Spruce Woods Park Update – July 24, 2014


Reid Dickie

I took this picture of flood debris pushing against the highway sign in Spruce Woods Park on July 24, 2014.

According to the Manitoba Provincial Parks website, Spruce Woods is slowly regaining accessibility and use. Hwy #5 is open with one-lane traffic through the park.

Trails are accessible now including the Spirit Sands and the wagon rides. Marsh Lake is high and its trail is closed.

The lower Kiche Manitou campground is closed as is the interpretive centre and the access road. A detour has been set up that takes you to the upper campground and yurt area. The detour is about two miles south of the park.

Looks like Spruce Woods Park will be partially open for the summer long weekend.

Watch my 2 minute video report from the park on July 24.

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Filed under Parks, spirit sands

Images from Cooks Creek Medieval Festival 2014

Pictures by Reid Dickie



Watch my 4:39 video report on the 2014 Medieval Festival

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Carberry Heritage Festival 2014 – Updated



Reid Dickie

Carberry celebrates its rich heritage with the Second Annual Carberry Heritage Festival Friday and Saturday August 8 and 9, 2014. This year’s all-age festival features the return of some favourites from the inaugural event and a line-up of new entertainers and experiences. mark morriseau Events are free unless noted.

Returning for the Friday night old-time dance is extraordinary fiddler Mark Morisseau (left) and his band. Dance starts 7:00 Friday evening at Carberry Community Hall, 224-2nd Ave. Tickets are $15, light refreshments served. Click his pic for a preview.

On Saturday the Manitoba Muzzleloaders will be back in their buckskins demonstrating flint-lock long guns.

Friday events include an old-fashioned Strawberry Social at Drop-In Centre, 132 Main St. Sponsored by Carberry Plains Museum. $5. admission. Also a display about local WWI training camp, Camp Hughes.  Street buskers and artisans as well as walking tours of Carberry’s unique Heritage District, the only designated one in Manitoba, happen both days.christina

Scheduled for Saturday is an 2:30 pm performance by Christina the Crazy Hooper (right) who recently won a talent contest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. She’ll do a workshop with kids of all ages after the show. Bring your hula hoop. Other new performers on Saturday include a 3:30 pm grobbworkshop by Manitoba singer/songwriter Sheena Grobb (left).

Sheena and her band will also perform an evening concert with local Celtic musician Becky Nikolaisen as the warm-up act. Tickets are $10 adults, $6 youth under 12. At Community Hall, 7:00 pm.

New experiences on Saturday include a town tour in a carriage pulled by a team of heavy horses, a display of live heritage breed animals (chickens, swine, goats, cattle, etc.) and a display of hand-quilted treasures. Taste a variety of edible wild plants with botanist Laura Reeves at the Seton Centre.

On Saturday also expect street buskers, artisans, kids’ activities, antique flea market, Ernest Thompson Seton’s birthday party, walking tours of the town and cemetery, and much more.

To accommodate festival events, one block of Main Street will be closed to traffic. Events begin at 2:00 on Friday and 11:00 am on Saturday.

For family fun and warm country hospitality don’t miss Carberry’s Second Annual Heritage Festival Friday and Saturday August 8 and 9, 2014.

I’ll be attending both days and documenting the festival for my blog and YouTube channel. Check out my video report from last year’s festival.

Carberry is located 42 kms east of Brandon on the Trans-Canada Highway and 3 kms south on Hwy #5.

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Filed under Carberry, Festivals, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage

Medieval Festival at Cooks Creek

cooks 2014

Watch my video report from the 2012 festival.

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July 10, 2014 · 8:38 pm

Spruce Woods Park – July 9, 2014

Snapshot 1 (09-07-2014 8-13 PM)

Reid Dickie

My old buddy Terry and I went pickin’ blueberries along the TCH today and explored the current state of Spruce Woods Park. Mostly closed describes it today. The Assiniboine River rages right through the park, spilling its banks along both sides of Hwy #5 , challenging the entrance way to Spirit Sands despite the full blown work of a culvert. Then the flood travels north toward Marsh Lake which has risen noticeably since my visit there last Friday. The east side of the highway is a raging river covering fields as far as I could see. There was debris on the bridge over the Assiniboine indicating at least some water went over the bridge in the last 24 hours. The road is closed for good reason.

Kiche Manitou Campground is partially open. The lower campground and day use area are closed due to flooding or as a precaution. The upper campground and yurts are open and accessible from Hwy #2 and #5 and a gravel road detour. Watch for the signs. There is no campground access from the north.

Several trails have been closed due to flooding: Spirit Sands and Punch bowl Trails and Wagon Rides, Spring Ridge Self-guiding Trail, Isputinaw Self-guiding Trail and Canoe/Equestrian Campground #2.

Snapshot 3 (09-07-2014 8-14 PM)The Interpretive Centre, Pine Fort and beach are closed. If you go there, see campground office for programs still offered.

I shot video of the park today and on our return some of the Portage Diversion (above) on the TCH just west of Portage la Prairie. It is full!!


Filed under Flood, Parks, spirit sands

Hoop and Holler! Huh?

Reid Dickie

The Hoop and Holler Bend “last resort” release of water is spinning again in the heads of Manitoba’s disaster bureaucrats but it’s serious this time.

In 2011 a small cut was made in the bank of the Assiniboine to “take the pressure off the Assiniboine.” Less than 1000 cfs were released at the cut, making it more of a publicity stunt for a government facing reelection than flood mitigation.

The river is carrying more water this year than in 2011 and the bureaucrats are saying 5000 cfs will flow through the cut, quickly recreating Lord Selinger Lake on thousands of acres of planted cropland. The government thinks fiat flooding is better than uncontrolled flooding because it affirms the illusion they are in control of the situation. Nature still bats last.

This is from my May 15, 2011 post: The Hoop and Holler Bend, where the intentional breach was made, has an interesting history. Geographical Names of Manitoba says it was named for the “wild parties” held there. At one time back in pioneer days, a school sat near the site. It had an accompanying barn for the ponies and horses of students. The school was closed and moved but the barn remained and was used for barn dances and such. Often fights broke out between drunks at these dances and the neighbours could hear them “whooping and hollering,” thus the name. The barn was torn down or burned in the 1950s.

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Spruce Woods Park Flood Report July 2 to 4, 2014

FLOOD JULY 2 to 4 2014 pics 043

Reid Dickie


Just back from three days of flood recon with plenty to report about Spruce Woods Park. The picture above of the Hwy #5 bridge over the Assiniboine says it all, as of today.

However, this is a volatile situation with a surge of water coming down the Assiniboine River from Saskatchewan. No one is sure about the size or the speed of the surge but everyone is repairing. I spoke with parks people this afternoon and, to get this posted asap, I’ve bulleted the status points.

  • From the south Highway #5 is closed due to water over the road near the park;
  • Park access from the south is via a gravel detour off Hwy #5 that leads to the upper campgrounds and yurt area of the park, neither of which are being effected by the flood at this time. It’s the same detour used in 2011;
  • Park access from the north via Hwy #5 is open today including the road to Kiche Manitou campgrounds. This access is most likely to change if the flood is severe. The situation is rapidly developing;
  • The lower campground, bays 1 – 7, was evacuated on Wednesday morning as a precaution and remains closed at least until July 8;
  • The day use area has been closed as a precaution and some of the interpretive centre moved to the campground office;
  • The artists festival scheduled for this weekend at Spruce Woods Park has been cancelled due to uncertainty about the river;
  • The horse-drawn covered wagon rides to the dunes and punch bowl are accessible, working and in business. This is a memorable family experience;
  • Trails in the park are hikable including Spirit Sands/Punch Bowl, Hogs Back though Isputinaw, Epinette and Spring Ridge may have impassable low wet spots;
  • Marsh Lake remains at its normal level but there is water running into it from the river now. Its trail has many low-lying areas that will become very wet;
  • The Assiniboine River was measured this afternoon at the bridge in Spruce Woods and had risen somewhat in the last 24 hours;
  • If you go for a hike in the park watch for two glorious wildflowers in bloom right now. The wild rose, its pink cheeks beaming shyly from the greenery, are blooming as are the tiger-faced field lilies. Poison ivy abounds, especially around stairs and in shady spots along trails. Wear sensible shoes;
  • Everything that bites and flies is there. Protect yourself and do a full-body tick check on yourself and everyone with you after every hike.

Depending on the surge I plan to travel out to Spruce Woods next week for more recon.

I have uploaded to my YouTube channel a video report about the flooding at Spruce Woods. I’ve added a video about flooding in other Manitoba areas and a third video on the state of some of the rivers feeding the Assiniboine.

Any questions email me at linreid@mts.net

Stay tuned. Stay dry.

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Filed under Flood, Parks, spirit sands

Spruce Woods Park July 2, 2014

Reid Dickie

This is my first ever post from the road. Let’s see how difficult WordPress can make this. My intent today was to hike Spirit Sands and spend a leisurely day on the road. When I arrived at Hwy 5, the road had been closed, so the sign said. Close the deepest part of the Assiniboine valley, a barricade turned back traffic but I drove around the sign and found water eating away the asphalt and ditch, backed up like it was in the 2011 flood. I thought this is bad! Turning back down Hwy 5, I came up Hwy 340 north of Wawanesa. Though extremely high and fast, the river hadn’t flooded the road. Making the loop back to Spruce Woods via Hwys 1 and 5, I found the situation almost normal around the Marsh Lake/Spirit Sands area. One of the Conservation officers told me they evacuated the lower campground this morning, more as a precaution at this point. The upper campgrounds and yurts aren’t effected by the flood. Access is still available to the trails including Spirit Sands. I shot some footage of the park today and plan to return tomorrow to update everything. I’ll file that on Thursday evening. WordPress sucks!!

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Heritage Lost – Criddle/Vane House Burned Down by Arsonist(s)


 Reid Dickie

It’s gone!

On June 25, 2014, about 10:00 pm the Criddle/Vane house was completely destroyed in a “suspicious” fire.

I’m feeling sad and angry right now at this loss. Sad because we have lost a significant and unique piece of Manitoba history, a place that has become very personal to me in the last four years. Angry at the sicko arsonist(s) who set the fire. RCMP are asking for help with information about the blaze but if it was someone local, odds are good the arsonist will not be found. I’m also angry at the province for their lip-service to heritage and their continuous failure to protect it.

Like the Criddle/Vane families, their house had an exceptional genesis. When the families moved here from London, England in 1882 they survived the first winter in tents. Thereafter Percy Criddle and his sons set about building a log house using trees cut and hauled from the Spruce Woods area. Not much for house-building, it was a crude affair with little insulation against the raging weather. Nonetheless, the ever-growing family lived in it for 20 years.

After much designing and re-designing, costing out and more costing out, Percy decided his dream home would finally become a reality. Luckily a local carpenter, Mr. Harms, had extraordinary ability as a builder and set about constructing the new house. According to Percy’s specs, the house was to be 39.65 feet by 37.65 feet, 1493 square feet per floor!

The main floor would have a central hallway with the stairway on the right. The first room on the right was the parlour or games and billiards room as the families called it. Behind that was a huge dining room then left and back into the hall, the kitchen on the right with a rear entrance. The front room was the library filled with Percy’s collections.

Upstairs eight bedrooms, each with its own window, accommodated the whole family, 12 people at that time. Once Norman Criddle became world renown as an entomologist, various scientists and students would stay and study on the homestead. A two-room main floor addition, called the East Annex, was added to the house to accommodate the visitors.

In the spring of 1906 the family hauled the gravel for the new foundation from the Assiniboine River, about 2 miles away, as well as doing all the spring chores and planting. With Percy in charge of the project there was bound to be disagreements, which vexed Percy no end. In his own words from his diary, Percy rued, “Wish I’d put off building that cursed house for another year, brought me nothing but troubles, bickerings, muddlings and ill luck.”

Despite Percy’s rages, threats and impatience, the new house was completed by Mr. Harms and ready to occupy on November 28, 1906. An Exodus from the log house took place that day. Though keen to get into the new, weather-proof house, Percy did express fondness for the old log house in which Elise had died and his final four children were born.

At the same time, via Eaton’s mail order, the families received all new furniture for the house, the first that wasn’t home-made. Wallpaper and pictures went up on the walls, carpet covered the floors, civilization and luxury arose at St. Albans (Percy’s name for the homestead). It was a dream come true. As Mr. Harms continued to refine the interior of the house - building cupboards, decorative flairs and storage areas as required – the families settled in. Criddles occupied the house until 1960 with Maida and Evelyn the final occupants.

In my post four days ago, after visiting the Criddle/Vane homestead, I said not having access to the house doesn’t take away from the ambiance of the site. But not having the house at all will change the place permanently. As an icon of prairie survival and home to exemplary figures in Manitoba’s history, the Criddle/Vane house has few matches.  I will miss it terribly.

For my part, I am happy to have spent so many wonderful hours at and in the house, documenting it, getting a sense of how the family lived on a daily basis, imagining Percy at the organ singing and playing while his guests merrily danced around and around through the rooms and hallway.

It’s gone. It’s not right.

You can still take my 3:55 personal tour of the interior of the house.


Filed under Architecture, Fires, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers

Watching the River Flow – New Fiction

Reid Dickie

Supper’s ready! Oh you’re here. Black pepper or peppercorn?

Black, black, black. You always ask me the same question and I always have the same answer.

All right all right!

The only reason you ask me that every suppertime is because in 1978 I said I had heard that fresh ground pepper was more flavorful. Since then you have asked me that same question every…

Was that 1978? Good Lord, how time flies when you’re having fun.

And since then, in the last 10,000 years, have I ever taken peppercorn? Ever?

Never. You never have.

But you keep asking and asking and…

I do. At first it was out of love so you could have a choice. Then I did it out of habit as we settled into those. Then out of spite, and now, I don’t know why I do it at all. Just for the fun of it. I haven’t a clue, really.

Here’s a clue for you. I rented the land.

You what?

I rented the land and I’m retiring from farming.

Suddenly he’s a comedian. I have a comedian in my kitchen. My thighs are sore from being slapped from the funny stuff.

I rented the land to the Broxton boys and Reg Decker.

Those assholes! You rented our land to those inbred feeble-minded Broxtons? And Decker? He’s an alky from way back. You rented our land and decided to retire without talkin to me about it?!!

It’s time.

Time for what?

I’m tired.

Tired of what?

Tired of thinking about fucking pesticides and herbicides and crop varieties that have idiot made-up names and seventeen numbers after them. Every year there are dozens of new products to “make farming easier” that I’m supposed to learn about.  I’m tired of thinking about Monsanto and all the other vultures that circle endlessly over our land. I’m sick to fucking death of dealing with overpriced machinery that doesn’t ever do what it’s supposed to do. I am tired of feeding rich fucking banksters their exorbitant interest rates. I have put in my quota of sleepless nights wondering if the weather will hold for seeding, then for combining, worrying if the prices will hold but knowing they are set by some greasy suit a hundred floors above reality in some smelly downtown. I’m tired of living the lies required of us and I’m tired of getting out of bed in the morning to keep those lies afloat. So when you get this tired the only thing to do is re-tire, get out of the way of the world and be yourself.

That’s quite a speech.

There’s more.

There always is.

I’m wanna stop thinking about satisfying corporate bullshit, about the weather forecast and the fucking survey companies calling at the height of our year.

I deal with most of those! I’ve always been polite but firm but they still call back for you, the decision maker, sometimes three or four times a day.

Don’t you see, stuff is happening to us real fast at this moment? I changed everything for us and I’m just letting you in on it now to see how you’d do. You’re doing great.

Shut the fuck up!

Oh…my…Lord! Expect brimstone, expect Armageddon on a Shetland pony, Bernice Calmchoir said the big Fucking F word for the first fucking time in her fucking life! Hooooo leeee Fuck!

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! It’s much more fun to say than to do. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!


Do you want a divorce? What?! No, I don’t want a divorce but if it’d make life simpler for you Bernie, try it. See how you like it.

Now that you’re retired then, what are you going to do all day?

Watch the river flow.

What river?

The river of life, ma dear, the river of life.

The river of life? Did someone replace the real Artie Griffin with a robot in the barn today?

You know the river I mean. You’ve watched it out the kitchen window for years and often commented on how nice it is to be able to see the passing world. The river! The TCH. The Trans Canada Highway that is exactly 342 yards from here. The river of life.

What ivory tower do you plan to watch this river from, dear?

Coy never did work for you Bernie. Too big boned for coy. The kid’s school bus shack, of course, will be my new ivory tower. It’s right out there on the highway. I plan to add a second floor, a cooler for cold beer, some flags, some girlie magazines and binoculars for wildlife, you know.

Girlie magazines! Do they still work for you?

Maybe. We’ll just have to see.

You can see. What I see is the headline: Retarded farmer arrested for masturbating on the Trans Canada Highway.

You mean, retired farmer.

Ummmm. Please say this is all a joke, Artie. Please say that.

Can’t Bernie. It’s not a joke. It’s our new reality. Retired life. No money problems, no more seasons to sow, no seasons to reap, no more there is a time for any fucking thing, Bernie. Now there is time for everything. A time for us. We’re free, free as fucking birds, Bernie. Let’s fly!

And you want to spend retirement jerking off in the bus shack in front of traffic going by at 120 kms an hour, am I right?

Let go of the masturbation theme please. Not going to happen. I just need time to reflect, to go inside myself and find out what’s actually in there after trying to avoid and deny it for so many years. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

I’d better sit down. Someone quoted Socrates in my kitchen and it was you!

Socrates belongs in the kitchen.

Hello, hello, sir, umm, who are you? Where did Artie go?

It’s the new way, Bernie. Expect the unexpected. We could travel.

We don’t travel. You remember why we don’t travel or has that fallen through your Socrates sieve?

Let’s see, dearest. We traveled in 1565 together on a ship from Belfast, which was called Pleasantville then, to the high Arctic where we ticked off several species of pink-legged gulls and horked up some tainted seal with the rest of the walruses. Of course I remember.

You truly don’t remember it. You have erased it from the blackboard of your life like so many other things, like our children. We almost killed the children the last time we traveled.

Here we go. The GD children again!

Yes, the GD children again! Don’t you think Evan and Rachel want a say in what happens to the farm they grew up on, the land that spawned their interests and their substantial abilities.

First, Evan is a dentist who makes nine hundred grand a year in Toronto, has three kids and a house he paid seven million for. Second, Rachel is married to a huge Samoan man and they live naked on a beach in the south Pacific somewhere. Do you know where Rachel lives?

I don’t, exactly.

My point being, Bernie, neither of our precious offspring, the fruits of our commingling loins, the spawn of our double-down dirt farm are remotely interested in or concerned about what happens to the five square miles of sandy loam they escaped as quickly as they could, “like a bullet from a gun,” as Tom Waits has put it.

They vanished, didn’t they? Our children just vanished.

They’ll call someday, maybe even today.

No they won’t.

You’re right, Bernie. They won’t. Fuck ‘em.


Fuck ‘em! Do you know how much our farm is worth?

In dollars?

No. In cow plop and twitchgrass. In good old lumpy Canadian dollars, of course? Take a guess.

Ummm…four hundred thousand.

Good guess dearie. Way low however. Up it.

Okay, one million and seven dollars.

Tepid. Stab again.

Two and a half million?

Your eyes are getting wider. Higher.

Don’t make me guess anymore. Just tell me. I’m not sure I’m going to believe what you are about to say.

Okay. I had Fred Oakley from Oakley Realty come out a few months back. You know Fred.

I do. He seems an honest chap. Thelma and me were in W.I. together.

Fred gave me an estimate of what we could get for the whole shebang: land, house, buildings, even the kid’s school bus shack and it blew my socks off, Bernie. We are in a prime real estate location right now, have been for years and will continue to be. Fred did a thorough walkabout of the property, noting all its qualities and benefits. He compared land sale prices in the region and arrived at a figure. When he told me, he was very dramatic about it. You know how he is. Anyway, he had a big smile on his face when he said, “I’m going to write a number on this clipboard.” So he wrote something down and turned it toward me. I couldn’t believe it! Then he said, “That’s just a number. I could get this amount for your property tomorrow.” He wrote something again, turned it toward me.

And…what did it say?!

I’ll write it down just like Fred did. The first number was two and a half million. The second number, the real value of our farm, is this.

Oh! Oh, Artie! Oh, no! Someone will pay us five million dollars for this dump?! I don’t believe you!

Believe it, sweetie. Ask Fred.

That changes everything.

I hoped you’d see it that way. But that’s not all.


We’ve saved for our blessed retirement in various ways for years and we have a substantial nest egg growing like radiation in our futures as we speak.

We talked about it a few years back and you said it was around half a million.

That was a lot of years ago, sweets. Today our investments outside the farm total about four million bucks. We’ve been very successful savers.

So we have. Yet we have never wanted for anything, nothing.

Altogether you and I are worth about nine million bucks. You seem a little stunned dearie.

More than a little. I need to sit down.

We are rich. You are rich. I am rich. We’ve succeeded where thousands of others failed. Out here on the forever Canadian plains we ascended from green newlyweds in our late teens to multi, as in mull tie, millionaires. Let’s not tell the kids, shall we?


No, dearie. You said it, our children have vanished.

And you said, Fuck ‘em.

And I still say, Fuck ‘em. This is our money. Let’s live it up.

Then live it down?

Maybe. Or we could do good in the world.

Such as?

Such as the new church roof. They have gotten desperate to finish the fundraising and are just 12 grand short. Let’s contribute that much. We could donate it anonymously. I’ve always wanted to be Anonymous. Now you think of a way we could do good with our money. The GD kids are going to get what’s left anyway so sky’s the limit.

I’d like to give twenty five thousand to Emily’s Animal Rescue Centre in town. She’s found a new building that’s over her budget and we can make that happen for her and the animals she saves. It’ll be anonymous, too. Okay?

Okay. As much as I think Emily is a straw-for-brains flake, let’s give her the cash. Your turn.

We’ve spent 37 thousand so far.

It’s much too early to start keeping track. Be creative, pudding man.

Jesus, you haven’t called me pudding man for years.

Decades, actually.

Why did you call me that? I don’t think I ever knew.

You never knew! Really! I always called you that and you never, ever, I mean never fucking ever knew what it meant!

I shoulda thought about it, I guess. And whoa with the new word, honeybuttons.

Finally you get curious. Wanna know?


You had what I always wanted, really the only thing I wanted from you, the only thing I needed.

Really? What was that?

You’re a hoot! What you had was the pudding, the sperm, the creepy crawly ones that my little eggs needed to make the babies. The babies were all I ever wanted. I never wanted much more from you. We raised the babies and they fled us. But you were my pudding man with the sweet juice to incite my ychies into action.

You wanted me just for my precious man fluid and nothing more? Is that what you mean?

I liked to watch you naked. You were a beautiful specimen of a man, a young man. Your mother was an excellent cook and your father worked you like a slave. Your body was hard everywhere. Remember the time when we just moved onto the farm. I was big with Evan. Somehow we’d just screwed on the porch swing, God knows how, and it started to rain. You ran naked into the yard and danced in the downpour with lightning flashing all around and thunder rolling across the night sky, singing. I don’t remember the song. You sang and danced smiling at me like a wild man, your perfect body made translucent by the changing light. Do you remember that?

She shines with her own kind of light.


Kentucky Woman. She shines with her own kind of light. The song I sang in the naked rain.

Yes. That’s it. Ha!

You were a hot babe, glowing with our baby. Sometimes that night the lightning reversed the world into negative turning you into an angelic presence, hovering over my silly dangly dance but, still, you laughed.

Yes, you made me laugh. I laughed and laughed. You were beautiful, funny and in love.

Wow, Bernie, beautiful, funny and in love. I’m still all three of those after, lo, these many moons, doncha think?

As am I, syrup boy. And to prove our ever-lasting beauty, we should do something we’ve never done before. Let’s strip and eat naked!

C’mon. Bernie, stop taking your clothes off. We’re eating, for chrissake!

So! I am eating naked. We’re free now, free as fucking birds, if I remember your exact words. So I’m being free, doing something I’ve never done before. There. I am beautiful naked! See. Look at my fifty-nine year-old body. Look at my old dugs, drooping and large, sucked dry by life and gravity. Look at my belly. It cascades like pure white butter. Look at the dark hairy house of our spawn. The span of my ass is matched only by the span of my thighs and my feet hurt all day. Now you, strip down, Artie. Let’s see the ongoing beauty of your sixty-one year-old tank.

You are just crazy enough, Bernie.

Whoa, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you take your clothes off that fast! You’ve started some kind of avalanche of change for us, Artie, and I’m not going to stop it, can’t stop it.

Watch me eat naked, Bernie. Still like what you see, even without the lightning?

I do, Artie. We are both soft where we once were hard, and hard where we were soft. It all comes out in the wash. I like your little paunch as much as you like my saggy boobs. I like your empty scrotum as much as you like the expansive black bush of my vagina. I like your permanent farmer’s tan as much as you like my tasty meatloaf.

Your meatloaf hasn’t changed, honey pumpkin. It’s still as meaty and tomatoy as ever. Moist, warm, concedes to my tongue with easy grace and lofty aftertaste.

Everything tastes wonderful when you are naked.

Ha, ha, Bernie, you vixen!

We’re doing something we’ve never done before, Artie! After 10,000 years together we can still find new things to do together. It’s a miracle!

This could just be the start of doing new things together. We should reconsider traveling, just the two of us, no kids to risk death with. I’ve always wanted to see Tahiti.

We’d never have to wear any clothes in Tahiti.

With our bodies, they’d deport us!

Ha, Artie! Seriously, I’m frightened.

Don’t be scared Bernice. I promise not to jump your old bones at the dinner table despite your alluring nakedness.

That’s the last thing I’m frightened of. I’m afraid of…so much change.

Change is the only thing we can count on happening.

I wish you’d discussed all this with me before making your final decree and renting the land to those yahoos.

You resent me for making the decision.

I feel disrespected, Artie. All these years we’ve lived together, eat together, slept together, cried together, laughed together, all that stuff that makes up a life, none of that mattered to you. You just went ahead without me. Am I as irrelevant to you as the kids are, Artie?

No, you’re not. We did our jobs with the kids. We made good kids who are successful elsewhere. Our lives aren’t over because the kids are gone and we are staring at each other across the dinner table as usual…well, not quite as usual. Bernice, I respect you and I love you. It’s our turn to live, naked and free!

Okay, Artie. I hope we’re charging the Broxtons and Decker an arm and a leg to rent our land?

An arm, a leg, a knee and an elbow, too. It’ll be good cash flow for us.

So Artie, next stop Tahiti?

Watching you eat naked has given me some bedroom thoughts, Bernie so how about bedroom first then Tahiti?

Works for me.

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Filed under Fiction

Criddle/Vane House Now Off Limits


Reid Dickie

A couple of years ago I wondered when the vandalism in the Criddle/Vane house would get so bad the place would be shuttered and no longer open to the public. That time has arrived.

On my first visit of the year to the homestead yesterday I noticed the usual well-kept grounds, trails groomed and accessible, everything as expected except for one thing: the huge eight-bedroom Criddle/Vane house has been boarded up, as you can see in the picture above. All the doors and windows are now covered with plywood and there is no interior access to the house. The same is true of the second laboratory.

I have documented the interior condition of the house several times on this blog and YouTube channel. The vandalism is obvious and heart-breaking, especially so for Paul Criddle, one of the few Criddles still living in the area. (Paul is Talbot Criddle’s first born.)  Paul, who lives in Brandon, said the vandalism required the house to be better protected. The parks people concurred and it was closed up this spring. Paul would like to see a seven-foot fence erected around the house as well. 020 The picture above shows the house unshuttered and accessible.

The homestead is a provincial heritage park and thus maintained by the parks people. I commend them for their consistent work in keeping the site clean and mowed and also for the new signage around the park. By explaining the events along the trail, the signs give a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Criddle/Vanes and how exceptional these pioneers were. From the golf course to tennis courts, hybrid plant gardens to entomology labs, weather station to family cemetery, the new documentation details it all.

Although the house is inaccessible, it takes little away from the ambiance of curiosity and kindness that pervades the site. Walk the trails, relive the lives of nine children and three adults who spent their first Manitoba winter housed in two flimsy tents with little to eat, see the foundations of their first log homes, browse through the little family cemetery under the giant spruce tree and capture the essence of an era modern people find difficult to comprehend. CriddleBigHouse The above picture shows the Criddle/Vane house in a dilapidated condition when the site became a provincial heritage park in 2004.

One way to still see inside the house is to take my 3:55 personal guided tour of the interior of the Criddle/Vane house. Watch it on YouTube.

Norman painting A few miles south of the homestead in the Sipiweske Museum in Wawanesa you can see Percy Criddle’s telescope, some of the family’s elegant clothing, their home made golf clubs and balls, some of Norman’s original paintings and a raft of other memorabilia from a family worth remembering.

This painting of wild roses was done by Norman Criddle who usually painted out in the field or from memory. A replica of Norman’s entomology lab, the first in western Canada, stands at the homestead.

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Filed under Heritage Buildings, Houses, Manitoba Heritage, Museum, Pioneers

Punch Bowl at Spruce Woods Park


Reid Dickie

Linda took this picture of the punch bowl at Spruce Woods Park about 15 years ago. The hike to and from the punch bowl is rather daunting at 7 km return so we only went there twice.

Naturally forming in wet sand dunes, small eerie-coloured ponds, called punch bowls, usually display a blue-green opalescence. To exploit the rarity and strangeness of the site, propeller-head tourism bureaucrats at the province mulled and mulled. Finally, in a stroke of sheer dumb PR, the pools were deemed the Devil’s Punch Bowl. That’s a load of BS, of course, as well as being a ridiculous and, once you see the pool, disappointing demonization.


Filed under Linda, Natural Places, Parks, spirit sands

Shirty Upclues

Heidi Ho Blubbers and Blabbers,

It’s your old pale ale pal Shirty with an upclue for you.

Two consecutive #1 hits have made Tapioca Hot Tub the new darlings of the Fidgety Set, especially boys 11 and 12 which is due largely to the stackability of Mauve Mavis, the band’s sumptuous grip and hover player. Says MM about her special demographic, “Rotate your hands, babies.”

Sheila, the ever-honest, gravity-defying music reviewer, has proven to the world that the energy and power of promotion pays off big time and can make even the least stand out amid the musical squalor of the 21st century!

Meaning that The Taps hold down #1 again on the Brain Failure Top Ten with their ditty Calypso Mind Control. Click the pic below to hear Sheila review all the Top Ten. Snapshot 1 (17-06-2014 7-49 PM) Some say it was the tune’s gruesome video that propelled it to the top slot. I contend that my promotional stunt of having the band live in a tent on top of a cell phone tower for a week decided the tune’s happy fate. It received international news coverage.

The downside, I guess, is the band were all fried with complete collapse of brain functions and a spate of radiation poisoning symptoms. The silver lining is their condition has not affected their musical abilities and they all said they had the best cell reception ever that week.

My success with THT has garnered me a new gig. I am now the Canadian Market Seepage Party Planner for a brand new beer called Idaho Strong Arm brewed by Burpage Brewery in Squinch, Idaho. The hook with Idaho Strong Arm is you can use it as a deodorant, too.

They want everybody to get hammered on their beer real soon so I’m inviting everyone who reads this to attend an Idaho Strong Arm party. Free beers for hours and hours. The bash is at the Come If You Can Party Rooms in the new Shifting Shoulders Motor Hotel in Squash Squander Heights Condomartmall at Levi and Levon. Some highlights of the party that may linger with you for days afterwards include:

  •  a dip in the clothing-optional pool for a swim with Gary, the mutant chlorine dolphin;
  • the exotic and adventurous buffet from Jimmy Crack Corn where you can taste their stacked venison, swallow dropping and zebra cheese panini. You won’t find that at Tim Horton’s!
  • sway to the mellow tones of our strolling musicians:
  • Arden, the deaf accordionist;
  • the Slinky Sisters who are “as musical as Tourettes gets,”
  • Thragund Stlyth who is blonde, Belgian, 16 and plays the sitar like a mofo;
  • the climax of the evening is the world premiere performance of a new stage play by Edgy Ernst Angster called The Haunted Dresses: A Wardrobe in Search of a Cast. Empty costumes reveal their inner longings and outer shortfalls. Special appearances by Cotton Wrinkles, a self-ironing shirt, as The Uncreaseable; and a gay army boot named Loose Laces as The Anti-Uncreaseable. New cutting edge Empathetic Fabric Technology EFT makes it all possible.
  • plus, there’s bound to be a few strange things at the party, too.

Hope you can fit it in.

I found clown footprints around my roses!!

Colour between the lines,


Read Shirty’s previous email.


Filed under Guff, Humour, Music

Of Pomegranates and Southern Wild

Reid Dickie

Recent movies on my monitor include these two unique visual adventures. beasts 1Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Once there was a Hush Puppy and she lived with her daddy in The Bathtub. Seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl, this mesmerizing meditation on the meaning of home and family took me someplace I’d never been before. I’ve watched it three times and each time it draws me into its breaking and broken world – a small land mass off the Louisiana shore known as The Bathtub that’s being drowned by the rising ocean.

Beasts of the Southern Wild - 6

The lead actors, nine-year-old Quvenzhane Willis as Hush Puppy and Dwight Henry as Wink, her dying alcoholic father, give seamless convincing performances. Due to her astonishing performance, in 2012 Willis became the youngest actor ever nominated for a best actress Oscar. Films rarely glimpse into a child’s world, watching her gather knowledge and mythology, as intensely and sensitively as Beasts of the Southern Wild. Plus it has aurocks! Don’t miss this one.

Watch it free at http://putlocker.is/watch-beasts-of-the-southern-wild-online-free-putlocker.html

color pomogranates The Color of Pomegranates (1968)

Filmed in the Soviet Union in 1967/ 68, director Sergei Parajanov tells the life story of 16th century Armenian poet Sayat Nova in a series of surreal tableaux. I was immediately drawn into the  dream-like quality and unpredictability of the unorthodox images. There is no camera movement and no dialogue. Nova’s poetry accompanies the images along with wild sounds and music. Bizarre scenes arise and fade, the realm of dreams rules and sometimes the bright glowing edges of dreamless sleep break through the darkness.

I was reminded of Fellini, especially Satyricon (which came out the year after Color of Pomegranates) and Roma; and Jodorowsky, both El Topo and The Holy Mountain (both post-Color). The startling image of the man with the peacock beak in his mouth (above) is but one of dozens of quizzical and enthralling images in The Color of Pomegranates.

Much of the visual content is based on traditional Armenian folklore, design and clothing and stylized to make it feel alien yet comfortable. Horses, books and antlers are prominent motifs. colorIts 73-minute length makes it just long enough to stay focused on both the style and the story. The actors of all ages are convincing, the subtitles sparse but adequate and the soundtrack wonderfully diverse and curious.

Take a short vacation and watch it free at https://archive.org/details/ColorOfPomegranates-SayatNova1968

The Color of Pomegranates is on archive.org which has hundreds of other feature length films spanning the silent era through to the 21st century, along with shorts and trailers, all available to watch free. Classic films in most genres are just a click away. https://archive.org/details/feature_films

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Filed under 1960s, Film

Found Sound & Vision

Snapshot 1 (13-06-2014 1-27 PM)

Reid Dickie

Thanks to freesound.org and numerous online archives that offer free footage, I created several short videos over the long winter. This one is called Maybe. It’s the usual moody guff. 3:12 long.

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Filed under Art Actions, Guff, video art

Have you found Jesus?

have you

Last week these two guys, I’m pretty sure, came to my door and asked me the same question. I said, “Nope. Keep lookin’, boys” and closed the door. They went away. My friend David sent this today.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Humour

Festive Food 1959

FOOD 19590001 Canada Packers Festive Feasting recipe booklet in garish unappetizing 1959 colour includes recipes for Sage Party Piggies, Cheese Candle, Wiener Cocktail Bits and the gag-inducing Ham Rolls in Aspic. Start planning your retro holiday menu now! Click pics to enlarge if you dare.FOOD 19590002   FOOD 19590003 FOOD 19590004 FOOD 19590005 FOOD 19590006 FOOD 19590007 FOOD 19590008

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Filed under 1950s, Guff

Inside Birtle Indian Residential School 2014


Reid Dickie

Perched on the edge of the Birdtail River valley above Birtle, MB stands the ruins of an Indian residential school. Built in 1930, this two- and three-storey red brick and limestone building was the third residential school in the town. The 1882 school burned down in 1895. The 1895 school, near this site, was demolished and replaced with the present building. Closed in 1972 and largely abandoned to the elements since, today the place is a fascinating shambles. In June 2014 I took pictures and video of the school inside and out. BIRTLE 005Smashed glass brick basement windows. Thoroughly vandalized, there are few unbroken panes of glass left on the building. BIRTLE 002Rear view of the building.  BIRTLE 004Appropriate graffiti on old shed next to school. BIRTLE 030The facade of the three-storey section of  school.  BIRTLE 010Smooth limestone pointed arch over the front entrance.  BIRTLE 029Just inside the front door looking out.  BIRTLE 025Remains of a colourful mural on the wall inside the front door.  BIRTLE 028Hallway to large auditorium. BIRTLE 014Ice cube trays on a decomposing couch with evidence of fire on the floor. Several small areas in the building have been blackened by fire but it’s mostly masonry with little to burn.   BIRTLE 012Well-graffitied auditorium.   BIRTLE 019Ruined elegance. Once-stylish over-stuffed armchair now oversees the peeling of the floor tiles.BIRTLE 024Bird’s nest atop hanging metal ceiling fragment.  Pigeons, robins and swallows use the place to roost and nest.BIRTLE 021The one remaining unbroken urinal in the building.   BIRTLE 023View out third floor window of pretty little Birtle in the valley below.


This archival picture shows the school not long after it was built in 1930.

For a more sensual experience of the place, click here to view my five and half minute video tour of the school.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Schools

First Spirit Sands Hike 2014

yellow hoary puccoons and mauve avens

Reid Dickie

The humidity drove the temperature above 30 degrees today which proved perfect weather for a sauna-like hike on the Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Park. As I arrived the horse-drawn covered wagon ride was just ending for a group of enthusiastic elementary school kids from the Cartwright/Mather area.

Because of our late spring all the wildflowers along the trail are a month behind. Usually in bloom by late April, the hoary puccoon and three-fingered avens (bright yellow puccoons and pale mauve avens in pic above) are just now coming into blossom. Lots of colour among the emerging grass from field and shade violets, anemone  and white velvets, colloquial names for lovely little blooms. Out on the dunes the odd sand dock offered its shy colours. The trees were full of birdsong tempered by the occasional welcome breeze to cool the skin. As usual, today the sands were at least 5 degrees hotter than the lowland around them.

The last few days, as I tweak a screenplay to complete its second draft, I’ve had the nagging feeling I should be doing something I’m not. Not something in the future, but right now. The drive to Spruce Woods and the hike to the sands cured that feeling. I found my antidote yet again along the sandy trail among the old spruce and on the hot sand.

There is talk of plowing up the overgrowth on the sand dunes to give them more of a WOW factor. Today I got the idea to create a video of the areas that could be de-forested, so to speak, to return the sands to a pre-growth condition. I’ll shot it on my next visit.

Thank you Great Spirit for another perfect day.

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Filed under Natural Places, Parks, spirit sands

I Am Aspen Smoke

Wolfen now

Reid Dickie

I am Aspen Smoke. I am finished.

So begins my flash fiction yarn that explains death using found footage of wilderness and wolves.

Click the pic to watch the 4:39 video, to hear the story, to know.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Critters, Death and Dying, Natural Places, Spirit