Party with moose

I’ve never liked parties (and it seems that is mutual since I am rarely invited).  I like dinner parties.  I like happy-hour gatherings.  I like small BBQs and the like…but large chattering masses with overbearing background music?  Not so much.  The smaller the group the better.  Me and Sal is the best.  After that, it’s a crapshoot.

Notable exception as of this week: Boat Bash 2017.  Bachelor S had been hinting at having another fish-fry dinner and we agreed expecting to host.  But, as it turns out, he wanted to.  More than that, he wanted to invite others.  Three others were suggested.  A small group.  But he kinda kept the numbers from me til the last minute and even that was reluctantly revealed by the following conversation, “Geez, well, ya know….I do not have quite enough plates and cutlery.  Could ya bring some?”   

Hmmmmmm………….I know he has enough plates and cutlery for the six (total) of us originally planned for….so…..?

“Six?  Oh…….unh….no….there will a be a couple more……no problem, I’ll get them to bring their own plates and forks……is there anything special you want….?

Yeah.  Got any moose?  (of course, I was kidding.  Bachelor S lives on an old freighter, doesn’t hunt, there are no moose around here AND who has moose at a fish-fry?)

12 or fourteen people came.  All but one over 55.  All but three over 65.  Maybe there was15 in total……some remembered to bring dishes and cutlery (not us) and the wine began to flow.  You have to bear in mind that everyone came to his ‘anchored-in-the-wilds’ freighter with no connection to land by small boat.  It was wet weather and everyone came Helly Hansoned up to the tip-top.  Some looked able to explore the Arctic.  It was a gathering of rubber-clad people and more boots than plates.  Everyone was OTG to the max.

As the evening wore on, the conversation just got better and better.  Not for this group the latest TV series or gadget appliance to go on and on about.  Nothing about professional sports came up.  No Kardashians.  Hell, these folks don’t even talk about the weather and they virtually live outdoors in it all the time!

In fact, the topics were lively, political, philosophical and intelligent.  This group was pretty well informed.  I loved it.  I just loved being there.  It was great.  They were great.  And S surprised me with moose patties (the edible kind).  Seems he knew a guy who knew a guy.

A very good party by any standards but especially by this one: At one point, there was a lull (just barely a nano-second) and I asked for their attention.  “Please indulge me a minute.  I will call out a topic and quickly indicate with a gesture if you know enough about it to have a discussion.  OK?”  They all agreed.

(I know, I know, this is clearly one the reasons I am rarely invited to parties)

I started slow.  “Please raise your hands if you are all still sexually active.”

Yes, of course, that was a joke (and another reason for no invites) but, in the spirit of the moment everyone quickly raised their hands (except Sal who later claimed NOT to have heard the question).  After that amusing start, I listed everything I could think of that was more complicated than Black Friday Specials,  the Canucks, Trump and Harvey Weinstein – two of those topics having already been covered.

I listed NAFTA, Syria, Mike Flynn, Kim Jong Un, Site C, Liberal Party screw-ups, climate change and a few others.  At least half the hands popped up on every topic and most topics had all hands popping up.  I may be wrong but it seemed as if (at least on the topics I listed) these folks were well informed.  And so here’s the last question:

“You guys seem pretty well informed.  More so, I would guess than a similar number of folks randomly picked from the city.  That may be a biased opinion but I think it is true.  So here’s the obvious last question:  Why are you so well informed?  You have dropped out.  You guys are off the grid.  You guys don’t play in the mud anymore.  And, if you don’t play anymore and yet know what’s going on, why aren’t you more involved?  Why have you opted out?”

Ooooooooohhhhhh the answers were great.  One woman shouted out, “I am tired of it all and I’m ‘f**’ing 70!  They can all go f*** themselves!”

Given that she is gentle, small, kind, quiet and selfless by nature, I was on the floor…….

But other answers included, “I have done what I can.”  “There is nothing we can do.”  “It’s all going to hell in a handbasket but I’m happy here.”  “What we are doing is the best thing to do.”  “Politics is not the way.”  “Modern lifestyle is screwed except for this.” “This is as good as it gets. So, in a way, we did it.  Plus we got moose patties!”   (Yeah, that last one was me)

That little vignette of the evening is just interesting to me….people disengaged on most every level and yet still very engaged on the thinking level have chosen this lifestyle and are very happy with their choice.  In fact, the constant refrain was the expression of satisfaction, happiness and contentment with their chosen life.  “This is as good as it gets!”  

Timeliness, OTG style

Yesterday was book club day.  Sal picked up her down-shore neighbour, G, in her small boat and headed up and over the storm-tossed seas to another island to pick up J, book-reader #3.  She arrived at the dock to see the so-designated feverishly and frantically flailing about. The woman was attempting to unload a sinking boat.

J had just arrived at the dock and saw that a neighbour’s boat was sinking.  She immediately sprang into action.  The engine was half submerged, the boat was taut and low on the lines tied to the dock and various bits and pieces were beginning to float away.  J sacrificed her non-galoshed feet to the effort and was immediately soaked to the knees.  She then climbed onto the slippery and bouncing bow to balance the boat as level as possible. Sally and G hauled up on the aft dock line, attempting to get the transom above water, and began to bail.  Twenty minutes later they had re-floated the boat, put in a call to the owner, collected the errant flotsam and re-tied the vessel.

When the owner arrived, the ladies boarded their boat and carried on to book club where a delightful time was had by all.

What is all that about?

Well, in comparative terms, it is the equivalent in effort to, perhaps, helping a neighbour get their vehicle unstuck in a snowstorm.  In terms of discomfort, it was a smidge more miserable for J whose feet were not sporting boots and, as it turns out, for Sal, who worked like an Amazon to empty the boat.  But, in dollar terms, it was much more huge.  A too-long-submerged outboard might be written off.  At the very least, it is a major effort at the mechanic’s to disassemble the motor, dry everything out, replace the electronics and then run-and-replace oils and fluids as required to capture all the moisture inevitably trapped in the machine.

But, in this case, the owner is a skilled mechanic.  Five hours of immediate and expert work on his part rescued the motor and all is well.

Last night, Sal got the obligatory and much-appreciated phone call of gratitude and the promise of a fish or something to which she replied in all sincerity, “No.  Nothing, please.  Just do the same when it happens to us.  Honest.  This is what we do because we all experience this kind of thing at some time.  So we just did it without even thinking.  And we are all just pleased to have been there and done that at the right time.  Please.  Nothing.  Just pass it on.”

And she’s right, of course.  Every year.  At least once, usually more often, a boat sinks at some local dock.  Sometimes someone shows up in time.  Sometimes not.  We’ve had it happen to us.  We’ve rescued others.  Many have done and experienced the same.  It’s what happens out here.  Prompt action saves engines.

Leadership

Al Franken posed for the publicity camera as a looming boob-grabber while a female performer slept fully garbed (and armed) in camo and flak jacket.  It was over ten years ago when he was an entertainer doing a benefit for the troops in Iraq.  He’s a senator now.  Democrat.  The GOP want his head to roll.  He apologized.  The co-performer accepted the apology.  No problem.  But it IS still a problem……

Bill Clinton had ‘relations’ with that woman and is now being slagged again for that unseemly affair but it is important to note that Monica took full ownership of her role in the matter and was emphatic that it was consensual.  She did not raise the matter again.  So, two adults consensually engaged and yet it is still a problem…..

The brief point I am trying to make is that there is something else at play here…..what is it?

Of course, there is the real issue of sexual harassment and all that that includes from my argument for due process to my further argument that some it is just rude behaviour and not worthy of such hysteria all the way to the cultural disease that discriminates against women in all sorts of ways.  And genuinely victimizes some in criminal ways. The topic is a huge one and does need a bright light shone on it.

So, what’s the problem?

Part of it is that the topic, the legitimate one – has now been hijacked by partisan politics.  Each of the American parties is now muckraking NOT to promote the discussion, not to create a social dialogue, not to resolve resolvable issues but rather simply to bludgeon the other side.   “Your pig is worse than our pig!”

That is yet ANOTHER element of the sickness that plagues politics today and has turned so many away from the mainstream media and the governing process we should all be part of.

Why can’t this topic be discussed without scapegoating, martyring and condemning?  Why do heads have to roll?  Convicted rapists, child molesters, maybe even severely egregious sexual harassment perps, all deserving of public flogging and rolling heads…OK…maybe them.  But that should NOT mean that civilized discussion should not make up the greater bulk of the stories.  Instead, we get more and more fingers pointing, more and more public tarring and feathering, more and more hysteria.

Sexual harassment is bad.  Public shaming is also bad.  Political blaming is NOT what the politicians are there for.  And all that we stand for as a civilized society is being dismissed and ignored along with law and due process while this wallowing in the gutter continues.

All this under Trump’s presidency.

“C’mon, Dave!  That’s a stretch.  You sayin’ Trump caused Al Franken to pose as a boob-grabber?  You sayin’ that he is urging the tarring and feathering of all and sundry when he himself grabs pussies?”

No.  Of course not.  What I am saying is that the president has a history of being crude, rude and vulgar, he is a nasty, divisive, anti-social racist and misogynist that has, by his mere existence, given license to mud-slinging and unfounded prejudices and discriminations.  Trump is the vulgar-in-chief and has set the tone for this, the current witch hunt mood in the nation. He established the nasty tone in the voices we are now hearing.

“Doesn’t that mean he should get some weird kind of credit for being the catalyst for this social ‘correction’ we are seeing?”

Ironically, yes.  Maybe Trump’s piggyness has prompted outrage where outrage was needed and overdue (although some of it should sure-as-hell be directed his way) and maybe that is good thing.  Maybe it took the election of a real sexist to outrage enough women to point to others.  Maybe we had to slip this far to see where it was all heading…I dunno….

But one thing is for sure.  When you want Al Franken or even Roy Moore to resign over such issues as posing for a bad-taste camera picture or a 35 year old unproven allegation, the mood is ugly, stupid, hysterical and warped.  And who does that sound like?

 

 

 

All’s well that ends well…..?

It was pretty early, just past dawn.  The wind was howling.  My guess: 35 mph with gusts.  Whitecaps everywhere.  Sal was up already and getting on her wet gear.  Loading on her pack.  Carrying her totes.  I got up, tended the fire, made tea and watched her as she motored by our house ten minutes later.  She splashed, plunged, dipped and pitched to and fro in our small boat heading at half-speed through the crazy seas to the community dock and a day chock full o’ fun-with-quilting’.

“I imagined in advance what the seas would be like.  I visualized coming into the dock with pounding waves and probably a strong current.  I had it all planned out.  And, it worked!  I got there safely.  Didn’t smash the boat!  It was great!” 

There was a tree down on the logging road but Sal was lucky, it was mostly rotten and split into several chunks when it hit the road.

“I wasn’t sure I could move the pieces but a little tugging and rolling and I was good to go.”

She got to the community centre and joined in the cutting and piecing frenzy that made up a quilting day.  Great fun was had by all. Then she called me to tell me that she had picked up a few items from the grocery store and was headed back.  It is always preferable to know when someone starts out and when they are expected back.  You know, for ‘search-and-rescue’ ops?

She called me on the walkie-talkie from the community dock:

“The good news is that I am here and I’ll be leaving the dock in the next few minutes.  See you in a bit.  The seas are calmer.  I shouldn’t be too long.”

“………………….aaaaaaaaand the bad news?”

“Coming back, I got two flat tires.  Same time.  Had to leave the truck half way and I thought I’d have to walk to the end of the road.  But I got lucky – I jumped in front of a car going my way and made them stop for me.  Got a ride most of the way.”

“TWO FLAT TIRES!  WHO GETS TWO FLAT TIRES?”

“Not my fault, I am sure of it.  One minute I was driving, the next minute I could feel a tire going soft so I pulled over and imagine my surprise to find TWO tires flat.”

“Oh, I can imagine your surprise alright.  I can EASILY imagine your surprise because I, too, am very surprised.  I bought a whole new set of heavy ply off road tires less than a year ago for this very reason.  We have less than 5000 kms on them.  What the hell?”

“I couldn’t use the spare tire because, well, you know….one spare for two flats isn’t going to do the job, is it?”

The next day, we borrowed a car.  Brought some tools.  Got to the car in the middle of the forest.  It was raining, of course.  We jacked up the car.  Blocked it.  Took off the two tires.  Trekked into town and went to see the OK Tire guys.

Taking ’em off . . .

“We checked your tires out.  They’re toast.  Sidewalll perforations.  Both of them.  Flukey.  Yer gonna need two new tires.  You’re lucky.  Got ’em in stock.  I’ll only charge ya cost.”

“You’re a sweetheart.  But shouldn’t these tires NOT have had two side-wall failures?  Shouldn’t you or Kumho cover this?  And buy me lunch?”

“Hah hah.  The manufacturers don’t cover that kind of damage anymore.  ‘Bout ten years ago it stopped.  Your bill’s at the front office.  We’ll hafta do lunch some other time.  Hah hah!”

Putting ’em on . . .

We got back to the truck a few hours later.  Got the tires on.  Got home about dusk.

“Well, sweetie, I am sure glad that all’s well that ends well.  And now I can get to quilting on Saturday.  That’s good.”

Apparently the vehicle we borrowed isn’t mouse proof — Thanks again D!!!

 

Maybe this will work out, after all

Sexual harassment….bad.  Sexual assault…really bad.  Rape…the worst.  It’s all a crime, an ugly, ugly crime.  And it’s all a crime potentially punishable by jail-time.  And, according to most women, the entire spectrum from bad to criminal is a truly heinous crime that has simply gone on far too long and this, the ‘Weinstein Effect’ is long overdue.  Due process and jail-time is just not enough.  They want faster and more devastating results.  If the accused’s life is totally ruined, it’s a good thing. 

And, it would appear that we are doing just that.  It would seem that alleged perps are being pursued and persecuted.  That’s good, right?  We need to get the bad guys.  Ruin ’em.  Grind ’em into the mud.  Kill their careers.  Destroy their family.  Get ’em while the gettin’s good.  What the hell…’cut off their dicks!’  Why the hell not?  C’mon, the guys didn’t use their dicks the way they should have.  Not the way the women wanted them to.  We can all see that.  They should have no rights to their own dicks.  Cut ’em off, Lorena.

Seriously…Louis C.K. really should NOT have one.  Ya know?  They really should castrate him.  He’s so yucky.  It’s just awful.  Really awful.  To have to sit and watch him ’cause of his power….yuck.  And listening to him do it on the phone….it went on forever!

Furthermore, we are asked to simply believe the accuser.  Fully.  100%.  No need to check out the claims because that just victimizes the poor woman further. If they say it happened, damn it, it happened!  If they say it happened thirty years ago, that makes no difference – hang the bastard!

“I was offended.”  “He had power.”  “I had to listen to him masturbate over the phone!”  

Oooooh, oooh, and if three or more women say it happened, that is, like, all the proof anyone needs.  Makes no difference if the male claims it was consensual sex, harmless or even clumsy flirting, a genuine expression of love or even if he admits to light-guilt due to the presence of alcohol, an initial willingness on the part of the victim until, at the last minute, a whispered ‘No’.  C’mon!  If the incident did not turn out exactly as the woman wanted, he should go to jail.  “Hey!  If I was offended, why not?” 

Anyway, who cares?

On the face of it, this blanket condemnation AND punishment of the accused BEFORE any proof has been established is contrary to all our moral codes, laws and social expectations…or, rather, it was.  Not anymore.  NOW it is OK to ruin men by smearing them.  Now the guy pays simply on an allegation.  NOT even a formal accusation filed with the police is required.  ‘We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!’   An allegation in the media will do.

And, do we care?

Well, it is cheaper for society, that’s for sure.  No lawyers, no police, no judges.  That part is good.  And, at least the woman isn’t doing it for reasons of blackmail or monetary compensation like has been done so often in the past.  This makes it purely a matter of revenge.  Keyword: pure.  It may be wrong but at least the motives are clear.

I kinda like that, actually.  It always seemed to me that money should NOT be the only compensation for wrongdoing. I think most crimes should require criminals to ‘work’ for the betterment of society and, if appropriate, the victim.  But the law has no other means to ‘make someone whole again’ after negligence or accident or even criminal acts other than ‘quantum’ (money) and that seemed to taint the process to my mind.

This process – however mob/kangaroo-court in nature – eliminates quantum from the equation.  Or so it appears at first glance.  Once you have ruined Weinstein, Roy Moore, Kevin Spacey and anyone else whoever offended you, what court in the land would think you deserved further compensation?  Wouldn’t they just say, “Well, you wanted your pound of flesh, you wanted revenge, you wanted to ruin the guy and you got that.  You are, indeed, empowered.  Sheeesh, are you ever empowered!  And he is not! On what basis can you now claim more?” 

 

 

November 12. Sharing another day

As the winter tides rise, logs are freed from the beach.  Wood floats.  And our waters start to manifest the flotsam for which they have become famous.  It is fire-wood harvest time for us.

But floating, good-for-chopping logs are getting more scarce lately (last four years or so).  The Chinese will take anything and logging practices are more efficient and so a lot of wood that used to escape the booms now doesn’t.  It all remains corralled and valuable.  Not much gets away anymore.  Our harvesting crop is less.  Damn.

The other day, I heard the postmistress on the VHF telling her husband to get out and drive an errant (and now rarely seen) full-length log away from the post office dock.  Logs caught amongst the pilings and floats can be a problem.  Her husband dutifully complied and the offending log was set adrift further out in the current.

“Sal?  If you are going up to the post office today, I heard there’s a log floating around up there.  Ya might wanna take a sledge, log-dog and a rope?”

“OK.  Is it a good one?”

“Dunno.  Just heard D on the VHF.  But, if it was big enough to warrant being towed off, it is likely good enough for us.”

A few hours later, Sal came home.  I inquired about the log.

“That one drifted off but they had another.  D didn’t want that one either but it’s tied up anyway.  She said we could have it.  It was getting late so how ’bout we go up in a day or so?”

In a way, that is not much different than having grown too many zucchinis in your garden (FYI – one is too many) or a bunch of potatoes or something.  You have enough potatoes so you give your neighbours some.  This is a bit different.  This is a 45-foot Fir log.  I guess they had enough of them.  You say potatoes, I say fir logs.  Same dif.

So, we went up today to fetch a pile of wood.  Sal wrangled it down from the beach (90% was floating) and I picked it up in the boat.  Then I picked up the wrangler.  Then we headed home……..but first a little visiting was due.

One of our neighbours is building yet another boat (#16 I believe).  This one is a pilot gig of 24 feet.  Sweeeeeeeeeeet.  Beeyooooooootiful.  Just lovely.  Gorgeous.  And they (2 local guys) were at it up at their workshop on a very steep, scree-covered hillside.

We parked the boat with the log attached to his dock.  It was pouring rain.  We took off the tarp covering our dirtbike (parked nearby) and fired it up.  Sal, the senior biker-chick, climbed up behind me and we scrambled and slid and clawed our way up the 1/3 mile goat track to visit S&K.  We oohed and aaahed over the boat, had tea and then slid and braked our way down the hill to the boat.  It was all good.

“How’d ya feel on the back, Sal?”

“Terrified going up.  More terrified coming down.”

“Willing to do it again sometime?”

“Oh, sure.”

And so we finished our day towing the big ol’ fir log home.  Maybe an hour.  I eventually pulled into the little lagoon and Sal danced off the bow holding the end of the tow rope.  She lashed the log to a tree on shore, danced over the slippery rocks back onto the boat and we thenmotored out of the lagoon and tied the boat to our dock and walked home.  We were soaked.

As I write this, she is quilting.

A day in the life…eh?

 

 

Community is everything

As you know, we live remote.  Not so remote as to NOT have neighbours but remote enough that you can’t see ’em and only a few reside within a few miles (see pic).  In previous writings, I have opined that there is less than one person per square mile (over 250 square miles) and most people live with others (i.e. family) so there are many, many square miles uninhabited….the way it should be. In winter, the population drops precipitously.  We live remote all year but it FEELS way more so in winter.

Naturally, we modern-style OTG’ers all travel to town at some point and, despite being independent and different from one another (in so many ways), we all share a few things in common, most visibly, the community dock.  Whether you live on an island ten miles to the west, ten miles to the north or just ten miles away on the same island as I do, you use the community dock on the nearest ‘connected’ island which is our first ‘leg’ of re-entry to the grid, the city, the big-box-stores and the madding crowd. Most people use it – on average – once a month.  Do the math: 250 people, 30 days…roughly 8 boats on the dock per day.  In reality, it is more like 3 or 4 but, at busy times, it can be as much 15 or more.

We left for Victoria last week and quickly re-entered the larger madness.  What a treat that was.

Because remote taxpayers do not get much in the way of amenities or services, we are all pleased as punch with the community dock (a joint community – local government project).  Only a few short years ago, there was no dock.  There was, instead, just a community raft.  A floating raft-dock that tipped and rolled when anyone was on it served as the ‘landing’ for accessing the ‘connected island’.  That raft might accommodate two or three boats in a pinch.  The would-be shopper would tie up, then pull the raft into shore, step on land and then pull the raft back out using a clothesline-like device.

You can imagine the improvement the new dock is over that!  But, here’s the deal: because as many as sixteen boats could conceivably congregate on a heavy weekend or for a special event in town, rules were developed and one of them is that no-one can leave their vessel tied up for more than 48 hours.  That amount of time allows for an extensive town day with, perhaps, a weather-delayed return overnight allowance day.  But, if you are going to knowingly be away for more than two days, it is incumbent on the user to find a ride to get over to the dock and arrange for a ride to come back so that your vessel does not occupy valuable dock space.

Good manners also suggest that your ride over/back with the considerate neighbour does NOT oblige them to help you with your load.  They all will, of course, but we usually load our car the day prior to leaving and make sure that we are taxi-service-only coming back.

When we leave for any amount of time, we are carrying luggage, any garbage to be recycled, any returns of products, mechanical devices requiring professional repair, containers, totes and the like.  We often go to town with 200 pounds or more of crap.

Coming back, of course, is a bigger chore.  Typically we return with in excess of 500 pounds of crap.  This trip: about average.  Some of it is packaging, the aforementioned totes and luggage but the bulk is consumables of some sort, food, lumber, parts, fuel, etc.  Usually, a good portion is also fragile.  This trip we brought a couple boxes of wine and a pane of glass (and eggs).  The only limit to what we can carry is the size of the SUV and the boat.  Fortunately, it is about the same amount.

We also have a utility trailer that has, on occasion, been filled as well but that means two boat trips at the very least and we are pleased to have left those days mostly behind us.  One major schlep is enough.

This trip, our pre-arranged ride-neighbour got the days mixed up and we were destined to arrive at the dock with no transportation ready (see forlorn expression above).  That can be problematic.  So a few last-minute calls to the outer regions and we were handled.  D was available after 2:00 and G was available before 2:00.  Whenever we knew for sure what our arrival time was, we would let them know and one of them would be there. We called G and said, “1:00 pick-up, if you please.”

At 1:01, she was right there tying up her boat at the community dock.  AND she had brought our boat (towed behind) with her.  New Yorkers can’t get taxis that efficiently.

So, what is the point of this blog?  There isn’t one, really.  Just a day in the life….that kinda thing.  But it is interesting to note that our ‘neighbours’ as distant and disparate as they can be are quickly at the ready to help. It’s a good community.