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.

Late June

Willow getting stripped.

A wonderful weekend. It was Cooper’s birthday, as is tradition in our house, he was allowed to pick his supper. He picked BBQ ribs, asparagus, corn, mashed potatoes and garlic toast. He wanted it made by me, which made me feel special. I also made a salad. His great Grandparents came over, to make four generations celebrating his birthday and enjoying supper.

***

Blue sky and ridges.

Lisa and I were behind Swansea early this morning. We finished stripping Willow. It has taken a few sessions to get her done. She is not fond of sitting still while we pull her long wire hair out a few strands at a time. Although it doesn’t hurt her, our previous Wire-Haired seemed to enjoy it, she sometimes puts up a fuss until we give her a break and let her have a run. She looks good now just in time for the upcoming warm weather.

Bunching onions.

***

The garden is coming. Lots of lettuce for every meal. The garlic is putting out scapes that are delicious and spicy. The spuds have blossoms. The peas have come up like never before, assuring the kids will have plenty to pick. Today was clear blue skies, still snow to come down in the high country, the heat is on it’s way.

Scarlett working on a drawing.

***

Inflation is up in Canada. Lisa and I are careful, as we always have been, learned from growing up without much. It’s our normal. That’s not to say we save every penny, quite the contrary, when we have money we spend it, but we can also make do with nothing if we have to. We have cut back plenty since the start of 2022.

***

The tourists from Alberta are out in force. Today I was cut off only once. Car alarms sounded through downtown, the sound of summer locals call it, two Albertans got into a yelling match in the Canadian Tire parking lot, this makes my heart glad, a guilty pleasure to watch a couple of type A arseholes go at each other.

The wealth that rolls in from Alberta into BC is insane. Boats, RV’s, large four wheel drive vehicles trailering ATV’s of every make and size. It is incredible! There is no restraint from our neighbours to the east.

For the record I have been accused of hating on Albertans. I should make it clear I don’t hate Albertans. I hate people that disrespect the place they choose to holiday. In this area, the majority guilty of contempt are tourists and second home owners from Alberta. It’s just the way it is.

I am sure the inhabitants who live three hours from Vancouver feel the same about the Vancouverites who recreate and tear the shit out the area they call home.

There are plans to build camps for workers earning minimum wage so they have places to live and serve tourists from Alberta. Atco trailers have been proposed. Some rich guy has even graciously donated the land. Of course it ain’t free and they well be charged rent. It’s promised the rent will be reasonable, something the workers can afford.

***

Up the creek this morning, plenty of tourists camping, sleeping in. Tonight is the kind of evening I used to go back and clean up the mess, garbage and empties they leave behind. Now Lisa and I do it in September at the end of tourist season, it is impossible to keep up otherwise.

***

Lavender.

CBC had a news story about large companies taking advantage during this spell of inflation to raise prices, blaming the war in Ukraine or the pandemic, to justify jacking prices and registering record profits. Many Canadian gas and oil companies, historically not the most virtuous or upstanding of corporate citizens, are guilty of this practice.

Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the federal NDP party suggested the offending companies should have their profits taxed heavily and their windfall dispersed to Canadians in the form of a rebate. Of course, this will never happen, but I like his thinking. Unfortunately, there is too many Canadian businesspeople and politicians who still think greed is good.

My kind of cabbage.

Ridge Walk

Plenty of snow still to melt on the ridge and fill the creeks.

A touch of rain this evening and it sure felt good. The ground in the valley bottom is getting parched. Each day brings at least some wind that dries the earth further. I reminisce to earlier days and I can’t remember it being this dry in spring. It is true the area is much more built up and water is scarce due to usage, which makes watering the yard prohibitive for all but the wealthy, District of Invermere, and School District N0.6 (Rocky Mountain) who use more than needed. For them it is easier to over water than manage the resource.

***

Fuel is above $2 a litre and going higher. Tourism hasn’t slowed one bit. More motor boats are planned fro Lake Windermere. A new RV park is being built on the outskirts. Our public officials say we are lucky to host our wealthy tourist clientele that come in droves from Alberta.

Meanwhile I hope I will continue to be able to afford to drive the 17Km to work and back each day for the opportunity to earn shit wages. I shouldn’t complain, Lisa and I have it better than many. The Valley hasn’t always been the tourist trap it has become. When the kids were young we did better. Many young couples will never have the opportunity Lisa and I had to buy a house and raise a family.

***

The world seems to be going apeshit crazy, environmental disaster, war, shootings and people mistreating each other with impunity.

I listen to many of my young co-workers, their view of the future is very dim, and why shouldn’t it be with all that is going on. What does inspire me is how well they treat each other.

Maybe that’s the best we can do in such a world – be as kind as we can to people we encounter.

It is a work in progress for me. The older I get the less time I have for right wing bigots and racists, people that tear up the environment, swindlers including many politicians and business folks, lining their pockets at the expense of people they proclaim to serve; neighbours and future generations.

These types have always existed, they have been successful, even revered by history, it just seems the stakes are higher now and it should be clear that punching down on your fellow man and the earth that sustains us for profit has become a terrible outdated practice. Perhaps someday it will finally fall out of favour for good.

***

Even this little bit of rain helps and refreshes. The garden shows thin green rows of carrots, peas, kale and turnips just planted last week.

In the Windermere

A website I enjoy reading is, In the Windermere, by Alex Weller.

The writing, research and photographs are fantastic. The material highlights local history. Many of the subjects Alex covers are ones I am familiar with and enjoyed talking about with my late father.

Alex does not romanticize history, rather, reports it with footnotes and links to back it up.

So often while reading Alex’s website I am reminded of my father’s recollections of First Nation People and the many names that settled this area my family has called home since 1912.

My father would often point out injustices in those early days of settlement. Alex’s website often confirms, through research and linked footnotes, many of the stories my father and I would discuss.

History was a real time and place. Even the smallest areas have great stories. History reflects and has repercussions until today. I can’t get over, when reading, In the Windermere, how politics haven’t really changed much, but the area sure has.

skyward

Canadian geese heading north.

A couple of walks on the weekend. We checked out where the old dogs reside. It is enjoyable walking the burn at this time of year. Eagles, flickers, juncos, robins, hawks and bluebirds entertained us with flight and song.

Missing was the sound of meadowlarks, although we have heard them in the valley bottom. Looking over the great expanse of long ago burnt forest we spotted a small herd of whitetail, having been spooked by something unseen by our eyes.

This was a fine spot to lay down our old dogs. Willow and Maynard ran and took in the sights, sounds and smells.

***

The Easter weekend was very busy in the valley. Visitors from Alberta took over the town. Lisa and I discussed our plan for summer to try to stay sane. On our days off we will leave early in the morning, about 6, head for the bush and return in the afternoon after the Albertans are settled heading back into their accommodations.

Alberta tourists will be out in force this year, and who can blame them stuck where they are. Oil is back on the table and they will be squeezing the rocks for every last drop, clamouring to get out to the valley, to their second homes or Airbnb.

Meanwhile Canadians do what we do best, assume a feigned posture, pretending to give a shit about the environment. It is discouraging what has happened to the Valley in our so called leaders haste to cater to the tourist. The gentrification is total, unavoidable and complete.

A typical right winger from Alberta. The trailer he was hauling was full of snowmobiles. More and more have Canadian flags flying or, like this one, fatuous stickers.

Walking the Rails/Women’s Day

Familiar tracks.

Walked the tracks on the weekend to the old fishing holes I used to be so fond of when I was a youngster. It was about this time of year I used to throw the first lines with the hope of hooking a nice char.

The old bridge site and brush thicker than the hair on a dog’s back.

The walk is different now. For one I don’t carry a rod. Willow enjoys trotting the banks among her namesake the Red Willow lining the Columbia. We did it early in the morning before the mud thawed, saving Willow from bringing her weight home in river silt.

A couple large Swans, either Tundra or Trumpeter, flying north. At one time they were nearly hunted to extinction. Their loud honking is exceptional, as was evident on our walk. When they are shot and dying they make a soft cooing, known as the Swan song. Incredible birds and hard to sneak up on. Perhaps they tired of being shot.

There is nothing as soothing as walking railway ties. Seeing how many you can step at once walking or running. Balancing the rail, jumping from rail to rail. Giving the engineers a wave, counting cars until the red caboose. And if lucky, on the way home, the train would slow enough to swing up onto a coal car and jump off right beside our old house where it was sure to slow due to the half mile of twined track. The trick was not to let the engineer or brakeman in the caboose see you. This required walking further up river from home while tired and often late to a bend in the tracks. Sometimes the train wouldn’t come and it was a longer walk home and a scolding for not arriving on time. Admittedly the scoldings were never much in our house. Looking back I’m not sure my parents even knew I was late until I walked in.

Willow gets ready to drive away regardless if I am ready or not or if the windows have been scraped.

Now you can get fined for walking the rails by the CPR police. Luckily they are not around much. They make a concentrated effort to fine trespassers after someone throws themselves under a train, which happens more often than you think it would. They always rule it an accident.

A young Mule Deer doe gives us a look and listen.

As a twelve year old carrying a pack and fishing rod I never had a problem. If the train was going too fast I gave it a pass even if it made the walk home long. Don’t think I could run fast enough to grab the ladder now. Besides what would Willow do?

***

It is International Women’s Day. In honour, this is a video our Granddaughter Scarlett and her Mom sent Lisa and I today.

I believe her!

blue skies

Clouds and river running by the tracks.

A skiff of snow last night. This morning blue skies. In the morning Willow and I headed for the Columbia River below Lake Windermere. It’s a clear trickle at this time of year. A Kingfisher gave us the gears for our intrusion.

Geese catching on winter is on the way.

Wedge after wedge of Canadian Geese flew overhead north to south. Willow paid them no mind, concerning herself instead, with mice in the long reeds and wading the river. I on the other hand, watched intently, taking a few photos while my hands got cold.

Skein.

We have gone from +8 to -8° in the past 24 hrs. The cool weather is a gift especially when it is accompanied by blue skies.

They were one after another, flying in small flocks unlike the large groups that fly in late fall. Perhaps fewer birds have waited to make the trip south and they catch up to each other in the air or resting on open water, regrouping for warmer thicker air.

Ray Crook 1918 – 2021

Ray enjoying a birthday dessert.

Sadly, Ray wasn’t able to recover from a fall in his apartment and passed away peacefully at Columbia House on December 1st.

During my last visit with Ray at the hospital he was in good spirits and knew the score. He talked fondly of the housekeeper that found him, his nephew now living in Switzerland and the times he and my father spent cutting trail in Kootenay National Park.

Ray was an accomplished historian and someone I enjoyed talking to about long ago times. His memory was fantastic. He clarified many valley events for me and taught me plenty of things I didn’t know.

Ray was well known in the community, driving his scooter downtown each day, stopping to talk with anyone, laughing usually ensued.

Life is a gift. Ray gave back with his always cheerful nature and natural decency.

When I look up, from my garden, towards downtown, Ray will always be riding his scooter along the paved path. Like the way it should be.

Rest well Ray.

The start of tourist season

A storm brewing.

Part of the reason I started blogging many years ago was to document the transformation of the Columbia Valley from a small town to a small city. That transformation has been complete for years now. If we haven’t quite hit city status, nobody can deny, we are a bustling tourist trap, full of self serving business people and disrespectful tourists and second home owners.

The photographs I publish on this page rarely show the popular tourist sites. There is plenty of places to see those. Although places are spoiled yearly, I’m lucky to know of a few good places that still exist far from the hand of disrespecting tourists.

Although the original purpose of this blog is complete I will still continue to put up pictures. If I wanted readers I’d do it on Facebook or Instagram, but those platforms make me sad.

As I continue I am going to turn off commenting. For a couple reasons, although I appreciate people reading and commenting, it seems like a chore for both the reader and writer.

A typical Alberta tourist defying the non-essential travel suggestion to get in some boating on Lake Windermere. Alberta has the highest active case rate in Canada by population. Twice that of the next highest, Ontario. Our Mayor and Provincial MLA have continually encouraged Albertans to defy the travel ban and come to the Columbia Valley.

This past year has been difficult, as we face another tourist season I fear it’s going to get worse for the valley. The past year has shown just how disrespectful people are towards one another.

I have always tried to have a positive outlook for humanity. I’ve thought, although slow to learn, goodness and common sense will prevail. Having watched this past year of destruction and absolute disrespect towards each other my faith has been shaken. As humanity faces unprecedented environmental and health challenges I’m unsure it can be turned around.

So what does this mean; not much really. It doesn’t mean I will change or stop caring about the place I’ve grown up. However, I don’t think the people who give a shit can be as forgiving as in the past.

early March

An early arrived bluebird gives a look.

A perfect Spring day. Overcast, rain and snow in the morning. In the afternoon the sun came out with temperatures rising. Willow and I headed for the river to see what we could see. She snuffed up the smells thawing in the wetlands. I envied her yet was content with the sun on my face. Very fine day.

Willow tastes the wind and water.