Wednesday, March 11, 2009

wandering and wondering...

In life, change and forgetfulness may give the impression that relationships
are temporary and conditional by the events of time, but to the soul,
remembrance and eternal connectedness are more important.

continuing from my last post...

I took a trip - third year of college l won a 1000.dollar grant and l was
going to travel across Canada. I bought a 30 day via rail pass, could
get on and off when and where l wanted. I bought fourty rolls of black
and white film 400asa. My instructors told me that l was very
fortunate, the landscapes across canada they said. Little did they know.

My first stop was Swift Current, Saskatchewan. I stayed at the Imperial $9.45,
a room, bath and washroom down the hall. Met Charlie Butcher- lived there all
his life, 74years old and had farmed grain for 36 yrs. Lives in town now,
his parents homesteaded in Swift Current.


I met the mayor who instead of the key to the city gave me a swift current pin
and keychain. I gave my cheese buns and five dollars to Luis and Mercy who
were from New York, lost in swift current. Bob, Bunk, Erwin, Mrs Peters
then l met Floyd. He told me that he had been in "mental wards" three times
and his brother was in the kingston pen, "he was framed", says Floyd.
Floyd talked to me about "jerking off" and god. "People don't believe that they
can get back in their mother's womb you know." "My father choked to death,
my mother had a miscarriage." "Animals believe in god you know, everday down
at the zoo people are talking about god and the animals hear, you know."

As l left to board the train, Floyd gave me a stubbly bearded kiss on the cheek.
There was a thunderstorm going on that night, maybe one in Floyd as well.
Arrived in Brandon, Manitoba early the next morning. Stayed at the Crystal

motel for $18.00. Wandered Brandon, weary from the train. Took pics of Vern
in room #9 of my hotel. He's been there six years, 17 years in Brandon.
Moved from Winnipeg where he had a dry cleaning business which folded
when his wife left with the kids - "she got everything." Vern gave me a
polaroid of himself which a friend had taken and he was going to tear up.


I lit a wooden match; I let it all burn down
I've broken every rule; I've wrecked it all down
There are no words in the wind, the trees are all bare
Life's mean as a needle; but why should I care?
-tom waits
Took pics of Jane who had on a "Smile - Pass it on" patch on her jacket.
Brandon was strange to me, hard, dry, but l recognized warmth there...


On my way to Toronto where the train stops for a night. The actual train ride
was okay, slept in my seat, wandered to the bar car every now and then chatting
to people in my still and quiet way. I bought bagels or buns whenever
l stopped, and munched on them, scrunched in my seat like a raccoon
with a secret. Stayed at the youth hostel in Toronto for $14.00 and like the
other cities, wandered, shuffling along unsure of what l was really doing, peeking
here and there, down alleys, in churches, cafe's where l could get toast and
coffee. I had to be careful as l didn't have much money. Took pics at a church, built
in 1849. There was a strawberry luncheon going on in the back and in the front
l met Joe, Mike, and Frank. None of them had whip cream on their faces so
l guess they hadn't been invited.


Frank was hungry and was checking out the donation box inside the church.
My journal from this trip is so embarrassing, l rant and rave about churches,
l whine and fight with myself over what l'm doing.

All your cryin don't do no good
Come on up to the house
Come down off the cross
We can use the wood
Come on up to the house
-tom waits
I met Private Smith, use to be in the army, seven years he told me
He'll be 60 in a week. He got to go to Copenhagen

"where the girls and the booze where for the taking". He was such a nice man to
meet. I hung around union station like a lost traveler, i sat on benches, switching
every now and then so it didn't look like l was thinking. I met a wonderful man
name Bill which l wrote about early on in this blog...Here
You know, one of the first things l learned, not long before this trip while l
ventured the alleys of Calgary, well it was that l could approach anyone. It
didn't matter if they looked hardcore, disturbingly cold, or disenchanted,
gruff or gross. There's this human inside of us all, no matter the ventures
we've taken, it's there and wants to be touched.
I traveled to Halifax after Toronto. Headed straight to Dartmouth when l
arrived. Met Douglas Mysers in a hallway of a rooming house, dark, a single
uncovered bulb hung over his head like a noose.

It was unsettling, he was unsettling.
I stayed at the ymca for $16.50. The next day, traveled up to Sydney, stayed
at the Cliefden house hotel for $24.00. Wandered, wandered, wandered,
and wondered. Went into the Irish club, not many people, very dark, very quiet,
met Jimmy. Jimmy use to be on skid row in Montreal. "The french are great people."

"I,m an alcoholic, use to fish out of Nanaimo, had my steam ticket, fuckin liquor,
lost it, but l knew my ships." Jimmy had a fantastic face, he should be in the mafia l thought.
Traveled to Digby, met Stacy Rogers on the train. 16 next week she tells me. Lives
with her mom who loves harley davidson's and Bob Dylan. Stacy ran away once to

Halifax for three days. She wants to be a lawyer or a singer, she's been smoking
since she was 10. Arrived in Digby at 10pm, not much money so l stayed in a
all night pizza joint until the ferry to Saint John was to leave at 5am
Saint John , like a dusty old chest of drawers, clothes flung in, some dirty, some
stained, some even clean.

I passed through Toronto again, it's unavoidable. I decided l wanted to go to
Niagra Falls. I met the most wonderful couple having lunch there. They were
from a small town of 800 people just outside of London, ont. They came to the falls

39 years ago on their honeymoon and have come back every year since.
Back in Toronto, "Have l begged from you before," he asked me. Pics of Lynda,
i was attracted by the gold glitter on her chest. She wore alot of crosses,
goes to three churches. "Have to pleae everyone," she tells me. When she
got out of the hospital as she had a bio chem breakdown, she started writing.

She has certain powers and when they got too great
she had a breakdown but now can control them.
Back on the train heading to Edmonton. Bits of conversation float down
the aisle, breaking like bubbles over my head. "Stop it or l'll pull your dink,"
says a little girl to her brother. "Maybe l'm not fit to be a security
guard." says George to Marg.

I drift, sleep, waking myself shouting my own dreamlike words "That's Nice"
Edmonton, Jasper, Prince Rupert where l sleep in the front seat of Chet's van.
My trip peters out in Princeton.
How do l end this- l guess l don't, it goes on, a walk through this fog,
grasping at what is human, trying to be human.

Because of all these tears,
these eyes can't hope to see,
the beauty that surround them,
isn't it a pity.

-nina simon

any time left...check out this generous and beautiful blog
Every photo tells a story


Stephen Dell'Aria said...

What an intriguing odyssey you have here. It opens up a world that cannot be ignored once the top's been pried off. I think we shun the people left in the crevasses because to acknowledge them means merging their world with ours.

RachelW said...

I love these stories. You get right to the heart of what really matters. (I lived in Brandon for 5 years and will look forward to the next installment...)

Virtual Vivian said...

Looking forward to reading the next post!
No photos from the train?

kenflett said...

Interesting thoughts Stephen, thank you for sharing.

Something about the cold that must bring out the heat in you rachelw.

vivian via, actually took your train twice across canada, perhaps you should send me again so l can get train photos.)

Julieta said...

I absolutely love reading your travels and exchanges. You've had such wonderful experiences to share (and your insights surrounding each) and the way you bring it out in the open is so enticing: makes me want to read more and more.

kenflett said...

Thanks Julieta, that is nice of you to say.

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

I read your words, Ken, and am so touched by them because they are so honest and raw, especially this:

"There's this human inside of us all, no matter the ventures we've taken, it's there and wants to be touched."

It's such a natural tendency (for most) to judge people (harshly)by their looks, and
God forbid if a person looks slightly "rough" on the outside. They are never given a second chance.

Your stories and photos of these people show their humanity, and reveal their inner beauty. And, gets to the truth: we all want to be seen and loved!

P.S. The "contact" sheet brought back good memories:)

kenflett said...

photoN, "to be seen and loved" you got to the truth.
Thank you so much.
I'm curious about your "developing" background. Have you posted any of your own photos on your blog?

Renee said...

Ken I am so blown away from this piece.

I did not want it to end. I sat looking at the computer screen like a fish, eyes popped and mouth opened.

I seriously don't know what to say about how interested in these people I am and how interested in you. You were so young but so amazing already.

Your heart, respect, and spirit all come through in your writing.

I love this post Ken.



Renee said...

Yes, it is me, I'm back.

I had to come back because I think that I love it so much because of how you respected these people. You were truly humane to people who I believe many in our society do not treat as our brothers and sisters.

I love you for it.


kenflett said...

Oh Renee you little winnipegpalmreader, you make me feel so good.
thank you.

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

Ken: I'm embarassed to say, yes, in the beginning I had to post some of my (very basic) own before I could approach other artists and photographers to submit their work:) I'm a lazy photographer so I never learned to scan or take good digital shots of my images to upload. But, my blog is about other people's work anyway:)

P.S. Your knot illustration reminded me about my crocheting. A guy friend showed me that some crochet stitches (or perhaps all) are based on sailor's knots. He was able to do a crochet knot by hand without a hook. I thought this was fascinating!

CathM said...

Ken. I’ve been feeling quite deflated this week and un-motivated re the blogging world... so it was nice to pop in and see that you’d posted another great piece. I do enjoy the connections you make between the images and your words... also, the journey that you take the reader on... it was nice to travel there (to worlds that belong to people from other walks of life, as you depict) and escape from my sad space... even if only for a moment. Such wonderful images and words... thank you for sharing this...

kenflett said...

Thank you CathM, l'm sorry that your feeling sad spaced. Your visit is really appreciated.

Nancy, thanks for answering my question, and that is interesting about crochet stitches, would be interesting to play with crochet.

James Parker said...

Ken, I came from Every Photo Tells a Story...the new blog. I have been in awe for the last 15 minutes. Each of your photos could tell a million stories. The human face begins with unblemished innocence and journeys through life being etched with the brushstrokes of that journey. The furrows, lines and wrinkles that appear with the passing of the years reflect the priceless memories, that, too often, tears in the rain. I hopped on your "blogwagon" and look for new experiences. I hope you'll drop by and visit. The coffee's on.

kenflett said...

JamesParker, what intelligent poetic words, and humor and warmth comes from you, how could l not head over for coffee.

thank you.

Manon Doyle said...

Hey Ken,
WOW! I'm from Canada and now live in Ohio! I've been to many of these places you speak of. I miss the country...... I miss the people! Your stories touch me and stir something inside!


kenflett said...

Thank you so much Manon, your mixed media work is quite wonderful.
Ohio hey, l went to waverly once, beautiful land.

Pierre Raby said...

Shaping stones is a sacred place too.
A place for human beings, sacred
livings portrayed by an humble beautiful man. I love your stories Ken (Franken), you're a great and generous storyteller. Thanks for letting words and pictures shine through your posts, we are all grateful-inspired.

kenflett said...

Pierre...your wonderful words mean alot to me. I am so glad to hear from you. Thank you so much.

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

Just a quick hello while I re-visit your fascinating blog, Ken:) Hope you and your wife and your adorable son are doing well.

kenflett said...

Thank you Nancy, for your visit and your kind words.
Yes, all is warm. :)

Aleksandra said...


It was so good to wake up
Cool in the morning.
So good to shake off
the sweats of the night.
And to stretch out and fetch in
the sounds of the morning.
The milk bottle's jangle...The paper-boy's bike.

We had licence to lie in
the gold of the morning.
Under the sky on
the crest of a ridge.
And below us a glow
on the fields of the morning,
the roofs of the town
and the old humped-backed bridge.

Sharing a crust
how we savoured each morning.
Skimming the rust off
the first mug of tea.
And before us, a chorus
the voice of the morning.
Sing, moorland; sing, coppice; sing down to the sea.

Tramping the by-ways
We scouted the morning.
Avoiding the high-ways
for farm house back door.
"Any job for a bob, lady
on this fine morning?".
We never whined about alms for the poor.

And now I am sad.
Alone in the morning.
It wasn't so bad being two for the road.
But ahead - only dread
for a tramp who's in mourning
For a way of life gone
...And a time, long ago.

© Laurence Neill, 2009

Hi Ken,this poem i instead of my words,have a great day with your loveones,ciao Sandra.

kenflett said...

Thank you Sandra., it's a beautiful and sad poem.

india said...

greetings oh wandering alchemist storyteller...tis wonderful indeed, the treasures one finds when following spiderthreads on the interweb...

kenflett said...

Such a visit, from you india, a true alchemist, your blog is very interesting and wonderfilled.

Four Seasons in a Life said...

I had hoped to send you an email but there was none shown, for I wished to say thank you for adding both of my blogs to your 'following' list, along with your two comments.

Your work reminds me of my earlier days when I was more into documentary style work. Maybe I can get back into it.

I really enjoy your blog, it is nice and edgy, cutting right past the bull, striking the heart directly.

Thank you for sharing