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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.