Perspective

When Trump won the 2016 election, I was very surprised. But my surprise took a distinctly different direction initially….I was, of course, distinctly unimpressed by Trump, the pig, but I was stunned at what that perverted victory ACTUALLY said to me. It said, “The White House is NOT a sanctified place. It is NOT special. In fact, the White House is currently occupied by rich white trash and millions of vermin are cheering him on.”

Trump instantly and single-handedly put the ‘holy ground’ of the White House into the same real estate category as the lowest trailer park. Trump took all the magic out of the White House and showed it up as the Motel 6 it really was. The White House was a dump and so were the trashy people who occupied it. That revealing ugliness was quite a shock. It was a reality check.

Put more accurately and succinctly today, I now feel as if the ‘mythical’ White House is just an old building and a corrupt one at that. The pedestal has been removed. Perspective has been gained.

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s (five years in California). The threat of nuclear war was taught to us weekly. We even had school drills on how to duck and cover under our desk (for an atomic bomb, no less). And, of course, Russia was, until 1989, the really BIG and SCARY bogeyman that embodied international evil. Let’s face it, they still kind of do. Or, better put: they did!

It turns out, Russia is NOT the ‘unstoppable force’ of evil I thought it was. It is just a country with an army, just a country with poor, young soldiers, just a medium sized tyranny run by a tiny weird man. It can and does, in fact, screw up on a large scale quite often – maybe just as bad or even worse than other dysfunctional countries. Russia is simply a neighbourhood bully is all.

Put more bluntly: except for their nuclear missiles, Russia is not really much of a threat to the West. Not even their next door neighbour. Russia is just a bigger North Korea. The curtain has been pulled back and the little wizard has been exposed. Perspective gained.

This ruination of mythical institutions can take many forms. Catholicism, for instance, has shown itself over time not just as a spiritual guide, a holy movement for good. It is often just a human, ugly, weak institution cloaked in false or covered-up history, fancy dress and ritual all at the same time. They have done evil. That is not a revelation, really. Most of us have rejected religion while still having a sense of a higher power or, as a friend of mine puts it, a omnipotent Universal Force. But the whole of a ‘bad’ church in such disgrace is a very dramatic and steep decline.

And, yet, we are watching a very slow and gradual exposure of all of our institutions – just like the Catholic church – as having feet of clay and hands where they shouldn’t have been.

Canada’s revered Health Care system is coming undone, too. It is now bloated and often ineffective. Our cops are showing up as taxpayer-funded gangs of thugs. Education is NOT working – not for the betterment of humanity, anyway, and few of the degree holders are living happily. Our politicians are increasingly, greedy, elitist and stupid. We are seeing the reduction of myths and fantasies into blunt, harsh realities of vulgarity, coarseness and ugliness. .

Conclusion: the facades of our cultural institutions (and those of other cultures, too) are falling away….

How did all that happen in barely one generation (well, during my generation, anyway)?

Observation: culture is formed more by mass communication than anything else. The priest speaks, the cop speaks, the teacher speaks, the doctor speaks, the news anchor speaks….and we used to listen and obey. Advertising, media, institutional propaganda and the like all once carried some kind of mythical status by communicating en masse one basically similar message. We believed their myths and, as Marshall McLuhan said so well, “The medium is the message.”

But the main disseminator of mis/information today is NOW the so-called ‘social media’. The public is drenched in social media – right, wrong or fantasy – we are saturated, immersed and engulfed in it. When I was younger and being brainwashed, I had to be home to hear ‘information’ on the 6:00 News. Or read a newspaper. Today, I can access tripe, crap, hate-speech, lies, propaganda, and occasionally some truth, in seconds anywhere and at anytime. Our information, misinformation and just-plain lies proliferates like the virus we also endure.

Is social media now just another false-front institution? Have we replaced old, fallible, human, rigid institutions with something MORE fallible, sub-human and disorganized? If so, that does not seem like a good trade-off.

And, like that now-familiar Covid virus, we do not know what is true and what is not anymore. That is perspective skewing at the very least.

Amber (well, Hazel) Alert!

Ordinary day for the RH family up the way. R worked the post office for a few hours. It was her day in the rotation. Her three kids went up the hill (250 yards) and attended school. Their young five-month old dog (Hazel) went with them, of course. All in all an almost ordinary day.

An ordinary day, actually, for the family might have had R staying home to do at-home stuff and the kids would go to school on their own. They live two islands away! Fifteen miles by remote, less-traveled channel, the kids would run the boat in any kind of weather and get to school on time. R’s eldest is 13. She runs the 17/18 foot high-powered top-of-the-line aluminum boat with as many as four other kids with her.

Isn’t that dangerous?” Maybe. But J was trained for years by her parents before being given the helm. The first few times it may have been a bit intimidating for her (maybe not). But J now runs the boat better than the adults. “Why is she better?” She can do everything and she is extra responsible. She follows the rules and drives sanely. Everyone has life jackets on. She handles the boat with skill and precision. She’s very good.

But yesterday was a bit different. Hazel wandered off.

At first, I am sure, everyone was calm. They all called to her and wandered around looking but, by late afternoon, their day had been extended and it was starting to get dark and the wind was picking up. A five month old puppy has little chance out here all alone. All sorts of dogs have gone for dinner with wolves and cougars never to return. A five month old puppy is like ‘dinner walking’. A little bit of panic began to set in. Calls were made. Emails were sent. The community was alerted.

Sal was ready to get out there with flashlights and dog treats. Out here, your window is a short one and, if really, really lucky, the pooch might survive one night somewhere (likely near the school) but there isn’t a snowball’s chance for her to survive two.

To be fair, there is usually some local traffic and people do come and go from the area of the school and the post office. And no one would leave a puppy out at night. If you are gonna get lost, getting lost at the school is one of the safer places. But cougars (and all sorts of wildlife) pass by the school all the time. The ‘Nature Path’ for wildlife is just a few hundred yards away. It is the path followed by animals when going from island to island. The Nature Path goes to the narrowest gap in the channel. Bears, wolves, deer and cougar are commonly sighted by those living near or on that route.

Of course, Hazel had not gone far. She was found nearing dinner time by R and the family close to the school. She just took a puppy time out. Maybe went to sleep? Who knows? But family out here includes the pooches and R’s family was on high alert for awhile.

It is all good now, thank Goodness. Still, it was kind of a little OTG moment that most people wouldn’t feel as strongly living elsewhere. OTG has more than a few variables, as you know, but our ‘interface’ with wildlife is a special one.

Poor ol’ Sal….

Typically we, actually Sal, goes up the stream to clear the system maybe, on average, once a month. I drive her and the pups in, go do something else and then go back and pick ’em up cause there is no dock or landing at our beach). The stream intake for our water system often gets clogged with debris and pine needles. In the winter it might be a bit more frequently but, regardless, Sal’s hiking the trail a lot. Lately the clogging up has been even worse. This time even some of the pipe got crushed by fallen trees. So Sal went up the trail again today. The best part for her is that the dogs now go with her and love it. They think the trail is so much fun!

Of course, Sal falls in almost every time so that is always fun. When the task is done, Sal drips and slimes back to the boat soaking wet and looking half-drowned. “Wha’ happened?” “Slipped. And then a fitting came undone so I got drenched. Then I slipped again.”

C’mon! THAT is fun! (For me, anyway.)

Gus walking the plank to return to the boat

The dogs are really enjoying the trip to the creek more and more. When I came into the beach this time they joyfully ran into the ocean water and bounced and splashed in anticipation of my arrival. They were frolicking! No reluctance-to-get-wet was evident. Great! Mind you, minor reluctance is starting show up in Sal (no frolicking) so we’ll see how that all eventually pans out. Poor Sal.

Day before yesterday, we went over to the storage yard and sussed out what needed doing on the new boat. The dogs came. In the car, Daisy puked all over Sal again – Poor Sal. Gus kept his breakfast down – for the first time. Mind you, he seemed very intent on putting his head out my window – while standing on my lap – and I was driving at the time!

So, once there, we all putzed about measuring and assessing and taking notes. Or digging random holes in the yard. Conclusion: we’ll likely be ‘on the hard’ for a whole month. It’s not that the work is so much but rather it’s that we’re getting on and the trip in takes an hour and there’s a lot of dog puke involved. Plus we and the boat are in a field. No power. No water. All done without too much in the way of support facilities. And then an hour to get home….with more puke looming the whole way. Poor us (mostly Poor Sal).

Still fun, tho.

Yesterday we had to take the pups in for their 4 month shots and physical exam. Sal put on full wet-weather gear. “If they’re gonna puke all over me, I do not want it soaking into my clothes like the last few times!” Sal is adapting to the new reality. Poor ol’ Sal.

Gus rolled into the vet at 51.6 pounds. Daisy at 44. Still, they received an exemplary bill of health and all sorts of petting, treats and admiring comments.

It’s a bit ironic….the dogs are getting bigger, stronger, smarter and learning more and more…we, on the other hand, are getting older, with less energy and forgetting everything….and the four of us just play, plug and puke along as if this is all normal.

Today, Sal said, “Ya know, Dave, I am not so sure this really is all normal.”

“Well, Sal, falling in has become normal….especially for you! Puke has become way too common lately, if not actually normal. Fixing boats has been normal for an even longer time in our lives. The only part really not normal is that we are getting old.”

“So, you are saying all sorts of female septuagenarians fix boats, climb streams and sit in dog puke?”

“Yep. Very common. That’s exactly what female seniors do – more often than not with grandkids, tho. Just get used to it. Maybe find an OTG forum on it? I am sure you’ll have a whole bunch o’ new friends in the puppy, puke and dunk forum for OTG seniors.”

Ninigret 22

I bought a boat. New-kinda. Home-built. Still a bit unfinished. It is technically a wooden boat but there is so much epoxy and f’glass used in the construction, it is really more of a composite. Mind you, enough of it is bare wood that it would be eligible for the Wooden Boat festivals and will be the focus of much more maintenance than a ‘glass’ or aluminum boat.

In 1963 John Atkin designed a simple dory-style, semi-lobster-boat-looking vessel for personal pleasure use. It was called the Ninigret 22 after a famous coastal lagoon off Rhode Island and, as the name suggests, it is 22 feet long. It is 6′ 8″ wide at the beam and draws only a foot of water. Ninigret has a fine steep entry that will take a mid-sized sea but our area is generally quite protected (by standard nautical perspective) and it will do me very well. The best features for me are that it is ‘easily driven’ and has a large cockpit. Our life off the grid requires that we carry a lot of stuff and that ‘stuff’ now includes two ginormous fur-balls already the size of an adult female passenger. And they are getting bigger.

My seats will look like this, once installed

Typically a modern planning-hull boat 22 feet long, would require at least 200 horsepower to get up on a plane and go 25 knots or so. 200 hp and a helluva lot of gasoline. But to drive a displacement-hull the same size can be done with something around 10 or 12 horsepower. Displacement speed is slower (1.4 times the square root of the waterline or 1.4 x 4.2 or almost 7 knots for this boat).

A random photo from the internet

Niniget is a compromise of those two styles and is, logically, deemed a semi-displacement hull and, also logically, requires a power plant somewhere in the middle. Atkins designed the boat to be powered with a 25 or 30 hp outboard but, over time, people have put on as much as a 60 hp. My new boat has a 40 hp and should do about 20 knots with just Sal and me, 18 knots with a reasonable load and we should still clip along nicely at around 8-10 knots chock-full.

Random Photo #2

Mike, the builder, is older than I am but he started building the boat years ago and just poked away at it until he got to the point that his age began to inhibit his progress and, at the same time, suggest that extensive future use of the finished boat was unlikely. Mike put it up for sale and I bought it as he puts it: “90% finished“. So I still have some work to do but it will be running within a month (assuming Murphy doesn’t visit) and might be fully finished during the summer – maybe sooner.

Mike built the boat down in Vancouver. And that meant me taking my boat trailer down, loading the boat and (duh) returning home to some dry storage site to finish off what needed doing before putting it in the water. The dogs throw up in the car and, as great a help as Sal is, her accompanying me was not worth the effort and leaving the dogs with anyone else at this time in their puppyhood was out of the question. I was gonna go alone but my nearby friend, SD, volunteered to join me and so two old dorks with ropes and tools headed to the BIG SMOKE to get a boat.

Random Photo #3

Getting to the Lower Mainland from here is usually a ten-hour trip. If all ferry connections go perfectly (very rare) it can be theoretically done in eight or nine hours but most people (me included) plan for twelve and the whole day is spent in transit.

We stayed overnight in a B&B near Mike’s place and, in the morning, joined Mike and his just-arrived adult children along with Roger, my friend and partner up here, in getting the boat out of the garage and onto the trailer. It went well. But we were all initially concerned that with the trailer being only 16 feet long, and the boat being 6 feet longer, we just might drag or hang out too much.

SD is a retired tradesman with several professional designations to add to his considerable marine knowledge. We all milled about at first humming and hawing, planning and proposing and generally procrastinating and delaying until SD kinda took charge. By noon the boat was on the trailer and strapped down. SD made sure it was loaded right and there was no danger of it dragging. We headed home.

After dropping the boat at the dry-land storage on the neighbouring island, we took SDs boat to my house where he was re-united with his dog (Sal had three dogs to look after for two days) and I with my family of three and it was a reunion at exactly 10:00 pm in a light rain. SD left for his place and, with luck, got dry by 10:30. It was a successful venture in every regard. No Murphy. No hassles. Nothing broke. Everything worked out.

But SD and I were both exhausted.

There will be more on the new boat as things progress. It’s another project!

The Real Thing!

OMG!

Gus is almost 50 pounds (49 with the needle jumping a bit to 50)! Daisy is trailing in a dainty 40 pound glamour-bod (more leg, fluffy hair, extra bit of bounce). That is 90 pounds of dog!

Gus just thuds. Well, he rolls and runs and climbs all over but each paw sends reverberations through the granite rock or, well, OK, maybe it’s my imagination....? Put a bit differently; Daisy seems to walk on air, like a ballerina. Gus walks like a weight-lifter after a big lunch.

Thank goodness Daisy and Gus (especially) can now get on and off the boat themselves!

They are both (duh) growing like weeds and it is a smidge intimidating. “I swear the guy grew last night! I mean, he just LOOKS bigger than just a few hours ago!”

Eighteen weeks old! Four and a half months! Still puppies, still growing, still eating and still goofier than hell! A lot of fun.

Sal does most of the dog walking. I do a bit. Funny how a walk with a dog makes you see things differently. Yesterday, there were three separate Garter snakes sunning on the rocks. The dogs were fascinated. But the snakes being cold-blooded were not quick, not zippy. They were long slugs, actually. Gus sniffed. Daisy sniffed. Sal shrieked (to save the snakes) and both dogs gave up their new toys instantly. We’re a bit protective of Garter snakes. They are good for the garden and keep the insect pests away.

“We saw a mink, David! Daisy even kind of ambled over to it. It was not much of a chase and the mink didn’t run. I think Daisy got distracted. Anyway, the mink jumped in to the ocean and swam off.” Sal was more excited than the dogs. The dogs are definitely NOT hunters. Lesson learned: how we have this weird little community of squirrels, snakes, dogs, otters, ravens and mink and Spring is waking everything up……

But, it is said by Sal, that they are becoming ‘alert’ dogs. Which is some kind of descriptive sop for a dog that doesn’t do much. To pad out their resume, Sal also throws in “….good trail dogs, too.”

“What the hell is a trail dog and what makes one dog a better trail dog than another?”

“You know….we are all on the trail and they stay on the trail unless they stray a bit but they always come back to the trail….?”

“Sweetie, that is just a good dog. There is no such thing as a trail dog. Quite honestly, I have always doubted your reference to ‘alert’ dog, too. All dogs bark when they hear or see something new. That’s what being a dog is.”

“No, no. They alert me. So, they are alert dogs. That’s their job. And they walk on the trail really well. So they are great trail dogs, too.”

“Well, in that case, I am going to describe them as being good ‘pooping’ dogs, good eating dogs and good sleeping dogs. What the hell…they are great tail-wagging dogs, too!”

We call this the Buffalo Plaid Puppy Attack

The truth is they are great at just being dogs and they do not have to prove anything to me at all. Especially not at four-and-a-half months! I might have expectations of them sometime in the distant future but, for now, they are just perfect.

Sal, on the other hand……..

A political blog of sorts….

This topic is a real struggle for me. It’s basically about truth, lies, propaganda and the resulting confusion, mistrust and apathy that inevitably follows. But, at a different level it is also about function, energy allocation, focus and life. It’s personal! Put bluntly: it turns out we need truth to operate properly and lies makes us operate like idiots!

My examples below are not particularly good ones but they are recent, current, ongoing.

Let’s first look at how our media’s current dysfunction recently affected Trudeau and, ultimately, us. He was just given a good dressing down by some European parliament MPs who accused him of first being a China-lover, then a democracy hater and finally a bully because of his actions regarding the Freedom convoy that occupied Ottawa. I am, as you know, 100% displeased with Trudeau as a leader but everything they said about him was wrong. Totally fabricated. Two idiots in Europe have miscast Trudeau to the European Union. Two idiots have miscast Canada and the people in it.

How do we explain away two well-placed, educated, informed and elected MPs being so ignorant, so wrong and so misled?

Blame it on the media, I guess.

Now let’s look at Ukraine and Russia, for a second. I read, see, hear every day how valiantly the Ukrainian forces are defending their country and, frankly, I believe most of it. I hear of Russian soldiers deserting, surrendering, condemning their leaders. I kinda believe much of that, too. I see wrecked Russian tanks, fallen fighter jets and helicopters and even a good-sized ship or two that has been sunk. Ukraine is punching way above their weight. I am sure of that….. well, pretty sure…..

And yet…..Russia plods along. The heroic messages and stories do not quite jibe with the fall of Mariupol and the loss of the two eastern states. There has to be a lot more going on. But what is it? Most of the real story goes unreported, I think.

Blame that on the media, too, I guess.

And the media have been reporting the fall and destruction of Trump’s evil empire for a long time. For four years it was ‘wait ’til the next election and then he’s gonna get his.’ And then Biden won. And then the Attorneys General, the FBI, the special counsels and the media ramped it up. And yet, Manafort, Stone, Bannon and, most of all, Trump, family and friends still just carry on. Put another way, Capitol rioters who only violated the law of trespass and vandalism are already in jail and doing their time. Trump has been crooked since the day he was born. But he’s free. How is that possible? Is he going down? Or not?

Oh, hell, blame that on the media, too, I guess. To my mind, if Trump doesn’t suffer significantly, there is something significantly wrong in this world.

“Dave! What’s your point?”

The media can’t be trusted? The media do not do a good job? The media is just propaganda? Maybe the media cannot do a good job?

I really do not know the answer. I guess the media (whatever it REALLY is) has been that way for a long time and it is only the rapid inclusion and infusion of social media that has cast this different light on our primary information source. We were not confused when we had only one main media stream. Now we have many and the result is just confusion. Maybe we have been lied to or at least misled all of our lives?

Confusion? Mistrust? Apathy?

My Hong Kong friends constantly tell me a different story of Hong Kong than the one our media presents. They are happy. Western media says otherwise. My friends who go to Mexico every winter consistently tell me different stories about Mexico, too. I have friends in the Philippines, Germany, Britain and the United States. They all tell me different points of view from that which is reported.

Confusion? Mistrust? Apathy?

Bottom line: I have never read an accurate story about anything I was closely involved with either. Never. Not once. The reporter always got it wrong. That was usually quite alright for me because I was almost always the sympathetic subject (delinquents, Skid Row, refugees) and they told a story that made me look better than I was by a huge dollop of exaggeration. But they got it wrong. People reading it without the background were misled. Those reading it with the right perspective, were either lied to, misled or knew it was wrong but they were also okay with it (sympathy floats all boats in Skid Row).

Maybe the truth is too elusive and all we can hope for is to get close…….

“And sure enough, there it was,
not the sought-after needle, but,
to my agreeable astonishment,
the haystack in the field by the lane.”
― Robert Kroetsch,

Dateline Paradise: Puppy update.  March 22, 2022

Gus is 45 lbs. and stands 21” at his shoulder.  Daisy is 39 lbs. and, though more ‘leggy’, stands 20” tall.  She is more energetic and frolics a bit more but Gus is a close second.  They get along well and play and go on local (property) adventures but, generally speaking, they are ‘chill’.  Easy-going.  Nice manners.  Good temperament.  They are also healthy, strong and learning rapidly.  They pretty much have us trained already!

They are pretty chill until they sense they are headed to the car.  They really do not like the car.  Right now, nobody does.  Our car smells of dog puke.  CUTE dog puke but still, puke by any other name is still puke. 

Actually, Sal is starting to smell a little pukey, too.  To assuage Daisy’s slightly more sensitive stomach, Sal puts Daisy on her lap when we are in the car.  Fifteen minutes into the trip, Sally and Daisy’s breakfast are one.  There’s a shriek, a bit of mild cursing and I pull over.  Sal gets out with her lap dripping with kibble-goo.  Daisy looks woebegone and just lies in what is still on the seat.  Sal gets about half cleaning it all up and about then, Gus adds to the splatter.  There is no shrieking at this point but the mild cursing steps up a notch.  Stinky rags, paper towels and such are being deployed and plastic bags are starting to fill.  But, after ten minutes or so of fussing, we get going again…..and then 20 minutes later, we get to repeat the whole gastric assault thing one more time.  If the trip is longer than 45 minutes, we get it again.  We now travel even less than ever before. 

There was an exception to that the other day but that was because only the boat traveled.  The dogs are acclimating to the boat nicely.  And, anyway, I had the car.  Sal and the pups went on a community hike to a farther-out island.  A hike ‘round these parts’ is really more of a death march, a survival challenge and a not-so-subtle statement of fitness.  Did I mention that I had the car?  I chose the day of the hike to go into Campbell River and grind my face into the revolving fan-blades of doing ICBC paperwork and Motor Vehicle registration.  Plus I needed some parts.  It was hell but it was not the LONG MARCH the community undertook. 

There were twelve adults, a few kids and half a dozen dogs.  Concern for Daisy and Gus’s stamina, abilities and pace was expressed at the start.  Awe and respect were declared when the hike was complete three and bit hours later.  Daisy and Gus (four months old) scrambled up boulders, forded streams and generally acted as capable as any of the other dogs, a bit less than the kids, of course, and a great deal more than the adults.  This was a real hike.  Think: West Coast Trail.  Getting to base camp on Everest would be easier. 

When they thought the day was done and Sal and the dogs collapsed into sleepy bliss at home, I called them on the walkie-talkie.  “Could you come over and get me?”  So, Sal and the pups jumped up and headed over to pick me up.  They still had something in reserve.  But not much.  After a nice doggy dinner (Sal had a human dinner) they conked out.  I am not sure Sal noticed.  Her eyes closed early, too. 

Dogs = puke-cleaning, exercise, feeding, teaching and gobs of attention.  Sal says they are easier to live with than me but I am pretty sure she was kidding.  I mean, I hardly ever puke. 

Woke*? Or asleep?

It seems that people are getting their knickers-in-a-knot over the concept of ‘WOKE’ or, put more understandably: being more aware/alert to injustice in society, especially racism and sexism. Some folks are upset ABOUT instances of racism, sexism, etc. and some are upset about THOSE who are upset. Weird.

We sit on the precipice of environmental annihilation, a life-crippling pandemic and, quite possibly, WW3 and many are actually working fervently to wash everyone else’s mouth with soap. Everybody is becoming a harpy named Karen.

Admittedly, every infraction, violation or unfairness levied against another person primarily because of their skin colour or gender is wrong – on some level – and we should try and fix it. Why not? If it’s obviously race or gender based, it is almost always prejudice, discrimination or bigotry at work. That so-called woke position should be easy enough to support but, it turns out, unsurprisingly, a lot of people resent being told how to feel and be with others. “It’s my first amendment right to be a bigot and it is my second amendment right to wear camouflage, wear my hat backwards and carry a gun!”

I hate to admit it but, as a free-speecher, I kinda agree that good manners and being nice cannot be legislated. Still, I side with the ‘woke’ side on most racist/sexist issues but rarely enough to light my hair on fire.

But, I digress. Back to being or not being woke……the reason ‘wokedness’ is being seen as ‘bad’ by such illuminati as Barbara Kay, Rex Murphy and Jordan Peterson is not so much that they are racists or bigots but rather that they do not want to be censored or ‘cancelled’ for some meaningless slip-of-the-tongue like referring to Chinaman’s Creek by the name it had for decades or calling a flush-on-the-street entryway a man-hole cover when everyone knows women can go into the sewers the same way. WOKE/ANTI-WOKE? It all seems so silly.

Barb, Rex and Jordan make their living by words and so their perspective is, perhaps, a bit more rarefied than others but, in their lack of defense, they get a lotta Bubba support for their anti-woke stance. The Bubbas hate woke libtards with a passion. Same kinda people didn’t like hippies with long hair, don’t like Muslims with hajibs and don’t like well, anyone they can vilify and make an ‘other’.

Frankly, I used to think it was all just a tempest in a big, SILLY teapot. Where REAL prejudice, bigotry, hatred and action-against-others is provably manifest, they are also clearly wrong and probably illegal (unless the cops do it, of course). And where it is NOW perceived insensitive and/or rude to use a historic name like Squaw Valley, Nigger Ridge or Chinaman’s Creek, well, names can be changed. No biggy. I say, ‘change ’em’. The names were arbitrarily chosen anyway. But where Vaughn, Russel and even Kitchener are being criticized because they were named after historic figures who, it turns out, had the common personal flaws of their era (slavery, lice, corruption, etc.) then it is getting pretty weird. Look for a historic political or influential person without major flaws and only Jesus comes to mind.

But, is that all there is to it? Karens preaching to Bubbas on proper etiquette?

Maybe. Maybe not. There is another point of view that I have slowly grasped…consider, for example, that of a single black man who got rousted and hassled by the police well over 100 times over the course of a year when just going to work. He worked at a convenience store. Over his four years working there, Earl Sampson has been stopped and questioned 258 times, searched at least 100 timesarrested 62 timesand jailed 56 times by Miami police – every time while on his way to work, arriving at work or even, unbelievably, while AT work!

So, what has that to do with ‘woke or not?’ It’s all related. Sorta different ends of the same prejudicial spectrum but still related. Because I am white, kind of even look like a bit like a cop (it was the donuts) and act like I own the place, the chances of me getting stopped and hassled over those four years is virtually nil compared to Earl.

So, it seems I actually do have some sort of white privilege. Who knew? Well, that is, if one can say NOT being hassled is a privilege….? Clearly, Earl does not have even my lowly status (po’ white trash). Trust me when I say, Earl is likely a way better employee and a nicer, more pleasant clerk than I would ever be. Hell, there is a very high possibility I might have punched a customer or two in each and every one of those four years! It is in Florida, after all (even now I’d like to go down there and punch DeSantis and Trump). I am not a better man, employee, citizen or person than Earl. I am sure I am way worse.

In that sense, being ‘woke’ really just recognizes that being born any colour but white in this society (first world, North American) is a demerit point in the eyes of the police and, in some cases, with the whole system. Indigenous folks get a lot of that same hassle-crap in Canada. Being woke for me NOW means being aware that I am NOT being hassled because of my skin colour.

*WOKE: the word was borrowed from African American street slang. It has evolved somewhat these past few years to encompass other just causes and movements.

Potpourri of issues

Pups, boats, neighbours, Wwoofers and all things pressing and current.

I need a better boat. NOT a great boat (all fancy and shiny) ’cause I am a local now and real locals drive crap-boats with brand new, more-expensive-than-a-car outboard motors. Locals do not use radar, or sat-nav or even e-charts on their phones. Real locals just ‘feel’ their way up the coast in the fog or the storm or the raging gale. Real locals do not use VHF radio, either. They say they do but they do not. A wire broke or a knob fell off or the fuse blew a few years ago and they just haven’t gotten around to fixing it.

Kale

But, anyway, I need something a smidge bigger in the boat department. Ideally, around 18 or 19 feet. Usually, I went bigger on things because well, I, myself, kept enlarging. Ergo bigger shorts, shirts, bigger beds, bigger cars. But, in my old age, I have actually halted corporeal expansion and am likely getting ready to shrink. It’s not my size that needs the size, it is my balance. My balance is no longer excellent. It is no longer good. It is no longer even adequate. I am a bit tippy now. So, as a tippy boater, I need to have a less-tippy boat. I have been looking.

One of my neighbours is a senior-ish, single woman and she has all the challenges of keeping hearth and home together as we all do but, unfortunately, she (like us) was raised urban and she has not developed all the skills and such that are needed. In and of itself, that is not a problem…well, at least not a long-term problem. She has money and she hires people. They come and fix things. It all works. But hiring people is a logistical nightmare. Travel time, pick-up and return trips, parts, materials…..it is a very difficult thing to run an OTG home using hired help if, for no other reason than getting things back in order in a timely manner. Can’t be done. To keep the house going, one really has to know at least level 1 DIY. By her own admission, she is level zero. I am level one. But I am encouraging Sal to get to 2.

Anyway, I took my level 1 skills over to her place yesterday and properly diagnosed a mystery electrical problem. But I did not have the level two skills required to fix it. I mention this only because living OTG can be very hard and only skill, knowledge, some money and attitude can keep it all together all the time and, even then, you have to be living in the house a lot of the time as well. She winters in Mexico. Springs are a bounty of surprise for her.

Iris

The pups are still good. Definitely showing their different characters more and more. Pretty cute. Daisy gently squeezes in a partly open door and, in so doing touches nothing. Gus stumbles and thuds through the same opening sending the door flying and the house a-shaking. They are very good pups. And…….

……..segue to Wwoofers, of course….Willing Workers On Organic Farms. Wwoof is an organization that joins young people from different countries with farms, rural enterprises, homesteads and even just very rural cabins like ours. They do some chores on the place and the host provides a bed and food. We have had over a dozen (maybe two) and it has always been fun. Sometimes you get a great Wwoofer (Christoff had skills and experience and more energy than a 20-mule team) and other times you get a city tourist-type who likes to go to Starbucks for an adventure but all of them were young and pleasant and we liked having them. After a three year hiatus, we will be hosting a young woman from Germany in June. She’s not huge. She’s too young to be skilled. But that is a good thing when the main chore you have is cleaning. This could work out just fine.

All of that was a long way of saying, ‘we can feel Spring is just around the corner’. It is not looming. Spring is not yet quite ‘in the air’ but flowers are a’popping and life is starting up….it’s subtle at this point but we are now pretty attuned to it. Spring is on the way.

Happy, happy

Picking the eve of WW3 to start writing lighter, happy, puppy-based blogs might not be the best of timing but, in for a puppy, in for a few dozen pounds, it seems.

And pounds, they are accumulating. Gus is the size of a sheep! He has to be 34 pounds (we’ll weigh him today). Maybe more. (Official weigh-in just completed. OMG!!! Gus is 40 pounds! Daisy is 35!!!). Daisy is slimmer but a smidge taller. They are growing faster than the price of their food.

Weighing them is already a bit of a challenge now (Sal holding Gus today was a real challenge). Sal gets on the scale and we note her weight (she’s been getting lighter as the puppies work her hard all day) and then she steps on the scale again holding a wriggling, squirming, face-licking, crazy-puppy and I note the combined weight. Weight B subtracted from weight A yields the weight of the livestock.

They sound like livestock on the deck. Like Water Buffalo!

The last time I wrote about the puppies, they were very, very ‘puppy-ish’ but, over the last ten days or so, they have matured somewhat. They are almost housebroken now. No accidents inside anymore but I am not 100% confident yet. They are still just 16 weeks today.

They used to be reluctant to get on the boat and now they are willing – any show of enthusiasm will probably have to wait a while. But they go. They were very leery of the ocean but now they will play and splash up to their knees. That’s good. We kinda need them to like the water.

Sal had to do a hill-climb to check the stream-water the other day and I dropped them all at the beach. They cautiously followed Sal way up the stream and sniffed and stared at everything. But, when it was time to return, they were balancing on fallen logs, leaping in the stream, charging around and even led the way down to the beach. No more caution. No fear coming down. That little foreign exercise (to be inevitably repeated) became integrated into their lives pretty quick. They even re-boarded the boat by leaping in from the beach (not enthusiastically but they did it).

Sal really wants them to socialize. They have already had a couple of play-dates. Ruby Poodle came the other day for play-date #2 and was there yesterday for #3. She’s the tall brown one in the picture. Sal had taken ’em up for the food distribution day (when the water taxi comes in and the locals gather for their deliveries). And Hazel was also there. She’s the Golden Pyrenees/Retriever cross. Biggy Smalls (white one below) was also there. Everyone got along just fine altho Daisy tends to prefer a lap to a leaping. Gus, however, is right in there.

The timing for my writing happy, happy may be a bit off given the state of the world but it is good for us. We really needed a shot of puppy love to shake off our recent winters of discontent that we all faced for the last two or three years. I did, anyway. And Sal has reaffixed her perpetual smile/grin ever since they arrived (unless she is sleeping which is getting earlier and earlier each night). They have been good for us.