Expectations

When Sal and I first went OTG, we knew that we were a little ahead of the inevitable-soon-to-start-curve. Getting out was not a popular concept with any of my peers and contemporaries back then when I was 55/56. But anyone ‘could see the writing on the wall, I thought. It had to happen.’ I was just going to be amongst the first of the GREAT EXODUS.

In fact, the idea was not a particularly popular one even with Sal! She’s always up for an adventure and so was totally onside with the latest quirky venture but only because, in her heart, she thought that this was just a phase and, within a few years, we’d go back to being normal. Of course, now 18 years later, she is totally onside for the long haul and thinks in her heart that “this is the new normal and I like it!”

To be fair, I was always surprised in the early days to come across some guy in a shop or a store or in a scrap yard (I used to hang out there) and, when told of my plans, would express total understanding and support. He’d go on to claim the same dream and desire but lament the tentacles and umbilicals that kept him in place. Those encounters just reinforced my belief that the great exodus from the city was coming eventually. Maybe not soon, but definitely within ten or so years. I figured the baby-boomers alone would lead the way when they got tired and fed up with the rat race and that was likely to happen ten years after me.

It did not.

There was a short-lived period about ten years ago when recreational property ballooned in value which sort of indicated a renewed interest but that mini real estate boom waned. Property assessments dropped. The GREAT EXODUS had stalled at the starting line. Still, it did mark the beginning of an exodus trickle and a new rural stay-at-homeness for young people that kept the OTG population the same and even growing a smidge. By the time we had been here almost twenty years, the population of our island had gone from 60 to maybe 66 or 70. Hardly a boom but still growth and the demographics changed, too. We had a few more young people.

Mind you, time marches on and, in a community with almost 50% of the adults over 70, there is a looming attrition rate. To stay at 66 or 70, we need a young family to come every year. And, so far, that seems to be happening but nothing like a wave. This is just replacement community growth.

The main reason cited from younger people was ‘lack of work’. Translation: lack of PAID work. There is plenty of work just in building your own house. property and keeping your boat afloat. That is a full time job. Trust me. And there is always seasonal summertime work to build a small bank account to get through the winter months. But no one out here gets rich who ain’t already. A young person has to have modest dreams and goals to consider OTG.

Or, better put: they used to…..

Yep. Things are changing a bit….not a whole lot. Not much. But a bit. For instance, we had a whole lot of skilled carpenters out here but just about all of them are 70+ now. The lone working handyman-carpenter-for-hire we have who is still reliable is 60. But he’s now looking to stay off the roof, not lift heavy beams and generally trying to survive into older age these days. Luckily a newer, younger carpenter has moved up but so far, most of his work is still in town so he is not yet committed to ‘being’ a local carpenter here. But he will. That was why he came here in the first place. That exact same story played out last year with our lone plumber (now retired pretty much) with a local young man who just got his ticket….and so it goes. We seem to find a replacement for each retiring tradesman/woman but it is – once again – just replacement, not growth.

And therein lies the punchline: there is now more new work out here. Paid work. Now that everyone is getting old, they do not do it all for themselves anymore. The greatly individualistic, independent, learning-on-the-go homesteading adventurer is getting on and looking to pay for younger help. If ever there was a weird niche but growing job market, it is here. And it will be growing for a while still.

Put another way: for the last forty years home-care was NOT A THING out here. If anyone needed a bit of temporary home care, they had a friend or a relative or maybe even a WWOOF’er help out. But, today, Sal and I volunteer to run a small home care program for the over 70’s because they can’t help each other as much any more. They need more help. Some of their friends and relatives have passed and they are too old to host WWOOFers much anymore.

It is so weird to me that, as my OTG community changes with age, so does the local job market. So does the local real estate market. So does everything and yet, and yet, the population numbers have barely changed at all.

Revolutionary Change or Evolutionary Change? “I don’t care, man! Just make it quick!”

For over a hundred years peaceful protests have made change. Significant and historic change. From Ghandi and Martin Luther King to anti-Vietnam war protests, from the women’s movement to BLM, from Silent Spring and Greenpeace to anti-corporate corruption. Protests worked, albeit slowly, painfully and incrementally. Violent protests never really worked as well and they have worked less and less as the police state, Homeland Security, digital monitoring and social media have grown. But they, too, made a splash. Basically, protests worked. Peaceful protest worked best.

But recent studies have indicated that protests are becoming less and less effective. As government becomes more autocratic and oppressive, as the media becomes more and more corporate and as the police state becomes more militant and with cameras everywhere, the protests are getting more and more like flash mobs. They hit and they run. They are leaderless much of the time. Most of the time. Protests are becoming guerilla-ized, localized and often ignored by the media and the government. The peeps revolting are getting more and more like the Guy Fawkes masked Anonymous…..ineffective and forgettable.

Sadly, they are also getting kinda boring……evolutionary change is, perhaps, too slow for our times.

So…what does that all tell you….? Peaceful and violent protests are becoming more ineffectual and leaderless, anonymous and less focused. The media doesn’t ‘cover’ them properly (and perhaps because of that boredom) so they go underground and rely on social media to spread their message (along with the trolls, oppressors and wingnuts). And they are all largely ignored. Protests are declining in impact. Especially when time is a major factor (i.e.Climate Change).

So, then what? Waddya gonna do when they neutralize the only weapon you have for self (and planet) defense? Especially since many of those in protest are also suffering from lack of confidence in our supposedly well-intentioned institutions.

Well, you could do what the cowards, the old and the weak do – run for the OTG hills! (hmmm…..I just might know such a guy….)

You could also run for office but let’s be frank: our politics have been corrupted and the non corporate-sponsored don’t have a chance to even contend. You have to first sell out to get the ‘party backing’ which kind of defeats the point. The system is designed to compromise and homogenize, to cover and squelch, to make your voice – even in parliament – unheard. Why would anyone run for office just to be ignored? Salary and the pension, maybe? That’s a condemning observation….eh? And, if the salary and pension is not a factor, then why NOT speak up? But they do not. Your MP and MLA don’t make any noise. Those folks may have started out with good intentions but they were quickly and effectively corralled, comforted, compromised and ignored.

If you are not gonna run for office, run for the hills or run around in a dark hoodie painting graffiti, whatcha gonna do?

What will change action look like in the future? Revolution or Evolution?

Well, somethings are showing up already…much like the dead canaries in the coal-mine. We have more and more random stabbings to add to the ever-present mass shootings. We have cult figures conning millions of the weak and inept (who probably just want a mother/parent/leader, poor babies). We have a growing number of the mental and the addicted homeless. And the fallibility of our institutions is becoming and more more revealed. But those observations are not so much astute or constructive things to say, ya know?

Constructive? We may or may not have a heroic sub-culture in the tech industry trying to make things better…hard to tell yet. E-cars, the internet, satellites, batteries (that one’s for me)….that kind of make-a-buck revolutionary who gets rich doing good work (has there ever been such a person?).

We need a real leader. On a global level. But do we have a real, uniting, charismatic visionary? Do we have a natural Messiah-type? One that preaches goodness and doesn’t lie, I mean. Wasn’t Anonymous gonna do that kinda good? What happened to those Guy Fawkes guys? For that matter, what happened to GreenPeace? Do we have a ‘movement’ that everyone wants to support that is led by intelligent, well-respected, unselfish people who have not tried to have sex with a reporter or choir boy or some other naturally-born-to-sue quasi-victim? (Greta Thunberg is the only one I can think of).

The answer, I am afraid, is: NOT YET. NO ONE HAS STEPPED UP. NO GROUP. NO MOVEMENT. NO HEROES. Where is the Second Coming when we need one?

By the way….people have stepped up. No question. Probably thousands have risked their lives, their careers, their futures all in an attempt to right a wrong. I know that. I applaud them. I admire them. I even support them sometimes. But I always end up grieving for them. They are persecuted and killed, they are dissed and ruined, they are ignored and shunned. There are a lot of dead heroes in Mexico, Russia, China, Myanmar, North Korea and Iran just to name a few random places.

It seems the successful hero business is owned lock, stock and barrel by Marvel Comics now (a subsidiary of Disney).

BTW: “O BrotherWhere Art Thou?” is NOT the same as “Wherefor art thou?” (the latter from Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliette). The first asks: Where are you? The second asks “What/who are you?” Methinks the distinction is becoming moot. We need a hero whatever is her or his makeup and we need him or her NOW.

Will change come by evolution? Maybe. Or will a revolution happen? History indicates revolution will not happen until the peeps are hungry. They will be persecuted, oppressed and controlled into oblivion but they will obey until they die. And they went out on a full stomach. And that may be our future.

History suggests that only the hungry revolt.

8 billion disappeared

Seems all the snow crabs in Alaska have left the building. An estimated 8 billion. That sudden vacancy was not due to overfishing. It’s just a mystery, plain and simple.

That’s a prominent international headline. Admittedly it should be, but the fact that the state !%^%$# economy and the fishermen will suffer was the emphasized point of the story. That part is insane!

BC’s economy does not depend on the Dungeness crab but some of the locals do for a nice dinner now and then. They are gone, too. Disappeared. Nary a one. Alaskan snow crabs and southern Dungeness crabs gone. Our missing crabs won’t make the news. Not enough money in ’em. But, the bottom line (pun intended) is that the crabs are gone.

Twelve Nechako River sturgeon were just found dead. No apparent cause. Just dead. That never happens with Sturgeon. They live long lives as a rule. And, of course, another hundred or so whales washed up on some beach in New Zealand. On purpose, maybe. Dead.

Could TEOTWAWKI be manifesting in yet another way? I mean, ya got yer major droughts, yer whoppin’ hurricanes, yer unpredictable weather and your new records in temperatures, floods and rainfalls already…….. D’ya think this rapid die-off might be linked in some way?

I dunno. Who knows? Logic and reason suggest that is the case but, of course, logic and reason tempered with the economy denies it. Kinda like Covid, ya know?

The oil companies made record profits this past quarter. Exxon around $17 billion. Shell, around $11B. The last quarter! High gas prices at the pumps for no real reason. Food prices are off the charts, too. And the homeless are everywhere. They are piled up on the sidewalks like beached whales. I dunno….I kind of see a parallel, ya know?

Sal and I went to Victoria to see our lovely grandchildren. Couldn’t see ’em when scheduled. They came down ill – from pre-school, no less. So, we hung around for an extra day and spent an hour with ’em in the nearby park. It was good. But we were ‘in the city’ for five days. And the overwhelming visceral feeling of revulsion was surprising. It was one of seeing madness coupled with deceit and aggravated by pollution, crowding, expense and even more madness. And traffic. We entered a world we had previously been comfortable in and it felt like we were visiting an overcrowded asylum.

It is hard to explain succinctly so I’ll just boil it down to one simple observation: If I get up in the morning and want to do a chore, I have breakfast, walk to my shop, get some tools and materials and start. No fuss, delays or waiting-in-line. When we visit our grandchildren or Sal’s mother (94), we drive for 4 hours, buy over $100.00 worth of gas (one way), dive into thick traffic around a store and slowly get into a crowded parking lot. Sal gets out and, after shopping and standing in line to pay, returns to the car after 20 minutes or more. Then we drive through more traffic and repeat until the supplies for dinner are gathered. Not counting the long drive, it takes 90 minutes to three hours in traffic and stores to gather dinner ingredients, wine and whatnot, maybe longer. To my now-rural OTG mindset, that was three hours (not counting the long drive) of 100% wasted (and hellish) time. Totally frustrating, insanely expensive and really quite stupid overall.

“Why is it stupid?” A lot of time, machinery, gasoline and waste-of-time crappola to get dinner? And that doesn’t include the half of it – well, as seen through the eyes of a guy who is now so far out of it (in all ways).

I apologize for becoming repetitive to the point of annoyance on this topic. I really do. But each new exposure to the ‘urban’ on my increasingly ‘rural’ perspective is jarring. I think it is definitely worse each time but I also think I am increasingly sensitive or aware of it as well. It is so ugly in so many ways (and slowly getting uglier) that Sal and I swear each time. “Never again!”

One more irrelevant-to-you point to make: our two dogs are very, very well-behaved. They are gentle, sweet, kind and even considerate to the really old and the really young. Watching Gus and a newborn baby in the park was like something out of a Disney movie and both dogs give grandma respectful, considerate behaviour a notch above their typical puppy goofiness with us. But they are huge. Gus at 100 pounds, Daisy at 80. Keeping them housebound, car-contained, leash-controlled and boring the hell out of them for five days together with long car trips is clearly not the right thing to do. When they got home, they were ecstatic. They just frolicked and played and ran around for hours. And they spent the last 24 hours 100% outdoors.

Dogs out here are happy. Those same dogs in the city would NOT be. That, too, kinda tells ya something about life and how it should be lived.

PS: Scientists now believe that the Pacific Ocean warmed too much and by doing that, the cold areas that Snow crabs prefer got smaller and smaller. Those smaller areas with a then-concentrated Snow crab population did not have enough food and so the crabs cannibalized themselves.

70% are gone….

….seems 70% of the world’s animals are gone (source:World Wildlife Fund). The population of all animals is now only 30% of what it was in the 1970’s. That is depressing and sad. I generally prefer animals to humans and most insects – altho insects, reptiles and all are included in the term ‘animal’. NOT humans tho. Earthpedia and generally all scientists include everything except humans and plants as animals. Well, Protists aren’t animals, either. They are bacteria and such. But you get the point.

“What’s the point?”

Clearly viruses and humans are the only things still expanding and all flora and all fauna are dying off. The cited cause of all that biodiversity loss is habitat degradation (pollution, deforestation, ocean poisoning, etc). Five hundred species have gone extinct in the past ten years. The writing is being deeply etched onto the tombstone.

I am not going to go all ‘woe is us’ on you. Too late for that. Ya can’t bring back the extinct. What’s gone is gone. I suppose some nerdy cloning expert in the tradition of Jurassic Park might bring back something using DNA found in amber but, really, whose gonna go to any great expense to bring back a shrew or a tiny minnow? Where’s the profit in that?

So, we are headed for the Sixth Great Extinction. And many of the really rich will expire along with the growing impoverished. They will leave behind great gobs of money for their litter and the offspring will carry on in that great tradition of……whatever greed is. Eventually, they will own the desert and all the viruses and all the insects. And the story will very much resemble Frank Herbert’s novel, Dune.

The Earth is Dune.

“Geez, Dave! That’s bleak. Can’t ya write something nice?”

Yes! Yes, I can. But first I write about what is on my mind. And, while Dune is not really on my mind, the foundations of the novel are. Warring factions, drugs, cognitive enhancement…..it all just seems eerily pre-destined. Predicted by Herbert. That’s all I am saying. We, the current denizens of this beautiful planet, will not suffer the desertification, the Trumpification, the greed so rampant. We will still see deer and birds, rats and squirrels, Orcas and more and more and more jelly-fish before we die. We will expire in a greatly diminished Garden of Eden but a garden nevertheless.

It’s OK for us.

But doesn’t it make you wonder how you spent your life? I mean, most of you (us) are good people. We went along to get along. We didn’t know. We were just born and we learned what we were taught. We are not guilty of what this mess has become. Are we?

I dunno.

But I do know this: we did not get here consciously. Our genes, our culture, our so-called education, our religion, our government and our media have all shaped us to the point that we do not know what is right or wrong anymore.

Small case in point: on another island the citizens are all gathering and fussing and fuming and mostly virtue signalling as they oppose this and protest that. They are NIMBY writ large. They want to save the whales and hug the trees and recycle and all that. Great. So do I. But, but, but….70% of the flora and fauna are already gone. Are they really saving the world? Or are they just knee-jerking PC-ness? Either way, I am not judging or condemning. I am just saying that we came a bit too late to the protest, guys. You are closing the barn door after the horses, cows and 500 other species have bolted. It just may be too late.

“Yikes! So now what?”

Standard joke: “Bend over as far as you can and kiss your butt goodbye”. Zat what I am gonna do? I dunno. I tend to think that we go down swingin’, ya know? Fight that destiny. Speak up. Say it all out loud.

“Say what?”

Well, we can start with, “Ya know, this system isn’t quite working. I think we should change it. I mean, fundamentally change it. Political reform is not enough. Recycling is not enough. Capitalism ain’t working….we gotta switch horse in mid-stream because the horse we are on cannot swim. Time to get on the bus, Gus, get a new plan, Stan. Somehow we gotta get ourselves free.”

Oh, and one more thing….don’t try to become a leader to try and save the world. Fuggedabout that. Waste of time now. Just get the hell out and take your chances on your own and/or a small community. If you meet like-minded people, that’s great. But don’t count on peeps. Most are still brainwashed. They mostly just want to have meetings and sit on committees until TEOTWAWKI hits the fan.

Y’all have to get out and do it.

Thanksgiving….mostly…sorta

I am generally thankful for what I consider to be a great life (recent sore back notwithstanding). I live in heaven with an angel and two very good dogs. Plus I gotta ton o’ good friends (at least two thousand pounds). Despite my natural inclination to grouse and complain about every little thing (from mosquitos to the price of gasoline), I am happy. Hard to believe, actually. An old grouch is happy. On Thanksgiving, no less!

But the explanation for that apparent contradiction of being grouchy most of the time is kinda obvious to me…I mean who LIKES mosquitos? Tell the truth about it! What I mean to say is that I do not like glossing over, making nice, looking through rose-coloured glasses or any other variation on NOT telling it like it is. And, if you tell the truth, it includes the good and the bad. To me, it is just that simple. Tell the truth! (it makes me happy)

And that’s what today’s topic is about: the truth. “Why bother? And, anyway, don’t we all have our own truth now?” No. There is a single truth. We may not see it but there is one. They also say that the truth shall set you free and I believe that fully. So we gotta try alla time to find it…..because the truth makes us happy.

But doesn’t that also mean that the opposite is also true….you are burdened by your lies (and the lies of others)? A lot of lies makes us unhappy…..jus’ sayin’…..

Even those who smile through every day and always look on the bright side of things, aren’t they just delusional at some level? I mean, wasn’t Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms just-plain-nuts in some serious ways?

Bobby McFerrin sang “Don’t worry, be happy.” And it kind of appeals to the simple in us but, well…the lyrics (according to Wiki):

  • McFerrin is very optimistic in this song, but some of the problems listed in the verses will require more than a cheerful demeanor to overcome. The person he’s singing to has lost his bed, has no cash or girlfriend, and his rent is late. “Don’t worry” might not be the best advice for him.
  • The phrase “Don’t Worry Be Happy” was used in some cases to criticize people with a rosy outlook on the world, as if they were oblivious to problems. The most notable use of the phrase in this context came from the rap group Public Enemy in their song “Fight The Power” when vocalist Chuck D declared: “Don’t Worry Be Happy was a number one jam
    Damn, if I say it you can slap me right here
    .”

I bring this all up because TRUTH seems to be in rather short supply or has been compromised to a massive and growing extent in our modern lives. And, not coincidentally, we have a lot of unhappiness nowadays. And I find that odd. Why so much lying? Truth is supposed to make us happy…it at least sets us free…..”Let the sunshine in…..”

If that is so, and there is so little truth-telling, is that why we are all so unhappy?

Political Correctness, for instance, motivated by a desire to right some wrongs has gone too far in many cases. For many of us, PC’ness is now acting like a lie. And it is NOT making any of us happy, is it?

How can righting a wrong go too far?” I dunno…but it has. And the first casualty seems to be humour (something closely associated with being happy). Ask Dave Chappelle or Bill Burr.

No, this blog is not about PC’ness or humour or any one case of truths being turned into lies……..it is about truth-telling in general and truth-telling is basically AWOL these days. It is about the close association of truth, reality, facts with happiness and well-being. It is about lies and the resulting despair and unhappiness that inevitably follows.

And lying is currently the new reality. Well, there is lying, spinning, obfuscation, dissembling, exaggerating, grifting, cheating, faking and extreme drama, there is selective telling, selective memory loss, omission and good ol’ classic denial. We have developed a lotta ways to deceive…..not so many ways to reveal the truth. We have a lotta ways to make ourselves unhappy…..

The truth shall set us free and make us happy.

So, back to the title: Am I thankful? Yes. But, to be honest, I have a sore back right now……

US Justice

Tracy Hunter was a Juvenile Court judge in Ohio. Female. Young-ish. Her brother got into some stuff and Judge Hunter abused her position to provide him with documents that she should not have. And then she lied about it. She was bad. She got charged with 8 counts of abusing her position. Convicted of one. She lost her job and was immediately sentenced to six months in jail and a year of probation. A smidge harsh but not brutal. It was appealed. Again and again it was appealed. Her case went on for five years. Three years ago, they literally dragged her out of the courtroom to put her in jail. She was not resisting – they just chose to drag her.

No question that she was a guilty judge. No question she abused her power to help her brother. There’s a price to pay for that…….

Now, make a mental leap. Leap over 4 years of outrageous incompetence in the presidency, leap over the insurrection at the capitol on January 6th. Leap over the corruption of the Supreme Court and the dozens of co-conspirators trying to take the country down an authoritarian path. And leap over the fact that Trump alienated NATO, the North American partnership and, in so doing, killed millions with inaction on Covid, abuse of Mexican children in cages and abandoning the Kurds to the slaughter by Turks. Ignore Stormy, Kim, Putin and Roger Stone. Instead, just focus on Trump’s handling of boxes of classified documents, the lies associated with that and the impact those documents might have in the wrong hands.

Trump is walking freely, eating Big Macs and riding in a golf cart. Trump has a secret service detail. Trump holds rallies around the country. Tracy Hunter, bad girl, went to jail. Mind you, Tracy Hunter, bad girl, was and still is black.

Is it just that simple? Really? Rich, white guy gets special treatment, young-ish black woman goes to jail? Is it really that simple? I do not think it is that simple. There are reasons Garland is slow to act. There was likely a reason the guards dragged Ms Hunter from the courtroom. There are reasons that really bad behaviour that is virtually world threatening is treated differently than really bad behaviour that was exercised to save an underserving brother. I am sure about that……

…….but we have all seen the monumental ignorance so manifest in the USA. We have all been stunned by the stupidity of MAGA supporters. They do not see much of anything. We have all been exposed to the relentless revealing of wrong-doing by one man and now seeing the rather mundane act of family members protecting each other in comparison. Can anyone – even accounting for procedures and lawyers – really see justice being practiced there? Would any one of you want to be held vulnerable in that same system?

Imagine how that must play out to those who don’t read, think or have any knowledge of the larger issues. All they do is watch Fox. Black woman goes to jail, white guy golfs. Imagine how even educated black people see that dichotomy, that gross inequality of justice.

Imagine how US Justice looks to the rest of the world.

Don’t peel back the wallpaper!

That’s just an expression, of course. If the wallpaper shows a problem then you know you HAVE a problem but, if you don’t peel it back, everything looks normal for awhile longer. But, well, as my daughter is visiting and she wanted to help, and so I peeled back the deck. I shouldn’t have.

Peeling back the deck means, in fact, lifting boards. Deck boards. When you lift deck boards, deck joists are revealed and, when the joists are revealed so are the main structural beams. The reveal was not pretty. We live in a rain forest. I should have known better.

Plus I upset a lot of bugs.

Anyway, long story short, my son-in-law and I went to the local building supply and bought $500 worth of treated lumber, put it into his nice, big Ford pick-up (large enough to live in), drove down the logging road (irony) and loaded up the boat. Then we came home at low tide but later in the day, when the tide had come up, I unloaded it onto the funicular and lifted it all up to the house deck.

The next day we got at it. “Dad. You should see this!” “Oh. That’s not good. We are gonna have to take all that out.” Dad! You should now see this!” “Oh, that’s even worse. It all has to come out. At least the post looks good.” “Dad! The post just split in two. It’s rotten, too!” “Well, good thing I have an extra post or two, eh?” “Dad! You said we just had to replace a few deck boards!”

Maintenance is a crap-shoot. Sometimes it just needs a squirt of oil, sometimes it needs $500.00 worth of lumber and sometimes you just advertise a fixer-upper for sale.

When Sal and I built this house, we started out knowing nothing except that we needed to get into a liveable home as soon as possible. We managed to do it in 18 months but it took another 18 months to make it comfortable and another two years to ‘make it a home’. Five years from start-to-finish was a local record. We know some folks forty years later still walking on bare plywood floors in a bare plywood room.

But, that works, too.

When we were building, I would say to Sal, “Don’t worry about that gap you see, no one will see it. We live remote. Who’s gonna see? And, anyway, we are only building to the 30-year rule”. Sal asked what the 30 year rule was. “Just simple math. I’ll be dead in 30 years. You’ll get life insurance and can fix it all back up!”

That was the plan. That plan is now almost 20 years old.

Let me do the math for you…..we are 2/3’s of the way into the 30 year rule. That means the deck was 2/3 rotten (hadn’t factored that in). To be fair to us, our deck was only half rotten but, well, you know….do you really want to measure the rot and then try fixing it when it all goes to hell when you are 84?

The 30 year rule has some flaws.

So did our building skills.

Still, this, too, got done. Daughter was a huge help. The others? Well, you know……’other things to do’ and ‘Geez, I gotta get this done right now. I’ll help later.’ That kind of thing. Are they bad? No. It all started started out as replacing a few deck boards. And maintenance is a crap shoot. And then we discovered crap. No one plans for crap!

But crap happens when you peel back the facade.

Sobering observations

My daughter, her husband and a friend (plus dog) have come to visit us for a week. They are Albertans (you can NOW see why I cut the right-wing a little bit of slack). They, themselves, are not right-wingy, of course, but, if you live amongst dogs, you can come away with a flea or two. Peer group and neighbours are a strong influence. My daughter et al scratched themselves with their legs and said a few things ‘Albertan’.

The biggest topic was Covid related. The SiL (son-in-law) was hit the hardest and there have been some lingering complications. He has long Covid (LC). LC, in his case, meant heart abnormalities, like a runaway heartbeat and extreme fatigue. He had tests. The doctors claimed that they could not (as in prohibited-by-law) tell him that it was his heart, vaccine or Covid related. That, alone, is weird. In addition, when he attended a community meeting, he mentioned his LC and immediately was surrounded by others with ‘the exact same symptoms’, followed by the exact same tests and explained in the same oblique way “No one will actually SAY anything!” That, too, is weird.

There is no question in my mind that Covid did, in fact, alter the world considerably from the one we previously knew and it is still doing so. ATWAWKI – altered the world as we knew it.

I have another friend who is and always has been rather conservative. But sanely so. As he ages, he is trending toward CONservative. He now reads the Epoch Times and follows Fox News. He does not believe 100% in all the conspiracy theories but he ‘just knows’ that some of them are true. He’s anti-abortion, anti-George Soros and Bill Gates and believes doctors are willy-nilly altering the gender of babies. “We gotta drain the swamp, Dave! Look at Hunter Biden!” He’s quite incensed about all the Libs. And he is a Canadian!

OMG! That is weird!

Another friend cracked a joke at a small public gathering about the well-recognized penchant for the Chinese to copy/counterfeit Western products. Everyone laughed save for a woman of Asian descent who demanded the administration require this friend to make a public apology. And so a board of something summoned him and demanded an apology – the same people who laughed at the joke! C’mon! That is just plain nuts!

And so it goes. If I had to put a single word to all this other than ‘weird’, it would be ‘prickly’. Everyone is acting prickly, overly sensitive to mild infractions and interactions……..even that of the doctors who ‘would not say’ because of ‘legal’ issues. Weird. It is almost as if we have adopted yet another barrier to communicating well and deleted what tolerance, patience and understanding we had previously. More weirdness. My mother used to use the phrase, “Walking on eggshells.” when referring to someone who was prickly but it was never used in the sense of ‘all of society or the community’.

When it applies generally, overall, everyone, universally, globally….that is a weird trend.

And our community is trending a bit weird that way, too. At first any divisive prickliness was generally limited to those against any kind of community improvement projects vs those who were in favour. Not unusual, really. Then it graduated to those who were anti-vaxxers vs those who were Bill Gate’s Guinea pigs (pro-vaxxers). That got a little intense at times. That was weird. And lately it has notched up again because the local government will be administering $2M in dock and wharf improvements and self interest is looming like mold. We are getting prickly. We are divided. We are showing greed. We are showing paranoia and suspicion……..to the extent that it starts to enter the weird category.

“Dave! What’s your point?”

I dunno….old people, it seems, always tend to say, “The world is going to hell in a handbasket.” And, so, maybe it is just the natural evolution of the senior’s viewpoint. Old guys get grouchy. So, maybe it is ‘same ol’, same ol’. NOT weird. Normal. I dunno.

But, if I had to make an observation on this, it would be: we are all (as a species) acting with less tolerance, more judgment and we are only creating more divisiveness. And I am looking to try and figure out why. What is gained by that? Are we unconsciously trying to de-globalize? Are we reverting to tribalism? Is increasing racism a denial of the greater trend to homogenize? If so, why? Are we all trying to be perfect? Perfectly what? And if so, why…who are we trying to impress? Or, instead, are we evolving too quickly and are subconsciously trying to put the brakes on? What is the collective result from this growing divisiveness and how would that be of any kind of benefit?

Put more succinctly: why would a doctor be prohibited by law from answering questions from their patient? Why would people demand public apologies for jokes? Why are people so inclined to believing plots and conspiracies?

Any ideas?

Twenty five years ago…

….when my father was still alive, I’d call him and ask if he wanted to play golf sometime in the coming week. My schedule was usually flexible enough. He’d start by saying, “Well, this Monday, I gotta get my haircut. And Tuesday is when the girl comes in to clean up. I have to get my dry cleaning on Wednesday, Thursday I go to your sisters for dinner and I am having lunch with John on Friday. Neither of us likes golf on the weekends so, well, how ’bout next week, maybe?”

I’d laugh and say, “OK. Great! Let me know when it works.” I know that he was not brushing me off in a rejection sense. He was just getting old. Seventy four, 75, 76. One thing a day was all he was up for. And his routine was important to him. It was not a problem for us but it was kind of amusing. Both Sally and I could have done all his weekly chores in one day, gone to work, socialize, shop and still have time for a renta-movie in the evening. Well, Sal, anyway.

I am now 74 goin’ on 75 and and am now reducing my activities to one or two (a really busy day is 3 or four ‘commitments’) a day, too. I am in better shape than my dad was. I have a helping partner (my mom died years prior) and just about everything I do is on site, in situ, or within walking distance. But age catches up with all of us. I am no longer amused at my dad’s old-man ways. I get it.

Having said that, my one or two chores a day are much more physical than ‘picking up the dry-cleaning’ or ‘getting a haircut’. Today I will fix the lower funicular cart, build a window frame and trek about the property some. I might even chainsaw a log. (OK. I am kidding myself, but I will do some of that.)

Jus’ livin’ is a chore, too. There’s breakfast, ablutions, dogs, house cleaning, dinner prep, dishes, wine-time and, of course, NetFlix. Throw in a nap now and then and it is amazing anything gets done at all.

“Dave! What’s your point!?”

Don’t really have one…..jus’ thinkin’….thinkin’ ’bout Trump, actually. Here’s an out of shape, old guy who is suffering incredible stresses and dealing with that by throwing gobs of money (that he stole) at his mounting problems with increasingly bad lawyers. Jail looms in his future. All he does is watch TV, eat MacDonald’s burgers and kinda play-at golf (with a cart and cheating alla time) anyway. Melania is no fun. He really should be dead from a massive heart attack soon.

Having said that, Joe Biden is no spring chicken either. He’s got stresses, too. If I or my father are anything to go by, both those guys either nap a lot, are in much better shape than they look or they just do NOT do very much despite the situation they are in. Makes ya wonder who is doing most of their heavy lifting…..

Epilogue: went down to the lower funicular to examine why it seemed to be a bit of a drag….turns out rust (it goes into the sea to rest at boat deck level for unloading stuff) was worse than the cursory ‘eyeball’ check I give it as a rule. I knew it was rusting away, I just did not know that it had completely rusted away. So the fix was gonna be bigger than a bolt or a grease job. Got tools. Then I ground all the crap away and brought down the welder. I ‘custom-cut’ some steel and welded it in situ, the ocean lapping at my feet. My assistant passed me bits of ‘patching steel’, grinders, cutters, tools and changed the bits in the drill and replaced the cutting disc as needed. We worked like a well-oiled machine (with a totally kaput black box). The dogs frolicked. Then they got in the way. But, when the welder or the grinder fired up, they high-tailed it. While we were there, we examined the wheels for greasing…..both the front axle wheels had lost their nut. Seems all the rage. Replaced nuts. Added Loctite and grease. And we were good to go. At 4:30, I poured the wine….no sense waiting ’til five if you got ‘er done early.

Myth or just legend?

Sal the salvager

Sal is a smidge focused on logs. She likes havin’ ’em. To her, a cache of logs is like money-in-the-bank or future wood-in-the-shed. Logs make Sal feel warm and secure from the minute she sees ’em. Even tho we have a full wood-shed that will last us all through next winter even if it is cold, Sal keeps an eye out for any irresistible, ‘good logs’ floating by.

Her motto: “If one is good, two is better. And 60 are needed!”

Me? I tend to wait until I feel like it before I go log-hunting and that chore is not really a pressing issue when I see a full wood shed. Call me a lazy butt-head.

This morning, she got up, fed the dogs and gave ’em a ten minute bathroom break. Instead of watching them poop, she looked out on the sea and saw three attractive logs trying to lure her. Sally sent the dogs home, climbed down the cliff and immediately scrambled her craft. She was on a mission, a sortie, as it were. “Gonna get ’em!” She headed out like a fighter jet defending the homeland.

In this case, the most easily accessed vessel was her beached kayak. Grabbing some ropes, a heavy hand-sledge and some log-dogs, she jumped in, paddled out, secured her prizes and slowly paddle-dragged them all back to shore. Then she tied them up for me to ‘process’ later and haul up the hill on the high-line.

Me? I’ll probably let ’em ripen a bit, get settled in. Yeah, I am sure….no rush….

Sal is North of 70. The ‘beach’ is uneven, large boulders. She is the only one I know who can jump in her kayak from an easy, stable and level dock. From large rocks? Most would not even attempt it.

Me? I would have trouble getting in her kayak even if I was naked and vasalened up.

The retrieval process requires driving special spikes with a small sledge into a free-floating, rolling, bobbing, sea-slimy log, tying ropes to ’em and then dragging those wanting-to-escape, heavy burdens to the same rocky shore. Three logs is harder than one by a factor of more-than-three. It ain’t an easy task using a small boat. It is a real challenge dragging three of them with a kayak.

Me? I was reading emails and having tea. Then I had a piece of toast. It was only 8:00 am, after all.

She got ’em home and tied ’em up. And, amazingly, she was dry! Trust me – myth or legend, Sal gets wet a lot. A lot! Easily once week. If there is water anywhere, she’ll get wet. “Ooops, I fell in, again.” Doing the log salvage in a kayak and staying dry is a super fluke.

A half hour later, she was buzzing out in her boat, accompanied by Gus and Daisy, to meet up with the food delivering water taxi up at the community dock. She is one of the volunteers helping to distribute the boxes to the individual residents after unloading the taxi. After that, she’ll likely deliver some of those deliveries to our neighbours. She’ll be home by 10:30.

Me? I just wrote it all up.