Dear PM Trudeau

Dear PM Trudeau:

We don’t smoke marijuana like on 24 Sussex Drive;
We don’t take Bahamas trips tax free.
We don’t burn through money like on Wellington Street;
We like livin’ right, and bein’ free.

I’m proud to be a farmer from Saskatchewan,
A place where even squares can have a ball
We still wave the Maple Leaf down at the courthouse,
And domestic beer’s still the biggest thrill of all.

We don’t make a party out of cryin’;
We like holdin’ hands and line dancin’ too;
We don’t let our hair grow long and shaggy,
Like the hippies out in Ness Creek do.

And I’m proud to be a farmer from Saskatchewan,
A place where even squares can have a ball.
We still wave the Maple Leaf down at the courthouse,
And domestic beer’s still the biggest thrill of all.

Cowboy boots are still in style for manly footwear;
Beanies and bare feet won’t be seen.
Hockey’s still the roughest thing on campus,
And some kids here still respect the college dean.

We still wave the Maple Leaf down at the courthouse,
In Regina, Saskatchewan, CAN.

Yours sincerely,

The Farmers of Saskatchewan

* based on Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee”

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Timing is Everything

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Our 2017 Honda Civic Sport Touring with American Racing wheels and Michelin X-Ice Xi3 winter tires courtesy of Graham’s Tire.  Zoom…zoom.

One of the joys of living in the Northern hemisphere is the potential for an early snowfall – November 1st to be exact. Winter wheels and winter tires are a necessity if one has any realistic expectation of driving anywhere in a small front-wheel drive car. Winter tires both increase traction and reduce stopping distance on snow and ice.

The game we play here, though, is deciding when to take off the fancy factory wheels and low profile summer tires and replace them with equally fancy wheels and higher profile winter tires.

If one puts on the winter rubber too early, they can end up driving around in balmy temperatures on dry pavement, effectively and rapidly reducing the lifespan of their softer rubber winter tires. At roughly $220 per tire – not a wise or frugal thing to do.

Besides, winter tires on dry pavement handle like a one-wheel wheelbarrow, full of drunken sailors, skidding downhill out-of-control.

The other side of the coin is to wait until the last minute, and then get trapped by an early snowfall and the frustrating reality of getting an appointment and/or timely service at a tire shop amongst the hordes of latecomers jockeying for position.

Besides, driving on expensive factory wheels and low profile summer rubber is an accident waiting to happen in the ice, snow, and slush of an early snowfall. Body shops, tow truck operators, and tire shops love this time of year in Saskatchewan 🙂

Take care, and be safe out there!

The Nordic Ski Trip: Meadow Lake Provincial Park

 

 

 

I often think about my girls. Even though they are now adults, busy with their own families and lives, I am so happy to have had the privilege of being a dad to them. I have so many good memories of the wilderness adventures we went on as a family. Sometimes, due to the difficulty of the wilderness challenge, I had to make the hard decision of taking only my eldest daughter along. My eldest girl was (and is) an excellent nordic skier, even when she was 12 years-of-age. She had the strength and endurance to stay with me over terrain and distances that most adults would complain about. She would later go on to become a provincial team cross-country running champion in her final year of high school.

As you can readily see from these candid pictures (taken with an old film camera), she always seemed to be upbeat and happy – the joy of my life! Her smile tells all.

We planned our overnight nordic ski trip together in an area of the province that is as beautiful as it is remote from any civilization, especially in the winter. I knew from previous years of cross-country skiing, hiking, and running on the trails in the Meadow Lake Provincial Park, that there was a rustic cabin situated farther east along a ski trail in the forest. The cabin was used as a warm-up shelter for cross-country skiers in the winter. Within the forested area, near the cabin, were at least two smaller lakes that, at the time, were utilized as fish rearing ponds for the bigger lakes, like Greig Lake within the park, and elsewhere in the province.

The plan was to start early, to ski and explore the area, before settling down for the night near the aforementioned cabin. We were self-sufficient and had packed everything we needed, including a tent, sleeping bags, cook stove, food, extra clothing, and emergency supplies. This was not our first winter camping trip together, but it was the first time we ventured out into the rather remote backcountry.

It was a gorgeous day when we began our ski tour. Due to the constant freeze/thaw cycles of early spring, the trails were well-packed and fast enough to skate on with relative ease. We traversed about 15km in what seemed like only a moment, quite aware of small fur-bearing animals scurrying about and birds chattering in the trees. I was also cognizant of the potential of crossing the path of wolves or a hungry black bear that had ventured out of it’s den a bit too early. Nevertheless, the click-clack of our ski poles and the whoosh of our skis, along with clanging cooking pots on the back of my pack, provided sufficient warning to predators that may have been hidden from our sight.

After a rather exhilarating day of cross-country skiing and exploring, we decided to camp at a scenic and sheltered spot near the cabin. Previously, I had asked for permission from the park warden to overnight in the cabin – just in case the weather took a turn for the worse. Anyone who has lived in the northwestern part of the province knows that a late winter storm can occur without notice. Better safe than sorry – I had learned that hard lesson from a previous winter where I almost succumbed to hypothermia and probable death because of a late blizzard. My story of that misadventure is long, convoluted, and riddled with compounding human error. It is sufficient to say that I was caught in a nasty snow storm, some 15km from the trail head, in only my one-piece spandex cross-country racing suit along with a little fanny pack with some water, a granola bar, and extra wax. I was nearly depleted of muscle glycogen (the dreaded bonk) and freezing in a blizzard. The obscured sun was getting low on the near invisible horizon and darkness was setting in quickly. The drifting snow was completely obliterating any sign of a ski trail.  Stuck in the middle of nowhere, in a rather grim and dire situation, is not my idea of a good time. Alas, that story is for another time.

My daughter decided that I should fire up the wood stove in the cabin. We needed to warm up and dry out our perspiration-soaked clothing. Thankfully, there was enough chopped, split, and stacked firewood there to keep us warm until the following winter.  A simple supper of roasted hot-dogs, brown beans, and granola bars was the pièces de résistance. It was so cozy in the cabin that we decided we would sleep there, instead of the rather cold tent pitched outside in the now drifting snow. I am thankful that we chose luxury over roughing it, as the outside temperature really dropped that night. Unfortunately, one of the windows in the cabin had been broken and the cold northwesterly wind was proving to be more than just an annoyance. I managed to block most of the window off with my outer winter jacket, and kept the wood stove going all night. My daughter and I snuggled in our sleeping bags, stretched out on the wooden benches near the wood stove. My daughter read a novel in the flicker of candlelight, as I struggled to fix the stuck zipper on my sleeping bag. We shared stories of adventure and mishap late into the night.

The next morning, we were awakened by the sunlight beaming through the frosted windows. I whipped up an uncomplicated breakfast of scrambled eggs, burnt toast, and bad coffee. After breakfast, we quickly packed up our gear, put on our skis, and ventured back at a good clip to the trailhead.  A warm bath and hot chocolate was waiting for us at home.

Another exquisite adventure, another tale to tell…

Christ & Culture: A Way Forward

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Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Lebret, Saskatchewan. f/11 @ 1/500 second.

It is my understanding that our witness to Christ and His influence comes precisely from NOT coercing and enforcing as the world does (regardless of the end behaviour we seek to bring about) but by demonstrating genuine love and vulnerability to all.

We are not at liberty to be repulsed by contemporary culture. Instead we are to engage with and transform culture – to love and serve all people by seeing everyone as God actually sees them – created in His moral image.

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American Woman: Guess Who?

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Introduction

Recently, I was listening to some of the earlier music of the Guess Who. One song that stood out amongst all the others was American Woman.

I can recall the first time I heard the song like it was yesterday. I was just a young kid hanging out at a place called Poplar Beach on Wakaw Lake, Saskatchewan. My siblings and I were there for Red Cross swimming lessons. At the top of the hill was a general store and confectionary. The building had an idyllic setting with an outdoor deck facing the beach and lake. In the corner was an old jukebox that was blasting out American Woman almost all day long, like it was the only record in the entire machine.

That particular song by the Guess Who has stood the test of time and is considered a classic today.

American woman, get away from me
American woman, mama, let me be
Don’t come a-knockin’ around my door
Don’t wanna see your shadow no more
Colored lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, I said get away
American woman, listen what I say, hey

American woman, said get away
American woman, listen what I say
Don’t come a-hangin’ around my door
Don’t wanna see your face no more
I don’t need your war machines
I don’t need your ghetto scenes
Colored lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, get away from me
American woman, mama, let me be

Go, gotta get away, gotta get away
Now go go go
I’m gonna leave you, woman
Gonna leave you, woman
Bye-bye
Bye-bye
Bye-bye
Bye-bye
You’re no good for me
I’m no good for you
Gonna look you right in the eye
Tell you what I’m gonna do
You know I’m gonna leave
You know I’m gonna go
You know I’m gonna leave
You know I’m gonna go, woman
I’m gonna leave ya, woman
Goodbye, American woman…

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