Winter Stars

Starting from the top; Cassiopeia, Andromeda, The Andromeda Galaxy, Perseus and its two star clusters, also Pleiades, Taurus and Mars just coming over the mountain Ridge.

To look at the stars is to be amazed. In this day and age we know the science of astronomy. We know distances and the difference between planets and stars. You can steer a ship, plant a garden and set our calendar by them. If we have something in common with every generation going back to the beginning of man it is the stars. To look at the stars among the trees and mountains on a dark night, to feel those pin pricks of light flow through, as they have done and will continue, is to feel lucky.

memory walk

Brilliant Jupiter hangs in the west.

A quiet morning walk. Orion is up. Mars is red between the red giants Aldebaran and Betelgeuse. To set your eyes on them is to get your bearings. To realize the biggest and fastest is only because it’s closest. An optical illusion.

Orion, Taurus, Pleiades, Mars and four satellites.

The cemetery is dark. I know my way around. The tourists still haven’t blocked Mom and Dad’s view. They used to dig the graves here, a chore given to them by my Grandfather, for extra money after the war. They will be the last of us buried here. Lake view even for the dead has skyrocketed.

It’s an easy walk under the stars.

Starlings

Summer is about to shut the door. I’ll miss the women in shorts, it was worth the long way home, down main by the tourist shops.

Still, the coolness is a gentle salve. Much more important at my age.

winding down

Brandywine, Chocalate Cherry, Sweet 100 and Black Krim.

The garden is on its last legs. It’s a good time of year when you can go out and grab supper; broccoli, spuds, kale, beets, carrots, and plenty of tomatoes.

We have yet to have frost so the tomatoes are outdoing themselves. Plenty of ripe ones. They need picking everyday. Lisa and Scarlett took a bunch down to the old folks home yesterday, something our kids did regularly when the garden produced more than it does now.

Life is good when you have home grown tomato salad for every meal.

A dragonfly testing the poppies.

Cooling Back

Oregon grape.

Damn it feels good. The cooler weather has been a welcome reprieve. It’s still warm for this time of year. Waking to cool air has been nice. Pretty soon we will be ‘fighting for warmth’. That’s what my son Hunter calls it, when you pull the covers over your head, and flex your muscles to keep warm. Probably why many families in the old days had so many kids before central heating.

The summers are trying, heat and tourists. Lisa and I thought it would be funny if fifty years from now, people looked at the large second homes and thought, ‘Damn, what were these folks thinking? Global warming and not an inkling of thought to try and cut back. Can you imagine the energy used to heat that monstrosity?’

Tough to run through, but you can do it if scared enough.

It will probably never happen. The final answer to the pickle we are in will have to protect the richest. Otherwise it would have been solved long ago. It’s not that hard really.

We had breakfast behind Swansea. We took a spur away from the ruck. Plenty of bear shit on the road, they are also trying to avoid the crowds.

Even wondering cutblocks, climbing logging roads, looking for dead snags, a chicken or two crossing the road, washouts, Lisa and I looking at each other in glances, her saying, ‘you should put it in 4 wheel drive,’ and me saying, ‘I’ll put it in four wheel when we’re stuck.’

Fetch me a switch. Dark night and shadows. Good thing we don’t live back then.

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.

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.