Oh Mom, there are so many thing to tell you about this last year… the short is: for the first time in a loooong time, i have hope, optimism and a bit of peace.
Last year included a trip to Logan to deal with the rest of your items including the missing Agatha Christie books (still missing), green glass (duly distributed) and various bins of letters, treasures and papers. Long weeks at Anders’ place sorting it all as best as possible. Had hoped to scan, inventory etc everything but gave, as you’d say, “a lick and a promise”.
Assembled boxes for sons, brothers, and Lonnie Gee, Doug and Dan et al to spread memories around the world. Learned so many things about you! Flight attendant job applications, letters from Grandpa and Lorayne, records from your college days (so many colleges), oh made office supply kits for the Grandkids, and loaded up all your stationery/letterhead/letraset/postcards stash for me. And using it all too.
Also (almooooosssstttt) finished dealing with the conundrums with Service Canada (a true bureaucratic nightmare of nonsense) and your headstone should be arriving anyday from India (thans Uncle Bob) – i designed it and am so proud to do so. Also your ashes are well on their way around the world with stops in Pacifica, Logan, North Van, Pe ELL, Olympia, Nusa Ceningan, Sarpsborg and so on. Anders did a great job getting little vials filled up.
Big news: your wedding dress is getting altered and put into service for dear Ryoko (you’d love her) and, i ordered (finally!) my own kilt. Royal Stewart with Cape, formal sporran, Prince Charlie jacket and socks etc. April 20-21 will keep your ashes with me to feel your energy in some weird (totally not macabre way).
No doubt this week is tough every year as the anniversary of Dad’s death/funeral and your birthday all at once. So i write and make documentary art. So much more to tell you but must be careful of my energy and screen time.
So, in doing this all, i did photo-inventory many of your travel treasures. Sharing here to keep your story alive.
Speaking of “your story”, got your blog and Flickr and Ancestry all backed up. Learned a lot about impermanence of the internet. Frustrating as i want to be meticulous but also realize perfection is entirely overrated.
These days – what with the Fibro and CFS/M.E. etc. – slowing me down, I find activities to get me out of the house which requires doing not much but sitting.
While pedicures may not seem like a medical therapy, and they’re certainly not, self-care is important part of my healing journey.
Indeed, when feeling frustrated and early days of the illness, I made a list of things I can do which involves sitting down, but get me out of the house, and leave me with a feeling of satisfaction. These include making scrapbooks, seen matinee movies, sitting in parks under a tree, getting my beard professionally trimmed rather than chopping at it myself, as well as pedicures.
As such, on all my healing journey is, I find pedicure places to massage and soothe my feet, trim up my nails, and leave with some colour on them. This often elicits a strange response from the practitioners as painted toes aren’t as common for men as they are for women certainly, but I find a practice quite enjoyable. In some cases, I paint my toes the colour of a local flag or other traditional local schemes, otherwise I stick to shades of blue and green.
For the record: Indonesia and Thailand definitely have the best pedicure practitioners (is that a thing?), But I’m also eager to try pedicures in Vietnam as many manicurists in the USA, come from Vietnam.
In India especially, they thought my practice of painting toes was very strange, as such i did myself (very poorly yet joyfully nonetheless). In Nepal, they were low on supplies. Once or twice, i enjoyed a pedicure whilst at sea.
I first started this practice at the advice of a lady who took me for a pedicure in Vancouver before going to Jamaica the first time at that time, I had Jamaican flag painted on my big toes (not sure i have a photo…).
Sometimes i take photos of my toes, not all the time, here are some of mah big ole ugly feets. Sometimes i forget and just take snap of the old colour before replacing.
No annotations since i don’t expect anyone will look or care, i mean really, its just photos of my feet.
When going through my late Mom’s archive of documents, ephemera, photos, letters etc, came across this beautifully executed resume for my late Dad. The two were divorced after this time and very different people in general.
This document shows the collaboration from my parents as my Mom’s fingerprints are all over the layout and design. I would thing that this is well before digital desktop publishing but the typefaces and precise layout make me wonder the workflow. Anyhow…
Notably the multi-page dossier took me back to a time when the family was intact, before the rather tumultuous times which followed: Dad is smiling, has a Ed.D (Doctorate of Education which begat his nickname “Dr. O”) to his credit, and was fresh out of a few notable university gigs at Michigan State University (Lansing) and University of British Columbia (Vancouver) after earning his degrees at University of Oregon (Eugene) and BYU (Provo).
I see out last family address and phone number and the names of my brothers which allow me to date-stamp to probably 1981-3.
As it goes, he soon switched careers going into real estate sales (as Mom had recently done) at which he was diligent and successful by most any measure except some emotional categories. He also taught real estate licensing classes relying on his education education.
Story: Sometime around 1994, I ended up working as a mushroom farmhand (enokitake and shiitake) in a small mountain village called Saji in Tottori-ken (prefecture), Yazu-gun (county) .
A sorta friend of friend of my brother was seeking a foreign worker (at the time, Japan’s economy was in a “bubble” with abundant wealth and no one wanted to do the crappy jobs it turns out). They would pay my airfare and so on, I had just finished a stint hitching and drifting around Europe and before the Grateful Dead tour and thought this would be an interesting adventure.
Note: this very freeform (and rather intentionally self-indulgent) flow was written as an assignment for a class at The Evergreen State College. Wasn’t what the professor was expecting but whatever, this is how it came out. Who i am to defy the muse #ha!
Anyhow, read if you want, whatever. Added notes from brother Bob at the end. Not meant to be exhaustive or comprehensive (or comprehendible for that matter).
Brushstrokes and Backpacks, a brief autobiography
By Dave Olson, 2002
My life and myself are defined by the exceptional moments, the flashes of clarity that may last a second or a day. A pleasant day of contentment or perilous adventure, overcoming fear or doing nothing but sitting/thinking/breathing in a place of beauty. Could even be a place of turmoil or even somewhere where I’m not quite sure where I am but are enjoying the ride nonetheless. Moments when the conscious, subconscious, the universe, the tangible surroundings and even any humans entering the scene (or not) seem to be washed into a harmonious watercolor.
These events, sounds, nonevents, glances, coincidences
and snapshots of sorts that stick in the mind, sometimes recalling a story, or more often just a thought when you remember the best of someone or something that seems to make the wind stop for a second.
Was it a lesson? A badge earned? Just a happy memory with no long-term importance beyond an anecdotal tale saved to tell youngsters in later years? Did I see that in a movie? Was that really my life? How long ago was that now? Was that after the fall of the Soviet Union? Where was I then? What else was I doing and how did it happen? Where did the time go and how come I still feel as though I’ve hardly started?
My ole pal Dr. Trevor “Trauben” Erikson shared a few musings about healing and kindness on his channel the other day. I am significantly moved by his reflections about my erstwhile wisdom and stashing this Thanks Trauben. Thanks so very much. ‘
Was thanked by an aging grandmother yesterday. She looked me in the eyes, hugged me and said she was grateful to me.
I was reminded of a friend’s advice to me, that somehow stands vivid amongst the fog of my adventurist past, travelling the globe in search of the better present moment.
It was either during a hike on some wilderness trail, or while dancing to some groovy tunes in the desert, or sunning on a sandy sub-tropical beach, or during a transatlantic flight from Europe, or perhaps a coffee shop in Amerstadam, or in our tent in the grape fields along the Rhine in Germany, it was certainly much before I knew it being HH the Dali Lama’s declared religion. Now this was probably gleaned from a Grateful dead lyric, I would think, although I knew my friend’s mom was definitely a walking example of this, which would have predated any travelling rock band’s lyric from entering into his head.
Anyways, it was 1992-ish, and Dave Olson looked over at me, in the lovingly charming way that he does, and said, simply, and matter-of-factly, ‘Always be kind’.
Of course. How simple. How profound.
I was reminded of this powerful declaration when this grandmother lovingly embraced me and said thank you.
This mantra is the distillation of all i’ve learned from watching others and living full-on. Realized young that to survive and thrive one must.should build community. To build community requires kindness beyond your own needs.
In the past years since my life has changed so much (due to illness) i realize again that if i hadn’t been kind (including always taking high road, always helping the young-up-and-comers with advice over coffee despite the eyerolls from other “bigtimers” who encouraged me to charge consulting hours, the showing up to help, the checking the ego, and avoiding arguments even my my fuse has run out, i would be a very lonely fella. As it goes, i’ve found help, solace and assistance when needed often from people i only foggily recall meeting but (apparently) i was kind to and provide encouragement and support. This theme of kindness is a constant in my poetry (even when my heart and body is broken) and never fails.
Also worth noting the importance of kindness when we dropped off a car to an (very large, very aggressive, very angry man) in Dallas, Texas. Obviously two impossibly skinny long hair kids couldn’t defeat with violence if we tried (!) nor would arguing get any far. So we were kind and expressed empathy about his situation (as absurd and illegal as it was!) and ended up going from almost beaten to a pulp to out hard won deposit returned – by cash, not cheque – and a ride to the dodgy Greyhound station (a whole other mess…).
Also, thanks for scrapping me off the ground as i’ve worked to patch my life back together Trauben.
When the wheels fell off life due to illness, deaths, heartbreaks etc (circa 2015), i scribbled notes in a notebook naturally with intentions about where to go, how to live. I visited many places seeking safety, creativity and community. While my notes didn’t reveal the plan per se, the exercise was valuable to discover what i wanted/needed/capabilities. Published as a “note to future self” to remind the importance of stating intentions from the heart (with assist from the head).
What I Seek in Community
Golf carts for quiet transport like Caye Caulker
Island but with easy access to mainland like Gabriola
Ganja like Jamaica
Strangeness of history like Pelilu
Minimal dogma in religion like Bali
Community centre and market like Pender Island
Village of shops but not a strip mall
Visitors come and go from guesthouses, tours, inns like Berkshires
Music, recording studios, concerts, festivals like Salt Spring(?)
Access to natural medical services & quality food
Places to Live
Req: Anonymous, Creative, Safe + Community
Torrey UT /Larry’s Land
House on Gabriola
UK Protectorate (Falklands, VI)
Japan (Okayama > south)
Nova Scotia (Cape Breton) or other Maritimes
Portugal / Spain / Greece
Victoria if no other option – too “perfect” for action Dave
A high school i attended for 1-1/2 year-ish in Utah held a 20 anniversary for my graduating class in summer 2018 – while i wasn’t technically a graduate (nor did i attend the event), i added my dispatch for the record. Shared here for the posterity etc.
A few flashbacks… (PS i was Dave Elliott in those years)
I was a sorta “walk-on character” in the Orem High sitcom – arriving from Canada for the last couple months of 10th grade and then dropping out 2 weeks into 12th grade but dang,… made 11th grade count.
* Running Paul Moody’s “campaign” for Student body president including the “fascist takeover” at the assembly and screening of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” in lounge for a campaign promotion – and the acknowledgement speech at assembly in which someone temporarily declined to announce the winner because of the number of “refused” ballots
* The (notorious) Martin Luther King day protest including long banners on newspaper roll ends covering the lockers with rather controversial slogans
* Making a “Stop Aids” balloon/flag/kite and running it up the flag pole with Cory DeMille and my brother Bob Olson (now the US military’s 2 finest examples)
* Thought i wasn’t enrolled in Unified Studies, my attendance was almost perfect
* KOHS, possibly the best invention in the history of highschool (until my FCC license was revoked)
* Ace-ing AP US History with a 98% on the test but failing because of the tardy/absence policy (drop a grade each time or something) – it *was* the first class in the morning
* Being amazed at seminary – meaning you could sign up and have basically a period off (before moving to Utah, i had attended early morning seminary (imagine the horror of riding to church house on cold Canadian mornings at 5AM!)
* Swim team – i wasn’t cut out for football, basketball etc so signed up for swim team which basically meant roadtrips to other schools, hanging out in a Speedo waiting to lose to “whichever school we were competing against” – our girl’s team won all the time though
* Having no idea was the heck a Sadie Hawkins dance was until getting invited by a card written in Alpha-bits cereal – was completely baffled (later Napoleon Dynamite made this clear)
* Umm… after growing up in a very multi-cultural part of Vancouver (little Punjab), arriving to a ummm… sorta non-diverse school
* Feeling like a total outsider but quickly making friends by virtue of driving a limo to school – which was later replaced by an even more fun VW bus (Spicoli had nothing on me)
* Wearing shorts every single day of the school year – usually with wool socks and duck boots and flannel shirts – i didn’t exactly invent “grunge style” but do deserve an honourable mention
* Frequently teased for using Canadian spellings / we like to put in extra an “u” and switch around “re” instead of “er” and saying “zed” instead of “zee” #sigh
* Requiring a note to read Catcher in The Rye in 11th grade AP English > also realizing the teacher had absolutely no idea why the book was “banned” in some alien circles
* Amazed that so many girls looked like straight out of a magazine or movie #outofmyleague – i was more accustomed to punk rock girls
* Never attending a single football game (now if there was a hockey team…)
* Coming “back” for 12th grade homecoming dance and bringing non-Orem high pals and taking photo with the reggae band (Irie Heights)
By the way, when i bailed on Grade 12 (12th Grade), i went to Utah Technical College (later Utah Valley Community College, Utah Valley College, Utah Valley University, Harvard of the West…) and “earned” an Alpine School District Adult High School diploma after rigorous schedule of ceramics, mountaineering, photography and “independent study” – also creative writing (which turned out handy). I did attend class of 88 grad as a spectator.
Later? after a run of a few more higher-ed institutions (University of Utah, University of Guam) i graduated from Evergreen State College, just took me a few decades. Since, travelled 40+ countries, 100 weird jobs (most recently VP at Hootsuite (social media company), gave TEDx talk (not near as popular as Jani Radebaugh‘s) and now live on various remote small islands making poetry, podcasts and paintings (also deal with a weird complex illness #boring).
Dave OlsonFunny how in those impressionable days of high school, we get defined, &/or define ourselves… I guess I was a little naïve about the different cliques and hierarchies of high school in the US… I had gone to four different schools in 10th grade and just desperately wanted to find a tribe to hang out with so tried to be friendly to everyone. Of course most people had known each other for years through junior high or the same church groups or whatever but I came in with none of those preconceive notions.
I’m sure I overcompensated for my nervousness with too much chatter and goofballery –
As it goes, no matter how “popular” one was in high school, we all had to go out in the world and find someway to make a living and make ourselves happy. It turns out there’s a little benefit to “peaking early” And being “cool” in high school doesn’t predict a future of life success/happiness.
Rick HerleviI was telling my kids the other day about the one and only time in my life that I hiked the Y. I skipped class and went with Kraig Kiggins, I think Cory was there and the two Canadian brothers that drove a limo and hiked they Y. Why would I ever want to do it again after that pinnacle experience.
Kelli Robison HerleviThis convo definitely did take place very recently. It was probably our FHE lesson. I thought Rick was making up the story so he didn’t have to commit to a “Y” hike. But it looks like there’s truth to his story. I won’t make him hike the “Y” again. I can’t compete.
Dave OlsonNext time, we will just drive the limo up to the Y with a catered picnic – It’s all true, even the parts that aren’t 🙂
Cory DeMilleMany great memories in this bus! Remember our Good the Bad and the Ugly video Party and camping in the bus in full cowboy regalia on OHS campus? Now that would be considered a terrorist incident!
Dave OlsonCory DeMille Oh great memory! Just the sound of popping popcorn on the bus’s stove would’ve created phone calls to the police about suspected gunshots
Dave OlsonAlso remember driving around and shooting Roman candle bottle rockets out the back of the bus, and later water balloons (filled from the bus’s sink) and big gulp cups through the “accidental” sunroof – would soak BYU students and act all nonchalant like “it wasn’t us”… Sometimes when chased, the only reasonable strategy was to drive really slow rather than trying to out run them. Those activities did produce some actual police incidents however￼
A humble offering of Musings and Intentions for a Fresh Year, 2019.
‘Tis 2 mins of art and peace with music by Nikos Paraskevas.
Also, Free Art!
1st 3 people to Messenger or email (gravellybeach (at) gmail (dot) com or (@)uncleweed or whatever… with the precise name of the instrument Nikos is playing, will (maybe) receive one of these original art pieces via postal mail.