Early May

RCE_5093Don’t make such a rhubarb about the current goings on!

Covid19 precautions are starting to ease in Canada. We are seeing more tourists. Shops are starting to reopen. About two thirds of the vehicles on the highway and around town, on the weekend, are from neighbouring province Alberta, ignoring warnings not to travel outside of your home province.

The ambulance has been out several times today, a sure sign the roads are getting busier with tourists.

It should be reminded, we are as susceptible to this disease now as we were two months ago.  The only thing changed is we have learned to social distance and bought time to possibly better ready our health care system. Numbers show most are still vulnerable to contract the sickness. This will remain so until a vaccine is developed. It will be interesting how we go forward.

RCE_5096A handsome Flicker.

Five years from now, we will know better how we managed this illness, did we overreact, was there things we could have done better? Right now we move forward with the information we have.

Strange times. One good thing in our small community; it’s amazing to see people forgetting about money and tourists, choosing instead to support each other.

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.

the place we call home

A couple of big announcements in the local news this week.

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First, the proposed Jumbo Resort is dead. It has been on the books for over thirty years, at times pulling the community apart, setting business people against each other. 

It was a harebrained scheme from the get go. With bullshit from both sides of millionaires being flung, liberally, at each other. 

I think most regular folks got out of the way along time ago, leaving the fighting to the elitists in Wildsight and Patagonia, and the villainous, Jumbo Glacier Resort and dumbfounded Jumbo Municipality.

However, something good may have come out of it. The area will now be a designated protected area to be overseen by the Ktunaxa First Nation.

Time will tell how this will play out.

The only way this issue was going to resolve itself was by money. Reason, common sense, goodwill, or even a deep desire for preservation or development was not enough.

It took the government paying off both sides. The anti Jumbo folks secured over $16 million and Jumbo Glacier Resort was paid an undisclosed amount for the tenure to the publicly owned property.  

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The second announcement was The District of Invermere down zoning the Octagon Property behind the Invermere Arena. 

Part of the property was where I grew up. It overlooks Lake Windermere. At one time the property was worth next to nothing, because it was on a sidehill and had a train running by almost constantly.

Later the coal trains started running less frequent, with the Albertans buying up most of the other available lake front, the property became more valuable.

After my parents passed away our family quickly sold the land to a couple of wheelers who sat on it for a year and sold it to Octagon for a couple hundred thousand profit.

After Octagon bought it they left it derelict, while lobbying mayor and council for rezoning to build a nine story hotel. 

It was during this period that my parents house became a crack den. Police were called regularly. Octagon refused to board the place up. My parents would have rolled over if they would have seen what became of their house.

One of the hardest things I never did was burning the place down. I would have got everyone out. That wouldn’t have been a problem. I worried about a volunteer firefighter getting hurt.

Instead, I pestered the brass at Octagon, a bunch of snakes, into tearing it down, which they finally did.

Meanwhile the District of Invermere, against the will of most citizens, caved to the wishes of Octagon and granted their rezoning demands. 

Last week, the District down zoned the property so the owner, creditor of the previous owner, can sell it off by the piece. In the end, regardless of their grand plans, that’s the only way they can make their money back.  

***

There won’t be a nine story hotel beside the tracks, beside the lake. Jumbo will remain undeveloped. I should be happy, but it takes a bunch of nasty business to come to the right decision. This time money was on the side of preservation, next time. . . who knows.

long weekend

_LME3237Dave rolls a dart, Chewy licks the papers. It’s a joint effort.

Damn, this has been a busy long weekend. Calgarians tailgating everywhere they go. All in a hurry to have fun. Making the most of it, they must figure.

While driving through town I saw two incidents of road rage. All four involved were from the city. One had a Flames front licence plate, stealing another’s parking spot. Cue the horn, hand gestures and expletives. I am ashamed to say this warms my heart. I wish the Flames were as aggressive.

It never ceases to amaze me how people act on holiday while trying to relax.

It also never ceases to amaze me the wealth that flows into the valley. If Alberta is hurting, we don’t see it here.

Also, if there is a climate crisis we don’t see it here. It’s big cars, trucks, boats, RV’s, ATV’s and huge second homes built as close to the water as they can get away with. All spewing CO2, polluting the land and water. Perhaps when they start worrying I should too.

Some of these folks can be counted as our most vocal environmentalists. Always reminding us they love it so much this is where they decide to vacation, drive, boat, ATV, fly, build, spend their money and die. Don’t think I don’t appreciate it. I have a $16 an hour job because of it.

Tonight the sky is blue. The breeze is warm. My arms are tanned and I have a full garden of food.

Very fine day.

we’re all running for something

slink

Tonight was an all candidate forum for the upcoming Municipal and School Board election. There are several candidates running who I know very little about. Also several incumbents who are stepping down so the council chambers is going to have a different look regardless.

This forum was a little different from others in the past. At the beginning of the evening each candidate was at their own table. People could sit with them and ask them questions.

When I arrived most candidates had at least a few people around their tables. The two that didn’t were the candidates vying for the sole School Board position. I was in luck because these were the candidates I wanted to ask a few questions. I asked them the same questions and came away with a better idea of what each brings to the position.

After the table discussions a more formal process took place where the candidates were able to introduce themselves, followed by questions submitted by the audience to named candidates.

Along with the School Board candidates were two candidates running for Mayor and six candidates running for four Councillor positions. One of the Councillors was not present. He is an incumbent. If I recall he missed the forum at the last election. He has a good reputation, perhaps election forums are not his thing. I was disappointed he didn’t show up as it goes with the job and speaks of his commitment.

Most of the questions were directed at the Mayor and Councillor candidates. Many were soft balls with each candidate taking a turn to espouse how much they care for the environment, how we need to explore alternative energy sources and, of course, sustainability, the buzz word of the night.

There were moments of importance throughout the evening. There isn’t any contentious issues on the books, however audience members got a glimpse of how each candidate will handle themselves under difficult circumstances.

Of interest, two Councillor candidates spoke about the motorboat pressure on Lake Windermere. Neither are on council now. It’s interesting, because the topic of pressure on Lake Windermere, mostly by tourists and second home owners has long been a topic not to be discussed, in case we are to dissuade the ringing of our businesses cash registers by our neighbours to the east. I found it encouraging they spoke up. It could very well be their political naïveté allowing them to do so. I could almost hear the incumbents (both business owners) bums clenching at the mere mention of the topic.

There are also two referendum questions on the ballot. Should the district ban plastic bags and should the district borrow 5 million dollars to buy a a parcel of riverfront property? The plastic bag question got nary a mention.

It was a good evening, though not well intended, which I take to mean most citizens are content.

For me, it was about learning a little about the candidates to help with my decision come October 20th.

Thanks to Imagine Invermere for putting on an informative evening.

early June

RCE_0058.jpgA Great Blue Heron fishes in the runoff. Photo by Lisa.

Lisa and I took a quick drive behind Swansea tonight. We commented how nice it is to be able to get away from it all in only a moment. We have been busy in the studio. We both like being busy and we have to be if we are going to make it. We have always worked a lot of hours for not a lot of money. That is how we have been able to stay in the valley. It comes with a lot of perks. It is being close to the bush and able to show our children, and now grandchildren, that makes it worth while. We are fortunate, but money has never come easy. My personality is something to blame as well.

Tonight, we were fortunate to be close to the truck when it started to hail. We saw it coming and heard the thunder. We got back in the truck and watched the show. The temperature dropped to 3°c and the pea sized hail gathered on the truck and ground before it could melt.

On the way back into the valley bottom we spotted a Great Blue Heron and Lisa took some photos. Willow would have barked the dinosaur into the air, but she never caught onto what we were looking at.

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The National Post reported the Alberta Government is cracking down on School Superintendents getting raises and bonuses. http://nationalpost.com/news/alberta-cuts-school-superintendent-pay-as-review-finds-high-salaries-big-perks

In our school district, in recent years, there have been several instances of mismanagement; busing issues, disposing of school properties, increased management costs, including the hiring of spouses in top positions, the handling of teachers accused of indiscretions, schools over populated or in need of upgrades while choosing to build a multi million dollar Operations building, to list just a few.

When things appear to go sideways, in business or government endeavours, it can almost always be traced to the top.

Sure enough, in School District #6 Rocky Mountain, the Superintendent is at the top of the heap, getting yearly salary raises and bonuses, while teachers and staff put up with salary freezes or minuscule increases.

Some would explain his salary package as compensation for a job ‘well done’, or to attract people of ‘high calibre the pay must be good’, or simply say, ‘the money is in the budget’.

All would be untrue. Convenient, but untrue. Leaders who’s first goal is feathering their own nest are not rare. They’re a dime a dozen.

Not unusual in this day and age where leading by example is non-existent in our businesses, institutions and government.

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We get bogged down. We hear about the American President on every newscast and the internet. We hear about Canada buying a non existent pipeline from a Texas company for 4.5 billion dollars just to see it built. We hear constantly that we are doomed. The Doomsday Clock is 3 minutes to midnight, the seas are filled with plastic, the ice caps are melting and the oceans are rising, the storms are getting worse. Meanwhile, the whole world is arming themselves with assault rifles and nukes with the only outcome, the complete annihilation of humankind!

That’s what we read and that’s what we’re told. It keeps us from a lot of pleasure. I don’t know if we are being fed a line, but I do know I’ve been lied to before.

We feel powerless.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of dragons we could slay right in front of us if not for the fatigue of thinking it won’t make a difference. Isn’t our own backyard where we should start? There is no shortage of scoundrels, big and small to go around, nor garbage to pick up at our own feet.

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The tomatoes and lettuce were pummelled by the storm. The hail punched holes in the leaves. Still the moisture did them good.

late march

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At loose ends these days. Took to the creek in the evening. Thought it would be good to be under the trees. Up the road someone had cut a big live fir. It landed across the road. They had taken the bulk of it and left the rest that had fallen to the other side. Too much work to tramp through the three feet of snow, probably.

You can tell a lot about people’s tracks. These were lazy people. They didn’t need the wood or they wouldn’t have cut a live tree. It will be a year before it can be burned. With all the dead wood it seems a shame to cut a live tree.

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Why should I care. The province allows clearcutting of entire forests. Places I used to wander beside the Palliser look as if they have been scorched by fire. Even the thin stuff up Windermere Creek is fair game. Slash piles and oil cans, the only thing left over. Sure it will grow over. The abuse the trees and creeks and land puts up with and still survive is a miracle in itself.

Lisa likes to call me the ‘tree police’. Suggesting I take things too seriously. She loves a grove of trees in an area we frequent. She finds peace and healing there. The trees rise above all others and reach their spiny fingers into the sky. Darkened grey or white, green and blue they are a sight that never fails to uplift.

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One of the trees is leaning. It has woodpecker holes up it’s trunk. Limbs are breaking and not being replaced. It lives, but is dying. We have been watching for several years, wondering when it will fall towards the creek.

I tell Lisa some day we may come around the corner and the trees will be cut down. She doesn’t agree, the trees are of a variety that are not normally harvested. There would be no reason to cut them down, but to watch them fall. She has more confidence in humans than I.

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A town politician/developer in the village at the headwaters of the Columbia River talked about, ‘a God given right, that if you pay a bunch of money’ for a second home, a person should be able to do what they will with the lake shoreline to launch their motorboats.

God given rights, sure as shit, have fucked things up in the past. It’s what allows pollution to flow downhill. Everything and anything below us is on their own. It’s why we look at mountains, trees, rivers and creeks as dead, as something only to be conquered.

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It’s been grey for awhile now. Typical for March. Wind and spit. Mud and melt. The buds are appearing on the low brush, when I squint my eyes I can see them on the high branches also.