Early February

Trying to focus.

A wonderful weekend so far. Lisa and I went to school with Scarlett to hear her read. We were proud. The kids came over for supper. Willow barked and let on. Vocal she is.

Dave came over with a $100 bottle of wine to accompany us watching the sun go down. We drank it out of mason jars. I rustled up some cheese, meat and bread. We were like a couple of high breds.

There are worse deaths than bumping your head on the sky.

Lisa and I drove the loop around Lake Windermere, spotting Eagles and Deer.

Willow barked and let on.

So far so good.

Old Man

The Columbia River headwaters.

Snow day. I shovelled here and there, not as fast as I used to. My stock is going down.

I envy folks that reinvent themselves. One day throwing fertilizer out a hopper, the next, an IT specialist or an acupunturist.

That’s not me. I shovel snow and will always shovel snow.

***

The Columbia disturbed, for the moment.

The birds have disappeared. It was a good cone year and they should be out in force. I hear them. Not many. It worries me.

***

A Big Eared Deer caught in the garden.

It is the same thing with birds as it is with the river, we aren’t here long enough to become an expert.

***

All the good things are the same. Take the sky for instance. The clouds and stars offer a pass.

***

Still old, still part of the earth. No quarter asked or given.

Weekend

Enjoying every moment.

A fine week behind us. The skies finally cleared and it was nice to get to see some blue skies. Lisa and I had some nice fires in the fireplace and went on a couple nice walks. Weekends are always the highlight.

The weekdays are good, I look for anything to make me laugh. Luckily I work with people that feel the same. It passes the time and makes some of the more difficult or trying work easier.

***

Last Tuesday, on the way to work, I thought I would go through the drive through at Tim Hortons and get a coffee. Early in the morning, off season, it shouldn’t be much of a wait. There was only one car ahead of me. I was in luck, I thought. Usually the line can be out of the parking lot.

He took awhile to order. When he was done I pulled up and saw he had ordered $101.64 worth of stuff! Of course, he was even longer at the pick-up window. The line up behind me was out of the parking lot. There was only one person in the car ahead. They had BC plates. Usually it’s the red and white ones causing grief. I was late for work when I am usually 15 minutes early. Tim Horton’s staff got him through and apologized for his actions, saying, with such a big order he should go in the front. I paid my $2.15 for my dark roast, black. I envisioned a School Board Employee, someone in management, buying a round of coffee, bacon and egger sandwiches and doughnuts for the early morning meeting, thinking everyone else in the world is on their lazy ass schedule.

What can you do, but laugh.

***

A rotten tooth above the gum line of the valley bottom.

The mountains have light around them. The colours are gray with blues, days getting longer, not in the morning yet, but in the evening. In January you take what you can get.

Tomorrow is Monday, I’ll get up and do it again. And if I don’t feel like it, I’ll remember how many times I didn’t feel like it, but did it anyway.

Ghosts

The souls came out and flew sideways, flattening out, then through me. They are hard to avoid. My Mother always said, don’t be afraid of them.

Here I am in the bush dodging souls, flying fast, like bats coming out of the night, when I can’t even see my hand in front of my face.

Willow says, hang in there.

They take my breath with them. Someday I’ll ask for it back.

The Toby

Driving through town the other day, I saw Mrs. Peters walking. I pulled over and thanked her for what her and her husband meant to Lisa and I and our family.

Ron and Elizabeth Peters owned and operated the movie theatre in Invermere. Toby Theatre was the hub of downtown. Its big neon sign and movie posters in glass cases mounted on the exterior were a constant pleasure for every kid and adult while growing up in the Valley.

Inside was a thing of beauty. Snack bar with the best popcorn and cold fountain drinks (I was once addicted to the Cherry, it froze my throat and gave me a headache if I drank it fast enough, and I always did), the aquarium in the lobby, the model planes flying high off to the side as not to interfere with the projected light from the film, and the films were always good.

That was our entertainment growing up. I went to every movie. If it was restricted, my Mom would write me a note saying it was ok to let me in. I saw bare breasts and gore. Mom and Dad were probably happy I was out of their hair. I saw True Grit with John Wayne, during the 70’s, countless times.

Toby Theatre showed films. Sometimes the films were not new releases, like you see in theatres today. Sometimes they were older, but always great.

Ron and Elizabeth didn’t put up with rowdy or rude customers, this was also their home after all. They invited you in, you toed the line and it was wonderful to see movies on a big screen.

My children were lucky enough to go there before The Toby shut down. They loved it as much as us.

By then they had also started renting VHS and DVD movies. We would often send the kids down to rent a movie on Friday nights. We would also tell them to pick us up some popcorn as well.

Small town theatres like Ron and Elizabeth’s don’t exist anymore. Back then it was an escape, an oasis in a place lacking in the kind of magic it provided.

Things are different now. I could watch any film shown at the Toby’s 45 year history on my phone. But it’s not the same.

They call what has happened gentrification, or progress.

After talking to Elizabeth on the street. Telling her what a wonderful place they had, how it meant so much to us, we bid farewell. I turned and was walking, thinking she may not remember me, I have a grey beard after all, when she said, give my best to Lisa, Kelsie, Madison and Hunter.

Photos of Kelsie taken at The Toby Theatre.

Funny

My manager Brandon presenting the award, glass artwork from a local artist.

This happened before Christmas, I was voted by the people I work with as Employee of the Year. It was presented at the Christmas Party I didn’t go to.

The resort I work at is staffed by wonderful people. Any one of my co-workers would have been a good pick, so I am especially honoured and a little bit embarrassed.

It is nice to work at a place that everyone cares about the job they are doing. The job isn’t easy. That is a tip of the hat to management that instills pride into their workers. I am fortunate to work with a great group of people.

I used to work at the School District, great pay, unbelievable government union benefits, large defined pensions and the most lazy unhappy workers you could find anywhere in Canada. Promoting the worst of the worst into management has had a great deal to do with the apathy and incompetence found in these positions. It is sad, especially for the workers who strive to do their best.

Today, I got on the radio and asked for help carrying a hide-a-bed up a flight of stairs, four people answered offering help. If that was the School District it would have been crickets until they decided to contract it out to a moving company. My job is much simpler with everyone pulling in the same direction.

My co-workers are mostly young. They don’t have pensions in their future or high wages, they may never own a house, yet they are Johnny on the spot, doing their best. It is incredible to watch and they put me to shame.

Early January

Willow enjoying being inside, basking in the winter light.

Things have settled down. The kids have returned home. It was great to have them all out.

The excitement has dispersed into the realization of another year with plenty of challenges.

CBC keeps letting us know that things will get worse before they get better. Inflation will continue to rise along with interest rates. It is inevitable as countries try to lower carbon emissions. Of course, it will hit the poorest hardest.

Our staff at the resort is down to a skeletal crew as flu and Covid takes its toll. Everyone’s happiness just before Christmas is long gone, as the work load gets shared between fewer.

Our neighbours to the east keep flowing into the valley, unrelenting, big trucks, loud mufflers with trailers hauling ski-doos.

“Where are you sledding?” I ask

“Up Forster Creek” they say.

Forster Creek is a swamp of snowmobiles in the winter.

“Can you get up as high as Thunderwater Lake?” I ask, already knowing the answer.

“Shit ya” is the answer.

I remember when it took two days skiing to get there, with a night over in an old cabin, that was a godsend for its limited supplies and hopefully a few sticks to get the fire going. Back then the rule was to leave more than you used. If you drink the powdered soup, you leave a tin of beans and replace the wood in the morning.

Now it’s just a destination, something to be crossed off a list, while frightening every living thing within five miles in every direction with BRAPPP, BRAPPP, BRAPPP. To think we care about emissions or nature is a joke.

Meanwhile, I bluff, pretend, showing respect or recognition when none is warranted. I remind myself my opinion means nothing, it’s just part of the job to be nice.

***

This is not exactly a Happy New Year’s Greeting. It is hard to know what 2023 will bring. I wish everyone the ability and courage to be ready for anything. Fight back when you need to and embrace every happiness that comes your way.

Christmas Season

Decorating the tree. Lisa picked the topper. She said it looked like us in our prime.

It has been a whirlwind. We have had all of our kids out. They have some time off which is great. Kids and dogs have occupied our house, just like old times.

Getting the spuds ready for Christmas dinner. Norlands and Russet. The Norlands think it is spring and have sprouted.

Work at the resort is busy. It has snowed quite a bit, lately we have had a melt which means ice.

Some of the kids and Willow enjoying cocktails.

My brother-in-law Kurt had a heart attack a few days ago and is in the hospital in Calgary. My sister Deb and I made the trip in. He seems good. He is in good shape and very strong. He will have to be on medication and eat only lettuce for awhile. It’s the shits, but better than the alternative.

I picked up a rack of lamb in Calgary for Lisa and I for our New Year’s Dinner. All the kids will be at parties. It will be just us and the dogs. We will probably be in bed by 9.

Scarlett and Cooper meeting the Big Guy. Nobody seems really comfortable.

Wishing everyone the best this holiday season.

Christmas Eve dinner.
Chad and Maddy with the hounds.
Merry Christmas!

Deep December

Spent most of the day cleaning the house. Lisa did the bulk of it. She doesn’t like knick knacks or clutter so cleaning goes pretty fast. I like doing the bathrooms, vacuuming, the easy stuff. 

Lisa asked me to tidy up the basement. That’s where the bulk of my stuff is. Books, books, and more books, papers, journals, negatives, pictures, knives, sports equipment and old furniture. 

There is no good reason to hang onto all that stuff. It is not valuable, it’s only worth something to me by the memories it evokes.

***

We also have plenty of supplies. Mason jars on a rack.  Preserves from last summer that will be eaten up plenty this Christmas.

A full freezer bursting at the seems. CBC and Chrystia Freeland keep warning Canadians the economy, climate and world order are going to hell. Grocery prices are high and going higher.

I don’t know what to do, so I buy a piece of meat and put it away for when we are starving.

The way things are going we’ll have to buy another freezer.

***

Plenty out there waiting to get us. I wonder if we would be safer if I turned off the news.

***

The bank has been calling. They want to know what to do with the small amount of money in my pension plan earned while working for the government. It comes due every year. I usually turn it over at the lowest rate of return.

They tell me the money is going to be eaten away by inflation. I know what they are saying. They tell me it may as well be stuffed in a mattress.

They look at me like the fool I am, little do they know, my freezer of meat get’s more valuable every day.

***

Can you blame the youngsters for not wanting to contribute. It seems like a lost cause. 

Unlike when we grew up, they don’t want material things, that’s been drummed out of them long ago; they will never afford it, they only want stability, a promise for a future that doesn’t involve endless war and environment destruction.

The shit is coming at them like driving 90 in a snowstorm. You either get blinded or hypnotized, it takes everything you have to keep it out of the ditch. 

***

Still when it is all tallied, everyone on earth has done this, it’s been an experience.

***

A few birds

Lisa took this picture of a Water Ouzel (American Dipper). She did a good job sneaking up. The blur in front is Lisa shooting through reeds and tall grass. This little bird is one of our favourites to watch.

It seems Lisa and I have moved into old age gracefully, one of our favourite pastimes watching water birds. The dip and dive. Some are solitary while other species stay close together. Eagles are always watching ready to pick off a straggler.

A raft of common Coots. The body of a duck, bill of a chicken and legs of a turkey. If you look them up in a bird book they could be in any category.

The grocery stores have had limited supplies in the valley. Turkeys are limited but available. Lisa’s Mom and Dad wanted one, but when they found out there is not as many available this year choose not to get one, so it could be left for a family.

They have been poor, so they know what it is like. They also know the value of depending on others. Their gesture in the world we live in is rare, where people snap up things that are in short commodity and sell them for a profit, be damned, regardless of need, going to whoever can pay the most.

Goldeneye, moving between the old pilings of the swinging bridge in Athalmer.

Moses dropped some tablets, containing the commandments while coming down that mountain. I’d bet, ‘Leave some for others’, would have been on there.

Up the mountain we saw Townsends and Siskins all too quick and crafty to get their picture taken.