In the Freezing Rain

iamtoocoldtoworkWhether or not I’ve recovered from the weekend road trip or not, time to drag myself back into the land of the living. I took The Remade Man on the road with me, resisting urges to wear typical stage apparel and sticking to Kathryn’s guidelines for me. This produced some interesting results.

I was in the city of Timmins, a rather remote mining town of about 44,000 people. It’s very spread out so it has a feel of a smaller place, and though currently it is doing okay economically due to high gold prices, it doesn’t have a pretentious sheen of affluence. People seem to be who they are without apology.

Wandering the streets was a good thing for unfolding my back from the 10 hour drive to the place. I had a good lead on an affordable restaurant with good home cooked food just a few blocks from the bar I was playing, and it was sort of my basis. Breakfasts were a couple hours long as I would eat then work on my laptop. That got more than a couple glances, giving me the impression this was not a common sight. Then I started to notice, wandering through the town, looks and double takes coming at me. Normally it’s the other way, I’m the observer, and I tend to blend into surroundings somewhat. It felt unusual to be spotted, but in the approximate demographic of 30 to 60 year old women, my presence seemed to be notable. Probably opinion was evenly split between “What the hell is THAT?” and “That sure ain’t no miner”.

It’s weird for me, being some sort of eye candy, and of course I got caught up in it, meeting, dating, getting engaged, marrying and leaving town without new wife in about a 60 hour period (I don’t kiss and tell, so don’t even ask), so it was not the usual On The Road With The Band weekend, but it was enjoyable enough.

Oh, and in the minus 20 degree temps, I really did appreciate the warmth that the layered look delivers. Now, onto the annulment on grounds of non-consummation…

Published in: on January 18, 2011 at 10:27 am  Comments Off on In the Freezing Rain  
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North to Alas-k-k-k-ka

kenny_south_parkReports of an early spring are gone from Timmins, where I’m heading later this week. Still light on the snow side, but temperatures were down to –20° Celsius (near California-like conditions to some readers), so looks like the tight packing situation of the trip up just got tighter with the addition of  The Parka.

The Parka is an addition to my wardrobe that dates back to my time in Winnipeg, where Men are Men and testicles are retracted to prevent Brass Monkey incidents. Minus 40° is the same in Celsius and Fahrenheit, an interesting bit of trivia that so fascinates Mother Nature that she leaves the thermostat there frequently in Manitoba. Apologies to Johnny Horton and the title of the blog, but Winnipeg’s average temperature in winter is quite a bit lower than Alaska. It just seems colder with all that extra dark to stumble around in.

The Parka is a very efficient warming device, so much so that it has seen use in Ontario only when skiing, and even that was a mistake as the exertion to get myself up off my ass had me sweating before I could say “bunny hill”. I don’t know that it remained zipped that day. I seriously doubt it. It has not been zipped since, and we are talking about 9 years. I recall shoveling snow in The Parka in Winnipeg, unzipped, no mitts, no hat, then coming in and realizing it was –15°C.

The garment itself, despite its 12+ years of tenure with me, is in great shape, two tone blue, very little wear and tear, mostly just from being shoved around in the closet around other less insulating garments. I thought briefly of consulting with Kathryn about how to incorporate The Parka with the rest of my wardrobe, but then it occurred to me.

At –20, everything goes with everything. Preferably at once.

No Biz Like Show Biz

It’s one of those days that I’m not sure what I want to bore you with. There’s still a bit of Holiday Hangover going on, coupled with a hint of excitement about the World Junior Hockey Championship game tonight, Canada vs. Russia. The sun is out, a winter day that doesn’t require running away (though I am accepting offers if you need a valet and are heading south).

No, me, I have it backwards. I’m aiming at Timmins next week. FR040806Not vacationing, but working, I haven’t totally lost it, despite popular opinion. There’s also a chance to visit with some family and renew old acquaintances. In a past life I was a road musician, a pocket rock god playing what we called the Arctic Circle Tour. Only in Canada can that joke fall flat, because there actually IS an Arctic Circle tour and it’s a thousand miles north of anywhere we were. Scale… man, that’s everything sometimes.

This trip has some unique challenges. First of all, I’m subbing for a country band. I haven’t played much country the last couple years so I have a pretty steep learning curve here, getting tunes together. Cheat sheets are a must, because challenge number two is: no rehearsals. Not only that, I won’t even meet the guitarist until we’re a couple hours into the trip. I’ll hit the stage without sharing a note with this configuration of the band.

Challenge #3 will be existing for the other 20 hours a day, as it always is on the road. Scouting report on the bar we’re playing is that the rooms are typical road accommodations, that is, Pretty Scuzzy. A sleeping bag of known origin will be packed. Which brings Challenge #4: Packing.

20467_1333306139444_1434755936_30927322_3215422_nThe usual foibles of a weekend trip are all in place, what to wear, how to pack it, toiletries etc. but with a couple of unique spins. First of all there may or may not be bathing facilities on the floor of rooms we will occupy. If we’re lucky there will be running water in each room. If we’re REALLY lucky, there will be hot water too. Let’s pack a hat in case Bad Hair Days are the norm.

Further complicating things is the detritus that a band needs, in this case a couple amps, a couple guitar cases, whatever drums we can cram and three of us in an ironically named Honda Fit. Suffice to say this is not the roomiest of the Honda line. At least it’s four wheels and not two. Rumour has it the guitarist has a bigger vehicle which we will switch over to on the way.

Of course the lure of the stage is enough to imbue some optimism, at least on the inward trek. On the homeward side that optimism is gone. The task is over. With soap and hot water willing we won’t smell like the elephant trailer of a departing circus. That reminds me of a joke: Avram had been with the circus for 30 years, faithfully spending his days scooping up elephant shit. Time had passed for any sane person to retire, yet still Avram followed the elephants, day in and out. His family implored him, Avram, why do you retire? Rest. You’ve had a good life, you don’t need to work.

Avram said, “What? And quit Show Biz?”