Santa Claws?

For the most part, I describe living out here in quasi-realistic, honest terms. There is a bit of ‘idyllic’ inserted now and then to allow for the OTG booster I am, too. Basically, I tell the truth and just maybe not share all the little ‘irritations’ of life off the grid. That is not because I am a Rebecca-of-Sunnybrook-type, I am not. It is just that there are NOT THAT MANY irritations. But there are some. My highline snapped a couple of weeks ago and I have to repair it but the lower anchor point is underwater (tides) during the day so I have to postpone that and, for a grouchy guy, postponement is frustrating. And so it goes. Freezing pipes, engines not starting, running out of something….little issues that, in summer, do not even add up but, in winter….well, winter can be a bit vexing all by itself, too.

We just came back from five days in Victoria. Went to see a dentist and visit briefly with family. Of course, when in town, one also shops a bit. So, all in all, five days of hell-on-wheels (our Pathfinder). I can’t believe how much time in my life I wasted in traffic. After the dentist, it was snowing heavily and Sal and I were hungry and so we stopped in a funky li’l cafe for a soft lunch and….well, I can’t believe how much of my life I wasted on waiting for a sandwich in funky cafes, either. From Costco to Pagliacci’s, it all seemed like moving wet cement uphill.

However, none of that is the blog-story today. Today is about a Santa imposter. I took our woodstove heater door off before we left to go South. Had to. I broke the glass in the door a few days prior and one needs one’s woodstove working full-tilt up here in the winter. I dropped it off at the wood-stove-repair guy.

When I took off the door a small blast of cold air came down the chimney so I folded two thick layers of cardboard and duct-taped that faux-door over the opening to keep drafts from blowing ash into the house while we were away.

When we came home, it was getting on and we had a ton of crap to unload. So, we got on it but first I turned on the water system and Sal started the wood stove. The house temperature was 42 degrees F, 5 degrees C. It was cold! as we worked to put stuff away, the fire started to raise the temp but five hours and a lot of wood later, we were still only at 60 degrees and still bundled up.

“Hey! Sweetie! I think we had an earthquake while we were gone. There are a lot of little items that have fallen to the floor”. We looked around and concluded that it must have been an earthquake but there was also a hint here and there that it may have been a critter. Mice would have done more damage and left too much irrefutable evidence. NOT mice.

But, what?

I went out to start the genset and, when I came in, I saw our intruder looking at me from under the sideboard in the dining area. It was a big, beautiful shiny, healthy squirrel. I couldn’t resist, “Hey, Sal! Look, a squirrel!”

Sal is very brave in spirit and/or when taking life-threatening challenges at sea. But, in the presence of small, wild, mammals in the house, she is girlishly hysterical. When the shrieking died down (and the noise froze the squirrel in it’s tracks and she/he just sat there wide-eyed, looking at Sal and, as you can guess, that just raised the screaming an octave or two), we got to chasing the little bastard. He first ran around the lower floor and so did we. Then he ran up stairs and I followed. Sal stayed down to ‘hold the fort’. I opened the back door (mid-landing on the stairs) for his easy departure but felt obliged to go upstairs and herd him towards it. After a comedic ten minutes or so, our guy made a bee-line towards the back door. Just as he was about to exit, he spun 180 degrees and headed down the stairs straight at Sal (armed only with a pillow and a cushion, she was no match for the squirrel and emergency shrieking was once again invoked). Sal went one way, the squirrel sauntered past her and returned to the living room. And the chase was on again.

Over the next 30 minutes or so, the squirrel clung to window screens, ran along elevated ledges, hid under furniture and basically covered every square foot of the downstairs. He was accompanied by the sounds of two people chasing him with flashlights and pillows and yelling ridiculous orders at one another (including the squirrel). It was mayhem.

I had also opened a window which ‘Santa’ had run past at least two times but, on his third and final circuit of the living room, he saw the open off-ramp in it and took off. “Holeee!!! What a squirrel! What a couple of nuts!”

Sal still looked a bit unnerved. “But how did he get in? What the hell?”

It was then I noticed the discarded cardboard door. There was chewed hole in it. I looked carefully and the hole had been chewed through from the inside out. The damn guy had come down a virtually vertical 16 foot long, sooty, steel-pipe chimney after first gaining entry by climbing up a 30 degree steel roof and a four foot SS insulated chimney. He had gummy bears for feet! But he must have fallen some of that distance and then found himself on top of the inner part of the stove having landed on the (now cold) heat retention baffle. Had the fire being burning, he would have been a roasted squirrel. Best laid plans of mice and men are not as good as those of squirrels, it seems. He did NOT go agly. “Hmmmmm, now that I am covered in soot and everything is pitch black, I will simply start chewing on whatever is chewable and see where that gets me.”

Welcome to Chez Cox.

Our squirrel, now named Santa Claws (Gumshoe to his friends of which there are none) fell down the chimney, ate through the two layers of cardboard and simply could not get back out until we came home to facilitate his departure. He knocked a few light, decorative items around in a fit of pique, tried a bit of over-ripe banana and basically spent much too much time rifling through our allegorical drawers.

Not a very traditional Xmas this year so far……….

Hmmmm……?

Thinking…I am…..

So, there is always a sense that January 1 is a ‘new day’ a ‘new year’ and a fresh beginning. It never is. Not really. Come January, we have the same job, the same mortgage, the same spouse, the same car and so on and so on. If anything, January 1 is the ultimate ‘same ol’, same ol’ statement writ large and sometimes with a hangover to boot.

Or is it….this time?

If any one year (in my lifetime) ever deserved to be retired and forgotten, it is 2020. A close contender for that would be the last four years in aggregate but, as bad as Trump was since 2016, he was even worse in 2020. Everything was worse in 2020! Pandemic, recession, loss of international cooperation, division, violence, extra racism and mismanagement in all things. Honestly? If every decision made by the White House swamp-creatures was simply made by flipping a coin, the results would have been twice as good. They have demonstrated incompetence in it’s purest form. And we have Trudeau!

Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo threw a Xmas party and invited 900 people. 70 Rsvp’d and less than that showed up. Even Pompeo did not show! Those dorks can’t even throw a party.

But, all that notwithstanding, where does it all now stand? Where is the world headed post Trump? In what direction are we headed? Put metaphorically, usually the ship of state is moving in one direction and then a new captain is piped aboard and the ship might alter course or even make a sharp turn but, no matter, the ship keeps moving. NOT SO MUCH this time. This time the Allied ships are all aground.

The US (and Canada and many others) are currently frozen or, at least, seem moribund in the mud. No one is looking ahead with growth, progress or optimism in mind. They are still fighting the last years battles and making new problems just doing that. The US (et al) has staggering debt. The dead keep piling up (the US is gonna hit 750K – maybe 1M) and their e-infrastructure has just been Royally hacked – just to mention more than just a few lost battles on other fronts. In the meantime, their nation is riven with discontent, anger, racism and the American Dream has been washed from everyone’s view but the stinking rich. America is not a happy or functional place. Worse, it does not seem like a safe place to either live or visit.

And, even though we are a smidge better off, our time will come. We have the same basic problems. In fact, ours might be greater. Why? Because we are a country that depends too much on the dysfunctional nation to the immediate south of us and those guys are simply not doing at all well. We will feel that. Soon. Now, maybe.

I say this as if it is all in the future and, weirdly, it still does seem that way to me. Real estate prices in BC have never been higher. Record real estate goings on…….retail sales (on line) at a record pace….. inflation seems to be making a comeback…..but….

….we are facing material shortages already. Just about every place is reporting “….hard to get that stuff lately. It all comes from the US and they also seem to be on long back-orders.” Food prices are going up. Canadians on pace to set a record in personal savings (not spending) at the same time as bankruptcies and unemployment surges (can’t spend). It is all a very mixed message.

My immediate guess is that some things will do better, most things will do worse. Major changes in ‘normal life’ will come and most will be adjusted to rather better than my usual instincts suggest (i.e. Save-ON is doing boffo these days due to their new shop-and-delivery service for instance). Restaurants will fall like dominoes…and so it goes.

Some changes will be due to Covid, others due to our too-close relationship with the US. Some changes will come from the ‘recovery’ efforts and some will come from the ‘failures’. Some will also come from the increasing effects of climate change and some will come from even more new technology. Plus the baby boomers are rapidly exiting the scene due to aging and the inevitable result of too much of that. 2021 may herald a new dawn but that novelty does not necessarily bring silver linings.

So, the question for you, dear reader: please pick any BIG topic, project the future of it and the projected timeline. I would very much appreciate even a short prognostication. Long is OK, too. My synopsis? 2021 will be better but not good in most things, really great in a few areas and way too many small and medium catastrophes all around. I figure that to be the case til the end of 2022….. for the US. Til the end of 2024 for Canada.

Howard summarized

As you know, I read Howard Adelman. He is NOT an ‘expert’ on anything. He seems to be an expert on just about everything. Smartest person I know. He writes a lot on Middle East politics – especially about Israel, Iran and that sort of thing. He does a lot with the Hebrew Bible and the Torah, too. And he occasionally dabbles in politics…..

He wrote a much longer piece on Trump’s followers which I have distilled into THIS:

HOWARD: ‘Polling’ of Trumplican Believers has found that about 80 percent of the president’s voters are willing to believe that the election was rigged against him. They will believe anything he says even when the proven lies keep getting repeated, reinvented and the goal posts are changing daily. 71% of Republicans and 79% of Trump voters want Trump to run again. How does any of that make sense? It cannot be because of the lack of correct and official information. But, but, but….there ARE reasons why people believe lies.

First, you must have one key ingredient, an authority figure/spokesperson who holds high office/status/influence/celebrity. They become the latest new idol. Who better than a golden, fatted, celebrity with money, babes and unusual charisma to spark a faith-based movement?

Second, the believer has to be immune to irony and satire. They do not look beyond the image. Trumplican believers see and hear the first ‘believe-in-me’ message from their shiny, orange leader/idol claiming their holiness and then the followers take the second message – usually a total lie – not as false or ironic, but rather as a token of reinforcement for the leader – not as fact/information per se. Take it or leave it but do you believe in me? The lies about the Inauguration audience set the tone. The more outrageous the lie, the better. Why? Because the liar is selling the audience on him/her, their personality, their charisma, their ‘outrageousness’. “Believe in me or leave the tent!”

The third requirement: a plausible mechanism to blame on any resistance – in the case of the alleged elections theft – lost ballots and faulty voting machines. On a more general basis, the media, the FBI, the Libtards and the Dems. The more ‘enemies’ identified, the better to cement your followers. “What unites us is our anger and hatred of the others!”

There is a fourth important element to it all as well – the confidence/certainty/endless repetition of lies. It’s brainwashing, pure and simple. Lies stated with authority spread faster and stick harder. Even when proven false, it just becomes an issue of ‘keeping the faith’. Believe! Believe! Believe! It is no wonder Evangelicals flocked to Trump – he appeals to their faith-based follower instincts.

Of course, fifth, there is an underlying self-serving purpose for the grifter/con-man, whether for or on behalf of the Republican congressmen, Trump cronies, Guiliani/Flynn/et al and, naturally, with Trump himself who is reaping in a fortune by promulgating the lie which keeps on giving. They all have their selfish motives.

Sixth, we, the better-educated, are also at fault for dismissing such believers and we alienate them when we try to educate them. When we mix mockery with correcting the misinformation, we make it more difficult to be heard/believed especially when the lesser-informed are offered simpler, basic, alternative answers that are more easily and readily understood.

Seven, there is serendipity. Luck played a role in Trump winning 2016 (he did NOT win the popular vote) and in his losing in 2020. He rolled 7’s to get in (2016). Covid came up snake eyes for him in 2020.

Eight, again who else benefits from all the lies besides the primary liars? Who else is served who ‘goes with the flow’? Lawyers, newscasters, experts, intellectuals, mandarins, all live in a well-paid, rarefied world where expertise, where science, where knowledge, where skilled analysis, are all ‘news’ kings in the information age. They sell themselves into that world, too. They did OK even while the hoi polloi suffered. Trump boosted the NY Times, Washington Post’s and CNN’s revenues just to name a few. Carnage, chaos, mayhem, spectacle will do that for the careers of ‘experts’, talking heads and publishers as well as the crooks and the conmen.

Plus there is the division created by the con and the media to help drive the wedge between those worlds all that much deeper. The majority of people do not benefit from that more privileged world so the division has been there for a long time. The majority are not so privileged in the new information age. They were really just hoping for new and different. They are the marginalized, the rejected, the dejected and the deplorables. They are, thus, much more susceptible to the con/grifter when the con artist uses the media to connect with the wanna-be-believers whose faith in the ‘establishment’ is already mortally wounded.

Nine, and what if those elitist, privileged, self-identified defenders of truth are actively and obviously working against your new idol? When such an apparent battle/contradiction prevails, mutual and national trust/cooperation/unity is not easily recaptured but loyalty and faith are highly valued for ‘your team’. In the USA branding is perceived as a business having value. Trump himself has proved that.

Ten, there is premise called the principle of falsifiability. It states: that something can only be claimed to be true if there is a way of disproving it. 100% conviction is not truth. A conclusion following a skeptical examination could/might be. With the epistemological odds loaded against the defenders of the principle of falsification, the following assertions of fact, that can be (and are) easily falsified are simply ignored or drowned in a river of lies.

I doubt that I did Howard justice but there it is. Do I believe what he says? Yep. Mostly. If I have a problem with the article is that it is, essentially, a ‘hindsight’ opinion, a post-mortem almost. Do I really care what elements were engaged to create an Orange tyrant, a political Charlie Manson, a Bubba-oriented Jim Jones? Answer: not really. These celebrity ‘phenoms’ come along all the time. Most are harmless. Actors, rock stars…. Having said that, maybe if we understood the phenomena better, we could kill it off before it takes it’s second breath.

Old Chinese saying: ‘Same but different’

Yesterday was just another normal OTG day out here….I welded up a work cart for the old, resurrected, miracle genset, Sal went to the community dock to distribute the delivery-food orders and we putzed about doing other minor chores. It was all good.

But it started out on a harsh note: We have birds. Ravens, eagles, robins, the whole panoply of avian buddies. And we generally like ’em all (how can one NOT like a bird?). But, to be fair, the Seagulls are not our favourites. I don’t know why….maybe just because…..

Anyway, it DOES seem like the Seagulls are the low-bird on the totem pole with other birds, too. The ravens don’t like ’em, that’s for sure. And, God knows, the eagles don’t like ’em either because the gulls always chase and harass the eagles after the eagle has caught a fish or something. Yesterday morning two eagles had clearly had enough…..they swooped down and killed a seagull. Bam! Then they ate the seagull al fresco on the beach. It was kind of dramatic in a feathers-everywhere kinda way. The interesting thing is that seagulls generally flock together. But after the eagles ate Johnathon, there was not a gull in sight. None today, either. The Eagles sent a message. The gulls heard it.

The day before we re-decked the ramp with the assistance of two younger people who have moved up onto a neighbouring island. My neighbour had brought in the supplies and we went over to assist the ‘young people’ (likely in their late 30’s) and the task only took us all about four hours. It was a good job, we all worked together well and the result is very satisfying.

The day before Sal and I still had a few logs to haul up the cliff but they were too heavy for Sal to raise with the block and tackle. So I went down and did the pulling. One log got jammed and so I pulled harder…..spel-l-l-ung! The highline is a fixed overhead cable that I had installed about 13 years ago (maybe 12) and I knew that it was getting a bit rusty around the lower end. I planned on replacing but, well, you know how it is….I hadn’t done it. The cable had snapped. Down it all came. 3/8″ galvanized cable broke like a shoe-lace. And so the logs remain in situ.

The problem is that, in the winter months, the tides are high in the daylight hours. And I need access to the anchor rock/boulder/out cropping into which I drill so as to fasten the cable. I cannot get access to it without immersing myself up to my neck. Hard to do any rock drilling that way, too. So, I either go and drill at 3:00 in the morning (not bloody likely) or I wait until the early spring to re-establish the high-line. I have chosen the latter.

Anyway, I loaned my son my rock drill and don’t have it back yet.

Plan B for the logs is to ‘man-handle’ them half up the beach on a high tide and then, when the water recedes, cut off a length and move that chunk further up the beach so as to start the drying process. Repeat as required until the larger heavy logs are in smaller pieces. We’ll see how that goes.

Interesting? Not really. Eagles eat others, cables break, welding sucks….but the larder is full, the ramp is great and we now have a new, weird work-cart. Basically, it is all just an ‘ordinary’ day in a ‘different kind of way’. Same but different.

I might’ve got the bug….

….the conspiracy bug!

Well, the truth is I do NOT have the conspiracy bug. Not the normal ones, anyway. I do not generally believe in conspiracies simply because they are always too complicated, too long term and such massive undertakings for anyone to even attempt to pull off, let alone dream up in any kind of detailed plan.

Conspiracy theorists assume cooperation, timing, unlimited budgets, a collective unconsciousness of the rest of us and the mutually shared goal of world domination as planned and executed by a global network of uber-rich, evil geniuses. Not bloody likely.

In the real world where most businesses, half the marriages and many, many people simply fail at their own personal-world levels, where governments fail at an even higher rate and where the trains, planes and buses rarely run on time, how can we assume some perfect evil-doing on a large and earth-shattering scale being secretly and expertly undertaken by secret cabals? And why are all the ‘imagined’ evil-doers rich and close to one another? The Queen and Bill Gates together with Jews and Muslims and bankers are all in on a secret, evil pact…..to have sex with children in pizza parlours…???!!

On the other hand…..

….I had a thought last night that puts me in much the same mindset, I suppose. I mean, how crazy is this theory……….?

It all started from the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, and his Attorney General, Ken Paxton, attempting to file lawsuits against Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin for allowing mail-in voting. They allege that the crooked Democrats exploited the C-19 virus to change the voting ‘climate’ (mail-in voting) that allowed Biden to win. Pure madness. Politically crazy, legally insane and personally humiliating and – more to the point – virtually impossible to succeed.

But there is the twist – Texas made the filing (or the attempt) at the last hour just before the elections act enacted the Safe Harbour clause – a rule that puts closure on all electoral matters as of a certain date (yesterday). They can’t possibly win at anything regarding the election as of today. They are ‘frustrated’ by the law.

“So, why did they do it?”

And it is that obvious and inevitable futility that got me to thinking…..

……Rudy Guiliani has trekked across the states fulminating over nonsense in fake (GOP only) hearings only to admit having no evidence when he actually got before a court. Various mouthpieces aligned with Trump have done much the same in their own home states. Trump has filed over 50 lawsuits and has failed at every effort. Pennsylvanian Republicans tried to get the Supreme Court to overturn their election – and that ludicrous appeal was denied. And more and more ‘little’ nutcases from Roger Stone to some state governors have shored up those futile efforts with public statements of their own. Basically, all these idiots are painting scarlet letters on themselves and becoming humiliated, ridiculed and vilified for their actions.

Given that all of these people are power-mad, greedy, selfish, ignorant and spiteful to the point of hatred, why would they risk pushing the system to the brink – the one that has enriched them so far? Why would these fools put their ‘status’ at risk now that it is clear that Trump has lost?

I could only come up with one reason and it is, I admit, totally mad. Colour me conspiracy nuts. This is the craziest thing I have ever said: the reason the GOP Trumpists are doing this is because the GOP is fomenting Civil War. I know it sounds insane and it is but why else would liars, cheaters and pigs risk their access to the public purse by pursuing alienating behaviour that has no chance for success?

Answer: because they may have higher seats in the resulting new Confederate States? Because it MAY have a chance for success amongst the army of Kool-Aid drinking Bubbas and the white Supremacists? And there are, it seems, almost 70 million of them. Bubbas do not need evidence, facts, legal process or proof. They don’t need no stinkin’ badges! They BELIEVE. Those folks are ready to rumble and, with enough provocation, they will. They are already overly well-armed, they are mean-spirited, stupid and they are cult followers of Trump. They are an Oxycontin force of OAN and Fox News lie-eaters already marching around with automatic rifles and trying to stir up trouble wherever they go. They are Kyle Rittenhouse in packs and militias. And they wanna fight.

(Arizona GOP official,”Stop the Steal” right-wing activist, who tweeted he was “willing to give up my life for this fight” and added: “Are you?” )

The GOP and the Trumpists are dividing the nation in every way they can. And they have been doing that for decades. Is it a conspiracy theory to imagine that they would go one step further and start a civil war?

It is just a thought…. a paranoid one, I’ll give you that…but just a thought from someone who knows nothing but is interested in human behaviour and who also has an overly vivid imagination…… and, well, it is probably just more bags of crazy for the crazy-making but ……..I was jus’ sayin’…..

OTG Exposure

Living OTG requires some adjustments – to be sure – but, for the most part, the adjusting was about learning and it was all interesting and entertaining.  NOT hardship.  Of course, learning requires curiosity and research as well and, I confess, that You-Tube (YT) has become a significant source of lessons and examples for me. 

I am not so sure that YT is a great source for political info so much because that which is political is partisan/subjective whereas so much in construction, repairs and OTG skill-building is factual, practical and down to earth – objective if you will. OTG stuff is simpler. There is basically just the one right way to fix a sink, not several alt-right ways. 

On the other hand, some YT presenters are clearly better than others.  I have a few favourites.  Politically, I like Beau of the Fifth Column although, to be fair, Beau’s main strength is simply common sense coupled with ethics and morals.  There is no question….Beau has similar politics to me and so, even tho he is a favourite, he could be seen as a ‘subjective’ choice.  I might be a bit biased.

The real genius of the list is Max Egorov.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRc7ZDRcgrQ&t=27s. Or: Laying Extra-Thick Logs Solo https://youtu.be/Cot3y87cvvk via @YouTube. This Russian guy builds a rustic-as-hell log cabin 300 miles outside of outside of St. Petersburg and, from what I can gather, does not even live OTG there full time.  He’s a retired lawyer living back in St Pete’s.  Makes no difference – this guy is the best OTG’er I have seen to date.  His YT channel is titled, ‘Advoko Makes’ and he does make – he really does.  He just made a wire wrapper/clamper/thingy that I and his regular readers all now heavily lust for.  Oh, My God!  I want a wire wrapper/clamper/thingy.  And, do not fool yourself; you will want one, too.

Most of the YT-ers on OTG are either good, eccentric or pretty bad.  Mostly bad.  I have trouble listening to Starry H but it’s her speaking style, not the content.  She and her husband do a good job ‘homesteading’.  They know stuff.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETDrYTxtEUE&list=RDCMUCqTGYxXH21MTYnMoOZGvX6A&start_radio=1&t=0

Jake and Nicole drew me in for a bit but mostly because they were OTG’ing around here somewhere. And Jake always starts (or includes) film shots of Nicole topless.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVJgocEWT3u49_4GtulGHnQ. Nicole is a pretty and curvy young woman and Jake only shows her topless from the back but she often strikes sultry poses (even backwards she can be sultry) or sometimes she acts in a quasi ‘kittenish’ kind of way.   Kinda silly…..but sex still sells even in the forest! 

At first, a pretty girl in the wilderness was a nice-surprise bit of eye-candy but, after awhile (two episodes), it was clearly ‘exploitative’ of her and manipulative of me.  She was 100% pure click-bait.  Still, they are young, healthy and feeling their ‘energy’ and doing good work building an OTG home.  It’s all good.  And, if you disregard the ‘bait’ strategy employed to get your attention, they are fairly plucky and they started from absolute scratch.  Commendable. And they are relatively quick getting things done. They are a good team doing a good job (in my opinion – which is the opinion of an old guy who generally does poor work and as little of it as possible. I am easily impressed).

There are others, of course, some good, most not so good.  But the setting, the lifestyle and the work is not to blame.  The part that makes them not-so-good is production values.  Gawd!  What a spoiled brat comment to make, eh?  Here they are doing OTG films in the wilderness using their I-phone and here I am complaining about their production values!  But that is the truth of it.  Poor or non-existent editing, bad scripts, bad voice-pitch/tone…..hard to follow….damn!  I am soooooo spoiled.  I like my YTs in 5 minute segments that are, in fact, heavily edited three or four-hour ‘shoots’ pared lean and to the point.

The reality, tho, is that more and more of the amateur’s are getting better and better.  Beau is rarely over five minutes and always well-scripted.  Sal likes his voice, too.  Nicole and Jake can go on and on and on…..so can Starry…but even they are getting better.  Max is the best, tho.  Max is some kind of genius. 

I am kinda thinking of doing some YTs, myself.  But Sal won’t go topless so it falls to me to be the eye-candy.  And neither my top half nor my bottom half is any kind of attractive so we thought I’d best present both halves naked.  Nicole will have some competition! 

I blog, therefor I am…….

Existential angst…‘to blog or not to blog’…that is the question……

Firstly, I like to write about current affairs/events/circumstances and then add my own self-indulgent philosophical perspective. I think you know that. And, in that sense, Trump was a gift. A gift that kept on giving…not unlike an STD, actually. He still does (spread the disease, I mean).

And, c’mon, face it….Donald Jr., Jared, Eric, Ivanka, Rudy and various higher-profile Deplorables keep bubbling up now and then, if for no other reason than to prompt the collective gag reflex. This is an ugly train-wreck of a group of people but, with better writers, is likely more suited to a Schitt’s Creek kind of sitcom than anything else. Or jail. (I prefer the latter but that won’t happen).

And, in a way, so was Covid equally as short-lived in our collective interest. Here was a pandemic with mysterious origins, political overtones, great potential and ACTUAL harm and disruption and we think it kinda hit a bit too close to home when Sal had her knee op back in February. But, well, we are now bored of it. Admit it. We have Trump fatigue and we have disease fatigue.

Trump and Covid, OTG and nature, projects and fixes, the changing of the seasons, local politics….it seemed at first as if the buffet table was full and the dishes just kept coming.

But not really. Our collective attention span and interest began to wane before Covid and Trump even got warmed up. In fact, Covid and Trump got a smidge boring at around the same time as they both ramped up their intensity and impact on us. Each new ‘breaking news’ story was, of course, outrageous, shocking and fear-inducing (which is good for news-writing) but we also got tired of it….like it was a guest over-staying their welcome too long. Several of my readers wrote to say, “Not another Trump rant!” Or “I’ve had it up to here with Covid!”

Is it just a naturally limited appetite or tolerance for fear, shock and awe? Is it that there is more to life than just more and more sordid ugliness? Is it fatalism and we all just know deep in our bones that ‘this, too, shall pass’ and that, in the meantime, we should just ‘hunker down’ and watch Netflix?

I don’t know. Mentally, this is a weird space methinks. Everything ‘feels off’……whatever that means….

So, in an effort to get back in the mood, I kinda went back to my roots. OTG first. And then I explored the mundane, ordinary and boring to try and find some sparks of interest. Engine repair. Wood-gathering. That kind of thing. You would think that living the winter OTG as a Septuagenarian in the time of a pandemic with an orange lunatic at the political helm would be fodder for ‘entertaining’ blogs….but it has not – not for me. Nor have I found much of anything interesting in my searches. It is as if the world has shut down (or the news feeds have) and everyone is bored of everything (or am I projecting?).

Honestly, the various news feeds I subscribe to are all Covid/Trump all the time now. Well, there is NFL football, the odd obituary and, of course, Kardashian’s butt, but but, but….there is not much else being marketed to the masses these days.

To move my consciousness, I sometimes read the ‘others’. Rex Murphy used to be right-wing sane but seems to occasionally overdo the Kool-Aid now and then…sort of getting kind of Rudy-like these days. Conrad Black has always been a crook and a moral deviant but he usually wrote well. The Conservative ‘opposition’ has always been WRONG but Jason Kenney and Doug Ford are plumbing new depths of wrong these days. But so is Trudeau, the invisible Prime Minister. Disfunction and incompetence is usually a topic when the idiots DO something stupid but, when they DO nothing or drop all the balls, that is pedestrian at best, boring after awhile and of no interest whatsoever six months later.

I want more. But Biden won’t provide it. He’s gonna be busy cleaning house for awhile. Rearranging the furniture. Restoring the ‘facade’ that has been despoiled probably beyond repair. Will anyone ‘see’ the White House in the same way again?

Honestly? I think the White House would make a great ‘set’ for a brothel. Keep Melania and Ivanka and, in the spirit of inclusiveness, Jared and a few pretty-boys. Hope Hicks and Kayleigh, of course. It is kind of the American way, isn’t it? Make a buck off of tragedy and misfortune?

That is kind of silly I suppose but I think a cross between Schitt’s Creek, Trump’s family, some colourful deplorables (Kelly-Anne Conway, Bannon, Cohen, Hannity, Ingraham) and a White House-as-brothel theme would make a great sit-com series. I can see no other use for them.

Keeping it mundane

Gorgeous day! BEeeeaaautiful. Cold, clear and bright. The kind of day that makes you want to go out and do something…until you actually get outside, feel the cold and look at all there is to do and how a nice cup of tea seems even more appealing……

‘Course, Ol’ Sal was already outside diligently cleaning up the yard so as to make it ‘look nice’ for the winter. I’m just standing around looking for something to lift……sayin’ stupid stuff to make Sal laugh….“Hey, look! A squirrel!”

I loaded up the wood this morning…into the house from the shed. Only a few wheelbarrows full but we are now all stocked up again for a few days. Typically, a stocking-up day results in a pile that lasts a week. Not so much these days. It has been cold and miserable much of the time lately and we have pounded a ways through our woodpile already. I am loading up every three or four days instead of seven. We’ll be fine, tho. We have enough in the shed and another half-a-shed in logs stacked ready to be used in case. We are good.

Speaking of good, there is Christ and there is an anti-Christ. There is also a Murphy and Murphy’s good-guy nemesis, Anti-Murph. Angel Murph. We don’t see much of him but he visited recently. I know he did. And it was glorious. I had a genset down at the lagoon. I expected to use it every few months or so but, like so many plans, those ‘lagoon’ chores kept getting postponed and well, the old genset just sat there for 18 months. To be honest, my memory ain’t perfect so it could just as easily been a full two years. I was pretty sure that the gas was stale, the carb was gummed and the oil had started to ferment. Sheesh, that old genset needed some love.

We hauled the genset a few days ago. It is now at my shop.

I got out the fluids, found my tools and placed the genset at waist level so that I could do all the jobs I needed to do. And then I started and ran the engine as if it was perfect! Had to. Oil was so cold it would not drain out and so I had to warm the engine up to change the oil. Bad omen: the oil drain plug was kinda ‘bonded’ to the casting. “Yikes! Had it been longer than two years?”

Good omen: It started and it ran right away. Quite a surprise. Whew.

I eventually got that plug out, drained the sump, replaced the oil and drained the carb. Damn, it all looked good. Typically, after all that time, the ferrous metal based carb bowl would have rusted some on the inside at the very least. It had not. It was all good.

I looked around for Murphy. He had to be lurking around somewhere. Then I did the rest of the ‘service’ and everything else also went well. Started the genset again and let it run (drive out all the moisture, tune settings, check fluids again…filters…etc.) Sal came over. “Geez, that old thing is a hummin’ like a Swiss watch. Good job.”

“Honestly, everything I did was basic. There was no need to do much of anything special. I can’t explain it – it is as if I did something right when I last used it. SSOOooooooooo unlike me. But, but, but, the first few minutes of running there was a lot of white smoke. The only positive reading on that is that I Sea-foamed the hell out of it when I last laid it up. I think that kept it all good.”

Mundane stuff. I know that. Just a hour or two in the day……but it sure is a beeeaautifulllllll day.

Care to go shopping with her?

Apologies: this blog REALLY needs pictures but sometimes one is too caught up in the activity to make selfies.

Friday was a major storm day. Winds at 30+ gusting to 50…MPH, not Kms/hr. 50 to 80 kms/hr. Our wind turbine was screaming. When the winds exceed 30, the unit has a small centrifugal brake in it that slows the revolutions but it does so by applying gradual friction and that results in what sounds like a dog barking. I awoke to that. Sheesh!

“It’s a howlin’..think the water taxi will run today?”

“Yeah. Forty feet of twin dieseled heavy aluminum cuts through most anything but they won’t go around the Cape. No one will go around the Cape today. They’ll go with the storm, head north and creep back down the back channels. Why?”

“J and I are going up to get the food the taxi is bringing. We are going to help distribute it and then come home. “

I was looking at the whitecaps and feeling the house shake. “It is mayhem out there but, if you go with it, you’ll be fine. Coming back will be a slog. I recommend discretion rather than a shower.”

“Can’t. Jud is coming down from up northways in her little boat….she’s gotta pound into it. And you know her area…..she gets water spouts up there! We should go just to make sure she gets down safely. Still, we may be a bit longer. If it gets crazy, we’ll stay up there somewhere til it calms down.”

They were gone almost three hours. The pick-up point is just two miles away. Getting to the grocery meet was relatively easy but coming back was insane. The waves were at least five feet and, for a 17′ boat, that is a challenge. And they were stacked up so that the space between them was short. Makes the boat leap up and down. One second they are looking down a wave and the next they are thinking they may be blown over backwards. And they are getting soaked.

“We were just off the point when a major gust hit. HOLLEEEEEEEE!!!! The gust was enough to make me stop the boat. I could not see for the spindrift. We were face-washed by waves coming over the bow and we have a good windshield! J was just trying to look out for stray logs so that we didn’t hit one and could barely open her eyes! We were both soaked to the bone. I left the bulk of the groceries at her place. Too much to carry. We can get ’em tomorrow.”

Good boat. Good company. Short distance (two miles). Took three hours. At least one of them was of hard going. Got soaked. She just went to the store for some milk, bread and a few veggies. Grocery shopping is sometimes a bit different out here.

“Wow! Quite the adventure, eh?”

“Nah. Just a little wind and water. We’ve had worse. Piece o’ cake!”

This week

Ordinary, I suppose. OTG ordinary, anyway. We have what we might call ordinary days but, of course, they are extraordinary to our previous lives and so they are still kinda special.

We worked on Sal’s Suzuki until Sal was so good at getting the carb in and out of the ridiculously tight space, it seemed like minutes. She does her work sitting at the back of her little 11′ boat and leaning over the engine – not easy. The first time she did it, it took most of the day. The last time (maybe the sixth?), was all of five minutes. Grease-monkey Sal. Sadly, it was all to no avail. The damn thing just won’t run right so it has to go to grease-monkey-GOD Jay, who somehow seems to be able to fix anything. We hauled the motor off her boat, packed it in my boat and hauled it over Wednesday to Jay’s boat. His boat was at the other-island dock where we then picked up the doctor to deliver him for his monthly clinic.

We also had an old genset down at the lagoon that we were just not using enough to leave it there and so we went to fetch it using muscles, sliding beams, Sal’s boat (paddled), the block and tackle, highline and winch and then various carrying contraptions ’cause it weighed a ton. Interestingly, I had not run that genset for over 18 months. I tried starting it. Third pull, it fired up! Amazing. That genset had to then come up a steep hill about 80-90′ long and then down to the shop for servicing.

I serviced two engines and got them running. The old genset ran but not properly so it is next in line. I also disassembled and modified an electric motor with which I will power a big ol’ winch that was designed for arm-strength only. That winch takes forever so the electric motor will make it all more efficient – when I get it all put together. I am half-way.

We lifted and sorted about twenty logs on one of the days, too That’s just brute labour. Good thing Sal is a brute! Together, we grab the log-carrier and drag 8 foot logs along the ground then stack ’em so they dry. That was a good job. Plus, a tree that had been leaning fell during the last big windstorm and it fell in precisely the right place. Can’t let that good fortune go ignored so we trimmed that tree, cut it into rounds and added them to the woodpile. Kinda on a roll…..

All the batteries needed attending to. So, we unearthed them (usually hidden behind boxes of stores). And topped up the water levels. They were due. It was a good thing. A bit tedious, to be sure, but very critical to this lifestyle.

Put in the new kitchen tap set. NO leaks. All good. Filled up all the gas containers (going through three liters a day) as there is no sun and the solar panels are doing nothing. SO we are running the genset a lot (for us). Three hours a day? Our heat tapes are on in the dark hours and they draw a chunk. Heat tapes are remarkably efficient but still, we have about 150 feet of tape and when they all kick on, they draw juice.

Having a slow-ant invasion. When the temps drop, the critters look for warmth. We have managed to keep anything a quarter the size of a mouse OUT but ants have found access. But usually only about for our five a day and they are moving like slugs so we are doing good. When building a cottage, pay extra, extra special attention to sealing everything you can. Make it ant-proof.

Water is bloody cold these days. Showers are just a bit better than luke warm. Sal also went up the creek and re-worked the water pick-up again. That’s running nicely now. I also cleaned up the workshop on one day and two days later, it looked like it always does…a mess….

Chopped kindling, cleaned up the garden, household chores, managed the Home Care program, our neighbour J. brought in the six sheets of plywood we need for a ramp rebuild, tried a bunch of new dinner recipes, Sal’s always-on quilts, snatched up a few logs from the sea that were floating around (high tides right now), wrote blogs, consulted with some clients, watched Netflix at night, drank scotch, read, read, read.

Sometimes I nap now. Must be the Covid, eh?