We’re pretty busy

Two weeks of guests right after three weeks of major family trauma. That was stressful and definitely wears on ya a bit. I feel a bit worn. But we also have all the seasonal chores and they are increasingly pressing……because we haven’t done ’em yet! Wood getting, gardening, rebuilding some stairs, building a warm-room for the plumbing, re-establishing a new fire-fighting station. And, natch, all the day-to-day chores and community obligations that come with living OTG. Here we are, dragging our very cute butts into our mid 70’s and we are as busy as feral pigs.

The truth, of course, is a smidge different. The workload described (only partially) above is not what is SSSOOooooooooo much. It is just that we are getting on. It is our capacity to do what we used to do quickly and easily that has diminished. This is just aging-in-place OTG.

How does one actually do that? Well, firstly, we work little bits at a time. Two straight hours is a ‘shift’. I built a deck that hangs on the side of a huge rocky outcropping so as to allow Sally safe passage over there as she gets older. That deck is less than 10 x 10. It has taken me a week just to frame it in. And then I need to build the stairs for that deck. So a little deck will take a lot of time. More than it should.

We have 30 to 40 logs to still bring up (the engine crapped out and required attention). But we’ll do that in 6 to 8 logs a day….starting soon. No, I really mean it! Soon! That log-haul number is enough work for one day. More than 8 logs-a-day will likely cause one of us an injury.

The warm room is required to get through cold winters without having to shut down the water system. That too-frequent ‘frozen’ week with water totes is getting annoying. And that project starts with more lumber. And that lumber has not even been ordered yet. It’s June already!

A surprise addition to the never-ending chore list came from our community’s increased awareness of forest fire vulnerability. That lead to a community plan-of-sorts. That plan allowed us to do a bulk purchase for some fire-fighting equipment (FFE). That FFE needs to to be housed, insulated, organized, powered and some of it has to be placed around the property. That is a chore and a half.

And so it goes….and I only mentioned maybe 25% of all that we have to get done.

Which actually means: we will be lucky to get 25% of all that needs doing finished.


Am I complaining? Not really. That stuff is mostly interesting. That stuff keeps us fitter than I would be if still living in the cul-de-sac. That stuff eliminates even a hint of boredom. And that stuff simply NNNEEEEEDDS doing. I mean, there really is no choice, no one to hire, no help coming. This is necessary stuff. Somehow, the demands of the necessary are more tolerable than are the demands of the optional. Yes, grasshopper, you may quote me on that.

I mention all that because, well, I feel a bit inadequate. Joe Biden, who is older than me, managed to pass 350 new laws into place these past two years. And he did that while boosting the US economy, supporting a war by proxy in Ukraine and facing down maniacal Maga morons. Mind you, we both seem to fall down at the same rate. But, otherwise, Joe is showing me up.

I also mention that because, well, the US police force is not highly regarded for their intelligence, education or even their familiarity with their own laws (see Clarence Thomas). Not every authority figure is well read (see Republicans). And Joe just added 350 new laws! I dunno….do they really need a whole lotta new laws now? Or might it be better for everyone if the majority of the people and the police just managed to obey, say, the most important 100? Jus’ sayin….

Tooting and listening….

….to my own horn. I just re-read ACCIDENTAL FUGITIVES. Damn! I enjoyed it all to hell!

To be fair, I can see a lot of mistakes and poor writing in it now but the story really moved along and seniors Charlie and Nancy were lucky and smart and just ahead of the FBI the whole way through. Mostly lucky.

It was exciting!

That book was written in the 2015/2016 winter before and at-the-time of Trump’s inauguration. And it turned out to be extremely prescient. In fact, it was, given the last six years of Trump and friends, a smidge understated. Trump was pictured as a hateful, divisive bigot inciting violence and, of course, we learned later that he was actually much worse than that.

That book did not sell. It should have. It was good enough to sell a few thousand copies but it did not. One main reason (aside from the bad writing) was that a first-run copy was ‘comped’ to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) for promotional purposes and the woman in charge of recommending books rejected it on the basis that it was too political. My guess is that she was a Republican.

Because it was written for seniors and was about seniors, AARP and CARP were the target audience. We did not even try CARP. AF died without even getting on life support.

I mention all this because reading it again has rekindled my interest in writing another Charlie Moon action thriller. That Charlie! Whattaguy!

My hesitation is that Charlie is older now (over 75) and thrilling action has pretty much been put on hold. Charlie’s idea of thrilling action now is limited to reaching for the potatoes at dinner or pouring a new bottle of scotch. Hard to paint an action hero who naps.

Anyway, there is a bit more to this blog than just my own horn tooting. I was looking back….to that time…and the book release…..and I realized that the book died partly because of very small-scale politics. That Republican AARP rep didn’t like the political slant. One small Canadian doofus was affected in one small way by one small Republican and her small-minded Trumpian mindset. If I, a remote Canuck, can feel the effects of Trumpism all the way up here, imagine what that country has already felt these past few years.

I.e. We had two Dutch women fly out to visit us a few years ago (2017). One younger (35) and vibrant, blond and healthy and the other, her mother, a smidge heavier, frumpier and not 100% physically healthy. They flew in via Dallas. They were taken away by Homeland Security during the height of the Trumpian anti-immigrant policies. They were separated. They were questioned, harassed, intimidated and held for hours and almost missed their flight to Vancouver. They were traumatized. They re-routed their flight back home and they will never go back to the states. Ever.

And so it goes. Repercussions. Unexpected consequences. Imagine the stories of Mexicans. Muslims. And nowadays, the Chinese. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be an African or a Russian coming into an American airport today.

Prediction: they are gonna get ‘im. I wasn’t sure before. I am now. The writing on the wall is getting clearer and larger and easier to read. I.e. Stuart Rhodes, the Oathkeeper leader, got 18 years in prison for his relatively minor role in the Jan 6th riot. He did NOT even go into the building! He was largely sentenced because of his self-appointed, pompous-but-minor leadership role. He organized and directed a small part of an absurd attack. He got 18 years. That sent a HUGE message: “You did not have to be in the building to be convicted of seditious conspiracy. Those who conspired, directed, incited and planned events well in advance will be last to be sentenced and it will be harsher than 18 years. We are not even two rungs up the ladder yet.

One man. One rich, dishonest, narcissistic mad man, in a few short years, impacted the world from Dutch tourists to Mexican workers, from Muslim students to Chinese manufacturers and even an old, hermit-like Canadian who writes blogs. He divided the most powerful country on the planet. He fomented dissent on everything. He preached hatred and revenge and bigotry. And he undermined an entire political philosophy – Democracy.

I did not see all of that but Charlie Moon had an early inkling. And Charlie thinks chapter two is well underway.

Noam Chomsky thinks…

….we are facing two main existential threats both complemented by a small coterie of side issues almost as dire. The side issues include the international (many examples) threat to Democracy, corruption, fentanyl, crime, social media and, of course, economics. The two main big threats are Climate Change and Nuclear War. Noam is no Rebecca of Sunnybrook these days. Noam looks a bit depressed, to be honest.

I, on the other hand, am feeling a bit better. The sun is shining, the commercial prawn trappers have left the area (having scoured it clean but it was a bad year all ’round, anyway). Our garden is growing and we have done little in the way of helping it do that. Feels like free veggies! But probably the main reason is my old friend, Ted. He and his wife, Lois, came to visit. Ted is 74. I have known him since he was 16. That is 58 years by my reckoning.

And we have been friends the entire time. That is not easy for anyone. It seems I can be obnoxious on occasion. I cannot deny it. In fact, I shot Ted twice and we are still friends.

The first time was when we were going to university and living in a city park as security against a gang of thugs that were terrorizing an East-end neighbourhood. Ted, in an effort to build a relationship with the delinquent youth put a few of them in his old Citroen one night and drove the car around the park following the paths, around the wading pool and was trying to hit warp speed as he exited just near the caretaker’s suite.

I, of course, being the responsible one, had advised him not to do that…“It only encourages them to do the same!” As he flew by, I grabbed his pellet gun and fired a shot into the half open window on the driver’s side hitting Ted’s ear. He yowled with pain, slew the car around a few trees and came to a sliding stop with is car nudged up against a big Cedar. He was not happy. “That’s what ya get for being bad, Ted!”

Still somewhat impressed by my own shooting skills, I was sitting on the kitchen table in the suite one day and considered shooting Ted again. No real reason. He was in the bathroom and had just stepped out of the shower. I was sitting on the kitchen table about twenty feet away and imagining where he would be standing now that he was out of the shower. The door was closed, of course, but I figured it might be possible to hit him if I shot the pellet right under the door. In exactly the right place. There was maybe a 3/4″ gap to the floor. I took the shot. About a second later another blood curdling yowl was heard from as far as two streets away. A wide-eyed and naked Ted appeared as the door opened and he yelled, “I just got bit by a snake! But I can’t find it.” And he ran out of the suite into the park with the towel not performing it’s intended function.

Friends like that are hard to find.

We have stories. Lots of stories. Great stories.

The visit was good. I mean, I have to ‘pat him down’ for firearms before gathering everyone into our boat but, other than that logical caution, it was a great few days.

Yin and Yang

The dichotomies of things, eh? A life full of opposites…..but, but, but….in that last half sentence is the key to it all. A ‘life full’…..in other words, a ‘whole’, a ‘unit’. Dichotomies are made up of the opposites in a whole. Male (yang) and female (yin) make up the human species. Night and day make up the daily cycle. Good and bad make up our sense of morality and so it goes. For every push, there is a pull; for every up there is a down; for every plus there is a minus.

The TAO: All things in the universe are governed by opposing, yet interdependent forces.

In the Chinese Yin Yang symbol we are presented with a circle (the whole) and it is curvaceously bifurcated equally by two twisted pear shapes, one black, the other white. That symbol suggests that the opposites are equal. They, despite their dynamic tension, make up the whole and neither side prevails over the other……not for a long time, anyway. Yin and Yang are what gives us balance, harmony and a form of stability.

“Dave!! Focus!! Where are we going with this….?”

That is one of the points of this blog. There is nowhere to go with this….Yin and Yang are in a constant struggle constrained within their circle and that battle continues if the circle is to continue to exist. We live in a constant struggle to exist. Struggle/conflict is our constant.

And, of course, as you might have guessed from previous blogs, that struggle is apparent everywhere. It is, perhaps, most apparent in Ukraine right now but it is obvious, too, in nature. It is obvious in politics. How ’bout that debt crisis, eh? It is obvious in institutions. Corporations. Yin and yang is everywhere.

To the enlightened, perhaps, all trouble and strife is just yin and yang playing out and one should not get too fussed. It is simply the way of things. “Smile like Buddha and accept it, Grasshopper.”

But, of course, that’s stupid. No one can live blissfully and happily in good and evil. Even Caine in the early Kung Fu TV series would beat the crap out of bad guys in every show. He would adopt an air of calm acceptance/bliss/enlightenment until the air became untenable and then, simply to restore balance and harmony to the little western town beset by ruffians, he’d eliminate them. The lesson: you may understand the yin and yang of life but you can only live in one or the other.

I started musing over this because of the recent hullabaloo over transgenderism. Transgenderism really conflicts with ancient yin and yang theory. It violates the basic principle. And this basically irrelevant ‘tranny’ issue to the majority of us is, for some reason, a major conflict point nevertheless.

It just did not make sense to me to fuss over trannies. However you read the stats, the number of transgenders is 0.36 % or maybe as much as 2% but all the stats also include non-binary and androgynous and, of course, those who simply ‘identify’ as trans.

(Frankly, I self-identify as a sweetheart but, if you asked a million people to describe a sweetheart, none would pick me. Self-identity doesn’t really count in my books).

My point is that “Transgenderism” is not really the issue. The issue is conflict. Conflict/struggle plain and simple. Seems we Homos need it. And Trans is just another point of conflict we choose on the ‘whatever-is-going-around’ spectrum…politics, religion, sexuality, left and right-wingism and so on.

And, whatever-is-going-around now goes really around and even goes viral a lot more and a lot more quickly.

It’s like that guy (Penny) who recently choked that other guy (Neely) on the subway in New York. Neely died. Immediately, the right wingy-types adopted Penny as their latest symbol. But, just as easily, the left might have hailed him as their hero because he subdued a violent threat on the subway to protect others. In 1964 Kitty Genovese was raped and stabbed and no one came to her rescue despite her neighbours hearing her cries. That inaction was universally condemned at the time. Kitty is a historically lefty martyr. Penny could also have been theirs. But the Rittenhouses claimed him first.

It seems we are not all that invested in the actual crime or issue, it matters only who claims the political position first and shapes the narrative to suit them. Conflict and struggle. Yin vs Yang no matter the issue. I think we are more invested in HAVING the conflict than we are the issue.

That kind of explains a lot of social issues these days…..

Which brings me to a second point. Social media is a relatively new phenomena and one that readily foments conflict. We have more conflict now simply because we can. AND we are encouraged to do so (good for business). In the old days, you might get ticked at a grocery clerk for taking someone ahead of you but you just simmered and waited your turn. Today, lawsuits, protests, clerks being fired and boycotts can ensue. People now make an issue, a Facebook entry, a YouTube out of things they used to just ‘get over’. Social media put a virtual loaded gun in everyone’s hands. Conflict likes guns.

And this is only gonna get worse.

One more spin on this……..every neighbourhood has and has had a crazy. We lived with ’em but mostly avoided them. And they lived in their parent’s basement and melted plastic and hurt small animals in relative isolation. Isolated ugly. Today, that same crazy has a chat room, a discussion group. They can make a website and find others similarly disposed to setting fire to cats or shooting squirrels. The crazies can and do now organize. We have the weird combination now of organized crazies.

Republicans, maybe?

And, if Yin and Yang have their way, everyone is gonna have to duck and hide more often.

Jus’ sayin’…..

I wish there was a word….

….for silly-bugger bureaucratic-thinking. I mean, we all have words that we apply in-the-moment but I mean a single non pejorative word that captures the entire madness of magical non-think intended to fix things with rules, policies, procedures and your own money (less their substantial cut). What is that word?

The most common example, of course, is a pull-over and ticket from the police. That drives everyone mad, even those who were actually speeding or had a broken tail-light. It drives us mad because it was a crime without catastrophe imposed on a person by another one in uniform, with a gun and the state on their side, solely intended to only enforce their authority. It is state bullying. But, that’s just a minor pet peeve that has bugged me my whole life and no, I have not received more than maybe two tickets in my life. I just hate paying bullies $100,000 a year plus, plus, plus to impose their ego/power on anyone. Bugs me.

But this blog is NOT that. Altho, to be fair, the waste that is DFO is even more staggering than silly cops but that has already been mentioned. This is a new rant. This one staggers the imagination, any sense of fairness and violates every tenet of natural justice to my mind.

Here we go…..

We live in the forest and forests occasionally light up and burn an inferno. It’s basically Hell On Earth for anyone and anything in the vicinity. No one likes forest fires. Since I have been here, we have had four that needed confronting and three of them were human caused. Each required a major effort by all and sundry.

When that happens, the BC Wildfire Service kicks into gear (within hours but they do not work or fight fires at night) but, to be fair, they do a helluva job containing something virtually uncontainable when they actually get to the site. They do good work. But…for whom?

The BCWFS works for the interests of the government and the lumber companies. If your house is also there, that is your problem. They wouldn’t even consider trying to save your house – they are there to save the forest. They might even forcibly evacuate you and still NOT do a thing to save your home.

Not fair. NOT humane. NOT right. Still, any one guy’s house is probably not worth the effort of a government crew and fire pumps so why pretend? And so they do their thing and it effectively works for the purpose it was intended. If you have a house there, well, you have to protect it yourself…if they let you. Fair enough. We knew all that coming in.

There is often no insurance for remote homes. There is no fire department. There is you, your garden hose and fire extinguishers plus a few neighbours – maybe. And usually BCWFS does not bully residents when they do show up.

And that has largely done the job of protecting forests and most incidental residents. But, after the last local fire raged too close to a crowded area (a subdivision of small lots), the people complained. So, the local government stepped up to address the problem. They bought some pumps. But the pumps are for the government docks. NOT for houses. The government has proposed, instead, that local fire brigades get trained and they fight fires. But they will only be authorized to fight forest fires and only until BCWFS shows up. Those pumps are NOT for houses. The fire brigades are to buy time. Your house is still up to you.

Well, as unfair as all that is, and as insane as all that is, the locals would still grab the pumps and rush to someone’s house if they could. Especially after having been trained NOT to. You do not get to be OTG by obeying all the rules. And so the pumps are welcome and the training will appeal to some.

Of course, the government wants to charge the area for the pumps (the ones we are not allowed to use) with taxes. More taxes. Taxes for the brigade training, too. Taxes for the administration of the ‘program’. Taxes for a program that will only have an effect until BCWFS comes and then they take over. Taxes for a program designed by a bureaucrat that thinks everyone living OTG lives along a road (maybe 15% do).

And that bureaucratic genius does not seem to know that over 50% of the area’s population is over 70. Even if everyone signed on to the brigade, half couldn’t do much of anything and the rest would take almost as long as BCWFS to get there.

“Dave! What’s your point?”

The point is that government is 100% working on an urban mindset. The government thinks they are smart despite an astounding and historically significant track record proving otherwise. Government cannot even flush poop properly. Nor can they save fish, wolves, whales, marmots or even the bloody climate. I do not trust the government to take care of me in any real respect (I used to think that Health Care was gonna help…but, now…?)

I am a pinko lefty that wants the government to stay the hell away. I am safer on my own thank you. And it is cheaper.

Prawns, fish and shellfish.

T’is the season. The recreational prawn season opened early April. Rockfish opens usually earlier in April but has more local closures (our immediate area is ‘habitat protection’ and closed year ’round) and, of course, there are size and number restrictions. Shellfish is open for about 9 months beginning around April but has more and more local closures for several different reasons. Red Tide is a warm weather algae scourge that affects shellfish but, then again, so does more and more pollution. Stll, ‘fishin’ season is now open.

For locals, ‘fishin’ season is now much more subsistence fishing than recreation. Seafood provides a substantial part of our diet. This year ‘local’ expanded to hundreds more people.

But a couple of subtle observations and factors are also emerging and they are interesting and unnerving all at the same time. Firstly, the openings are more restrictive than they have been but not so much as far as I am concerned. I do not like fishing at the best of times. Reason: I have never experienced a ‘best-of-times’. I usually just chuck lures in the ocean. So, having even just a month to drive myself crazy is good enough for me. Still, I can’t help but notice the fishery resources are apparently diminishing significantly if openings and closures are anything to go by.

Secondly, our area (which used to be open for prawning longer than it is now) had only a few locals who prawned regularly but not that many. Ya really did not have to. Sal and I would go out for a few days and get enough to keep us happy for the year (20 lbs). And I doubt that I would see more than a dozen traps at any one time when we were out there. Not so, this year. This year the channel is littered with traps and I am talking about the little sports fishermen traps that have catch limits and such. The traps have limits but the number of people dropping them has increased ten-fold. Maybe more.

More and more people are subsistence fishing or augmenting their larder/freezer this year.

The commercial guys are allowed in a month later and their rigs are 100’s of traps long and each of their traps is three times the size of the sports fishermen’s. The commercial guys really vacuum up the remaining prawns. This year the prawn fishery will be hit hard. Decimated. If ever there was a most-hated bureaucracy (a lot of competition for that designation), it is DFO. Reason: they manage all fisheries into extinction.

DFO staff recently went on strike for higher wages.

And there are fewer prawns so, instead of closing the fishery, the price simply goes up. Prawn prices range around $40.00 to $50.00 a kg. Management, DFO style.

Recently, the price of Ling cod jumped. Fewer Ling, too. The prices vary but $17.00 – $20.00 a pound is not uncommon on a good day. Recently we saw advertised five pounds of Ling fillets for $129.99. I bought my first car for that amount (used Morris Minor in 1964). Ling cod used to be the lower end value fish. And God forbid DFO catches you with two Lings in the boat. They take your boat! There is a one-catch-a-day limit. Same for Halibut.

And the Dungeness crab has practically disappeared in our area. You can find them in stores for around $50.00 for a near-dead 2lb whole crab. Oysters are the cheapest sea-food now at $40 – $50 a dozen or $15.00 a pound. Clams vary a lot…around $25.00 a pound.

“So, what’s your point, Dave?”

Well, ‘fishin’ used to be a hit-or-miss recreational pastime. Now it is a significant food-gathering exercise for more and more people. Fish and shellfish used to be a cheap and abundant food source. Now it is priced like steak and looks to only go higher. West coast fisheries used to focus on mostly salmon and Halibut with a little Ling for the undiscerning. Crabs were practically free. Today all the species numbers are down. And all the prices for what’s left have gone up.

We’ll likely fish ’em all out in a few years. That’s how DFO manages the fisheries.

Sorry. Damn, man. I do not want to end this blog on a down note. So let me add this….we live in a time when and where few grow their own food. We live in a time and place where few ‘hunt’ their own food. We are all largely company/corporate fed. Still, we can do some of it and we all should. Especially berries in the autumn! Every potato I have ever harvested from our garden was ten times tastier than store-bought. Garden Brussel sprouts are fantastic. All of the seafood I mentioned above is way, way more delicious than grocery store sourced food. I am noting not-so-good signs in the environment (as is my inclination) but that does not mean I am not happy and satisfied with my lot. This is still paradise.

Ending an Era

It is likely time for me to hang up the keyboard. I feel that way, anyway. Readership is down. Time to gracefully exit the building, perhaps?

But, well, here’s one reason to stay….seems bots and AI are generating news stories now. So a dude from the Guardian investigated 49 separate ‘news’ sites and discovered that the wording was often computer-wording and wrong, phrases repeated, topics full of lies and misinformation. It was all machine-written. He rightly concluded that the bulk of all news was completely or mostly fake or, at the very least, computer-program generated!

I can assure all seven regular readers and the dozen or so intermittent readers who occasionally visit here that no intelligence whatsoever was employed in the writing of this blog. No bots either. No advertisers. This blog is as purely human as I am.

I recall being shocked years ago when I learned that many radio stations were, in fact, just sophisticated computer tape-decks with daily cassettes just plugged in once a day and left to run with no one but maybe a janitor in the building. Radio all day without a human being being involved in the content.

I also recall as a writer/drafter of a few legal documents that much of what lawyers charge hugely for is ‘canned’ language and phrases that were put in their computers and then cut and pasted to make a new fancy document for a client. I even did the copy-and-paste legal drafting myself to some extent. So it is not a huge leap of imagination to conceive and enact a GIANT data base of news items gathered over decades and, with much of the news just latest variations on oft-repeated acts, let the machine write it up.

Who needs feet-on-the-ground reporting when everything has been done so many times before with just the names requiring change. Hell, some of the facts might even be different now and then but, who cares?

Put bluntly: if some nerd does not have a US mass-shooting program that can spit out the latest murder spree report in seconds with only the names of the dead, the shooter, the Sherriff and the town involved, they are missing a great opportunity to join the ranks of new journalists. That story repeats in the US every day.

I think bots and AI are writing the Ukraine-Russia war, too. I follow the news and have done so for over a year and still have no idea what is going on. Today I read a headline of a massive drone attack from Russia that overwhelmed Kiev. Destruction, chaos, etc. Five dead. I immediately wondered, a Texas family man kills more than that at a local McDonalds…? How does Russia unleash a major assault resulting in total chaos but only five got killed? I mean, when countries bomb other countries, don’t hundreds or even thousands get killed? Who wrote that story?

My point? Well, I obviously am not overly popular but at least I am original. No facts, no research, no intelligence (natural or artificial), no bots. For better or worse, I may be exceptionally light and fluffy reading but I am at least a real person.

Yet another Dave theory….

….not to be taken too seriously. Especially this one – it is on the economy. And what the hell do I know about the Dismal Science?

One of the largest factors influencing the economy is an oft-used economic term, ‘confidence’. Do we have some or do we not? Confidence, basically, is the mood of the peeps. If the people are fearful or unsure, they stop buying. If they are upbeat and so are the hemlines, they continue to buy. As Sal says, “Attitude is everything!” And that is especially true for the marketplace.

And what affects attitude the most? The news, of course. If you and your friends are doing well, a lot of bad news will change your spending practices and, if you are all doing poorly but the news is upbeat, you have hope and energy for better days ahead (and buy F-150’s and property you can’t really afford). It is the way of things.

Of course, there are other factors involved. Supply chain issues, wars, harvests, climate change, who the current president is . . . those are all influences that, together, form attitudes, affect mood and boost or erode confidence. And, so with just a little general observation, one can usually determine where the economy is basically going and plan accordingly.

Today? It is not so easy. On the one hand, we are just now recovering from the latest assault on our collective mood from Covid to Trump, from mass shootings to climate change, from the threats of war to inflation. I say ‘recovering’ because Covid seems to be retreating, ugly Republicans are faltering, inflation is dropping and there seems to be a general sigh of relief from the last few years of rising tensions.

But….well, maybe not…..the world is still maintaining a severe state of madness, inflation is still omni-present, wars are still underway and the climate is still changing. The casual observer may be forgiven for mistaking a half-time respite for the end of the game when, in fact, there is still another shoe to drop (forgive the mixed metaphors, please). We may even just be on the verge of round 2 in a 10 round battle. Who knows?

A lot of pundits are still preaching disaster. And none are trumpeting victory. So, on that score, we are still doomed. But there is one weird factor that might just settle the question for awhile at least. And, by awhile, I mean the rest of my remaining days. That factor is demographics. Aging demographics to be more precise.

All of the BIG economies are facing an aging population that no longer produces GDP like they used to. Not only do they not produce GDP like they used to they did not produce enough children to even replace themselves on the GDP treadmill. Japan is one of the leaders in aging with the bulk of their population requiring support from generations that are younger but notable for their greatly reduced numbers. T’aint enough working age Japanese producing to support the old folks.

China, due to the long-maintained one-child policy, is also losing production capacity. For the first time in years, China has unemployed. And those still employed are too few to carry the rest.

And on and on we go. Canada, too. Very much so. Basically the First world is stalled in the productive (growth) reproducing (following generation) age (everyone is old) category and that is having an impact already with considerably more to come.

So how does ‘labour shortage’ show up? Firstly, it has to show up as higher wages for those who are still younger. Secondly, it might trigger an immigration influx, a baby boom or even a robot-artificial intelligence boom. Thirdly, the amount of middle class wealth will dissipate and lifestyles will be curtailed. Those still playing will be poorer overall. Fourthly, real estate will stall out. There is much more, of course, but those four are pretty safe bets.

What does it mean to guy like me? Not a helluva lot. My indulgences will curtail some but just as much because of my age as my wallet. I’ll travel less. Eat less. Drink less. Sleep more. I will not be a producer of any sort save for the odd blog. I am not done but I am definitely parked. And there are billions like me, it seems. That means stagflation if not recession. The economy will stall.

When economies stall, fewer babies are born, more wars are started and, if climate change exacerbates that, we will be in economic stasis at best and maybe a state of economic retreat. We may even go into a dark age of sorts…..

I, personally, have a better attitude than the facts might warrant. I see a dark age as a recovery age, a recuperative time, a chance to re-direct our species in a more sustainable way. I think the smaller population will help that, not hinder it. I think values will shift and the climate may even alter favourably…could happen….

It just may mean that, after awhile, we will be forced to do better than we have been doing. I hope so.

Five Orcas

First day home after a trying two weeks away and, lo and behold, we were visited by one bald eagle, one young river otter and five beautiful Orcas all within the first of the next morning hours. Later that same day, while Sal did taxes on the couch outside, a hummingbird came down and stared at her from an inch away. And, oh yeah, the swallows are back and making a nest in our ‘swallow-home’. Now THAT’s a welcome home!

Sun was shining, batteries a’bursting with juice and two insanely happy dogs as well. The best part for me, tho, was that my younger helper from down-the-way arriving to keep working on the stairs. He is doing most of it. NOT having stairs when you live on a 30 degree slope is awkward to say the least.

Sal got down to more paper-work, I decided to write this and lend a hand to the young feller now and again as needed while, at the same time, doing a few small chores. Basically, an idyllic day that suddenly turned….

….even better!

A neighbour called and told us of a rarely seen Orca part-tay. Seems the previously spotted five (family: two babies, three adults) were heading for a get-together with something like another 20 or so Orcas from around the area. They all gathered about two miles from us on a classic whale-beach up the channel. They frolicked, breached, leapt, blew and tail waggled for hours. They ‘consorted’ with one another to the extent that the onlookers could hear the babies crying out for their mothers. Musta been a crazy party!

But, I confess, we didn’t see it. This is all second-hand. We were busy and didn’t know of the gathering til it was over. And, without pictures, it is just another whale story. Still, for me, it was great to see ’em when they passed us and then to hear of their shenanigans was a real picker-upper. I dunno…I guess Orcas having a picnic buoys my spirits….

The much sunnier and happier side of the street or, rather,…….. channel.

We returned home yesterday. Rose at 6:00 am. Cleaned, carried, discarded and transferred the last of everything from the sale of the family house. Left Victoria at noon. Drove five hours (plus a ferry). Sal did legal work on the phone as we went. Scott picked us up at the community dock. We landed on the beach with the tide around 6:00 pm. Scrambled up the barnacle and seaweed strewn beach with groceries, supplies and luggage (tide too low for lower funicular). The last 75 feet of hillside was at 30 degrees and was covered in moss and mud. The old stairs had been removed, the new stairs delayed by incessant bad weather (and my absence).

But the batteries were fully up and the upper funicular worked just fine. So we sent up the bulk of the weight on it and clawed on all fours to get ourselves up the slippery slope. By 7:30 we were in the house, the supplies put away, the fire was on and we were drinking wine anticipating a feast of beans on toast when we had enough energy to eat.

Sally and I were grinning from the glass of wine on. Even the dogs were smiling in their doggo-kinda-way (two raw chicken pieces each helped).

Family home of 50 years sold. Contents dispersed. One family member deceased and another recovering from major surgery and, of course, all the labour, inconvenience, madness, bureaucracy and paperwork that comes with all of that can be seen as a bit of challenge and having it all transpire in 15 days raises the stress-bar even higher. Well, it did for me and Sally, anyway.

We were so constantly engaged and immersed in the situation (or stuck in traffic) that we could not even shop for some of the things we usually get when in town. No time! Didn’t have time to wash the dogs. Didn’t have time to even get air in the tires of the car and trailer (til the last minute). It was literally go-go, go-go, go-go all the time.

I used more tanks of gasoline in that 15 days than I used all of last year.

I confess that we are not used to any of that stuff anymore and, when you add on a huge loss with great sadness, it became a bit more stressful than we expected. So, to some extent, the great happiness is as much about relieving the great sadness, the great burden and the great expectations and obligations of this latest visit to the city.

Sal said, “Well, that settles it. I am never, ever going to leave our island again. Never. No discussion. No argument. I am staying home forever!”


“OK. One exception. That’s it. One.”


“OK!! TWO!!! Do not say another word!”

Our grandchildren are three and five. Absolutely fabulous little guys. I spoke with the eldest…“Ever been on a bus? Think you can handle four or more hours on the bus if I am at the other end to pick you up…with the dogs and Sally?”

“Yes, grandpa. I am sure I can do it. Do I have to bring my brother? Can I bring my dog?”

“That’s good to hear. Yes to both questions. Now I just have to talk your mom into sending you off on a bus full of strangers. That might not go over well, ya know….?”

“Yeah. I know. She keeps saying I have to be older for everything!”