Big toe….

damn….dropped log on foot.  Crushed big toe (my left foot).  Hurts like hell.  I was stupid.  I did not dress properly for the job at hand and had soft slip-on shoes.  No boots.  Very stupid.  Sadly, also typical.

Oh, do not worry.  Please.  Do not send scotch.  Or flowers.  I’ll be fine.  But it will take a few days of being a lazy butt-head to get better.  Sal may have to do the dishes tonight.  Poor baby.  Do you have our address?

I mention this petty mishap (did I mention that it hurts like hell?) because people always ask, “What do you do if you need medical attention?”  And I answer, “Usually, we just deal with the problem ourselves.  We have the first aid materials and the knowledge required is not rocket science.  We can take care of ourselves for the most part.”  What I leave out is, “Well, we usually inflict the damage on ourselves and have done so many times.  So, we have the benefit of familiarity.” 

Getting hurt out here is a given.  You will hurt yourself.  If not doing logs, then working on machines or building buildings.  Or falling out of boats.  A friend of mine who is handy and been ‘out here’ most of his life recently fell off a roof and is still recovering…in the time of Covid, no less.  Lots of people get hurt out here.  All of them have to deal with it initially themselves and, as a rule, they continue to do the caring for themselves until they are healed.  No one goes to the doctor for a ‘little thing’.  In fact, most won’t go for a ‘medium thing’.  We do go to the doctor for a BIG thing like a total knee replacement.  But, for the record: an appendectomy is a ‘medium thing’.  I can take out your appendix.  Should you opt for me doing that, please bring lots of scotch for antiseptic and medicinal reasons, of course.

Health issues for OTG’ers are subtly different than readers are likely to ‘get’ or understand until they have lived out here for awhile.  Firstly, I am sure Sal and I are healthier than we have ever been.  I am not positive because, even though we are pretty good, we are also getting older at a time when age seems to count more.  I am a healthy 72 year old but 72 is no Spring chicken.  We get more exercise, of course.  The air is cleaner, the food is also better and we are not eating any junk food.  Or ‘comfort’ food.  Sal is adamant that chocolate is NOT junk food.  “No chocolate – in any form or any quantity – is junk food!  Comfort food, maybe.”

So, back to the big toe…..

I may have crushed the bone a bit but I did not break it.  Pretty sure.  Hurts too much to ‘feel’ but I can move it.  Can’t walk properly, though…rolling off the big toe is a no-go move.  I am walking with the left big toe stuck in the air and trying to put all my weight on the far left side of that foot.  And that is hampering further log processing.

I have advised Sal to be more careful doing the logs…..

Unbelievable!

George Floyd was murdered by a team from the Minneapolis Police force over ten days ago and the demonstrations protesting it have NOT diminished and the violent assaults by the police force on the protesters have only increased.  It’s as if the police are not only tone deaf, they are purposefully so.  That is not true of some police departments in other parts of the USA but the majority are still gassing peaceful protests and shooting rubber bullets into crowds.  It is unbelievable.  How is that even possible?  Does that mean the mayors of those cities have NO CONTROL over their police departments?

On the face of it, the problem is basically just that  – one of a malignant, toxic police culture and a militarized one that is out of control.  I.E: the Vancouver Police Department had to take down their ‘online store’ that sold a T-shirt that had printed across the front: POLICE – the world’s largest street gang!  Just the mind-set required to choose that slogan suggests that they may have missed the lecture on serving and protecting.  They clearly do not know what ‘peace officers’ refers to.  And I am 100% sure that the bullies-in-blue that make up the VPD are nowhere near as violent and abusive as the New York, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore and Minneapolis police departments (just to name a few).  It is absolutely true that the Blues are the world’s largest street gang and they break the law with impunity all the live long day.

And the religious right, the evangelicals, the fervent fanatics of TV-based ministries such as Franklin Graham, Pat Roberston and Jerry Falwell are supporting this madness in the name of Christ, the pursuit of money and the re-election of Trump.  How can anyone with even a smattering of Judaeo-Christian ethics and morals do that? That, too, is unbelievable.

It all made me think of Disney and the lemmings.  There is a myth about lemmings – they commit mass suicide by leaping off of cliffs.  They do not.  The myth is partly based on a Disney nature film where the producers actually herded lemmings and pushed them off the nearest cliff for the camera.  Of course, for the lemmings, the result is the same.  Death by rapid descent for the sake of the story-line. 

It is a conspiratorial stretch, I admit, but there is a similar ‘dark force’ at work here.  The police are elevating the tensions of the citizenry, not helping.  The citizenry has so far not pushed back very much.  So, the police are getting worse!  The crowds of protesters are suffering more.  So are the journalists (average year for ‘Merican police attacking journalists is 150 and, so far, this year, it has been in excess of 300).  And there will eventually be push-back from both victim groups.  And soon enough, a lot of people will ‘die in front of the cameras’.  The ‘producers’ will get their shot.

And that is the subject of this blog.  Who are the producers?  What is the story-line they are shooting to?  It just might be the alt-right.  It all has Steve Bannon written all over it.  Growing a race-war has been a central theme in the alt-right political platform for decades.  A race war reaffirms the black as bogeyman, the Confederacy as a recognized entity and the righty-whities as the psuedo Christian Crusaders.  Duck Dynasty with teeth.  That literal blockbuster stars the John Wayne, wartime, Orange-in-Chief, the evangelical fanatics and the Deplorables.  The merchandising and distribution rights go to Fox News.  It is an ugly mash of reality show and alt-right politics.  And it is what Steve Bannon has advocated for and what he has prophecized.  And it is what is happening.

Even though a race war is a component of Bannon’s plan, it is not central to it.  Bannon is basically just an anarchist.  He wants to ‘de-institutionalize’.  That is why Trump is out of the World Health Organization and disses his allies.  Bannon wants global insurrection and Trump is his tool.  And, when you look at it…this recent Floyd murder works exactly as Bannon wants.  He is even dividing the armed forces.

“Dave!  You walking the Conspiracy route?”

Well, yes and no.  Bannon wants deconstruction, anarchy and is anti-instution and anti-establishment.  Bannon is also an anti-globalist.  Bannon preaches race/white supremacy and Bannon helped create Trump.  But that is not enough.  Bannon is also back in the White House.  Trump brought him back for the campaign.  Bannon is there to get Trump re-elected.  So….conspiracy?  Coincidence?  Or opportunism?

Like the bad lemming analogy the master plan is irrelevant to the lemming.  The lemming just dies.

 

 

Unh….when I said…..

….that I was gonna shut up for awhile, that was pertaining to race and racial politics. I am just not as ‘woke’ enough on the subject as I should be to comment very much. But I think we all know that I can’t shut up on everything. Or for very long. And, don’t make the mistake of thinking that I am well-steeped in the rest of the subjects that I write about, either. I am not. I am just steeped enough to have an opinion on those other topics but the racial issue is a deeper-felt and complicated subject than is OTG’ing or general politics. General politics is fair game for the ignorant and ill-informed as much as anyone and I definitely qualify for that.

NOT talking about racial issues is not the right answer, either. But, as I implied, now is the time to listen more. And, if you are listening, you are NOT talking. Or writing. Soooo………

What can I talk about? What do I know? What and where is my expertise? Hmmmmm…..maybe I really should just shut up? But I do have some opinions on electric vehicles, weather, the environment, Trump and Trudeau (of course), the police, the economy and living OTG. I have opinions about marriage, men and women, relationships and family, too, but so does everyone so…….and that is what the comment section is for.

Let’s do a tiny bit on the economy. Canada added 290,000 jobs in May! The loon is up! Seems some people, despite Covid, are doing boffo. A contractor friend of mine is doing exceptionally well right now building suites in homes. He figures (from talking to the owners) that the ‘mortgage helpers’ are less about the general rental market and more about getting elderly parents out of rest homes. In a weird way, Covid-19 may bring some families together a bit more.

I have a couple of other friends whose adult children are moving back home and they, too, are adding bedrooms or suites. Or buying motorhomes for the back yard.

Some of those new jobs are in delivering goods and packages. Our little community has pretty much embraced the food delivery, package delivery, materials delivery phenomena much more than ever before. We have ‘cut down’ unnecessary travel by at least half and, judging from the vehicle parking lot we use on the other island, probably more. Those cars aren’t moving much at all. We haven’t driven in two months! We are saving fuel, time, wear and tear on the vehicle and we are saving money in the process as well – people are just buying less. All that has to play out as a bit of a palliative for the environment. Maybe even part of the cure? It sure has injected new life into the ‘gig’ economy.

The restaurant industry, on the other hand, is struggling and I do not see that bouncing back too soon. Same for tourism-based businesses. Same for air travel.

Our fish stocks will likely do better around here this year simply because the numbers of American and Canadian Sportsmen fishing for salmon and foraging for shellfish is way, way down. I wouldn’t mind a few years of that. There have been few – if any – whale watching boats so far and that would be good for the whales ‘cept part of the reason for no boats is that we have not seen any whales this year. Well, one pod of Orcas about two weeks ago.

The e-bike revolution has started and it is gonna be big. Urban traffic will be a bit confused for awhile but, eventually, e-bikes will make a big difference. We may be moving to the New York model where the well-off have a car that they do not use except on the weekends. It is fascinating to watch the development and the iterations of that old transportation component (now with more bicycles and e-vehicles) being revitalized. That technical adjustment to the way society works is a good one and I am a huge fan.

On the gardening front, we are exploding with new veggies, plants and flowers. Our bees runneth over. I have not been an advocate for planting flowers since I prefer to eat what I grow but the the plight of bees is still with us. I am helping to add more flowers – just for them. Seems they need us more than ever.

Sal’s new knee is better than her old, good one. She says she is more confident with the new one when she has to push the limit a bit. That is marvelous news. She’s off to ‘first yoga’ today.

And that is it for we OTG’ers the 5th of June, 2020. Things are alright with our mostly isolated world.

It may be time for me to shut up for awhile…..

The murder of George Floyd is, sadly, just another in a series of tragic results from a militarized police community and an increasingly amoral society that has lost it’s sense of humanity, community and tolerance for each other.  The police have gone way off the rails in way too many places, in way too many instances, in way too many ordinary situations.  They have lost their way.  But so has society.  So has the government.  So has the environment.  So have a lot of us.

A lot in our world seems amiss, confusing and perplexing to the point of despair.

But for me to write about all that is to assume extra knowledge, to assume superior behaviour, to assume holier-than-thou status.  And I cannot claim any of that. I know of racism, discrimination, prejudice.  I know of marginalization, exclusion and systemic bigotry.  I have seen it in ageism, sexism, racism and all the little and large, rotten ‘isms’ woven throughout all the cultures of the world.  I have even suffered on rare occasions from it in very minor ways.  And I consciously strive hard NOT to be part of it.  But I do not really KNOW it.  Not really.

And I don’t DO much about even what I know of it.  I don’t march.  I don’t send money.  I don’t even write about it unless it is ‘in the news’.  In that sense, I admit, I am complicit.  For evil to be done, good people only need do nothing.  And I do, in effect, nothing.

And so, to then write about it, somehow lessens the truth of it. To write about it makes it about me in very much the wrong way.  I just cannot seem to address the problem in any way properly.  I really do NOT have the extra knowledge or the better perspective.  I am a bit thick, a lot protected and I am mostly unaware of all that is wrong.  Worse, I am in no position to do a lot even if I wanted to.  And I do want to but……well, not enough to actually do it.  Does anyone in Chicago really want an old, white Canadian carrying a sign?  I doubt it.  So they don’t want me.  And I do not want to be there with them.  But, well, something is wrong there.  We are all in this together and yet, in so many ways, we are not all in this together.   Some of us are removed, largely protected, not engaged or aware.  We are unburdened.

So, how can I write about that?  It may be time to shut up for awhile.

 

As my readers know…..

…..I am not keen on what the police have become – a quasi-military gang of security for corporations and rulers seemingly given license to harass, intimidate and, in the latest oft-repeated offense, kill ‘ordinary’ people like George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. Change in community policing is long overdue but 90% of the public are apathetic (until they get a speeding ticket). We care but we do not care enough to do anything about it. And the system relies on our unconscious apathy.

We (the governed) are like one-ton steers being led on a flimsy tether by a little kid (the government)who thinks he is special. That HAS to change.

Slight tangent: When I ran a medical clinic in Vancouver’s skid row, we had a policy never to call the police. There were reasons for that; chief amongst them was that they would not come! We were literally one block from the police station and, on the two occasions over five years that we really needed a strong presence to protect staff and patients and we called, they never showed up! They neither served nor protected.

The second reason was that, for the most part, most of the staff could diffuse a ‘hot’ situation with a calm and gentle approach. And we had ‘hot situations’ every day. Anything short of a person with a gun we could handle and we did. And we never had to face a gun.

The third reason was that the police always seemed to get it wrong (for the perp and the community). They would use force and scream orders at a totally zoned-out raving schizophrenic who was incapable of complying or cooperating and then that poor sap would suffer their ire to the point of being beaten up, handcuffed and arrested. None of the social services in Skid Row relied on the police. It was too dangerous for everyone – public, patients, staff.

We did not hate the police, they just could NOT do their supposed job right.

Of course there is a need for a rapid response to an escalating violence but, as a rule, two healthy, calm, intelligent, unarmed human beings can diffuse the situation and do so rather quickly. Send in the guns when some nut is on top of a building with a rifle and a bucket of ammo.

The community needs a ‘force’ but not a big one. What the community REALLY needs is more ‘social-worky-types’ that actually do the ‘day-to-day, walk-the-beat, show-the-badge policing’ and they can leave the macho-military, bullying crap to a carefully selected few. Save the tough guys for the other nutty gangs. The best part for the cities is that it would be a lot cheaper and way more civilized for everyone.

I am NOT going to go on and on about that except to use it as the intro to the observation that the larger ‘system’ is clearly breaking down. Especially in the US. Leaving aside the police problems, the whole justice system is being exposed as a farce and an injustice – especially to minorities and increasingly to the lower and middle class. So is their health care system and their education system. No one really cared all that much because the US held out the promise of ‘getting rich’ and, so long as you could stay in the game (translation: out of jail and healthy), you could maybe get rich (and remain ignorant and apathetic to the other issues).

But that get-rich system has also proven flawed. The rich are getting richer and the poor are just getting poorer. The American-style of a Capitalist economy is riddled with fraud, lies, double-standards and growing inequality. And we, in Canada, are not much better. That truth is emerging and more and more of the oppressed are coming together. Black Lives Matter marches are usually about 60% Black and 40% White with significant number of Hispanics and Asians.

So, what is the answer?

I have all sorts of answers and opinions but all of them are built somewhat on what I know of the existing system. In other words, my long-steeped immersion in the system gives me some knowledge of it but NOT any knowledge of what is OUTSIDE that system (except the newly discovered mini system of barter, in-kind payment and gifting of the off-grid community). I am still ‘in the box’ trying to think outside of it.

Nature’s answer is just to burn it all down and start again.

THAT natural crack in the BIG wall was revealed again as the Minneapolis rioters set the police Third precinct building on fire. The masses revolted and fought back in a real ‘burn it down’ revolutionary way. Of course, no one wants violence and destruction but the Governor of Minnesota pleading for peace, and the Orange president threatening to shoot the protesters and now to ‘unleash the vicious dogs’, revealed the fear in the establishment of the masses revolting.
China showed that same fear over the very peaceful pro Democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Basically, the governments are giant, paper facades built on the flimsy foundation of the passive apathy and lack of unity of the masses. Plus, the bastards are armed. We live in organized gangster-land.

If the masses ever get really hungry and angry about it AND organized, look out! The result will not be peaceful.

Springbox

We need one.

A Spring box is, basically, a settling pond-in-a-man-made-box. It’s designed so that the naturally occurring sediment in a stream used for your potable water source is as sediment free as possible.

Water bearing sediment enters the pickup vent in a collection bucket and then goes to the pipe leading to the Springbox lower down the hill. After passing through some coarse filters, it then flows cleanly out the top end of the Spring box. The reason the filters are coarse is because sediment, if allowed to, will, in less-fast-moving current, drop to the bottom naturally. The upper and lower, multi-holed filters are primarily used to slow the current down and act as a bit of an extra barrier to help the sediment stop halfway up and drift back down to the bottom of the box. Gravel (optional) at the bottom of the box can be a crude additional filter. The REAL filter (100 microns) is used only at the higher, last stage when the water should already be clean and ready to exit the box down to our place.

A Springbox should cut our trips up the creek to one or two a year. That is the theory, anyway.

1 1/2″ input line

I have the right box. Heavy damn thing. Thick black plastic, 2 feet by 2 feet by four feet. Perfect. Thanks to Non-con, I also have the right, coarse-screen filter. I already made the fine filter using 100 micron s/s mesh. I will need to plumb the Springbox to the ‘pick-up’ collector bucket set further up the stream. The pickup itself is a bit of a filter, too. Then: from pick-up into pipe. Pipe downstream to Springbox.

I will put the Springbox out of the way of the actual current…..off to the side. If I do not move the box well out of the current, it will be caught up and swept away in the occasional roaring deluge that is part of the streams winter character. The optional gravel mentioned acts like a preliminary crude filter but it (and the water when it is filled) also serves to weigh the box down from an occasional extra stream flow.

clean out valve

All this (the Springbox, filters and the feed-lines) is being made from ‘crap and junk’ saved under the house from previous projects. And from the neighbour’s accumulation, too. AND, of course, Non-con. Together we can cobble up all sorts of stuff. Well, we can make the box, anyway. Making it work properly is always a question. The hard part is getting the whole damn thing up the hill…through the bush, over the fallen trees, etc.

1″ outlet fitting

coarse filter courtesy of Noncon

And then there is Murphy to deal with. Doesn’t matter how well I design and implement this thing, it will inevitably require a hacksaw or a different fitting or something that I did not anticipate. And it is that part that is the most daunting. Forget the right screwdriver and someone has to go back to the shop (downhill, into boat, uphill and then back to boat and then back uphill)and return trip taking at least 40 minutes if you are lucky.

That’s OK, there are usually plenty of mosquitoes to keep one busy!

fine mesh wrapped canister filter

Obviously the right thing to do is to assemble all the tools and parts you need and then add a bunch more tools and materials for insurance and then a lot of duct tape, baling wire and chewing gum. And then hope for only one or two trips back to the shop. The problem with that technique is the stream is steep and impassible. Carrying an unnecessary tool up and down it is like Olympic training. It’s natural to try to ‘get it right the first time’.

That has never happened.

Fine filter attached to outlet fitting

The good news is that this project is waiting on every neighbour and guest we can get for this one-day project. Ideally, I could just ‘talk them all through it’ on a walkie-talkie from home while sipping mint juleps but I am not kidding myself. I will be there swatting at the mosquitoes of adversity. But, in the meantime, the box and stuff needs designing and assembling and then disassembling and transporting to the base of the stream. That and getting in the firewood and I have my work cut out for awhile.

#1 of 2 coarse filters with handles

And I am not even 1/4 of the way through making the solar oven.

I wrote this blog because, as usually happens at least once a year, a city-friend asks (incredulously), “Geez, man, what the hell do you DO all day in the damn forest? I mean, seen one tree, seen ’em all, right?”

“True”, I say, (while jamming my tongue firmly in my cheek), “but every squirrel is different and they just keep us on our toes all the damn time. Crazy squirrels, eh? We are just really busy a lot with the squirrels, ya know? And then there are the ravens. Don’t get me started on the ravens! Just ask Sal about those attention-getters!”

Remembering NOT to be a spoiled brat!

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the OOMs were the best.

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

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

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

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

“Why are you telling us this?” 

For Margy

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

 

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

 

The silver lining

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did it take to make it all happen?

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

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

Sorted groceries ready for delivery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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