Wednesday, November 27, 2019

ROBLOG #809- Crossing the Pond

We've given the upstairs/downstairs folks a week off.

We're headed- The Mister and I, to Jolly Olde England for a week.
We haven't been over home across the pond since landing on Vancouver Island two and a half years ago.

It'll be fun going back.
London at Christmas.
Oxford Street.
People. Shops. Christmas Decor.
Trafalgar Square's huge tree overlooked by Canada House with its huge Red Maple Leaf Flags flapping in the December Breeze.

Usually, we shop a little. Walk a lot and eat at our favourite pub- The Three Tuns.
This trip after an initial day in London, we'll grab a train from Paddington and rail two hours west to Somerset. There our friend Cate and hubby Steve will pick us up at Taunton Station. From there we'll spend the Week End in and around Hinton-St-George. Lots of historic buildings including manors, pubs and scenery.
I can hardly wait!

Apparently, we are a short drive to the Jurassic Coast and a longer drive to the Cotswolds. We'll see what we see but mostly we just want to soak up local colour and catch up.

Catch up?
Yes, we haven't seen our friend Cate in 18 years!
In fact she kind of slid off the radar for that time.
We simply lost touch.
I can't remember how or why exactly.
Cate- originally from England, lived here in Canada and we worked at the airlines together at Pearson International in Toronto.
The friendship endured and we saw her regularly, even boating on Lake Simcoe in Ontario with her and her second husband.

London at Christmas
A year or so ago, I started looking for her online.
It was on my bucket list.
After several attempts over a few months I found her a while ago- at least I found an address. I wrote a note in a nice card and she responded a week later.
We were gobsmacked!
We've chatted on the phone and e-mailed regularly over the past while.
Now, we'll have a chance to catch up in person and Cate and Steve- he's number three! They can show us their part of England.
It'll be fun and all the shops should be set for the Holiday Season.

Once back in London, we'll shop at Primark- a favourite, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and Selfridges- which is owned by the Weston Family here in Canada.
Canadian flags- mixed with the Union Jack, fly proudly from the department store rooftop.
We may even hike it through Hyde Park, past Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace over to Harrods in Knightsbridge. There's usually a huge Christmas Market and carnival in Hyde Park not far from Marble Arch. The sellers in those wooden huts all around the market sell practically the same thing at inflated prices.
Christmas...ya gotta love it.

We'll be back in Canada for St. Nick's Day and the Christmas Season ahead. My Brother is coming for the Holidays and who knows who else. With snow and rain and cold back in Ontario I wouldn't be surprised if half the City of Orillia didn't migrate west this year.

I wonder if we have enough sheets and towels?

Friday, November 15, 2019

ROBBLOG #808- Four letter words: Snow. Cold.

I received photos, emails and texts from friends and family back in Ontario this past week.

It seems something strange happened.
Well, two things actually.
It was even reported in the news.

It snowed.
It got cold.

I'd say the usual.
It's November and it snowed and got cold in Ontario.
People forgot what -15 Celsius felt like.
They do every year.
I used to do that too. I would conveniently forget-
That water freezes.
That driving is awful.
That a shovel is required to clear sidewalks and driveways.

Do I miss Ontario living here on Vancouver Island with the green grass, mild sunshine, occasional showers and no -15 Celsius temps?
I must admit, I miss the "idea" of snow.
You know, that first snowfall when everything is clean and white and the dead leaves, brown grass and twiggy bushes are dusted with the white stuff.
The picture postcard views.
I miss the clear, crisp smell of snow when it covers lawns and hedges but not on the roads and sidewalks.

Our yellow lab Kiki and our mini-schnauzer-Missy, loved the snow when we were in Ontario. Both these girls have passed over the Rainbow Bridge now but we still have videos of each of them frolicking in the snow. It was fun to watch and a brisk walk in puppy coats for them and hats, scarves and gloves for the Mister and I will always be a part of my memories not only of Orillia but of Kiki and Missy.

Once the Christmas Holidays passed, the romantic idea of snow and cold would leave come January when every day was the same- more cold and more snow.
Snow then cold.
Winds, snowsquall advisories and of course cold.

Orillia Downtown in 1952. Snowbanks loom just as large in 2019
It was difficult to go to the grocery store for milk some days.
Driving on slippery roads was a magic trick of sorts. I must say I was pretty good at it but don't ask me to pull a rabbit from a black, felt top hat!
I can remember driving way west out of my normal routing on city streets just to avoid hills in our North Ward neighbourhood. On winter hills in Orillia, cars spun out and slipped and skidded at four way stops.
The city plied sand on top of snow-covered streets.
It never helped.
I know because I drove those streets for decades.
At least driving around and about and taking the less hilly route home, I was able to drive into a convenient Tim Horton's for a large coffee with milk.
My reward.
Then, leaving the Tim's lot I turned left and then right driving carefully down a snow covered hill and left along a one-way street eventually turning into our triple-wide driveway.

Orillia never seems to get the hang of winter and the fact when it snows usually the flakes cover the streets and sidewalks. Maybe Orillia should pick up and move the city west where umbrellas and mud and snow rated tires are all that's requited. That's the tires with the little triangle on the side and sometimes the letters "M&S" or a snowflake logo.
I mention this because these tires are required to be on vehicles October through April when crossing over the Malahat to Victoria. The Malahat might have snow at it's 1200 foot summit and it's good to have the required tires.
If you don't there's a large fine waiting for you.
Of course you can refrain from driving over the top until spring.

Back to Orillia.
My brother was complaining about snow-covered streets this past week even though I read in the hometown "online" newspaper that the city had bought two new plows and hired more snow removal people.

Maybe Ontarians get a little too anxious to have the snow scraped from streets immediately after it falls. It takes time and a lot of patience.
Listen to that...
Wise-winter words from a westerner who lives just about as far west as one can get in this country.

Oh, in case you were wondering.
I still have three pots of geraniums blooming at the front of the house and a huge fern enjoying mild, light-filled days on the Lanai.
The magnolias, laurels and palms are still green and the Oregon Grape, Camelias and Heather are all getting ready to bloom soon.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

ROBBLOG #807- Hexit

Oh for Fuck Sakes!

Now, Alberta wants to leave Confederation!
Is there a #Hexit on our country?
First it's the French, now the cowboys and rednecks- acknowledging that not all Albertans are Rednecks and Cowboys. Not that there's anything wrong with a cowboy in a nice pair of jeans.
It's just that...really.
I mean really- Wexit?

You folks can't even come up with an independent sounding name.
You have to steal from the Brits!
I expected that Justin would have said something by now like-
"You folks realize you're using the Canadian Dollar and you have Canadian Passports and all the old folks get paid Old Age pension from Federal coffers?"
Quiet on Parliament Hill but I expect Justin is going- "For cripes sakes- what now?"

Both Quebec and now Alberta have to realize this leaving nonsense doesn't help CANADA on the world stage.
It's bad.
As a matter of fact, here's a long email I received. Most of it is here verbatim from a fellow by the name of Jed Cockburn over in “Scheer Country”. It's more of a media release of sorts. Jed's from Ropeburn Alberta and he's sent me his words of wisdom before- back in the Harper Years.

So, Jed says- allegedly...

"Let me tell you Easterners and BC'ers about us God-Lovin’, golf-fearing folks who live in the wide open spaces the way nature intended."

Note: Some of this email sounds vaguely familiar and I have a feeling Jed didn't do much of a re-write from the pissed-off piece he sent back a decade ago when I had posted a Blog about good old Stephen.

He continues:

"I live here in Ropeburn. Ropeburn, Alberta. Population 1,002.  That's a tad down from 1,112. Some of them dang fools took off to Ontario and BC looking for a better life. Hoping the grass is greener. I can tell ya- it's not. Everyone knows that God Blesses Alberta- and that's a fact.
He said so straight from the pulpit last Sunday and he's no liar.
The Reverend Hodges I mean- not God.

Anyhow we still got a few of them “Mary Worshippers” living here and they have my blessing to leave this golden province whenever they want and they can take their beads with 'em!
Bunch of hippies!

Ropeburn’s located a yank of a cord and a hop, skip and step in a southerly direction from the big city and is known for it's fine “Western Hospitality”.
Y'all can probably feel that from these here words I am writing.

Now look.
This Wexit stuff.
It's fer real.
Here in Ropeburn we got a community centre, library, a nice downtown filled with shops, a dozen or so churches- albeit mostly Baptist ones.
What we don't got is Liberals.
I know Jesus says we gotta love everyone but for the love of Christ those folks that follow every word that that Trudeau fella preaches. Well, they oughta take a good look at themselves and see that it's just not right following one person like that believin' every damn word they say.
I mean what kinda people do that?
May Jesus forgive me for being so harsh.
I mean the Protestant Jesus not that Pope's Jesus.
Good Lord is it any wonder people pee on the Catholic shrubs at their temple doors or steal the Catholic Baby Jesus from the Catholic Nativity display every Catholic Christmas?
I think I heard it was them Presbyterian Pre-teen Bible Study kids. Doing the peeing I mean.

Now, the Indians across Bone Marrow Lake were here first or so we've been told and we don't wanna rock that totem pole anymore than we have already. Originally they inhabited the side of the lake that Ropeburn here is built on but years ago we very nicely asked them to move across to t'uther side of the lake.
Yes, it is a bit rockier than this side and the water's not as clean and the dump is within spittin' distance. Now don't judge us harshly. We let the Mexicans come north to pick our radishes and move the outhouses on the property encircling all that arable land they work.
That's gotta mean sumthin.
I mean we're not all like them Quebecers and their immigration stuff.

So we got all this goin' on and the rest of this country wanna know why we wanna set up our own parliament? Gives yer heads a shake- especially that Ontario.

Listen, we just wanna have control over our own destinies and by the cripes if we wanna vote Conservative for another hundred years we will- ya gotta know that!

Now as far as them folks who don’t know how to finish the Lord’s Prayer in the proper fashion or them Liberals or NDP folks- that are both one in the same in my mind at least, we say good riddance.
If you can’t stand the right stuff- get out of Ropeburn!

Anyhoo, we proud folks in Ropeburn want you to know that we think your lick-ass treatment of that Mr. Trudeau is wearing a bit thin- like cheap “rubber condums”, especially after this so-called Federal Election.
What a pussy of a vote that was.

Here at our next our Town Council meeting, we're jumpin' on the separation band wagon. We've even named the town park Kenny Green and he isn't even that sure about his party leaving confederation.
Look Mister Kenny- shit or get off the Conservative pot!

Most of us Albertans couldn’t be happier than pigs covered in poo if we walk away from this country.
I can hardly wait to see that Liberal leader’s face when we do. We already got a big banner stretched across the town square saying "Gotta Go Go!". The banner was made by old Mrs. Cutone who went and dug it out of an old chest she keeps in the basement. It was used a few decades ago by the local hockey team- The Ropeburn Rabbits when they were in the hockey finals.

Anyway when- not if, when we leave, it'll be a party. The booze will be flowin' if Billy Parsons gets his contraption repaired in time- wherein he makes a very tasty “communion wine”. Sarah Kuntner will probably make a stack of her famous groundhog burgers too.
But I digress...

Now, Sam Two Rivers from the Chacahatcha Indian Reserve across the Lake isn't too happy about this Wexit. He says why should the tribe give up a good thing just as the money is flowing from the feds and the water is almost worth drinking.

You lefties out there better be prepared to show your Canadian passports at the BC or Saskatchewan border depending on which direction you're comin' from. In the meantime I want you to know we are all prayin' as hard as we can and we think that Jesus and Mr. Scheer are on our side.

Just keep your F’in eyes open and don't cry too much when we're going.
Yours in separation-
Jed Cockburn


There you have it Kids. A #Hexit is afoot with #Wexit.
I think Jed's email speaks for itself and even though I don't believe in her-
Gawd Help us!