By now you will have guessed…….. (part 2)

I am back.  I was TRYING to get back to writing regularly a few blogs back but clearly I have now made it.  I am back and typing almost every day!  Woohoo, look at me go…..

But back with what?  Car trouble, city madness and living in a moho with an invalid is hardly compelling reading…..I should do better.  But, with what?  Hmmm……in the absence of anything better, why not try worse?  I am tempted to go all ‘Seinfeld’ on ya and write about things so ordinary, you are fascinated at the mundanity, things so banal, you wonder about my sanity, things so boring, you can use my blogs to put you to sleep.

How’m I doin’ so far..?

So, let’s do updates for a bit:  Sal is doing good.  Very good. She even wants to go to the fabric store and limp and stumble around until she is in outrageous pain.  That has to be the 51st shade of grey, don’t you think?  If you don’t think that, you are wrong.  Her object is to find the perfect shade of grey for her next quilt.

I ‘bought a haircut’ yesterday and that is kinda news as Sal has cut my hair for the last fifteen years (save for a few times a sadist in Hong Kong cut my hair but Sal is my go-to sheep shearer mostly because I do not have far to go-to).  This time I went to a chain-clip-joint.  “What is your name and phone number?”

“You don’t need that.  I am just here for a haircut.”

“The computer will not let me in without a name.”

“Use yours.”

“Huh?”

“Well, I am not in your computer ’cause I have never been here before, so you do NOT have to find me or my account.  I will also never likely come back because my wife usually cuts my hair and….well, I am disinclined to be put on your database.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.  David Cox.”

“Can you spell that please?”

“C – O – X”.

“Sorry.  One more time……”

She tried again.  Then she turned to an older lady and said, “The computer won’t let me in.  Is it because he only has one name?”

“That’s right.  He needs two names!”

“Cox Cox.  Go ahead.  Try Cox Cox.”

“Umh…could you spell it please?  And, your phone number?”

“Oh my god!  I live remote.  No phone.  We use pigeons to deliver messages out there.  Sometimes our dogs. ”

“Really?  That’s amazing.  But the computer needs a phone number.”

I slowly bang my forehead on the counter.  She smiles.  I slowly and clearly give my phone number.

“Unh…..could you say that number again, please?”

“Geez, Ronnie (that was her name), I am NOT going to have this conversation with you anymore.  If you need more information to give me a haircut, then use your own address, phone number and blood type.  I am done talkin’ here.”

“Unh, why would we need your blood type?”

To her credit, she continues to fill in the form and I am hoping she just used her own info rather than making ‘notes’ on my file.  More than likely, I am being classified as troublesome.   Which actually appeals to me in a weird shades-of-some-colour-kinda way.

“How would you like me to style your hair today?”

“Ronnie.  Oh, Ronnie.  Look at me.  I have a crew cut, a brush-cut.  My hair is uniformly 3/8″ long.  If you can style it, knock your self out.  But, if the challenge is too daunting for you, please just find your 3/8″ clipper attachment and simply buzz me all over.  And, when I say ‘all over’, I mean all over MY HEAD only!”

“Huh?”

“Just a buzz-cut, please.”

In case you missed it due to sudden onset drowsiness, the above haircut episode is a nano-example of city madness.  I may be boring but at least I wrap it up at the end.

 

 

What the hell is the problem….?

Some dorks vandalize Tesla charging stations and even privately owned Tesla cars.  Some deplorables even resort to coal-rolling (smoking) them if they have a diesel truck.  It is the Luddite response to ‘better technology’.  And it is pretty weird.

Why does Bubba hate Elon?  If virtually any ol’ electric vehicle can out accelerate a high performance Corvette, isn’t the writing on the wall getting even bigger and with better lighting? C’mon, Bubba!  What the hell is your problem?  

Maybe Bubba is just jealous and confused.  Or just plain stupid.  Maybe Bubba still owes 71 months of payments on his F-150.  And maybe Bubba just lost his job in the mines.  Poor Dodo.

Already enough ‘clean energy’ electricity generation has been created just in the US that some 700+ coal mines have closed since 2008 and they are continuing to shut down with a record 50+ closures in 2018.  Trump may ‘Dig Coal’ but he hasn’t stopped them from shutting down coal mines.  There are now just 671 working mines where, in 2008, there were 1400+.  The writing on the wall is clear – caveat: but only IF you can read, eh, Bubba?

Solar panel technology just announced a major improvement breakthrough.  They now figure they can improve output from those massive commercial arrays by 2%.  To make their point they said, ‘that 2% improvement is the energy equivalent of all the coal mined annually in the US’. 

I cannot do the math in my head (especially not knowing the exact BTU potential from each of 671 mines) but, if 2% improvement in existing commercial solar panel power is the equivalent of a years coal production from 671 mines, isn’t the writing on the wall overwhelming?

If the world is already suffering a glut of oil production because the ‘market’ is just not there (and part of that market is gone for good with e-vehicles), isn’t the message impossible to ignore even for Bubba and/or his tutor?

If Germany produces 27% of their energy needs from renewable power and the world (averages) 24% but the ‘most advanced nation in the world’ (ha!) being the US and it only generates 11%, isn’t that a condemnation of sorts?  Just to be fair to the US (not easy) it has ‘roll-back’ Trump currently at the helm and really cheap oil from Canada (we supply 48% of their oil and yet pay twice their price for a gallon of gasoline).

There are over a dozen countries around the world doing so much better than North American countries.  Sweden intends to be 100% petro free by 2040. THAT is leadership!

But the list of ‘leader countries’ below is deceptive.  It has the US and China on it because of how much new renewables are coming on line but the list does not balance off increased petro-use in those countries.  They are both becoming larger energy consumers.  China is a huge renewables leader but, because their population has discovered middle class consumerism, their appliances and automobile growth is faster.  It also includes Iceland because Iceland heats with natural, geo-thermal systems so …..not really new, is it?  Canada is not there despite 65% of our energy use coming from renewables (Hydro and Nuclear).  It is generally conceded that the best countries on some unfathomable metric are:

Iceland, Sweden, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, United Kingdom, Germany, Uruguay

Denmark, Morocco, USA, Kenya.

So?  The point?  The world is getting on the bandwagon.  THEY are responding if not to the threat of climate change, then to the increasing preferences of the market place.  People in Sweden, Norway and Denmark are demanding it.  Their governments are responding.  Those folks are well educated.  So is their government.

But we aren’t.  And our governments aren’t.  ‘Mericans aren’t and their government is actively retarding any such progress.  Trump’s base of ignorant deplorables even vandalizes Teslas and coal-rolls them.  We have Doug Ford, Jason Kenney and the usual out-to-lunch bunch preaching petro-Luddism but worse, we have self-crowned environmentalists like Trudeau pushing BIG oil, too!  Our folks are NOT well educated.

Is it we who are to blame?  I mean;  Danes and Swedes demand clean air and get clean air.  Germans demanded clean electricity and GOT clean electricity.  We are NOT getting….is it because we are NOT demanding?

Maybe a better ‘on-the-ground’, what-can-I-do question is: what is the greenie equivalent to vandalizing and coal-rolling?  Do I hafta throw broccoli heads at Bubbas?  Is that what it is gonna take?

Futility

When Justin Trudeau first got elected, I wrote to him.  I don’t know him but I had connections.  He got the letter.

The letter was polite.  I did not call him names or criticize him because that would be counter-productive and, anyway, he had just gotten in and I was just ecstatic that Harper had been turfed.  I got a response.

I wrote something along the lines of the following only more formal and polite:  “Justin, I have no idea what your party platform is (the Liberals always have a spongy platform on a gelatinous base and they are flexible and opportunistic at all times.  The official platform means nothing) but I am gonna advise you on one critical issue.  Pipelines.  Especially Trans Mountain.  Parliamentarians think the world revolves around Toronto and Ottawa.  Your perspective is wrong.  The truth is that the world revolves around the natural environment and, in BC, that environment is extra loved.  British Columbians on the coast, in particular, will not accept seven massive oil tankers full of sludge every day plying the Gulf of Georgia.

“I know that you claim to be an environmentalist but you are also a politician with a nasty oil-province bastard in the family.  So, it will be hard.  But nothing will tax your leadership like pipeline issues.  Tread carefully and get creative.  Diluted bitumen will not be well received here.  Consider building a refinery in Alberta.  Consider going east with a different pipeline.  Consider going anywhere but do NOT use the Gulf of Georgia.  That will be your undoing.”

Of course, we know where that warning went eventually.  It went the way of almost all letters to government these days.  Round file.  But I had to write.  I had to do what I can.  And that one was so obvious.  I have written several letters over the past few years and it has only been lately that I am now convinced they are no longer read.  I used to get nice form letters back from some flunky but now I get nothing.

Which is too bad.  It seems hearing from the citizenry is not appreciated by government now – if it ever was.  But, even if ignored in the minds of the decision makers, the writer usually received some acknowledgement of their efforts.  Not anymore, it seems.  These guys are more unaccountable and unresponsive than ever.

They seem to think:  “To hell with ’em.  Let ’em eat cake or watch hockey or something…” 

The irony, of course, is that a failing environment sinks all boats.  To pollute, poison, savage and ravage and harvest all the trees, to rape the oceans and leave them unproductive, to continue to add carcinogens to our lives is really quite bad for even the oil business.  Who they gonna sell to if everyone is on chemo?  Why that doesn’t register with them is beyond me.

But that is the way it is in 2020.

For the record, I write to the Provincial Legislature, too.  Horgan.  Weaver.  I even write to Socred/Liberals, as well.  But no one writes back.  No one acknowledges anything.  Occasionally some hack Assistant Deputy Minister will grudgingly cut and paste a few form-letter paragraphs that miss the entire point I was raising.  But, generally speaking, they don’t care.   I confess that, when faced with a glacier of indifference, I eventually feel like giving up but well, it is not easy to stop writing.  So, I keep it up.

Futility, they name is Dave.

I wrote all that above so I could tell you about a recent exception.  Provincial Ministry of Transportation wrote back to explain to me what I already knew and had told them in my letter to them.  It’s about roads.  But this one is a classic in stupid responses: In the letter from Ms Cousens, she states, “If you are faced with downed trees on the old logging road, call the Mainroad Contracting helpline.  I know that road and have traveled it.  I also know there is no cell service on that road or even half that island.  So call them as soon as you get out.”

“Uh, Ms Cousens, if you know there is no cell service and you also know that people can NOT get out on the logging road due to fallen trees, how are they to ‘get out and make a call’?  Unless, like me, they actually take a chainsaw with them and take the trees away?

“And then, Ms Cousens, this may be hard to grasp from your office in Victoria, but why would I call Mainroad to remove trees I have already removed?”

I dunno…is it better to get no letters in response?  Is that worse than stupid letters in response?  Has the world gone entirely mad?  In every respect?

And, really, how much do we pay Ms Cousens for sitting in an office and coming up with that crap?

Yes, you are right, convalescing in Campbell River makes for disgruntlement.  Disgruntlement, for me, means taking it out on stupid bureaucrats.  At least they are not an endangered species.  Too bad. They should be.

 

Romancing the English Patient (Sal was born in England)

Valentine’s day is imminent.  And Sal and I have been together for 50 years.  I really should be traditionally romantic at least ONCE in my life, don’t you think?  But there’s a problem with that…I am generally a very romantic fella and I ‘lay it on kinda thick’ most of the time.  Every day, actually.  I am a romantic.  Like an Italian – obnoxiously so.

To be honest, I am kinda sickening about it if viewed from a bird’s eye (read: normal person’s) perspective – but I don’t view it from up there (laws of physics and aging limit my air-time these days).  Sal sometimes rolls her eyes.  And she has groaned.  I know it is all a BIT much at times, but a romantic has to do what a romantic has to do.  And I call her the ‘ol’ Puddin’, too (but that is mainly because I think ‘ol’ Puddin’ is really stupid-funny and I have been saying that for years for my own amusement.  I started calling her that when she was just 17.  OK, I have an odd sense of humour….. 

‘Sweetie-pie’ and such is not just an endearment, it has become Sally’s daily-use name.  ‘Course, ‘Sweetie-pie’ is interchangeable as to the sexes and Sal uses that for me, too.  Worse, we use ‘Sweetie-pie’ for my son and daughter quite a bit as well.  Daughter is OK with it but my son (especially when he was in high school) admonished me for using the term too loosely around his friends.  So, I compromised.  He became the much more masculine, ‘Sweetie’.  NO pie.

But, like most compromises, no one was very happy about it (except his friends).  I went back to Sweetie-pie.  He is now 37.  I am gonna hafta change.  Fortunately, I have grandchildren on whom I will burden such a cursed moniker.  It will help toughen them up.

But back to Val’s day……one cannot get too romantic with a women whose leg just went through major surgery so I am gonna have to get creative.  Hmmmm….we DO have a lot of pain-killers at the moment……

The easiest route to Sally’s heart, of course, is Roger’s Chocolates.  I have mended many wounds and bruised hearts over the past five decades with chocolate and Roger’s is by far the best over-the-counter remedy.  Flowers work but, you know how it is….we live in the forest and nature’s beauty is omnipresent for us.  Still, they can’t hurt.

But I need to stretch, think outside the usual charm offensive (charm: which I understand is now a smidge offensive to anyone belonging to the Me Too movement).  Dinner out is out.  Sal’s leg won’t allow for that quite yet.  A handful of diamonds is out….perhaps it shouldn’t be but it is at least out of reach right now.

We could just settle for bubbly, flowers and chocolate and some minor billing and cooing but, somehow, methinks that is NOT going to be sufficient to get her in the right mood.  And, what would we do if it did change her mood to something worse (repercussions of the Me Too)?  There is nothing quite as romantically off-putting as a tangly-haired woman grimacing in pain and telling me what to do – ‘get me a pillow and, damn it, do it quickly!’

That is NOT the kind of pillow-talk I am aiming for.

Hmmmm…..they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder…….

 

A day in the life of an invalid

I am NOT talking about Sal.  That gal is charging along!  She ain’t sprinting yet but she gets up, looks at her walker as if to dismiss it…and I have to say, “Use the walker, Sweetie.  You are only at day 5 and you are practically moving well enough for Cirque du Soleil tryouts already.  Please do not push it.”  “I won’t”, she says.  And then she walks the five feet to get her walker.

This is day five after the operation but only day three of being on J&J’s  front lawn.  The entry to the moho is over 100 feet from the entry to the bathroom.  She has been down that path many times already.  I am guessing that she has walked close to 1000 feet from having been discharged.  To me, that is amazingly fast recovery time.  Admittedly, her endurance is limited.  After each trek, she kinda collapses but only for ten or 15 minutes.  C’mon!  That’s pretty damn good.

I can’t really say that I AM the invalid……because, I am not.  But I am a bit constrained by my space.  I am a 2XL in a 1XL space, if you get my meaning.  The kitchen has precisely 2 square feet of counter space and so my culinary efforts are very, very limited.  Take Out Chinese last night.  Friend’s Thai curry ‘take-out’ the night before.  But I can make her coffee and a bowl of cereal so, in that sense, I am a great husband.

Well, good enough, it seems.  She’s still smiling and in very good spirits.

Unless the scheduled physio (starting next week) knocks her down, I am thinking she will be quicker than the 6 weeks they estimated.  I am gonna dissuade accelerating the healing process but, to be frank, she is already accelerating it naturally.

“So, Sal…..maybe we should talk about the ravine and the plumbing pick-up?”

“Ok, Ok….I’ll slow down.  I will.  I promise.” 

Our routine is pretty sad, really.  We wake up late (9:00).  Say nice morning things to each other.  Then I make her coffee and me, tea.  We look at emails (very important to email us as it is the only real entertainment we have) and then we trek to the bathrooms for ablutions.  By the time we have done that, the clock does not seem to have moved….it’s like we are caught in a ‘rip or tear’ in the time-space-front lawn continuum. The day ssslllllooowwwwwsssssss.  But Sal has to do exercises a few times a day and I get to be the ‘personal trainer.’  “Push, Sal.  Push.  That’s right.  Lift Sal.  C’mon, try harder.  Lift!  Now stretch, Sal, stretch.  Can you wash those dishes now?”

Oh, I am only kidding, you guys.  I wash the dishes.  Of course I wash the dishes!  That should NOT have to be said out loud but I tend to paint myself as a dickhead and that is what a dickhead would do.  I may NOT be a total dickhead but I certainly know how it is doneAnd I COULD relapse into dick-headism at any moment.

And THAT is why I said ‘a day in the life of a dic…..ooops……invalid’.

We are here…

….in a motorhome.  By the shores of the Campbell river.  Leaning a bit heavily on our friend’s kindness.  We are in recovery (both of us. I do not handle damages to family members well…unless it is me).

But Sal walked today…about 200 feet (100 feet OUT – 100 feet back)!  And she was very happy about it until the 175 foot mark.  “Sheesh, that was a good walk but the last few feet getting back is a bit tough but….I’ll be fine….”  Then she mounted the stairs and got back in to bed.

And that is likely to be our routine for awhile.  Which is good, really.  Firstly, she walked very well.  She walked with confidence.  AND she kinda walked a bit more quickly than I thought she could.  Plus, after her first day’s 300 foot marathon, the doc said, ‘don’t push it.  Keep doing it but not that much.’  So she just did 2/3 of a marathon.  All and all that is very good progress.

And, as a bonus, two ravens showed up this morning!  Sat in the closest tree.  Squawked like hell for a couple of minutes and then left.  It was very much like home….a bit weird but also strangely comforting.

This a 30 foot class A motorhome.  All the modcons.  And this kinda rig used to be the aspiration…kinda….I would have loved to have had a 30 foot stealth camper, a converted bread-van with a sign on the side that said, “Western Plumbing and Sewage”.  Maybe “Western Plumbing and Irrigation.” You know….?  A mobile home we can live in, reside comfortably and that didn’t draw any attention.  I planned on parking in golf course parking lots.  We’d look like we belonged there.  They are quiet at night.  It was an idea….and I kind of kept that idea percolating….

….but the moho is just not as fun as it used to be.  Of course, I know that the present situation is colouring my view (and the day with the flat tire) but, well…I know what my enthusiasm feels like and I know when it is absent.  My enthusiasm for a moho has left the parking lot.  Must be an age-thing, eh?  Could be a Trump-thing…..I suppose….

It may come back next November…..we’ll see.

As you will well understand, I am sure, there is NOT that much news to share in convalescence….it is a state of being that is marked primarily by boredom interrupted occasionally by pain and/or frustration.  Bowel movements become news.  But it might be worse for Sal.  People like her need to move around.  It is who she is.  We all call her the Energizer Bunny.  She has ravines to attend to, quilts to quilt and outboard engines to fix.  There will not be much of any of that for awhile.  But I can see the squares of cloth, the ravens, her little boat trips, the stream and ravine looming in her not-so-distant future.  I think we are past the worst of the operation stage and now we are fully into the rehab segment.

I am not 100% sure about much but one thing I know: there WILL BE QUILTS!

 

 

But…….(the continuance from the last cliffhanger blog)

The hospital is new and bright and clean and confidence-inspiring.  Which is good as I have very little confidence in ‘the system’ as it is.  Fortunately, our surgeon feels a smidge the same way.  We found out because all the nurses on the ward extol his work habits, his discipline, his skill and his attention to detail.  He’s a nice guy as well.  But it became pretty clear that he didn’t trust everyone in the ‘system’ (including the staff) to do what he wanted so he came in every day and did it himself.  ON THE WEEKEND!  Even to getting bags of ice and other ‘duties’ atypical of surgeons.

Sadly, his fears were somewhat confirmed.  The first night the ‘kitchen’ forgot Sal and her roommate.  They had nothing but the brownies I brought them and the nurses tried to make up for it with week-old, cellophane sandwiches.  Sal didn’t mind.  Neither did I, really.  No one goes to the hospital for the food.

After her operation, she was pretty cocky.  Swinging her leg like a Rockette, smiling as she hobbled along to the bathroom, telling me, “No pain.  This is good!”.  We were both encouraged but I was stunned.  I had reconstructive surgery 40 years ago and the Tortures of the Inquisition pale compared to that deal!  Only the Salem witches had it worse.

But Sal was ready for more……..

So her physio marched her like the Marines march Grunts.  Less than 30 hours after the re and re, she was led on a 300 foot trek around the ward.  Sal’s roommate and her physio went 25 feet and she came back in a wheelchair.  Sal was a bit ticked after The Long March and she is simply NOT the type to get annoyed or complain.  And the long first trip had also exhausted her.  But she became downright angry about it when she awoke to a swollen, stiff, extremely painful knee the next day.  A few words were exchanged.  The next day the physio took her only 25 feet and then into a chair.  But she still had to go up and down stairs (three) a couple of times before she was released.  I was there  – watching without breathing.  I asked if they had oxygen for me.

They were good.  Kinda.  Mostly.  My view is somewhat biased from the get-go.  I HATE hospitals with a passion (mostly because I associate them with sadness, pain and often grief…my bad).  Should you ‘press the button for the nurse’ the chances of them coming were about 50/50.  If they came and then went off to get meds or painkillers or something, the odds were better…maybe 3 out of 4.  And, of course, different shifts of staff seemed to be operating without any knowledge of the previous shift’s work.

“I don’t work here usually.  I am in Cardio as a rule.  Ha!  What do I know about changing a dressing?”  

The second night I brought them sushi and tempura.  Sal was ecstatic.  Even the food delivery people said, “Wow!  That’s way better than this stuff!”   Sal’s roommate was very appreciative.  THAT kinda tells what you already know: hospital food sucks!

Overall rating?  GREAT!  Why?  Because they ‘gave her back’ pretty much intact.  The knee will heal. That is NOT always the case with hospitals.  We lucked out this time.  And we came away with a REAL appreciation for the surgeon, not only because he did a good job, but just as much because he cared enough to do all the post-op follow up.  Dr. Tung is good.