Taken from the front step of the cabin yesterday.
Here is the view of the backyard.
As Wendy writes, we headed out to the cabin on Sunday for a couple of hours. What a difference a year makes. No water laying in farmer’s fields, no destroyed highways, no dangerous gravel roads, no there is actually a beach this year. I didn’t stop long in Watrous but I did manage to hear a farmer talk about the dry winter. One season removed from the worst flooding in my lifetime and already it is too dry. I love Saskatchewan.
Wendy writes about our weekend on the cabin weblog. It was a weekend of good books, Chuck E. Cheese, some lacrosse, coffee, and a dog that wouldn’t get out of the bed and a son that wouldn’t stop trying to get back in. Oh right, this happened.
A couple of weeks ago I realized that I hadn’t taken any vacation days in 2011. I have three weeks and over a week of flex time to use so I decided to take some this fall. With Mark playing Kinsmen Football, I can’t really get away or he doesn’t get to practice so instead of getting to the cabin, I stayed in Saskatoon. The plan is to go to the cabin this weekend for Thanksgiving. Arlington Beach does a huge fall/Thanksgiving supper which is great and we’ll eat well out there.
The week started with hanging out with Jared and Kathy Siebert who moved out from the GTA. Having a denominational stooge around is occasionally useful and it will be fun to have Jared, Kathy and their kids in Saskatoon. Somewhere in our conversations with them Jared said that he wanted to clear out some trees around his house so on Monday I went logging. I took over our chainsaw and we cut and cut and cut and we were still cutting the same horrible tree. It had about 50 large branches coming from the ground and I think it was regenerating itself as fast as we were cutting it. When we were about halfway done, Wendy and Kathy came out and said there was a lot more light coming in the bay window (why do people plant trees in front of bay windows?) We also managed to cut down two cedars that were a couple of stories tall. Both went down pretty much as we intended which kind of freaked us out. I honestly figured, Jared, myself, or a tree would be going through a window. In honour of my new skill I am growing a lumberjack beard and am wearing more plaid.
I also managed to chat with Cam Broten. Most of it was off the record but it was also a good discussion on the issues in my own riding. While Cam has been campaigning pretty hard for a while, I haven’t seen any signs of the Saskatchewan Party candidate in my travels. Campaigns matter but I can’t see this riding going to the Saskatchewan Party.
The highlight of Mark’s week was practicing with the Saskatoon Hilltops on Thursday night. Mark came home bloodied, bruised, muddy and in a bit of pain but really enjoyed himself. The Hilltops ran them through the same drills they ran with the Hilltop coaches and players giving tips and yelling encouragement. To be honest Mark was relieved. As a 4’10” receiver, he was at a loss on how to get open against a 5’10 defensive back who is taller, stronger, and faster than he is. The most important thing he learned was the intensity that the Hilltops practice with. I remembered how cool it was when a Saskatchewan Blade would come to my hockey practice but actually practicing with the Hilltops on their field was amazing for all the kids.
We are headed out to the cabin on Saturday after Mark’s football game in Martinsville. He is done at 3:00 p.m. and I hope to be on the road by 4:00 p.m. and be at Arlington Beach for a late supper time. Lee and Brittney are coming up on Sunday for the big Thanksgiving dinner with family, the Sieberts and about 300 other people. Wendy doesn’t have to cook, I don’t have to do dishes so we all win. I bought Mark a great flashlight and a headlamp this week with the intention that him and I are going to go for a late night hike. If I don’t post here at all next week, there is a chance I was eaten and killed. Check with Wendy. I am back to work on Tuesday. Not that motivated to be back but I have another couple of weeks to take before the end of 2011.
I have never been a big fan of NDP leader Jack Layton but this week just seemed to sum it all up. Every time I flipped on the news, there was Jack talking up a storm about Stephen Harper’s secret agenda in changing the name of Indian and Northern Affairs to the more politically correct Aboriginal Affairs. The other highlight of the week was Jack talking about breaking up Canada with a plurality of one vote. Everyone from Stephane Dion to Rex Murphy had fun with that one and the weird part of it is, the Supreme Court has already ruled that it needed a clear majority for separation to take place. As Dion pointed out
In its opinion on the secession of Quebec, the Supreme Court of Canada mentioned the words "clear majority" at least 13 times and also referred to "the strength of a majority." However, the Court does not encourage us to try setting the threshold of this clear majority in advance: "it will be for the political actors to determine what constitutes ‘a clear majority on a clear question’ in the circumstances under which a future referendum vote may be taken."
I kind of liked Michael Ignatieff but shortly after he promised to bring down the government (which he could not do at that time), when he would come on television and in print all of the time, I found myself saying, “just shut up already”. It wasn’t that I found him particularly offensive, in fact some of what he was saying was correct, it was just that I was tired of politics already. That is how I feel right now about Jack Layton. I just want him to shut up already. The parliament isn’t in session, I don’t hear a lot from Harper politically and I would love to hear a different tone and just less of Jack Layton. If he doesn’t, I think a lot of more people than myself will grow tired of him.
There were times when Chretien, Romanow, Wall, and Harper were in opposition when you just never heard from them for short periods of time. Even Lingenfelter does a good job of dropping off he radar from time to time because I think they know that all of us have other things to worry about (Saskatchewan Roughriders, Stanley Cup playoffs, how large to build my deck at the cabin) that don’t need any political intervention. Hopefully Jack Layton learns this lesson if for nothing else; the benefit of my summer, unless he wants to help me with my deck.
Ever since we bought the cabin, I have wanted to go out in March and spend a couple of days at the lake. Every year since then it has been cold, snowy, and miserable…. basically seasonal temperatures in Saskatchewan but it stinks and we have never managed to do it yet.
Growing up in Calgary, March 11th was not only my birthday, it was the day that I could wear short sleeve shirts to school, often without a jacket. It was nice, pleasant, and full of life. I realized that this is the problem with March, it holds so much potential but in Saskatchewan, the month is an underachiever and never delivers. It just gives up, rolls over and let’s winter bully us while waiting for April and May do the the heavy lifting for us while March complains.
I realized that I can handle a brutally cold December, a frigid January, and a painfully cold February but my March I want a couple of days where I don’t have to go out early and start my car or I can take the dog out for a long walk and not have to apologize to her for where we live. The Saskatchewan winter isn’t that bad, it’s just one month too long and for that I hold March responsible.
With Wendy working at Safeway and her shifts being all over the map, we need to plan ahead as a family if we are going to enjoy all of what Saskatoon has to offer this summer. While we won’t get to all of these events this summer, here is my list of why I think Saskatoon is a great place to spend the summer.
- June 24 and 25th :: Broadway Art Encounter :: This is done in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival so there will an interesting selection of art and some great jazz to see.
- July 10th :: Regina Red Sox vs. Saskatoon Yellow Jackets :: Wendy and I have been meaning to go to a minor league baseball game since the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets came to Saskatoon. They are a Western Major Baseball League team and I am told it’s not bad baseball to watch. $8 per ticket.
- July 18th to July 25th :: Arlington Beach Family Camp and 50th Reunion :: I am taking the entire week off work and spending most of it at the cabin with the boys. Wendy will be out for part of the week while she works a couple of shifts at work.
- July 23rd and 24th :: Rotary Club Dragon Boat Festival :: Not sure if we will be back from the lake but if we are, we will take this in along with the Taste of Saskatchewan.
- July 20th to July 25th :: Taste of Saskatchewan :: I really like the idea of Taste of Saskatchewan but in reality, I don’t really enjoy going. The food can either be good or mediocre, it’s a really crowded event, the music is too loud to have a conversation, and parking can be brutal. My honest feeling is that it would be a better event with fewer (but better restaurants), a larger venue, and a sound stage that doesn’t feel the need to blow out your ear drums.
- July 29th to August 7th :: Saskatoon Fringe Festival :: Good food, lots of stuff made of hemp, hundreds of people smoking pot while the police look the other way. I don’t generally take in the plays but instead just enjoy myself on Broadway Avenue with the boys.
- July 31st :: Hamilton Tiger Cats vs. the Saskatchewan Roughriders :: It’s the Riders Centennial which means like all Saskatchewan Roughriders fans, we must make the mandatory pilgrimage to Mecca and take in a game. We are choosing to see the Riders lay down a smackdown on the Hamilton Tiger Cats. There is a reason why we have a cabin that is only an hour away from Mosaic Stadium.
- August 4th :: NASCAR Canadian Tire Series :: 250 laps of NASCAR goodness at the Auto Clearing Motor Speedway. Oddly enough, Pierre Bourque of Bourque Newswatch is also in the series. Sadly, the Conservative Party is no longer sponsoring his ride, maybe because NASCAR drivers only turn left.
- August 8th :: Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan :: I know it goes all summer but what could be a better way to spend a Sunday night than taking in some Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice) and then head to a place with a patio for coffee and dessert.
- August 10 - 15 :: Saskatoon Exhibition :: This is the highlight of Mark’s summer and is fun to go with Wendy and Oliver as well.
- September 3-4 :: Saskatoon Fireworks Festival :: After years of taking in really lame fireworks shows in Saskatoon, the Saskatoon Fireworks Festival changed everything. It is a world class, must see event that is perfect for River Landing. Let’s just hope the Traffic Bridge doesn’t collapse before that weekend is over.
- September 29 :: Calgary Flames vs. New York Islanders :: I know I broke up with hockey a couple of years (I said some things, hockey said some things… you know how it is) but we have been checking out each other on Facebook and I may grab a thing of nachos and see how hockey is doing.