The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

February 8, 2009

Between rocks and a cold place


Especially when it's in February, which means that I'm almost invariably covering a provincial championship for what in Canada we like to call the Roaring Game, a winter sport I'll get to later.

Suffice to say, I was not even supposed to be covering this event. But our regular writer on this beat couldn't make it due to a death in the family, so I was seconded on an emergency basis.

Rather than whine and cry about it (I've already done enough of that on Facebook, and you won't entirely escape it here), I opted to make this a roadtrip whereupon I could enrich my historical perspective.

The place I went to is on the sign in the picture below. I don't want to spell out the name here because anyone Googling its name could wind up here and possibly take offence where none is intended.

But if it helps, the name of the town, spelled backwards, is awapeeN.

And while this town is known for producing hockey players, it is most famous for being the birthplace -- and now the burial site -- of renowned Canadian author teragraM ecneruaL, who wrote Stone Angel, among others.

After being stricken with cancer, she committed suicide rather than force her loved ones to endure what would have been her long, drawn-out death.

The town, about two hours northwest of Winnipeg on the Yellowhead Highway, has preserved the house she grew up in and there are signs all over directing tourists to it.

Of course, I did not drive by it. These are pictures I pulled off the Web.

So now that I have become historically endowed with this knowledge and enriched by my proximity to even the spirit of such a writing icon, there are a few other observations I must make.

Why is it that everyone in these small towns parks on an angle with their rear bumpers jutting out into the street? Why can't they just park parallel to the curb? They all have to back out into oncoming traffic.

Yes that means more vehicles can park in a block. But join the 21st century! Maybe they still think their vehicles are like the horses they could tie up when they went into the old saloon?

And everybody goes 25 kilometres per hour in a 50 Km/H zone. Hello! It takes 90 minutes to go through the McDonald's Drive Thru!

Other observations...

--It was a new experience for me to see a Hutterite woman working at the Dairy Queen...having to wear a goofy little DQ hat over her little black bonnet thingy they wear on their tied up hair, and the DQ outfit over her long, black dress.

--The local radio station is called The Farm. They had a van next to the competition venue blasting out the same old country tunes every minute of every frickin' day I was there, I'm still having nightmares...

Now, having said all this, the people in this town are beautiful and friendly and always smiling and welcoming. But now on with our story...

So on Tuesday, I find the motel. The proprietor is a guy from the UK who's telling me all about the snow that has wreaked havoc in his homeland. His name is Bob.

I ask him, already afraid of his answer, but I ask there any way I might be able to access the internet with my laptop computer from my room. He amazes me by telling me he's got wireless set up.

I'm ecstatic, of course. Because this place looks like it was probably built in the 1950s, maybe even before I was born.

He hands me my room key.

My heart sinks. When they have to write down your room number in ink on a piece of masking tape, doubt tends to creep in.

I could barely unlock the door to No. 6, but when I got in, it was like I had been transported back to the 1970s...ugly wood panelling and the like, although the place was equipped with a microwave and other amenities.

It was, as it turned out, OK, even though it was a shared hot water tank that often resulted in cold morning showers.

Not sure what the hieroglyphics on the mirror said (below), but I'm going to get an ancient Egyptian expert to try to decipher it...

So OK, I'm there. The wireless signal only worked for the first two nights, but I could still get the signal if I went to Bob's office, right next to their copy router or whatever.

And what was I doing in this one-traffic-light town? I was covering a bunch of women throwing 40-pound chunks of granite down long sheets of ice, trying to get as close as they could to the button.

And no, no men were injured or killed in this endeavour.

The problem with this sport is it happens on ice. And with four draws a day of eight teams each, going at 8:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:45 p.m., that's a lot of time to be sitting and watching...and freezing.

And trying to write. And interviewing players while your teeth are chattering and appendages are starting to malfunction or even fall off.

But hey, it's all part of life's work.

I COULD be down in Texas or Arizona or Florida, where they don't even know what this sport is. Or in Australia or New Zealand, where cricket and rugby and Aussie Rules rule.

Bob was telling me about how his family back in the UK were shocked at the 14 inches of snow they received this past week, paralysed and unable to function.

It's all what you're used to, Bob. It's all what you're used to.


  1. Cold morning showers are NOT an option. I mean, HELLO, shrinkage! Couldn't you stay someplace else? Wasn't there a real hotel nearby or even in the next town over?

    And I shall refrain from making any comments about Bob not being able to handle 14 inches.

  2. Welcome back to Civilization.
    You must be working out some bad Karma.

    The last time that I was in Neepawa I was curling in a Weekend bonspiel..and we certainly had a lot of weak ends!

    Your swanky digs looks exactly like the same room that I stayed in.

    Apparently I went jogging around town in my gitch in the middle of the night..or so I was told...
    alcohol may have been involved.

  3. Anna:

    Yes, HELLO shrinkage. No, there were no other motel rooms. There were NO other options. I took to waking up early and having a shower when no one else was.

    And I shall refrain also about Bob, who now that he lives in Canada must be able to handle more like 14 feet.

    Mr. Morningwood:

    Another incarceration (I mean incarnation), huh? Amazing. How did you magically get those washboard abs?

    Weak ends indeed. And I'm sure alcohol might have been involved.

    Bob was talking about this nob from Winnipeg many years ago who tore the town apart. I suspected you immediately.

  4. Looks like the setting for an ultra-low-budget porn film.

  5. MJ:

    What, with you and Mr. Morningwood in the starring roles, I assume?

    There would have to at least be a cameo appearance by Bob, I think. I'd have to write him into the script.

  6. Funnily enough, last night I dreamed I was in bed with Mr. Morningwood.

    No funny business was going on. We were chatting and laughing is all.

    You were in the dream at some point too.

    Obviously I've been blogging too much.

  7. MJ:

    So what, I was a voyeur? A peeping Tom? Or maybe I was serving you and Mr. M breakfast in bed?

    Or was I the cleaning lady, vacuuming the carpet? Or maybe I was Bob...

  8. dude, you people have some straaaaaaange things you call sports.
    and the mirror- it says "no flash photography"...

  9. Angel:

    Yeah, yeah, no flash photography...I was just trying to make myself look like a spiritual entity.

    Let's not get personal about sports, now. After all, you guys play cricket and rugby, right?


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