A curious side effect of the collective barganing agreement that was negotiated between the unions and the government has to do with the allocation of the day off. Each year Canada celebrates its confederation and the day off sometimes lands on a weekend. According to the agreement if that national holiday falls on a Saturday the day prior is the day off. The other curious arrangement is having a mandatory day off every three weeks as a way of reducing costs. Everyone employed by the government in this province is required to have one of these days every three weeks. Mine falls on the Monday of this weekend meaning that I have four days off!
There is so much that I wanted to do this weekend when I first realized that I would have all this time off. Not only me but Chrl wanted to do things together. This would represent the last such weekend that we would have without worrying too much about our upcoming nuptials. There is still a whole bunch of things that have to be sorted before that actually happens but the bonding that we gain from just spending time together is immeasurable. Earlier in the week I bought a couple of tickets for us to attend the Talib Kweli and Arrested Development concert on Canada Day. It is somewhat in keeping with the mood that has developed regarding the colonial past of this country.
Saskatoon is on Treaty 6 Territory. This treaty was signed before Canada became a country and it was an agreement with the First Nations people who have lived on this land since time immemorial. Over the past number of decades details of how the government of Canada has behaved towards the First Nations have come out chief amongst those is the residential school program that had split families apart seriously destroying their language and culture. The other aspect of this has been the appropriation of land from the First Nations reneging the Treaty 6 agreement signed in good faith. These aspects of history lead he Europeans that settled here in the early 20th century to develop prejudice that further compounded the problems that developed as a result of this behavior. This is evidenced by poverty and a lack of control over their destiny due to the continuation of policies that have been in place for a while here in Canada. There is some movement to resolve these issues but it is slow in its progress. It is also complicated but it has to be done in order for their country to move forward.
Friday was the first of my days off. My goal was to finish sanding my project and get everything together for transport. I am carless and I hoped to get a ride from the proprietor of Makerspace. A sudden storm dashed those hopes as I didn’t want my project to get wet in the back of his pickup. I called a cab but the wait was excruciatingly long. I haven’t had good luck with the cabs over here. There is no car sharing service to speak of and no über. It took an hour for a cab to show up. I asked for a van but they showed up with a bus. They charge time and a half for a larger vehicle. This wasn’t reflected in the meter. I was a bit pissed having waited for an hour. I even called them again asking for the cab and the operator said that they couldn’t find the place so the cab left. No phone call nothing while I waited… no tip then.
The end of my project is nigh. As I look at it it seems to be such a simple design. Essentially two boxes within each other. The drawer will roll on a mechanism I picked up at the hardware store. I have to put a couple of coats of paint on these boxes before I can install them onto the bed frame. Chrl has something planned do us in the evening. We are gonna go and play board games with some of her colleagues at the community law office she is attending as part of her summer semester. That time wasted waiting for the cabbie to show up has really dented my time. I channeled that energy into working fast. After I covered all the surfaces that I needed to I jumped in the shower. This gave us a chance to hit the liquor store so that I could get some beers for the night.
I got used to the way liquor is sold in Europe and almost anywhere else outside of Canada. We have to go to specialty stores in order to purchase alcohol. It’s all done in order to curb consumption but that isn’t really the case. People work around it. I was searching for a Belgian beer in homage to a friend from back in the U.K. Found some cleverly hidden in one of the fridges and to my surprise it was actually imported! Not the pretended import found there. With our supplies in hand we made our way past the crowd at Jazzfest and up the bridge to Chrl’s friends house or flat I wasn’t sure which one it was yet.
We were walking through a neighborhood that neither of us have been to yet. It is older than some of the others that we have been to. Tall mature trees shaded the streets and some of the interesting foliage in some of the front yards. The growing season is short here but with enough care and attention a lot of things can grow here as evidenced by some of the yards. In the winter time these are buried under a thick blanket of snow and ice. Between the extreme maximum and minimum there is a swing of over seventy degrees Celcius!
The apartment block that we are going into is on a road that is partially shut due to the ongoing work on one of the bridges. I don’t know when it started it was before my time but it is slated to continue until sometime in 2018. They have replaced each of the components of this bridge retaining its historical steel design. They worked all through the winter on it. This is the first time I am seeing it from this perspective. We enter the building and call…
The building call pad is completely touch screen. This luxury takes me aback a bit. The little lobby is equally modern while retaining an element of the era in which this building was constructed. We are enjoying this outing even though we haven’t even gotten to our destination yet. We are the first to arrive for games night. We get a quick tour of the flat and get introduced to the cats or lords of he manor. These two cats are huge for domesticated species. One is some kind of breed that is known for its large size. The other just happens to be big. We sit down and have a chat with our hosts. Three others arrive and we munch on crisps while having a beverage.
“What are we gonna play?”
There were a few choices that kind of seemed complicated. We needed a quick game as we all didn’t have time for a long session of gaming. Chrl asked me to carry the game of Scattegories which we all agreed would be suitable for the occasion. The game involves naming things in categories that begin with a particular letter that is determined by a roll of a special dice with all the letters of the alphabet. This is an old game and certain categories like “sports celebrities that begin with I” had me stumped with the added time pressure to come up with a unique answer. Right or wrong answers as well as scoring were hotly contested. I was playing with a bunch of potential lawyers so I naturally had to throw my two cents in. It was a fun evening.
We were both tired from the night before so we slept in had a small breakfast and eventually made it to yoga in the morning. It was a hard class and as we walked home we stopped in an Asian based beverage shop that sold teas and other drinks based on Chinese ingredients. I picked something based on helping my Qi. Chrl picked a cold infusion type drink. This city has a surprising variety of interesting little shops. We sipped and chatted enjoying each other’s company and the nice weather that is all around us. We were a bit tired from the excretion of the class and napped a bit before the concert.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing a concert here ever since I found out about the venue. We are avoiding going to the exhibition grounds where the fireworks will be for the reasons I mentioned before. I’m wondering how the concert will be. I wonder if it will have a bit of tension as Talib and Arrested Development have a message. They seek justice for everyone not just the privileged. At least I hoped that it would include something like that a message with respect to the state of the world today.
Jazzfest is really close to where we live. We meandered over and headed for the venue to get our wristbands. Apparently we can walk in and out in order for us to check out the other things that are happening as part of the festival. A local hip hop group was performing. It’s a unique combination of talent. They played to a small audience way before the headliners. It’s a nice quaint little festival. Having all the stages so close together made it nice. The free stage had lots of people watching it. When we checked it out after the first band. We went back and had another drink. We sat on a slope of grass that surrounds the grounds. The hotel blocks the setting sun creating a nice backdrop for the concert. The river runs behind the stage. Talib got onto the stage after the DJ hyped us by mixing up a frenzy of beats. Talib Kweli is touring with a live band backing him up. Here in Saskatoon the crowd is probably different from the ones he is used to. I remember when I first got here there was a Redman and Method Man show at one of the clubs. It would have been interesting to check that one out but I digress.
Talib Adressed the crowd a few times and rapped over a mixture of beats as well as letting the band show off their skill. It looked like they were having fun but they didn’t have a long set. The message about equality and justice was there and it continued as Arrested Development came onstage to perform.
I saw Arrested Development at Lollapalooza a long time ago. They have a much more polished set. The group has a live and playing and backing them up. Energy was provided by one of the singers who danced for the entire set. She was mesmerizing. The message urging justice and reflection about the world persisted during their performance. There was an intelligent message regarding the treatment of women that Chrl responded to. The whole night was fun. We enjoyed all of the performances and moved to the rhythms we were exposed to. This place has a little bit of everything.
On Sunday morning we woke and were excited to be heading out of the city. We have been planning this night of camping for a while. First we chose to go to Manitou Beach because of its proximity as well as the interesting properties of the water. It is highly saline thus it has the title of the “Dead Sea of the North”. We found a little campsite and rented a little car to get us there. I am really happy that Chrl is into camping. It is a great activity to do giving us a break from our urban existence.
We had to pick up the car at noon and then pick up our stuff and then drive all the way over there. Do we have everything? We stopped at a hardware shop and picked up an axe, folding chairs and a tarp. That’s a subversive list of equipment that we needed if looked at from some nefarious perspective. These items were necessary in order for us to have a successful night of camping. An axe is absolutely necessary in order to make a decent fire. It’s the fire that will hold our gaze into the night.
Once we were on the road the countryside expanded before us as we drove. It was a nice day for a drive. The terrain outside the city is a mildly rolling flat expanse of space as far as the eye could see. Off in the distance one could see some buildings scattered around. Some big industrial structures had a surreal look to them due to their imposing size on the horizon. I really enjoyed the look of water in shallow ponds that contrasted sharply with the green of the grass. Some fields were yellow due to the canola flowers in bloom. As a passenger my gaze was continuously studying the topography that we were passing.
It took us an hour and a bit to reach our destination. The lady in the booth signed us in and directed us to our spot. We bought some wood and found our designated spot for the night. Chrl went to check out the facilities and I began to unload our stuff as well as cracking one of the brews I had left over from Friday night. The first order of business was to figure out where to put the tent up. Chrl reported that the facilities were decent although there may be some bugs to contend with. We were also getting hungry and in order to start a fire we decided to put up the tent first.
The tent came in a taped up bag. Supposedly it was Chrl’s old tent but upon unrolling it it didn’t look familiar to her. It had all these variously long poles that we put together. We then had to figure out which snaps and which loops to pull these poles through. The thing didn’t come with instructions. It kind of started making sense when we decided on a plan. Putting this tent up is much easier with two of us working on it. It is a fairly large tent. The shorter poles attached to the side greatly increasing the volume of the tent. It’s actually quite spacious inside. We placed the tent on the least bumpy spot we could find. Then we put in our sleeping stuff and I began to build the fire.
It’s been dry here in Saskatchewan and even if it does rain it is either a bit of a drizzle from a passing cloud or a short intense rain burst that drops a bunch of moisture. The wood we were provided with was tinder dry and the fire pit they installed into the ground provided a safe place for the fire. We bought some wieners to heat over the fire as well as some fruit to munch on. We are only here for one night so we are keeping it simple. As we ate we made a plan to walk down to Manitou Beach and maybe brace the cold waters of the lake. The waters of this lake have legendary status. Back when settlers first arrived here to these parts they brought with them diseases that the population living here had no immunity to. As a result countless thousands or millions of indigenous people died as a result of contact with Europeans. One such group living here in these parts at that time tried to flee these settlements but was too sick to continue with their tribe. They stayed by the shores of the lake and bathed in its waters. They slowly got better and eventually rejoined their tribe crediting their survival to the magical properties of the waters in this lake. Indeed the lake is not a usual lake. It has high salinity meaning that there is a larger proportion of dissolved salts and minerals in the water. There is a hot spa by the lake but since it’s warm enough we were content with the natural lake itself.
The beach is just a little spit of sand. There were a few kids in the lake splashing around having a good time. A strong wind blew off of the lake and the local seagulls expertly glided past in search of any available food. We debated getting into the lake. It wasn’t cold but it also wasn’t that warm either. The wind that blew despite its intensity wasn’t particularly cold and it would probably contribute positively to drying us off. I decided to get into the water. It felt a bit chilly to the toe I dipped into the water. I looked back with a grin and said that it wasn’t that cold. Once that toe is in it is only a short move towards getting a whole foot in and then up to the knees. The process of immersing myself deeper slows considerably once I reach my pelvis. My body needs a bit more time to acclimate that area as I waited I turned around and saw Chrl dipping her own foot in the water. Then suddenly she charged in and dove into the shallow deep of the beach. I laughed and felt a bit sheepish with the top half of my body still dry. I dove in myself and as my body moved forward my hands encountered a big rock that was sticking up from the bottom. I’m glad I had my arms extended in front of me. It was as high as my knee from the bottom in three feet of water. It was nice to be immersed in this water and the rock was a reminder that one should always be careful.
We didn’t splash and swim for too long. Up on the beach we dried in the sun and wind as we watched the gulls perform their aerial maneuvers in search for sustenance. There were others on the beach. Small families out with their kids enjoying a break from wherever they’re from. A young girl tested the waters just like we did except that she didn’t make it far into the lake. Others went in and bobbed up and down with the waves from the wake of a passing boat. The body is a lot more buoyant in this lake. It was quite the peaceful experience on this beach but it had to end as we wanted to go and eat some more at our campsite.
The fire we had going before was out and Chrl volunteered to start the next one. The axe we bought was a bit too big for her to handle easily. I supervised but kept away from her as she swung the thing. She has done this before but a long while ago. We don’t have the best setup for chopping wood. No nice stump on which to place the log that is about to be chopped. She asked me to make some kindling as it would be faster. We are trying to get the fire going to warm us up a bit. I brought some paper to burn and used a stiff sheet to fan the flames. There isn’t much wind here at the campsite amongst all of the trees. We cooked and changed and I tried to get a cup of coffee going. We have amongst Chrl’s camping gear a pot for making coffee over the campfire. It’s one of those metal pots with a raised percolator basket. This set comes with cups and it has never been used. I wanted to know how long it would take to make coffee in it so I put it over the fire indirectly to see how long it would take to boil. After about fifteen minutes it boiled and about fifteen minutes later I checked on the coffee. It wasn’t nearly dark enough to drink yet. The sun was setting and we spied a hill from which to watch the setting sun. I topped up some water and set the pot to boil by the side and we went to the hill.
We walked across a field and straight up that hill. This little hill is higher than everything within sight. It is a good vantage point to explore the scenery all around us. A picnic table was conveniently located up top. I set up my phone to capture the sunset while Chrl drew me looking over the scenery. Watching this sunset gave us serenity and a sense of accomplishment. To us everything around here looked nice. The little cottages were small and quaint as is the town. We wondered if getting up in the morning we could see the sunrise.
Back at the campsite we revived the fire and listened to some music quietly. There were other campers here most of them in large RVs with some campsites louder than others. Each campsite had their own campfire and interesting conversations. We roasted marshmallows in a subtle game of roasting the perfect one. A perfect one has a thin crisp outer layer with a soft gooey centre. It almost falls off the stick when it’s ready. We watched the fire an ancient source of fascination. Our mastery of this process contributing to the development of our species. The conversations that people have had over campfires has charted the course of history before the written word. The time we were spending bonding over these flames illuminated by its soft reddish glow is worth treasuring. We laughed, we thought, we talked hatching a plan for the next day. I am so glad Chrl enjoys camping. We decided to get up in the morning and watch the sun rise into the sky. As we lay on our humble bedding trying to be comfortable we commented on the thumping music that played off in the distance…
When my eyes opened it was still way before the sun’s scheduled appearance. I began by starting the fire in order to make coffee. It wouldn’t be ready in time to drink up there on the hill while the sun rose. Chrl got up not too long after me. She wiped sleep from her eyes and made her way to wash up before our journey. We slowly and quietly made our way up the hill to watch the sunrise. These times we have spent together, this weekend along with all the others confirm my initial intuition I had about her. We get along well together working side by side, experiencing moments together, challenging each other. It’s moments like these that I bring up when negative anxiety passes through my consciousness like a stormy day during the week.
We hit upon a further idea! Since we have a car we can buy ourselves a freezer as well as getting groceries. Exciting I know but also very practical. Having a freezer would allow us to prepare a whole bunch of meals that would be ready to go when needed. The fridge can only hold so much. We packed up the car and headed back to the city. Even though it’s a national holiday for some the hardware store we chose was open early. We packed up and polished off the coffee which actually wasn’t too bad and headed off. I got to drive back and enjoyed it.
We found our new appliance. It is the first one that we have bought together as a couple. While we were waiting for the guys to get it down for us from the shelving we checked out some of the premium models that they had on display. Fridges have become quite complex hubs of activity. Having an integrated computer screen looks great as does the variety of different door options. We were getting a lowly boxy freezer that will serve us well. These other fridges are something that will be lusted over in the future. We looked at ourselves and laughed at the silliness of our conversation. It is one of the many instances of our maturity. #adulting
We bought the extended warranty and rolled the bad boy out of the shop into the parking lot. Is it going to fit in the car though? How heavy is it? Visually my mind plays Tetris with the blocks of stuff and space available. Somehow it is able to calculate if something will fit. It is usually pretty close in its estimation. The tough part is actually putting the thing into that place that is difficult. The fridge is neatly packed inside of a tough cardboard box. Moving the passenger seat forward a bit gives me just enough space to slip the box in on its side. It was a tight fit and the challenge was to avoid any damage to this rental.
We went to a giant grocery store next and bought a whole bunch of food including some bulk items that are annoying to carry on the bus. We commented about how nice it is to have a car. Truth be told this is one of the few times that we would be using it. We need a car for shopping and getting out of the city besides that it would just sit there in the parking space…
Once we got home it took three trips up the elevator to get everything up to our flat. Groceries, camping gear and the freezer all fit into this sedan. The next part is going to be unpacking and rearranging the sun room so that it can accept this new appliance. The place is still messy from the project. I should put on another layer of paint onto these shelves. The thing I decided to do was get a haircut. It wasn’t even noon yet. This getting up early is great. So much can be accomplished. I went out hoping to have a quick outing. Even though we have done a lot in the past few days it was nice to stretch out the olde legs. The place that I usually got my haircut was closed as the proprietor was away on vacation. They should have updated the oracle somehow. They said they were open 😩😒🤷♂️.
I walked to the mall where there is an upscale barber shop. I’m not one to go to such places but I was determined to have my hair trimmed today. The place was kind of busy with other men getting their hair trimmed. It feels like a day to be doing such things. Temptation to buy things was all around. I was looking at this cookbook that I read a review about when I got the call that they were ready for me. My stylist was a guy from Morocco. He told me the story of how he got here after we bonded over our time spent in the U.K. He used to drive lorries from Spain up to the U.K. and then drive things back. He said that everyone except for him went back. It was too cold. He likes it here and thinks that all the people are nice.
Back at the flat rearranging began in earnest. With the weather nice it was good to be able to take everything out and then put it all nicely back together again. We have somehow gained more space as a result. I had time to put another coat of paint onto the cabinets that I made. The sunset made for a nice backdrop. It was a really busy weekend. At the end of the day I felt tired. We both did. Chrl had a nap while I went out for my haircut. It was going to be an early morning then next day and even with the nap We both went to sleep a bit early. Time off has come to an end.