PUNDITRY PUNTED — My first politics-free blog: Brekky in Yk; feline friends; and my new scar!
Now that I’ve freed myself from the bondage of being a political pundit — not a very good one, it turns out, which is the problem — I will sink my teeth into topics more associated with a small-city blogger living in the sub-arctic. I’ll begin with food. Yummy, yummy food.
Breakfast at the Gold Range Bistro is much more than a delicious plate brimming with eggs and bacon, it is a pilgrimage to one of the Yellowknife’s cultural meccas.
I estimate I’ve been to the Gold Range close to 400 times since I moved here in 2016. And in all of those visits, I’ve only eaten breakfast.
I’ve seen the menu on the wall listing some Chinese and Canadian dishes — and I’ve sat across from friends who have enjoyed those meals — but for me, it’s all about the bacon, baby!
Sliding one of the well-worn red-velvet coveted chairs up to one of the tables in the front room of the Range — there is a back room, which I avoid for some reason — I say “Yes” to the server who says “You want the usual?” and then pour some sugar and cream into the mug of coffee that has been placed on the table.
With CTV News Channel always on the TV — muted, with captions scrolling across the screen — I look up at the large creature-themed kite above me covered in dust, then to the creative collection of found art on the walls.
I then direct my gaze to my iPhone and start reading news sites for updates on the rest of Canada that I feel ever-so wonderfully isolated from.
A group of regulars sit at tables in the front of the place, eyeing everyone who enters. Are they judging me? Are they friendly? I’ve nodded in an amicable way to the group of wisened older men and sometimes receive a half nod in return.
Unless you were born in Yellowknife, you must earn your stripes by being here for decades. But still, you will be considered from “away” and therefore never completely trusted.
But I digress.
The regulars are a wealth of local information and gossip, which they share with each other in loud voices and that I listen to between reading stories on my phone.
Then the food arrives. Usually in good time, although serving times do get lengthy if the place gets busy. Which it certainly does on weekend mornings. I avoid going there on weekend mornings.
My order is the same every visit, and the kitchen replicates it with great attention to detail: three perfectly cooked scrambled eggs; four strips of expertly fried bacon; two pieces of buttered toast (always white bread); and delicately seasoned deep-friend cubes of hash-browned potatoes.
If I’m in a rush, I can wolf that food down in five minutes. But I normally savour each bite, then sip on coffee as I continue to read my phone and listen to the regulars chatting.
I try not to look around the room very much, as I’m there on a mission, not a mingle.
However, whenever I see CBC Trailbreaker host Loren McGinnis there — he’s there a lot — I always say “Hi,” or even venture over to his table for a chat. He’s just that nice of a guy.
So there. Breakfast at the Gold Range.
Delicious and highly recommended.
As is my second-favourite spot in Yellowknife for brekky: The Black Knight Pub.
Saturday brunch at the Black Knight Pub is a scrumptious way to ease through a hangover, as a Screwdriver can be had with your selection of fried chicken embryos and hog protein strips.
I always sit at the bar, as I like to chat with the staff. I’m a semi-regular at the Knight during the early evening, so I know quite a few of the servers.
The food is plentiful and beyond negative commentary. I usually get one of the largest plate of breakfast foods on the menu, but I’ve also noticed such items as Bacon Berry Waffles, Hidden Black Forest Ham breakfast sandwiches and something called the East Coast Benny.
So there. Brunch at the bar.
However, now that I’ve blogged about breakfast, I’m afraid I have precious little food material for future installments.
Unless you want to hear about the savoury Chinese food delivery I get from Mark’s Family Restaurant, or eating McDonald’s drive thru burgers in my truck. As I read news from my iPhone.
So this could be my first and last food blog.
OK, so as I keep with my no-politics theme, I guess I’ll talk a bit about cats.
I like cats. I have two cats. They are nice. They poop in a box.
That is all.
(… Phew, this is getting difficult. I really, really want to write about the NWT’s newly chosen premier and cabinet. And how the inherent weakness of consensus government was on full display last week…)
I’m jonesing, man!
(OK, thanks. I’ll slog on.)
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE BELOW
I’m not even 60 years old, but I needed a new knee. In fact, my other knee is on its way out as well.
So on Sept. 30, I found myself checking into the new Stanton Territorial Hospital and sitting there on a gurney in an ill-fitting gown, watching a nurse slip an IV needle into my hand.
A few hours later, I woke up and looked down at my knee. It was swollen and covered with a surprisingly small bandage.
It didn’t hurt as the spinal nerve block was still working.
However, that changed a few hours later, when a cascade of pain shot up my leg and demanded measured doses of Dilaudid (one of the more powerful synthetic opioids) every six to seven minutes.
I was happy to have the knee-replacement done in the sparkling new $350 million facility than the dank, depressing four-decade old now decommissioned hospital across the street.
During the three nights and four days I spent in the new hospital, I felt like I was in a very sterile hotel. The last time I was in the old hospital, I was in a semi-private room (the new hospital only has private rooms) and the place was noisy and worn.
After being discharged, with some close friends helping me home, I hobbled around my apartment, using crutches now on oral Dilaudid pills.
When it came time to remove the bandage, I was apprehensive. I had seen a friend in Winnipeg’s knee when she posted a photo on Facebook after a total replacement. It looked pretty gruesome.
And sure enough, my knee was an ugly thing to behold, indeed.
An incision eight inches long was held together by 29 metal staples.
Underneath the healing wound were a couple of metal and ceramic components on the ends of my femur and tibia that would allow me to once walk again without the pain and discomfort that had dogged me for the past few years.
The staples came out 10 days later, and I’m now doing exercizes and seeing a physiotherapist.
It’s been four weeks as I write this, and I’m walking around with some pain, but I’m off the serious painkillers. Life is getting back to normal.
Most people were taken aback when I told them I was going in for surgery, as I didn’t seem to have many issues walking.
Well, I sure did. Every step hurt and walking up — and especially down — stairs was a special type of wincing hell.
I have been on painkillers for years, ever since the cartilage that had been repaired with scope surgery about eight years ago started to degrade to the point where my joint was basically bone vs. bone.
Every once in a while, I would need a cortisone injection to reduce swelling and provide a bit of lube.
So what caused this? Well, a combination of poor genes and crawling around for decades in my jeans — or shorts.
Yup, a friend and longtime co-worker back in Winnipeg suggested the years of looking for the best angle as a photojournalist while loaded up with up to 40 pounds of camera gear on my shoulders and neck likely contributed to my wounded knee. Make that knees, as my right one is now on the waiting list for replacement as well.
Waiting list? Oh, yeah. You see, in Canada we have universal health care. While the actual care is fantastic, it is rationed out in such a fashion that leaves folks like me — quality of life elective surgery — waiting for up to a year for a hip or knee replacement.
I actually waited a bit longer than a year, as the opening of the new Stanton Territorial Hospital in the spring delayed things a bit.
But I was happy to wait just a little longer, as I was eager to have my procedure done in the sparkling new facility.
So thanks to the medical professionals at Stanton who were so kind and understanding to me.
And special thanks, of course, to orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Ian MacNiven. He’s a special kind of talent that I’m so grateful to for establishing his practice here.
And I warned you … ugly scar photo below …
OK, so that’s it. My first full, no-politics blog.
Don’t know how long I can hold out.
I’m not expecting any more major surgery.