I heard that in unprecedented times of difficulty and struggle, where it feels like the greater events are completely out of our control - we can own our routines.
Good day, Old Friends.
I'm here at my desk with a second cup of coffee almost finished. Technically, it's my third cup. Our ritual of sharing a stovetop espresso was brewed this morning by my wife. When Kicking Horse beans go on sale from $17.99 to $9.99 we fill a cupboard with upwards of a dozen bags for the sake of consistency. They keep well. What does not, however, is 18% table cream and in our most recent grocery order we excitedly purchased four cartons of the sale item initiating the frantic challenge of consumption.
I have a lingering trauma connected to dairy as my father's morning routine consisted of milking an old black angus to save on grocery bills. My mother's routine consisted of straining and boiling it in an act of pasteurization. With the worry of four children contracting salmonella, campylobacter, listeria, Brucella or staphylococcal enterotoxin poisoning the precautionary measures usually included the innocent act of over-boiling. The minus forty degree Saskatchewan winter was the quickest method off cooling, as the fresh milk was set out on the back deck all before our 6 am wake-up call. With my siblings quick to drink down the remains of a bowl of Cheerios prior to heading outside to feed a couple hundred head of livestock before the bus pulled in the yard, I just couldn't do it. God forbid the slightest taste of over-boiling or the most minuscule foreign object making its way through the straining processes, I would overreact with the heaves and set the stage for my PTSD.
"Melanie! What's the date on that cream?!" I yelled from the living room.
"I can't tell you or you'll be mad at me. I'm sorry for ruining your morning" and then she added, "and the rest of your life."
A laugh coming from the kitchen. "Just make another cup, Blake."
I'm here at my desk with a half eaten morning sandwich. A recent burst of creativity had me questioning why one would stop at just peanut butter and bananas when marmalade, almond butter, and dried cranberries were included in the previously mentioned grocery order. Experimentation belongs in the kitchen. Recipes are merely a guideline. How would one ever know that pickled herring doesn't belong on pizza without a three day stretch of indigestion and the lingering taste connected to every pizza since? Who would have ever thought one could ruin their relationship to pizza? I can confirm however that peanut butter, almond butter, orange marmalade, sliced bananas and dried cranberries between two pieces of multigrain toast is now a part of my routine.
I'm here at my desk, taking a sip of yesterday's carbonated water. Name a better duo than Brita and Sodastream? Complete with a dash of pineapple juice, ReaLemon and grenadine it has single-handedly assisted in my abstinence of alcohol. Four months into yet another stretch. "Alcohol free until 2023!" I respond with invites for beers yet requesting the opportunity to smell whatever local brew my wife may crack as she cues up RuPaul's Drag Race on yet another Friday night at home. My longest temperance being 15 months recognizing the power of the life-hack. The discipline radiates into all other areas of my existence. I recently took it a step further and am currently in my second week without cannabis. Name a better duo than a freshly brewed Kicking Horse espresso and a 23% Pink Kush? Brita and Sodastream.
I'm here at my desk with a knock on the door. Melanie hands me green smoothie. Kale, celery, mint, lime, ginger, coconut water, hemp hearts, banana. She's beautiful. Clearly forgiving my out-burst over the soured cream in my first cup of coffee. She holds space that I strive to match. She also holds my son. My son. I'm now a father.
I'm here at my desk.
Owning my routine.
Welcome to my Substack.
A quick message:
Howdy Crew, thanks for taking the time to read Substack #0001 (whoa, that was ambitious to include three zeros behind that number sign - I guess here’s to the routine.)
Over the pandemic I transformed my website (with the help of my dear friend Elan Morgan) to hold only my blog while my newsletter found its way into the inboxes of subscribers once in a blue moon. This Substack is the communion of those efforts and now replaces each of them. If you received this entry to your email it is via a previous subscription to express your support. (Or, a few years ago a “free stuff” website randomly picked up an offer from my website for a free download of my album Coyote in exchange for an email…there was an influx of a few hundred subscribers over the course of three days…if that rings a bell…well, here we are.)
My wife’s successful experiment of converting her musings to this format pushed me to follow suit. With the operations of our music businesses each evolving, this felt like a succinct way to give our supporters a tighter storyline while honouring both our collaborative spirit and autonomy (If you haven’t already, please give Belle Plaine’s Weather Report a read.)
Substack also provides us with an answer when supporters ask “how can I help?”
The next few entries will remain free as will my “newsletter” style updates however the option to recognize the worth of my creativity will be extended in the coming weeks in order to access a greater breadth of my thoughts, ideas and commentaries.
In closing, I feel expansive. It has been twenty years since I left school in pursuit of what continues to evolve. To tie this salutation in with the opening thought of this initial entry, a quote from Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life:
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.”