Bombastic Bastard

Christmas kilowatts. This is the lower half of main street Ladysmith. The glow goes up the hill and then the homes try to compete with the gaudiness. Honey, just leave a candle in the window for me.

The weather girl in a tight skirt warned of a deluge of rain today, that dreaded atmospheric river. I opened the curtains to find a cloudless sky and watched as frost formed while the first light of day crept up the neighbour’s wall. So far so good. I hope she’s wrong about the snow.

The Christmas Arachnid. Not bad for the end of November.

Canadians are known for politeness. We are retiring and demure to a point of absolute timidity. We can find ourselves hanging off a cliff-edge with a bully standing on our fingers and peeing on our head. We’ll politely ask if someone could please bring us a small towel. Often when you stand up against an inequity you are branded as a troublemaker. Afraid of confrontation, we do nothing. I’m not suggesting that, like some of our neighbours to the south, we shoot someone for blinking but Jeeze Louise! It’s your life, eh!

Would you really pack your dirty knickers off to someone named Sue War?

Politicians are merely people we hire, or appoint, to do jobs we don’t want to tackle ourselves. That is so from the Prime Minister’s office down to the backyard politics of the strata council. There is the presumption that these folks have stepped forward to serve their fellows but all too often we have to contend with characters who have an agenda to massage their own ego by trying to manipulate and control their constituents. Being Canadians, we say “Oh OK eh.”

When we get to town what are we going to do? Chase cats? What if they’re bigger than us?
Ayre wise eyes. she’s proving to be an excellent big sister to little Libby.
My ball!

I live in a strata-titled development. There are eighteen share holders. We moved in after living in other strata-titled shituations but the appeal of this little home, and its location, were grand and so we took a deep breath and tip-toed in. We can easily walk to our small town mainstreet and they’ve now built a pub half a block away. Unfortunately many of our neighbours, and fellow share-holders, moved in as strata virgins and didn’t understand that there is more to communal life than simply paying monthly fees and letting someone else do the dirty work. Invariably, as in all politics, apathy is a prime breeding ground for those who have a craving for control and power, even at such a miniscual level.

Despite their furious denials, we have a couple of those folks on our tiny strata council. They try to manipulate their neighbours, telling them what they must and cannot do, and have expenditures without transparency. They constantly impose condescending tones on anyone who dares challenge them and even employ vindictive tactics if you challenge their petty tyrany. We hired a professional property management company to apply some objective direction but as it turns out, that agent slithered in with our questionable concillors and so we live in a dark little world of backyard politics. They are incompetent to the point of not knowing what they don’t know and adamnant that no-one else understands more than they do. I once named this home as our “Lock it and leave it” but it clearly requires some hands-on involvement. We’d just sell and leave but can’t find an equitable alternative, especially with certain health issues and all the hassles of moving. If you are considering a move to a strata-titled situation I suggest that it’s wise to go meet a few of your potential new neighbours and ask if they are content living there. Actually, meeting the folks next door before you are committed is a prudent thing to do before buying a new to-you home anywhere.

After the wind
Autumn Road

After living here for over a decade I finally went to our recent annual general meeting and raised hell. I was indeed the bombastic bastard who shook the bushes until the monkies fell out. In the end, I have only accomplished a new awareness of our strata council for my fellows and probably made some enemies. I know that will soon wear off, but it’s the best I can do. I am stunned that folks will allow a major investment which is their own home be so mis-managed with few or no questions. A person will pay the price of home ownership one way or another. I’ve become convinced that strata-titled living is overpriced for me.

There is an old wisdom which says “The fear of change is only overcome when the pain of a situation becomes too great to bear.” I guess we have a ways to go yet. Lordy, I miss my boat!

Yeah, I know, the greatest thing about living in Canada is that we are all free to leave if we don’t like it here. Sometimes, this stubborn old sailor is inclined to set out more anchoring gear when the wind rises. Grin and bare it Billy!

Meanwhile it’s Black Friday weekend, another milestone in our lemming consumer stupidity. “Buy now and save!” A wonderful and wise elderly lady once asked me “If ye canna pay for it once, how will ye pay for it twice?” It’s the wisest financial advice I’ve ever ignored.

A Tub Boat. Some folks will even pay to ride in a boat filled with water!

We go to our modern cathedrals, the malls, and worship our gods of consumerism. It’ll make us feel gooder for a little while. There must be some available credit on one card. All is well. First you have to find a parking spot somewhere on that vastness of mall pavement to leave your electric SUV. (Stupid Urban Vanity…it may never leave pavement) Later, you have to find it again. Perhaps that’s why so many new vehicles are available in garish colours. (Raspberry fluorescent green banana, range 3.7 km, bearing 176 degrees. Bleep it!) Then you have to get back into the thing. Some dufus has abandoned their vehicle an inch from yours so you can’t open your doors. You have to clamber in through the back hatch. That’s when the mall cop shows up. Christmas! Bumhug!

Glisten in the harsh light of dawn.
Ready for winter. No strata problems here!
Nice! No tree died in the making of this photo.

Get off your dead centers.”      Paul Harvey

CPR – Computer Please Recover

Fairweather Fog

I am sequestered at home these days. The cold November rain spatters down. A dull grey is as bright as the day will get. I’ve just posted my Remembrance Day blog and I’m not feeling especially brilliant myself. The doctor tells us that Jill’s recovery will be long and slow and that she is lucky to be alive. I’ve vowed to stand by her but I’m terrified of not having the courage to do this as long as she needs me. I’ve been the jut-jawed aviator and never feel as at home as when sailing a boat in heavy weather but this, this leaves me feeling wholly inadequate. Like all things in life, you deal with it one step at a time and then one day you emerge from the swamp, ground down but allegedly a better person. Yeah right!

Fogbound, smell the coffee.
Edge of the world

Yesterday, before I’d had one sip, I managed to dump my entire coffee mug into my computer. It wasn’t as exciting as low-level aerobatics but there was certainly a rush of adrenaline. I was brutally confronted with the reality of how much of my life depends on this damned lap-top, something I love to preach against all the while I swim in that addiction fully immersed. Well, I blew, and sucked and dabbed and heated until I actually got a murmur of life in the old computador to the point of being able to write this blog. Humiliated and diminished I took the doglets and headed off for a circumnavigation of the local fish hatchery. There are usually a few nice dogs with nice people in tow and one comes home feeling affirmed and uplifted. The salmon are spawning and there are bus-loads of junior school kids hearding around the streams and ponds. Those were a challenge to out-manouver and the dog’s faith in humanity was not too severely dented. We made it back to the vehicle without them finding any fishy bits to roll in. No cleaning up after that dreaded yum!

After the wind
We talk about it, but here is how we often actually think green. Packaging is one of our biggest environmental stupidities. The smaller box, cleverly packaged, came inside a bigger box, stuffed with more paper to fill the void. And then there’s the extra diesel to ship it.
Really? So how did dogs survive the previous thousands of millennia?  Wonder when there will be a “biologically” appropriate human grocery store. They sure ain’t now!

On the way home a buddy telephoned. I pulled off of the highway onto an extra wide part of the shoulder. Glancing into the rearview mirror there was a sudden image of a black pickup truck almost fully over on the shoulder zooming up from behind at warp speed. There is nothing you can do as you watch someone’s grill expanding in that little rear-view mirror! It’s amazing what can go through your mind in a nano-second. There was a rush of panic for my little dogs, the thought that I couldn’t kiss my arse goodbye while sitting behind the wheel and then the hope that this wouldn’t hurt too mch before the lights went out. All the while I’m trying to maintain my chat with my buddy. All’s well that ends. Life goes on such as it is. 

Chain Cumulus? I’ve never seen low- altitude cumulus like this before.
“Turn over a new leaf huh, well this is an old one!”

Last night I came home severely disillusioned. I’d travelled over to Gabriola Island to attend my friend Bob’s ‘Celebration Of Life.’ I signed the registry and departed after ten minutes. Bob loved people and was tolerant and accepting but the hall was filled with a mob whom I doubt many never knew him or he, them. Banks of acrid hydroponic pot smog formed an initial barrier around the entrance. Clots of guffawing folks blocked the doorways, and a milling crowd of gormless characters were tripping over each other while carrying heaped plates dripping with food. I know I’m jaded but I was repulsed at a yuckfest of jolly people helping themselves to the free buffet. I was hungry but refused to partake. I’ve been to wakes where the body was present in its coffin as if participating but this event showed no respect for my friend and I could not bear it. A photo portrait of him looked out on the hall with a bemused grin. It seemed bizarre to me. A sailor is, by nature, a lonely soul and this was not the way to send him on his way. Fairwinds old salt, we’ll see you on a distant shore. I later explained my cryptic view to Bob’s widow; she replied that he would probably have enjoyed the event. Dunno!

Wondering and wandering. Do dogs contemplate the meaning of life?
How about fish?


The worm’s way.

Back at home the dogs cuddled up close to comfort me. They know! We sat and watched the tide ebb in the last rum bottle. It did not turn back to flood. I went to bed.

Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.� Flavia Weedn

Don’t Forget

Remembrance Day. The weather is typical, cold, damp and rainy. I recall parades on this day over half a century ago when I was a pimply Air Cadet. I’d stand in rank on rank at attention in my immaculate blue wool uniform, very heavy Lee Enfield rifle sopping wet with rain or snow, fluttering pigeons trying to crap on the uniforms. You’d get an itch you dare not scratch and then the bugler would blow the ‘Last Post.’ Warm tears in that cold rain. At the time it was somehow romantic and en-nobling but then I grew up some more. It is always the young people who get charmed into going to become immortal. I got to know some real veterans and almost went to Vietnam (because the US Army would teach me to fly helicopters for free) That’s another story.

After getting to know some of those people I can tell you that Remembrance Day is more than a little twisted. Yes there are hundreds of thousands of military personel who never came home but there are uncountable thousands of dead and maimed innocent civilians that were left behind. Conveniently we don’t take time to remember them. Of the veterans who made it home, there are thousands with shattered bodies and minds who truly pay an ultimate price over and over again. We try to ignore them.

War is no video game. If you think so, try an all-inclusive holiday in the Ukraine or perhaps Afghanistan.

Well, there’s my annual Remembrance Day rant, but remembering the horrible consequences of our base human nature is a daily obligation we all need to fulfill. Pray your children do not get called to go run the gauntlet.

To The Dead

Late bloomer, the autumn crocus. They appear every fall, a sure sign that summer is finished. They manage to somehow bloom just before the autumn rain begins.
Autumn Pink. Forget the girl in the tight skirt telling you about atmospheric rivers and globular warming , get out there and see for yourself what’s going on.

I’ve said it before. There are certain types of courage I do not possess. The long-suffering patience required to be Fred The Nurse is hard-come-by for me but it is payback time. I owe Jill a lot. I’m not complaining and in fact appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate my love. I am bound to stick within a short radius of home and that’s a tall order for my restless soul. I am a good cook but it is hard to produce tasty repasts for someone who presently has a hard time eating much. Yummy bird-sized portions are a challenge and a body can only endure so much quiche and soup before rebelling. My wife is slowly recovering from her cardiac ordeal. There is a long road ahead but she’ll get there. A sure sign of progress is when I catch hell for serving more budget-priced groceries. “But it was thirty percent off!” Cheap bastard! I’ve got to be the rock she can rely on and I’m almost at the back of my Spam cookbook. Then comes ‘Beans For All Occasions.”

A friend is in Mexico for the winter aboard his boat. Another amigo in Sweden has me looking for a local boat to suit his needs and budget. I’m back in the world where I belong but may not indulge while in the middle of my urban land-bound penance. Another dear friend, ill with terminal cancer, has chosen a medically assisted end. I respect the dignity of that choice but find myself beneath a cloud of will for a miracle to bring him a return to good health and happy camaraderie. I don’t want him to suffer but I hate the idea of him no longer being around. I’ll never again be able to telephone him and hear a cheery “Allo Fritz.” I did get the chance to do that recently and now he’s sailed on already. But sailors are like that, gone before dawn with little warning. Nothing is forever, grab it while you can.

Find the dog
Find the dog
Gull dawn in Dogpatch, all was calm, all was bright
The hanging tree. Beneath, a robin feeds among red berries.
Seven salmon in the stream, do they know what their passing means?
We don’t have time. Shut up and kiss me.

I got the notice today. He’s gone. Just like that. He went at his own will and avoided the indignity of fighting the miserable inevitability of a terminal illness. His celebration of life will be next weekend. I’ll have a drink or ten.

There’s no point in blubbing about anything and I’ve got on with the long-overdue business of submitting manuscripts to literary agencies. That is like buying a lottery ticket. One realizes the chance of winning is impossibly small but it is the faint hope which sustains. It doesn’t take much to keep inching forward through the unbearable heaviness of being. As I try to write this my wife is in the bathroom dry-barfing. There is nothing a person can do except wish you can help. Bowing down at the porcelain alter is horrible and so is listening to someone kneeling there arguing with Ralph and Huey. All that altercation (pun!) cannot be good for a damaged heart. It must be her medication and it certainly does not sound like a path to wellness. Swear words!

No! I said sit! This lovely boardwalk is the bayside malecon in Crofton.
This carved face is covered up at high tide. It looks up at the boardwalk.
Last ferry to Saltspring Island. it’s not really, it just looks like it.

Once Jill is well again this mundane existence has got to change for both of us. I just can’t resolve myself to sitting around waiting. How many folks end up like this? Once you adopt this mindset, you’re dead already; just a stinky corpulent fartsalot in the way at the checkout counter trying to tell folks how you used to be able to live on twenty bucks a week. You shuffle along in your plaid slippers pushing a squeaky walker and then one day the walker is for sale and no-one can remember your name.

I was in Duncan yesterday to get the doctor to pump my knees full of cortisone. (He refuses to simply install grease nipples.) The relief was almost instant and I celebrated by going off to my favourite vegetable market. Their produce is never hosed down, some of the delicate items are displayed on a bed of ice. Wet fruit and vegetables is a favourite rant of mine. It enrages this old farm boy. It is the worst thing you can do to preserve organic items and perpetrates yet another urban myth.

While in the store I came upon a lovely display of firm, full, juicy blueberries. One of the icons of Canadism is the humble blueberry. A few hour later I’m slurping them down with a bowl of ice cream. Damn they were good! I perused the little box they came in, wanting see to see their exact origin. Peru! My rage was instant. Next I’ll find maple syrup from China!

October bloom. At the end of the boardwalk this desiccated flower stood determinedly in the cold wind. I think there is no greater beauty than a fading flower.

So finally, what’s in a name. I thought that changing my blog’s name to was clever and artistic. It turns out that even I found myself wanting to say Driftwood. Perhaps deadwood would have been better. Earlier this year I was trying to work with a web host who suggested that anything “BC” is a hot handle and I should adopt a name which includes the implication of British Columbia. I had to leap through flaming hoops to be able to legally use that name, just in case I was representing something government (Oh sigh) but it’s official, my new blog name is about to become

Historically the term bogtrotter refers to the lower class of Irish peasantry who roamed across the countryside, among the bogs of Ireland. It is not intended as a compliment with any use but it was what my Scottish mother-in-law called me and I chose to accept it as a term of endearment. It is also where you’ll often find me, in the backwaters and backwoods, where I choose to explore. You’ll seldom find me near any bright lights.

A peaceful easy feeling.
Checking the pee mail.
An aroma of wood smoke set against the cold, damp bite of an autumn afternoon. Snug!

The weather has been descending rapidly into winter in recent days. Today the first steady, cold downpour has settled over us. It suits my mood. The dogs are huddled near the fireplace and I may go join them. Tomorrow may come. Maybe not.

This photo best describes my buddy Bob. I will miss him dearly. Thank you dear friend.

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
―  Mark Twain