Island used cars for sale

Two friends came to visit for a couple of days. It was hot. So, rather than work, I took ’em on an island tour in the limo we have for just such a purpose.

They were keen to ‘see everything’ and so I slowly went down-island poking into rough tracks, wide trails and driveways – hard to tell the difference sometimes. The main road is a logging road graded semi-smoothish now and then but mostly only one lane wide, rutted, rocky, tilted, hard-scrabbly and off-kilter but still quite passable most of the time if you go slowly and drive the high-side. Do not drive the ruts or you’ll bottom out. You also need 4-wheel drive if you get off the main road (and you’d need 4×4 even on that main road in the winter).

I deviated from the main road down towards the east side community dock. That steep little side-road is about an eight-of-a-mile but is so rough it still takes about ten minutes to cover. We traveled at walking speed tilting and rocking to and fro as we got closer to the beach. In theory, we were hell-and-gone being on a remote island with small boat access only and then going into the middle of it in an old 31 year-old right-hand-drive Estima (the Japanese version of the Previa) van.

Down at the dock there are two small shacks, built in hill-billy style, but quite liveable. I know that because people live in ’em! One couple has a son about 8 years old. He was set up under a tree just where we approached the first dwelling. He had built a lectern-style ‘counter’ from reclaimed off-cuts. It was about 30 inches tall. The kid was about 45 inches tall. Think: a kid’s sidewalk lemonade stand but without the lemonade or the sidewalk.

Good manners suggested we stop and say ‘hello’.

“Yo, dawg! S’up?

“Huh?”

“Sorry. Whatcha doing here under a tree in the hot noon-day sun?”

“Selling my cars.”

“Oh, yeah? What cars?”

“My Hot Wheels.” He then stooped down, picked up a cardboard box and showed my passenger his dozen or so Hot Wheels, lifting the ‘monster truck’ from the offering for closer inspection. “Five dollars each.”

“Okay, I’ll take the monster truck.”

“The monster truck is ten.”

“Ten? Will you take five?”

“Yep!” And he held out his hand. Clearly the money had to show before the truck left his collection. My guy paid. The kid was happy. As we were leaving the kid said, “Thank you for your business. Please come again.”

As we drove away, “What are ya gonna do with the monster truck?” I asked.

“I have a 45 year old friend, professional musician. Bit of an artist, too. He builds dioramas in his spare time and they are amazing. He also likes to use toy cars in his scenes. He’ll love this! Imagine finding a kid selling his used cars in the middle of a forest with literally no one around for hundreds of miles?”

“I know. It proves the old adage, tho. Location is everything in the retail game.”

Say, what!?

“It would seem that Covid is coming back with the Alpha/Delta/Gamma variants but we are opening up anyway and have dropped the social distancing and mask-wearing protocols.” That from Alberta. “We forbid the schools from requiring masks!”

“Vaccinated Canadians can’t come in!” That from the US of A and UK/Britain. New Zealand is closed again. Australia’s Sidney, is calling in the military to help with a resurgence. Thailand, Japan and South Korea are having outbreaks. The US is having a surge in cases amongst the still unvaccinated. And the list of Covid setbacks around the world continues…..but…“well, let’s go to the pub or the restaurant, anyway”.

The Philippines and Vietnam are on the edge of medical collapse. And we may as well just stop watching Mexico and Brazil as they just keep getting worse. Africa? Well, they are not yet at the 2% vaccinated population stage. Britain and France cases are on the rise again.

BC has largely had a good response compared with other jurisdictions mostly due to high compliance with safety protocols and fairly quick acceptance of the vaccine but BC is also rapidly trending upwards.

………and everyone is ‘opening up’…??????

So, what does that tell you? That we are giving up and that Covid is here to stay? That the vaccinated are safe-ish and the unvaccinated are so bloody stupid they can just die? Are we saying that the cost of protecting folks is too high to maintain so let’s just let this plague play out in the bars and cafes, schools and theatres, the big-box stores and the stadiums? Or, are we saying that we have shot our best shot and we have nothing left…?

“Why not just take a flight to to somewhere nice….?”

I have little faith in experts at the best of times, not because of what they know – they know more than me – but more because of what they don’t know – and that ignorance is showing up as great and vast in a rapidly morphing and spreading pandemic. Clearly they do not know enough about Covid. We are being led by freshmen and sophomores at this point. And it appears as if they are throwing in the towel, “Oh, Hell! Go to the pub if you want and take unvaccinated Bubba with you!”

The good news? This is Covid, not Ebola.

The weirdest part of the problem is that there is a readiness in the general population to go along with the madness…….“Say, what!?”

It’s true! I am afraid that even I am manifesting a bit of it…..“Well, I would like to see the grandkids.” “Hey! It’s great that we are having visitors!” “Hmm…maybe a trip to Costco?” “How do you feel about travel this winter?” It’s so incredibly illogical. Those thoughts are close-to-Bubba-stupid (especially given the previous 18 months of experience). Here we are having been isolated and masked, social distanced and with no touching; and here we are vaccinated and watching the virus still spread and we, too, are wondering about – even baby-stepping towards – normalized life. If the house is still on fire, do you go back in to finish your lunch?

“Dave! Relax. It is getting better. C’mon, man, take off that mask and have a beer!”

Well, I, for one, am not so sure that now is quite the right time to let down the guard and, to be fair, I don’t think anyone knows when that will be. So, in the meantime, you may wish to consider keeping up the miserable, ineffective guards that we have been employing just in case. They were better than nothing. Gettin’ on a plane and heading south for the winter should not be part of your immediate planning process…….

…..jus’ sayin’…..

My wife has a problem….

….she cannot let a log float by without wanting to corral it. Which isn’t quite true. Sometimes Sal can see a single log floating along and, despite her almost irresistible attraction, she can let it go. She often mumbles at such times, “If you love something, set it free.”

But NOT two logs! If there are two or more, the ‘set ’em free’ mantra is replaced with, “If one is good, two is better!” And off she goes in her little boat and we soon have another cluster of logs to add to the previous ones. Yesterday, we hauled up another batch of 10 logs. It was a hot day in July! It was in the 80’s(F), 26C. We were hauling firewood! What the hell?

I guess what I am really saying is that I have a problem with my wife.

Don’t misunderstand me, gathering logs is great fun. Woohoo. But one shouldn’t obsess, ya know what I mean? Seriously? Seen one log, seen ’em all. Having said that, we always need to lay in some wood for the winter and we have concluded that we need about 600 lineal feet of 1-foot diameter logs to fully stock the woodshed…..which, by the way, is fully stocked right now….. and we have probably 300 additional lineal feet of ‘piled high to get dry’ logs already up and ready for further processing (rounds and pieces)…..for the winter after next.

We could (jus’ sayin’) give it a rest….?

And now there’s a new exception to this minor complaint of a plethora of fiber riches…… a friend and neighbour has wrangled a dozen more logs for us and we are obliged to go get ’em. Soon is expected. These logs are different, however. This bouquet of logs from MB is for construction. I have to replace the posts at the front of the house that hold up the deck. The longest is 20 feet, the shortest about 16 (irregular topography). The original logs were installed by an amateur ditz who had no idea what he was doing (me) and they have deteriorated over the last 17 years to the point that they pretty much MUST be replaced within the next couple of years.

At my usual pace of getting things done, I need to start now as I only have a few years in which to do the chore.

So, we will go get logs by the bushel in a few days. We will collect, tow, wrangle and corral ’em. Then we will haul ’em up the hill. Then I will trim ’em and – this time – coat ’em in some kind of goo that extends their useful life. If I do not have some really good goo somewhere, I will use old motor oil and re-do ’em every now and then. One way or another those logs will endure holding up the deck for as long as we need ’em to.

And Sal will continue her collecting. I can see the headlines thirty years from now….RURAL HOARDING! Authorities answering a call off the grid, were shocked to find a huge log storage area apparently collected by ‘the local log lady’.

“Most surprisingly,” said Chief Johnson of the Coast Guard, “we found no cats! Go figure?”

Another omniblog……

Meaning: a little bit of everything.

Two whales did come by, after all! But, well, they were not Humpies. Two large Orcas. Now it is a bit odd, in the first place, to think of my pal, John, temporarily possessing the body and spirit of the last Humpie who visited. That’s kinda nutty stuff even if it is the way I felt at the time (still do). And, I suppose, it is a natural leap of nonsense to think that Sid might find another Cetacean if needed for a joint visit in the future. But even I can’t accept that John and Sid would both opt to switch rental vehicles from Humpy to Orca. The two Orcas were NOT Sid and John. I say that with the same conviction I said the first Humpy was likely John. This spirit animal thing is a weird path to wander…..

Whale Watching at Our Place

Sal went up to the community dock in her little boat with one of our guests the day before yesterday. I followed a few hours later with her husband. Two mile run, maybe ten minutes. Nothing transpired on the trip up for either of us. After our visit, we all got back into our respective boats and Sal’s wouldn’t start. Starter motor dead? Battery? What? So, I hand started it by pulling the hand-start rope-pull (duh) and off she went with me wondering how that ‘dead’ thing happened. Sal got about a half mile towards home and her engine started to overheat. We towed her back to the community dock. A magical, mystical, marine mechanic friend took a look at it the next day. “Hey, Dave! I checked it out. Runs perfect. Started like a gem, ran like a thoroughbred and I even put it in gear and ran it dockside for ten minutes. It’s fine.”

We went up yesterday and brought it home. Ran like a Swiss watch.

For those of you not mechanically inclined, an engine that is hard to start is reluctant for a reason but it is not from overheating after having sat idle for a few hours. And one that does start, then runs rough almost from the get-go and overheats less than three minutes later did not get that way because the starter didn’t work. Sal had contracted two separate outboard illnesses despite not even using the boat at the time! Then, like the mystery that is our life, it went away. Magically.

Did I mention that I am a bit confused these days?

We’ve had guests this past month. Three the first time, two the second and three again tomorrow. Then a week later more come. And so, obviously, the summer season is upon us. It’s all good. The guests are great. But I did realize one thing…..if you are going to be a guest, it is best to come early in the season. Why? Because then, the idea of ‘having guests’ is new and exciting. We love you! But, if you are slotted for September or early October and you are slated in as guests number 18 and 19 or, worse, even higher, the bloom has gone off the rose. We just do not love guests 14 and up as much as guests 1 to 10. Who woulda thunk?

I think I might……..

Politically? Well, I am relatively hard on politicians as a rule but I do feel sorry for John Horgan. Regardless if he is good, bad or ugly as our Premier, he has had Covid to deal with, site C, epidemic overdoses, homeless up-tick and now the forest fires from Hell. His job has been harder than our smiling-idiot, photo-op premiers have had in the past. I always think I can do a better job than they can (especially after Trudeau opens his mouth and spews even more inanities) but I confess that a year of Covid (and it is not even close to being over) followed by a summer of conflagration only to then be chased into 2022 with more Covid variants makes for a very stressful job. Poor Horgan might be the first politician I have not wanted to replace.

I have more snippets to share but I’ll spare you most of it; our shed progress, the log gathering saga that never seems to end, the strange weather, the latest sea-star loss (they seemed to be coming back and now they seem to be falling away again). Sal has been busier than Horgan although she is dealing with quilts and food deliveries, guests, wood cutting programs, story-telling, book-club, yoga, our Home Care program and a little sewing instruction at the school. If anyone out there thinks living OTG is somehow simple, basic and limited to primal survival, then you are mistaken. OTG Sally-style is more full and complicated than brain surgery, astrophysics and mapping the Human Genome combined.

Hmmmm.…? Maybe Sal should replace Horgan?

Whales, ravens and squirrels….

Well, whales, anyway. Whales made the local news yesterday. Humpback whales are huge. Typically when they come around, they are just passing through, sometimes they stay for a bite of marine tapas or take a deep dive to look around and then, mosey off. Humpbacks don’t hang around much. Yesterday was different.

The largest Humpy I have ever seen was blowing real close to shore a few times before I went out to look. There was just the one whale…sometimes Humpy’s travel in pairs. And there, about fifteen to twenty feet from shore just near the shallows was this great, black, barnacled whale doing a head-down dive complete with fully exposed, high-out-of-the-water flukes rising majestically before slowly descending into depths I didn’t know were there. It was incredible. I was stunned. Too stunned to run in and get my camera….sorry.

Once he came up right in front of the house and emerged head up, looking at the shore and so close that one big fluke-flip and he would be beached. I could see every scar and scratch. I could count the barnacles. I swear I even looked down his throat for a second but I am inclined to hyperbole so don’t take that statement without some sea-salt. But I was very close.

I watched this guy who never wandered more than fifty feet from shore dive, make bubble-cones (which drives the smelts and silvers up) and then he followed with his mouth wide open to catch them while his head rose about ten or so feet out of the water. And this is all done in the original slo-mo way that whales have. It is very impressive.

Humphrey (?) was chilling out front for the better part of half an hour. Odd behaviour for a whale. Half way through his visit, I started to think of my recently deceased friend, John. And that weird mental association stayed with me for some time – most of the day, actually. I just had a feeling……but I am inclined to sentiment and fantasy and even the spiritual so don’t put any stock in that.

I have a reader with an untidy mind. She inquired as to the loss of a few Canadian readers from her blog recently. And that noted absence would be Sid and J. And that is because the aforementioned friend (part of the last blog news) currently in hospital in critical condition is Sid. Sid will soon be joining John. He has a very slim chance, none at all, really. I’ll soon lose Sid.

I half expect Humphrey to come back soon. He may have a friend this time. We’ll see.

It has been hard to write….

I lost a good friend last week. Cancer. Fabulous guy. When he left, there was only a massive vacuum, an unfathomable hole in mine and many lives. He will be hugely missed (by hundreds, maybe thousands).

I won’t write too much more about it. Kinda feels like I am just sharing the news but he was so much more than just a news item. I do not want to diminish his loss in any way – even by writing in a blog about him.

But most of you never met him, anyway. And he wouldn’t mind. He rarely commented on the blog (occasionally…always anonymously…but never unrecognized) and that’s because we saw each other every week. Grumpy, old, septuagenarians do not, I think, have best friends – as in a ‘BFF’ kinda way. We are lucky to have any friends at all so we love ’em all equally. But, if I classified my friends that way, he’d be at the top. Still is, actually. This guy was always happy to see me and he always shouted a happy greeting. That’s a wonderful way to feel accepted and loved (every time!). Always made me smile. The memory of it still does.

I am writing now, a week plus since he passed, because I kinda have to…..the only thoughts I have had this week have been about him and, well, a lot of wood that needed moving…..the two thoughts, of course, are not directly related but, to be honest, just doing some heavy, bull work with more logs helped take my mind off it. I guess I am either going to miss him a lot or get a lot of work done. Life, eh?

I do have a little something to say….I have another friend in hospital (critical), another showing some bad signs (serious). And we also lost a family member (in-law) two weeks ago. Mortality has made itself too-much known lately.

I am not generally morbid by nature but you can understand if I seem a little oriented that way right now. Nothing like losing those you love to remind you of their gift, your own vulnerability and, of course, the inevitability of it all. And, if loss doesn’t do it, aging will. Every year is a renewal of reminders by way of aches and pains and the like. I may not go gentle into that good night, I may even rage, rage, rage against the dying of the light but, regardless of my departure style, depart I will.

But not too soon, I hope. I mean, there is always the danger of the next power tool taking a bite, the next big log asserting it’s weight, an errant propeller or even your basic everyday drowning opportunity but other than competing for a Darwin award, I am still chugging along fairly well. I am a septuagenarian looking ahead to my 80’s (I will not be looking much further ahead until I get there). I am more than lucky, I am blessed. I am triply blessed because Sal is good, too (she is easily worth two of me – thus the math that gets ‘triply’).

“I live in heaven with an angel.”

I’d like it to stay that way.

Economics for dummies

Apologies – this qualifies as a bit of a rant. I am writing in an attempt to answer my own question posed in the last blog: Why do I feel so confused?

Given my knowledge of the subject, I am qualified only as an Economic dummy and so that is who I write for. And that is who I am. I know nothing and that is what I have to share. Read at your peril.

Firstly, I think we can all agree that supply and demand are no longer the primary price setting metrics for much of anything. House prices, for instance, cannot be explained by supply and demand (did we get 50% more people in Canada last year?) but interest rates, mass hysteria, altered statistics and desperation certainly come into play. Food prices? Same kinda thing (are we all eating more all of a sudden?). We are all driving less – but look at gasoline prices….?

Of course, supply and demand are still factors but in say, avocadoes, the drug cartels also play a big role. Like the marketing boards. Like the CRTC does with internet services. Like the oil cartels do with fuel. And, of course, the government messes with the fundamentals all the time with money supply, interest rates and various policy mandates, not to mention taxes.

National budgets are now based more on threat and extortion, not basic scarcity or abundance. Or, better put: national budgets are based on taxes (whether they are affordable or not). Government first looks after government. Some pundits even theorize that inflation is a tax (of sorts) and the government plays with (or tries to) with inflation as an income stimulant (for them). If a country like Canada has an almost 50% tax rate, isn’t supply and demand altered/diluted by that?

Of course it is. Basic marketplace fundamentals (supply and demand) can no longer – nor have they ever been able to – fully explain economics despite what Samuelson wrote back in the 50’s. Paul said that it was all about scarcity and maximizing resources in a free market system. It just ain’t that simple anymore.

Now it is rigged.

Mind you, rigging the system is what we do. Always have. Fishermen, loggers, doctors, nurses, the whole enchilada constantly work to maximize their own, personal resources and do so with regulations, professional credentials, licenses, permits, laws, unions, corporations, political donations, monopolistic practices and, sometimes, just your basic cheating. Like the hockey player using his elbows in the corner, they push the limits of tolerance to maximize their position even if it means cheating. Samuelson never taught his students about cheating and cheating is a big part of any business or any ‘system’. “If you don’t cheat on your taxes (permits, regulations, payments, etc.) you will not succeed”. That has been the Capitalist ‘secret’ for as long as there has been money. See: Trump.

Bottom line: trying to figure out economics is now more than just a social science based on the behaviours of the buyer and the seller. Now it is a complicated soup of lying, cheating and manipulation as well.

“Dave! That is NOT news.” True. In fact, all the miscreants and parasites that influence our basic economics have been known for a long time and that is why some of the laws and regulations were originally written. That is why some standards and qualifications were required. Of course, that just means we are trying to control strong deviant forces with toothless regulators, cobwebs and some ‘stinkin’ badges’. They are there just for show and to shake down the little guy. They are largely ineffective. We are more corrupt than ever.

Which brings me to my point: something shifted awhile back. It was a morality shift. It was significant. The collective ‘we’ embraced lying and cheating even more so than ever before. It was like a collective side-step onto the dark side. Looking back, I am going to suggest that the start of the ‘slippage’ occurred starting in the 80’s and got a leg up, as it were, in the 2000’s.

This is a hard thing to describe but, when I was growing up, lying and stealing were not only heavily frowned upon, they were rarely encountered. And bear in mind I lived in more than a few ‘bad sections’ of various cities and towns. Naturally, lying and cheating and stealing were present but there was a larger ‘morality’ that influenced people – especially those in the same neighbourhood. Today? Not so much.

Side note: a lot of older people feel the Gen X’ers and Millenials have lost that earlier quasi moral compass. X and Millenials are supposedly marked by the ‘what’s in it for me’ maxim. Do I believe that? I don’t know. I am OTG. But it is a somewhat popularly held denigration.

The drug cartels in Mexico are now so entrenched, embedded in society, they are now the arbiters of much of Mexico, the de facto governors. Mexico is a narco state and it is failing as a society. So is the USA. Even Canada has a growing gang society. Six year-olds swear like Lenny Bruce, ten year-olds are over-dosing, 16 year-olds are shooting each other and petty theft is so common the police do not even look for the thieves or the stolen goods anymore. Hell, half the murders in the country are done by the police!

The previous president of the United States was and still is an unabashed liar and cheat who is infamous for also being selfish and narcissistic. He gave license to this mental and moral erosion. He enables it. He is followed by millions of dupes, trolls and propagandists who ‘in their heart’ support all that. They do NOT tolerate all that, they SUPPORT and PRACTISE all that!

We have always been bad. We have always lied and cheated. But NOT at this scale. This is different. We have, it seems, evolved and reinforced our worst ‘resources’ and lost much of our better ones. We have abandoned goodness and ethics and integrity to make (or steal) a buck. For some reason, we have slipped further than ever. We have become a society of porch pirates, car thieves, con men and cheats. How did that happen? And how do you plan, predict, manage and live in an economy based way too heavily on lies and deception?

.

Is it me?

I wanna finish my little deck extension and new storage shed but lumber prices tripled and they are still ridiculously high. A 2×4 x8′ long at Windsor Mills was, a year or so ago, just under $5.00 a stick. Today, it is around $11.00 and two months ago it was $13 or $14.00. Plywood sales are worse, they haven’t moved down at all yet. They are still three times what they used to be. That means a $33.00 sheet of half inch ply is now and it remains close to $100.00 a sheet. That makes my 8×8 shed expensive. So, I am half way done and I will not finish. At least not yet. I am confused.

Gasoline has hit approximately $1.70 a liter. That, too, is ridiculous.

But, maybe it is me? Maybe everything goes up in price? Maybe I am just an old fuddy-duddy…you know? Ranting about the world going to hell in a handbasket…that kinda thing?

I guess what I am saying is: adjusting, changing, judging, evaluating and regularly altering one’s perspective is all part of being mentally healthy and seeing and dealing with reality. But that ability to adjust is predicated somewhat on the changes being incremental and, somehow, in the context of a generally perceived (societal) ‘normal’. To be honest, my sense of ‘perceived normal’ went out the window with Covid. Things were NOT normal last year. Hell, the weather wasn’t even normal last week!

Things are not normal.

And that is my blog topic today: My sense of normal is missing, my sense of crazy is rising. And my sense of confusion is wandering the halls with a lamp looking for an honest man. I not only find it hard to plan, I find it impossible to understand….much of anything, actually. What happened to this new world to become the one I am living in now that, in so many ways, does not resemble the world I was in just a few months ago? What changed THAT much?

Of course, Covid changed a lot but Covid did not change plywood or framing lumber. And yes, I read the ‘explanation’ for that (supply and demand crap) and I don’t accept it. And gasoline so expensive? Not because of supply and demand – no one is driving, flying or boating (not like before Covid, anyway). Housing has gone insane! Food is rising in price daily and still half the restaurants are closed or just starting up again. How did ‘commodities’ inflate to that extent because of a pandemic? How does Capitalism work in the new NOW?

The USA is a radically and racially divided country – so partisan as to having corrupted the entire democratic process. Trump is insane and yet STILL an influence! The GOP now state publicly that their main function is to screw up anything the Democrats want to do – regardless of whether it is good for the country or not! How does that digest in the stomach of the larger society? How do we defend democracy in a situation like that?

The USA is in a dangerous place.

Canada lost Jody Wilson-Raybould (not so surprising given our leader-centric party system) but then we lost Jane Philpott, too. And JWR is now getting further out by not running again! The Greens have self-immolated on the pyre of political correctness, the Cons are lost in Neanderthal land and the poor old NDP are in the same hallway with a lamp looking for an honest man. Simply put: we are led by a simple-minded, spoiled, drama queen and he may be the best we have.

That puts Canada in a weak and vulnerable place.

No one has an idea, no one has a vision, no one has even a direction in which to look for hope. This feels like a world gone way too far astray. Admittedly, Climate Change is looming larger every day and that puts us all in bad place.

“Geez, Dave, you losing it, dude? Depressed, maybe? Early onset, perhaps? Or are you just overly sensitive to lumber prices?”

I don’t know. Could be anything, I suppose. Maybe it is everything. That is the point: I do not feel as if I have a handle on much of anything right now. Everything feels off. Nothing feels right. Could just be me. Could just be age. I really don’t know but I am definitely feeling confused about any kind of future.

That ol’ set o’ wheels

They are now working! Working great! Got that old (1990) van working and rolling and doing what old vans are supposed to do. Sal and guests (plus dog) went on a ‘touristy’ drive around the island yesterday (all dirt/logging roads). Had a great time. It’s a Toyota, all-wheel drive van, under 185,000 kms, good tires, mechanically sound, everything working well and even the air conditioning blew cool!

I am 73. Sal a few years younger. If Sal or I drive that van as much as anyone else does their car on this island, we will be challenged to put on 1000kms a year. A more realistic estimate is 250 – 300 kms a year, maybe less. The old Toyota (already 31 years old) is reputed to go, on average, close to 500,000 kms before joining the old jalopies at the junk yard. Do the math: that puppy should run for over 300 years!

Realistically, neither it nor I will last 300 years. In fact, I am sorta counting on just 15 more (if I am lucky). The point of all this? Even tho Sal will last closer to 30 years (she comes from a great gene pool) that truck will see her out and the next generation after us……seriously, it will not have hit 200K kms before I leave this mortal coil and it, as the bard might say, “will have no doubt about it’s being”. ‘To be or not to be?’, is not a question for an old Toyota.

It’s a JDM Previa, the precursor to the now ubiquitous Toyota Sienna, the ‘family van’. 1990 was the first year they were ever made and then it was repeated as launched for a number of years until the last one rolled out in 1997. Right-hand drive. Automatic.

Our island is approximately 17 miles long, tip to tip, but the road system does not go all the way. As the raven flies, the main-track goes maybe 12 or 13 miles down the middle (North-South) and the secondary road, (off the Y intersection at the old Maple) goes for maybe half of that again in another direction (NE- SW). There are little overgrown pathways that spin off the two main roads but they don’t go far – usually nowhere (they were just ‘access-to-trees’ roads). I suppose that If I spent the day driving every passable road that actually went anywhere, going out and coming back, I might accumulate 50 miles tops. A typical ‘trip’ would be eight miles out and eight miles back (see a friend, visit, etc). And we might do that once every three months. It will be hard to put on the miles.

“Why bother?” Well, there is always a reason to go somewhere on the island and, while walking is OK for most of our contacts to be reached, walking back in inclement weather or at night is prohibitive. Cougar-prohibitive. Plus we are always carrying something. Always. Plus we are getting older. Vehicles on the island are necessary but not used often. In fact, for the most part, all the traffic happens on Friday.

Friday is when the food-delivery-boat arrives and people are now trundling down to the dock in the early afternoon in old, rolling, rust-buckets to get their order and, usually, a neighbour’s or two or even three others. Given that the old logging roads are barely two vehicles wide, we can get a bit of a traffic jam on Fridays but there is never any road rage. Traffic jams are social occasions out here.

We are not quite as sanguine about the community docks, however. Our most critical dock on the neighbouring island (car-park) holds only six vessels 18 feet and smaller. We tie-up twelve vessels by rafting up two deep or even, maybe 15 small vessels if a few are willing to climb over two boats to get to the dock. Dock space is at a premium and, when you arrive, the pressure is on. “Why?” Because no one goes there unless they are embarking on some kind of longer drive-the-car type mission. Most such sorties involve catching the ferry an hour away. To arrive at the dock with no place to tie up throws the mission’s plans off track.

There are maybe 250 people in the general area on average spread over 250 square miles and 5 separate islands (all OTG). That translates into maybe 60 or so separate vehicles. Maybe 80 households? Our parking lot is jammed. But dock space for only six vessels is where the real bottle-neck is. We need a bigger community dock.

Anyway, we have wheels on one island, wheels on another and two boats to go get to them. And, in keeping with the logic, there is no road anywhere near my house (water access only). Weird!

Air conditioning OTG

One of our neighbours, during the worst of the heat wave, strung up white sheets on tight lines outside her house as a kind of reflector of the sun. That did not work, of course, but it likely did deflect some of the sun’s direct in-the-window rays. She may have kept the heat down a degree….

Because we have swallows nesting on a gable end right smack-dab on the hottest part of the house, I usually water down that side of the house a few times a day and also wet the decks. The swallows seem to be doing OK.

I also have an air conditioner. I bought it two or three years ago. It is a cheap Danby portable and it blows out air at 17 degrees C. The problem is that it blows out 17-degree cool air kind of weakly into a 26+ degree room and it had no real effect. Still, by the end of the day, the room was still 26C and the immediate outside was 33C. It must have helped some.

We live OTG. All electricity used has to be first ‘made’ by our panels and then ‘managed’ by our equipment. Basically, we can only handle about 30 amps of draw at a time – and only 20 amps on any one circuit. The AC took 15+ and, of course, we have all sorts of other minor draws that add up and so, if we used the chop saw or, way worse, washed clothes (water pump and washing machine), we’d threaten to pop a breaker not to mention suck down the batteries. In the worst of the heat, I was thinking of getting another few ACs. But the math just doesn’t work.

OTG’ers have to be mindful of their power use and, of course, we are. If you are not, you go dark and that serves as a stark reminder in real time. We are good power brokers, so to speak. But, but, but…..when the sun is high in the sky and beating down mercilessly, that makes for gobs of power. With surplus power at the ready, you can use it to…..(wait for it)…run an AC! One would think that an AC is one of the top verboten appliances living OTG but, because of when it is needed there is also gobs of power to run it, so it works out just fine.

But not two of them. I am gonna have to think on this challenge a bit more. One untested plan is to string up a line of misters around the house and over the roof. The water is pumped (big draw but somewhat intermittent) up through the pipes and it then ‘rains’ on the house all day long. That might be effective to some extent….better than white sheets on tight lines, not as good as 3 or 4 ACs.

During the hottest days, we pretty much stopped working but, of course, as soon as the temperature became normal we got back at it. You’ll never guess what our then-current chore was….? Yeah, you guessed right…firewood! Those piles of logs we pulled up and I blogged about some time back are now reduced to half what they were. Our wood shed is full! We have more to do but the pressure is off. We have enough in the shed for a whole winter.

This blog on the elements wouldn’t be complete without a water report. And, as you likely guessed (God, you know me so well) the water stopped flowing again. We weren’t really surprised. Heat waves do that kind of thing. But our source is pretty reliable so Sal went off to climb the stream and see. Walking along to her boat, she heard a heavy gushing sound…one of the pipes had broken. She stuck it back together and we are now fully water-backed.

Living OTG is all about the simple things. Keep the water running, keep the place warm in the winter and cool in the summer and keeping the larder full. Keeping all machines operating perfectly is virtually impossible so ‘live with it’ but learn to fix everything. And the icing on the cake? It takes an amber-coloured liquid form from Scotland or a similar purple form from a variety of grapes and places. Anything more complicated is not really welcome.