Show pony shutdown

Time to saddle up! Be warned, it’s a rambling piece this week, detours and tangents aplenty as we take an armchair slow ride to nowhere in particular. That being said, with no topic or destination in mind, how will we know there’s been a detour? Anyway, I’m allowed to be off topic and tangential – squirrel – I’m not a president. Just saying…

High noon, Kneehill County

I got an email from a friend yesterday morning, describing how he’s coping with lockdown in London. Some brief background? Ok. My buddy is a young man, only a year older than me. We met over 30 years ago, when I started my first proper job, working for a government department in central London. I can’t say exactly where, or name the department, all very hush hush. Regular readers know I can be trusted with the truth. Hank (not his real name, but one he wishes was) still works for a government department, and he’s currently plotting, I mean working, from his small apartment in North London. He’s fine, the evidence being he’s taken to dressing up in C&W clothing, complete with Stetson, and is listening to “Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels” by Whitey Morgan and the 78s. (Good cover there of a great song – what do you think?) Cowboy duds and country music – that’s normal for North London these days, isn’t it? He’s doing this as preparation for a (now postponed) road trip we were due to take this summer. I might have dodged a bullet there…

High plains drifting

Sticking with the Western theme, Scout and I were moseying down the middle of 10th Street at high noon yesterday. As with all good, and not so good, Westerns, townsfolk scurried indoors as we passed, shooing their children ahead of them and peering out through the gap in the curtains. Showdown! Hairy and mean looking varmints (squirrels) moved from tree to tree, trying to get the high ground and a clear view of the sheriff (Scout) and her good looking and trustworthy young deputy (me, of course – how could you even ask?!) We faced them down, made it out of there.

The sheriff, tracking

‘Scuse me while I take a moment, spit my chewin’ baccy into the ol’ tin at my feet. Well sh*t, now I gone done made a mess on my boots. Shee-it. New old timey story? Ok. Okey dokey. You bet. I pardnered up with a law-abiding school master from Red Deer a few years back. He was principal of a Junior High School that had even more than the usual share of middle years miscreants, rebels, and wannabe outlaws. Education badlands, allegedly, but in truth, not at all bad, these were spirited and lively young people. Sheriff Duane was excellent at his job, corralling and educatin’ his young steers with great good humour. He was never overly fond of a meeting, preferring to be in the field teaching, rather than pushing darn papers. He’d always start a meeting with “Let’s get this dog and pony show on the road!” This young buck never quite understood what that meant, but I do think of Sheriff Duane every time I drink a Last Best Show Pony pale ale. Yup, all that just so I could use this photograph:

No dog, all pony. Cheers, Duane!

Well, I think that’ll ‘bout do it for now. I gotta get me a glass of something to sip slow and steady as I sit on my rocking chair, watch the sun set, dog at my feet, with Whitey Morgan and his boys crooning quietly in back. So long!

Goodness, what is going on? Where did all that come from? You’re doing something similar, yes? Or is it just me? Is this what happens when an old PlaidCamper is in a long term shut down. Or decline? Neural pathways rewiring themselves in new and not so interesting ways, and make believe takes over. It’s not all make believe. I am actually growing (or trying to grow) a fine “sad cowboy” moustache, for when Hank and I finally take that Western road trip. We’ll look (and sound, haha) completely authentic. You have been warned, small town bars of Alberta, Montana and Wyoming. That fast moving cloud of dust on the outskirts? Two thirsty show pony buckaroos riding into town…

Thanks for reading, I hope you’re well, safe, sane enough, and ready to enjoy your weekend!

PS I’ve just finished listening to “Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels” for the second time. It might (or might not) be a great way to plan a road trip, but it is definitely a fun old school country album. You’ll be growing your own sad cowboy moustache, or drawing one on. My thanks to Hank, the North London urban cowboy, for the recommendation.

Looking back to look ahead

With the long Easter weekend almost upon us – life has turned into one long weekend if you’re one of the many staying close to home right now – I thought I’d post a few past pictures taken around this time of year. Sort of heartening and disheartening at the same time…

Take the long view

Aiming to be positive, it’s nice to think that next Easter, or maybe the one after, most that choose to do so will be able to celebrate with their friends and families close by, rather than on FaceTime etc.

Maybe next year?

On a lighter, borderline trivial note, and perhaps somewhat worryingly, I have a trove of beer photographs dating back many, many years. Hmm, now why is that? Well, don’t some adults take pictures of trains and write down the engine numbers? Not that I’m being defensive or anything. The real reason is one of my brothers doesn’t like beer (you remember, he only drinks Peroni, proving he doesn’t like beer) so whenever we’re out and find ourselves – and this is rare – trying new beers in a microbrewery or bar, or a friend’s house, or at home, or on a day ending in a “y” – like I said, rare – then I’ll take a photo and send it to my brother. It’s ok, he likes getting the photographs, he really does. Anyway, seeing the photo below of North Coast Brewing’s Red Seal ale reminded me we haven’t tried that in quite a while. This is clearly an issue for me, because there’s still the important research needed to catch up on the past three years of AB new beers before revisiting old favourites. Looking back to look ahead. Clutching at straws, but maybe that’s a lockdown silver lining…

Not Peroni…

I’ll finish this one as I did last time. I do hope you’re keeping well. The current crisis is very serious, and frightening for so many. I admire and thank all the people who are doing all they can to keep what is necessary going. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful long weekend.

Positively strutting! Striding forward, that’s the way.

City tails

I was walking down our local high street the other day, aware of the need to have space between myself and any other person out and about. It was early in the morning, but still, it was so quiet. Scout and I saw barely a handful of other pedestrians throughout our walk, and very few cars were on the road. It has to be said, well done, people, for taking the distancing seriously. From what I’ve read, that isn’t the case in all places.

A near empty bus did go past, and the destination lit up on the front was “North Haven”. I’m not sure where exactly that is in the city, but it made me think. I hope wherever you happen to be, it resembles something of a haven, north, south, east or west.

Well, this is new…

Being back in Alberta, we’ve switched to winter, at least compared to the coast. Toques and coats, and hold on tight as Scout leaps into snow banks, tail wagging furiously. I slip and slide and smile as she reacquaints herself with the delights of snow…

Yeah, snow!

Being back in the city means that (an appropriately socially distant) visit to the beer store offers the chance to catch up on the Alberta craft beer scene. I’ve over two years worth of developments to discover!

Yeah, beer!

I was drawn by the name “Hawk Tail Brewery” and hoped the beer was a match for the packaging – I can say I’ll be drinking another glass or two of this when the weather warms up. Clean and crisp.

Thanks for reading, please be well, and I hope you have a pleasant weekend!

What a week

First off, I hope all is well with you, your friends and your family. Trying times…

Very quiet

I was in Calgary last week, a flying Spring Break visit, and quite a good thing too as it turned out. We were aiming to surprise Junior, who is (was) teaching cookery and early years in the city. The surprise happened, smiles and elbow bumps all round. Then we had to scramble to find her a flight to Scotland via London, because, not being a Canadian, Junior’s partner is unable to return to Canada for the foreseeable future. Understandably, they didn’t want to be apart, so, fingers crossed, by the time this is posted they’ll be reunited in Bonnie Scotland. We’ll miss them, but know they are together to get through the next little while. Aah, lovely!

Very cold

I returned to Ucluelet, just long enough to pick up Scout, shut up shop, and, travel restrictions allowing, should be on the road as you read this, heading to Calgary once more so Mrs. PC and I can be together full time. Aah, lovely! Mrs PC can’t wait to see Scout.

I did try and explain social distancing to her

I know you might not be, but if you’re willing to watch something virus related, try this from Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach of Ireland. It’s how a leader should sound in times like these…

Yup, what a week. Please take care of yourselves, friends, neighbours and family, and, although it might sound strange, I hope you find ways to enjoy your weekend.

Social distancing

Or, in my case, being something of an introvert, anti-social distancing. Silver linings…

Silver linings

Clearly there is plenty to be concerned about presently, what with Covid-19 and the toilet roll fights in supermarkets. They cut those scenes from “Mad Max” didn’t they? I imagine John Woo or Sam Peckinpah could have had a slow motion field day with scraps and shreds of toilet paper floating through fight scenes of suburban scrappers going toe to toe over the last packet of spaghetti. Pasta pugilists…

Back to the social distancing. I don’t mind if that’s the way it has to be. Avoid large crowds and social gatherings? Oh, alright. Drive thru virus testing, then a quick stop at the drive thru growler refill station. Doesn’t sound too bad.

Another growler? No!

Oh gosh, I just sneezed. I’ll keep this brief, as I suddenly feel the need to google the early onset symptoms. All photographs this week are from Florencia once again, and if you’ve got to be socially distant, this seems as good a place as any!

Anti-social distancing? If I must.

Flippancy aside, please be well, look after yourselves, family, friends and neighbours, and remember pasta shouldn’t be overcooked and is best enjoyed with a glass of red wine. Or two.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Pandemic! Epidemic! Endemic! I need a medic…

What a noisy week it has been. Well, I suppose it’s been noisy for a touch longer than that. Still, Super Tuesday (or was it Thursday? Oops!) and all the primary excitement. Joementum! Feeling the Bern! Racist slurs and insults on Twitter! Don’t forget the virus! We’re all going to die. True, but not right now, and not all at once. Is there a cure for this March madness? Health warning: this post contains many questions, and few answers!

Taking the cure

Not sure it’s a cure, but the Pacific provided some respite for us recently, on our own little Super Tuesday. We decided to take coffee and a second breakfast to Florencia Bay. Sunshine and an empty parking lot greeted us, as well as a falling tide. Barely a breath of wind, and the noise came from washing waves, the cries of gulls, and a pair of singing bald eagles. Ah, blessed harmony…

The canine question mark!

Florencia is Mrs PC’s favourite beach, and on a bright late winter day, it’s easy to see why. Coffee in a quiet place, sitting on a log overlooking the ocean? Could this be the cure? Dark roast and a berry muffin – a medical miracle. Perhaps not, but in the moment it certainly felt like a soothing specific Pacific balm for the epic epidemic of modern madness. I enjoyed writing that last sentence, but I wouldn’t want to repeat it three times. Or sing Happy Birthday twice (oh if only the cure for what ails us was so simple!)

Hush now, politicians, step aside, put your money where your mouths are, and listen to and support the proper experts – nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, underfunded and overworked yet doing their level best to keep all of us ticking along.

A Super Tuesday

Keeping it brief this week. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Piling on! (Don’t panic, it’s a love fest…)

Uh oh, is this a rant?! It is primary season, and it does seem there has been plenty of political piling on, in New England, around DC, in post-Brexit Britain (where Brexit “got done!” – Really?! Oh please…) and elsewhere in the infernal news cycles. No, no rant, if I stop this paragraph now.

Love is in the air! How about a list of loves? Yes? OK!

Canada (a small corner – the piling on the right is a kingfisher hunting spot)

Friends and family, Canada, camping, the natural world, beer, camping with beer, coffee, camping with coffee, books, movies, Scout! I could go on, but we’d all grow tired.

Beer (good for camping)

This week, I have loved seeing a belted kingfisher ruling the inner harbour here. I spy him on gangway railings, perched on a hemlock bough, and best of all, up on a piling and ready to dive. He truly is a king fisher, an absolute champion, and a regular delight on recent harbour walks.

Kingfisher (old photo, but it’s the same bird – I can tell by the hair!)

I’ll keep it brief, only adding I love that you’ve taken the time to stop by and read this. That is always appreciated! Alright, it’s getting awkward now. All far too warm and fuzzy this week – I’ll aim for a tougher stance next time. Thanks, and have a wonderful weekend!

Scout! (Good and ready for any adventure!)

Log? Dog? Soup?

Check, check, and check!

Other than a brief snowy interlude, the past two months have seen rain, rain, and rain. So much rain! Then, the other day, there was a hint of sun, a short glimpse of spring, so we made the most of a lunchtime trip to the beach.

Logs

Although the temperature was actually colder than the norm – according to the reading on the Jeep, it was 2C – it felt warm as we drove off, sun streaming in through the windows. I had to blow dust and cobwebs off the sunglasses. This was sunshine!

Dog!

Scout was very happy, nose at the small gap in the rear window, enjoying the warmed up damp scents wafting in as we headed to the beach.

Soup and log

The beach! It looked like a water colour painting, where an enthusiastic artist had loaded the brush and said “this is going to look wet!” It did, with the sun slightly hidden behind an offshore haze and the tide in retreat. The blue skies were behind us and above the trees as we sat on just the right log, and enjoyed just the right soup. Homemade tomato and lentil, if you were wondering. Not Scout’s favourite, so perfect for a beach outing, where the dog can dig under the log, and you enjoy your soup dog nose free…

Water colour

What a break, what a delight, and how it seems a distant memory already. As I write this, the rain has returned, but the promise of a few sunnier days is in the two week forecast. We have our checklist – log, dog, and soup! I’d best start cooking…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Apocalyptic!

An attention-grabbing heading, even if the reality was somewhat less exciting.

How about Ukeepocalypse? Or the UkeeVeggieFamine? We survived both, you know…

If you’ve read along for the past couple of years, you might remember that just up the road from us a road construction project is ongoing. A small project in many other places perhaps, but actually quite a big deal here, and quite an impactful one at that.

Rainfall? Here?

The twisting highway really narrows at Kennedy Lake, and in poor weather with low visibility, it is a dangerous spot for drivers. Sadly, there have been fatalities in the past. The Kennedy Hill project will eventually result in a wider and safer road. For almost two years, construction has caused many planned and unplanned highway closures. Rock blasting has sometimes taken out the power lines to the coast, rainfall has caused mudslides, and just over a week ago, blasting caused a fall that took too much rock and ended with a part of the road collapsing and falling into the lake below. Oops.

Questions started to fly. Will the road reopen today? Tomorrow? Before the weekend? After the weekend? Ever? What about emergency services if needed? Deliveries of food and gas to the stores? That essential gadget from Amazon? Will we be abandoned? Cut off from civilization? (One can hope…) Wasn’t the snow last week enough? Was that an earthquake? Yes it was. What next? Locusts?

Snowmageddon?! Hardly

Locusts? Some did get a little overexcited, and shopped like it really was the apocalypse. Although, if it really is the apocalypse, isn’t the deal one goes looting, rather than lining up to pay for dwindling goods and services? So not completely out of control then.

Living out here, there is an expectation households can manage for themselves for 72 hours should there be a tsunami evacuation or power outage. This allows emergency services to focus on priorities. The local store really was emptied out of fresh produce rather too quickly. Why panic buy? Do you love broccoli that much? Really? Maybe events will have prompted some to be a bit better prepared for the future…

There were some amusing posts on the community pages

In the end, a temporary bridge was put in place over the yawning chasm, and I’m looking forward to driving over it once some heavier vehicles have made it through safely. The road reopened – as much as it has ever been open in recent times – before the end of the weekend, and what passes for normal service has been resumed. Broccoli is once more in store, and the local deer population looks much relieved. Yawning chasm?! Dramatic, just like the apocalypse should be.

Yawning chasm? Well, I wouldn’t get too close to the edge – and there is not much underneath

I survived the Ukeepocalypse…phew! I hope there’s a t shirt coming.

Calmer days ahead?

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.

A hazy shade of pale

A self indulgent musical interlude this week, brought on by the weather. Well, the weather, spending last weekend painting the entryway into our little apartment and listening to the rain hammering down outside. Watching paint dry, the walls closing in, I needed musical distractions.

Not raining, almost bright

There are so many songs about the rain, and so many rain-connected OldPlaidCamper musical memory moments. Musical memory moments?! I sound like a DJ on a golden oldies radio station. (Smashie and Nicey!) You might want to spin the dial, find another channel. I won’t mind, and you know how it is – we all think our musical taste is simply great. Although I’ve read ahead, and I’m not too convinced about mine. Anyway, here it is, a rain-inspired mix tape. Oh no…

Rain! (The blur in front of the wheelhouse is a belted kingfisher, photobombing and about to dive in!)

Press Play

Ongoing rain had me humming “Rain” by Status Quo. Not my favourite Quo song, but still a good one. My favourite Quo album? “Hello!” Even as a child, I thought “Hello!” – that sounds pretty friendly, much like how the band came across. Some music critics have said that if you’ve heard one Quo song, you’ve heard all Quo songs. Bit harsh, that. I love the album closer on Hello! Forty-Five Hundred Times – I’ve probably heard it 4500 times, and it doesn’t get old. I recall a very happy evening in 1982 at the Hammermith Odeon, leaving with slightly damaged eardrums after the one and only time I saw Status Quo live. It was fabulous. Oh, and I expect it was raining that night.

Light rain

Fast Forward (FFWD)

When we were in France, I’d very occasionally go out to a local bar, talked into it after heavy persuasion from a friend. This was usually on a rainy night in winter. Rain in southern France in the winter? Yup! The musical connection was we’d sometimes run into Vince Clarke. If you liked mid 80s and into the 90s and beyond synth pop and EDM, then you’ll know all about him. He’s an electro pop giant in small human form. A quiet man with a very dry sense of humour.

It might be a controversial stance amongst chin-stroking muso-journo types, but I much prefer Erasure to Depeche Mode. If an Erasure tune doesn’t (at the very least) get your toe tapping, you probably need to see your doctor about the lack of a pulse. If forced to choose, and how difficult it is, my favourite Erasure album is “The Innocents”, and favourite track is Yahoo! If all that upbeat gospel-sounding camp doesn’t make you smile, then what will? Even if you’re repainting white walls, you’ll smile.

It rained shortly after

Rewind (RWND)

Thank you, Vince Clarke! His public demeanour is somewhat similar to that of another pokerfaced keyboard whiz, Christopher Lowe. He’s a Pet Shop Boy, the quiet man to Neil Tennant’s deadpan, half-singing but mostly spoken delivery. You’ll be fascinated to read that if I’ve played some Erasure tunes, I’ll often then play some Pet Shop Boys, happily lost in the synth-pop bleeps and blurps. Is blurps a word? Is there a Pet Shop Boys song about rain? Not sure. There is one where it stops raining! Miracles! Pretty good, but not my favourite PSB tune – that’s revealed below.

As we’re here, and I’m sharing not so interesting stories, here’s another. My very slight connection to these chaps is an (unintentional) appearance in the original video of West End Girls. I happened to be walking by when they were filming around Waterloo Station back in 1985, and I have a blink and you’ll miss it moment. (I’m the pretty one – you’ll know if you’ve seen it.) Personal fame and international stardom aside, even this isn’t my favourite PSB tune. Hmm, hard to choose, but I’ll plump for either Being Boring or Vocal. Surprisingly, and to the disappointment of many, I wasn’t called back to feature in either of the videos, A sad loss for the MTV and YouTube generation…

So there you go, an unnecessary, indulgent, and overlong musical interlude brought on by the rain. If you’ve read this far, thank you, and you’ve probably spent more time on this than I did doing the decorating last weekend!

Oh, raining? Might as well repaint the hallway…

Press Stop

All this being boring was fun for me. I promise you I won’t be writing another music related piece for quite a while. Perhaps next time I’m doing some repainting, and hopefully no sooner than next decade. Thanks for listening to a terrible mix tape, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

A hazy shade of pale