Remembering NOT to be a spoiled brat!

When I first got the ‘bug’ for bugging out, it was circa 2000.  I was feeling itchy and scratchy.  I did not know the disease, nor the cure but the symptoms were simple enough.  I was wracked with boredom, fatigued with routine and suffering the agony and pain of dread and futility.  I had been assimilated by the system and it felt as if resistance was futile.  I wanted out.

To be honest, I was really just plain nuts.  Freedom to be crazy is what happens when you get to a certain age (for me?….about 50/51).  The reality was my family was great, our house was lovely, I really liked my friends, my neighbourhood, my work and we were far enough out of debt that an accountant would call us ‘in the black’.  AND I was golfing and shooting under 95….mostly.  That was icing on a nice cake.  Apparently it does not get any better than that.

But then scratching the itch happened and the rest is a blog.

I mention all that because for reasons inexplicable, I went ‘looking’ for something and found myself on the Mother Earth News Community forum.  Back then, it was a virtual forum with a litany of topics joined by people from all walks of life – mostly blue collar and rural-types with experts in all the weird fields……including fields!  The knowledge base was amazing, the desire to share information reaffirming and the topics covered gob smacking. It was literally a smorgasbord of interest with a buffet of characters and a dessert tray of really nice folks who became forum friends.  Kevin was one of them.

(How long do you think I can keep this weird writing style going?) 

Anyway…to the point…..the FORUM tended towards the ‘hardscrabble’ of OTG.  NOT the Mountain Man married to a female Grizzly-kinda-thing but rather subsistence farmers, remote mechanics, DIY electricians, amateur builders and, like Kevin, fabricator-welders.  They all knew stuff I had no clue about (still true for electronics and raising domestic animals).  We had solar panel experts, stone masons,  gardeners, natural health/medicine types and the whole panoply of practical professions and skills to ask questions, share answers and ‘get along’ like a community.

But the OOMs were the best.

The Old Order Mennonites were represented by Pate who eventually was promoted to Majere and then, when he passed, by Sarah.  Majere was the clan leader but also the keeper of the knowledge and that knowledge was curated by Sarah in the Librum.  Translated, they were Amish-ish with a large community and a great library.  And they were eccentric-as-hell to me.  Still, despite the odd behaviours that living OOM in the Blue Mountains displayed, they were clearly very, very knowledgeable in the ‘old ways’.  They knew how to do everything from scratch.  And I mean EVERYTHING.

I once asked Pate/Majere how to use dynamite.  “We don’t use dynamite.  We mix up our own explosive from a simple recipe.  We make exploding crystals and put the crystals under the barns to kill rats.  When a rat steps on a crystal, it explodes like a mini land mine and kills the rat.”  

Of course, I had to know how to do that and P/M simply referred me to the Librum and a whole world of ancient, almost forgotten knowledge was revealed to me.  It was an unbelievable wealth of information based on basic materials from rust to bacon, from cotton balls to lye, from vinegar to horse-glue and hundreds of original DIY pages in between.  See: http://www.librum.us

To be fair, I did not read it (well, except for the exploding crystals recipe – for splitting rocks).  I just put that ‘information’ in my back pocket and I intended to refer to it as needed.  And I did.  Sometimes.  But not as much as I should have and, had I learned all that stuff, I would be a genius today if I remembered only 20% of it.

“Why are you telling us this?” 

For Margy

Because Sal just pulled an OOM trick.  She made from scratch a stain remover and took virtually every stain out of our old work clothes.  Blood, oil, paint, glue, wine and, of course, more blood.  Recipe: 3 tblsp Hydrogen Peroxide, 2 tblsp Baking soda and 1 teaspoon Blue Dawn dish washing liquid.  Put a little drop all over the stain and rub it in and then wash it. 

 

It is a whole different world out there from the one we all know living in the ‘matrix’ and the Librum is just a hint of it.  My last blog was about being ‘spoiled brats’ and this one is about remembering to shed the ‘money/convenience/hire others’ option….when convenient, of course.      

 

The silver lining

Covid-19 has hit a lot of people very hard and some of us out here were included. Many of the previously ‘fledged’ young people have been let go from their jobs in the various public-intensive service industries and have come home to their parents when, for the most part, the family had adjusted to living separately. Of course, love endures and the young person is welcome but, you know….people grow up and get their own place for a number of reasons and, when forced home, it can get a bit tense. Tense is one thing, but no income with an extra mouth to feed is quite another.

Some young people have addressed that rather nicely, mind you. A is a chef. Not yet a headliner, she is well on her way to a ‘star’ rating in the foreseeable future. She’s good. But, like others, she came home when the resort she was at had to close. The silver lining? She’s cooking at home and presenting the community with a small menu every week from which to choose. Her chili was fantastic! This is a good thing – having a nano-restaurant service OTG from which to add a bit of variety.

C’mon…? OTG with great restaurant food delivered!?

We also started up a food-delivery service BEFORE Covid-19 and the coordinator was trying to ‘make-do’ with a minor surcharge and the service was growing but…well, growing slowly. Along came a virus and people stayed home and, of course, the food delivery service started to get more popular.

Sally and K and J do the work distributing the BULK order that comes by water-taxi from Save-On on Fridays. Various customers send in personal orders to J. Then the orders are consolidated by her to make it easier on the Save-On staff shoppers. Save-On needs a few days to compile it, then the aggregate is delivered by a land-taxi to the water taxi and it’s then delivered to us a few hours later. Then the three women separate all of it back into individual orders, some of which are picked up and some delivered by our home support person – on her ATV or by way of her skiff.

All this happens OFF THE DAMN GRID!!!!! How wonderful is that? It is fabulous for us. We have not gone into town since we came back from the hospital stay. Sal is going over to the car today to start it ’cause it hasn’t been started in almost two months!

What did it take to make it all happen?

Well, first off the coordinator has to want the work. It is NOT a lot of money but it’s okay. Like most of the community members, the effort is partly volunteer – basic, practical community spirit. Same for the two helpers. The Home Support worker gets paid, but she also gives more time than is remunerated. Bottom line: it’s a voluntary community effort…..until……COVID!

After Covid put the world on self-isolation, the government and various funding bodies started to give money to delivery services for seniors. Well, we are mostly all seniors. And our isolation is even MORE than most. Our needs are greater. And so we applied and received a $2000 grant to help keep the old folks in grub.

Sorted groceries ready for delivery

That will end sometime soon, I’m sure. But by then, we should have a working system with enough customers to support it with just the modest surcharge. Generally speaking the ‘added cost’ to a weekly shop is between 10 and 15% which may seem a bit steep but not if you factor in the savings from having to do the shopping yourself. I may pay $60.00 – $75.00 a month for the service but it costs me that out-of-pocket if I go to town plus a lost day of my time. I am happy to pay that versus enduring a ‘town day’.

Other recently started services that support us are also great. There is a woman on the neighbouring island who does a regular Costco run in her truck. Fifteen percent delivery cost to our departure dock on her island. She’ll pick-up from other places along the way, too.

Who woulda thunk it? The stereotype of an OTG’er is some kind of hardy mountain man and his wife hacking and chopping and living like pioneers. Fighting off bears.  They aren’t ever clean. They’re all weathered and leathery. They have it tough! OUR OTG experience included some of that – enough to write a pussy-version of it, anyway. But NOW, it is even better! It is almost (gasp) easy!!   We are spoiled brats!

Getting on….and still truckin’, buckin’ and chuckin’.

February 7th Sal was under the surgeon’s knife. Total knee replacement. By that evening some Nazi-sadist made her walk around the ward. So, she did it. That was premature, wrongly advised and proved painful enough that the physio was reamed out by the doctor.

Then Sal went to the motor home to convalesce for a week before she went to the physio gym for ‘real physio’. We went to the gym a few times but the gym was so dirty, we refused to return for the full regime.

It was just as well we cancelled because within a few days, Sal was sick-like-dog. Passing out. Ambulance. Emergency ward. Rehydration over night and then released back to the moho. The intrepid Sal lay like the proverbial dead cat for the next three weeks. No bounce. But, to be fair to her intrepid-ness, she did walk a block every day sick or not. Rain or shine. By mid-March we were back home, she was on the exercise cycle and basically doing fine.

As I write this, it is May 20. I could have written this three weeks ago (11 weeks after surgery) but we were not putting her knee to the test back then. We did over this last week. We went logging.

As described many times, we chase logs and then wrangle the suckers onto the beach and leash them all up until we have enough to process. That process started a week ago. Step one, after the collecting, is to wait until high tide and then pull the leashes tight so that when the tide goes out, the logs are close to the high water mark. When that is done, I start chainsawing. If all goes according to plan, the rounds I cut are within fifty feet at most of where they should sit awaiting the splitting phase. It never goes perfectly and so some of the further cuts are maybe 75 feet away. But it is NOT the distance that really matters, it is the terrain on which the rounds are carried.

If a round is 75 feet away, then 25 feet of that is terraced slabs of granite. Solid, slippery, uneven but manageable. The ‘difficult’ 50 feet remaining is because it is a field of round boulders of all different sizes and shapes and absolutely treacherous when carrying a load.

Each round weighs between 30 and 75 pounds depending on the tree species and the diameter. Today we had two Fir logs in excess of 15″ in diameter. A 16″ cut off a 15″ diameter Fir that has been sitting in the water weighs all of 60 pounds and some weigh more. I swear I lifted several closer to 75 pounds today.

But Sal will do up to 60 pounds without batting an eye. A 60 pound log round is HALF her weight!! Sally can lift her age!!!

Naturally, we fall. Sal fell on the slippery granite ledge today. But, like the proverbial live cat, she bounced up and continued purring. She was fine despite slicing her foot on some barnacles. Blood and all. We just carried on.

I know I have said much of this before but Sal’s recent TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT added a slightly different factor to the whole saga, don’t you think?

I am not a fan of authority at the best of times…..’cept Sal, of course (she made me say that)

For the last few days, the RCMP’s great big, catamaran police-boat, the Higgit, has been cruising our area.  It is a fabulous vessel.  Goes fast.  Bristles with equipment.  Ooooh….quite a show of power!  That boat could not have been built for under $2M dollars and most likely, it was twice that.

It appeared to have a crew of three.  Each of the officers is paid well in excess of $100,000.00 a year and, with support costs for them and the boat, the $300,000 is more like $600,000 or even more (docking, maintenance, insurance, a second crew, support staff, offices, benefits….and the list goes on and on and on).  Operationally, it has to be well over $1M a year.  Oooooh, quite a show of money!

“Wonder why they are out here?  They have been out here ‘boating around’ now for a few days.  Must be nice work. Probably comes with overtime pay.  Maybe danger pay, too.”

“Well, your questions may be answered.  They have just pulled someone over right in front of our place.”

The great big catamaran (maybe 60 feet) had ‘loud-hailed’ a small 16’ runabout coming down from up coast to a dock just south of us.  We knew the boat.  We did NOT know the two people in it because they were heavily clad in wet weather gear.  It was pouring.

The police bellowed, “Please come alongside.  We have a few questions.  It will not take a minute.” The little boat swung alongside. My binoculars revealed a man and a woman.  She was about 40 or so – I saw that when she removed her hood.  The male’s face was not revealed.  They were addressed by the officers for a few minutes and then it looked like she was providing the officers with ID.

Most of us do not carry ID.  Or a watch.  Or money.  Maybe some younger people carry a cell phone but it finds a reception signal only rarely.  Had they stopped me, I would have had to say, “My name is David Cox.  You are going to have to trust me on that or run me in or shoot me.  I carry no ID.”

Then one of the officers left the police-cat and boarded the small vessel.  That is a bit like a third person joining two others in a small walk-in closet.  No one could move.  Still, the boarding officer took the time to poke around as best he could.  To give them the ‘authority’ to do that, the officer likely checked around for some absence of safety equipment or some stupid small vessel operator’s license.  They need a reason to bully people.  They usually find one.

If the runabout’s operator’s were polite, cooperative and obsequious, they may have gotten off with a warning but there is no doubt the cops found some deficiencies in safety equipment and paperwork. Even I could see that the registration number was not on the side of the boat and most boats around here run with minimal safety gear.

It is not as if the locals are cavalier or reckless and need policing for their own safety.  They are way more safety oriented than the dimwitted police.  Plus, they have plied these waters for years and know everyone on the coast, every nook and cranny and most of us just zip along not 100 yards from a shoreline.  And yes, life jackets are 95% common (I am one of the few without).  The police, on the other hand, have come up here several times over the years in smaller, ‘bristling equipment’ boats with giant engines and all decked out in layers of vests and radios, guns and batons, boots and crap NOT knowing even which island they were facing (swear to God).  They rarely know where they are.

They regularly damage their boat because they do NOT know how to read a chart.  If any cop falls in the water, they are going down like a granite boulder because they can’t float with all that crap on nor can they swim.   They can hardly move on their own boats and cannot move if they board one of our smaller ones.

The main RCMP training is done in Saskatchewan.  RCMP management and head office is in Ottawa.  The small boater’s licensing test was designed for the lakes back east.  What the RCMP knows about seamanship is akin to what Trump knows about astrophysics (although I admit that the Higgit seemed to have a designated skipper rather than just a junior officer).  We watched as millions of dollars in equipment and staff time were employed over several days and the only purpose we could ascertain was to ‘check out’ the 16’ runabout going home in the rain.

They kind of had to have something to write in their report log, I guess, but I hate it. I hate the tyranny, the bullying, the stupidity and the incredible waste of resources.

A strategy explained…..by Sean Illing

Trumpism.  What exactly is it?

Trumpism is a style of con.  It is mostly just about his style of misdirection, dissembling and distracting from what is REALLY going on behind the scenes.  It’s about muddying the waters so that truth is confused to the point of fatigue.  Take any story line, any quote, any tweet, any statement, any alternative fact and the point of it is really just to confuse the reader/watcher/thinker.  It is the stuff of the classic con. The important thing for Trump is NOT if his story is regarded as true or false, it is just just that you/they/us are focused on it.  In fact, that is likely part of the reason for the orange skin tone and the crazy hair job.

The important thing is that we’re watching him and and we’re talking about him because the president wants us focusing on him.  Even when he is talking nonsense means we’re not talking about more important things.  Magicians employ the same tricks:  beautiful assistants, bait and switch, sleight of hand, misdirection.  By October, look for smoke and mirrors.

He’s good at it.  In fact, he is masterful.  He may actually be smart!  He is ignorant as hell.  He is totally mentally screwed up.  But his mastery of the tools of the trade he is in is something akin to fascinating – like a constant, real-time train-wreck.

But he is NOT alone in this.  Just as the magician needs a beautiful assistant, a fancy stage and a gullible audience, so does Trump.  In his case, he has many many assistants from the shapely Ivanka, Hope Hicks, etc. to the Fox Network, from the Michael Cohens and Flynns to the Lindsay Grahams and the Mitch McTurtles.  His audience?  That’s the surprising part.  The audience is the mainstream media.  They are the gullible dupes.

“Isn’t the audience the ‘Merican people?”

Yes and No.  Firstly, most ‘Mericans don’t think critically or freely – they are ‘partisan’.  Secondly, many, many, many do not follow the news or politics in any kind of detail – just the headlines or the talking heads.  Thirdly, as stated before, they are easily fatigued.  Hell, most of us are fatigued by this too-long-running burlesque show.  My guess is that some of my readers have already stopped reading this blog.  “Dave is on about Trump again.  I’ll play video games instead.” 

The main audience is the media.  He plays to the media and they, like the guests at the Hotel California, can check out anytime they want but they can never leave.  The media cannot leave because they are addicted/enslaved.  Some call it ’employed’.  They are obliged to find a story even where there is none.  They have a hole to fill and Trump fills it with BS.  He’s a ‘story-pusher’ feeding the habit of ‘gossip’.

There is more, much more…..so much….but I just wrote the intro….forgive me.  I have been distilling what Sean Illing wrote so much better in VOX.  Read it for yourself: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/5/16/21258788/obamagate-trump-flynn-bannon-flood-the-zone

A bit more background…

….a friend of mine lives in Montreal. He called the other night. Amongst other things, we talked about how hard Quebec has been hit by Covid-19. “Geez, man, what is it about Quebec that attracts viruses?”

My friend is Jewish. He said, “Well, the Quebec situation is very much a ‘perfect storm’ kinda thing for a pandemic. In Montreal and other areas, there are lot of Hasidic Jews. Hasidic Jews are usually closely interconnected with other Hasidic Jews. The Montreal group and the closer villages are very connected to the Hasidim in New York. There is a regular co-mingling back and forth all through the year. New York got hit bad. The Hasidim got hit really badly and the timing was such that a lot of inter-travel also happened. Boom! The outbreak in New York became the outbreak in Montreal.

“But it gets worse. There were a lot of Haitians that took refuge after the earthquake in 2010 and fled like refugees to the US. But when Trump started his anti-immigration position, they became afraid that they would be deported back to Haiti so many of them fled to Canada and especially to Quebec because most Haitians speak French. Northern Montreal is an old, crowded neighbourhood and has many, many Haitians. That community is poor and ill-educated and so they took low paying jobs in the service sector. Many of those jobs are in senior’s care homes. There are a lot of Jewish senior’s care homes. The Haitians and the Jews were in close contact. A lot. Added into that mix was the calendar. Quebec took an earlier Spring Break. The timing, the virus, the co-mingling of American and Canadian Hasidim, the poverty of the Haitians and then the intense closeness of the two groups and you get the Mother of all Virus outbreaks. It’s terrible.”

Of course there are all sorts of tragic stories of desperate migrants coming to the poor sections of wealthier cities and the disruptions that occur from that including, no doubt, major health problems. But this one is different. This one is a concentration of disease amongst the vulnerable, the poor, the old, the politically reviled and it broke the system that barely works for the well-off (of which there are fewer and fewer).

In a sense, their situation could be the dystopian nightmare of tomorrow.

Bear with me…..

Since 2000 we have experienced the hottest temperatures on record. Climate change is real and part of that is heat, droughts, stronger hurricanes, flooding, rising sea levels and the like. That all points to more and more people from hot, poor countries trying to go to places more liveable. Migration is a growing phenomena. With that kind of desperate migration comes weak populations putting themselves in even more stressful situations. Disease is common.

Trump won’t help fund the World Health Organization anymore, ignores America’s CDC and wants to get rid of even Tony Fauci, his lead medical advisor. Harper took a similar approach to science when he was the Prime Minister of Canada. So have other ‘leaders’ like Brazil’s Bolsonoro. “We don’ need no stinkin’ science!”

And….they may be right. It may be too late for the Tony Faucis to make a difference after all. Maybe a wall, a big wall, a really beautiful wall, the most beautiful wall ever built is what is needed – because, you see, everything is related. Climate change, migration, politics, poverty, contagions…it all came together in Montreal and it is not a rosy gathering.

I am not alone

Lynn Steger Strong recently wrote an article in the Guardian titled: Grand Illusion – How the Pandemic Exposed We are all Pretending.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/11/coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-two-in-five

“I was meant to write about perception versus reality in what I do professionally. The owner of the New York restaurant Prune, Gabrielle Hamilton, wrote an essay about this recently – describing how, for so long, so many of us have been pretending that we were or were about to “make it”. We had checked all or most of the boxes we were told to check in our professions, even as our lives remained in constant states of anxiety and fear”.

And Lynn goes on to basically dismantle the myth of American-style Capitalism and the erosion of the middle class. She’s right, of course.

As I wrote a few blogs back, the basic hard-working person is taking it on the chin and many stories are cropping up about small business owners going bankrupt. The simplest explanation is that they borrowed heavily (often using their home equity) to get a business up and operating and now, what with Big Box stores, Chinese low-cost goods, Amazon and recently Covid-19, they simply cannot keep the wolves from the door anymore. Their struggles will have been for nought.

But Lynn makes a compelling personal observation: “We’ve internalized that our suffering (failing) is our fault – that it is because we must not be working hard enough. I wanted to write about the pervasiveness of this feeling that there are no longer avenues to stability, because I wanted there to be less shame around it. I wanted to explore the ways that, in entrenched and fundamental ways, our struggles were more systemic than just us”.

Two in five Americans would have a hard time coming up with $400 in an emergency. Canadians are in the same boat.

As readers know, I am not a fan of the system we seem to have committed to. I saw all that Lynn writes about a long time ago and I see the dismal picture only getting worse and worse every year.

Of course, just as I would get convinced it was all going to collapse, it kinda would and then the ‘powers-that-be’ would prop it up again with loan forgiveness and Quantitative Easing and now ‘free money’ thrown out the Parliamentary windows. Corrupt Capitalism is resilient, I’ll give ya that! But the resilience is also a lie. It is NOT resilience, it is just postponement. This incredible hypocrisy in finances has happened now several times in the last thirty years culminating in the until-now biggest false Capitalism monetary expansion effort in history – the 2008 banking debacle.

Covid will make that fiasco look like penny-ante poker.

It is almost as if each collapse will be ‘easier’ because we all get another chance…..but the real question is: another chance at what? How many times does the system have to fail us before we tell the truth, redesign and rebuild it?

I suspect that this time may prove serious enough for others to demand change. Real Estate was too expensive, taxes were too high, our infrastructure is failing, the environment is getting toxic, the climate is heating up, tensions are rising everywhere, lies are as valid as truth and facts, leaders are corrupt, education sold out, corporations control the governments and people are getting depressed. But Lynn points out that when YOU get depressed and blame yourself, you are being falsely accused. The fault was not yours. The fault lies with the system.

And I agree.