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Victoria, My Father and All of His Tobacco, They Loved You

Reid Dickie

Today is Victoria Day in Canada, a national holiday celebrating the life of Queen Victoria and her huge contribution to Canada! Okay…ummm.

To celebrate the occasion, in my heading I slightly reword Leonard Cohen for dramatic flare. Treason, you say? Now do you see the extremes we will go to celebrate Queen Vickie’s influence on our country? For the record the first line of Cohen’s Queen Victoria from his album Live Songs, released on April Fool’s Day, 1973,  is “Queen Victoria, My father and all his tobacco loved you.”

And here’s the rest of the lyrics:

“I love you too in all your forms, the slim and lovely virgin floating among German beer, the mean governess of the huge pink maps, the solitary mourner of a prince.
“Queen Victoria, I am cold and rainy, I am dirty as a glass roof in a train station, I feel like an empty cast iron exhibition, I want ornaments on everything, because my love, she gone with other boys.
“Queen Victoria, do you have a punishment under the white lace, will you be short with her, will you make her read those little Bibles, will you spank her with a mechanical corset. I want her pure as power, I want her skin slightly musty with petticoats will you wash the easy bidet out of her head?
“Queen Victoria, I’m not much nourished by modern love, will you come into my life with your sorrow and your black carriages, And your perfect memories.
“Queen Victoria, the Twentieth Century belongs to you and me. Let us be two severe giants not less lonely for our partnership, who discolour test tubes in the halls of Science, who turn up unwelcome at every World’s Fair, heavy with proverbs and corrections, confusing the star-dazed tourists with our incomparable sense of loss.” Hear Cohen sing his dirge. Sing along.

That’s the view of our dear Queen Vickie from a straight Montreal Jew. Now let’s check in with a young British bisexual from North London, Ray Davies of the Kinks, for his take on Queen-Vic-Wah with the lead-off track from the Kinks 1969 concept album, the very brackety Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), called Victoria, a much less sombre ditty:

“Long ago life was clean. Sex was bad and obscene. And the rich were so mean. Stately homes for the Lords Croquet lawns, village greens Victoria was my queen Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria
I was born, lucky me. In a land that I love. Though I am poor, I am free. When I grow I shall fight For this land I shall die Let her sun never set Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, toria
Land of hope and gloria Land of my Victoria Land of hope and gloria Land of my Victoria Victoria, ‘toria Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria
Canada to India Australia to Cornwall Singapore to Hong Kong From the West to the East From the rich to the poor Victoria loved them all Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria Victoria, Victoria, Victoria” Hear the Kinks sing it.

Rather than singing tributes to Miss Vickie, Canadians usually celebrate the first long weekend of the summer with beer, fireworks, the previously-mentioned mechanical corsets (available every summer weekend at the flea market in Watrous, SK) and blood rituals at sunset and sunrise.

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Filed under Humour, Idiots, Momentous Day, Music

Journeys of the Heart, Journeys of the Soul

Reid Dickie

“Do not think you will necessarily be aware
of your own enlightenment.” – Dogen

My new life purpose has been revealed to me with great clarity during my travels this summer. In a few words, one part of my current life purpose is to learn and be hurled into new experiences then to report what happened with honesty, without proselytization. That is what this blog aims to achieve.

Another part is helping other Old Souls find their clarity, their purpose. Spirit has given me three incredible Old Souls whom I am honoured to assist with their life work. All men, of various ages spanning two decades, my “suns” as I have come to call them, bring vast richness, comfort and energy into my life. I thrive on that and I am grateful everyday for their presence in my purpose.

Wind and rain sculpt the soft sandstone of Castle Butte in southern Saskatchewan

Most Old Souls spend much of their life soul building; for some, life is only about soul building. This is another part of my current purpose. The long trips into the Saskatchewan hinterland have given me the stimulus, the space and the solitude necessary to reclaim my humanity, to proceed with my personal evolution in a world dead set on stealing my humanity from me. Since shamanism begins at Nature mysticism and moves outward from there, my time surrounded by raw Nature enchants my soul, quickens my evolution and drives my purpose. I get healed! I get happy!

People I encountered this summer have surprised me with their understanding and  acceptance of my spiritual needs. I think of octogenarian tour guide from Coronach, SK, Tillie Duncan, who told me she meets people all the time who do ritual at these places so “you’re not the only one, Reid.” I was heartened to know that bit of information and humbled by her gracious silence while I did my small rituals.

At Jack’s Cafe in Eastend, SK, over a long breakfast as I scribbled in my journal, I noticed a 30ish local couple across the aisle eying me repeatedly. When they rose to leave, she came over and said to me, “Are you a cop?” I smiled and said I wasn’t. “Well, you got something, some kinda power.” Her husband stood behind her, nodding and smiling strangely. “Do I make you nervous?” I asked. They agreed I didn’t. She sputtered a bit and said, “You make me feel…” She was grasping for the word and surprised herself it was so simple. “You make me feel happy!” We all laughed and I told them it makes me happy to make them happy and to have the best day they’d had in a long time today. I’m sure they did. He kissed her as they were leaving, giving the old town codgers gathered in Jack’s for their morning coffee something else to gossip about.

Weathered farm house built about 1905 in Big Muddy area of southern Saskatchewan

I get enormous satisfaction knowing that I have incited several people to travel to sacred places this summer, to personally explore themselves within the context of ancient aboriginal holy sites. For some, it has been life-changing. I hope to get permission to share a few of their stories with you on my blog.

I plan to keep the mighty Avenger for a few more weeks as I have a long list places to visit and record around Manitoba. Thank you for watching my videos and being my passenger on some of my travels. Many more miles ahead, the curious and the arcane await us. Stay tuned! Be happy!

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Filed under Blog Life, Day Tripping, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, Soul Building

Saskatchewan Flood Report #1

Reid Dickie

After receiving over 120 mm (about 5 inches) of rain in two days, Weyburn, SK is under a state of emergency due to flooding downtown, failure of their water treatment plant and continuing heavy rains.

City water has been declared undrinkable and dangerous with a boiling directive in place. I stayed in Weyburn at the Canalta Inn and Suites on Sunday night, arriving late afternoon about the same time as a thunderstorm with heavy rains began. It rained most of the night as over two dozen pumps and fire trucks tried to move water from the south side of Hwy #39 to the north side so it can drain into the Souris River. Emergency vehicles sped past my room all night. The flood arrived quickly and thoroughly in Weyburn. Most downtown businesses were closed with Boston Pizza being one of the few exceptions. Bottled water was scarce, even Wal-Mart ran out. The look of concern on the face of the front desk clerk at the hotel spoke volumes about the local worry. They weren’t renting rooms on the first floor that night “just in case.”  

Down the road in Estevan, SK things are getting worse. I stayed in Estevan at The Derrick on Monday night. A small lake formed behind the hotel and inched slowly toward the building while it rained all night. A trailer park has been completely evacuated, homes have been lost, both dams that face into the city are under the duress of unequalled amounts of water and it continues to rain. Boundary Dam holds back the water of Long Creek and is Sask Power’s largest thermal generating station and the largest lignite coal-burning station in Canada. The Rafferty Dam holds back the Souris River forming the gigantic Rafferty Reservoir which stretches northwest for 57 kms. Both dams are at their max as far as volume of water in their reservoirs. To relieve some of the pressure on the dams, record amounts of water are being released from both dams. This water becomes the Souris River. Estevanians fear that if either dam breaches, the city is in big trouble real quick. Highway #47 south of Estevan is closed due to flooding as is Highway #18 west of Estevan. 

Meanwhile, just downstream from Estevan and the dam outlets is the little village of Roche Percee, situated on the banks of the engorged Souris River. 180 people have been evacuated and at least half the homes in the low-lying portion of the village are believed to be almost completely underwater.

“It’s just numbing. It’s out of our control,” said Coalfields RM administrator Valerie Pelton. “It’s not a slow scar or a slow burn. It’s all happened so quick. We’ve got lots of families very seriously stressed. There’s a lot of numbness and people just don’t always know what to do. We’re not even sure if Roche Percee is a place people will ever be able to go home to.”

A 150-km section of the Trans-Canada Highway is closed in Saskatchewan, due to water over the highway. The closure stretches from Whitewood to Balgonie with traffic detouring via Highways 9 and 10. Local traffic can access Sintaluta and points west from Balgonie, and Wolseley and points east from Whitewood.

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SK Roadside Attraction

STATIONS OF THE CROSS, LEBRET, SK

       Linda and I loved the Qu’Appelle Valley in southern Saskatchewan. We often stayed in Fort Qu’Appelle, hiked some trails in the valley and enjoyed the amazing vistas. Along Highway 56, the little village of Lebret rests on the north side of the valley, picturesque, quaint and dominated by an old stone church. Up the valley wall the Stations of the Cross have been marked. Pilgrims can walk the walk, marking each station.

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