Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Am So Proud of You: working with rescued animals in British Columbia PT. 7 (FINAL)

9/7 - 9/15

The night we headed back from the show in Victoria we were driving through the woods in our neighborhood when I saw a bike tire protruding from a bush on the side of the road. Never passing up a good opportunity for a trash bike I ran out and grabbed it. I threw it in the back of Chuck's truck and headed off back to the cabin, only to realize later how hideous (and awesome) this bike really is. It has: a Maruishi road bike frame, a knobby mountain bike tire on the back, beach-cruiser wheel on the front, bmx bars, cruiser seat, ancient brakes and a 5 speed shifter. As ugly as this thing is, amazingly it rides well and the tires are relatively new. The frame is a bit rusted and the back tire wobbles, but everything runs smoothly and it shifts properly. Anyway, it reminded me of a story that my friend Keegan told me about someone he knew finding a mountain bike in a dumpster and riding it 200 miles. The ferry crossing in Port Angeles, WA is only 250 miles from Portland, OR so I thought if someone else can do it why can't I? I scoured Craigslist for days until I found a cheap, pink Little Tikes bike trailer that I've managed to shove all of my belongings into, and plan to drag it all the way back to PDX. So I've spent this last week preparing for my trip home, and as of recently the cabin has been completely ransacked since 'Hurricane Mike' has come through. Considering that I'll be riding home through the Olympic mountains in potentially freezing weather, I've decided to only take items with me that are essential to my survival over the next 4 or so days. That means I have to leave a few important things behind for now, like my guitar and other bike, but on the bright side it'll give me more incentive to come back to Canada soon (not that I really need any more).

I am currently 2 days away from leaving Canada for an unknown period of time, and what was originally supposed to be 2 weeks here ended up stretching out to nearly 2 months. Ginny and Ron Weasley (the cats) are finally comfortable enough here at the cabin to come down from the loft and play through all hours of the night, and I am super excited for them. Every time I'm home alone Ron sees an opportunity for some bro time, and we usually watch The Office together or I play music for him. I spent my last day at the farm yesterday feeding the animals and shoveling horse manure out of the shed that Romeo (the horse) loves to shit in. I also got to groom Natalie Portman (the turkey) for the first time and he loved it! I wish I had taken a video but I didn't have a camera at the time. We've been avoiding and ignoring Keres every time we've come to the farm as well, and that works out better for everyone; though occasionally we'll see some of her handiwork around the farm when we're feeding on our days i.e. not refilling the chicken's water, leaving a mountain of trash in the tool shed, doing nothing about a horrible infection Romeo had in his eye etc.

This trip has been an amazing and informative experience for me. I got to spend time with animals that I never had the opportunity to be around previously. Got to witness how and why horses get their feet trimmed, learned how chickens eat their own eggs (kinda gross), how some turkeys (like Carl*) love to hump everything in sight and will crawl in your lap and cuddle if you let them, how truly anti-social most cats naturally are with humyns, and when I was volunteering at the parrot sanctuary in Parksville I learned how hard cockatoos can bite**. I made some pretty amazing and inspiring friends here, and I am hoping to come back to stay here again as soon as I can... until then I will miss them greatly. I can't imagine how hard it's going to be to have to leave here tomorrow.

Even though I've heard so many amazing stories of survival about the animals I've come into contact with, there are still millions and millions out there who are never afforded an opportunity at a decent life. Sanctuaries and rescues are amazing places and deserve support and admiration. It's hard work to take care of so many animals, and some people, like Chuck, have to work 2 or 3 jobs just to provide for the animals in their care. Look into a sanctuary or rescue near you and donate your time or money, I'm sure they could greatly use it. Sentient beings are not commodities, trophies or emotional or physical punching bags; THEY ARE OUR FRIENDS.

I don't trust anyone that doesn't love animals.

Love Always,
Mike XVX

Huge thank you's and much love to: Chuck, Stanley, Romeo, Timber, Natalie Portman, Ron and Ginny, Dougie, Reggie, Ebin, the chickens, the bunnies and all the feral cats, Justin, Shawna, Marian, Emma, Tarah, Brooke, Joe, Heather, Tara, Martin, Adrienne, all people who oppose the Canadian seal hunt, people who throw away bikes for no darn good reason, and lastly Chuck's mom for spending hours finding me a tent to ride home with. GO VEGAN!

*Carl used to live at the farm but now lives at a stable where he hangs out with kids all day and teaches them that turkeys are friends, not food.

**I was standing there minding my own business when a cockatoo bit me square on my Achilles tendon and it bled like crazy. I turned around to see 3 or 4 of them standing there so I didn't know who to blame, but it hurt really freakin bad.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Am So Proud of You: working with rescued animals in British Columbia PT. 6

8/31 - 9/6

It's been getting a little bit colder the past week or so, and I'm excited for Fall to finally be here. We've often had fires in our fireplace here at the cabin and there's nothing more comforting then falling asleep to the crackle of wood burning.

A couple of days ago I needed to make copies, so Chuck dropped me off with my bike at the office supply store on her way to work. Unbeknownst to me, and because of a mis-communication she dropped me off at the store that's nearly 3 times as far from the cabin as the one I assumed we were going to. So with no food and very little water, my journey home began on the treacherous, yet beautiful, Parkway Trail. The trail itself stretches from one end of Nanaimo to the other, most of the ride being through the woods along the highway and over or across bridges. The hills are incredibly steep on the first part of this path, and I ride a brakeless fixed gear bike, so I literally came within inches of colliding with a family of deer while coming down a grade. Accidentally having separated the mother from her 2 babies, I was terrified she was going to seek retribution against me. Luckily she accepted my screamed apology as I flew past. After I had been riding for a couple of hours, I finally reached a nice, flat area that wound through shady woods along a river. Enjoying myself for the first time on the Parkway Trail, I was brought to a halt while coming around a corner to discover that the path abruptly ended. Amidst a sea of construction crews, bulldozers and cement trucks, one worker, who was oh so busy talking on her cell phone, took one look at me and shook her head. So with my original route closed I found an alternative among surface streets, and eventually made it back to the cabin.*

I played a show in Victoria on Sep. 4th at the BCGEU. A friend, who had previously invited me to play the Anarchist Bookfair, set up a benefit show for a womyn named Kelly that was arrested in the wake of the G20 in Toronto**. She is being charged as being one of the leaders of the black bloc which the government is trying to classify as a "hate crime". Hate crime statutes were created to protect people from marginalized communities, but it's now being used against an activist in a completely ridiculous and unrelated context. (you can read more about her case here: The show went well and I met some pretty awesome people. There were a few performers that completely blew me away, I was seriously impressed! Chuck and I both finished off 2 gluten-free vegan pizzas***, cookies, and a cream soda before the show so after a long drive back to Nanaimo and settling in at the cabin at 3 am we both had some serious stomach aches.

Nearing the last days here in Canada, and I already know I'm going to miss it when I get back to the states. I've made a short video of some of the animals I've met on this trip and set it to some awesome 80's pop music. Let me know what you all think!

Love Always,
Mike XVX

*My thighs are still sore as I type this.

**For 3 years I've been extended an invitation to play the bookfair, every year I've said yes, and every year I've fucked up and missed it.

***Try Daiya vegan cheese, you will NOT regret it!