I’ve been putting a fair bit of effort in to sur­round­ing myself with French lan­guage media and con­ver­sa­tion as I begin the learn­ing process.  While I’m still quite hope­lessly lost with con­ver­sa­tional French, the sounds are becom­ing more famil­iar and some vocab­u­lary is start­ing to stick…  Bateau, ciseau..   :)

Hav­ing popped down to the US to see some fam­ily over the Christ­mas break has some­what short-circuited this habit though, so now that the fes­tiv­i­ties are com­plete, I’ve repaired to a cafe to soak my ears in my French only Spo­tify playlist.  In research­ing some new songs and artists to grow the list today, I came across this Wikipedia entry about Wade Hemsworth, the com­poser of an old Cana­dian Favourite, The Log Driver’s Waltz, and I was pleased to learn that there’s even a French ver­sion, trans­lated by Philippe Tatartch­eff that’s just as beau­ti­ful as the Eng­lish one that you may well know, and will most cer­tainly love!

And as youtube does so well, it was fol­lowed up shortly by this beauty from Félix Leclerc:

For those of you who haven’t yet had the plea­sure of hear­ing the other ver­sion of The Log Driver’s Waltz:

And as an added bonus, we’ll fin­ish off with another Wade Hemsworth tune about yet another very Cana­dian tra­di­tion..  The Black Fly

I hope you’ve had a won­der­ful hol­i­day sea­son filled with good food, and your favourite peo­ple. You, my favourite peo­ple, scat­tered about this beau­ti­ful globe were here with me in spirit and in my thoughts.  Be well friends!   –J

Some­how I think this may be more enter­tain­ing for you if you can share in a lit­tle of my pain.   Or plea­sure. I’m unsure which at the moment.

I bought a new book today, and I’d love to share the pas­sage I’m mem­o­riz­ing at the moment.

(oh, and for gig­gles, I’ve added a good click­bait title to really encour­age your views!)


Went for a wan­der about Que­béc today with a really lovely French cou­ple that’ve been stay­ing here at the same airbnb. Such a spec­tac­u­lar loca­tion, and good peo­ple (along with some tasty food) made for a won­der­ful day. I’m not much for words tonight, but this city is stun­ningly beau­ti­ful and deserves a proper exploration.


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The last few weeks have been well spent explor­ing Mon­tréal and look­ing for a place to hang my hat this win­ter. I’ve done some research in to lan­guage schools, and will be look­ing at get­ting that set up for the new year.

In the mean­time, I’ve headed up to Québec City to do a quick one week course to get my head in shape to start this part of the learn­ing journey.

More on this later, but for now, a mostly pic­toral post. A few images from the very beau­ti­ful drive between Mon­tréal and Québec.

After an evening of really great con­ver­sa­tion yes­ter­day, I popped back in to my room and started to orga­nize the some of the tools and equip­ment that my dear friend Ash­ley was kind enough to ship to me. I’ve been enjoy­ing the small leather projects I’ve been doing, but I’m look­ing for­ward to build­ing some big­ger and more com­plex creations.

I’ve been hav­ing trou­ble locat­ing my sewing nee­dles in the tool bag though, so I made this nee­dle pouch with a cou­ple of pieces of scrap leather.   I’ve spaced and punched all of these holes by hand, and I’m really happy with how con­sis­tent the stitch­ing turned out.  (ignore the extra holes on the left side, that was just left­over from some­thing else and I wasn’t con­cerned about includ­ing it in some­thing so util­i­tar­ian!) Rather than hav­ing to stitch more ver­ti­cal lines to tighten up the pocket, I applied a light coat of rub­ber cement inside the pouch and then pushed the nee­dles and awl tips in and cre­ates a secure stor­age spot to keep them together.

I also built that D-Ring strap which will be used in a later project to secure the ring.  The sim­i­larly shaped piece of leather in the back­ground was, err, practice. :)

hand stitched needle pouch made from scrap leather

hand stitched nee­dle pouch made from scrap leather

Also, a lit­tle bonus for you.  I man­aged to mis­place the cam­era for a few days, but here are a few shots of my drive in from Ottawa through the really lovely Que­bec coun­try­side.  The day was a bit grey, but the road along the St. Lawrence river was really enjoy­able.  The scale of the infra­struc­ture projects out here is only matched by the scale of the nat­ural fea­tures they’re har­ness­ing.  this river is huge, and the dam that plugs it demands a lock to allow boat­ing traf­fic access to both sides.

A lock and hydroelectric dam on the St. Lawrence River

A lock and hydro­elec­tric dam on the St. Lawrence River

A lock and hydroelectric dam on the St. Lawrence River

A lock and hydro­elec­tric dam on the St. Lawrence River

The area is filled with beau­ti­ful old churches too

Church in Southern Quebec

Church in South­ern Quebec

Out of curios­ity, I stopped at a ceme­tery along the way. Not sure what I was expect­ing, I was sur­prised by the large num­ber of Eng­lish, Scot­tish, and even Ger­man names fea­tured on the stones.

Mary Graham - Headstone at a cemetery in Southern Quebec

Mary Gra­ham — Head­stone at a ceme­tery in South­ern Quebec

Ross, McPhee, and Nichols - Headstone at a cemetery in Southern Quebec

Ross, McPhee, and Nichols — Head­stone at a ceme­tery in South­ern Quebec

John McPhaden - Headstone at a cemetery in Southern Quebec

John McPhaden — Head­stone at a ceme­tery in South­ern Quebec

Samuel Webster - Headstone at a cemetery in Southern Quebec

Samuel Web­ster — Head­stone at a ceme­tery in South­ern Quebec


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I’ve just had a great face­book dis­cus­sion with a bunch of old bud­dies from back in my col­lege days, and these two videos sur­faced.   Thank­fully I haven’t been pic­tured doing any­thing incred­i­bly stu­pid.   I can’t say the same for others..

Some of the crew got lit up and went para­sail­ing in Mex­ico.  When they returned they bought a sur­plus mil­i­tary para­chute and waited for a day that was colder than –40ºC (which also hap­pens to be about –40ºF for you Amerikafolk).

Then there was a day of motor­cy­cle ridicu­lous­ness out on the farm.  Again, (and thank­fully), I was really new to motor­cy­cles and aside from a brief helmet-free cameo, most of the stu­pid­ity was under­taken by others.

Thanks to @EdmontonPaul for post­ing these reminders of the sheer amount of luck we used up as young­folk. And thanks to the rest of you for mak­ing those some pretty incred­i­ble days.

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It only seems fit­ting after com­mem­o­rat­ing the vicious  cost of war that I should leave Ottawa with a lit­tle nod to a sym­bol of peace. Over the (ahem) tail end of last week, I had the great for­tune to take a course at the Ottawa City Wood­shop with the Min­i­mal­ist Wood­worker, Vic Tes­salin (Shame­less plug, buy his new book here!).  The course focused on the essen­tial basics of wood­work­ing right from the the­ory side of wood­work­ing (there’s a sur­pris­ing amount of detail to be learned here) to the cut­ting my first-ever dove tail joints and the mak­ing of a small wooden box.

Vic’s knowl­edge, expe­ri­ence and pas­sion for wood­work­ing made the course engag­ing and extremely infor­ma­tive. On the third day, after learn­ing some the­ory and see­ing the skills demon­strated, the class pro­ceeded to saw, chisel and (in my case) hack away at some small pre-cut pieces of pine.   Coached along by Vic and some addi­tional help from Mike from the Wood­shop we pro­ceeded to con­struct our boxes.

I’m really pleased with the result, and to add another skill to my inven­tory.  I’ve been doing pretty rudi­men­tary car­pen­try for years, but proper join­ery is some­thing that fas­ci­nates me.   The most beau­ti­ful part of this is that aside from a cou­ple of elec­tric saw cuts to get all of our mate­ri­als ready (en mass), this whole project was done with hand tools.   As I read and watch more tuto­ri­als I’m steadily real­iz­ing that hand tools are an far sight faster when you’re build­ing cus­tom pieces.   The ten­dency to pull out a table saw, skill saw, or sander to build sim­ple stuff is huge, and espe­cially for begin­ners, they’re far less intim­i­dat­ing than some­thing like a hand plane..  Which really is counter-intuitive..

Let me tell you though, mak­ing shav­ings with a hand plane is OH-so sat­is­fy­ing..   Sooooo much satisfy…

Made a dovetailed box at the Ottawa City Woodshop. This is the final product, and I'm super pleased with how it turned out.

Made a dove­tailed box at the Ottawa City Wood­shop. This is the final prod­uct, and I’m super pleased with how it turned out.

Seri­ously, if you’re in, near or trav­el­ling past Ottawa any time soon, go take a course.. These guys are awesome!

But wait, there’s more..

So, I’ve got to con­fess.   While I’ve been on a bit of a min­i­mal­ism kick lately, I’ve been find­ing myself going a lit­tle stir-crazy with­out hav­ing tools to make, build and cre­ate..   I’m wait­ing on some of my stuff to arrive from Cal­gary, and that will help, but I couldn’t help myself any longer, so I tracked down Zelikovitz Leathers in Ottawa, and bought some basic sup­plies to do a bit of leather work. I tried to get stuff  that I didn’t already have, and now I’ll have a pretty well rounded kit when the rest gets here.  It’s also worth men­tion­ing that the ladies at the shop were incred­i­bly help­ful and very friendly and I’ll def­i­nitely be back when I’m through town again. I did find leather prices quite a bit more expen­sive than my favourite shop in Cal­gary (Buck­skin Leather) but their selec­tion of equip­ment and tools was awesome..

I’ve wanted to build myself a wal­let for a while, and never quite got around to doing it, so after the wood­shop course was done last night, I stayed up a bit late and built one..  I’m super-pleased with the result of this one too.   My stitch­ing is a bit askew at the cor­ner, but over­all it seems to hold my cards really well, and I’m super pleased with the Zelikovitz brand Mid­night Blue leather dye.  It’s water based, and super-easy to clean up for a sloppy maker like this guy!

A day of Creativity, new wallet and my first-ever dovetailed box.

A day of Cre­ativ­ity, new wal­let and my first-ever dove­tailed box.

I even made a sheath for the stitch­ing chisel that I picked up Zelikovitz; these are an in-house brand and super sharp!

(Sorry about the colour on this photo, I’m try­ing to get this post pub­lished and well, the colour cor­rec­tion depart­ment is on holiday..)

Made a sheath for my perforating chisel.

Made a sheath for my per­fo­rat­ing chisel.


As my learn­ing jour­ney here in Ontario begins, I have left the won­der­ful home of my hosts Dave and Simone, and headed for Ottawa in time to attend the Remem­brance Day cer­e­monies in our nation’s cap­i­tal, Ottawa. This jour­ney is as much about learn­ing new skills as it is about under­stand­ing what it is to be Cana­dian, and I feel that spend­ing time in this part of the coun­try is essen­tial to achiev­ing a more com­plete under­stand­ing of the latter.

In my youth, and as a mem­ber of an Air Cadets squadron I par­tic­i­pated in more than a few wreath lay­ing cer­e­monies. Back then we unques­tion­ingly donned woolen socks, long sweaters and trench coats to parade in frigid tem­per­a­tures at a vari­ety of ceno­taphs and war memo­ri­als to hon­our our fallen sol­diers. At the time, it seemed a tiny sac­ri­fice in com­par­i­son to the one we were saluting.

Since those days, I’ve seen much more of the world, and acquired what I hope is a more com­plete under­stand­ing of how the world oper­ates. It’s also my hope that I’ve devel­oped a bit more wis­dom, and the capa­bil­ity to think for myself.  I’ve long strug­gled with the oft repeated mes­sage “lest we for­get” and with every year that passes my frus­tra­tion grows.  My hope with attend­ing the cer­e­mony here was to con­nect with what it means to Cana­di­ans, or Cana­di­ans in the cap­i­tal, or even just what it means. I went with an open mind.

I watched as men, women and an assort­ment of teenagers in pointy hats, and fuzzy hats, and cir­cu­lar hats, and floppy hats all marched past me.  I lis­tened to the con­ver­sa­tion of col­lege stu­dents, home mak­ers, and retired mil­i­tary per­son­nel that sur­rounded me in the crowd.  We all watched as dig­ni­taries showed up for their duties, but it wasn’t until the parade of vet­er­ans arrived that I real­ized how empty these words we utter so repeat­edly really are.

I grew up in a time when the num­ber of WWI & II vet­er­ans was dwin­dling and Korean war vets were also in short sup­ply; Cypress was but a text­book mem­ory.  Every year of parade saw less vet­er­ans and smaller cer­e­monies. It was almost a mark of pride that we had none to replace them as they died of old age.  What shocked me with the Ottawa parade was the num­ber of young vet­er­ans present. As I watched them march past, the real­iza­tion that we have indeed ignored the mes­sage hit me full-force.  We here in Canada (aided by our inter­na­tional part­ners no doubt) have come up with increas­ingly effec­tive and stu­pid ways of wast­ing human life, destroy­ing fam­i­lies and mud­dy­ing our name internationally.

In my crit­i­cism, I never want to under­mine the efforts, and the legit­i­mate sac­ri­fices that our mil­i­tary per­son­nel have all made in their var­i­ous deploy­ments, but I do ques­tion the rea­son for most deploy­ments in recent his­tory. I’ve always believed that mil­i­tary should pri­mar­ily be a defence force, and as a Cana­dian I’ve sat back and watched our mil­i­tary be con­verted to an inter­na­tional aggres­sive police force as a result of polit­i­cal pos­tur­ing.  I do have great hopes for our new gov­ern­ment, and a new era of peace­ful inter­na­tional behav­iour. Time will tell whether this will change.

With that, I shall step down from my soap box, and share some images of the day’s activities.

First, the plethora of ser­vice branches rep­re­sented today:

The peo­ple keep­ing us safe today.   The real heroes of the day were really the para­medics, who saved count­less sol­diers from the inevitable con­se­quences of stand­ing per­fectly still for long peri­ods of time.  Those who haven’t tried it, ought to before judg­ing. With­out prac­tice, it’s an incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult task.

Also, the snipers.  Prob­a­bly more there for the Prime Min­is­ter than for us as spectators.


Vet­eran ser­vice dogs were well rep­re­sented in the crowd today too.

Veteran service dog

And a few shots of the tomb of the unknown sol­dier, sur­rounded by onlook­ers lay­ing pop­pies.  The wreaths were laid at the base of an enor­mous stone and cast sculp­ture depict­ing our troops charg­ing in to battle.

On the lighter side, I caught my first glimpse and took a tour of our Par­lia­ment build­ing today:

The Parliament Building in Ottawa, Canada

The Par­lia­ment Build­ing in Ottawa, Canada

And had my first ever beaver tail. Yes, they’re deli­cious, and no, I’m not going to share.

Well, okay, maybe if you ask nicely. :)

A cinnamon and sugar beaver tail. The classic, and a very Canadian experience.

A cin­na­mon and sugar beaver tail. The clas­sic, and a very Cana­dian experience.

Over­all, it was an inter­est­ing day spent sur­rounded by a peo­ple united.  I’ve not man­aged to get any closer to rec­on­cil­ing my feel­ings on the cer­e­mony but I’ve added another expe­ri­ence in my quest to under­stand what this place is all about.

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I’ve been post­ing a lot to face­book lately.  It’s easy.  And it has a way of draw­ing me back in despite cavok.com being my pre­ferred method of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.  I have a post com­ing up about my time in Har­lan, Ken­tucky, and the time I spent with my good friend J.D. Napier there. I had the incred­i­ble for­tune to meet J.D. after get­ting myself com­pletely lost on my first trip to Har­lan.   More on that later, but for now a quick shot of us together with the Giant Blacksmith’s Anvil J.D. has con­structed right there on site.

J.D. Napier and Jordan with the world's biggest anvil?

J.D. Napier and Jor­dan with the world’s biggest anvil?


For now though, I’d like to record a few thoughts from today’s trip toward Chicago while they’re still fresh in my mind.  Parts of this are pulled from a face­book post, and I’ve added a few things in too..

A chilly start in Harlan, KY

A chilly start in Har­lan, KY

Had an incred­i­ble day out on the move today. Leav­ing Har­lan this morn­ing, fog coated the fall coloured for­est on Pine moun­tain, and filled the Hol­lows beneath. The air was frigid and numbed my face as it flowed over ThirstyGirl’s wind­shield. Rid­ing over the gen­tly curv­ing moun­tain roads, I expe­ri­enced a moment of pure joy that I’ve not felt in decades. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I yelled whoops of pure elate­ment in to my hel­met visor. I’d set a cam­era up on the motor­cy­cle fender to cap­ture that sec­tion of the ride, but it ended up not record­ing so you’ll have to take my word that it was one of the most incred­i­bly beau­ti­ful scenes I’ve encoun­tered in my lifetime.

Martins Fork, Harlan KY in the early morning

Mar­tins Fork, Har­lan KY in the early morning

Headed for Chicago, I had the incred­i­ble for­tune to catch up with some incred­i­ble peo­ple. First a cof­fee and an ever so short visit with my good friend Jeff Ross in Bar­bourville.

Jordan and Jeff at The Ugly Mug

Jor­dan and Jeff at The Ugly Mug

And another stop for lunch with an awe­some dude, Chase Sat­ter­white in Lex­ing­ton. (Oops, we should have grabbed a photo too..) It was fan­tas­tic to catch up with both of you guys, and I appre­ci­ate your tak­ing the time out for a visit today. That was icing on the cake.

Bed­ded down in Lafayette, Indi­ana and man­aged to get the last room in the hotel.. The Pres­i­den­tial Suite. Oh yeaaahh… The only thing this room is miss­ing is a spe­cial some­one to share it with. Given the epic nature of today’s trip, I’ll con­cede this isn’t a total neces­sity!

I feel as though I do lead a charmed life, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to truly appre­ci­ate it. I’m filled with grat­i­tude for every­thing that I’ve expe­ri­enced today and lead­ing up to today.

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You may have read my post on set­ting up the Rasp­berry Pi to access the desk­top remotely.  I got most of that accom­plished with a bit of deter­mi­na­tion and some help from the good peo­ple of Red­dit /RaspberryPi.   Once I’d sent red­dit my post, u/newdles and u/wittless both made some really good sug­ges­tions about using an SSH Tun­nel to route traf­fic from the browser on my cur­rent com­puter to the Ras­berry Pi. This elim­i­nates the need for any remote desk­top soft­ware like VNC which is inher­ently inse­cure because the data it sends isn’t encrypted.

SSH (Secure SHell) is a much bet­ter option than my orig­i­nal plan for a few rea­sons.  First as the name implies, it’s rel­a­tively secure.  The web traf­fic is encrypted while it’s trav­el­ling back and forth between my lap­top and the Rasp­berry Pi.  For the time being, short of the NSA, most peo­ple won’t have access to the traf­fic stream.

Sec­ond, it’s far faster than VNC.  Because VNC has to send graph­ics data between two com­put­ers it tends to be pretty slow and finicky when you’re try­ing to move about the desk­top, open files and appli­ca­tions, and manip­u­late set­tings. It’s always been like this and even with sig­nif­i­cantly higher inter­net speeds, it hasn’t dras­ti­cally improved in the 15 years I’ve used it.

I found a great walk through from Hey Stephen Wood on SSH Tun­nelling on the Mac, and since I was already set up for SSH ter­mi­nal access, it was really just the proxy con­fig­u­ra­tion I needed.   The only thing dif­fer­ent in my own setup was that I’d changed my default port from 22 to (some­thing else) on the advice of u/witless on that red­dit thread.

Stephen sug­gests using this to con­nect to your Pi:

$ ssh -D 8888 username@yourwebserver.com -vv

But when the default port has been changed, this is actu­ally what you’ll need to do.

$ ssh -D 8888 -p [YourNewPortNumber] username@yourwebserver.com -vv

I got a bit con­fused by his 8888, and tried to jam my port num­ber in there unsuc­cess­fully.  The –D 8888 spec­i­fies a port on the local com­puter where that tun­nel can tran­sit through. Obvi­ously my non-default port needed to be spec­i­fied separately. :)

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