Weekend

Willow fetching sticks in the Columbia River.

A very good weekend. A sleep over with our Grandkids, a family dinner of ribs, vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes and my favourite triple chocolate cake. To top it off, I tagged along north to Golden to watch Cooper play hockey.

A Canadian Goose swims into the golden hour.

Lisa made the entire weekend special for my birthday.

A Bald Eagle watches over for an opportunity.

Saturday Willow and I found time to walk down the river and watch the geese and eagles. We took a few pictures and Willow chased a few sticks.

Willow swims up to an ice ledge but can not pull herself up. She proceeded to swim a few yards upstream to the rocky shore.

Very fine weekend.

Warm

Crazy dreams, cozy. People alive, that haven’t been seen for awhile and plenty of dead people too. All the people I love or did.

Had my head down today. In and out of a plow, shovelling snow. It was just a skiff. Winter eases us into its season. Sometimes it can be a bastard. Freezing beards, crawling up ankle socks, long underwear and Lullulemon britches, which are similar if not the same thing, when I wear them my ass looks anything but nice.

Wood heat, electric blankets. Putting your head under the covers and flexing. Whatever it takes to keep warm.

Shovelling, plowing, gathering around the fireplace. 

All those friends and family in the dreams working hard to keep warm.

Sunday in November

Above the din. The valley is below that grey cloud cover.

Socked in down below. We headed for higher ground. Lisa said, she hoped it wasn’t a harbinger to come. The valley bottom can close in on you. Sometimes the only way is to meet the blue halfway.

***

A waning moon rolls down the backside of Swansea.

The stores had bare shelves this weekend. The only things left were expensive. Sobeys had a two rib roast, about three pounds for $119. I often wonder who pays that or does that roast go to waste. It could be it is a long weekend and the tourists are out in force. Prices go up on long weekends. It was the same in all three grocery stores.

We keep food in the freezer for these occasions. Some shank meat, garlic, onions, beef broth and red wine makes for a good stew.

***

Willow and Lola. Lola is a puppy and wanted to play with Willow and the stick. She was greeted with growls when she tried to take it away.

Our national broadcaster, CBC, gives us news and entertainment, and also lets us know, or suggests how we should think and prepare. More than likely exceeding their mandate. Lately, there has been plenty of articles about belt tightening and preparing for the worst. If they are to believed, the economy is going to go in the shitter. Higher prices and interest rates, less medical, education and safety nets.

***

Canadians, unlike Americans don’t blame our politicians. We concede it is world wide. Americans put up stickers of President Biden pointing at the increased price at the pumps with the caption, ‘I did that’.

***

It is hard to know what will happen next. We are lucky to live at a time in history, that we don’t die of an ear or tooth infection at nine years old. We get to live to the oldest age in human history. Our warring has slowed. Technology has spared us from the fate of our ancestors. Yet we can only think about how bad things are for us. Plenty of people on this planet have reason to complain, but here, in Canada and the US, for the most part, we do not.

Willow loving November.

Remembrance

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The full moon the evening of the eclipse. By the time the eclipse happened it had completely clouded over. That’s the way it works sometimes.

Remembrance Day, not sure what to make of it anymore. The news is full of discontent and war. Should the day be a reminder that discontent can easily turn to war?

I’m older now and can see further into my father’s eyes. I’m still a youngster sitting beside my Grandfather while he took his jackknife and cut into a black spot on his hip and took out shrapnel 50 years after Passchendaele.

Men were born to fight. Would I have been a better man in battle? There is guilt in not fighting.

***

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Looking between the mountains. The colour of the evening sky on a cold clear night.

Some chill in the air. The turnips in the garden were pulled just in time. We are eating the carrots as fast as we can. Lisa makes kale chips often with the impossible task of using them all up.

***

The lake has a skim of ice. If we get some cold without snow the skating will be spectacular.

Trumpeter Swans

Plenty of honking today as flocks of Swans made their way south. The cold is coming, the weather report says -19°c tomorrow.

Pulled a few more turnips. Walked the tracks to get closer to the Swans. They are difficult to sneak up on, especially with the Willow dog.

A few took off into the wind and made the turn directly overhead. Deep voices and large wingspan, mocking us bound to the ground.

It feels good to walk those tracks, hear the birds, squinting loosing the ruck.

November 1st

Hanging on.

It’s damn near winter, the snow could fly anytime in the valley bottom, it’s wetter than a river otter’s pocket. The garden still has kale, cabbage, carrots, turnips, fennel, beets and cannabis (since it was legalized you can’t give it away).

***

We had fourteen kids came to our door for Halloween. I bought full size chocolate bars to give away. A group of what looked like 10 or 12 year old girls yelled trick or treat. One was dressed in a fur jacket, miniskirt, fishnet stockings and high leather boots. I can’t imagine the conversation with her parents who let her go out in that costume.

***

I made soup on the weekend from a few bones picked up at the store. I browned them in the oven and then made a beef stock. I added grilled, cabbage, leeks, turnip, beets and carrots. All from the garden.

The soup was exceptionally gaseous. I tried to work alone. Warned Lisa. Even Willow seemed disgusted.

When I make soup I like it to last for a few days. I had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was the soup that kept giving.

Last night Lisa made Chili. It was a welcome reprieve from the explosive beef vegetable bisque. Not nearly as combustable, Lisa bringing me down gently. I have to get the dog to start trusting me again.

***

Had to deal with a miserable couple today. He was an ugly little cuss, he looked like Danny Devito, except fatter, shorter, uglier and not funny.

He looked at me only as someone who should serve him. That isn’t a problem with me as long as you treat me with respect.

Some people feel entitled. Sure enough, I checked his plates, he was from Alberta, they were vanity plates. With a Fuck Trudeau sticker. These guys are a dime-a-dozen out here. We get the worst of the worst from our neighbours to the east. They’re not all like that.

I took his plate down like I used to take a number of a hockey player that cheap shoted me. You never know when you might run into these arseholes again.

***

After work I chopped wood, tended the pile and filled the woodbox. About as good a job a man can do. Calming the mind. Chopping, assessing, figuring the mix of wood to make a perfect fire.

Cutter

Westman & Baker, Guillotine paper cutter, circa 1910.

Spent the morning in the studio cutting cards and booklets.

Our paper cutter was made by Westman and Baker, a Canadian Company. They went out of business around 1923.

Perhaps their equipment was too good and they hadn’t built in obsolescence like companies like, Apple, Ford, Facebook and just about any successful company. It is never about making things that last anymore. It’s always about selling more stuff.

The jaws of the beast.

I’ve used plenty of high tech cutters. They are easier to use, but don’t do as good of job and they break down, until you relent and buy a new one.

This cutter has been around. My father used to sit me on it in the back shop of The Lake Windermere Valley Echo newspaper and job printing building.

Back guide adjustment.

Even then I used to ask he put the blade down.

Later we used it in our printing business. It was the only cutter we ever had and served us well.

Now it sits in our studio. It doesn’t get used like it once did.

Cards printed on Neenah Environment duplexed with Classic Linen Red Pepper, cut to order.

This cutter depends on feel. The pressure on the paper and the way the blade feels as you draw it down over the surface of job work. I can tell instantly if I am creating a burr on the spine of a booklet or cube of business cards.

To work with this reliable tool is very satisfying.

Trees

The wind picked up today, stripping the trees of leaves. We still haven’t had hard frosts. I clear my windows with windshield fluid, the lazy fucker I am. Scraping is coming soon.

There is two cabbages, an entire row of rutabagas, three kale plants and a few weed plants drying on the vine. It seems like every fall is getting later.

The sunflowers are down. No sense keeping them up. The starlings got the seeds the beginning of September, those rabid raptors. The chickadees are shit out of luck.

Watched a three point buck run by, skittish, with a string of Christmas lights tangled in its antlers. My young companion said, if we could tell it we are trying to help we could untangle the antlers. I told him I don’t speak deer and the deer don’t speak our language.

***

That wind is going to turn on us soon. I used to be comfortable with a tarp, now I’m thinking a dugout, cave, lined with moss, where the roots of the trees, can be depended on, storing the heat, I could cozy up to it like a heating grate in the city. Just like the city, if you followed that advice, you’d be frozen stiff.

***

The best wager is to watch those wagging trees in the southern wind, consider yourself lucky, remember the year before, and hope the leaves end up in your neighbours yard.

Late October

Fall colours.

The garden is still kicking, turnips harder than algebra, cabbage holding on despite the hounds taking a bite, leeks and sunflowers.

It’s been a sunny fall. Now things are changing. The leaves are being blown off the trees in bushelfuls.

***

CBC reported the Civil Service has bloated by another 35,000 government jobs since Covid. More defined pensions to pay out. Everyone is happy, especially if you work for the government. These employees had three paid statutory holidays in September. Nice work if you can get it.

***

Until I was forty I worked for myself. Since then I’ve worked shoulder to shoulder with a supervisor who was a white supremacist, a lazy cuss, who would take his following, mostly from Alberta, up Findlay Creek to shoot their guns while praying for a breakdown in society so they could shoot the mud people. He was a Nazi supporter and holocaust denier and Pentecostal Minister. None of that hampered him from succeeding in the shit hole town he landed in.

***

Another guy I worked with, at the School District, beat his wife and kids. He told me they deserved it and he had to sleep in his van, during the day, because it took it out of him.

***

Even another guy at the School District, a manager, had a crush on a custodian with fake tits. He was useless in every way, so was she, even the boob job was bad. They deserved each other. His claim to fame was collecting generous government severance packages when it was determined he wasn’t fit for government. This is very difficult to do. Once let go another branch of government rehired him. Nice work if you can get it.

***

I remember those three fuckers whenever I get frustrated with my job.