Mid August

A butterfly sunning itself on a thistle. I was happy with the bokeh in the background. It was achieved with my trusty 70-200 F2.8 Nikon lens.

The heat refuses to let up. The sky is blue with a thin haze of smoke. The garden is still going strong. Every blade of grass in our yard is dead and crispy to the delight of the grasshoppers. It is a chore just trying to keep water on the garden.

***

This happened to Willow and she hasn’t been happy about it. She got something stuck in her paw and it became infected. She was licking it raw. A trip to the vet, a few antibiotics, a cone and she is on her way to recovery. Once the swelling went down I was able to cut open and remove the material with a knife. It looked like the burrs that she got into on our late night walk. When she first got the cone she vigorously protested. She refused to eat, drink, use stairs and pee or poop for two solid days. The only sound out of her was whining. Lisa has had to feed her by hand. Willow is starting to get used to it.

A few weeks ago, newspapers quit delivering to the valley. We used to get The Calgary Sun, The Calgary Herald, The National Post and The Globe and Mail. My sister Deb and I miss the Globe.

I am yet to subscribe to the web version of the Globe, but may have too. I subscribe to the web version of The New York Times which I enjoy very much. I also regularly read CBC News, Global, BBC, CNN and Fox.

CNN and Fox are a source of humour as they are not even reporting from the same planet. It is crazy the spin they put on current affairs. They do, however, accurately demonstrate the left/right divide in the United States.

***

Today’s afternoon waning moon.

Recently, a young housekeeper I work with was bitten by something while sleeping at staff quarters. The first time their elbow blew up to about twice its size. They were justifiably alarmed. A few days later they were bitten again below the knee and it started to swell. Everyone suggested they see a doctor.

As doctors are not available at clinics without an appointment they went to emergency at the local hospital. They waited 6 hours without seeing a doctor. A nurse suggested they go home and come back if it got worse.

Some bites can be dangerous without treatment. Just ask the Good Neighbour who was bitten by a spider and had blood poisoning for over a year. I can’t help but feel this housekeeper was treated this way because they were young and poor.

I remember a time when Lisa was in emergency with a broken wrist. Her wrist was being set by a hungover intern (they admitted being hungover due to a Grey Cup party). The doctor on duty at the time had the reputation of being one of the worst in the valley. There were several other people waiting to be cared for, when all of a sudden the emergency room was alive with commotion. Doctors and nurses running hither and yon just like you see on TV when they bring in a shooting victim. Only this time it was an Invermere big shot businessman brought in by his wife.

Lisa was asked to give up the gurney she was on for the mortally wounded. We know him well and thought he must have been shot or having a heart attack. Lisa gave up the gurney willingly. We asked his young wife what had happened to him. It turns out he fell off the last step of his stairs.

The very next day I looked out my office window and there he was walking down the road like nothing happened.

Lisa on the other hand had to have her cast redone, because it had been put on improperly. She was later told by a competent doctor that she should have had surgery as the wrist bone had been broken right through. Her wrist still gives her trouble.

Anybody who thinks all people in Canada have equal access to healthcare are mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for being able to access any kind of healthcare. We’re lucky, it’s just some people are more lucky than others.

***

A fire fighting helicopter with a water bucket.

There is a few fires burning around us. The smoke hasn’t been too bad so far. We are fortunate considering how hot it’s been.

Cranbrook

Todays moon when the sun hit the ridge.

Lisa and I had eye exams in Cranbrook. We also had a service on the truck.

Cranbrook is a small city with a Walmart, mall, superstore and other box stores. I visited the garden centre even though I didn’t need anything.

It is not the nicest city. A large strip of businesses leading to a downtown that tries to hide the dilapidation. Much different then the tourist trap we live in. Not many Alberta plates.

I did notice the people. They were hardened. Overweight, limping; many I could tell were homeless. A homeless camp is behind the garden centre. Invermere would quickly run these folks out of town, ‘bad for business’ the higher ups would say.

Every small city across Canada is the same. In Invermere the people are tourists. They are the wealthy from Alberta. They are fit and healthy.

A store clerk once told me they can always spot a tourist, because they look healthier than locals.

Locals making minimum wage and living in overcrowded staff houses just don’t have the same resources. No matter what we pretend as Canadians.

***

Lisa and I will eventually be pushed out of our home to make way for more tourists and second home owners. It is inevitable as we will not be able to afford the escalating assessments and taxes. We will probably head to Cranbrook and join the good people.

***

The buds are filling out.

It’s funny, Invermere is actually becoming a small city and will eventually lose its charm with tourists. We are already busy building our own strip with box stores and polluting the lake.

Perhaps we will get lucky like Cranbrook and be abandoned by tourists so we can limp around, overweight, getting by on minimum wage, sickly and drunken in the place we love the most.

Noctilucent

Probably should have spent more time figuring things out on earth instead of looking at clouds and stars. Rivers of fish hiding behind every rock. To see it on ground you have to see it above.

Plenty of folks say God is up there. Looking down. Religion, and lately, science casts judgement with offers of redemption.

The sky is full of giant birds spreading their wings, prehistoric animals, white water fast and falling, chimneys puffing and faces that can’t be quite made out. Ghosts maybe.

Perhaps God took off and who could blame him.

I said to my daughter, ‘Do you see that elephant?’

She looked up and said, ‘Yes, I do.’

It felt good, even if I should have taught her different.

Weekend

Fawns trot through the yard after their mother.

Spent a relaxing day in the garden. Pulled the pea vines. The peas were great this year. We even froze a few bags for winter.

The grasshoppers are sure at it. Luckily they haven’t done much damage to the garden.

Waxing moon above the Akisqunuk Range.

A young buck came around trimming the flowers and stepping on the plants, breaking off a prized patty pan squash.

Plenty of deer around for this time of year.

Catching my eye on the other side of the garden fence.

A half waxing moon came up in broad daylight. The sky was blue and lent the perfect backdrop.

Getting tall.

My proposal for a new week is; Saturday and Sunday off, Monday and Tuesday on, Wednesday off, Thursday and Friday on. 2 off 2 on 1 off 2 on, AKA 2 2 1 2. Hump day is now a mini weekend. I say fuck the 5 day work week.

Greening up.

Night Walk

Willow and I were up early for a walk under the stars. It has been clear for awhile, unfortunately we picked a morning that was cloudy with a few stars poking through here and there.

Using the lights of the Valley bottom to illuminate the trees. Pleiades and Mars can be seen above the trees in the centre.

Willow decided to drag her face through a patch of burrs and is now covered in them. She has been patient but not overly pleased with me picking them out.

An old shack nestled in the wetlands.

Late July

Willow having a cool down bath, looking somewhat vulnerable, not quite the way the small rodents see her.

We were up early to beat the heat. We headed for the backroads in search of berries. Our first stop yielded a half bucket each. They were small. By 10:30 I was ready to call it a day. The heat was picking up. Lisa said we should try further up the mountain. We hit a cut block where the berries were bigger and more plentiful. Willow ran rampant chasing rodents. We picked, filling our buckets, admiring the view of valley bottoms and towering mountains. I gave up figuring we had enough. Lisa kept going, thinking every berry was for her grandchildren. They love the jam.

More grass hoppers than I can remember. Damn aliens I say. Just look at them. The armour, the big eyes, antenna, the jumping. They have always been easy to catch. I’d hook a #8 hook under their shoulder pads and put a couple split shot sinkers a foot above, the fish were happy until I brought them in.

Once done we were both hot and thirsty. Willow was laying in the shade, tongue hanging out.

Four buckets total.

Lisa preparing a batch of berries to be frozen.

Venus & Crescent Moon

A thin crescent moon with faint earthshine. Venus shines in the dawn. The communication tower can be seen on top of the original Pinto mountain.

Was up in the middle of the night admiring the stars. This morning a brilliant conjunction of Venus and a waning crescent moon rose above the mountain horizon. A spectacular sight, enough to take your breath, and one that cannot be captured properly with a camera.

A reminder that I must start getting out more to put myself in position to see such splendour. I have been delinquent, as of late, in my nighttime excursions.

Backroads

A brilliant day.

We were up early. It was a stretch. Decided to look for berries. Stretch, because it’s early. Still a ride into the bush is always welcome and never a waste regardless of season.

The bush changes. Seasons are earlier or later. Logging roads prop up confusing the shit out of me. I’m on one, then another, while looking for the old road I used to remember.

Willow chasing a rodent down a small hole. Willow does her best to dig and expand the hole.

Lisa says, no sense getting mad about it. She is right of course. Sometimes I turn down the right road that’s now a goat trail, a better route having been carved out of the land. Usually, and amazingly, we end up where we want to go.

Thousands of chipmunks took their turns driving Willow crazy.

The berries look like they will be on time this year. We were early but happy.

Mid July

Yellow Columbine.

Was up early to watch a near full waning moon hoover above mountain tops catching the days first rays of sun. It’s been good to have time off to relax. Lisa pointed out the last time we had time off in the summer, our son Hunter could stand on my hand, about 26 years ago. That was when we would head down to Montana.

It’s getting hot. The garden is going full tilt. Another 5 days and the peas should fill out. Cooper and Scarlett are going to like that.

Tomorrow I plan to stick close to home, weed the garden, make sure everything is watered, pick the rest of the garlic scapes and make pesto. Lisa also wants olive tapenade and salads galore. It is too hot to turn the oven on to cook in the house. 

So far the skies are clear, blue, smoke free. With luck they will stay that way.

Spiders

A tiny spider on a wild orchid.

There is a unique spider that has taken up residence outside our basement door. Unique, because he is almost entirely white and has two spots on its belly that look like eyes, possibly to scare off predators; it works with me.

It spins perfect webs in the corner of the doorframe. More than once I have dragged my head through them leaving the basement, which causes me to quickly turn to make sure the spider is still in it’s corner and not on the web around my head.

I’ve since learned to mind its presence ducking as I enter and exit. 

The spider outside the basement door.

It captures a grasshopper a day. The grasshoppers are getting larger as it warms up. Yesterday it caught one that was bigger than itself. The spider came down and immobilized it in a hurry. The grasshopper made a mess out of the web. The spider wrapped and cradled it and then proceeded to suck the juice out of it.

This morning, I thought, after such a catch the spider may take the night off from spinning another web, but come morning another perfect web was strung in the corner of the doorframe.

It reminded me of a spider my father and I watched during a summer long ago. Like this one it grew to a large size. We named it, though I can’t remember what it was. It strung its web on the beams above the door of our log cabin. Come fall its web would have frost on it. In the afternoon it would come out and sun itself in the middle of the web. 

When it looked like it could not possibly live any longer due to the cold, my father brought out the .22 Winchester bolt action rifle. We backed up about 50 yards or so. I can’t remember if he got the first shot or I did. The spider had grown to about the size of a quarter and didn’t stand a chance. One shot was all it took.

I can guarantee this spider won’t suffer the same fate. Discharging rifles in town is frowned upon. Maybe a bird will ignore those eyes on its belly and have a meal. If so, the bird may be surprised it tastes like grasshopper.