Unh…..hello…..?

Been awhile.  Kinda miss ya…. but, well, not much to say, really….not much news.

I am busy….busy as hell, actually, but not really working hard…..chopping wood, entertaining….making crude benches and tables….plumbing….pretty ordinary stuff….the stuff of living OTG to be sure but, on the other hand, OTG is not like it USED to be….nowadays, OTG is pretty cushy.  Let’s be honest: any doofus can do this.  I am living proof.

But, if my presence here is not sufficient to prove it can be done, get this: I bought an air conditioner AND a microwave!

I know, I know…“Dave!  That is not breaking news.  In fact, it might be FAKE NEWS!”

And, you’d be right.  Appliances newly acquired are not news.  Not in the ordinary sense, anyway.  But, but, but….on the heels of that non-news is the accompanying equally as-non-news that I have not run my gensets since May (yes, I start them all the time but that’s because the nature of carburetors is constipation and they need cleaning out or ‘using’ to keep them functional).  I have NOT used the gensets because the sun has kept us going and that includes the air-con, the microwave and all the other mod-cons we spoiled doofuses now employ while trying to pretend we are wild and crazy OTG’ers.  AND we have an electric freezer coming (the old propane gave up the ghost).

Bottom line: Sal’s going soft on me.

Still, there is some news.

We do NOT have a grocery store.  Not yet.  Maybe never.  But that’s OK because we now have an organized ‘tele-shop’ where the store is given a list of maybe 6 different OTG customers requirements.  They fill the list and deliver the ‘shop’ to the water taxi.  The water taxi delivers them to the community dock and we divvy it all up at that time.  Having $100.00 worth of food delivered to the dock costs me say, $115.00 (give or take a dollar).  To go to town and do it myself would cost me out-of-pocket easily $35.00 and the REAL math is that it would cost me $100.00 (gas, ferry, wear and tear, insurance and then add something for 4 hours at least of line-ups).

If I go to town at all, I stock up and the grocery shop would be at least $300-400 dollars (more if you count wine) so we can’t do a direct cost analysis but what I have done says the tele-shop is cheaper and way, way easier on me.  This way, I can ‘shop’ once every two weeks from the comfort of the living room and pay $15.00 twice ($30.00) and save all the aggravation.  Plus some produce and dairy remain fresher.

Bonus: Everything Wine flies in a few cases every once in awhile and the delivery is free.

And the doctor comes to the island once every two weeks.

Costco flies in prescriptions free.

The barge delivers lumber, gasoline and propane (NOT free but cheaper than me going to get it myself).

We now have a ‘home-care- person on the island who ‘lends a hand’ to the elderly and infirm.

Seriously…..this ain’t hard.

……that’s probably why I have no news.  I am living the life of Riley.

Woofer #1

Swiss Chris is 30-ish, strong, capable and full of energy.  And he is pleasant.  Likes to work.  Wants to ‘get things done!’

It’s a nightmare.  We can’t keep up!  In order to keep Chris adequately engaged, we have had to enlist our nearest friends to add some workload.  They, too, can easily outwork us but everyone needs a little help around wood gathering time so they were chuffed to get a ‘woofer’ loan.   They let Chris loose on their pile of ‘wood-needing-to-be-chopped’.  A few hours later…“So, what else you got needs doing ’round here?”  They then had to go to town for more building supplies (may as well re-insulate under the house since Chris is here!).  He had outworked their schedule!

Last night, as Sal and I crawled into bed after a Chris-paced work day hauling logs up the hill, Chris went back at it!  He bounced up after dinner and went out in a small boat to wrangle any errant, good logs that needed wrangling over to our home base for more chopping!  Tides are high at night and more logs are freely afloat.  So…off he goes….

We’ve had good woofers before but we have also had mediocre and a couple of poor ones so, since you never know what you are going to get, we don’t usually plan on getting that much done.  A winter’s load of wood in is a good job.  That was the plan this year!  OMG!  If I had the materials, I could have let Chris loose and, in a week, he would have a small (maybe large) cabin built!  As it is, we’ll get almost two winter’s worth of wood in and I will have to find other chores (not hard) to keep him busy.  This guy is the equivalent of three average woofers.   Or, to put that into more relatable terms, six of us.

Just thinking about it is making me sleepy……

The Woofing situation is almost always good.  Young people.  Healthy.  Usually from some foreign country.  They LOVE it out here and our greatest reward is that they do appreciate the beauty, they enjoy themselves, see our part of the world and maybe learn a bit of OTG’ing and a have a lot of fun and good food.  If we have a woofer for a week, it is usually enough.  This year, we’ll have Chris and then, a month later, Ming and her boyfriend (USA) for another week.  Plus another girl for a few days.  But I also suspect that Chris will be back.  Translation: we will have wood!  We may actually get some things done, too….

“S’up, Dave?”

Not a helluva lot.  Same ol’, same ol’.  Chores.  But, to be fair, we are getting slower at what we do so the chores seem like there are more of them.  Chris is quite an anomaly in the otherwise glacial chore schedule we usually plug away at around here.  We usually get ‘to work’ for a few hours and then ‘putz’ a bit more at something we have an interest in or is broken and needs fixing……our day is a four hour work-day, two hour-putz-day and then some goofing around til wine and dinner time.  It’s a nice pace.  I have even been known to nap now and again.  I intend to make that a habit, actually.  Everyone needs a hobby.

My real ‘hobby’, it seems, is maintenance.  I rearranged the gen-set-shed with shelves, made a bathroom, and rebuilt a few pumps and engines.  I now have to re-build the compost bin.  Wouldn’t you know..?  I built it so well, it is rotting and composting right before my very eyes!  I may just point at the wood pile and mutter, ‘build, Chris, and compost will happen’….

It has been a strange year-to-date, actually.  Hot weather early.  Rainy weather recently.  Lots of boat and kayak travel, fewer whales although we’ve seen some.  Community is active ‘getting things done’ but, of course, summer is full-on time for their own chores and such and so a busy community is really extra-busy since they have to get their own homestead in shape, too.  But we have done some community cleanup, organized a few projects and gatherings.  Wednesday-lunches-at-the-dock are hugely popular. The place has a good vibe to it.  Feels alive and thriving.  That’s good. 

Me?  I am a little torn these days.  Loose ends.  I kinda wanna write another book but books #2 and #3 did NOT do well.  That has to tell you something – tells me to stop writing.  I kinda NEVER want to EVER travel again but that’s a bit silly, too…so I may keep it to NEVER FLYING again.  Or NEVER going to an airport, anyway.  I’d fly if I could launch from home….jus’ sayin’.

I still get ‘fired up’ about politics as a rule but, strangely, Trump and Trudeau have kinda depleted my political energy reserves.  They are exhausting.  Like political succubi…..?  It’s like watching the Three Stooges – they were never funny, but they were kinda eye-catching until you realized it was the same ol’ nonsense every time.  Same for Trudeau/Trump.  Need a third stooge?  Ford, perhaps?

Basically, we are fine.  Getting older and noticing it.  Exploiting youth whenever we can.  Doing what needs doing…slowly….and wondering….

 

 

 

Apologies to Calgary

I have never liked Calgary.  And I may still not (in the long run).  But last week I saw a side to it that I have never seen before and it was beautiful.  Very appealing.

Aside: whenever I am insulting an urban environment, I tend to towards dissing Toronto first.  It’s just so awful that vitriol virtually gushes from my mouth.  Too easily.  I hate Toronto and, to be fair, most of Ontario.  It’s NOT the people (altho....), it’s the humidity, the extreme temps, the traffic/commute, the Ford family and, not least on my list of worst critiques, it is the dog that wags the tail of the rest of Canada.  And I hate that.

I tend to dislike things almost in direct proportion to the amount of power they wield.  I even get annoyed at being directed by BC Ferry workers…….you can imagine how hard it is for me to cope with an airport security idiot.  Or Toronto police.  And, because Bay Street has so much power and influence in this country, I tend to hate them, too.

Part of it, of course, is just GOMs.  Grouchiness.  Grouchy is now how people who love me describe me to others……amongst other things….and you can imagine what the others then say… 

There is no question I am now a bona fide nut-bar: wanna see Dave apoplectic?  Put him on a plane that goes to Toronto.  KABLOOOOOOIE!!!!  That is all it takes.  And, to be fair, Calgary has set me off more than once, too.  Calgary airport is tied with countless others as to the second worst airport I have ever experienced.

“Why Calgary?”  Because part of the Calgary airport (YYC) has been ‘ceded’ to the Americans and the Marines patrolling “US soil’ at YYC (and in CANADA) do not hesitate to tell you that they can take you and never give you back.

But, sorry….. that was a bit of a tangent.  This blog is supposed to be ‘nice’.

My daughter and her husband just moved into their newly built new home about 30 minutes or so outside of Calgary.  They are in the country, the rolling foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  Rivers-run-through-it kinda country.  Moose have a walk-through preserve just outside their back yard.  A bear came and tossed their compost last night.  We saw deer everywhere.  It was bucolic.  And GET THIS! ….the bug count was very reasonable.  And the temperature, the air, the changing weather patterns…all good.  All VERY GOOD.

I have to ‘walk-back’ a few of the terrible things I have said about Calgary.  Apologies.

We traveled there to give them a house-warming gift-of-sorts.  She wanted a deck.  He hadn’t ever built such a thing….. and she wanted 700 square feet.  Up high, too.   So Sal and I were going there for five days to build them a 700 sf deck that resulted in an almost 10 foot-high extension of the main floor.  It’s pretty big.

I am 71.  Sal has a cracked rib.  Husband isn’t familiar with tools.  But daughter is a smart cookie and she had pretty much arranged everything and planned the logistics.  General Contracting 101.  She did good.  He did good. We did good.  And we got it 7/8 built. The decking still has to go on and so do the railings and even a set of stairs.  But the hardest part is done.

Sal’s rib?  Let me put it this way….. she worked like an illegal fruit-picker and kept just as quiet.  Without Sal we wouldn’t have gotten it done but, with everyone doing what they did, each was essential to getting it as far as we did….7/8.  Amateur team, Pro results.

Sal down!

Sal went up the ladder.  Fell.  Landed backwards onto a big tree trunk.  Hit hard.  It was only four feet but four feet can generate big forces and they did.  Whomp!  Smacked Sal upside the back and shoulder blade.  She was hit as if by a linebacker.  And then she just lay there.

I hate it when that happens.

I bent down to offer sympathy and a hand up but was greeted by someone severely shaken, eyes glazed and her breathing was irregular.  I was getting concerned.  Sal ALWAYS bounces right back up.  “Hmmmmm….do I attempt mouth-to-mouth?  Maybe do chest compressions?  Or maybe a simple, fast, hard slap to the face to get her back in the game’? 

And then her eyes rolled back in her head and she stopped breathing.

And here I was without back-up. What about dinner?

Actually, (to be serious for a minute – but only a minute) I was frozen.  Totally.  I couldn’t react.  I was stunned, shocked and immobilized.  I just stood there watching her turn pale and slump awkwardly (Sal is never pale.  Her cheeks are always like Rudolph’s nose, or brake lights or Christmas decorations).  It was a terror filled two or three seconds.  I said, “Sal?  Sal?  You okay?  Talk to me.”

She had fainted.  But by calling her name, she said that she ‘kinda moved toward the sound’ instead of continuing the downward spiral of the faint.  She came around.

She started breathing and so did my heart resume beating.  It was a good moment.

The impact had been hard and she had taken it all on the shoulder blade.  So, Sal was NOT bouncing back anytime soon.  In fact, getting her up only served to convince us both that we had better get her back down before she passed out again.  So, she sat for awhile and then lay down for a longer while.  All in all, Sal was down for over an hour.

That’s like Superman being down for an hour.  Tinkerbell being knocked out.  The Titanic sinking.  Those are all reality-altering and so was this.  It was weird.  There is the well-known dynamic of of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object but Sal is both of those.  This had been a black-hole event.  A singularity.

Of course, I was a great nurse and loving companion and even poured my own wine at the end of the day.  “Sal, why not take it easy tonight and just make us a simple meal.  I’m okay with that.”

Okay…..calm down…I was just kidding.  I made the dinner.  Hot water bottles.  Tylenol.  Lots of attention.  She’s coming back.  The truly weird thing is that, in fifty years I have only known Sal to have been ‘downed’ once or twice.  She is the proverbial Iron Woman.  I am NOT her match.  I am fairly resilient.  I heal well.  Plenty of practice.  I have broken many, many more times than Sal ever has.  But, even when fully intact, I am not her equal in energy output.  She makes the Energizer bunny look like the Energizer sloth.  And the E-sloth makes me look like a dead battery.

But this was different.  It was awful.  Scary.  Moving in a grief kind of way.  I had been brought to a frozen, weak-kneed place in a second.  And it lasted a smidge longer.  Sal was impact-shocked and I was somewhat traumatized seeing her like that.

To her credit, she has seen me hurt many more times and just ‘got on with it’.  No trauma.  No shock.  Just ‘does the right thing’.  I stood there like a doofus quietly thanking God that I had not attempted a chest compression or the slap.

 

 

 

I blame Trump

…because I am now so disinclined to write.  About anything.  It’s all his fault.  He ruined it for me.  It sounds silly but let me explain:

I write because I have to.  It’s in me.  I have to get it out.  It’s cathartic, therapeutic and freeing to let the demons out.  To let the anger out.  “If I unburden myself, I will remain sane.  If I bottle it up, I will go insane”.  So the personal logic is clear: ‘SPILL’.

Spill for health!

But, of course, there is an obvious ‘condition’ or caveat to that stress-release mechanism and that ‘catch’ is that the rant or expression has to be true.  At least it has to be MY truth.  Why?  Because all therapies are about getting to the truth about things.  This is my truth and I am telling you like (I think) it is.  Screaming truth is the goal.  Finding the truth is the work.

But Trump has turned all that on it’s head.  He blatantly lies, threatens and commits acts of madness without any kind of normal-level retribution.  NO work involved in finding that truth but there are surprisingly NO CONSEQUENCES for him!  People are basically just TAKING IT!

But this is NOT really about Trump.  It is about me.  And, going back to my truth-seeking, it seems I am weak.  Or at least confused.  I am so gobsmacked by the lunacy, the idiocy, the corruption, the illogical and the blatant violation of all that is good and decent, I am literally struck dumb.  “How can this be?”

You can imagine what the election of Jason Kenney and Doug Ford added to the mental and moral violation I feel of all that is right.  You can imagine what Alabama’s new abortion law does.  Imagine William Barr playing hide and seek with the Mueller report.  There has been quite a sequence of insane, inexplicable events these past few years.

And Trudeau and Norman didn’t help.  Trudeau and Alberta didn’t help.  Trudeau and his mother’s one-act stage play doesn’t help either (shades of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean Paul Marat……).  It’s as if NOWHERE IS SANE!!!

It’s mystifying.  It’s almost as if the majority of people can’t speak up to it either.  It’s as if they are going along with it even tho they KNOW better…. as when the naked Emperor paraded around in invisible clothes and everyone pretended he was clothed.  “Why is this happening?”

Seriously…why isn’t there a gunman on a grassy knoll somewhere?  Several, in fact?

There are a lot of answers, of course.  We’ve all taken a run at trying to figure it out…“Hmmm…why are bigots and deplorables getting so much air time?”  “Why are they so angry at brown skin when the collective violation they feel was so clearly executed by white CEOs..?” “How can they see a hero in such a liar, pig and con-man?”  And on and on and on…..

So…bottom line, I am not writing while I remain confused.  I do NOT have a grasp on truth, mine or any other.  I simply do NOT get it.  Why is this happening? is the question and I do not know is currently my answer.

And, of course, it is NOT just Trump or Ford or Trudeau.  It is T-F-T in the time of Cholera or, better put, in the time of climate change, saber-rattling with China, economic chaos, growing societal degeneration and loss of natural habitat with the added and tragic loss of 80% of the earth’s animals and creatures.  We are dying in front of our own eyes and killing all the innocent bystanders at the same time!  And the band plays on while the naked king plays golf.  This is as close to a Nero fiddling and Caligula cavorting as one can imagine in the 21st Century.

This is nuts!

Ravens and whales are good.  Chores getting done.  First of the visitors looming.  Sal still perfect-in-every-way.

But I’m a bit ticked…..

 

Blowin’ in the wind

We are.  It’s howling.  Gusts past fifty.  Steady at 35 to 40.  Sky is bright, clear and the clouds up here are just scudding along.  Very cool.  I love windy days.

I was down at the beach yesterday moving boulders around (don’t ask) and I heard a gasp-puff and spun around to see a big Humpback cruising by not thirty feet away.  So close I could see the barnacles on his/her hump.  It came.  It went.  And I just stared at the empty sea……and then ‘whoosh-puff’ a second one came by right on the tail flukes of the first.  Very neat.

Sal and I are working on the lower cabin/boatshed right now but she was away on the other island so I moved boulders.  It’s a one-man job.  It would be better as a two or more person job but Sal told me that boulder moving was man’s work.  Nice to know.

Here’s something weird…..I am also installing hand rails on the steps up to the second floor.  I need ’em.  I have NEVER needed hand rails.  EVER.  But, well, never say never ’cause now, after a tiring day, I stiffen up a bit and going down stairs is not such a sure thing all the time.  I need hand rails.

NOT happy about that!

Here’s something else.  I went over to the other island the other day.  A neighbour asked me to pick up some gasoline.  Two five gallon jerry cans of premium.  It was a $1.80-something a liter.  He gave me $100.  I thought I’d have change.  I did not.  I put about 25 liters in one and maybe 23.5 liters in the other and the pump shut down at $100.00.

Ten gallons.  $100.00.  I know, I know…..“Life, Dave.  The price of things goes up.  Get used to it.”  Well, the older I get the more ‘sticker shock’ I feel over things and this one caught me wholly by surprise.  But..well, ‘what are you going to do?’

Stealing is an option, it seems.  One of our neighbours had his 5 gallon gas can stolen yesterday and the whole fuel tank went with it .  The boat was at the community dock about 25 or so kms from anywhere.  There were a couple of other boats.  The neighbours came back from town to find their boat – docked remotely – without fuel.  Without even a tank!  There is no cell service out there and so their only alternative was to drive back to town, buy a tank and a jerry can and fill them.  Then go back out the same logging road to the remote dock so that they could get home. 

Seems like petty theft for most people.  And I guess it is.  But it feels worse.  It feels as if the bastard thieves could have left enough fuel for them at least to get home.   But NOW knowing that the gas alone was almost $100.00, the fuel tank was likely $75.00,  the jerry can was at least $25.00 and the travel back and forth another $25.00 at the very least and the ‘petty’ part starts to feel more like grand theft.  

The thief likely came by water.  Which is also weird.  Boaters don’t usually do that sort of thing.  But who is going to drive down 25 plus kms of logging road on the off-chance of stealing a can of gas?  Makes no sense…UNLESS..you are already out there and decide that it is an opportunity too good to pass up…?

Anyway…we think it is a boater.  NOT from around here but still, not from very far either….all small boats on the water right now…….

Sal said, “I wish this was an open-carry province like Arizona.  I’d blow the bastards away!”  Sal is getting ornery, it seems.  Which is good.  I need railings on the stairs so being mean may now fall into the category of women’s work, don’t you think?

Coming home to a baby Octopus

Sal and I went south to see our grandson and to celebrate Sally’s mother’s 91st birthday.  It was all good.  Tiring.  Expensive.  But all good.  Our grandson is the cutest child to have ever walked the planet and – gasp – he is getting cuter every day!  It would be unbelievable if his grandmother (Sally) had not already been born with the same traits.  She, too…cuter every day!  It runs on that side of the family.

Sadly, I am the yang to her yin.  I seem to be getting uglier every day, I guess.  Mind you, I am old.  White.  Male.  And that contingent are not held in much regard at the best of times these days so I am OK adjusting to my increasing undesirability.  I still have some dregs of self esteem although, according to most women, I should not.  Still, a young female woofer was watching me rather closely last week when a group of us were working on the beach clean-up.  I could see that she was interested.  So, feeling a little frisky, I went over to chat her up.  But when she saw me approaching, she ran to a group of older women and pointed at me.  They reassured her that I was a community member and basically OK but they advised her to keep her distance, just in case.

Like I said…I am yang.  I should wear a bell.

Speaking of yang……I have a lot to say about Trump and Trudeau as you might have guessed but I will spare you.  I will only say that, maybe, to some extent, the system’s built-in checks and balances augmented by special investigations and Trump’s deteriorating brain have combined to neuter him enough and, of course, Trudeau didn’t need even that – no brain to worry about, his feet stuck firmly in his mouth all the time, his true colours showing through and his desire for the cameras have pretty much stalled Trudeaumania.  Which is good.

But Ipsos pollsters just revealed that 48% of Canadians are living within $200 of their monthly income.  They are ‘existing’ paycheque to paycheque and it’s getting worse.  One big car repair and they are insolvent and having to borrow…..having to borrow on top of already being under record debt loads.  (And, lets be honest; nothing can be repaired on a car for $200.  Those folks are fully enslaved to a system that is keeping them alive JUST to work).  

This fact has to show up….and it is.  Seems there is a minor urban exodus happening amongst Millenials who have ‘given up’ finding a place to be, live and work in the city.  They are heading OUT.  Small towns are seeing a bit of an influx.

I think that is good, too.

“So, Dave…you sayin’ all is good?  You sayin’ that you haven’t written much because you are so busy and all is right with your view of the world?”

Not quite…not THAT rosy….there are still problems I have to comment on.  BIG problems.  I know that.  But, I confess that having some sunshine, some projects that need gettin’-to and a calendar virtually half-full all the way to October already is keeping my mind off the BIG topics.  Plus – my own path in the bigger scheme of things is increasingly clear.  I am an OTG’er and I really gotta keep my head in that game.

Reading a summary of Jared Diamond’s new book helped.  His latest, UPHEAVAL – Turning Points for Nations in Crisis, is his take on the change/shift/mood/transitioning/rebellion-thing I have been musing over for the last year.  Not quite the same…but similar.  Same but different.  Jared sees big change, too.

Oh yeah…the Octopus!

……my neighbour is a fabulous grandfather.  He and his partner often host their grandchildren and, of course, no cell phones, no TV.  Fishing, hiking, climbing, fort-building and all the ‘old’ kid activities come to fill their stay and they absolutely revel in it.  They are GREAT kids doing great KIDS things.  They are 13 and 11.  It’s lovely to see.  Yesterday, when we arrived at the dock (sinking under a great load in a small boat) they were there with their new aquarium.  New to them.  Partner had picked it up at a thrift store and brought it to the cabin and a battery pump water source was employed to fill it with sea water.  Rocks and such were gathered for interior design purposes.  The glass box was two feet by two feet by one foot and it soon accommodated three prawns, a starfish with a clam firmly in it’s grasp, several small urchins, a crab and – the star of the show – a baby Octopus.  The little guy – all spread out – wouldn’t reach the edge of a dinner plate.

It was fascinating.   And the kids were busy.  And…well, I envied them.  All that fun.  All that learning.  All that natural beauty and a baby Octopus.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

Yeah…I know…pictures….I didn’t take any but the kids mom did and promised to send some….