ‘rigging’-slinger; he is the person above the chokerman. He has a whistle around his waist and gives signals on his whistle.  These signals, the Spar operator reacts to; he either gives slack on the cable or tightens it, depending on the whistle signal of the ‘Rigging-slinger” whom he can’t see. Once you are in THE BITE you have to be very watch-full , one or both stumps might give way under the enduring force put on the cable by The Spar. This is ‘in a nut shell’ one aspect of the logging operation.  The other aspect in a logging camp is the road building crew which consists of a ‘Drill-rig, a blaster, a blaster’s helper and a D3 Cat bull-dozer for building the logging road. A “Crummey” is an extended pick-up truck which can seat up to 6 people. In this logging camp one “Crummey’ brought up the Diesel fuel, for the D3 Cat, Dynamite and B-line, for the Blaster and a shovel, my idea.    B-line looks like your average laundry line except that it is filled with dynamite powder, that when it’s ignited; it ‘gives’ it the ‘speedy’ ‘zoom’ , that blows up the dynamite.      

I started in the logging operation as a Choker man. My task was, while  every body waited, to carry up the Bull-block (80 lbs), the Stump-cable and the coiled Lead-cable. This is no picnic! The terrain is steep uneven with logs cris- crossing each other, hundreds of branches. Once I dropped the Bull-block and as it was “clattering” down the hill, I tried to figure out where it finally ‘landed’. Some times you would hear a splash sound, than you knew it landed in a creek some where…….One never looses a Bull–block!!.time was of utter importance, so you felt the pressure to hike up the hill as fast as you could while carrying an 80 lbs Bull-block; a thick stump-cable and a coiled lead cable. Every one is waiting for the Bull-block, the stump cable & the lead cable to reach the Hook-tender and the lead cable to go back to the Spar so that the heavy cable can be pulled up with the ‘rigging” attached to it, including the chokers. After a rough start, I got quite good at it. So good that things went smoothly and there was time for me to do other things in the camp. Things weren’t as regulated as they are now. I found myself helping Joe on the drill-rig. After his clear and precise instruction on ‘how to do it’; he would drill the holes in the rock and when he was finished; he would let me fill  ‘them holes’ up with round dynamite sticks. If there were 4 holes, you connected the 4 dynamite lines(sometimes 5 dynamite sticks per line) together with B-line , tied them together to one line; set the fuse; blow your whistle  , making sure all machinery and people were safe, light the fuse…..

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