La version française de ces histoires se trouve sur En direct de l'intestin grêle

Wouldn't it be great if these stories were true? Unfortunately (or fortunately) they're not; they are just the product of my overworked mind. All characters and events are fictitious and if you think you recognize yourself or somebody you know in these stories, it was not my purpose and it is purely unintentional. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy reading this blog. Feel free to link this blog wherever else you hang out on the Internet and to post comments below. I enjoy hearing from you.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mexican Rabbits

My wife and I had been separated for about two months and I was living in an unremarkable and noisy bachelor apartment in a depressing neighbourhood.

There were about 40 apartments in the building where I was. My neighbours directly above me – a young Mexican couple, the Conejos – were polite and spoke in a nasal Spanish gibberish which I could not understand at all.

One night around 11:00, I was sleeping on the couch when their relentless lovemaking woke me up.

“Ain’t love great when it’s well made,” I thought, annoyed by their indecent sighs.

I tried in vain to get back to sleep. After awhile I decided to go out to read in a café until my neighbours’ Mexican hormones calmed down.

There was a coffee shop a short 20 minutes walk away. It was one of those franchised chains lit by crude fluorescent lights where young people in ill-fitting uniforms served the dark beverage in paper cups. It was open all night and smokers were relegated to a packed glass-enclosed room while the rest of the restaurant was empty.

coffee shop, patio furniture, chairs, table, parked cars
One would think that following the smoking ban in public places coffee shops would have lost all their clientele as coffee without cigarettes is just not the same thing. I guess people are quick to give up life’s simple pleasures. Many thanks to Zebra Jay for the photo.
I entered the cramped smoking room with a coffee and a copy of Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf, hoping that the Swiss-German author’s eastern wisdom would help me forget the emptiness I felt.

Sitting at a table for four, two girls were talking.

— A funny thing happened to me at work, one of the girls said. After my shift, while I was changing in the backroom, Jason snuck in and took me from behind!

— Ah! Ah! That’s typical! scoffed the other one, Jason always does that!

I could not believe my ears. Here I was in a crowded public place and people were actually having this kind of conversation oblivious to their surroundings! I tried to focus on my book, lit another cigarette and took a sip of coffee. I was there to clear my mind after all.

I managed to follow Harry, Steppenwolf’s main character, as he was caught in his personal ontological maze. I had almost forgotten the girls’ obscene conversation when two guys joined them. I did not pay much attention until the girl who was groped by Jason got up to use the ladies’ room.

The two young men and the other girl looked lustily at her leaving.

When she came back, she said:

— So, what were you talking about?

— We were saying your ass looks great in those jeans, said one of the guys.

She immediately responded:

— You know why? It’s because I’m not wearing panties!

Flustered, I went back to my book, lit another cigarette, gulped some lukewarm coffee and really tried hard to think about anything else. Oddly, Tales of Ordinary Madness, Charles Bukowski’s famous short stories collection, came to my mind.

Maybe I needed to meet my Hermine, the Steppenwolf character who helped Harry to come to grip with his situation and learn to enjoy life again.

My predicament was not the same however. I was not depressed nor suicidal, I was only bitterly disappointed that my marriage had failed. And now, because of the Mexican rabbits who lived upstairs and those kids sitting at the coffee shop, I was entertaining lewd thoughts that were rubbing raw my feelings of loneliness.

bunny, rabbits, vintage, straw, rodent
Rabbits (conejo in Spanish) are not rodents. Rodents have incisors that are continually growing and needing to be ceaselessly worn down. Rabbits have two sets of incisors one behind the other. The female rabbit ovulates by reflex and can give birth to up to 12 kits three times a year.

I did not feel like myself anymore.

Finally the youths got up and left. Relieved, I tried to focus on my book again.

That’s when four ladies in their fifties coming back from bingo sat next to me and passionately discussed the most efficient manner to pleasure themselves with a hand-held shower head.

That was it, I had had enough. I closed my book, put out my cigarette, finished drinking my coffee and left, glad I had not brought a Henry Miller novel instead of Steppenwolf.

Henry Miller, American literature, banned books, censorship, obscenity, Tropic of Cancer, Plexus, Nexus, Moloch, A Devil in Paradise
:Henry Valentine Miller (1891-1980) was a prolific American author whose books were banned in the United States on the grounds of obscenity until 1961. A couple of years later, western high courts rendered that kind of obscenity obsolete. The times, as the song says, they were a-changing.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Encyclopædia

I was home one evening in 1986 getting ready for a writing session when the doorbell rang. Suzanne Vega was singing Marlene on the Wall on the stereo and I turned it down before opening the door to a 50-year old stranger standing awkwardly in front of me in a jacket and a tie.

He was selling the Encyclopædia Britannica.

It was not clear to me how he knew that I was a budding editor but he was quick to point out that a young man of my profession needed reliable reference material.

The 15th edition of Britannica had been published a year earlier and with 33 volumes it boasted that it held “the sum of all human knowledge.”

Those were the days before the World Wide Web and Google. Searching for information meant spending hours in a library instead of simply firing up a browser.

I did have a computer back then, an Apple Macintosh Plus, which was sneered at by my colleagues who considered it just a toy. They all used Micom 2000 word processors to write.

Apple, Mac Plus, keyboard, mouse, micro-computer
The Apple Macintosh Plus micro-computer made a significant contribution to bringing computing to the masses, as long as they could afford the over $2,500 purchase price. Public domain photo provided by Apple Wiki.
Listening to the salesman I could not help but be seduced by the opportunity to have a vast amount of general information at my disposal in the comfort of my home. However the steep $1,800 price frightened me. I am not the kind of man to make a major purchase on impulse.

I told the salesman I would think about it and call him to let him know of my decision. He gave me his card and left disappointed. I then went back to writing my story regarding the structure of the new National Gallery of Canada which was under construction. To me it looked like the skeleton of a dinosaur.

National Gallery of Canada, fine arts, columns, pillars, granite glass walls, iceberg, contemporary architecture
From a distance and with some imagination the granite pillars of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa can look like the ribcage of a dinosaur's skeleton. The glass walls demonstrate that it is easier to achieve transparency in architecture than in politics.
The next day at work I told my friend Aaron about the surprise visit from the encyclopædia salesman and that I was hesitant to disburse such a large amount of money.

“You should buy it,” said Aaron. “Knowledge is priceless. Did you know that if you read the entire Encyclopædia Britannica the University of Oxford will give you a degree?”

“Is that true?”

“Of course it is, don’t you know anything? The Encyclopædia Britannica is a British institution! Frankly, I don’t know why I waste my time discussing with a peasant like you who does not understand the value of learning!”

Aaron’s argument made an impression on me and I decided to invest in perfecting my knowledge.

Of course, I know now that nobody ever received a free university degree by reading a complete encyclopædia.

I also learned that Encyclopædia Britannica is actually a Scottish institution (established in Edinburgh in the 18th century) and that by the mid-1980s it had been owned by American interests for over 60 years.

When I called back, the encyclopædia salesman was shocked that I had kept my word. I told him that, yes, I was ready for enlightenment and that I would buy the leather-bound gilt-edged onionskin edition.

Encyclopaedia, leather-bound, gilt-edge, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, macropaedia
At its peak, Encylopædia Britannica employed up to 2,300 door-to-door salesmen among which Empire of the Sun author J. G. Ballard and actor Woody Harrelson's father.
For years my encyclopædia sat proudly in one of my bookcases and although I did not read it from beginning to end, it gave me hours of intellectual satisfaction.

When my wife and I divorced in 2000, we sold the house and I prepared to move to a small apartment. Looking at all my belongings, I knew I needed to get rid of many of the things I had acquired over the years.

But before I moved, a friend came to visit from out of town and stayed at the house for a few days. To thank me for my hospitality, she gave me the Encyclopædia Britannica on CD-ROM, a $50 value. I thought this electronic version would be adequate for my newly restricted living quarters.

I packed my leather-bound encyclopædia and took it to a used bookstore where I was offered $25 for the complete set of 33 volumes. I felt insulted by this contempt of knowledge.

When I calmed down, I decided to entrust my literary treasure to a small library I knew in the countryside, close to the haunted house I once owned.

I drove there only to be turned down by the librarian who claimed she did not have the shelf space. I then offered it to a literacy organization which also rejected the donation.

I regretfully realized that my initial $1,800 investment in knowledge was actually worthless.

And then it struck me: I had been totally mistaken about this prized possession of mine. An encyclopædia is not knowledge, it’s merely information. Information becomes knowledge only once it’s processed. How many people have owned encyclopædias without ever reading them?

Now that the Discovery Channel was available for all to watch, my beautifully-bound encyclopaedia, was perceived as not only cumbersome but useless.

A week later, I was visiting my old friend Asaph Mikhailovich, a well-read man cursed with a crippling affliction. I told him how I had been trying to dispose of my encyclopædia. He quietly looked at me and said:

– You know, when I want to consult Britannica, I have to ride my wheelchair ten blocks to the public library.

Not anymore.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Pressure Cooker

Version française

When I was four years old, my father brought home a pressure cooker. It was one of those “modern” devices aimed at taking some pressure off domestic life (excuse the pun or don’t) by cooking food faster.

steam digester, steam, pressure cooker, valve, steam regulator, Presto, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
This pressure cooker was made from cast aluminum by National Presto Industries, a company that also manufactures adult incontinence products. Notice the steam regulator cap sitting on top of the vent pipe at the centre of the lid. I cooked delicious Boston baked beans in this vessel in 45 minutes.

Cooking with pressure cookers is different from cooking with regular saucepans. A small amount of liquid – water or broth for example – must be heated to a boil in a sealed container. As the pressure builds up inside the vessel, the heat is turned down to let the food simmer while maintaining enough steam.

When the food is nearly cooked, the heat is turned off and cooking continues as pressure gradually abates. The pressure regulator capping the steam vent should not be removed while the pot is under pressure.

Also, if the cooker is overfilled, the steam vent over which sits the pressure regulator might become obstructed, causing the pressure to build up inside the cooker and force out the content through the pressure valve.

That’s what my father learned to his dismay when he first cooked a three-pound ham using too much beer as a cooking liquid. The whole ham escaped through the tiny pressure valve and splattered on the kitchen ceiling, making my mother very angry at the mess he created and fearful of using the apparatus.

Even though pressure cooking seemed modern in the early 60’s, it certainly was not a recent invention. Denis Papin (1647-1712), a French Huguenot, discovered it.

Tired of being picked on for his religious beliefs by the powers that be in France, he moved to England in 1675. In London, he met Robert Boyle (1627-1691), an Irish-English chemist who was experimenting with air pressure.

At the time, England was undergoing a tremendous scientific revolution. Francis Bacon’s scientific method was the rage amongst “natural philosophers” who were experimenting with practically anything. This led to a radical new way of looking at the causes and effects in the natural world which, people were discovering, was not what they thought it was.

We are not exactly sure how Denis Papin came to experiment with steam. However, I can certainly imagine him sitting in a pub, drinking cheap Spanish wine and listening to Robert Boyle pompously lecturing about air pressure. While Boyle was going on and on about his views on pneumatics, Papin was probably thinking that it was a bunch of hot air.

After all, air is immaterial, it cannot be seen or touched. Of course one can feel it as the wind blows but Papin perhaps thought scientists should focus on something more concrete.

At that moment, the innkeeper might have been preparing tea on the stove, a new beverage that was becoming popular in England. Taking a sip of his wine, looking at the saucepan of water on the stove, Denis Papin maybe thought ahead of Benjamin Franklin that “a watched pot never boils.” Boil.

Boyle was explaining that the volume of a gas is inversely proportional to its pressure. Crazy Boyle. Boyle. Boil. Wait a minute! When water boils it turns to steam. Steam is a gas and unlike air, it can be seen!

This may not be what really happened but I do know that inspiration sometimes comes in strange ways.

Tea pot, China, porcelain, handle, spout, lid
Tea (Camellia sinensis) was a luxury item in the 18th century. It was heavily taxed by the British government which led to the famous Boston Tea Party where the gentle people of this New England town unloaded into the harbour three shiploads of this merchandise as a protest.
Anyway, in 1679, Denis Papin addressed the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge on the subject of a new invention he was creating: the “steam digester” which was the ancestor of the modern pressure cooker. Two years later, according to the legend, when Papin cooked a delicious stew to demonstrate the prototype he was presenting, the Royal Society was so impressed that it invited him to become a member.

In the 17th century the line between gastronomy and science was very thin.

After a few years, Papin moved to Germany and invented the piston steam engine. He returned to England many years later and unsuccessfully asked the Royal Society to reinstate him.

caricature, Sir Isaac Newton, book, glasses, wig
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was the head of the Royal Society of London when Denis Papin tried to be reinstated. Newton probably refused deciding that fine cooking was an art rather than a science.
Denis Papin died destitute and relatively unknown, presumably in 1712, and was buried most likely in an unmarked pauper’s grave in London.

Given that so many inventors suffer the same ungrateful fate, it is surprising that anybody attempts to discover new things.

My father was not discouraged by his first experiment with a pressure cooker. Actually he cooked with it all his life, as I have. Used properly, a pressure cooker will produce tasty meals quickly, giving you more time to focus on other endeavours, like blogging.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Several years ago, around the time smoking in Canadian workplaces was banned, I was working under a contract in a gigantic office complex. Smokers had to go outside under a large, damp, concrete portico with a two story-high roof sarcastically called the “Batcave.” It was there, in the middle of winter, surrounded by the haggard faces of scores of other smokers, that I developed a nasty cough.

portico, columns, pillars, stairs, handrail, modern office building
The Batcave is where Batman retires to light up a Batsmoke when he needs a Batfix. The stairs, of course, lead to Wayne Manor.

After a few days, I started having trouble breathing and my chest hurt. When a fever set in, I knew something was wrong. I took a day off hoping rest would improve my condition. It did not and I became convinced that I had pneumonia.

I went to a walk-in clinic early the next morning. After about 45 minutes of waiting coughing my lungs out, a young doctor finally saw me in his office. He asked me the reason for my visit while distractedly looking at his computer monitor.

– Doctor, I have this bad cough and a fever. I think it might be pneumonia.

– Really? Let me have a look, he said, taking out his stethoscope.

He auscultated me, looked at my eyes, my tongue, inside my ears, took my temperature, checked my pulse and my blood pressure then said the only way to be sure would be for me to go to the emergency ward at the hospital and have some x-rays taken.

– But this is a medical clinic, don’t you have an x-ray machine?

– We would need specially-trained personnel and right now we only have doctors, a nurse and some administrative staff.

– Well, I have a friend who’s a dental hygienist. She operates the x-ray machine all the time at work. If I may, let me call her and ask her to come and take the picture.

– Sir, we don’t have an x-ray machine, you have to go to the hospital.

– You don’t have an x-ray machine? Even the vet where I take my dog has an x-ray machine!

– I’m sorry sir, go to the emergency ward at the hospital, they will help you there.

I had the feeling I was annoying him and that he was politely trying to get rid of me.

lungs, heart, windpipe, aorta
Pneumonia is an inflammation of the alveoli, where oxygen passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. According to William Osler (1849-1919), the Canadian-born physician known as the “Father of modern medicine,” pneumonia will kill you quickly and relatively painlessly. This affliction is celebrated on World Pneumonia Day, November 12 every year.

So I left for the hospital, knowing that my case was not an emergency yet and that I probably would have to wait hours before seeing a doctor.

Emergency waiting rooms are grim, sullen places. At this one, the medical staff was limited to a receptionist and a nurse locked up in a glass-enclosed office.

I pitied this caregiver: outnumbered in a roomful of dangerously sick people, she could provide no relief until the intervention of a medical doctor.

I arrived around 10:00 AM. There were already 25 people waiting. Some were old and silent, others were restless children accompanied by their parents. The rest, like myself, were in their 40s or 50s and did not look overly sick except for some hacking coughs, ugly skin rashes and obvious lack of energy.

I gave my requisition to the receptionist and took a seat. I picked up a two year-old issue of People magazine on a nearby table and set myself for a wait that I expected to be long. I hoped I could sleep between coughing fits.

A young couple entered the room in a frenzy. The man had his hand wrapped in a bloody towel. He had taken off two of his fingers with a circular saw as he was building kitchen cupboards. The nurse put on a temporary dressing on his wound and told him to take a seat. Soon he was being attended to by a physician.

Sick people came in, others left, tired of waiting. I wished I could smoke a cigarette but I was in no condition to indulge in my favourite pastime. Finally, I dozed off and dreamt of drowning: I woke up painfully choking on my phlegm. I was feeling dizzy from the fever.

Around 3:00 PM, I was called into an examination room. A nurse gave me a hospital gown to put on and asked me to wait. When the doctor came in 15 minutes later, I explained that I thought I had pneumonia and she proceeded to examine me in the same way the walk-in clinic doctor had several hours before. Then she asked me to lie on my side and left the room.

As I was facing the wall in a daze, I heard the door of the observation room open and close followed by the characteristic snapping sound of latex gloves being put on. Then I felt somebody trying to pull down my underpants. Startled and confused, I quickly rolled onto my back to find a surprised young nurse dressed in scrubs with her hand caught between my bottom and the gurney I was lying on.

– Excuse me, but what exactly are you trying to do? I said.

– I need to take a stool sample, she replied, flustered. Please let go of my arm.

– I’m afraid you have the wrong room, I said, lifting my behind to free her hand. My bowels are just fine, It’s my lungs that are causing me grief. I will gladly give you a mucus sample instead if you want, I replied snarkily

– No, I need a stool sample, she said, missing the irony. It’s a standard procedure. We have to take one from all patients to have it checked for harmful bacteria. Now, please, turn on your side and let me do my work.

I cringed as she uncomfortably probed me with a plastic tool. Having bacteria potentially lodged deep in my rectum threatening the outside world did not make me feel any more dignified.

Roman citizens, couch, dog, statue, pedestal, toga, columns
John G. Bourke (1843-1896) in Scatalogical Rites of All Nations, explains that ancient Romans worshipped Cloacina, goddess of the sewers. In the above illustration, Roman priests and their acolytes prepare to take a stool sample from a woman as an offering to their deity.
Finally, the doctor came back and told me x-rays would have to be taken. I was to get dressed and go back to the waiting room.

Two hours later I was called to the radiology room, three floors up and hidden in a maze of cluttered hallways.

I put on another hospital gown and a technician asked me to stand still against an upright table. He then rolled the x-ray machine close to my chest. The machine whirred, clanged and banged while it was taking pictures of my innards. After a few minutes of this, one of the attendants said I could get dressed and go back to the emergency ward’s waiting room. Despite feeling disoriented from the fever, I managed to find my way back to the anteroom of the hospital.

Dozing on and off, I waited for another 90 minutes before I was called back to the observation room. The doctor told me the x-rays were positive: I had pneumonia. She wrote a prescription for antibiotics and sent me away telling me to take a 10-day leave from work.

After having my prescription filled at the drugstore, I laid in bed at home considering the 12 hours I just spent among the sick, the injured and those commissioned to care for them. It seemed a long time to have somebody qualified telling me what I knew all along.

Ultimately I fell into a nightmare-filled sleep. I was standing half naked in front of a fingerless man who was holding an insect repellent vaporizer and asking me to spread my buttocks while a group of doctors and nurses observed the procedure smilingly nodding their approval.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Vision Quest

In my head there is an English garden in which wander all the people I loved in my past but who are no longer alive.

You see, I do not believe people ever die and neither will I. I will simply waste time and space in the head of somebody unfortunate enough to have loved me and will probably bring with me all the people who are currently walking around aimlessly in my brain.

This is how a robust collective unconscious is built.

I woke up in the middle of the night last Sunday, got up and saw the moon peeking through the window as my maternal grandfather was idly strolling between my brain cells.

My grandfather did everything according to the moon. By looking at the moon, he knew when it was time to get a haircut, to start haying the fields, to slaughter the pig. The moon also told him when the snow would fall, when the cow would calve, and when the maple tree sap would start to flow in the spring.

For my part, I notice that a full moon or a new moon bring with them colder or warmer temperatures.

moon, evergreen, spruce, hill, snow
The Moon is Earth’s only natural satellite. Anaxagoras (c. 500-428 BC) reasoned that the Moon was a gigantic rock that reflected the light from the sun. All who believed the Moon was made of green cheese were bitterly disappointed by this discovery.

Several years ago, I was attending a rave that the son of a friend organized in a secluded valley in the countryside. Hundreds of people came from all over North America to dance to the grooves of legendary DJs from Europe, Australia, the United States and Japan.

Sparks from a huge bonfire rose upward into the night sky while people walked around carrying torches. Gregorian chants that the DJ played on a background of “drum and bass” added a mystical feeling.

I started talking to an old Inuit from Nunavut. I told him that my grandfather lived according to what the Moon was telling him.

“The Moon has nothing to say,” the old man replied. “The stars hold all wisdom.”

Then, Natalie, the old man’s granddaughter – 30 years old and sweet as could be – offered me some of those dried mushrooms that take you to another level.

I do not approach psychedelic drugs casually. As a teenager I viewed drugs, rightly or wrongly, as the key that opened the door to the gods when one needed a special revelation. Since the gods are very powerful and very busy, I always thought they should not be disturbed unnecessarily.

magic mushroom, hallucinogenic, drugs, psilocybin, fungus, hallucination
Hallucinogenic mushrooms are found everywhere in the world in more than 200 species. The psychoactive element of this fungus is called psilocybin, an alkaloid with pharmacodynamic properties. As you can see from what I just wrote, to truly understand what they are doing, drug users should hold a degree in pharmacology or chemistry. Many thanks to WPClipart for making this public domain image available

That night, I felt the time was right for revelations. I accepted Natalie’s offer and she poured a few grams of dried mushrooms in the palm of my hand. It seemed to me like a lot but Natalie took my arm and said:

– It’s only residue. Nunavut mushrooms are very mild, don’t worry.

I chewed conscientiously and then swallowed the mushroom crumbs. Natalie and I sat on a downed tree trunk looking at the bonfire and people dancing, and waited for the mushrooms to work their magic.

We talked a little and I was feeling good. Natalie’s grandfather was standing nearby. He slowly raised his head and hands to the sky. He was different: he was now dressed in deerskins and was quietly singing in his language, shuffling his feet on the ground.

He was talking to the stars.

I watched him intently. I was no longer hearing the DJs’ music: only the soft song of the old Inuit was filling my ears.

My nose was itchy. Maybe it had been stung by a mosquito and now it was wet, probably because I scratched it until it bled. It was beginning to swell.

Actually, it was not swelling: it was GROWING.

I thought this was peculiar but interesting. I did not know where I was anymore. Everything started to waver rapidly and I fell on all fours. My face was turning into a snout and I was shivering as my skin was being covered with some kind of grey fur. I did not feel uncomfortable at all and strangely I was not afraid: this metamorphosis seemed to me absolutely in order. I began to howl gently.

The old Inuit was chanting and dancing by my side, beating on a drum as an accompaniment. For my part, I had turned completely into a coyote and my howling harmonized with the old man’s chanting.

coyote, canis latrans, snow, winter
Coyotes (canis latrans) can be found everywhere in North America. They are related more to the jackal than to the wolf. Coyotes are not an endangered species and sometimes mate with housedogs. In Germany, I’m told, coyotes have been crossbred with poodle dogs, probably to annoy the French. Many thanks to WPClipart for making this public domain image available.

I don’t know how long our performance lasted. All I know is that everything turned dark and when I gained consciousness, I was lying naked in a haystack in Natalie’s arms, still high from the magic mushrooms from Nunavut.

A few days later, back in town, I told my story to my friend Aaron who told me:

– Obviously you saw your totem...

– My totem? No, no, It was not a carved pole of scowling beasts with protruding eyes. I really turned into a coyote!

– A totem, you simpleton, is a protective spirit in North American Indian folklore. In your case, it seems your totem is the coyote. Unfortunate. You could have chosen better...

– I don’t understand...

– My poor friend, you never learned anything. The coyote is a deceiver, a trickster, a bit like Papa Legba in voodoo. The coyote stole fire from the Gods to give to mankind...

– Like Prometheus in Greek mythology, I wondered aloud to show that I had some cultural knowledge after all.

– If you say so, but the coyote keeps breaking rules, playing tricks even if his tricks have sometimes positive effects.

On my own after Aaron left, I thought about his last words and about the unorthodox path I had followed in life. To free myself from the constraint of rules, I often downgraded them to simple guidelines or mere suggestions, never hesitating to ignore them to achieve a goal I felt was more desirable.

“A wild dog as a protective spirit: I could have done worse,” I thought.

totem pole, Pacific Northwest, carving, cedar, winter, public park, Ottawa
Totem poles carved by Pacific Northwest American Indians are monuments sculpted from large cedar trees representing the protective spirit of their tribe but also to serve as witnesses to major historical events or even as tombs for their ancestors. Totem pole carved by Mr. Henry Hunt (1923-1985) of the Kwawkewith Indian Band, British Columbia, Canada.