“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” Elizabeth Gilbert
It's kind of handy to be able to put all your stuff in one place, and that's what I'd like to do with this blog. Hope you find it useful, informative, inspiring, and funny (these are not mutually exclusive). Blessings to you - Ian
Wow – thanks for checking in! For the past year or so, I have mostly been posting things at The World According to Brother Ian at brotherian.ca – check it out! It’s mostly spiritual study & inquiry, essays, a few jokes, and just another way to tell you I care about you. Let me know what you think!
For personal other-stuff, just find me on Facebook…it’s pretty up-to-date.
One of the awesome things about living in a small community on a small island with small numbers of people with large hearts is the wonderful gifts we give each other.
On San Juan Island off the coast of Washington (the state, not the city) & just across the water from Victoria (the city, not the queen), lives my good & dear friend Ryan Browne, who shared this little tale about something he discovered when he came rolling home one day. While I’m pretty sure “Thoreau” is a metaphorical nom d’plume here (pretty sure he didn’t know about plastic bowls), it’s a sweet bit of writing for Ryan, who I think of as a modern-day Thoreau, in his own right.
Here’s more, from Ryan:
Sorry this took so long to write…
To the anonymous person who left this Thoreau poem, handwritten on a cedar shingle on my kitchen counter months ago: YOU are the BEST kind of person..
You truly made my day, and have done so each and every time that I look upon this poem. (which is now hanging in my kitchen).
You inspire me to pay it forward – to take a little bit of time out of each day to give appreciation, thoughtfulness, and inspiration to others, while expecting nothing in return. It’s these little things in life that give me sustenance while this beautiful, crazy planet seems to be spinning so fast.
Found in the kitchen…
Whoever you are, keep on shining, you wonderful human.. The world needs you now more than ever.
In museums there are baskets and blankets and tapestries bowls and jewelry things we used to fashion between our hands.
Is it the item or the method that is on display?
Craft: The skilled practice of a practical occupation is becoming quaint. A hobby instead of the soul’s work. Machines stamp out plastic bowls to replace the baskets. That will be our legacy.
Will museums ever be big enough for all the things we have forgotten? Or all the useless stuff we create? They have become our elders the teachers of our children full of silent memories desecrated cultures now empty objects once made for a purpose.
But there is a renaissance and those who remember with their eyes open will create our mysteries and we will become again the makers and the givers the dancers instead of soldiers dreamers instead of believers inventors instead of destroyers.
Our hearts, Which do not shout And are hard to hear over the hum of machines.
We have been outside the garden for so long We have forgotten what it means to grow. Our florescent sun has burned a hole through the center of our hearts and we have become afraid of the substance of ourselves.
You know how you need a place to put all your stuff? Me, too….
I used to have a newspaper called the San Juan Update where I could post things I was thinking about & photos of things in the neighbourhood (it’s a pretty small island, which made it easy). So I guess I’m in the habit of sharing with folks – ideas, pictures, quotes, dreams, insights, and more.
This new site (The world According to Brother Ian – at http://www.brotherian.ca) is the way I’ll do that – it includes writing that has appeared elsewhere, other people’s compelling ideas, music (why do you look surprised?) as well as some of the things I’m discovering about psychics, intuitives, spiritual matters, and occasionally UFOs and starpeople.
Check it out & let me know what you think about the new site – I’m looking forward to hearing from you! (ian (at) byd2.com )
When you go to Victoria, be sure & take a walk along Dallas Road, along the water, looking south to the Olympics across the strait & up at the hang gliders….photo by Ian Byington.
I was hoping to impress on you how autumn-like it was in Victoria, so I chose the warmest week of the year – this week it hit over 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 C.), with people I meet in the streets saying, “Is it like this all the time, here?” Since I want them to know the truth, I mention that surveys have shown that great numbers of Canadians hope to retire here, as this is known as the warmest, most temperate place in the country. Take that.
Anyway, it’s pretty warm this week, if you ask me.
Here are some other things going on, which I’m telling you about because I hope you’ll come over from the island & visit, soon. I miss you!
Similar to Popeye the harbor seal down at Friday Harbor’s marina, people go to Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria to feed the harbour seals there, who are generally quite roundish by the end of the season. Photo by Ian Byington.
When you come, you’ll want to say stuff that makes it sound like you read a book about “How To Talk Canajun.”
You already know that it’s a washroom, not a bathroom, that the $1 coin is a loonie (it has a loon on it, for easy reference), the $2 coin is a toonie, and the $5 bill is called a five dollar bill.
It’s kilometres, not miles (here’s an easy reference for converting, using the Fibonacci sequence), and it was fun when someone asked how long Josie & I have been married, and we said nearly five years, or 7.2 in metric.
You know how the Mighty Seahawks have a “12th Man” when the crowd makes itself part of the game – CFL teams have a 13th Man, since there are 12 players.
You know how when you get a “brain freeze” it feels, when you drink something cold too quickly – here it’s called “Slurpee Head.”
And, like San Juan Island, if it’s cool outside it’s probably summer & if it’s hot it’s probably spring or fall. References to “June-uary” and “Fog-ust” are kinda universal.
Literary types like Karly abound – she was selling tickets for the Shakespeare shows at the Moss Street Market. Photo by Ian Byington.
There was a dog show over at he Delta Hotel, across the harbour…this little guy was a finalist for best prepared for a motorcycle ride, I think. Photo by Ian Byington.
It sure was cool that islanders Tom Schultz & his daughters Emily & Alaina dropped by Victoria the other day – great to see how well everyone’s doing & to catch up on stories from the island….
Earlier this week, I got to visit with the Road Scholar group that was visiting Vancouver Island. Group leader Adele Grover was there, too, with the program that is sponsored by Skagit Valley College/San Juan Center. And…they were having a great time!
I hear Brenna Woods will be over this way this weekend, and that the Yacht Club is bringing some 70 people over to the Inner Harbour this weekend as well….
That would be speed bumps. Photo by Ian Byington.
So far, I’ve heard that a lot of islanders have discovered the Royal Scot as an affordable place to stay, just a block from the harbour & a block from the Clipper to get here (if you don’t come on the ferry, which drops you in Sidney, a few blocks from the bus which takes you near the hotel for $2.50)…check it out, especially later in the fall!
And yes, hockey season starts a month early this year, because of the Olympics….the NHL shuts down for nearly a month in the middle of the season so that players can play in the Olympics. So, instead of the end of October, the Canucks have their first game on October 3rd this year…..
Or…you can just keep going! Vancouver Island is long & seems to just keep going…here’s a grey whale decked out with a little kelp that we saw north of Tofino, earlier this year…..photo by Ian Byington.
Travel correspondent Ian Byington’s special reports to the San Juan Update are posted whenever the prose is clear, the photos crisp, and the weather nice enough to go out & play in. He & Josie currently live in Victoria, BC after nearly two decades on San Juan Island.
It’s a common sight – folks feeding the ducks & geese & occasionally gulls at Beacon Hill Park, in the middle of Victoria.
It’s so close, isn’t it – as the crow flies, it’s only 10-11 miles from Friday Harbor to Victoria, and almost as easy, taking the ferry. When you get on the 9:45am ferry from here, you’re in Sidney, BC less than a hour & half later. From there it’s an easy bus ride or car (if you take it) ride to Victoria, a city of over 400,000 folks.
And there are a lot of things to like – let’s look around.
That’s Caroline from the Good Lovelies, playing in Victoria last week….
Last spring, one of the highlights of the year was the appearance at the San Juan Community Theatre of Canada’s Juno-award-winning folk group, The Good Lovelies. When I visited with them after the show, the most common question I hear folks ask them was, “When are you coming back?”
The Lovelies have a new album out, and are on a Canadian tour that brought them to Victoria last week for a sold-out show that left people smiling & laughing…you can check out their site & hear their tight three-part harmonies on their site and on YouTube….Sue, Caroline & Kerri do an awesome job!
It’s always good to see friends from San Juan on the ferry on the way to Victoria – last month we ran into Ian & Laura Bolton (left) then watched Shelly & Clark Gilbert shoot selfies on the way to a day on Vancouver Island.
The gulls get excited when the fishing boats come back to the Inner Harbour, and the crew cleans the catch….
It was a month ago (on July first), but Canada Day in Victoria is a great thing for you to put on the calendar for next year, with tens of thousands of red-clad revelers in the street, music on the legislature’s lawn, and fireworks to end the day.
How cool is that? Josie & ran into island bead artist Darleen Nixon coming back from a trip to Vancouver Island with her college buddies Debbie (left) and Lolly (right) – they all got together for a little college reunion, as they all went to Texas Christian University….
How cool is that? We caught up with Wendy & Carl on the way to camping on Vancouver Island…..
There was a little Canadian kid, maybe six or seven years old, on the ferry to Friday Harbor yesterday…I was watching him studying a guy who was stretched out & napping on the boat, who then reported to his mom: “They get to sleep on their ferries. Why can’t we?”
I liked it when the ferry folks made an announcement that we were landing in Friday Harbor, and he said, “Hey, Mom! Who’s Freddy Harper?”
One of the things you’ll want to do is take your evening walk down by the Inner Harbour & watch the sun go down, and the colours of the day soften…beautiful way to bring the day to a close…
Kinda like Canada Day, BC Day (which was a three day weekend, last week) includes lots of music downtown, including the Victoria Symphony playing on a barge (yellow arrow) in the harbour for people on the Empress’ lawn & the grass in front of Parliament…the fireworks at the end shook our windows, a mile away from the water.
My six month study of this is complete: research shows it to be true.
Travel correspondent Ian Byington’s special reports to the Update are posted whenever the prose is clear, the photos crisp, and the weather nice enough to go out & play in. He & Josie currently live in Victoria, BC after nearly two decades on San Juan Island.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about communication stuff, and this little cartoon by Randall at xkcd.com came to mind, about how we sometimes forget that the culture of language forgets its roots, at times…..
We left nothing but footprints in the warm Maui sand….
As luck, fortune, and timing sometimes provide, Josie & I got to spend a couple of weeks on Maui last month, and it was fun to compare their island with ours, and, even there, to connect with island friends from San Juan Island.
Here’s a bit about what happened, and some observations about differences between them & us:
The occasion of our making the trip was to attend a whale conference (Whale Tales it’s called, put on by Whale Trust from Maui – here are photos of the eventby the amazing Chelsea Heller), Josie’s 50th birthday, and to just take a vacation (we remember our last one in 2008 fondly).
So, we spent a lot of time in the sand, walking ’round Lahaina, checking out history stuff so we could report to Kevin at the Historical Museum how Hawaii does it, whale watching, listening to music & watching traditional dance, and reading a bunch.
We weren’t the only ones – islanders Jon & Donna Tegnell (left) met us for her birthday as well, the morning before they headed back to San Juan Island…)
There are some ways how people in Lahaina do things, compared to us:
I got to sing a few at “Cheesebuger in Paradise,” looking over the ocean with warm breezes…..
• Almost every eating place had live music – it was cool to see & hear so many folks singing in the cafés at night. Not all Jimmy Buffet songs, either – wide range of work.
• They have traffic lights (unlike us) but not that many. Slow moving traffic through Front Street there, as people in cars waiting for people on foot (us) to cross the street.
You can tell the drivers apart, just like in Friday Harbor or Victoria: locals let the people cross the street, and visitors might, or might not.
On one trip we took, the crew said they had “guaranteed whales” & let us take a picture of it…..
• Wonderful stuff in the galleries along Front Street there, with sales folks who are tons more aggressive than our town gallery sales people – “So, which piece would fit in your living room?” and “Which of our pieces is going home with you today?”
Gotta say I prefer the Friday Harbor laid-back way, but it was easy to appreciate the Maui determination, too…..
• It’s cool the way folks there all say “Aloha!” to greet or say goodbye to you, and “Mahalo!” to say thank you….kind of reminds me of the Lopez wave, because visitors can do it & feel a bit of belonging.
It would be cool if we could come up with some similar San Juan Island greetings, like maybe “May island winds blow you gently ashore,” or maybe “May the memory of the island summer sun warm you, all winter long,” or “Wow, how late was your ferry?” or something, as a greeting, and maybe “Rock on!” as a goodbye (since we live on a rock…..)
Probably need to put some thought into that one.
It was fun to run into former FHHS soccer player & all-time great kid Kelsey Peterman (graduated in the early 2000s) on Front Street…..
• We loved the way the history (and the spirit of the ancient Hawaiians) is woven into just about anywhere you walk….and shared so easily, in a way that invites visitors into exploring & sharing the way it used to be….
• There are some whale watch operators who say “guaranteed whales” as part of their advertising – easy enough, since you can see the humpbacks breeching when you’re standing on the dock.
• It was cool to know other islanders were around – France & Chance Earle were there when we there, and Neil & Val Curtis & the kids, and people who were yelling, “Ian!” just like on Spring Street, except usually it was about someone else, or some misbehaving kid….
There was someone who hollered “Ian!” and waved at me as they passed by in a car, but I didn’t catch who it was – let me know if it was you, hey?
Sunsets every night (Lahaina faces west….) were an ongoing reminder of a warm evening ahead of music & friends & night walks….
Overall, I gotta say I became a fan – I’d never been to Hawaii before & it was a great chance to sit still & relax & get fired up for the things ahead this year….I can see why people love it!
We got a chance to go out in a research boat, and a humpback spyhopped at one end of the boat (we sat still in the water, you bet), showed her belly as she passed maybe a meter or two under the boat, then spyhopped in front of the boat to say hey to Josie, their biggest fan. Photo by Jim Darling (thanks, Jim!)
If you like, here’s a little video I made of our humpback sightings, made over four trips out on the water.
Thanks for letting me share this with you! Cheers, Ian
It’s been an interesting year, coming down to the wire….a few folks have asked what I read to keep up with the way the electoral college is shaping up. If that’s interesting to you, I’ll tell you that I like the way these two sites poll each state to arrive at the projected winner (the popular vote is meaningless, as Vice President Gore found out when he had a half million more votes, and lost).
The two sites you might want to watch in these few days before the election are Real Clear Politics and Electoral-vote.com….they break it down state-by-state. See what you think. Take a peek, and then see what it all looks like on Wednesday morning.
Personally, it’s long past time for the electoral college to go (and yes, I have talked to my representative about it!) The thing was put to a vote (with President Nixon’s endorsement, it was called the Bayh-Celler Amendment) in 1969, but was filibustered to death in the Senate after the House overwhelmingly had voted for it – read about it here, in the first quarter of the article).
My bigger concern, though, is the way the Ohio election was handled in 2004…both the Conyers Report and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. report (read it! and then ask, “Why wasn’t this HUGE news?”) … both raise grave concerns that that election had fraud written all over it, and that both parties turned their heads given the evidence of it. Scary stuff for the country, and I hope that folks’ awareness – both Dems & GOPers – grows about the direction it went that time. Stay informed.
You know how the music & words shape what we feel & say & do each day – it’s so cool when the poetry of our songs & verse says so clearly what is in our hearts & minds, whether it’s a cry of joy or singin’ the blues – that’s why it’s good to swap songs with each other. So, here’s one, as the winter solstice bears down on us…
How like a winter hath my absence been (Sonnet 97)
by William Shakespeare
How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness every where!
And yet this time remov’d was summer’s time;
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute:
Or, if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer,
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.