Accepting new

The Amish of Pennsylvania have accepted and adopted the use of electric bikes. World Athletics has banned transgendered athletes from women’s competitions. Democrats continue to prevail over Republicans and Trump is imploding in slo-mo over several fronts. Even Major League baseball finally sped the game up with a ‘pitch-clock’. It would seem that sane change and reasonable outcomes are not entirely absent from our lives after all.

That is not to say that all is right with our world but sometimes into every hurricane a little sunshine must be found. And, right now, I am looking hard for some light…..

One of our family members passed this weekend. As planned. As scheduled. It was clearly the right thing to do and everything went as well as could be expected. The patient was great, the family and friends were great. The MAID doctor was perfect. The process was painless and quick. In a sense, it was as good a way to go as any.


The process, while logical, acceptable and humane, was not quite as easily processed (for me) as something closer to more ‘natural’ (or maybe familiar) might be. It is hard to accept the end of a person who was, just an hour or so ago, seemingly vital. It makes sense on a logic and fact-driven basis, of course, but it somehow does not compute emotionally or, forgive me, on a spiritual basis. There was something inside that chaffed in an unusual way.

It is mostly just my ‘constructs’, of course. We are all born as mostly empty blobs that get filled with…well, everything. And then, that is what we become and are…..little-blobs-of-our-era. But we also have a natural tendency to go find the fillings. Ambition, curiosity, intelligence and education combine with genetics, circumstance, other people and even the historical timeline to add variation to our very own ‘little blob’s’ mix.

We all have little mental constructs that we, ourselves, build from all that and put that in place as our own personal ‘blob’ foundation. It includes our approach to everything from expectations of Western living to gender interaction, from social institutions to what constitutes rich and poor. We are raised with Judeo-Christian values and morals, Protestant work ethics, Capitalism, fashionable fads, trends and lifestyles and even the languages we speak – it all influences our attitudes and perceptions. We are truly born with a blank slate and an open-learning attitude that society tries to fill-in from the very get-go. And it succeeds.

And the vast bulk of all that building material comes from past generations and even our current living situation which is seen through the older eyes of family, personal history and experience. We kind of look to the future with the constructs of the old. I do, anyway.

And then come the inevitable changes. Large and small. Technology is the latest new force of nature but there have been others from war to plague from religion to migration. We can expect even more from climate change. The only constant is change.

Social media threw a huge wrench into that always churning pool and, in so doing, created a real tempest in the collective perception of reality. Up is now down, down is now up. Lies are promulgated as truth despite facts proving otherwise. Men are becoming women, women are becoming men and many are choosing to be even further otherwise. The ex-president of the United States is a mafia don! Cheerleaders are being shot! The world has gone mad…or, at the very least, a lot of our mutually agreed upon constructs are being challenged.

I rant over much of that kind of stuff in my blogs. I feel the collective, huge, indefinable confusion, too. I feel the earth shifting under my feet. I am even somewhat emotionally unsettled, as well (not as much as many, tho, due to living OTG on a remote island that has a granite foundation).

But I never expected to be shaken and stirred over the concept and reality of death. If anything was a truly given, rock-solid premise it was death and, of course, taxes.

This weekend death showed up in an entirely different way. It was OK. It was right. It was correct in every way but one………..I just never felt it like that before.


I do not mean to dwell but, currently, we got us some personal troubles, family troubles. And yet, in a weird kinda way, it does not always feel like that. Certainly NOT today. Our troubles are real, of course, but they are natural, they are common, they are human and they are – in the most general sense – to be expected over a lifetime. Our troubles will, in time, eventually pass.

But yesterday some poor black kid (16) in Kansas City, Missouri, went to a house where his younger twin brothers were playing, he knocked on the door. He was gonna take them home. It was the wrong house. He was on the wrong block. The homeowner opened the door, looked at the kid and shot him in the head. When the kid fell to the ground, the homeowner shot him again. Then the homeowner closed the door.

Miraculously, the kid, badly wounded, scrambled away. He went to the next house but they would not open the door. The third house he went to the people offered to call the ambulance but only after the kid lay face down on the ground with his hands ‘where they could see ’em’.

The police said that the kid was in hospital and in stable condition. They also said that the homeowner may have had legitimacy because of Missouri’s ‘Stand your ground’ laws. Meaning: self defense. The homeowner is not yet charged. Seems the law there requires the victim to make a statement before the assailant can be charged. The kid is unconscious. Can’t talk. I guess if he dies, they can’t charge the imbecile….no victim’s statement and the owner claiming self-defense. Rittenhouse all over again.

I am naturally upset over losing family members, especially as it is happening right in front of me. But, like I said, in a weird way it is, at the very least, natural. Disease happens. I am 75 and I expect more of mine to go through this and I even expect that I will, too. That’s the natural way of things. Natural is somehow comforting in that light.

But the USA has had something like 150+ mass shootings so far this year and this particular evil in Kansas City is not even classed as a mass shooting. The US had to make a special definition for what constituted ‘mass’ killings and I believe it is four (injured or cleared) but the shooter (often killed by the police or by their own hand) is not counted. They needed a special definition because so many people are shooting and killing each other down there, they had to make a distinction between small shootings and mass shootings. This was a small shooting. That is not normal or natural.

Do not misunderstand me. I am not taking any real consolation in this tragedy. It is appalling and increasingly ugly down there. But I am, strangely, made a bit more accepting of a natural loss when it is compared to an evil, senseless, ugly one. One is just the natural dark side of life, the other is complete and viral insanity. Too much of the USA is mad.

Chapter 2. Yesterday a young woman passenger in a car was shot and killed when the driver used a driveway to turn around. The car pulled in and was pulling out when the 65 year old New Yorker homeowner stepped out onto the porch and put two bullets through the car window. She was white and twenty years old.

Chapter 3. Also yesterday police in New Mexico knocked on a house front door in response to a domestic abuse call to 911. They waited long enough to feel uneasy. It was also the wrong house. At that point, the homeowner opened the door armed. The police shot him dead and exchanged more fire with the also-armed wife.

Chapter 4. Kristi Noem, Republican Governor of South Dakota, proudly addressing the National Rifle Association informed the crowd that her two-year old grandaughter already owned two guns. – a shotgun and a rifle.

And.…….according to CNN, there were seven other mass shootings on Saturday.


Death happens. We all know that. Even when we know it is about to happen (due to a terminal illness or something dire), we know what that means in advance. We are, naturally, somewhat taken aback even more when it actually happens and, of course, we grieve the loss of the loved one for some time after. But, generally speaking, death is part of life and the only real variable is the individual’s manner of departure. We lose someone. We grieve, we accept, we adjust, we cope.

And that is where Sal and I are right now. But we are still in anticipation mode. No one has actually passed yet. One very close to us is scheduled to depart this mortal coil within the week (medically assisted) and the other (equally as close to us) has just had major Cancer surgery at a very late age and the disease is still aggressively at work.

I mention this not to depress you but, rather, to be a bit more clear. Some other dear friends called to ask what the previous blog only hinted at. “What’s going on?” So, I am writing to clear that up.

Cancer is taking two family members.

What I find kinda strange is that those departing are not upset or afraid in the least. They are calm and charming. In fact, when people visit them, the conversation is all about everything else rather than the dark spectre in the room. There is no strained avoidance, tho. One visitor commented on the patient’s calm bravery in the face of it all and the patient responded with a smile and a joke, “It’s the meds!”

Like most of us, I have lost more than a few close friends and family already. Dozens, at least. I suppose it should be a somewhat familiar experience by now but it never is. Different people mean different things and their loss is felt differently, too. It’s all so personal.

And that is likely the way it should be. So, now that I have clarified the topic and become a bit less mysterious, I’ll stop. You now know what this is about and we all already know that it is personal for everyone. One thing is for sure…..just reading this short blog will likely trigger a deep and profound response akin to familiarity for all of you even if it is only for a brief moment.

Death is something we all know about at some level. And someone is being remembered.

On the grid and getting soaked

Back in the big city again. Damn! Two weeks, maybe? Family issues. Tough times. Life can be harsh at times. It is right now. But, I won’t dwell on it…all of us get some of that and/or are part of that….that’s just the way it goes…..nobody gets out of here alive.

So, instead, I’ll write about OTG. Why not?

Spring has sprung and the flowers and critters are coming out of their winter dens. So are we. It is glorious. All of a sudden things are happening, getting underway and/or are in the planning stage. Biggest goal this year for us is to paint the interior of the house. We’ll see how that goes….

We even brought up the first four logs the other day. Pulled ’em up from the lagoon. Winter wood-getting is just-now beginning. And we also just started a young feller on rebuilding the long front stairs (they were first done 20 years ago and made from untreated-but-locally milled wood. It is truly amazing that they lasted as long as they did). The stairs were rotting. I recently cracked a few treads. The stringers made noises, too. The timing was right. The price of the treated lumber wasn’t (holy cow!) but it never is…….

The log-getting threw my winter back-of-blubber out of whack and getting into stair construction mode proved more than just a smidge painful but local-guy, M, needed the moolah and I had already ordered the lumber…..which I could NOT lift when they (the barge) dropped it all on the beach. So, M came to the rescue….that was good. Really good.

I like watching young people work. Made my back feel better just standing there yelling destructions at ‘im.

It is just another year out here and I am just another year older….

….and it is all still good.

But ‘out here’ does not a whole-wide-world make. We, like the little spoiled brats we are, are remote and mostly isolated from the big ugly. We live in a beautiful bubble. Pollyanna, Gus and Daisy, is our name. But real-life still stumbles, trips and lurches along on the outside like a drunken imbecile. And so does a lot of insanity, evil and death. Ugly still occupies a significant place on our planet. Enlightenment eludes us but we get snippets of happiness and contentment. Like I said, it is basically all good.

OTG is for the fortunate.

I would happily continue to bury my head and contentedly plan projects, catch prawns and drink scotch if I could but, well, into every life a little rain must fall. And it is raining right now. We are right now in the BIG ugly and we are getting more than just a little bit wet.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

WdG kinda said I could rant…if I wanted to…and, well….I kinda want to….

When we lived urban, we had a city-oriented mindset of course. WHAT exactly that meant was not always clear to us at the time because, well, it’s a mind and it’s set. And you kind of have to get away from a mindset for a time to be able to see what it is or was. Vacations helped, of course. But not two weeks at an all-inclusive beach with folks from Ontario. That’s just living the same but different. Ya really gotta get out amongst the foreign natives in a strange land and live each day differently than what you are familiar with to have any real chance at a proper mental respite. For Sal and I that meant three months or more at the very least – just for vacations.

Habits, routines, ruts, patterns, protocols, disciplines, even daily, ease-of-doing behaviours/memory/routines/schedules that help get you to work on time and choose the right hallways and elevators to use…..all keep our minds more than just somewhat set…..the word, ‘concrete‘ comes to mind. Mindsets (beliefs and habits) and constructs (self perception) act much the same as well. Lifestyle (preferences and behaviours, taste, style), too. We are not only creatures of habit but we tend to seek such a perspective.

I once heard that major law firms will not grant sabbaticals or even long-term leaves to junior lawyers because too many of them never come back. In other words, like people incarcerated for a long time, you do not know what your real perspective on life is until you get away from it for a good long time. If you don’t get away you can’t really avoid it. You just get programmed.

….but that is not my point….

The point is: that from our OTG perspective (our new, reformed, holier-than-thou point of view on just about everything) too much of our modern society is really, really stupid (not to mention self destructive). It does not work. It is not sustainable. Makes me wonder if we really need the governments and institutions we have. Makes me wonder about our economic, justice and education systems a lot, too. To be blunt, just about every major aspect of modern life needs a radical review and reformation because, currently, it is off the rails.

Get this microscopic example: It seems part of inflation is now being blamed on warehousing! First the Covid-affected supply chains emptied the warehouses and then, duh, they later filled them up. But the demand and logistics for products coming and going faltered, stuff got out of balance, the system got the hiccups and bottlenecks and jumbles resulted. So now the warehouses are full.

You’d think that would lower prices but, NO, that raised them because warehousing costs a lot and they simply can’t get rid of the stuff fast enough. Everyday your product sits stored, they raise the price of it to pay for the storage.

Solutions being undertaken (by all of them) include selling on the secondary markets and, of course, destroying new product so as to keep primary market prices high. That’s right – you put in an order for a $2000 fridge but it’s on back-order (translation: stuck in a warehouse that is spilling over with fridges) and so the ‘system’ sells 20% of the new fridges to Argentina for $250.00 each or else they simply destroy the product. They have to or else the supply chain backs up again. Oh yeah, and because of the storage cost, your fridge is now $2100.00.

And that is just one tiny, silly, inconsequential aspect of a world-gone-mad (just in the ‘warehouse’ category). Here’s another: Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court judge, regularly takes private jet trips and stays at private resorts courtesy of a Republican donor who has also donated some $10M to non-reporting private societies associated with Thomas and his wife. Last year Thomas and Ginny enjoyed a $500,000 private yacht vacation courtesy of the donor. Thomas, of course, is supposed to report any kind of gift or donation over $415.00 but has never done so. This has been going on for over a decade. THIS IS A SUPREME COURT JUDGE!!!!!

Those two examples of Orwellian-level absurdity and corruption are not without way, way too much company in a vast sea of modern day ‘mindsets’ that either condone, practice or ignore the city-centred madness. No one needs a comprehensive ‘urban-centric’ list that includes police belligerence, voting scandals, fraud, pollution, drug deaths, wars, homelessness and political corruption. No one needs to know of all the madness all the time everywhere. So, the modern person just hunkers down, looks ahead and applies their nose to the grindstone (which aids and abets the insanity even more). We choose NOT to see!

They ignore everything they can because to address it all is impossible. In fact, addressing all that faces just themselves is getting impossible. The kitchen is getting unbearably hot. Everybody’s kitchen is hotter than hell. But they still hang in there… the frog in the pot of heating water. What the modern first world citizen has come to accept as normal, everyday, the-way-of-things is now absolutely beyond reason from our perspective.

I don’t know how y’all do it.

Back to normal

April 4 and the weather seems to have finally turned. It’s perfect for me – cool and sunny. Flowers are emerging. Fishing season is opening. The garden beds loom. Lumber-for-projects is being delivered. The woodshed is mostly empty. And, of course, there are a couple of engines that will not start. Those are the usual signs of Spring for me.

Weirdly, the biggest visual Spring signal for me is that the low tide times are now in the daylight hours and that makes schlepping, hauling, carrying and even boating just that much more strenuous. When the sea drops as much as 18 feet in half a day, you can’t help but notice it.

But nothing is normal in 2023. Not really. And no one who reads me needs another litany of modern woes to read. Suffice to say, 2023 is not gonna be normal and it may even possibly be worse than recent bad times. I keep hearing the sound of sabres rattling…………..

What is good? Well, it seems more and more people are looking to re-locate OTG. Or at least to small towns and rural properties. I like that. A recent article on real estate claimed that inventory for small town, rural and recreational properties is at an all-time low right across the country. And people have been snapping up what there has been. I have more than a few urban friends talking about recreational property, too. But talk is cheap and recreational properties are not – not any longer.

One friend wants a nice, large cabin with sunny waterfront acreage, plenty of fresh water and road access for around $100-200K. “That might be available in Peru”, I said. “Maybe something similar in Northern Saskatchewan or even, perhaps, in the Appalachians of West Virginia. But you’d have to go past Prince Rupert to find anything like that for that price in BC and even that would not have a cabin.”

“I thought OTG was cheap!”

“No. It is not. It is an expensive way to live poor, actually. I mean, I consider it ‘living rich’ but I measure luxury in silence and clean air, wild animals and privacy. I measure wealth as having my own time all to myself, Sally and the dogs. I value NOT having to deal with cities, towns, rules, regulations and bureaucrats. Or schedules measured in hours and minutes. Or traffic. I think I am stinkin’ rich but, by normal metrics, I pay a lot to live simply with a high degree of physical effort”.

“Yeah. That’s why I want a road and a town nearby so I can hire people.”

That kind of fantastical and wishful thinking is common amongst newbies-from-the-city. They thought that selling an old bungalow in Surrey for $2M would get them a ranch on the ocean with $1.5M left over. And, to be fair, there have been times when something like that might have been almost, kinda possible. You still CAN buy paradise by selling Hellburbia and making a lot of adjustments but the ratio of urban-to-rural buying power has dropped considerably over the Covid years.

We now have properties worth well over a million dollars on the more accessible island next door and I would not be in the least surprised if some of the ‘magnificent’ properties of the wealthy wouldn’t fetch even more on our island. Put another way…..the $200K property OTG is currently rare and likely not desirable.

Of course, what I just wrote is true mostly for the area bounded by twenty to thirty kms around the Salish Sea. Travel further North or further Inland and properties are considerably less expensive simply because the temperate part of BC is around the Salish Sea/Gulf of Georgia.

I wrote the above under the introduction of ‘What is good?’. To be honest, I do not regard it as good. I do not regard it as bad, either. It just is what it is. But most people seem to like property values going up……which makes no sense to me. If the property value goes up you simply pay more taxes unless you sell. But, if you sell, then you just have to buy back into some other market. Why not go to where you want to live, buy what you can and just stay there? After that, property values dropping would be what to wish for.

Oh, well……I told you that 2023 was not going to be normal.


Sal and I have been together fifty-two years and it has been a very good fifty-two years. Well, for me, anyway. Sal is still mulling it over.

I was reflecting on our unusually long and enjoyable time together and wondering what our secret was. Fact: there is no secret. Sal is pretty special. Incredibly tolerant, patient and pleasant. I’m just a smidge better than mediocre in most things, rotten in a couple and just really good at kissing, doing the dishes and making her laugh.

As her girlfriend said a few years back when thanking us both for her 3-day-stay of our hospitality, “Sally, it was wonderful seeing you again. Love this place. Love the dogs! You are wonderful. And David, well…….David was….unh…adequate.” (I had not given her a single kiss the entire weekend so I think that explains my low ranking).

So, I must be relatively OK to get such a high rating from a woman who has gone through as many husbands as she has. Actually, compared to many men out there, I am probably a solid C, I might even just squeak in at C+. The bar is kinda low. I tend to excel when the competition is poor.

But we also had deals to help us in the beginning. We kinda knew that there would be misunderstandings and arguments so we put in place a few quick ‘formulas’ for dispute resolution from the get-go. Of course, I pointed out right away that being intimate every night, even if we were in disagreement over something, ensured that we’d start the next day without rancor. And the relationship would flourish. I told her it was relationship physiotherapy.

The Art of the Deal in real life terms!

Mind you, two other of our agreements were that we would not have children and that I would never, ever have to do the dishes. Ever. I was willing to eat straight out of the pot, throw dishes away after only one use, use paper plates or simply eat at restaurants for the rest of our lives but my doing-dishes-days were over. Sal agreed to both and – just for perspective – last night was my third night in a row for doing the dishes and, of course, in the middle of one of the soapy moments our daughter called.

Deals are made. Not all deals are kept.

Another fundamental gimmick to getting along was to fairly quickly declare how strongly we felt about something on a scale of 10. “I prefer the action thriller. I feel say, 7.25 out of ten.” “OK, that’s fine. I only feel 6, maybe 6.5. We’ll go watch your movie.”

We also never fussed, argued or even discussed much about money. Whatever she wanted was fine with me and vice versa. She basically controls everything and I sorta make a few directional decisions, the big moves, that sort of thing (when she lets me).

For example, when we bought our first house, we had no money. None. Not even enough for a down payment on a condo. But I had a few deals in the offing and anyway, we had to leave our current residence (a 13000 sft Shaughnessy mansion) because it had been sold and the new owners wanted immediate possession.

A realtor took us to a plain-jane split level in Richmond listed for $107,500 asking. We had a two and a half year old and Sal was 8+ months into our second child. For her to get out of the car and get our son managed while gathering up all the accompanying detritus of a young family took forever. So, as she began the struggle to extricate herself from the car, I did a quick run-through the house and made an executive decision. Sally got to the front door just as I was telling the realtor, “We’ll take it. Full price offer. But only $1.00 down. Don’t worry. I am closing a deal. I’ll have the money.” The realtor rolled her eyes. Sally rolled hers, too. “Should I even bother to go in?” I signed the interim offer.

I am not really the bastard I sound like. Sal was exhausted. The baby was coming within days and we had nowhere to live. This place was empty and immediately available. We had discussed what we needed and this had it all. It was a no-brainer (and it was a no-money-deposit-er). And Sal soon agreed with the decision 100%, even if it was after-the-fact.

And that ‘deal’ worked out as hoped. The point? We trusted each other from the very beginning. Still do. That really helps.

I mention all this as some basic background to our recent example of such deal-making. When we show up as being on a ‘different’ trajectory we sometimes make deals, weird, kinda-compromise, give-or-take deals. The other day, I snapped at Sal. I raised my voice, exclaimed my impatience, intolerance, frustration over whatever it was (probably she got distracted by a squirrel). She quietly rebuked me, “Don’t be mean!”

Later she dropped a hammer on her thumb and let out one of her famous coal-miner list of expletives that turn the air blue, shock grown adults and may someday even get her arrested. She is an angel who turns into Charles Bukowski for a second.

Later that day she said, “You shouldn’t get impatient with me. I am not a professional carpenter.” I said, “I know. But I think you were an angry coal miner in your past life and you now channel Lenny Bruce.”

“Let’s make a deal. I won’t swear and you do not lose your patience with me.”

“Fair deal. Every time you swear, that gives me licence for one ‘snap’. You tend to string your blue-words together so I will count your typical three-word cussing as one swearing offense. Deal?”

By the end of the day I had built up an 8-time ‘snap’ credit and we were just at dinnertime. I had counted each blue moment as the day went on and, upon hearing that she was at 8, she swore a full blue sentence and then immediately slapped her hand over her mouth. “I can’t !#@%**&-ing do this! Oh my God, *^&$#@!! (*&^&$!!!! “. I pointed out that that exclamation raised the total to ten. She was hysterical and went around with both hands clamped over her mouth for the next few minutes.

” I can’t do this. I’m doomed. The deal is off. No deal. Snap all you want. I don’t @#$#@!-ing care anymore. %$#@$#@&^%!!!.”

“OK. I get it. But that makes 12 snaps-in-the-bag for me or else we just go back to being who we are. Don’t answer that right away, Sal. You still have a lot of ‘F’s’ in your mouth.”

Standing still in two directions

Unlike some people, my life has been one of constant change and transition. I was in 13 different schools before I graduated high school, lived in 20 – something separate homes before I was 20 (almost 20 more after that) and…well, there has been a lot of that sort of thing in my life.

I have even had four major careers. I was a social-worky type for twelve years, a real estate developer for eight, a consultant for six and a mediator/arbitrator for close to twenty. Throw in a lot of travel, some cul-de-sac time and living on boats and you might get the impression that I lived in a state of flux so much that change seemed constant and, worse, routine probably became unbearable. And you’d be right. The short form of routine is rut and, for me, routine is hell.

I have enjoyed lots of ‘life’ changes and, of course, with that comes the inescapable transitions between them. Aye, …and there’s the rub!’ You cannot go directly from A to B. You have to cross through the empty space from A before getting to B. That space is uncomfortable and, for me, basically an ordeal. When you get to B, you get to start adjusting, adapting, coping, learning…new people, new situations, new interests, new, new, new, new. It’s all good once you make it to B.

Transition time feels more like a wonky knee, something chronic and crippling…no progress….I came to recognize those transition times as such. It’s basically frustration….the fork in the road, so to speak. All progress, growth and learning stops while you make the next choice. Of course, the ‘new’ phase chosen is super interesting, challenging and an adventure. The new phase, once recognized, is attractive.

That time spent musing at the fork-in-the-road….? Not so much.

Imagine (for a sec) that you are really into something and doing well and learning and growing. You will inevitably start to make a regular routine or process from that growth path. That’s natural. As your expertise or familiarity grows, you anticipate and plan more effectively and you slowly go from apprentice to journeyman to (if you are lucky) an old pro or expert stage. But, as that happens, the excitement and enthusiasm diminish but at least some comfort usually ensues. Wealth of some kind might accumulate. You might even relax? After comfort maybe comes a bit of boredom (for me, anyway) and then restless disinterest combined with fatigue creeps in.

You start to think…..’maybe it is time to ‘move on‘…..that is the inner feeling I am now recognizing again. Frustration. I am full-on into some kind of transition mode.

Don’t misunderstand me; it is extremely unlikely the next phase has me moving back from OTG. Each phase teaches you something deep and established and I am deeply established here or, maybe, somewhere else OTG…(you never know what kind of fork in the road will loom into view and a foreign country OTG is not out of the question) but some things in my life are pretty much firmly established. OTG. Sal. Kids. Friends. Values. I do not see where the next phase is coming from or going to is but I can feel the familiar itch of the transition phase.

“Dave! You losin it, man? You ON something?”

No. Not in the least. And I can prove it. I call to the stand my first witness, Ms Gail Sheehy. She was/is the author of Passages (1972). In that book (I read it in the early 80’s) Sheehy explained that adults go through phases just as children do. The major difference is that kids go through a lot of ‘recognized’ phases from the Terrible Twos to the pre-teen, the pubescent teen, the troubled teen, the young adult and all the phases in between. Young people got phases up the yin yang!

Adults, she claimed, only went through two or three ‘adult’ phases which she never quite defined in years. But her second book, New Passages did. She says….

Provisional Adult: 18-30 years old (includes Turbulent 20’s and the transition to 1st Adulthood)

First Adulthood: 30-45 years old (includes early 40’s Middlessence – a 2nd adolescence)

Second Adulthood: 45-85 years old (includes 45–65 Age of Mastery and 65–85 Age of Integrity)

Seems the last phase for Ms Sheehy ends there…. At 85 I might become a master of something and have integrity. Harrumph!

I don’t think so…..I believe her basic theory, her ‘phases’ concept and I have the life experiences as corroborating evidence to back it up…but, well, Gail went only through some phases and some people go through more. Some maybe less. I think we all get the phases we seek and choose. I tend to be a bit greedy and I choose to have more……I think….I mean….I am once again at a transition fork. Progress has stopped while I choose…. first I have to look down another road or two……..

Back to the safety of topics OTG…

……………quasi political/economic/philosophical ranting (no matter how satisfying it is for me) is not a popular read it seems. Observations regarding Karl Marx and idiocy reinterpreted floated like a lead balloon. One dear reader even questioned my mental health……

So, here we go . . . back to the more familiar . . . Sal saw a few logs floating by and got the itch. And it needed scratching. Bad.

Log Dog – The Steel Kind

Errant logs have been fewer this year. There simply are not as many ‘floaters’ floating by and what few there are were of pretty poor quality. We were down on our logs. So Sal’s senses were piqued, her antennae tuned and she was Sal-the-Super-Salvager waiting to pounce if something came along. Upon seeing two likely stove-fillers, she was gone in a blur of jackets, ropes, hammers and dogs (the steel kind and the furry kind). My intrepid salvage crew of three were in the boat and zooming out before I knew they were even gone!

Log Dog – The Furry Kind

She had to navigate a veritable morass of wood debris out in the channel to find the two good logs but she succeeded, drove two steel dogs in them and attached the tow ropes. Then, with two furry dogs watching them follow aft, she slowly towed her prizes back to the ‘sorting yard’.

And it is there that our oft-told log salvaging story gets a bit more interesting……

Sal manoeuvred two twenty-five foot long, 10 – to 12 inch diameter logs behind her 17′ long boat (with an unruly crew jumping and wagging and getting in the way) into the lagoon that fills with water at high tide and goes dry by mid-tide. It was high tide. She drifted in slowly.

The goal is to creep the boat and the salvage forward so as to keep the logs behind the boat as she aims for the shore looking for a good rock or cleft upon which to alight. Sal nudged the bow gently into one such convenient ledge and quickly danced over the furry dogs and untied the two logs. Then, walking lightly along the 4″ inch wide gunwale, she moved forward to the bow with logs in tow. That is not easy unless you weigh much less than say, I do. I tend to tip the boat almost over.

Then she stepped lady-like to the shore with both lines and quickly tied them off to a hook, other fixed-in-place log or a nearby tree. Meanwhile, the boat floated ever-so-slightly higher when she stepped off and that freed it from the ledge and it started to float away. Finished securing her prizes, Sal nimbly danced back across the rocks and simply long-and-deftly ballet-stepped back to the bow. Good balance. A minute later, she was back in the captain’s seat with the crew acknowledging her skills and good fortune with some well placed licks and an enthusiasm of tails.

Ms Nimble Salvager is north of 70.

And, well, so am I. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that I was rather well south of 80 but, really, who’s counting? I mention it because the next day, we all went down the hill to the lagoon with my chainsaw and cut those previously gathered (16) logs into thirty two winch-liftable lengths.

Of course, the chainsaw required servicing before I went down (despite having serviced it in late Fall). It seems I did not compressed-air-pressure clean the insides and, with winter moisture, the fine sawdust that gets everywhere absorbed enough moisture to form a kind-of dust-concrete that stuck to and limited the controls. A half hour later that was rectified and off we went.

Yes, the dogs came, too.

When logs come and get tied up, the do not just sit where they were placed. They move around with each turn of the tide. Since we ‘collect’ over time and do not address our stash until there is enough to warrant the work, the logs ended up all akimbo on the shore. Some are perched on rocks, some are laying on others and all are on slimy rocks and mud. If any are on an algae covered rock, they are likely to be left there until later because algae-covered granite is treacherously slippery and the slip is always followed by a hard and painful fall onto other rocks, logs and dogs.

But, with judicious choosing, planning and cutting, we got all but one yesterday. The lone survivor will meet it’s division soon enough. We still have time. Yesterday was the first day of Spring.

Rural idiocy

Karl Marx, that great ‘communist philosopher’, once said, “The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life“.

He said that like it was a good thing……

I used to basically agree with that statement (until I went rural). How could I not? All modern breakthroughs seemed to happen urban, institutional, governmental. Ya know? Where the university profs and the young geniuses hung out? MIT. Harvard. Oxford. The Sorbonne. All the BIG companies. Amazon. Microsoft. Exxon. The ‘world’ was centered in New York, London, Berlin and Paris…..right? All the great voices, actors, writers, capitalists and politicians were urban, sophisticated and well, recognized as geniuses on magazine covers. Country rural was, well, country and rural, ya know? Hick. Redneck. Bubba. Hillbilly. A bit on the dumb side…….if anyone noticed them at all.

Y’all don’t get no astrophysicists or brain surgeons from Podunk, mister“.

But Marx’s theory has a few minor flaws. For the record, Marx was the son of a rich lawyer and lived off his father’s estate until it petered out. Then he lived poor. He lived in Germany, England, France and various couch surfing locations along the way…..presumably as a really smart urbanite. He never resided in, or even visited, Russia. Marx was more of a philosopher bum than a revolutionary economist. He may have just rationalized his personal failures….I dunno…who am I to judge?

Sill, he had a point or two to go along with the flaws……

I can now judge the phrase, ‘rural idiocy’ a bit better. I can judge it because I believed it and then I went rural and lived it and I now have an urban-gone-rural perspective. I kinda get it…..and I still kinda don’t.

First – brains migrate to the city. Mostly true. Non-physical-work oriented brains definitely go to the city. But some nature-oriented folks who are really smart don’t go and stay on the farm instead. I’ll give the edge in numbers to the urban smarties but I think that there are more of them mostly because the urban gene-pool is larger and more attractive and because larger libraries and institutions are there for the more intellectual (non-sweat requiring) pursuits. I.e. less physical work.

So, yes. More smarty pants are in the cities. Hard workers, making real stuff, fixing everything that breaks and doing so sustainably without endangering others…? Maybe not so much….

And, even though a lot of blithering idiots are also actually in the city (judging by the sheer numbers), they fall faster and farther than do the silly ones in the country. In the country, there is more open space and less opportunity to be revealed as stupid even though chainsaws and the grape-vine does an admirable job at trying to sort that out. Out here, we kinda know the idiots from the foolish, the silly from the feckless and the cretins from the dummies if by no other means than the number of remaining digits and appendages they sport.

Put more succinctly: country mice, like farmers, are capable generalists and city mice are very dependent specialists. I think that’s the basic difference.

Even a real simpleton working his hog farm has to master a lot of skills and can carry on that way for a long time (even if he loses an arm to a chainsaw). An idiot driving in heavy traffic dies in an inferno rather quickly. Even faster if he is a one-armed driver. Or gets shot. Or arrested. Or is addicted Or bankrupted. Or made homeless. Or worse, cancelled! Country life is more general and physical but it is, overall, more balanced and less dangerous to life if not limb. The dumb can linger here. They are accepted. They fail and die much quicker in the city.

Which, in itself, gives an intelligence edge to the country mouse – they live longer and are happier. Duh!

So, how does the longer-lived homesteader influence his greater rural life? Not a helluva lot. Generally speaking, the rural Bubba is a good enough neighbour. Usually salt-of-the-earth type. Nice enough. His or her influence is entirely local, tho. No campaigning. No selfish fund raising. They are a bit prone to populist influences and conspiracy theories but generally harmless – for the most part. Often brilliant with a lever, a hammer or a saw. Geniuses at ‘making do’. They rarely protest or join political issues except on behalf of the environment. They are sometimes inclined to a bit more religion and a lot less formal education. They are also increasingly unable to cope with the rapidly evolving complications, sophistications and convolutions of the modern urban era. They have trouble with cell-phones, computers, forms, laws, regulations and bureaucracies. Ergo, their interaction with others is less. Their influence on others is even lesser.

I think we all have trouble with modernity to some extent but, typically, the country bumpkin has much slower thumbs than does the city slicker (calluses on their hands?) Can’t keep up on Twitter. Many don’t even have internet. Or a blog. Trump has a huge following. So does Kim’s butt. But no one follows Bubba. Country bloggers have only about seven or eight readers at most.

Bottom line: it’s a significantly different kind of intelligence out here. Better oriented for the individual, the family and the neighbour. Better for nature, too. Not suited for Harvard and MIT, Exxon and the Military Industrial complex…. not so much, anyway. And country smarts does less harm to others. Jus’ sayin’…

But there is one thing that makes the rural guy like me an idiot-cum-victim. Our lack of modern sophistication makes us more vulnerable to those that actually do widespread harm. The tricksters. The politicians. Our folks do not understand the Machiavellian machinations, the sophisticated skullduggery, the permutations of perversions that the city slickers come cloaked in. Like laws and taxes and regulations. They do not hear past the bureaucratic-legalese words spoken, they do not see the invisible, in-camera cheatings and double crosses that will impact their otherwise innocent lives harshly. Rurals simply do not count in the corporate boardrooms or the government offices. They are the rubes, the hicks and the fodder for the movers and shakers. They are the targets of the confidence men, the banks, the credit companies and the bureaucracies. The country mouse gets run over by the bigger rats of the city.

Latest example writ large: Fox News saying publicly one thing and saying the opposite in private. They lied to their public entirely for their own sake.

Trumpism bears that statement out rather dramatically and colourfully as well (if you count camo as a colour). See riot at the Capitol Building. Hear the call for donations to Trump! So do polluting mines, ravaged forests and depleted fish stocks illustrate the great sell-out. People just ‘livin’ their lives’ in the forest find out that someone just polluted their river, killed all the animals and gave ’em cancer. And they don’t know what they can do about it……..

Dramatic fact: half the wild fauna bio mass on earth has disappeared over the last twenty years. There is now three times more domesticated animals than wild animals. There are now as many pounds of just pet dogs and cats as all the pounds of all the wild animals in the world.

So, I have had to revise my take on the term, Rural Idiocy. It is not that rural folk are stupid, it is that they are more innocent, vulnerable and trusting than they should be in this dog-eat-computer, make-a-buck, amoral world of double-speak, jargon, lying and not saying anything at all. Government is slowly working to get rid of us all. Corporations are slowly working to get rid of them country folk. Policies, plans and budgets do not recognize them. No one wants the country mouse in the way of things, they are regarded as harmless but they don’t make anyone who is important very much money.

Worse, they are witness to all the environmental crimes.

In this sense rural idiocy means naive and so Marx was not entirely wrong.

“Dave! Where the hell did all that come from?”

Well, ….it comes from deep down but it was sparked by our local government currently up to yet more ‘secret agenda crap’. They (like all governing agencies) are always disingenuous. They lie. They pass bylaws in secret. They are now on a power-acquisition quest. And they even publicly diss locals who speak up while they smile and say phrases like ‘community engagement’. They are basically ambitious penny-ante liars and cheats but it just reminds me (too much) of my time in the city where that was the common style of play.

And then that reminded me of Marx and well, you know how it goes from there for me…..