Man, I suck at blogging

Posted: March 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

I really gotta update this thing more.  I posted twice last fall after leaving it dormant for two and a half years, but then I once again left it alone and abandoned for over four months.

Damn, I’m really inconsistent with this whole blogging, online journal thing.  But I guess one of the reasons why this thing doesn’t get new entries that often is because my duties by day as a reporter/writer/photographer keep me busy, and I also started my own weekly column at the beginning of the year entitled, “The Ruttle Report”.  It’s my own little outlet for getting things off my chest and talking about things as I see them from my own view of the world; local issues, national ones, or even just those “slice of life” anecdotes.  The column has been really fun and I’ve received many compliments on it, which is always very kind and nice to hear.

Hell, one man even called me at home a couple of Fridays ago to tell me how much he enjoyed it, and I was blown away by the gesture.  Those kind of kudos aren’t necessary, but I’d be a damn liar if I said I didn’t enjoy them.  Everybody wants to be recognized at times for their hard work.

Which kinda leads me to one of the reasons why I’m not all that thrilled these days.  Every spring, there’s an awards competition and banquet that recognizes the best stories and photos from the past year in our weekly newspaper field.  All the papers in the province are asked to submit entries for what they feel are contenders, and I managed to come up with 17 submissions for consideration.  That in itself was baffling; I guess it always surprises me how much news comes out of such a small rural area.  I felt I did some fantastic work in 2016, especially on a vast and detailed story about a girl I know who works with horses and practices equine sports therapy.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and I didn’t receive a single nomination at this year’s awards.  That makes the second year in a row in which my best apparently wasn’t good enough.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that despite what you believe could be a sure-fire winner, there are a lot of different opinions out there, especially those on any judging panel.  There are over 80 newspapers across the province, so there’s also a lot of stiff competition when it comes to these awards.  Evidently, there are a lot of other reporters, writers and photographers doing some great work.  My own co-worker received two nominations for special pieces that she wrote, and that’s cool.  Still, it kinda sucks when you believe that much in yourself, only for reality to hit you like a punch to the gut.

Switching gears, I guess the other realization I’ve come to recently is that there are people in your life who only appear to be your friend.  I’m not saying I had some falling-out with anyone in particular, just that I question what kind of friendship I actually have with some people to begin with.  For example, there are people that I know because of the connection they had to my mother’s bar.  However, now that it’s been closed since December – Ma’s retired and already bored, by the way – I barely hear from anyone connected to it anymore.  No texts, no calls, nothing.

It makes me realize that some people aren’t exactly your ‘friend’, they’re more or less people that you simply know through one connection or another.  Friends text each other, call each other, hang out with each other, and all that jazz.  Yet with some people that are in my life – or I guess ‘were’ in my life – it’s been radio silence for months.  I find it disappointing, and I’d once again be lying if I said it didn’t hurt my feelings at least a little.

On my end, I don’t really have any desire to reach out to any of them.  They either have relationships they’re busy with, or they’re prepping for kids that are on the way, or they’re hanging out with other couples, or BLAH BLAH BLAH.  At this point, I just end up feeling like a big third or fifth wheel in most group situations.  I also suppose that the closure of my mom’s bar filtered out the only thing I may have had in common with some people.

I guess the lesson here is that you need to keep your circle small.  Loyalty is everything, drama means nothing, and surround yourself with people who you may not be related to, but you feel like you are.  My absolute best friends on this planet are Kyle, Chris and Alex; that hasn’t changed for many years, and hopefully it never does.  And honestly, if some other ‘friends’ were to contact me out of nowhere, maybe some radio silence treatment is just what the doctor ordered.  If I’m not “good enough” to hang out with for the last few months, why would I jump at the chance to do it now?

Lives move on, I suppose.  People have a horrible habit these days of forgetting others.  We’re so wrapped up in our tech-based lifestyles or our own mundane drama and daily bullshit that we end up cutting people – ACTUAL living people with feelings, not just names behind a screen – out of our lives.

If certain people wanna forget about me or cut me out of their lives, they can consider themselves cut out of mine.  I’m done being the nice guy who puts up with this kind of bullshit.  Nobody deserves to have to dissect what THEY may have done or said to warrant being forgotten about by some people that you USED to have fun with.  But that’s the kind of personality I have; I’ll typically think that I’M the one who did something wrong in a situation, so I just let it fester in my brain.

Well, I’m done doing that.  People know my number, they know where I live, and I’m not a hard guy to find.  Don’t wanna reach out?  That’s totally fine, but don’t expect me to, either.

‘Likes’ and comments on Facebook are neat, but they’re not friendship.  Hell, I could write a whole Ruttle Report on the ridiculousness of social media supposedly “bringing people together”; in fact, I think that’s exactly what I’ll do for next week’s issue.

Wow, that felt pretty good to get all that built-up bullshit off my chest.  Maybe move on to some happier stuff, shall we?

I had a lot of fun last August when we shut down for our annual two-week summer break.  I took a long, winding road trip out to my old stomping grounds of Victoria, BC.  My mom and I had been out there in 2012, but that was only on one-day intervals before either hopping on a boat to my cousin’s huge home on Sidney Island or hopping on a plane back to Calgary.  On this trip, I went solo and drove the entire way.

That in itself was an adventure of its own.  First, I stayed in Calgary for a couple of days, visiting with my brother and his family, who also let me crash there, and then I started making my way further out west.  I gotta tell ya, I know that I’ve made the trip before when I was younger, but being much older now and able to realize the scope of what I was seeing, BC is fucking beautiful!  The trees, the forests, the blue and green bodies of water, the mountains; I kinda hate that I had to be the one driving through all of it because I could’ve stared at that kind of scenery for hours.

But I couldn’t do that because I’d be a dead man.  Driving in BC is gorgeous, but it’s also demanding and time-consuming.  You can’t really guesstimate how long it’ll take you to go from Point A to Point B because you have winding roads, tunnels, slow-moving corners in the mountains and hundreds of other vehicles out on the road with you.  It demands your total attention at all times.  Here in Saskatchewan, you can just get out on any highway, punch it to 100 km/hr and throw it in cruise control, but you can’t do that out in BC; way too much traffic and far too few straight roads.

After much driving, I was finally on the ferry over to Victoria, and before long I was checked in and lounging on the balcony of my sweet suite, lol.  I stayed at the Regent Waterfront Hotel, which is right by the harbour.  My view was spectacular; every night the sun would go down over some tall city buildings across the water.

I spent a few days in Victoria reconnecting with the city in which I used to live when I was a film school student between 2005-2006.  I did the touristy things such as checking out the aquarium in Sidney and touring the Royal BC Museum, and I also spent time at Fisherman’s Wharf and took some great snapshots out at the Ogden Breakwater Point.  I was also able to sneak in a quick lunch the day after my arrival with two fellow VMPS graduates, Shawn and Jesse; I actually lived in the basement suite of Jesse’s family’s home during our time there as students.  It was great catching up with them, even for just an all-too-quick lunch hour, and I made sure to get a pic with the three of us to commemorate it.

Before I knew it, the end of the week had arrived and I was on my way back to the mainland, homeward bound and wishing my trip hadn’t ended so quickly.

And since it DID seem to end so fast, I’ve decided to go back this coming August!  I’m calling it “Derek Does Victoria 2: Electric Boogaloo”.  I realize that sounds like a porno, which is exactly why I phrased it as such.

I decided to go back to Victoria because while my first trip out there was really cool, there are still some things I didn’t get to do while I was out there; I didn’t take a “beach day” and go swimming in the ocean somewhere, I didn’t do as much nature exploring as I wanted to, and there are some people who I didn’t get to see on my first go-around.  Hopefully, this “sequel” will tie up those loose ends.  I’m also staying at the same hotel!  Just can’t beat that view or location.

The other really cool thing that recently happened was seeing the WWE live over the February long weekend.  It was the Smackdown crew that came to the SaskTel Centre (it’ll always be Sask Place to me…), and the show was awesome.  I especially liked the main event; a triple threat match for the Intercontinental Title between Dean Ambrose (champ), AJ Styles and The Miz.  Ambrose took the win in about 20 minutes after a Dirty Deeds DDT on Miz.

Even cooler was after the show, as my friend Angelica and brother Brendon and I cruised over to the Saskatoon airport, where all the wrestlers were set to board a flight for California.  I’m such a stalker, I know, but it turned out to be the best idea ever.  We got there and figured that it’d be a bit of a wait for any wrestlers to arrive, but it turned out that many of them were already checking in!  We waited back and simply asked for autographs and photos as they came down the hallway.  I think I have photos on Facebook of over a dozen wrestlers, haha.  This kinda thing is something they’re used to all the time, but all the same, it was very cool of them to be so accommodating.  Some of them were visibly tired, and all the travel and wear and tear in the ring will do that to you, but it was awesome of them to take the time out for their fans.  We met AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, American Alpha, Baron Corbin, Natalya, D-Von Dudley, the Ascension, Aiden English, Heath Slater, and I even took pics with Miz’s wife Maryse and the legendary IRS!

It was definitely the coolest WWE experience I’ve ever had, and that’s saying a lot from someone who’s been a fan for over 25 years.

Were we the typical celeb stalkers?  I dunno about that; certainly there are much bigger, scarier “fan horror stories” out there than just a handful of fans at a small city airport.  And I do mean small; aside from us three, there were about five other people who thought of doing the whole “Catch them at the airport” routine.  Considering there was almost 8,000 people at the show that night, I’m surprised there wasn’t a large crowd, yet also glad for obvious selfish reasons.  But I do think that in any celebrity sighting situation, whether it’s wrestlers, actors, musicians, whoever it may be, fans just need to be polite and know when to keep their distance.  Say “please” and “thank you”, and I’m sure anyone would be happy to sign something or take a quick selfie.  I guess it helps to be Canadian and have those kind of manners built into your DNA.

Can’t wait until the next WWE show to do it all over again!

Moving forward, I’m also looking forward to some other things this summer, such as getting back up to Candle Lake.  I missed out on that last summer, which sucked because it’s one of my favorite places on Earth.  There’s a certain tranquility and peace of mind that comes with that place that can’t be described.  I’ve also decided that I’m gonna take this summer to really explore my province; even in AAAAALLLLL my travels as a roaming reporter, there are towns, villages and areas that I’ve never been to.  Should be a good spring and summer; one for making plenty of memories.

Anyway, I’ve ranted and raved enough for today.  See you in another four or five months, maybe?  (I’m joking, but considering my track record, maybe I’m not)

Later,
DWR

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There’s a video that’s been making the rounds online recently that claims to really “bring the message home” about drug addiction.  It features a young boy being told that his mother has died from a drug overdose.

“This video really puts things in perspective”, the post says.

No, it doesn’t.  It continues to show that people in our society have no shame in doing whatever it takes to “go viral”.

It’s appalling that this would be filmed and put on the internet.  And I thought that police taking pictures of dead OD’d parents with kids in the car was bad….

Who consented to this?  Because I know it wasn’t that child, who doesn’t deserve to have his grief spotlighted in such a public manner.

Why does everything these days need to be twisted into something involving shock value in order to “put perspective” on an issue?  Why wasn’t this boy allowed to grieve in private, instead of having someone with a camera and a holier-than-thou attitude shoot it and put it on the web because of THEIR inflated idea of a moral compass?  Sometimes you just need to leave things be.  Not EVERYTHING is an opportunity for others to stand on a self-created pedestal and spread some message to make themselves feel important or responsible for any “movement”.

I didn’t ask to become involved in this young boy’s grief by way of viewing a video clip, and I’m not going to view it.  It’s not my right to watch this and then base a hollow opinion on his family or background, just as it wasn’t the right of anyone to record this and put it on the internet for millions of people to have access to.

I sympathize with this boy for losing his mother, especially in the manner that he lost her.  But I also fear that when he gets older, and forms a better understanding of the world around him, he’ll end up seeing this video clip and it could completely shatter him, mentally and emotionally.

This is absolutely disgusting, and there is no argument valid enough to change my stance on this.

Why do people need to take something so private and so fragile and put a blinding spotlight on it?  When will millennials stop shoving every issue up its own ass?

We all have a voice.

Posted: September 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

Holy shit, I can’t believe it’s been over two and a half years since I posted anything here.  Time just has a way of getting away from us, I suppose.

The last time I wrote in this space, it was just a few months after my father had died.  The family was picking up the pieces, and we’d just gone through our first Christmas without Jack, which was one of his favorite times of the year.

Fast forward to today, and I like to think we’re doing better.  That phrase, “Time heals all wounds” is somewhat true, but certainly not 100%.  I still think about old J.R. every day in some fashion, and I believe I always will.

Also during the past couple of years, I picked up a nagging, surprise-you-out-of-nowhere form of depression.  This is something that both does and doesn’t surprise me, when I think about it.  For one thing, I’m not happy where I’m at in my personal life; where others are either finding relationships, buying a new house, getting married and having kids, I mostly feel like I’m just spinning my wheels.  Professionally, things are great; I love being busy during the week and it’ll actually be ten years since I’ve been at this newspaper next March, but I certainly wish my paychecks reflected that.  I suppose everybody feels like that in their own jobs.

That all being said, I feel like an asshole for even thinking that this is even “real” depression.  There are obviously A LOT more people out there with A LOT more personal demons than I might have, so I don’t talk about it.  I just scribble up something funny and throw it on Facebook, sometimes when I really just wanna be taken more seriously.  The problem is that nobody likes to talk about that kind of stuff.  And I don’t blame them.  Bell can do a million of those “Let’s Talk Day” events that raise money for mental illness, but it doesn’t erase any stigma that may exist in your own social and family circles.  It’s hard to talk about this kind of stuff because it’s difficult to convey to someone just what the hell is bothering you to begin with, if that makes any sense?

However, I guess that I’m pretty fortunate in my case.  I’m lucky to have a lot more good days than bad.  But when those bad days DO come, oh boy.  The world outside my own bullshit doesn’t exist to me on those days; I’m just on auto-pilot if I’m out in public until I reach the sanctity of my home.  It’s to the point where sometimes, I think it’s affecting the friendships I have with people, or that I THINK I still have with people.  Sometimes I won’t text anyone to hang out because I think I’m bothering them, or that I’m a hassle to be around.

See?  Lost in my own bullshit again!

I’m happy to report that there ARE things in my life that I’m excited about.  It sure as hell isn’t all gloom and doom.  I’m glad that things are busy at work, as Outlook finds itself in the midst of a civic election and this new swimming pool facility is officially a go.  I’m also on the road over the next two weekends; this one it’s Regina for my buddy Kyle’s sister’s wedding celebration.  Next weekend it’s Calgary, where I finally get to see one of my favorite comedians perform, Jim Gaffigan.  (the Hot Pocket guy, or the pale guy you’ve been seeing in those Chrysler minivan ads with the 9,000 kids he has)

On top of that, I’m coming up with some ideas for a zombie movie I’d like to shoot next spring.  Kyle and I have talked about doing one for years now, and last weekend we were shooting the shit in his basement when we saw a poster for an upcoming screening in Swift Current of a zombie flick.  I guess it kinda inspired me, so I’ve been jotting down notes on possible storylines, shooting locations, epic zombie death sequences, all that fun stuff.  I’m also keeping a firm foot planted in having fun with it; it’s not exactly Scorsese material I’m gunning for here.  You get a bunch of friends together, throw some makeup on them, and shoot some footage.  I’d love to film it next May or June, and then maybe hold a screening where the proceeds go to a charity or some non-profit group.

Anyway, this up-to-speed post on where I’m at right now leads me to just why I decided to post in this blog space again.  I think it’s time I use it as a platform for anything that’s on my mind.  A space that separates Derek the Reporter from Derek the Person.  I have opinions on things, just as all of you do.  I have random thoughts on about a million different topics; again, just as all of you do.  So, that’s what this blog will be about; my random thoughts and opinions about this, that, and everything in between as we all spin about on this whirling planet called Earth.

No holds barred.

No punches pulled.

NO MERCY!

“Man, he got a little violent at the end, didn’t he?”

In the meantime, and in between time…..

DWR

Looking Behind, Looking Ahead

Posted: January 10, 2014 in life, writing

I’m reading the last entry on this blog, almost half a year old, and I just shake my head at the world of difference between then and now.

It’s dated July 25, and it’s now January 8, a week into the new year that is 2014. Seems that I just have a terrible time updating this space. But it’s not like my life is so exciting that there are scores of people glued to their screens waiting to hear of my daily goings-on to begin with.

The last few paragraphs of that post are what really get to me though, because they describe my family going through a time of change and adapting to my father, Jack Ruttle, starting a ‘new phase’ of his life by moving into a personal care home. It gets to me because my Dad passed away just a month later on the morning of Monday, August 26. As things sadly turned out, that new phase of Dad’s life was also a very short one. He was 80 years old.

These days, things like emotions can change in what seems to be such a brief instant. That last blog entry speaks about my then-upcoming summer break from work, in which I flew to Las Vegas for a few days of fun and sight-seeing. I had a blast on that trip, no doubt the biggest highlight of 2013 for me, but Dad’s passing just weeks later brought a very somber end to not just my own, but everyone’s summer. Adding to the sadness was the fact that Dad died on his youngest son Brendon’s birthday. It goes without saying that my brother will undoubtedly be filled with a lot of conflicting emotions every time his birthday rolls around every year from now on. And actually, it was only three days removed from my own birthday on the 23rd.

In the immediate aftermath of my father’s passing, one of my first thoughts was the realization that I was the last person in my family to have seen him alive. I take a world of pride in that. It was two days earlier on Saturday, August 24 and I drove down to the long-term care facility in Dinsmore for the afternoon to watch a football game with him. We just sat back, enjoyed watching the Riders take the lead, and we talked about a number of things, like my recent trip to Vegas, the harvest season, and the upcoming Labor Day long weekend anniversary celebrations for my sister Laurel and her husband Shawn. He seemed happy, like he always was whenever someone in the family stopped in to see him. After the Riders eventually won, I wheeled him into the dining room so he could have his supper and we said our goodbyes until next time. Of course, I had no idea that there wouldn’t be a next time.

When Dad died on Monday morning, I just remember that entire week flying by so damn fast because there was so much to do. There were only about a million phone calls to make, and then my family and I met with the funeral chapel on Tuesday morning, followed by more planning the rest of that day. Later that night, I fired up my laptop and eventually typed out my father’s eulogy, a task that I was seemingly the only one suited for, and one I was very honored to undertake. I’ll tell ya, even though it produced more than a fair share of fresh tears, writing a tribute to my father and his long life was a great exercise in grieving and keeping lifetime memories alive and well. I got the thumbs-up from my mother (and Jack’s wife of more than 30 years), and presented it to the minister who was set to perform the funeral service on Friday. In the meantime, there were other tasks ahead of my family, such as prepping the Conquest rink for the service and going through a mountain of photos to put on display.

It was Friday morning before any of us virtually had a chance to breathe, and I walked into the rink with my family in front of more than 200 people to help celebrate the life and mourn the passing of Dad. The turnout was really quite impressive, and it looked like it was standing room only. I know Dad would’ve been happy. I was relieved to hear that the eulogy I wrote went over very well with my family, as well as a ton of other relatives and those that knew my old man. A large group of us went down to the bar and had a few drinks in honor of Dad, my mother (and owner of the place) raising a teary-eyed toast to her husband.

Such was the week in August that encapsulated the passing of my Dad. His death was a shock to all of us, and yet it wasn’t at the same time, know what I mean? His health had begun taking a steep decline in recent times, especially those two months between June and August where the poor guy kept getting moved out of one home care space and into another. Dad went from Outlook to Dinsmore, back to Outlook, a brief stay in Elrose, and then finally back to Dinsmore in his final weeks. If there was any consolation during those moves, it’s that he got to enjoy plenty of car rides in some prime summer weather conditions out in rural Saskatchewan. His driving days were obviously long since finished, but he loved just getting to go for a drive around the countryside.

Today, we’re approaching nearly five months since Dad died, and I can’t believe this much time has already passed. Every time the 26th of every month arrives, it’s another reminder of the biggest loss in the Ruttle family. I especially missed my Dad during the Christmas season, since he loved that time of the year and getting to see all his kids and their growing families. My mom, brothers and I drove out to Calgary on the morning of Christmas Eve to spend the holiday with my oldest brother Jim, sister-in-law Daniela and their two kids. It was a quiet Christmas, an enjoyable one, but Dad’s absence was definitely felt. He should’ve been there, handing out presents and sitting at the head of the dinner table, as well as playing card games of Uno by his own rules. (“What? You can’t play a red 5 on a green 9? OK, fine…”)

As painful as losing my father was this year, and still is, 2013 did contain plenty of historic, much more positive and memorable highlights for me. The list basically comes down to three big things that stood out:

– My first Comic Con experience: Brendon and I drove out to Calgary to take in the city’s Comic and Entertainment Expo on the last weekend in April. I always had an idea of what to expect at comic and sci-fi conventions, but my first time at a Con blew those expectations away. There’s just a certain energy you experience at something like this, and I loved so many of the costumes that armies of people had on. Where else can you see Batman standing in line for a Coke, while the Terminator is using an ATM? It was almost overwhelming, but I played it smart and just took my sweet time trying to take it all in, from the trade show/exhibit booth aspects of it to checking out awesome things like the DeLorean from ‘Back to the Future’ or Han Solo encased in carbonite from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. From there it was time to check out the autograph tables and have photos taken with a multitude of stars over the course of the weekend, like WWE Hall of Famers Bret Hart and Edge, Wil Wheaton, Stan Lee, John Carpenter, Misha Collins, Norman Reedus, the cast of The Walking Dead, Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage from ‘Game of Thrones’, and Nathan Fillion. Very cool, but also a very expensive weekend. Can’t wait to go back in a few months.

– Seeing WWE live once again: It’s always cool to see WWE action live and up close, especially when you score front row seats like I did (again). But this time was different because Brendon and I actually got to meet a few of them before the show in Regina on May 25 at a gym that was located right by the arena. Yeah, we unleashed our inner stalker and staked out the gym parking lot. Sure enough, we eventually see the likes of Sheamus, The Miz, Natalya, Wade Barrett, and Alberto Del Rio come out. We didn’t hound them or anything, and we were actually pretty polite as we asked each wrestler we saw for a quick photo, to which they all said yes. Very cool, and now I know where to go for more possible photos and autographs the next time WWE rolls into Regina for an event. Hey, some people go nuts over a favorite football player or musician; I get all ‘fanboy’ over my favorite wrestlers.

– Viva Las Vegas: My Las Vegas experience at the start of August. Memorable. Eye-opening. Life-altering. I’d waited to venture to this city for many years, a trip my friends and I talked about going on since high school. But there it was laying in front of me as my plane landed down – Sin City. I got there via direct flight from Calgary and grabbed my luggage, meeting up with my driver and heading over to the Platinum Hotel. I say ‘driver’ because that’s just what she was, as I kicked back in the plush seats of my private limousine and just took in the sights and sounds of this legendary city. My hotel suite on the top floor was amazing, with a king-size bed in the bedroom, two-person jet tub in the washroom, all the kitchen appliances I needed, in-room temperature control, and a balcony that provided me an incredible view of the Las Vegas Strip and landscape of the city. I couldn’t have been happier at that point, and I felt on top of the world. I love that feeling. But the vacation had even started yet. The next few days were filled with great food, even greater fun, and only about a billion photos snapped to try and capture it all. (Except for that one night out at the strip club. I figured they wouldn’t appreciate some jackass Canadian tourist in there snapping photos left and right.)

I think one of the best things to come out of that Vegas trip, aside from things like the Mob museum at the Tropicana Hotel or seeing Penn & Teller’s magic show (and meeting Penn) at the Rio, was that time each night when I’d pour myself a drink, step out onto my balcony, and just sit down with my own thoughts as the city of Las Vegas glistened with color and stood out before me. They were like moments of zen, and it was in those quieter moments that I did a lot of reflecting on life, both in general and my own, specifically. I got to thinking about the kind of person I want to be more, some things that I want to see change for me, and I thought a lot about the future. To be able to have that time to myself, relaxing on my balcony above one of the world’s most famous cities, is one of the reasons why I’m glad that I went solo on this trip.

Mixed in with a lot of smaller things, like lazy Friday afternoons at the office before a long weekend or just something like meeting some friends out for drinks, that’s pretty much been my 2013. There are things I have in mind for 2014, but I don’t wanna get into that right now. It’s just some personal stuff and professional goals kinda mashed together. I will share two things, though. In 2014:

– I will write a novel. I’ve got a notion to put together a string of short stories and compile them into one collection, but at the moment I have a very rough draft of a singular story idea that I don’t want to lose any momentum over.
– A second Vegas adventure will come to fruition, only this time with my friends. We’ve already started talking about it, and it’s just a question of when do we fly down there. Can’t wait.

And yeah, I’ll update this thing more often than once every six months or once a year. Promise.

It’s Been Too Long…

Posted: July 25, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I can’t believe it’s been almost a full freaking year since I updated this blog.  Ridiculous.  Especially when I factor in current events, which definitely require a substantial entry in order to catch everybody up on all things Ruttle.

First off, I’m mere days away from being on summer holidays.  It’s that time of the year where the paper shuts down for two weeks at the beginning of August, and a period where a guy can recharge his batteries, catch up on some rest, soak in the summer sun, and just disconnect from any and all problems for the time being.  And like any summer break, you might hop in the car or on a plane and jet off somewhere exotic for a few days.

And in my case, I’m going to Las Vegas.

You read that right.  Vegas, baby.  Sin City.  Where a guy can spend hundreds of dollars hitting the slot machines and win it all back in one fluke swoop.  I’m finally, FINALLY venturing to this city, something my friends and I have talked about doing since high school, and I can’t wait.

So what are my plans?  My schedule?  Well, I’m done work after next Tuesday when the paper is published, and I’m just gonna rest and relax for a few days heading into the long weekend.  On Saturday the 3rd, I’m planning to drive out to Calgary and stay with my older brother for the night, and my flight to Vegas is Sunday evening at 6:30.  Direct flight, too.  I’m not having any of that connecting, ‘stop in Vancouver or Denver’ bullshit.  It’s nonstop or nothing for me, and the airport in Calgary more than provides that.  Saskatoon really needs to get their shit together in that regard.

So, I land in Vegas at about 8:15 local time.  From there, a LIMO is picking me up and taking me to my hotel.  Yup.  A limo.  Riding in style.

My accommodations await me at the Platinum Hotel, where the suites START at 950 square feet, and my room even has a balcony with a view of the Las Vegas Strip.  I absolutely cannot wait to get into my room, drop everything on the bed, and peer out across the city skyline from that perspective.  I plan to eat many of my meals out there and just drink in the sights.  (And drink in some booze)

So what are my plans for down there?  There’s a few things I’d like to see and do.  I wanna see Penn and Teller’s magic show at the Rio, a wax museum, and there’s a cool Mob exhibit/attraction that sounds cool.  As for anything else, I dunno.  A strip show?  Topless revue?  Why the hell not?  I mean, I gotta experience just why they call it Sin City.

Whatever I find myself doing, I’ve got four days to do it.  My flight back to Calgary is Thursday night, and it puts me back in Canada at about 12:30 am, going into Friday.  From there, I drive home the next day and simply reflect on a very memorable few days.

I’m really looking forward to this vacation.  I bought the entire trip on Expedia, and when I compared the site with simply buying my flight and hotel separately, the difference was staggering, and I’ll fortunately have a few hundred dollars to keep in my bank balance.

And yes, I’m going alone.  I can already hear you saying ‘You’re going to Vegas by yourself?  In August?  In that kinda heat?’  Yes, yes I am.  Call me a trendsetter, call me a trailblazer, call me a fool.  I don’t care.  I’m going and you’re not, so THERE!!!

Someday I hope my friends join me on a trip down there, provided this first adventure goes as planned and the experience is as incredible as I hope it’ll be.  That’s been the dream for many years.  ‘The Gang Does Vegas’.  Or a more likely scenario, ‘Vegas Shakes The Gang Upside Down Til All Their Money Falls Out, And Leaves Them In The Nevada Desert Sans Pants’.  Yeah, that sounds more like us.

As for doing anything else on my two weeks off, who knows?  Other than Vegas, the ‘main event’ of the summer break, I think I’m just gonna take er easy.  Maybe the odd day down at Lake Diefenbaker, a good book in hand and a lawn chair on the beach.  Might even make my way back up to Candle Lake to the old cabin for a day or two.  And then there’s The Ex up in Saskatoon.  My brother Brendon and I had a blast up there last summer, and you know why?  It’s because we weren’t on anyone’s schedule and didn’t feel rushed.  So I wouldn’t mind taking that in again.

Above all else, this summer break is going to be about resting, relaxation, recharging my batteries, and reflecting on the past and the future.

The start of the annual holiday comes at a very bittersweet time, though.  My coworker Tim is leaving The Outlook newspaper and starting a new job and life in Humboldt.  It’s not by choice – apparently, our higher-ups are telling us the paper isn’t making enough money to pay three full-time people, and Tim opted to step away and start fresh somewhere else.  It really sucks, because in the six years I’ve worked with him, Tim has pretty much been the glue keeping things running around here.  He’s creative, outgoing, easy to get along with, and the paper in Humboldt is lucky to have him on their staff now.  I’m gonna miss Tim, and I fear his absence is really gonna be felt in certain situations.  I’ll miss his down-to-earth personality, I’ll miss his creativity when it comes to producing issue after issue, and I’ll definitely miss those lazy days at the office when I had nothing to cover and the phones weren’t busy, and we’d spend an hour or more just talking about anything and everything; movies, comics, current events, the way of life around here in a small town community.  I’ll miss it all.  Change sucks, but it’s inevitable.  You can either roll with it or get caught in the crossfire.  Take care of yourself, Tim.  It’s been nothing but a pleasure working with you for over six years to produce the best newspaper possible.  I’ll see you down the road, my friend.

Outside of work and on the home front, my family recently made the decision to put Dad in a long-term care facility.  You wanna talk about change, that has been a HUGE learning curve.  I don’t think any of us ever thought that Jack Ruttle would one day end up in a care home.  He’s Jack Ruttle, he’s JR, he’s the head of the family.  The man we respected from the day we shot out of our mother and feared when we knew we did something wrong as kids.  And now he’s this senior citizen with arthritis in his spine who gets around in a wheelchair and doesn’t live at home anymore.

At least this wasn’t something that just sprang on us out of nowhere.  I think we all knew this was coming down the pipe at some point.  It really all started back in January, just days after the new year began, and he was admitted into the Outlook Health Centre with a harsh chest cold that gave way to bronchial symptoms and even had Dad slurring his speech and acting delusional.  A short-form bout of dementia, they called it.  So he was in Outlook for about two months and came home in March.  Another two months went by, and he woke up on the morning of May 23 so weak that his legs couldn’t support himself on his walker, and he crumpled to the ground as my mom held him.  We called an ambulance to take him back to Outlook, and that was the last time Dad was ever inside his own house.

Last Sunday, he got a new change of scenery when the call came down to take him to Elrose, where they have a very large personal care home and a room was waiting for him when we got there.  I was impressed by the place, and Mom has heard nothing but good things about it, so I think Dad is in good hands in Elrose.  He’s actually on the top of the list for a room in Dinsmore, so there may be a day sooner or later that we get another phone call and it’ll be moving day all over again.  He spent two weeks down in Dinsmore’s facility and we were all impressed with it.  It’s closer to home, too.  For now, we have to make the hour-plus drive to see him down in Elrose, and we’ll adapt.

Dad’s old, and he’s just gonna get older.  That’s life.  He’s a guy who worked all his life to give his family the things he didn’t have growing up, and I’m eternally grateful to the man for that.  We always said that we’d never put Dad in a home, but we realized that it’s better to put him in the care of professionals every day than it is to try and manage him at home in Conquest.  With our busy lives, it would simply be unfair to just prop him in his easy chair in front of the TV, go off to work for eight hours, and expect that situation to work out for the rest of his life.  At least in this situation, we can make the time to visit with him and put all our attention on him, and we know that his needs are being met and taken care of.

So, it’s a time of change around here.  I just gotta roll with it and adapt.  I always do.  Life has a way of just spinning on and on without any sign of stopping, and you just gotta jump on and hold on with all your might.

And holding on I am.

Cheers,
DR.

Here For a Good Time

Posted: August 30, 2012 in events, life, writing

Night settles in on Sidney Island, BC.

Seems that it’s been awhile since I posted anything on the ol’ blog, so I may as well rant, rave and ramble about this past summer. What I did, where I went, you know the routine.

For the most part, I think this past summer was an improvement on last year, at least from my perspective. I mean, there were things last year that were cool and all, but in the bigger picture, I’d say the summer of 2012 provided a better highlight reel of long-lasting memories.

And when I say better than last year, I’m mainly talking about what I did on my two-week summer break from the office.

What I ran into last year was a lack of things to do and/or places to go, so my holiday time from work was largely spent kicking it around home and just enjoying being away from my professional life for two weeks. The one really cool thing I did was spent a night up at Candle Lake (recap located elsewhere on this blog), but everything else wasn’t quite memorable.

This year, I really wanted to make my mark with my summer vacation. I wanted to be constantly doing something, going somewhere, experiencing this and that, you know what I mean. I didn’t want to waste any days away just sitting around the house. Luckily, my schedule prevented me from doing so.

The following is a day-to-day log of my comings and goings on my summer holiday….

Tuesday, July 31: Uploading the last issue of the paper for three weeks, I’m elated as the clock strikes 4:30 and I cruise home, blasting CCR’s “Looking Out My Backdoor” (for some reason, a tradition I’ve had since 2010) and looking forward to that evening’s dinner. I have a head-start on my holiday due to the travel schedule over the next two days.

My “I’m on summer break and it’s time to spoil myself” meal consists of two (TWO) lobster tails, a juicy rib eye steak, fries and baby carrots. I am pleased.

Wednesday, August 1: I wake up at 7:30 and pack up my car, and by 8:00 my mother and I are on the road. The destination? Calgary, at least for today. The REAL destination? Victoria, BC, where we’ll meet up with my cousin Murray and cruise by boat to his home on Sidney Island.

The road trip is relaxed with sunny weather the entire way. Not many people are fans of driving for 6-7 hours, but I enjoy it. We get to my brother Jim’s in the late afternoon, and enjoy a BBQ supper after my other brother John arrives. We sit out on the patio for hours. It’s kinda nice.

Thursday, August 2: Getting up even earlier than the day before, we’re on the road before 6:30 to get to the Calgary airport in order to make our 8:10 am flight to Victoria. After going through the usual airport stuff, we’re eventually sitting on the plane, although Ma and I are split up; she’s in row 7 and I’m in row 12. Coincidentally, my uncle Vic and aunt Shirley are on the same flight as us. To pass the time, I watch some Olympics coverage on the small screen on the seat in front of me.

Landing in Victoria at 8:30 local time (like as if the flight was only 20 minutes), I grab our luggage and we meet up with Murray and Linda, who’ll return to the airport the next day to pick us up as Ma and I are spending the day and night in Victoria. I get the key to our car rental and this thing is a beauty – a 2013 Ford Escape with all the options. Like something Bruce Wayne would drive if he wanted to appear normal.

Cruising around, we get to The Butchart Gardens, a worldly known attraction that sees over a million visitors per year. Unique flowers, lots of pretty colors, tons to see, you get the deal. I knew Ma had always wanted to see it, so I made it a part of our itinerary.

After a stop at Walmart for a pair of sandals, we get to our room at the Travelodge and are quite impressed; cool view of the harbour and the room is large and spacious. After dinner (Chinese buffet), I drop her off back at the room and I venture out to a multiplex theater to finally see ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. What’s extra groovy? It’s in IMAX format. The film is incredible, and I mentally make another appointment to see it again after my return from the West Coast.

Friday, August 3 – Monday, August 6: These four days are the obvious ‘meat’ of the vacation, as Murray boats us out to Sidney Island on Friday, which is a cool trip by itself. Over the next few days, the island is a fantastic getaway from anything even related to back home. No internet, no cell service, and very limited TV options. Murray and Linda’s home is immense; something like 7 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and it’s built sorta like two living spaces in one home. My bedroom at the top of the stairs has an incredible panoramic view of the backyard.

And that backyard. Amazing. It ends with a cliff-like drop leading to the ocean, with chairs located just before the drop. Incredible view, and I find myself in this spot more than a few times over the next few days.

The rest of our time there is spent checking out the rest of the island, including a fellow homeowner’s stupidly extravagant home – all 11,600 feet of it (the guy wasn’t home, and we just checked out the exterior), as well as visiting and just enjoying the peace and quiet. Yes, I would’ve loved to go fishing, but Murray didn’t have his gear on the boat.

The most kick-ass consolation prize comes on Monday morning, when we all board Murray’s yacht for a daylong cruise. The thing is a work of pure art; with a decent haul of groceries, I’d gladly live on it for a month.

We cruise to Maple Bay and dock for lunch before coming back in the late afternoon. By that point, Ma and I are headed back into Victoria with Murray and Vic, who are meeting up with someone the next morning to go on a fishing expedition of their own. I would’ve killed to go, but Tuesday is the day we fly back and we couldn’t risk the chance of not getting back before our flight. Monday night is spent at a Days Inn right by the harbour. I catch up on emails and everything Web-related and reflect on the last few days. I’m happy.

Tuesday, August 7: After Murray picks us up, Vic treats us to lunch in the town of Sidney. Murray and I have some kind of seafood soup that can only be described as vegetable soup, but just a shitload of things from the ocean (prawns, mussels, clams, halibut, salmon). Good eating.

Dropping us off at the airport, hugs and handshakes are exchanged and now it’s back to just Ma and I. She kills time reading a book, I kill time online as we count down the time to our flight. When the dinner hour approaches, we enjoy ribs at the White Spot restaurant right in the airport and look at incoming/departing flights. We then see that our flight is delayed. This is apparently because of some stormy weather in Alberta, and almost right on cue, it starts raining where we are, too.

More time is killed browsing around the duty free shop, which really is a damn scam when it comes to BC, since the PST and HST is outrageous, lending credence to the acronym BC – Bring Cash.

We finally get on our plane, and Ma and I get a nice buffer zone between us when the young lady seated beside her offers to move to a different seat after noticing the sling on Ma’s right arm. It really isn’t any trouble, but I admit that it’s nice having as much room as I want to kick back and relax on the flight. I also have a window seat, which always provides some neat visuals at 35,000 feet. But for the duration of this hour-long ride, I’m reading ‘The Book of Awesome’. Cool read, and I find myself nodding and grinning in agreement with many of this author’s choices. The flight back to Calgary is relaxed, which is nice.

Wednesday, August 8: Leaving Calgary and making the trek back home, we stop at a Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs chain in Airdrie. I remembered reading a while ago about that particular location, and when we passed it on our way to Calgary a week earlier, I made a mental note to stop in on our way home to try it out. I like it.

We get home at around 7:00, having picked up some KFC in Kindersley. We greet everyone back home, we unpack, and the trip is over.

The End.

Well, not quite. See, that was just the first week of my summer break. And I’m glad that’s how the BC trip worked out because I liked the idea of going away for a week, coming home and STILL having a week left to do whatever else I wanted. So the rest of my holiday was spent….

Thursday, August 9: Seeing ‘Dark Knight Rises’ a second time, but making it my brother Brendon’s first. Told you I’d see it again.
Saturday, August 11: Going to the Ex in Saskatoon, which I hadn’t done in five years. It was oddly relaxed, if you can call a massively crowded outdoor fair event like that relaxed. Brendon and I weren’t operating on any schedule, except for the wildlife show and the Collective Soul concert. Outside of that, we just took in the sights, probably ate way too much carnival food (gotta love them spud nuts), and the shows were awesome.
Sunday, August 12: Returning to Candle Lake for the day and night. I fished, I swam, and I took in the surroundings. Still gorgeous up there, and the only difference is now the old cabin is on the market, with a nice big ReMAX sign out front.
Tuesday, August 14: Cruising up to the city to pick up some Blu-ray releases, including ‘JAWS’ and season six of ‘Dexter’. That night, I slowly got myself back into reporter mode as I checked out the circus in Outlook held outside the Rec Plex. That night, I begin blazing my way through ‘Dexter’, episode by episode.
Wednesday, August 15: I finish ‘Dexter’ and begin the wait until season seven. Seeing how it’s my last night before returning back to the office the next morning, I just relax and reflect on an amazing two weeks.

THERE’S your ending.

So in short, a very groovy summer. I also turned 27 a week ago, so that’s cool, I guess. Plus the Labor Day long weekend is upon us, which I’ve always considered the last big hurrah for summer. Certainly not a shabby past month.

OK, I’ll shut up now.

Peace!

Hard to believe that it was 13 years ago today that WWF wrestler Owen Hart tragically died in a horrible stunt gone wrong. Owen was being lowered to the ring in what was supposed to be a spectacular entrance from the arena’s catwalk way above during a live pay-per-view in Kansas City, until the harness clip snapped and he fell to his death, smashing chest-first into the top rope, which hurtled him into the ring.

I remember that night vividly, because it was the May long weekend and I was walking back from a friend’s house after having a bonfire and I turned on the TV. The local news was on, and when I saw Owen’s photo in the top right corner, I immediately knew something very bad had happened. And obviously, it did.

Monday Night Raw the following night was a tribute show to Owen, with matches interwoven with comments from guys on the WWF roster about their fallen brother. I watched with a lot of sadness that night, just like the millions of other fans around the world.

The aftermath was ugly as Owen’s widow, Martha, sued the WWF in a legal battle that finally ended near the end of 2000, when the company paid her just over $18 million. To this day, Martha has never agreed to sign over Owen’s likeness or give permission for him to be used in home video releases, video games, or even inducted into the Hall Of Fame.

Through it all, it’s always been a great shame that somebody with as much talent as Owen had died in the way he did. To my understanding, he was planning on wrestling for maybe another two or three years before calling it a career. He should’ve had that chance.

Owen’s funeral was on May 31, 1999. Almost 13 years to the day, I still have the funeral card handed out at the service.