Taking stock, feeling thankful, feeling something else, too……

  1. Grandson born.  Healthy and happy.  Cute as a bug’s ear.  Mom and Dad doing fine.  Truly a beautiful thing……
  2. Sally and I still chugging along.  Healthy-ish and happy.  Together 47 years and all of it bliss (for me).  Sal says “50/50 ain’t bad”. I’d sign up for another fifty years in a heartbeat.  Sally non-committal.  But we’re talkin’- I may have to sweeten the pot….  ……….also a beautiful thing.
  3. No power outages in fifteen years.  No water restrictions.  No roadblocks.  No line-ups.  Hard to have a traffic accident when you don’t drive…..
  4. No traffic jams in fifteen years either (out here, anyway).  No bridge tolls.  Less driving stresses.  Don’t have to watch my life pass in front of me as I sit at a screen.
  5. No sirens ever.  Generally blissfully quiet.
  6. total lack of intrusive TV screens or ‘announcements’ everywhere (what a blessing)
  7. Most frequent visitors: whales, ravens. seals and herons.
  8. Little to NO life-style related stress either (trying to make money, keep to schedules, obey rules, meet deadlines).
  9. Everywhere I look, it’s beautiful.
  10. No gangs.  No shootings.  No crime.  No drug addicts.  No homeless.  No police screaming or shooting.  The most authoritarian behaviour is from the ferry loading crew (who are actually great).
  11. Fewer bills of any kind.  No real financial pressures.
  12. Less government intrusion.
  13. Friendly neighbours.
  14. Variety and interest in everyday activities.  No boredom.  Motorcycle running.
  15. Fantastic seafood, natural and self-grown food.  Great meals.  Clean air.
  16. Schedule set by the season, not by the minute.

It’s all good.  Real good.  But I’ve been thinking a lot…..things are ‘up in the air’ for me……I see CHANGE coming.  I see change already here.  The crooked Liberals are out of government but the nincompoop NDP are in.  Politics everywhere is getting worse.  Trump is like a dystopian, nightmare-kinda-change agent already happening but Mexico is going all to Hell-in-a-handbasket as well.  Trudeau is a shirt-less lightweight leading by cliche.  Central America being taken over by drug cartels.  Russia looming.  Europe struggling.  China is quietly invading Canada by economic means – they are simply purchasing it.

Canada’s current economy is looking good (which is a change) but is threatened by our friendly neighbour to the south (which is another change – they used to be dominant and selfish but not mean and crazy).  North Korea looms as another large and deadly change-agent. Immigration is rapidly changing the cultural landscape.

First Nations are the sanest voice in the country.

Age is now an issue for me.  Me being 70 is officially old.  That will bring changes for me.  Already has.

Bottom line: I am still living in interesting times.  And ‘what to do about it’ still comes up for me.  What, exactly, am I supposed to do about it?

Well, we have established a beautiful, wonderful home-base.  That’s good.  We have friends and family.  That’s great.  We are not deprived in any way and so that is HUGE.  And we are happy and healthy.  So, WE are taken care of…….

And we are here for them……so, THEY are also taken care of to a large extent if Teotwawki or the Zombie Apocolypse happens (which it likely will someday).

But is that enough?  Is that life in its entirety?  No.  No, it is not.  So we have added writing books and travelling to the recipe and that helps…..but is it enough…..? 

No.  Those ‘fun’ additions are for us.  There is something more to be done.  And that is why I am writing….I feel change coming on….I feel as if I have to respond to it – whatever it is.  I feel we still have ‘work’ to do for others while here….like building community or protesting evil or working towards something……

…..anyone else feel this weirdness?  Anyone know what the hell I am talking about?

 

Defending the indefensible

I have to write this.  I’ll likely get killed by many readers (thank God I only have a few!).  But I have to write this because for evil to be done, good people need only do nothing.  And sexual politics is going too far (in my opinion).  A massive double standard is emerging.  I could write books on this and a lot of it would go against prevailing mood and opinion.  Bottom line: the sexes are equal.  Different.  But equal.  Yin and Yang battle constantly.  It is the way of things. 

But….what prompted this blog? 

Real justice is a difficult thing.  And, because of that, we have laws and processes.  Clearly we need them.  Harvey Weinstein is a case in point.

Weinstein is innocent.  At least until the allegations are proven, he is.  And, make no mistake, all the accusations are still at the allegation stage.  He is innocent until proven guilty.

There have been no investigations (other than a brief one by the New York police who didn’t pursue it due to lack of evidence) and, as yet, no actual charges have been laid. Due and impartial process has not been followed and, further, he has claimed innocence in all accusations.   

But Harvey Weinstein has already lost his job, his status as a movie mogul, his friends, his wife and his standing in the Motion Pictures Academy, all on heresay.  He has been condemned and sentenced.  No proof.  The man has been tarred and feathered in the court of public opinion and convicted and punished without so much as a stitch of evidence or a minute of due process.

This is worse than the crimes he is accused of.

“How can you say that, Dave?  He is accused of gross pigginess in almost every case and, at least once, he is accused of indecent exposure.  One woman has even alleged rape!”

Until it is proven, he is innocent.  That’s the way the law is supposed to work and that is the way it should work.  Even if Weinstein is 100% guilty of everything (other than rape), the price he has paid so far is still greater than the law would prosecute for anyway.  You don’t go to jail for pigginess.  You don’t even go to jail for pussy-grabbing.  Or forced-kissing.  Just ask Donald Trump.  The President of the United States.

This convicting of people in social media makes a travesty of law and a mockery of justice.  It is all so completely unfair.  The accuser is often condemned by the supporters of the accused.  The accused is completely ruined simply by the allegations.  It’s a kangaroo court of the worst kind.  Unproven public accusations serve no one.

We have seen the gross injustices of sexual harassment and even sexual assault and we have written laws with which to deal with it.  These laws, when applied in a proper trial, have yielded some surprising results including unjust convictions. So, even with diligent due process, unfairness can result.  How could anyone think that it is fairer to dispense with the process?  Improve it, maybe.  But you need to be fair to both parties from the very start.  Unless facts mean nothing to you, then process must be served.  Weinstein is not getting that.

Neither are the alleged victims.

But let’s be fair, for a minute . . . let’s be human, anyway.  Realistic.  When almost thirty women come forward and make these allegations, most everyone believes it.  And why shouldn’t we?  Thirty women wouldn’t lie, now, would they?

I’ll leave that question alone for a minute (a long minute) but I will go so far as to say that none of the accusations surprises me.  Harvey is kinda piggy-looking.  He lacks what Brad Pitt and George Clooney have, that’s for sure.  Always has and always will.  But he has money.  Harvey didn’t get to swim in the gene pool without paying for it.  He was a make-a-career movie executive and starlets wanted careers.  Power corrupts.  People sell out.  Harvey was buying.  Some may have sold.  Harvey may have used power and money to stand in for good lucks and charm.  He would not be the first.

Moreover, there is perspective.  It all could have happened just as they said (intimidation).  Mind you, it could have happened just as he said, too (deal-making).  “It was consensual!”

I believe them both.  Harvey may have used coercion and money and they wanted the money and fame but felt pressured in the process.  Given that Harvey is a piggy, he might have employed what resources he had to swim in the gene pool – money and coercion.  He wanted sex.  They wanted career.  Not a pretty picture but not a new one either.

Everyone would like the world to be nice and Disney-esque.  No one wants that more than me.  But the truth is, it is NOT Disneyesque, it is also somewhat primal and layered with deceit.  Both sides.

But do I really think he is innocent of the allegations?  No.  Not really.  I have my suspicions.  Based on nothing but my ignorant, biased stereotypes and the heresay in the media, I am willing to believe he displayed piggy behaviour and paid money to get away with it.  All in an effort to get laid.  Disgusting.  Ugh.  But, is it a crime to approach a woman with the goal of having sex?  No.  Is it legislated that one must be good looking and polite and charming to make such an effort?  No.  Is it a law that you can’t tempt and bribe your way into the sack?  No.  And have not both genders used what they had to get what they wanted since the beginning of time?  Yes.  So except for bad manners and disgusting behaviour, what law was actually broken?

Don’t get me wrong.  Harvey could be a very nasty piece of work – like they say – and, if so, he should be punished.  But first let’s have due process to determine his guilt and, more to the point, exactly what he is guilty of.  Is Harvey guilty of anything worse than what the president of the United States has admitted to and bragged about?

And, if he is guilty as we all suspect of something punishable by law, then shouldn’t the law be involved and the eventual punishment fit the crime?

But here is the main point in all of this:  What are we doing?  The politically correct society sitting in judgment without a scintilla of proof–what does that make us?  Are we not also guilty of some form of harassment?  Some form of bullying?  Are we not guilty of unjust persecution?  Are we not guilty of similar behaviours as the ones Harvey is accused of–using our collective power and influence to make someone suffer for our own entertainment?

If anyone reads this as a defense of Harvey, they are mistaken. It is a defence of due process.  It is also a defence of fairness, perspective and a brief reference to real life versus the Disney version.

 

Little Mystery Man

Our first grandchild was born in Victoria in the very early hours a few days ago.  He weighed a bit under eight pounds but was clearly looking to add to that as soon as he could.  He was already communicating hungry.  He was busy sleeping between meals but, during the brief interval between waking and chowing down, he showed a remarkable array of other talents and great intelligence.  Amazing for a ten-hour-old.  Clearly some kind of prodigy.  We are convinced he is an athletic genius in the making – albeit from less than three minutes of observation when he was awake.  But, you know what they say, ‘You only have one chance to make a first impression’ and he did.  I admit that I was impressed.    

And not just by his incredibly good looks.  This kid is really handsome!  Most babies look like raisins-morphing into Winston Churchill-look-alikes but this kid is suave, cool, debonair and beautiful.  Plus his nose is perfect and his little face is already quite expressive. And he is not reticent to throw his little fists around either.  He punches the air like a tiny Muhammed Ali.  Ten hours old and I felt like we were sympatico.  I have a new friend. 

The blog title is Little Mystery Man because I am not posting pictures of him on the blog.  The parents prefer NOT to make ‘Tyke’ famous just yet.  I respect that decision.  More and more social media is seeming like a tool for the mad and insane.  See: Carrot-in-Chief.  

But the adults in this picture are already etched deeply into the ‘cloud’ and so here we are……

Three Generations

The times, they are a-changing – but not me

Sal and I left paradise on the 30th.  Headed south in anticipation of our first grandchild’s arrival. And, as a bonus, to help out with Sal’s elderly parents (90’s), one of whom just had surgery.  Weather was good. The drive down island was easy……we were basically relaxed and ready for ‘family’.

We are very fortunate, the southern branch of our family is pretty sane and pleasant. Not all family is.  Some are nuts (don’t get me started).  But this was gonna be good. We were happy.

It is now Thursday and in less than a week I am already a nervous, bloody wreck.  Sal is not 100% either.  She contracted some kind of lethal cold on day one and, of course, I (the innocent bystander) am now congested collateral damage. Good weather did not translate into good health.  We are a smidge under the weather but, really, we are not wusses and that alone did not do us in.

Grandchild is still pending, clinging like Velcro to comfort, warmth and regular dine-in meals – clearly not ready to jettison the pod just yet.  Every day adds a bit of intensity.  I am highly susceptible to all things obstetric and find myself vibrating at a higher frequency as the days go by.  Sal and DIL (daughter-in-law) are fine but son is a bear.  I don’t blame him. After all, it is all his fault. And he’s feeling responsible.  That’s a good thing.  Me?  I’m just a nut! 

I figured I would look around for a new boat while I was down here but an interesting phenomena is being revealed to me.  Old people are slowly being eased out of the marketplace and, after awhile, inflation-creep and cost of living passes them by….they are ‘out of sync’ with the rest of the world.  I am old and now out of sync.  No longer hip.

What I think should cost $8.00 – I then adjust for the ‘creep’ to allow me to rationalize $10.00 – the ‘seller’ is asking $14.00 and is prepared to accept $12.00.  But that $2.00 difference is a kind of generational/market/rat-race/different-era value-gap that makes both of us feel we can’t go further in the deal.

I feel as if I have stretched as far as my ego and wallet will allow and the younger seller (whose ego is always larger but who also has a huge debt load) feels that they have dropped as far as they can, too.  So, shopping for big items is made more difficult. Small items, of course, are mostly absorbed/ignored/accepted even tho the percentage is the same.  A $20.00 hamburger seems almost normal to me now.  C’mon…..?!  A TWENTY DOLLAR BURGER!!!

(Breathe, breathe, breathe……..drink heavily later……..)

And then some dickhead shoots 500 people in Las Vegas, Trump disses the hurricane-damaged victims of Puerto Rico, Kim Jong Un disses Trump and Trudeau continues to play silly-pants in Canada.  Is it any wonder I am getting more tense?

Of course, this is the way it is now.  The new way.  Up is down, lies are different kinds of facts and the safest place to be in the city is on the ground and ON THE GROUND NOW!  Politics is mad, the media is suspect, the cost of living is officially low when the real cost of living is obviously so high that most people under forty can’t even afford a modest home. Large numbers of people can’t afford their own cars or gasoline but still buy illicit drugs (and die) and that,too, is being touted as the new normal.  No one can afford to live in Vancouver anymore unless they have shares in a money-laundering scheme and I left paradise for all this!

How crazy is that?

 

Dull boy?

“So, is it all work and no play out there, Dave?  Is OTG life just management and labour all the live-long day?” 

Well, yes and no.  If, by ‘play’ you mean casinos and dancing and party girls, then unfortunately not – no playing.  But, if you mean enjoying your everyday work so that it seems less like work and somewhat more like play, then yes.  Yes, we have a good time.  Plus, we do ‘play’ in the conventional sense a bit.  Wine and dinner parties mostly. Sometimes a bit more.  And it is that kinda play I am writing about today.

I like to build crap and, of course, not being very good at it, I have lots of off-cuts.  Plus, Sal likes to salvage wood and, if the wood is old, sea-washed milled wood, she is especially pleased.  “Sweetie, I found this old lump of crap in the sea this morning.  Can you make something?”

I always say no.  “No, sweetie-back-at-ya, I cannot make anything out of that crap.  I can barely make anything out of store-bought wood bought especially for the purpose. That stuff is pretty ugly and has barnacles on it for Gawd’s sake!”

“Well, I am gonna put it under the shed here and, when the mood strikes, see what you can do.  OK?”

There is a lot of junky wood under the shed.

But, one day, the mood did strike.  Don’t ask why.  No idea.  I made a dog.  It was a pretty dopey dog but it was kinda fun.  I gave it away.  And then I made a few more dogs and gave them away.  Then people hinted they wanted dogs…so I made a few more.

Then I made a turtle.  Then a bear (NOT to be confused with a pig).

The Bear/Pig

Now I am gonna make a moose.

Moose Parts

“Why, Dave?  Maybe you should give the casino-thing a try.  Dancing girls is almost a sure thing.  Wine, women and song, man!  What’s not to like and…… well, ……little wooden dogs…ya know…kinda sad…..pathetic…”

I know.  But the wood is here and it is free.  The dancing girls are not.

Anyway, I expanded the repertoire to the odd bit of furniture.  Some crude-built things a bit more practical but still fun….in an impractical sorta way.

 

Is this stuff fun?  Yeah.  Woo hoo!

Kinda.  Don’t ask.  I don’t get it.

But I like to see my bear when I go outside.  I like to see my turtle at my neighbour’s house.  It’s weird.  But kinda fun.

 

OTG…..a weird thing, really…..it kinda screws with your head….

Most of my readers (more than six now thanks to Sal’s recent mail-out) think living OTG is a bit ‘out there’ (pun intended) and not the path most commonly traveled by normal people.  And they’d be right.  OTG’ers think a bit differently.  Well, I do, anyway.

I, of course, write trying to convince my allegedly brainwashed audience of the opposite view and that OTG life is actually very normal.  It is the best. By FAR!  Healthy, natural, non-materialistic, sustainable, critter-friendly and beautiful, OTG is better, way better, than the constantly urban-grinding of your spirit to a nub – working so as to never-own your own home or be relieved of oppressive debt. 

Confession: I do think we OTG’ers are closer to having a better lifestyle.  NOT perfect – just better.   But my bias is obvious.  I don’t hide it.  And I am not just a bit obnoxious about it.  Apologies.  Kinda.  I am like the reformed smoker harping on those who have not seen the light and still carry a lighter to prove it.

But, I do understand any resistance you might have to the repeated message to get out, GET OUT NOW!

I was reminded of all this when a friend recently wrote to tell me that modern living is really very nice, having money is a good thing and that he recently traveled back to his home country to see family and friends and that the cost did not deter him because he was relatively well off.  Furthermore, he enjoyed the pubs and the restaurants and even the madding crowds.  “Modern urban life is good!”

Ergo, my message might be wrong.

He’s right.  Of course he’s right.  And I stand somewhat corrected.  I really do.  Urban life can be good.  Of course it can.  It helps that he is somewhat well-off being a lawyer, though.  And, by his own admission, it took awhile to get there (he’s tipping the 70 mark, too).  But NOT everyone living in the concrete jungle lives large or carries sway at the watering hole. Some never get there.  Some never even get to drink.  Some get eaten. It’s a jungle out there and I doubt that he would argue that.

But the debate is NOT really about that.  His lifestyle vs mine.  It’s not about living close to nature versus living close to a gazillion large-screen TVs.  And, anyway, who am I to judge?

Well, I’m Dave.  And I judge.  So sue me.  (And he might!)

No, there’s no debate.  The message really is just about living more freely.  Having choice.  And because urban life is more expensive, living freely or even living simply and cheaply in the city is more difficult there than living in the country.  In a money influenced world, it’s really that simple – you can’t live simple in the city.  Those on a budget have fewer monetary based choices and many urban choices are determined by money.  I would suggest that urban life is not as beautiful or healthy either but some people like traffic, sirens, chandeliers and gold plate.  And they go to the gym.  So, that part is just subjective.

If you boil it down to the essence, this OTG-promoting theme of mine is really just about freedom.  It is about life choices and freely choosing amongst them. It’s about shedding the chains and anchors that are so easily and unconsciously acquired in a consumer society in the form of debt and obligation and, instead, living deliberately (Thoreau) and in the moment. It’s about finding value and meaning and even, perhaps, personal growth in something other than work, status symbols and manufactured loyalties and propagandized philosophies.  And it is about having more time.

Put another way; politics, nationalism, branding, corporation-made mass entertainment and celebrity-worship pales into a misty grey distant fog the further you get away from it. In fact, the larger brain-control concepts such as nationalism and patriotism and other myriad popular crusades become more and more silly and irrelevant the further you get away from the source of those messages.  By shedding the umbilicals and the money-chase, the OTGer tends to lose the fervor, the allegiance, the loyalty to those causes. And when doing so, we take back our energies.  Feels healthier.

I mentioned in the first paragraph ‘alleged brainwashing’.  Alleged because I have no idea if what I am referring to was or is conscious or not.  I don’t even know if it is real or just my perception.  Is brainwashing and mind-control on purpose?  I dunno.  But I kinda feel that I was inoculated and imbued with a pre-set social programming from the get-go.  I was born into it.  I was taught to love Canada, for instance, (like the Chinese are taught to love China or the North Koreans and Russians and Pakistanis are taught to be rah rah, too).

What’s all that in aid of?  More to the point, who’s all that in aid of?

I was taught to value the system that so-called educated me.  I was taught to be thankful for a life-style that was comfortable and modern and better than those other guys in poor countries.  I was taught to be grateful.  And, to a large extent, I am.  But the educational system contributed less than 5% to my knowledge base.  What did it really teach me?  What was I taught and who mostly benefited from that?

In that great-but-subtle programming, I was encouraged to make the most of my life but, to do so in such a way that was measured by a retirement plan, plenty of money and a big house.  I was told to respect and honour my institutions. And work my whole life for them.

Who was served by that?

I was and am told to trust the police. Teachers.  Priests and politicians. Trust the bank. Believe 911.  Believe in modern medicine, science, technology and especially NGOs that save whales and babies. Trust ’em.  Follow their lead.  Why?  Because all those folks are supposed to know better, I guess.

The mantra: I really should follow their lead.  We should all follow their lead. And pay taxes and other homages to them.  Or go to jail.  And I should go to war for them, too.  If they tell me to.

I’m having second thoughts.  They are stronger doubts than before I left.

As it stands for me, all of those pillars of western superiority have been found somewhat wanting as I aged.  They are not pure.  They are NOT always in aid of the right thing. They seem to have lied and cheated a lot.  They are fallible.  Flawed.  And the common people, the animals and the earth itself has suffered at their hands as much as benefited.

I have less faith in the system.  Call me crazy but I have less faith in the system than they want me to have.

Maybe getting out is a good idea.  NOT because ‘being in’ is so bad – not in theory, anyway. But maybe because ‘being in’ has proven to be more than just somewhat flawed in the execution. Maybe ‘in’ ain’t right?  Maybe we should all take a step back and see where this urban-centric, systems-reliant, institution-trusting, debtor-slave lifestyle is taking us.  Maybe there is a better way?

Sal commented on the above blog: “Well written but you’ve said it all before.”

“Aren’t I saying something more?  Something different?”

“Well, you are saying that going to restaurants is okay.  Why would you say that when we have said that it was no longer okay for us.”

“Right!  Why isn’t it okay for us anymore?”

“Well, several reasons.  One; we don’t want to have to work and pay taxes so as to line up to pay too much for processed food in a noisy environment with all the TVs blaring. We hate that…….and two; it’s hard to find enjoyment in something like that when we have fresh oysters on the beach, fresh greens from the garden and we can afford to drink too much wine when we are at home where the food is better and it’s way more fun to entertain friends.  We just think this is way, way better.”

“Didn’t I say that?”

“Nope.  But I just did.”  

Late for dinner…..?

When I first blogged, I simply wrote about what I felt at the time or knew something about.  Mostly it was about self-inflicted wounds, lacerations and accidents incurred on our new remote location.  But, as the years wore on, I added everyday observations from our life OTG and some building stories to augment.  Then the garden, Ravens and Whales for added colour.  That melange of topics was relatively well received and, even when I went off the reservation with some political rants, it was at least tolerated – if kept short and infrequent. Mostly tolerated, anyway (US John suffers the most on that score, I think).

I had few readers but I liked ’em. They mostly liked me.  It was all good.  It seems I had settled into an odd writing niche. I was an accident prone, DIY-OTG guy with occasional political opinions.  I was a study of ordinary in an extraordinary place.

Of course, there is way, way more to me than just that. I am a very complicated guy. Plus I have Sal and she is a library of study all by herself.  Together we are a fascinating couple if not just a little odd.  And so our relationship started to creep into the blogs, too. We had lots of grist for the writing mill.

So, why have I recently gone long, flat and dry?

Well, the bloody Russians interrupted the creative flow, that’s fer sure.  But, if there is enough water, nothing will hold back the flood and so I guess there is a drought out here in OTG land.  When that happens (and it has rarely happened), the thing to do is write about what you still feel and know.

I am looking for feelings and facts……and this is what that is……

I am feeling a little old, actually.  NOT decrepit or dying, NOT frail or weak, NOT tiring of life or anything melodramatic….just….well, diminishing appetites describes it best.  I am wanting less, hungering for less, even somewhat less curious.  My travel bug is dying. Of course, with that, comes contentedness, happiness and inner peace…..(blah, blah, blah..) but there is no question that I am now somewhat more concerned that I have fewer concerns.  I am not worried about much.  I am not driven to anything.  I don’t have any burning goals to achieve.

Worse, I look forward to dinner more.  And the wine that goes with it.  This could be a sign…..?

“A sign of what, Dave?”

Well, there is the very slim possibility that I am transitioning again.  I kind of go from phase to phase in my life and maybe the DIY stage is over….?  I doubt that, actually, ’cause that silliness still provides a lot of fun and interest for me.  I like to build simple crap.  It’s still very satisfying.  And, typically, the transition stage follows the frustration-boredom stage and I have not had that at all. Plus I love living OTG.  Still, it feels like the transition stage.  It feels like I am girding up for something different.

“Like what, Dave?”

Not a clue.  Sal and I enjoy writing together (which is a bit odd, actually) and so we will likely embark on a third book.  But THAT is not different, really.  It would be the THIRD book, after all.  The third time at anything is, by definition, not new now is it?

We will be grandparents soon….  Maybe THAT will be different?  It is new.  But, I doubt that that is it, honestly.  It will be new for my son and DIL (daughter-in-law) but we’ve already had kids.  Been there.  Done that.  They are small and pink and ooze goo from every direction……really cute…..you know.…but we are familiar with the phenomena.

So, that is NOT likely it.

One thing is for sure.  The years are going by like months.  This was the shortest summer yet.  Winter looms.  Time flies.  Time zooms.  Time is a blink.  If I have another phase in here somewhere, it better hurry up.  There ain’t much time and….well….I’d hate to be late for dinner.