ALL THE THINGS

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It’s summer and there you are, all warm and happy and inactive. You don’t have any idea what to do with your free time this summer, do you? Poor things. Fortunately, Prairie Dog is here to help. We have listed everything it’s possible to do during the summer. Frankly, if it’s not on this list, it’s not a real thing. So read on and get out there and have fun. Remember the days are already getting shorter. Insert wrenching howl of existential gloom here.

(“All The Things” was proudly yet hastily written by Greg “Gregory” Beatty, James Brotheridge, John Cameron, Paul Dechene, Jess Hampton, Shane Hnetka, Lois-Anna Kaminski, Stephen LaRose, Aidan Morgan, Katherine Norton, Ashley Rankin and Stephen Whitworth.)

TAKE IN THE SUN

One of the most readily available and accessible summer activities is checking out the wonderful offerings of the sun. Whether it’s sunrise or sundown, sun gazing really is an activity best suited for Saskatchewan’s short summer months. The reality is this – a person could go days in the winter without seeing the sun AT ALL. You don’t even have to wake up (or stay up) to catch the sunrise in the wee hours. The post-work, post-kid-to-bed, post-prime time television sundown is as gorgeous and can be the perfect wrap to a hot summer day. Even in Saskatchewan’s largest cities it only takes minutes to head out of town either east or west. Even for the home bound, Saskatchewan cities still provide clear views of the sky from most backyards. So grab a seat outside, breathe the warm summer air, and watch el sol do its glorious work. /KN

TAKE IN TOO MUCH SUN AND GET SUNBURNED

Okay. I can’t seriously recommend that Prairie Dog readers fry their skins under the punishing Saskatchewan sun. That’s one mass of incandescent gas that’ll do you harm if you don’t slap on sunscreen, keep to the shade and maybe throw on a fashionable hat. But if you’re going to brave the sun, take an example from the people who take to Wascana Lake Aug. 30-31 for the Regina Dragon Boat Festival. Better yet — why don’t you register for the event with some good pals/colleagues/frenemies and race with all of the other Dragon Boaters? You only live once. And not that long, what with all the sunlight destroying your epithelials. /AM

BECOME THOROUGHLY MOISTENED

It’s hot out and everyone needs to cool off. If you’re not lucky enough to have a personal oasis in your backyard (or can’t find someone to mooch off), then head to one of Regina’s outdoor pools. Grab a freezie and soak up some rays. Don’t forget your SPF though — that sun is hot on our poor bodies, weakened as they are from hiding indoors for seven months of the year. Check out some beach bods or practice your front crawl. Play some nearly nude volleyball. I hear some people even head to the pool after hours… Of course, I’ve only heard that. I would never do something like that. Now go on, get some tan lines. /AR

GO DEVONIAN OR GO HOMIAN

Regina’s multi-use Devonian pathway system is one of the fantastic things about the city. You can jog, cycle, walk, skateboard, roller blade or just lollygag along and enjoy the sunshine and scenery.

But don’t take my word for it: just ask Regina Rosemont MLA Trent Wotherspoon, an important big-deal politician in whose constituency the Devonian lies.

“People tell me they love the Devonian Pathways. It’s a real source of pride for our community,” says Wotherspoon. “As I run or walk, I not only get feedback about the pathways – I get feedback on the pathways. That’s often where I run into community and friends who want stop and talk about everything — from football, fishing and family to specific policy issues, fresh ideas and their take on the latest news out of the community or from the Legislature.

“Good ideas can really come from anywhere,” Wotherspoon says. “Whether I’m out for a run in the early morning, or walking with family in the evening, I always enjoy the visits along the path.”

Okay, I’m sold. /SW

GET CULTURED, STUPID

You people, with your rock and roll and iPhone tailgate parties. You make me nauseated (that’s ‘pukey’ to you). But there’s a way to climb that cultural ladder and still manage to get a tan. The Regina Symphony Orchestra is holding its Symphony Under the Sky Festival in Wascana Park on Aug. 18 (It’s free, unless you want to toss bills and clothing at the musicians). What’s that you say? All symphonies are technically performed ‘under the sky’? Not if you count Cmdr. Chris Hadfield playing “Space Oddity” in orbit. Also, rich people have a secret moonbase where delightful baroque music accompanies their space orgies. /AM

GO TO THE FARMERS’ MARKET

Please don’t ask me what I think about the new plaza thing downtown. You really, really don’t want to get me started. But I will say this: it’s a completely adequate place to hold the summer farmers’ market. And the market itself is awesome enough to make up for the perhaps-less-than-awesomeness of the new plaza thing.

The Regina Farmers’ Market has come a long way, baby. I’ve lived here long enough now to remember when it was, well, perhaps less than awesome. Mad props to market manager Ada Bennett for her tireless efforts over the last six years or so. There’s about 100 vendors these days, give or take, and you’ll find all kinds of happy surprises on any given market day.

Here’s a short list of some of my fave market finds: Fresh pea shoots and excellent local grass-fed beef from Tim and Carla of The Green Ranch. Rhubarb mustard, lefse and green eggs (yes, I said green eggs) from the Scandinavian Sweethearts. Salted nut roll from A Fudge Above the Rest. Wild boar pepperoni from Creekside Wild Hog Products. Maple wild boar bacon from Golden Prairie. Sauerkraut from the Lajord Hutterite colony. Candles from Jean’s Beeswax. Dandelion syrup and fresh curry pasta from Sabine’s Country Shop. Poppy seed perogies from Yorkton Bakers. Rhubarb wine from Living Sky Winery. Goat cheese from SalayView Farm… What’s that? My word count is too high? Damn. ’Cause that’s just my short list. /LAK [hr]

HAVE A FLING

Summer lovin’, happened so fast. Summer isn’t summer without a little romance. People wear fewer clothes, the drinks are flowing, inhibitions are lowered and people are in the mood for, well, love?  Or whatever! Keep it casual or maybe find that special someone. Hang out with the boy or girl next door, make a move on a long-time crush or maybe reignite a past romance. Home from school for the summer? Escape your stress with a little fun that you can leave behind in the fall if things go south. Summer is short and sweet in our province, and sometimes romances are the same. Whatever you do, just do it. /AR [hr]

MAKE LIKE A TREE AND LEAF

As Reginans, we should never take our trees for granted. I know it can be easy to ignore them, especially when they look completely dead for 10 months at a stretch (That’s right, winter of 2012-13, I’m looking at you!) but just try to imagine what the city would look like without them. Yikes, right? This is the perfect time of year to get out there and show ’em some love. Spend some time with them. Get to know them on a first-name basis.

I always considered myself a natural-born tree hugger, but when my son got old enough to walk around and ask questions like “What’s THAT, Mummy?” I was embarrassed to discover how many trees and plants I couldn’t identify by sight. I mean, I know the elms because they wear belts made out of duct tape and goop. I know the lilacs because, well, they have lilac blossoms growing on them. I can recognize the tamaracks in winter because they’re coniferous but also nekkid. My Dad taught me that maydays looks like upside-down ice cream cones. Oaks have such a distinctive leaf, but they’re rare around these parts. After that I pretty much needed a field guide. I like the Lone Pine books a lot, and one of my faves is Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada because I always want to know if I can eat something or make tea out of it or use it to soothe a bug bite or whatever.

What if you don’t want to lug a book on your stroll around Wascana Lake? Well if you’ve got a smart phone, you can use an app like Leafsnap, TreeID, MyNature Tree Guide or What Tree Is That?  With Leafsnap you actually photograph a sample leaf, so you’ll need a white background (a t-shirt should work) and be sure to take a fallen leaf from the ground if you can rather than ripping a living one off its branch.

Or you could go old-school and use the direct approach: Ask someone. They probably won’t know what kind of tree it is either, but it might start an interesting conversation. /LAK

SHOP LOCALLY IN THE SWELL SUNSHINE

One great thing about shopping in the summer is you can walk or bike practically anywhere. Check out some locally owned stores , explore an unfamiliar shopping area, get some exercise, buy a new shirt, comic, record, whatever! Top it off with lunch from a restaurant you’ve never been to. Fun! /SW

LEARN ALL ABOUT MAKING MONSTERS

CGI is a huge part of movie-making these days. Before, things had to be done the old-fashioned way using scale models and stop-motion animation. Now, sophisticated computer graphics programs enable filmmakers to replicate pretty much anything they wish from alien worlds to crusading superheroes to massive natural disasters.

Not everything is done through CGI magic though. The descendants of the late Ray Harryhausen — who died in May at age 92 — and other special effects pioneers are still out there. Although, like their CGI brethren, they do employ advanced technology. Animatronics is one example, where 3-D creatures are built using mini-motors, pulleys, cables and controls that can be manipulated to direct their movements.

Based in Australia, John Cox’s Creature Workshop is one such outfit. And starting July 13, a touring exhibition outlining how they go about designing and creating a “monster”, be it for a film, TV show or theme park, is on display at the Saskatchewan Science Centre.

I’m not sure of the details yet, but the exhibition appears to be hands on, so you get to experience what it would be like to be an animatronic puppeteer and other things. So all in all, a pretty neat show. And one that I definitely intend to check out this summer. /GB

PLAY GUITAR, OR WHATEVER

There’s a good reason we so closely associate guitars with summer — the sound of wires on wood is a fixture around campfires and on porches and out at the beach and in backyards and in parks and plazas and gazebos and even, quietly finger-picked or gently strummed, in the 10 or 20 minutes before bed. Whether it’s communal or in solitude, playing music on acoustic things is a good way to make a space feel complete. I mean, don’t be a dick about it, because it’s easy to be the wiener with an acoustic guitar who can’t help but try to be the centre of attention, and also I can tell you from personal high school experience that the guy who brings his amp to the party is a complete buzz kill, but pick the acoustic guitar up (or pick up the ukulele or the banjo or what have you) and don’t be afraid to use it to establish a bit of mood wherever you’re at. Just a bit, though. /JC [hr]

GO TO A RIDERS GAME

In early July, I’ll be hosting members of my family from Quebec City, Toronto and Victoria. When the Riders take the field against the Calgary Stampeders on July 5 to kick off the home portion of their 2013 CFL season four of them will be in attendance.

Perhaps you’ll be in the stands with them — be it as a season ticket holder or a casual attendee. If you fall into the latter camp, this year will be especially advantageous for you. In November the Riders will host the 101st Grey Cup. To get ready, they’re in the process of expanding Mosaic Stadium’s capacity by 13,000 or so seats.

They’re mostly of the end-zone variety, so it’s not like they’re primo ducats. But at $25 they’re reasonably priced. And for higher profile games especially, like the Labour Day Classic, they’ll give more fans the opportunity to get in on the fun and excitement.

Entering the season, hopes are high that the Riders will play at the level needed to have a legit shot at representing the West Division in the CFL title game. If they do, then even with an expanded stadium, tickets will be at a premium. But some should still be available. So if you typically don’t attend games in person, this is definitely the year to consider taking one in.

Added bonus: if the Riders end up pooping their pants you probably won’t even have to pay to see a game, as unwanted tickets from disgruntled fans will be littering Regina like leaves in autumn.

Although I wouldn’t count on that happening. barring a batch of key injuries, I just can’t see the Riders not contending in 2013. /Gregory Beatty [hr]

BUILD A GARAGE

Sure there are a lot of fun summer activities to do, some of them more obvious than others but you know what’s the most satisfying? Creating something like a patio or a garage. Okay, it’s a lot of work, but at least you can sit back and enjoy it once you’re done. All you need to start is a permit, a plan, the materials and a lot of labour. Sure you could be lazy and hire a professional to do the work for you but where’s the fun in that? I just built a garage, or car hole as they’re commonly known, and I can honestly say it’s not just an activity or a project. It’s an adventure!

IMPORTANT: Make sure you have enough concrete when you pour a pad. You don’t want to be racing to the concrete supplier picking up a tub or rain barrel of concrete to finish filling in that last section and have to fly back before the concrete sets. Just trust me on this one. Also, if you’re putting walls up make sure you have more than one person helping, particularly if it’s a standard windy Saskatchewan day. Things can and will fall on you. But when it’s all said and done, you will end up with something you can be proud of. Maybe. /SH

GO TO A PROVINCIAL PARK

It isn’t always feasible to pack up and head out on a large scale out-of-province vacation (I’ve discovered these endeavours are best with even a little planning.) But it’s no stretch to take a wee hiatus to one of Saskatchewan’s gorgeous regional or provincial parks. With a little more time a Lakeland excursion to Prince Albert Provincial Park or to Waskesiu for a weekend is always a safe bet. In the South, Moose Mountain and the Kenosee area offers great boating, fishing, and camping. My new personal favourite are the “glam-ping” options offered in Cypress Hills provincial park. It’s not that I can’t rough it, it’s just actual hiking or camping trips require material and mental preparedness. The little cabins at the resort in Cypress Hills provincial park sleep four (comfortably indoors) while offering the joys of the camping experience — the unique microclimate forest, hiking, cooking over the cabin’s exclusive little fire-pits, swimming in the lake — with all the comforts of home. The fully equipped cabins aren’t far from any of the amenities one might leave behind. You can definitely get away with leaving the preparedness out of this wilderness. /KN

SCIENTIFICALLY IDENTIFY BUGS FROM THE SMEARS ON YOUR WINDSHIELD

So you just got back from a road trip. If you took the time to examine what’s now plastered across your windshield and grille, you’d discover the usual specimens — grasshoppers, wasps, maybe a gopher. Look a little harder and you’ll find evidence of much more interesting examples of prairie entomology.

We all know that unmistakable splat and yellow smear that tells us we’ve hit a butterfly. When do we ever bother examine the crime scene? If you’re interested in identifying one of the more beautiful casualties of your road trip (and you should be!), it’s doable if you can find remnants of a wing.

If the wing has a combination of orange, black and white markings, it’s probably from one of three common prairie butterflies: the red admiral, great spangled fritillary, or northern crescent. Spotted wings in dusty prairie colours likely indicate a plains skipper. A pale grey/brown wing with unmistakable black “eyespots” came from a wood-nymph.

Mayflies are a frequent windshield victim, too, particularly during seasonal mass maturation (read: swarming bug clouds everywhere). To ID one, look for something that resembles an actual hand-tied fly with a whiskery forked tail.

Find something with a dainty, segmented blue abdomen? You killed a damselfly. A bigger version of said abdomen in green or brown, perhaps still attached to a bulbous bug-eyed head, indicates a dragonfly.

If you find a insect, or part of one, that you can’t identify on your own, snap a photo and email it to the experts at whatsthatbug.com, a key online resource for amateur entomologists.

On a side note: after your investigation, get that mess off your car. Dead bug juice can literally eat through paint. You can find bug-B-gone cleaners in any department store with an automotive section. /JH

CATCH AND PLAY WITH A FRIENDLY GARTER SNAKE (THEN LET IT GO)

Garter snakes live in this city and they’re awesome and I love them. Try looking around the Science Centre — I’ve consistently (consissstently?) found them there. These cuddly colubrids are diurnal (active during the day), and on  hot days they’ll be most spot-able mornings and around dinner time. Don’t hurt them or be mean to them or I will find out and then you’ll be in trouble. /SW [hr]

Hunt For Urban Gargoyles

You may not have noticed them, but they’re up there, watching you. Their stony faces have weathered the storms of many decades. Some are angry, some delighted, and some simply bemused. They are gargoyles, and they’ve been waiting patiently for your attention and appreciation.

Technically a gargoyle is a stone figure fitted with a water spout (the word comes from the same root as the word “gargle”) and its spout-free counterpart is called a grotesque. But I can’t bring myself to stick to this narrow view. Sure, some of those guys are a little ungainly, but many of them are kind of cute and some are downright handsome. Anyway I wouldn’t want people going around calling me “grotesque” so I try to return the favour.

Now Regina is not known for its architecture, I’ll give you that. In fact some might say it’s a barren wasteland of ugly square buildings that hurt your eyes and make you lose the will to live. I didn’t say that. But some might. In any case, I’ve always tried to look for the golden needle in the haystack of mediocrity, or something like that, and I’ve been rewarded for my efforts here and there. There are some jewels in the Queen City’s crown, and they’re worth looking for.

So take your camera out there this summer, with a friend or a wide-eyed little kid or just by yourself, and look up. Way up. See what you can see. Even if it’s just a cluster of grapes or a wheat sheaf carved into a cornerstone, it counts. See how many pictures you can get. If you don’t have a camera, no problem! Just look around and take mental notes of the odd little quirks and features of Regina’s buildings (not all of which are dreary, unimaginative squares) and see how many you can count that you might not have noticed before.

Here’s a hint: start at the corner of Albert St. and Victoria Ave. and go from there. Happy hunting. /LAK [hr]

VOLUNTEER AND MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE

For whatever reason, folks are generally more inclined to volunteer in winter months. I’m pretty sure it is a combination of cabin fever and Christmas-induced Scrooge complexes. The unfortunate outcome is that a lot of the province’s food banks, shelters, and soup kitchens are understaffed in summer months, especially in high noon for summer vacations. Saskatchewan’s most vulnerable remain in need in the summer months, and there are few activities that are as rewarding as giving your time. /KN

DON’T GO TO CENTRAL PARK

Do not visit Central Park this summer. Under no circumstances. It is a miserable and dangerous place. That rolling hill of grass you see? An illusion. Up close you’ll discover those are thousands of discarded hypodermic needles turned green with a gangrenous patina. The gardens are overgrown with stinkweed, ragwort, hemlock, blister bushes, deadly nightshade, false morels and gympie gympie. Gangs of hooligans smoke banned substances under the gazebo. Those strange smells emanating from the trees are the cooking fires of so many cannibalistic morlocks. There is a reason Central Park is called Hell On Earth In A Deceptively Lovely Park. Stay away this summer. We hear the morlocks will be especially active.

[SECRET FOOTNOTE] If you’re the sort who reads footnotes you’re probably an alright kind of person. A little stuffy, maybe. But that’s exactly the sort of quiet individual we want for Central Park. Ignore everything written in the main blurb above. It’s all lies to drive people away from downtown’s intact urban oasis (south of 14th between Scarth and Hamilton). Oh it’s quiet and sleepy. But sometimes that’s all you need from a green space. Fie upon the fashion shows and zumba lessons that clot that other park to the north. People in Central Park play shuffleboard and, occasionally, baseball. They read books. There are vegetables planted in the gardens. It’s a paradise. And if you want to keep it that way, tell people about the morlocks. Because if the place gets too popular, next thing you know, someone at city hall is going to suggest it needs an “upgrade” with modern light fixtures and a plaza for programming. And we all know where that will lead. /PD

EAT MOUNTAIN PIE. YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF MOUNTAIN PIE? PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN.

S’mores, you’re dead to me. I’m a mountain pie girl, now

The names vary — mountain pie, campfire pie, bush pie — but the basic recipe is always the same: crescent dough or buttered bread slices sandwiched around a filling.

A mountain pie is traditionally made with a pie iron, a cast-iron tool for grilling sandwiches over an open fire. They’re easy enough to find in the outdoors/camping section of any department store, and come in both circular and square varieties.

Crescent dough (that magical squishy stuff in a tube, touted by a familiar pale homunculus in a chef’s hat) comes pre-perforated in handy triangles; start your mountain pie by laying two of them or one slice of bread, butter-side down, in the pie iron. Add about 1/4 cup of your chosen fillings and top with another crescent square/bread slice, pinching the edges to seal them.

In my experience, around seven minutes and lots of turning over embers will produce puffy, golden perfection. You’ll need to go through some trial and error before you perfect your own method.

Traditional sweet campfire fare like s’mores and banana boats (and I’m not knocking either of them, trust me) aren’t the same now that I’ve been introduced the mountain pie. It’s the simplicity of its preparation and its limitless possibilities that make it the ideal campfire delicacy.

Think of it as a blank canvas on which to express your craziest culinary urges. Ham, eggs, cheese and salsa make a damn fine breakfast pie; chocolate, banana slices and marshmallows make a decadent uber-s’more; and nothing says fine dining like a mountain pie filled with bleu cheese, walnuts and apple slices washed down with something dark from Paddock Wood Brewing Co.. /JH

DRAW IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS

You don’t need to be fancy: just get yourself a nice, portable notebook (Field Notes brand are super nice) and a decent pen like a Pilot V5 Hi-Techpoint, and doodle what you see or imagine. Scribble up a short comic if you’re really inspired! Take a friend along if you like, and maybe a picnic lunch. It’ll be good for your brain and soul and fun, too. /SW [hr]

Look Out A Window

I feel bad stealing this from my editor, because window gazing seems like 15 per cent of his day at the office. Anyone who’s even casually looked at the Dog Blog –– go on over to prairiedogmag.com to do that –– will have seen his annual May Foliage Reports, where he takes daily pictures of a branch outside his window. I never really got why he did it until I moved from an apartment with a view of a parking lot and mildly inconsiderate delivery drivers to an apartment where, when summer hit, beautiful green leaves came up everywhere. My satisfaction with where I live, my life in general, probably even with Stephen Harper are a little bit higher because of my view. Anyone touches these trees and I’m moving. /JB [hr]

’90s-UP SOME SHIT

Remember those days of flannel-clad youth when you had to contend with everything being extreme? It seemed like marketers were throwing Ray-bans and hideous typography on every product under the sun in the name of extremity. In truth, the concept of the extreme never went away – it just got some wicked air off a half-pipe in Bakersfield and slammed down into the mainstream. So go celebrate the extreme and visit the SaskTel Summer Invasion. From Aug. 23-25, Wascana Park will be overrun by bands, wakeboarders, skateboarders and everything else that made a lot of noise in the 1990s. Maybe we’ll even get some of those Extreme Goldfish Crackers. /AM

LOOK TO THE STARS

A few issues ago I did a Leisure Top Six on this. Two of the six astronomical events I flagged for special attention (the late May cluster of Venus, Jupiter and Mercury at sunset and the extra large full moon on June 23) have come and gone. But there’s still plenty of summer sky highlights to check out. Some (like the Summer Triangle composed of the prominent stars Vega, Deneb and Altair) are annual occurrences, while others (like a moon-free Perseid meteor shower on Aug. 12) are rarer celestial events.

Astronomy is a year-round hobby, as season to season the night sky is always changing as Earth makes its 365.24 day journey around the Sun. But the big advantage of star-gazing in the summer, again as I observed, is that you can do it without FYFAO.

To do the night sky justice, though, you have to make a half-assed effort to find a dark spot to crane your neck and look upward. At minimum, that means heading to a remote corner of Wascana Park, or taking a road trip out of town. If you want to take it to the next level, though, consider attending the annual summer stargazing party that the Regina and Saskatoon branches of the Royal Astronomical Society host at Cypress Hills National Park.

Not only are you sheltered from light pollution, you’re also observing from the highest elevation between the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec and the Rockies in Alberta/B.C. So assuming a cloud free sky, the viewing is extra crisp. The dates this year are Aug. 8-11, and more info can be had by visiting www.usask.ca/rasc/starparty. /GB

TAKE YOUR NON-DOG PET FOR A WALK

Lots of cats do well on leashes. Rats (see page 13) fit nicely pockets or will ride on your shoulder. Some reptiles might enjoy a bit of sun, too. But if you’ve only got a dog? Well, that’s okay too. Walkies for everyone! /SW

BEHOLD THE AWESOME GLORY OF NATURE’S STORMY FURY

Now, I know that this probably isn’t the best time to bring up my love of summer storms… but come on. As long as it’s not torrential and doesn’t wash away our city, a summer storm is great. It cools down the dry heat, smells great and waters our landscapes. Plus, Mother Nature treats us to a show as her fireworks light up our perfect Prairie sky. If the power goes out? Candles and conversations somehow work their way into homes and lives. LIKE IN THE OLDEN DAYS. Boom! Post storm? The magic continues, as folks emerge from their shelter and seek out actual contact, not through e-mail or text or online but face to face. Boom! Just remember to keep your flashlights stalked with batteries, candles and some sort of fire starting mechanism on hand. You don’t wanna get caught with your pants down, especially not in the rain. BOOM! /AR

GO TO THE BLUE BIRD CAFE

IT’S TRADITION. Our parents, grandparents and great grand parents have been heading to the Regina Beach restaurant for fish and chips since it opened in 1928. The building has been a slew of things, but has always had a restaurant attached to it. Nothing beats an early evening drive (or ride) out to the beach to catch dinner and a sunset. It’s also the perfect summer hangover cure: Butler’s followed by a jump in lake sorts you RIGHT out. If you eat in, you are literally walking into the past, as the unchanging interior has an authentic beach hut vibe. If you eat out, you can either sit on the steep steps after you grab your order from the take out window, or head to lower ground and dine alfresco. Just watch out for seagulls. Those assholes love Butler’s Fish and Chips just as much as the rest of us do. /AR

WALK AROUND YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD

It’s cool to be in a place where you can walk to everything you need, where you pass people and things on the street, and where you can easily observe stuff, which is why Prairie Dog so often espouses the virtues of downtown living. But take it from someone who lived in McCarthy Park for the first quarter-century of his life: you can do that stuff in places besides downtown. Pick a couple of side streets you never really go down and make a point out of wandering down them. Hoof it to lunch, or to the grocery store, or to a park in your neighbourhood you’ve never really been to. Get familiar with the hidden corners of your environs. Treat the place you live in as a place worth observing, and it’ll treat you well in return. /JC

BLOW OFF A DEADLINE

There’s something about the summer in the province that allows for a certain level of carelessness. I’m thinking it’s rooted in how finite our warm weather is. It leads to some special kind of entitlement. The kind that lets you legitimize pretty well anything. EVERYBODY gets it when you blow off a deadline in the summer heat, because they’ve likely done the same (in some form or another.)  I have shamelessly and systematically chosen hammock swinging over weeding my garden for three years running. Even my dearest editor had the patience to wait a couple extra days for his summer guide pieces. HE knows there were hockey games on and how hot it was over the weekend. /KN

DO NOTHING

All the other entries on this list or in any guide to anything ever are about, y’know, doing something. Making use of your time for an activity or a project or whatever. But one of the best things about life in general and about summertime in particular is doing nothing at all. Like, okay, right now I’m looking out my window, and there’s someone on a tenth-floor balcony at the Regina Inn, clearly taking a break from work, and he’s just standing on the balcony with his arms crossed staring at the city laid out before him, the late June foliage sinking into his mind like the image from a pinhole camera. Or maybe he’s just thinking about how tasty froyo is. Who cares. The thrust is that idleness, as writers from Bertrand Russell to Christopher Morley to Mark Slouka have pointed out, is a great condition to actually be in. (In his Harper’s essay, “Quitting the Paint Factory,” Slouka points out that idleness is a political act, by virtue of its “allowing us time to figure out who we are, and what we believe; by allowing us time to consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it.”) Not procrastination or anything, mind you, but just resisting the urge to fill your downtime with stuff to do. If you’re hardwired to be on the go at all times, idleness probably isn’t for you, but for the average person a bit of time knocking around inside your own skull is tremendously refreshing and rewarding. And in the summer especially, Regina’s full of spaces that are perfect to be idle in (cf. the entry on walking around in your neighbourhood). Leave your Zune at home and go spend some quality time with yourself. /JC

GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE

If writing for our annual Best of Regina competition has taught me anything, it’s that’s Reginans love Wascana Park to an almost absurd degree. But you know what? Other cities have activities, places and sights on par or better than Wascana.

While you sharpen your pitchforks, I’ll just chat about how great hitting the road is. Will you make it across the border? Probably! They’ll stop you if Prairie Dog writer John Cameron is with you. They’ll always stop you then. Also, Cameron can’t understand simple games you play with the FM radio. But when you get where you’re going, there are new and interesting burgers and really good bands. A lot of hotels have the thing where you can make your own waffle from a little cup of batter, which is still novel to me. So get the fuck out of here. You can always come back. /JB

2013-06-27