early February

RCE_1852The garden gate.

Here it is the start of February and the temperature is 8°c., in a month it can go as low as -40!

A warm wind rolled in yesterday. The snow has mostly melted in the valley bottom, leaving puddles on the frozen ground.

RCE_1854Willow with a full coat of hair, looking worried, while winter seems to be coming to a premature end. “Did I grow this hair for nothing?” she was heard to say.

I had three people mention gardening to me today. It seems too early to consider. Still I looked at seeds online. Willow and I even strolled out to the garden. The deer have really trampled my garlic rows. Hopefully the plants won’t be effected. There is deer shit from asshole to tea kettle (asshole to tea kettle, was a saying my father regularly used. It means a lot and afar).

The forecast is calling for cold temps.

It was a good day to hang out in the wood pile.

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Cooper’s and Papa’s axes.

finally fall

_LME8510Cooper burying the potatoes I just dug.

Frost behind the mountain, along the creek, as soon as sight is lost of the valley bottom. The leaves are changing. The potatoes are in. Most of the tomatoes ripened on the vine. The onions are pulled and dried.

Lisa and I were deep in the bush Monday morning with our grandkids. It was chilly when we walked the cut block and the road in and out. They took turns calling Willow.

_LME8457Dog tries to steal babies tomato. Scarlett, says, ‘fuck you Willow’. . . not really.

Cooper threw rocks over the bank, liking the way it sounds hitting the snags and boulders on the way down. Scarlett walked the whole way in her moccasins.

_LME8505Hiding out in the carrot patch.

Lisa and I get to show them something they don’t see everyday. Their hands get cold and sometimes hurt grabbing the wrong prickled branch pulling themselves up. They get to see trees living and some old stumps. They already know roots make the best walking sticks, berries with crowns are good and everything light green smells fresh when you crush it between your finger tips.

I just want them to love being here.

Scarlett

Nothing like a garden tomato._LME8487

clearing

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Lisa and Scarlett. Two peas in a pod, believe me, those smiles mean trouble.

A wonderful few days with our grandkids, Cooper and Scarlett, while their parents slipped away for a mini holiday to the Okanagan.

Lisa and I decided the best plan of action, since they haven’t been away from Mom and Dad overnight, was to keep them busy. Each morning found us up the creek behind the mountain. Cooper and Scarlett did plenty of walking. Cooper worked hard on his rock and hill climbing. Scarlett learned to call Willow to keep her close. We walked through trees and bush, noting the colour in the leaves, the rabbits ducking into the undergrowth and the wild chickens (grouse) that seem plentiful this year.

By lunch and supper Cooper and Scarlett were hungry. By bedtime they were tired and didn’t put up a fuss for Mom and Dad or wanting to stay up late. They slept through the night. In the morning we were off to it again.

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Cooper with supper and his pretend smile.

Cooper did seem to get a little tired of my boiled carrots and spuds at every meal – hey you eat what is ready in the garden. On their last night here I made a big spaghetti dinner. Mom and Dad were back and everyone enjoyed it. Of course the sauce had plenty of carrots.

Lisa and I are lucky. . . and I’m not talking about being able to grow carrots.

***

Light rain tonight. It feels good, cool and fresh. Today the clouds were as high as they’ve been for awhile. The mountains showed up and lo and behold had a coat of snow.

Very fine extended weekend.

summer garden

RCE_0812Willow watches over the bounty. She got a carrot for posing nice.

It is hard to believe summer is on the downslide. I gave the garden a serious look today. Lots of vegetables ready. I picked Hunter and Bree a basketful to take home. The garden is doing good considering neglect on my part. The weeds need some serious plucking.

Cooper is coming out next weekend and I better get it under control by then. I don’t want him having trouble finding his carrots.

The peas are about done. The garlic is as big as the palm of my hand and needs digging before the thin papers start to deteriorate. The onions need thinning. The cabbage looks pissed off being behind the sunflowers. The cosmo flowers, that self seeded and foolishly left, have taken over the kale. They don’t know it yet but I’m going to be showing some tough love. The chard, also self seeded, has been wonderful, but know it’s starting to bolt. Damn, I hate pulling plants out.

RCE_0816Not a blood moon from an eclipse. The moon coming up through smoke on the horizon.

The heat has been extreme. The moon came up red tonight. The mountains are hazy from fires. The government has issued a campfire ban. I hate it but it’s necessary. I’ll miss my small fires by the creek, smudges to keep the bugs at bay.

Tourists build large fires on dry bluffs without a drop of water within a mile. They run off road vehicles through dry brush. Set off fireworks. It’s a recipe for disaster. They don’t know better. Not that they are the biggest man made forest fire culprit. That goes to the logging companies. If they aren’t mowing down the forest with massive clearcuts they are littering it with discarded fuel containers and setting it on fire.

In the valley, we were taught long ago to never say a cross word about industry or tourism, in case we forgot where our bread was buttered. I’ve always fucking hated teachers with that message.

Often, during this kind of heat, storms are accompanied by lightening striking dry spikes. By the time the blaze is spotted it can be out of control.

The garden needs water. Everyone but the District of Invermere, the School District and new and old real estate developments, depending on who’s palms are being greased, are under strict water restrictions.

Taking the weeds out will dry it out more. Do you see the way I’m justifying not weeding?

Palliser

RCE_0479Yellow Columbine.

Lisa and I were kindly invited to the 15th Anniversary gathering of a business we once owned.

We started Palliser Printing & Publishing in 1986. Lisa and I were in our early twenties with a baby on the way.

We sold the company in the summer of ’03 to Dee and Rod Conklin from Calgary.

Their 15th Anniversary has made me reminisce about the early days of the company.

I remember it being a lot of long hours and hard work.

The print shop was a mess of paper, presses, photocopiers, computers, an old arc plate burner, a darkroom complete with vertical camera for composing film, to later, be stripped on one of the several light tables. The smell of ink was always in the air. We survived a fire and a flash flood. Not unscathed, but we survived.

Later we moved to better quarters. For every step forward we made, we were never sure how we were going to pay for it. It is like the old saying, ‘build your parachute while falling to earth.’

Often we had bills at the end of the month that exceeded our bank account. The poorest we ever were was when we were the busiest. We juggled.

Yet, our children came to work with us. They had a place to play in the back shop. A cozy couch. They helped out. Built forts in the broken down cardboard.

The business was lucrative enough to allow us to buy a house. Our kids were in figure skating, dance and hockey. We were able to afford dental care for them.

Sometimes it was a balancing act. Lisa often worked the front with a baby on her hip. I always felt bad about that. There is no maternity leave when you own the business.

We were lucky. Since then I’ve worked at a few places. We have never made what it would take to raise a family at todays prices. Not even close.

Everything we have is because of that first business we started when Kelsie was in Lisa’s belly. When things seemed to be changing in a flash. When I had plenty of youth, energy and anger to see any job through.

Now it’s different. Those were good days. Now I’m glad to be a Grandpa making minimum wage, crossing logs gingerly, tilting glasses and nodding head to read the fine type.

Congratulations to Dee and Rod on their 15th Anniversary owning Palliser.

weekend news

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Lisa and I returned home this evening after spending a wonderful time with our children and grandchildren. We had a big family gathering and celebrated Tom, Cooper and Scarlett’s birthdays, all falling within just a few days of each other. It pleases Lisa and I so much to see our children happy and healthy in the lives they have made for themselves. It also pleases us to see how close they are with each other in adulthood. They are good people.

Lisa and I spent a lot of time with Cooper and Scarlett. Such gentle souls, yet both, even at years 3 and 1, filled with humour and mischievousness.

Driving home today I commented on a radio news story about public unions. I started to tell Lisa what I thought of them. Lisa listened until I was finished and then remarked, the further away from Cooper and Scarlett the crankier I was getting! That made us both laugh.

***

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On arriving home it was clear we have had plenty of rain and wind. The grass needs mowing. The wind has bent the plants in the garden and shredded the flower pots. The rain has made everything spring up, including the weeds. The lettuce is going crazy and we won’t be able to eat it fast enough.

On the way out of Calgary we stopped at Costco. I bought tuna, olives, feta, chicken and olive oil. Things that can be thrown in a bowl of greens to make a meal. The kind of meal you wish for in winter but don’t have.

***

While in the city I picked up a copy of The New York Times Sunday edition. Not that I need more American news that dominates every source here in Canada.

News is troubling. Not just the content, but how it is delivered.

I prefer newspapers. But I’m told they are going out of style! I like the long stories, the headlines and design. The quest for truth, even if the truth hurts advertising dollars.

I’m not sure if this kind of journalism exists anymore, in newspapers or anywhere else where information is used to push an agenda.

It could be the era we live in, the mix, the way the news is delivered. How truth is bent by the, almost always, editorialization that is contained in the delivery. It becomes a message instead of an unbiased report.

Both the left and right, American and Canadian news sources are guilty.

Like decades before the best bet is getting news from plenty of sources. Doing so, makes the bullshit stand out. If reading the news confirms your own beliefs you are probably being played.

Lisa and I are getting older. Our sense is dwindling right along with the longevity of newspapers. Soon we will have trouble knowing the truth. We will be ripe to be scammed. The scam hasn’t been thought of yet, but it will be brilliant in it’s simplicity.

***

With that said, I’m looking forward to the Book Review, the magazine and all the articles that can only by found in a weekend newspaper.