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.

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.

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.

Our National Embarrassment

If you are Canadian and keep an eye on the news you have, more than likely, heard about Hockey Canada and the fallout after a women filed a $3.5 million lawsuit alleging eight hockey players, some members of the 2018 World Junior hockey team, sexually assaulted her. 

It has also come to light that this is not an isolated incident and gang rape may be prevalent in junior hockey.

I have read in many news articles questioning how could this happen and for how long does this behaviour go back. It goes back a long way and it is very prevalent.

This story has brought up many memories for me when I played on the local junior hockey club. I was a local player playing on a team made up of mostly players imported from other areas of Canada and the United States. 

The players were billeted to families in the area, many who were executives for the hockey team or associated with with the junior hockey team.

Many of the import players were decent young men. However many were not. 

Most of the import players received special treatment from the teachers, community members and, especially, the team executive, managers and coaches.

Hockey was important to the community in the 1980’s. If you want young men to play their best you have to build their confidence. To say they got away with a lot is an understatement.

Because I was local I had friends I grew up with who were not involved in hockey. These were the people I hung around with most often. I didn’t get along with most players on the team. It was said, the only players that disliked me more than the opposition were my own teammates. Which was fine by me.

Hockey parties were arranged regularly, usually at a ‘safe’ house. They were often at a billets or executives house. Non hockey players were not invited. Every now and again one or two would show up and they usually got the shit kicked out of them. There was no shortage of alcohol and drugs and plenty of girls, mostly underage.

I went to enough hockey parties to know what went on. Most of my friends didn’t play hockey so our partying was done in the bush or beside the Columbia River. 

***

This is the way group sex or assault happens:

Two of my good friends in high school; he was a good looking guy, smart in every way, good athlete, but not a hockey player, she was also a great student, pretty and athletic. They were an ideal couple, but, on again off again, like most couples at 16 or 17. She had a crush on one of the hockey players, he was a good looking guy, but a complete asshole. He was scouted  and came here with another two of his buddies from another part of Canada. They were decent hockey players, full of confidence and yappy. 

On one of this couple’s ‘off again’ moments, she went to a hockey party and hooked up with her crush, got drunk, went to a room to spend time with him, before the door closed he invited his two buddies to come in with him.

She was the talk of the dressing room at the next practice.

That is how it happens. And it happened all the time. 

My friends, the couple, withdrew, become close, once graduated they moved away, married and started a life together. They distanced themselves from their hometown and old friends. 

This was the 1980’s. There was no laws covering consent of intoxicated individuals.

***

A couple years after I finished playing junior hockey an incident occurred. Three players of the hockey club, players who were my teammates years earlier, and still played for the team, raped a teenage girl.

They were charged and went to court. One after another, the hockey executive got up, and said what upstanding young men they were. As for the girl, she was drunk, she couldn’t remember everything.  Although she had bite marks on her back and was torn up internally, the young men got off. The male judge ruled that she liked rough sex. My mother, who accompanied the young women to court along with the doctor who examined her were outraged. The young men were exonerated, went on to become respected members of the community, while the girl was labeled a slut.

This happens in Canada because we put these young men on a pedestal. Hockey is our national game. We revere the players and they know it. It excuses some of them from being decent human beings. They get a pass from morality and education from an early age providing they can dangle with the puck or dish it out physically on the ice.

***

What has to happen?

The executive of Hockey Canada has resigned. This is good. Instead of a group who’s job it is to protect or apologize, they should be required to make moral choices regarding all players enrolled in Hockey Canada.

In the past Hockey Canada executive used minor hockey enrolment income to settle sexual abuse claims. They did this because these funds, and use, was unlikely to be questioned, unlike an insurance claim or sponsor donations. The people who made these decisions were rightfully let go.

The next thing that has to happen, and this is a big one, the eight players involved in the alleged rape have to step up, admit that it was them that has given Canadian Hockey a bad name. At least some of these players would be newly minted millionaires playing in the NHL, so this is very unlikely to happen. If they are innocent of any wrong doing they should be chomping at the bit to be exonerated.

Finally, the police or RCMP have to pursue the sexual assault case. Even if the young women was paid $3.5 million for her silence, if a crime was committed it must be investigated.

***

I took my young grandchildren to the rink this morning to play hockey. It is a wonderful game, one you can play from the time you can walk to the time you can’t walk. It is special, filled with emotion, thrills and letdowns. My son, when he was small, used to sleep in his hockey equipment after his practices. The game means a great deal to our family.

But if you didn’t know the game, like many parents, or like newly immigrated parents why would you ever want your children to become involved in hockey?

If we want to continue to be proud of our national game. If we want it to be inclusive to all Canadians, new and old, male and female, It is essential we rebuild its reputation.

Morning Creek

Lisa and I headed up the creek with Lola and Willow. It was chilly with frost on the windows. It would have suited me to go towards the sun on the west side, instead we went east where the mountains get bigger, taking the sun longer to rise.

Not much water in the creek up high, plenty of rose hips and cones on the spruce, the winter birds will take advantage.

Lola stayed on leash because she is a puppy and we haven’t quite have her figured. If she went after something I don’t trust my ability to chase her down.

We watched the sun rise through the low spots in the mountains, lighting the shadows and turning the trees colour.

Deep Fall

All the up and down, older its harder to keep track. Been told things are good and bad. Haven’t been able to tell the difference. Now older, I don’t care as much. It’s hell on the writing and photo taking, also making love suffers. Is it age, no longer have the want to fight like in the old days. Lovemaking and fighting, nobody can tell me they aren’t connected.

Still, if truth be known, it’s good not to be a slave to fighting and sex. Cripes, before long I’ll be sitting to pee. Drinking lite beer. Less calories and low alcohol. I’ll start birdwatching, not unusual, but will go out with the group. Start wearing a sweater in the fall regardless that it’s still goddamn hot. Start limping to let everyone know my advanced age. Swear off whisky. Refuse spicy stuff because, ‘it will keep me up at night’. Take my boots off every time I enter the house. Keep the slippers beside the door. Wash my dentures every night. Religiously, brush my remaining teeth. Teach the hounds English instead of learning dog. Pull out the flowers before they go to seed, saying, ‘I’ll never smoke all that shit.’

It doesn’t sound good but old age does have its advantages.

Thanksgiving Hike

Bree, Tiara, Hunter with Ash and Pedley.

Hunter organized a fantastic fall hike up Pedley Pass. We started out early and were on the trail by 8:30. Bree, Hunter, Tiara, Bree’s Dad Dave, Mike, Dave and me cut through the bush to Bumpy Meadows and then higher to the crossroads. We were accompanied by the good dogs Willow, Ash and Pedley damned and determined to explore her namesake.

Dad Dave bathing in the mornings first sliver of light.

We choose to cut across to the small lake instead of the ridge. Our pace was good and the sun was still down at 11:00 at the lake. After a bite to eat we had some time to explore and take some photos.

Tiara and Hunter exploring the rocks.

Dad Dave and Mike shot the shit at the lake. Bree walked Pedley around the lake, Hunter and Tiara headed for higher ground through the rocks and Dave and I looked for fossils.

Dave cracking shale to reveal a small sea creature.

We all gave thanks for family, good friends, health and the wonderful natural vistas that met us at every bend on the trail. I can think of no better way to spend a weekend. 

Beautiful Bree running Pedley along the trail.

Very fine day.

Mike, a man who makes everyone feel special, while having kicked the ass of cancer in his spare time.