Bumblebees, dipshits and the real deal

It is interesting to see different animals and bugs appear and disappear. Bee species are one that have changed over the year. The most prevalent bee now is the one commercialy used to produce honey. I can never remember seeing these bees when I was a youngster. They gather pollen all over their legs and body and fly away slowly back to the nest with their bounty.

The pictures here are of a bee I’ve never seen before. The first thing I noticed was it’s size. It is the size of about a quarter. It seems to defy physics with it’s small wings allowing flight. The second thing you notice is it’s long beak that it sticks inside the flower to suck out the nectar, kind of like a hummingbird. A matter of fact, the other day, a hummingbird was doing the same in the gooseberry bushes, along side one of these giant, and there wasn’t much of a size difference

The bee would load up and fly away, After a short time it would be back. It didn’t seem aggressive. Perhaps it is a queen getting a jump on a hive.

***

A long weekend is slamming us in the face. Regardless I’m looking forward to a few days off.

The Albertans are streaming into the Valley, defying the no travel order, trying to avoid the Covid restrictions in their own province, imposed because of Alberta’s high case numbers.

Even Alberta’s Premier, Jason Kenny, says Alberta has a compliance problem.

Damn, I hate politicians.

With that said, traffic seems to be down with rec vehicles sporting Alberta plates. Very unusual heading into a long weekend.

***

Invermere Mayor, Al Miller, has even asked tourists to stay home this weekend so we may have a good summer. This is surprising. The Mayor’s mantra, up to now, has been for the ‘respectful’ Alberta tourists to defy travel restrictions and come to the Covid free, open for business, Columbia Valley. He has been acting less like a mayor and more like an old addled Welcome Wagon lady.

Surely, he can see the end is in sight and he doesn’t want to be judged by history as a complete moron.

Still give Mayor Miller his due, this time he did the right thing. It might even cost him a couple bucks in his hardware store.

***

My good neighbour Larry went planting in the bush today and found the first Calypso Orchids. Bastard!

the row you hoe

Planting a row.

After rain, sleet and snow the day turned sunny. Since I’ve had time on my hands I’ve dug the garden. It is much better done by hand than rototiller.

This afternoon I put in two rows of peas, and one row each of lettuce/spinach/greens and beets. We have some cold weather ahead of us, but they should be able to handle it. I hope to get the carrots, onions and spuds in within the next week. This will be the earliest I have planted.

I mentioned having time on my hands. I have been in quarantine for the past thirteen days due to having close contact with someone who tested positive with Covid. Tomorrow I am out of quarantine.

It has been trying but not as much so as it has been for the people who have tested positive. I know about ten personally. I know at least twenty in quarantine.

Willow plants a rock.

The people in the valley have been lucky while we have flirted with disaster. The area has been busy with people vacationing.

The District of Invermere’s Mayor, Al Miller and Provincial, Liberal, MLA Doug Clovchok have acted less like elected officials concerned about peoples health, and more like members of the Chamber of Commerce or Welcome Wagon, encouraging tourists to visit instead of heeding the warnings, against non-essential travel from Canada’s top doctors.

The Windermere Region is hard hit.

Hopefully no one dies on their watch. Like I said, we have been lucky despite everything.

Willow couldn’t be happier to have us home each day. I’m back to work on Saturday and looking forward to it.

rant

It is hard to believe we are experiencing a pandemic and have been given instructions to not travel and social distance, keep to your household, etc.

The Columbia Valley is located in an interesting part of British Columbia. Three hours away from Calgary, Alberta. Home of some of the most entitled residents in Canada, wealthy, individualistic with a huge chip on their shoulders thinking they have been hard done by by the rest of Canada.

Lake Windermere is surrounded by their opulent second homes, or cabins as they like to call them. Albertans like to remind us at every turn that we are nothing without them. I can’t tell you how often I have been told that this part of BC is their ‘backyard’.

This is the end of a long weekend that saw the area swamped with tourists, the overwhelming majority from Alberta. Every resort full to the rafters, people gathering in condos, outside, shopping, on the lake, at the ski hills and bumping into each other in parking lots.

Who could blame tourists for wanting to be here with the abundance of fresh air, recreation and scenery. Normally they would be welcome with open arms, but these are not normal times. It isn’t inconceivable, even probable some tourists from Alberta have travelled to the Columbia Valley to skirt the health and safety Covid protocols of their home province.

It makes me feel foolish. Why are we adhering to Covid protocols while so many are not? Why are we not seeing our children and grandchildren? Why am I wearing a mask while people in stores and gas stations do not?

It also makes me wonder, at the rate we are going, how will we be able to put the pandemic behind us.

My guess is only about one third of people, in this area, locals and tourists, are adhering to health protocols; one third believe there is Covid but don’t give a shit, because they believe it doesn’t affect them; and the last third don’t believe there is a pandemic and it is made up by government or some higher order to take away our freedoms and control us.

Regarding the last group of people, our local newspaper has given them plenty of space to state their case, with the editor even writing an editorial how we should approach their argument with an open mind. Sorry but I don’t think reptilian super beings are trying to control me. Sometimes I wish I did so I could feel smug like the rest of them in the knowledge that I have all the answers. Is it a coincidence that many of these folks don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground, but have fantastic hypothesis’ on the working of the world.

And the third of the people that don’t give a shit, the travellers from Alberta and beyond and our local politicians acting like giddy school girls welcoming visitors to the valley in spite of our top doctors warning against it, thanks for nothing.

Perhaps a vaccine will put an end to the pandemic, however that is not entirely clear. If it doesn’t we will be in a heap of trouble. There is no way we can control the spread of the disease with only one third of the population adhering to protocols.

So why don’t we just say, ‘fuck it’ and let sickness run it’s course. The final results will be quicker. Sure there will be deaths, but there will anyway, and herd immunity will be achieved faster, after all, it’s just a strain of flu we are talking about.

Of course, I am being flippant but also deadly serious. How long will it take for the one third to look around and question why they are being vigilant in light of so many being inattentive.

I like to think this small tourist trap I live in is not indicative of the rest of Canada. That progress stopping the spread is being made. If I am wrong then throw away the protocols – I’d love to see my children.

This is only the first long weekend of the year and I’m already sick of people selfishly thumbing their noses at the Covid health protocols handed down by our Prime Minister, Provincial Premiers and Canada’s top doctors and scientists.

Boxing Day

A quiet Christmas with all of our families staying within their households. The foot of snow a few days earlier helped the spirit.

Lisa and I had a small turkey. It provided plenty of leftovers and broth for soup. The woodpile is holding up. I mix tamarack and fir, pine and birch, keeping the pitchy stuff for kindling.

It is hard to know when we will all be together again. I try not to think about it much. Having plenty to do keeps my mind off it.

***

The cloud is crushingly low, the backroads are blocked leading to heights above the din.

***

There is plenty of tourists, most from Alberta, skiing, staying, travelling, snowmobiling, dining, partying, defying the no travel recommendations. I don’t worry about them. They can’t be taught or reasoned with. They’re the reason I have a job, thank God.

***

A couple more days off and I’m going to enjoy them.

summer’s end

We’ve been told due to the economy coming to a halt due to Covid and a good portion of the work force on CERB that the economic outlook for Canada is dire. So why is it, everywhere I look, money is being spent hand over fist.

Roadwork at every turn, money and tourists flowing like never before from Alberta, government rumbling about spending on everything from increasing our social safety net (for somebody but not us, Lisa and I will be lucky to claim a pension) to plenty of make-work projects and salary increases across the board for public employees?

***

Covid and the impending environmental crisis have made the public think they can’t do anything to help their own communities. Why care about issues such as local governance while a pandemic will wipe humanity off the earth and if that doesn’t finish us global warming will? I, of course, am inflating the risk, but not the point people feel defeated when it comes to fighting the little daily battles that make a huge difference in our lives. Meanwhile this has been a godsend for small town politicians and businessmen who make their living feathering their nests.

Our Mayor, for instance, pushed through buying a piece of land that will be made into boat launches and tourist shops. Who will be the ultimate benefactor; our Mayor who owns the local building supplies and hardware. Of course the real estate agents on town council will do well for themselves as well. Meanwhile, no one even flinches at the conflict of interest, because how can we worry about such petty issues when the whole world could stop turning at a moments notice? Maybe Musk has an open seat on his spaceship to Mars.

***

I’ve noticed the School District have used pesticides on the school grounds again, disregarding a District bylaw forbidding its use. Who cares what a little poison spread around children in light of all the environmental problems we face. Besides the students are wearing masks anyway.

***

It is futile to try and make a difference in times like these. Your best bet is take cover and avoid the jack asses tearing it up to make a buck.

***

The bush at night is a sanctuary. The September smells and light are a reprise from the dreaded summer. To smell the the leaves changing, feel the coolness, hear the hidden small chirp of birds knowing more than we can imagine, the snow moving down the mountains will soon turn the trail silent. I welcome it back.

***

There is a tree I’ve watched since I was a child. It’s always been dying. An old fir, it hasn’t changed, part spike, part crag. The wind has turned it to driftwood at the top. Curled boughs hold green, hanging on, the base shows scars of lightening strikes. Regardless, it stands above the surrounding forest. Somehow it’s still there, standing vigil through long nights and 40 below winters, the summer sun thickening it’s bark. It leans away from the slope, making it seem even more in danger, precarious, like a slight wind might send it toppling to the creek bottom. Still it stands, it will continue to stand long after I am gone, oblivious to the triviality of any man’s problems. I take comfort in that.

0pt out

RCE_7828Crocuses, a sure sign of spring, are blooming in abundance on the benches and valley bottom.

Willow and I went into the bush, yesterday, to get some firewood. Storms have been threatening, clouds raining on the mountains, not much in the valley bottom. Lisa is afraid the government may close the bush due to the virus. The fear is fires will start and the province will not have the resources to fight the fires. It is a legitimate concern.

RCE_7790The surrounding mountains are still covered with many feet of snow. A quick melt could cause flooding in the valley.

The company I work for has extended my hours from three days a week back to five. This is very helpful for Lisa and I. Lisa, who was laid off from work several weeks ago, spends 7 hours a day trying to get through to check on her Employment Insurance claim. So far no luck and I don’t expect that will change. I mentioned in a previous post Lisa and I are not the kind of people who collect or are able to collect on many of the government programs available during the Covid19 crisis. I am okay with that. We are resourceful and will do anything to get by. I do believe, however that we shouldn’t have to pay into EI as we have done our entire lives without ever being able to use it when we lose our jobs, as Lisa has. I still believe, regardless of resourcefulness, a person or families best defence in these strange times is to be sitting on a piss pot full of money with nice secure, defined government pensions rolling in, another thing we pay into but never will collect.

RCE_4944A murder of crows peck seeds from a freshly thawed field.

The Albertan tourists and second home owners are back in force. There is no way they are going to stay away. The reports from BC and Alberta health ministers fall on deaf ears. And who can blame them, living in a concrete shithole like Calgary, spitting distance from their neighbours, it must be downright depressing.

RCE_5075No longer is the ice off the creeks and lake and the Osprey reappears.

Are we going to be different after this virus passes or are we going to go back to jumping on planes winging our way around the world, building second and third homes, piling motorboats onto a tiny lake and polluting and consuming at every opportunity with reckless abandon. I can imagine we will.

Regardless if this slowdown lasts for another week or several months it has been a nice respite from the usual ruck that is the tourist trap we call home.

down the valley

RCE_5065The snow covered mountains are over 130km away. There is a haze just above the lowest ridge. Woodstoves I suspect as it was a chilly morning.

More than a few years ago I would look south down the valley and wonder if the haze at the horizon was pollution? And was it there the year before or the last time I looked? It would glow orange. Of course we get our share of pollution when the forests are on fire during the summer months. I’m talking about the rest of the year.

Much of industry is carried on south of us where the majority of the population resides. It could be that I have been missing them, but the skies seem exceptionally blue at the horizons where smoke is most noticeable.

Regardless, it was a beautiful blue day. I can’t help but think we are going to be a more mindful society after this threat passes. I know this; the blue skies sure make the birds feel better, like always, they can be trusted.

we got history

_LME4923.smBird’s Eye.

It’s quiet. Just like I remember it. Tough to get over the eery part though. We’re so used to the valley full of tourists. Second home owners coming out to their big homes, investments they say. Or cabins; now that’s a joke.

_LME4916.smBruce Street. Downtown Invermere, BC  Canada.

Do I miss them? My job for the last few years depends on them. Still, to see the downtown deserted, it’s like turning back time. I can see my brother and I running through those streets jumping and touching the swinging signs, falling off bicycles, busted for smoking pot that couldn’t get an astronaut high. Drinking was our thing. It delivered.

_LME4919.sm

Maurice’s Food Basket. Mom would have drove through the front window, if it weren’t for a telephone pole right out front. My best friend, a couple years older than me, lived up top. He busted me open with a two-by-four. I just about cut his head off when I threw an old licence plate at him. I quit hanging around with him when he reached puberty. He wanted me to play with his cock. He said, pretend it’s a gear shift. I knew he wasn’t going to pretend he was a car.

After this is over, are we going to go back to the way things were? Getting on planes? Pretending we are explorers in foreign countries that see us as tourists. Are we going to burn gasoline tearing up the backcountry? Going where we figure. Are the art shops going to make a living selling egg carton caterpillars?

_LME4936.smThe Mercantile. Lisa and I used to pick out our school clothes without our parents present. All we had to do was sign for them. Our parents would settle it later.

It’s no different now then then. We don’t now what we are fighting for or against. Hopefully history spares our town.

_LME4928.smThe Toby Theatre and Cenotaph. Who has grown up here and not taken a drink or smoked a joint at the Cenotaph, it’s a right of passage, goddammit! And the Toby where I watched whatever was showing, everything from True Grit to Linda Lovelace for President. I even threw up on the floor, in the lobby, when my brother gave me too many Bugles.  I can still remember how good it felt eating them and how bad the aftermath looked. I’m still not sure who had to clean that up.

oh Canada

_LME3683

Interesting times indeed. I’ve never had much good to say about the government, the people that work in it or politicians of any stripe or size. Unfortunately, these are the people we are told we must rely on during this crisis.

Lisa lost her job a little over a week ago, she won’t be getting it back even when the lock down passes. The business she worked for was one hanging be a thread at the best of times, it probably won’t reopen and if it does it will be at a diminished capacity. Fortunately the owners are wealthy and don’t need the income, the business was more of a hobby for them.

Even though she worked for over seven years for the company, she won’t receive a dime of severance. Since there is no jobs available she will apply for Employment Insurance (EI) that she has paid into since she was fourteen. So far she hasn’t been able to get through to file a claim. This is understandable considering what Canada is experiencing.

I was on EI once. Many years ago the company I was working for told me in November they would try but most likely not be able to keep me on during the winter months due to lack of work. Since it was November, I thought I would be proactive and apply for Employment Insurance, something I also had paid into since I was fourteen. 

I was accepted, however, I never collected a cent, because I continued to work. I kept the claim open in the event of shortage of work. This is something just about every support worker in the school system does to collect EI during Spring, Summer, and Christmas breaks. I worked for the school system for many years and saw people do this regularly.

After about a month of being on EI I was phoned by a government agent who told me there was plenty of work in the oil industry and I should move to Alberta and get a job there. 

She was daft to the fact I hadn’t collected on my claim and was still working. After talking to her for some time I realized she was like most government workers – incompetent. I cancelled my claim right there and then and told her I would never file again. She was happy with that. She figured her job was done.

Before I hung up I asked her how I was picked to be harassed, she said they pick people with EI claims by random.

I have relayed my experience to many people who rely on EI regularly and not one has shared my experience. I guess I was just unlucky. Of course after the claim was cancelled I lost my job for several months due to shortage of work. I ended up doing what I could to make ends meet.

***

The place I work has laid almost everybody off due to the virus, I have been kept on three days a week. That could change tomorrow. If I get laid off completely I will not be filing for EI. I will do anything to make a buck and get by, just like I always have.

I feel sorry for people who think they can rely on government during this difficult time, it is filled with the worst workers with the most advantages in Canada. Every time I see our Prime Minister preening for the camera, or our Mayor warning people, in dulcet tones, not to flush rags or wipes into the municipal sewer system, I feel sickened.

I want bugger all from government other than a half assed road and water in the tap, not much to ask considering the high taxes we pay. Taxes, I should stress, I have always paid, never hiding income, always playing by the rules and even speaking out, on every available occasion, against the widely practised ‘under the table’ economy in Canada.

What I ask in return is for the government to get out of the way and stop making life more difficult for the people they supposedly serve.