An older man travels over sea and land in quest of new adventures
Author: Fred Bailey
Fred is a slightly-past middle age sailor / writer / photographer with plenty of eclectic hands-on skills and experiences. Some would describe him as the old hippy who doesn't know the war is over. He is certainly reluctant to grow up and readily admits to being the eternal dreamer.
He has written several books including two novels, 'The Keeper' and 'Storm Ecstasy,' as well as 'The Water Rushing By', 'Sins Of The Fathers', 'The Magic Stick', as well as an extensive inventory of poetry, essays, short stories, anecdotes and photographs.
His first passion is the ocean, sailboats, voyaging and all those people who are similarly drawn to the sea. He lives aboard 'Seafire' the boat he is refitting to go voyaging, exploring new horizons both inner and outer. This blog is about that voyage and the preparations for it. In spite of the odds against it, the plan is to sail away this fall and lay a course southward. If you follow this blog your interest may provide some of the energy that helps fuel the journey.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Followers of my blogs know that I am a jaded and skeptical sub-senior and angry member of the “Last Nations.” I am often enraged by the poor language skills of our media people and infuriated by the wrong emphasis they place on practical matters. I am especially incensed at the need to dramatize “climate change.” Record breaking temperatures turn out to be based on a datum of 2015. I can remember extremes of heat and cold, dry and wet that exceeded anything being reported. Folks just carried on, life was what you got and there was no point in dramatizing something you could do nothing about. Winter was cold, summer was hot, it was not news.
Yes climate change exists and in fact the entire planet has constantly endured climatic fluxuations which at times have destroyed entire eco-systems, multiple species and entire civilizations. It’s normal! Get used to it and deal with it as you can. The arrogance of thinking we can fix it, all the while continuing to indulge in a life of excess where cause and effect have become the same thing. We have a mentality that endorses spending billions to send technology beyond known edges of the universe all the while ignoring the desperate plight of a major portion of our population. We turn a blind eye to the excesses of government and the incredibly vulgar wealth of several religious organizations. Love, peace and charity are abstracts. All the while people live in desperate poverty, their children enduring the lottery of death and the faceless obliterations of war. All the while we grudgingly gather under the umbrella of various organizations to talk about it, often while sitting over a gourmet dinner.
I don’t know how to change anything. I have no money and no way to go do something. All I can do is write and try to provide needle pricks of awareness and questioning. One thing I’ve noticed, and you can too if you look, is a diminishing number of insects. Just take a drive down a highway and take note of the lack of protein on the windshield. In the warm temperatures of years past a windshield would accumulate a thick crust of dried bugsmack. Usually there would be an especially big gooey splatter right in front of the driver’s eyes. Scrubbing all that yummyputz off your windows was part of the routine of fueling up and sometimes in between gas stops. It is always a good thing to see what you’re running into. I’d even avoid gas stations that did not provide clean wash water and squeegees. There was a time, way back when gasoline sold for less than fifty cents, a gallon, attendants would pump your gas, check under the hood, check your tires and clean your windshield. That was back when we had “Service Stations.” Uhuh! Now we’ve even lost our population of insects. The ramifications of that are sobering.
There are wasps and hornets, mosquitos and house flies and all the other pesky flying and crawling creatures, which inhabited the planet for millions of years before we arrived, but suddenly their numbers have plummeted. They have as much right, and often more purpose to be here. If we cannot see the purpose of any annoying (to us) insect or creature, remove it from the ecosystem and its role in the cycle of life will eventually become very obvious. It is not all about us and in fact we are the one organism the planet would do better without. Meanwhile the tiny creatures which pollinate our plants and food crops are declining in number. Does that mean anything to you?
“We don’t give a damn to the insects on our Earth, but if we could find even a single insect on Mars, the whole world would cherish it like crazy! ― Mehmet Murat ildan
I recently watched a documentary about a beautiful young woman in the Ukraine. She had left her lucrative jewelry business to become a sniper on the front lines. She met her future husband there and well into her third trimester of pregnancy she was still out there fulfilling a most dangerous and deadly duty as she defends her country’s future which she carries in her belly. The irony of her life was not lost. I can see a bronze statue called “motherland” or perhaps “love.”
A soldier in battle dress, her near full-term pregnacy quite obvious brandishes a sniper’s rifle and is resolved in defiance. It is an indelible image, poignant, inspiring and so very tragic. Through our history on this planet, we have learned nothing. The battles rage on.
One of the joys of summer are the aromas. I was driving the dogs to the beach for a walk. We passed a construction site where the sun beat down and a pain and bloodfragrance of new lumber filled the air. At the shoreline it was low tide. The rank funk of drying mudflats, seaweed, shellfish and fresh leaves above the banks filled the air with a grand cloying musk. Along the pathways, through the thickets of verdant fresh flora there were heavy wafts of floral blends in the air that were bliss even for this old bush ape. In the air drifts the rattling roar of Harley Davidson mating calls which are sometimes answered by the scream of little Asian motorcycles.
The clear sky overhead holds a thin curtain of Albertan bushfire smoke. Hopefully this is not a harbinger of the summer air quality we’ve endured in previous years. BC and Washington forests have been burning prodigiously during recent past summers when breathable air and clear visibility have become a premium. Our indigenous people’s oral histories describe “summers of the red sun.” We are in one of those traditional climate blips within the regular fluctuations of our climate. Dramatizing those gasping days improves nothing. Claiming that temperatures are “record breaking” is a farce. One weather announcer in a tight skirt let it slip that the datum of their records is 2015! You fill in the blank on that one. WOT?
On the long weekend highways folks hurtle in opposite directions hauling bikes, motorcyles, kayaks, paddle boards, surf boards, boats, trailers and rooftop tents. I wonder how many people are injured clambering in and out of those contraptions. Certainly there must certainly be more pain and blood than all the bear encounters together. As I see the frantic race to hurry up and relax I recall a friend’s comment “ Don’t they know they’re free to go sleep on the ground all year long?” Horrified at the plight, or inconvience, of the homeless, some of us pursue a similar venture for fun. And fun it should be if you’re roughing it in a mortgaged Rv.
My old “Hemouth” is not a shiny, sexy beast but, it’s paid for. That’s plenty sexy to me.
A growing number of casinos is clear evidence that someone knows that many people do not make good decisions.
I remember how I once woke up in the morningsafter my feet were already on the floor. I was already in gear and racing into the possibilities which the day held. I had enthusiasm for everything. I could outwork, lift more, stand more heat and cold and noise than anyone else. I had been taught at a young age that to be a beast of burden was noble and divine. Stupid bastard! It got me nowhere. Now I am old and burned out, in constant pain in many ways.
It is a terrible thing for an old man to wake up with dark thoughts. He lays on and on in bed as the perfect morning sunrise streaks through the gap in the curtains. He contemplates that perhaps his entire life was a waste and that there is little of value to show for his existence. His passage through it all was of nuisance value only. He knows that’s not true but the thoughts are there and that is not any way to start the day. Friends and family have children producing babies lately. Perhaps that’s what has brough this on. He has none. Oh blub blub.
Grumpa, cheer up enough to swing your gnarly old feet down on to the floor, open the curtains, go let the dogs out. They’re thrilled to simply be alive. That’s why we have them in our lives. So wake up one toe at a time if that’s your best, follow the dogs out and inhale the dawn. No-one has shot at us, there have been no fires or earthquakes. You know who you are and where you are. Not a bad start! It’s Monday again. Three days until garbage day. We’ve just lost Gordon Lightfoot. All is bluebirds and rainbows.
A post from a friend this morning reminded me that as spring advances so does tick season. These nasty blood-sucking insects which burrow into your skin can also carry plagues like lyme disease which has a wide range of unpleasant symptoms. After being outdoors check behind your dog’s ears especially, but also all over their body, and then check you own corpulous delectum. The wee flax seed-shaped bugs are not fussy with their taste. I once discovered a tick had lodged itself in my armpit.The discovery came while scuba diving. I wore a neoprene wetsuit over the spot and was in ninety feet of water when the discomfort set in. Gnyum, gynum, yum. So it was grin and bear it for the rest of the dive and then wrestle out of my gear once back on the surface and remove that invasive beast which by then felt about the size of a shovel.
You can remove them by firmly pulling and twisting, preferably without breaking the little beast into bits. Any remains can become a nasty infection but broken-off heads do NOT continue eating their way inwards. That’s just a myth. There are special tick removal tools available at pet stores. Be sure to check and remove any you find as soon as possible, they do like to chew their way in and once swollen with blood are much harder to remove. An acclaimed repellant is a spray mixture of one third white vinegar and two parts water. Well now, that’s out of the way before breakfast.
It is now almost NOT news that there has been yet another mass-shooting in the US. Sadly, mass shootings are hardly the sensation they once were. Canadians are neighbours to this clearly conflict and violence loving nation. We too share the same culture and embrace entertainment which consistently has characters waving guns. The film sets run with blood. It’s expected and even taken for granted. We just don’t notice it. Gun violence in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island are now a daily fact of life and there is more going on than ever makes the news. Then there are the goons hurtling around our roads in their projectiles weighing infinitely more than any bullet. All the horrors of war, earthquake and famine just don’t register in our collective conscience. There are a lot of good things happening but before we spend more on stuff liking sending back breath-taking images of the unknown universe perhaps we should clean up our only home and make life a little more bearable for most of our global population who suffer horribly every day.
I was confronted by one of those characters last week, who from his suv seat threatened me with his brass knuckles. I refuse to run from any thug. He backed down when I challenged him to discover how this old bull got to be old. He left. I do seem to find an inordinate number of confrontations but I am hard-wired against conceeding to bullies. The whole world seems to be tense and angry but running from any tyranny, no matter how small, is to endorse it.
There are other forms of foolishness we also have to deal with. I am writing this on mother’s day and the weather is now seasonally normal, in the mid to high 20s. The media is determined to place us within a heat dome and caution us with how to deal with the extreme heat. You can go back into the archives and find that this is normal late-spring weather and I suggest that hot, even to us folks, is in excess of 30 degrees. Nice and warm has been replaced with hot and dangerous. What’s with all the drama? Isn’t paying for gas and groceries exciting enough?
I don’t know how to act my age, I’ve never been this old before! anonymous
Now here’s a first. I’m writing this blog on my f.r.e.d. (Freaking ridiculous electronic device) Yep that tablet thing I was foolish enough to indulge in. I feel like a gorilla trying to order lunch on a typewriter. Ba…bana…b…na. What’s a typewriter you may well ask and if you don’t know I’m not sure how to explain. It was a writing machine. You inserted a single blank sheet of paper into it by manually winding a roller. Then you began pecking at the keyboard to produce letters and words. Each letter or symbol would fly up on a small lever as you pressed a key. It would imprint through an inked ribbon onto the sheet of paper. The ribbon advanced itself the width of a lettter each time you pressed a key.
It was a very complicated and fascinating bit of machinery. Yes, there were typewriter mechanics. There was no backing up or deleting if you made an error while typing. You could either try to erase the word or pull out the sheet, insert a new one and start the whole page over. Then you’d need to change the ink ribbon when it came to its end and if you were cheap you’d try to rewind the ribbon and use it until the letters were too faint to see clearly.
Those machines were heavy and cumbersome. They were mechanical and required a heavy touch until electric machines came along. Those were definitely NOT portable and the concept of a tiny device such as I am cursing at and poking with my bent old banana fingers would have been considered hilarious; a Dick Tracy idea. When laptop computers first became available to the general public I swore that all I’d ever need was something called a “Word Processor.” It looked like a large laptop but would only write and store documents, revolutionary at the time.
Some people could type prodigiously. “Words per minute” were a prized secretarial rating. Spelling errors and other typing mistakes were inconceivable. Nobody looked at the keyboard! In some schools typing was a class taken very seriously. I chose welding instead. Enough said.
A few nights ago, in the wee hours, I sat unable to sleep in my old camper. I’d parked back in the woods. The darkness was inpenetrable as was the silence which weighed the night down.
Finally a Barred owl called and added a dimension to the void. I was trying to work out a poem on my tiny tablet. I operate on a premise that if millions of other folks can use one of these things, so can I. Bugga! It must have a ‘Beat the geezer’ mode because absolutely nothing works for me. The thing can change screens simply by me looking at it and do not make the mistake of putting your hands near the wee devil device. Pigs in space! I’ve spent labourious hours pecking out a story only to have it vanish while being transferred to the big file.
Outside it is the first clear, warm day day of spring. Bugger the claptrap of this nonsense. This old boy is taking his dogs to find a flower-filled meadow.
While watching my dog it occurred to me that if only the generals understood… all they have to do is wag their tail!
Fortunately my little dogs weren’t with me when I parked my daily beater in the grocery store parking lot. Isn’t it amazing how a dull daily event can rapidly become a horror show? At the time you want to be anywhere else but a few days later you can only see the funny side. I shut my old car off, locked the door and went into the store. Ho hum. A few minutes later, I came out, dug out my only working remote key fob, pointed it at the car and nothing happened. Remember the shark tune Dah duh Dah duh? “Oh here we go! The battery is dead in the remote. Bugga.” Inserting the key in the lock, I opened the door and Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep……………………………Beep for interminable minutes. I could not shut it off. So came that going down in flames feeling. I tried manually opening and closing and locking/unlocking the door. Beep. I tried starting the car. Beep and then the engine refused to run. Is this really happening? Yes it is, you know it, so do some bloody thing. The beeping had bored into my brain, it went on and on.
Finally, in what seemed like hours later, the system shut itself down. By then, I’d dissected the remote door control, cleaned the little battery and but it back together. I pushed the button BEEP… BEEP, bloody BEEP on and on again. By now a few men had come to offer me advise and I politely assured them that all would be well, I’m a mechanic after all. Stay calm and tinker on. By now, I’d pulled my spare key out of its hiding place. It didn’t work. One other old geezer came to tell me what was wrong and I asked him to please just leave me alone. Three more interuptions from him had me bellowing “BUGGER OFF, I’ve asked you to leave me alone, now GO AWAY!” I don’t know if folks really assume that they have superior knowledge or if it’s just testosterone constipation. They are not helping and they know it! I hate being put in a spot where you feel forced to be an asshole.
At that moment, I had both remote door controls apart, in the now-peeing rain, and really needed to focus on my dilema without any parts sproinging down the nearby storm drain. I noticed the drain after the fact. I thought that maybe I could get a functioning unit by using parts from the two but wouldn’t you know it? Their innards were different. Finally, I had the what-was-just-working one back together. Dead! Nothing. I put the key in the ignition. Nothing. The security system clearly shuts of the engine ignition. I fiddled with the remote a bit, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP again. “Oh golly” I said. Yep that’s what I said. I went back into the store to see if they sold batteries which fit these devices, knowing full well that they did not. I’d have to walk down to the hardware store in the rain to find out that they had none either. Wonder of wonders, the grocery store had one packet at a horrible price. The cashier mumbled something about wishing “That Jerk would do something about his horn.” The horn continued to sing its terrible song. I know what she meant because nothing upsets me as much as an ongoing car alarm.
I replied that this jerk was doing his best which is why he was paying a triple-price for these batteries. It occurred to me that with no wrench on hand to disconnect the car battery I could at least remove the horn wire. It was like doing brain surgery through the rectum but by jamming my arm up through the front wheelwell I was able to find the wire and rip it out. I’ll fix that on the next sunny day. The story goes on. A new battery was not the solution but finally with a lot of patient finagling something clicked. It like was winning a lottery, i imagine. I headed for home. I am not sure what I did so I wonder how long before she fritzes again. All’s well for the moment and I’m damned if I’ll spend six hundred dollars on a key for a thousand-dollar car. Poverty sucks! But it’s funny now! And there’s all that suspense each time I go anywhere.
In Ladysmith a serious battle is brewing. The town mayor and his council have decided to give away the foreshore lease they have held for the Ladysmith Maritime Society. It’s going to the local first nations people. They’re doing this with no consultation with the membership of the society.
A wonderful online article in take5.ca covers the story well. This is my response to that letter. All hell is about to break loose, enough is enough, I’m tired of belonging to the Last Nation.
Ref April 2023 Edition
I want to express appreciation for your writing about the current crisis surrounding the future of the Ladysmith Maritime Society Facility. Your writing is concise and objective. It accurately covers the situation with an unbiased tone. Thank you.
I began to consider a move to Vancouver Island in the years preceding Expo 86. At that time there were exciting plans to build a working wooden boat shipyard here in Ladysmith in conjunction with a working steam railway museum. I wanted to be part of that and I moved to the area from the mainland interior. Those grand plans never came to fruition. At that time the facility now known as LMS was a rickety collection of rotting and broken docks run by a “Good Ol’ Boy” club. It was a dangerous mess, both in situation and politically.
LMS is now a facility considered by many, near and far, as the best public / transient marina north of Seattle. Ladysmith is nothing without its waterfront and LMS is the jewel in that crown. In several ways, this marina is a catalyst which helps bond the entire community. This facility is the result of uncounted thousands hours of volunteer labour and love and commitment by its members. We are horribly betrayed by those whose political agenda is clearly not to serve the local citizens nor consider their will. But, we will not go away.
Sincerely, Fred Bailey, Ladysmith bc-bog-trotter.com
Within my litany of woes I have plunged into WhatsApp. I’ve finally got it connected and useable, I think. How come nothing works as described. Simply pushing the button as told does not do much except to lead into other windows where you need to select the correct gigaflutter and wedge filter. Geeze Louis! There is a sort of thinking which I do not possess and so a protocol of frustration descends on me nearly every time I attempt to do anything. Perhaps I’m still haunted with dread of the old “Fatal Error.”
In the ancient times of my younger life there was a device which, while encumbered with a cord, worked simply and reliably. To contact someone, you entered a simple code, (The same one every time) and that person answered if they wanted to. Later models allowed you to leave a message. No matter who manufactured telephones, they all worked exactly the same way. We all conducted business successfully and managed to communicate with each other around the planet. But, there was room for improvement and I recall owning one of the first radio telephones. You could talk to people away from your desk! It was a cumbersome contraption and was usually installed inside your vehicle. All I had to learn which stump to park near in order to get a decent signal. They were very finicky. Now I’m sure someone has a cell phone built into a wrist watch (Remember Dick Tracy?) It has a gps, camera, heart monitor, and seventy-nine other apps to make your life even more complicated. How can we function without knowing what the weather is in Giggledipstick, Iceland?
I know it is pouring rain here on this Easter Saturday because It tells me on an app. I couldn’t trust myself to look out the window. Meanwhile my new tablet sits idle at the back of my desk. I’m waiting for a widget to come which will allow me to export data without using someone’s cloud. I’m living proof of Saquatches and Neanderthals. Perhaps pounding my chest is worth a try. I hope you had a grand Easter and that no rabbits were harmed while you hunted eggs.
“Don’t try eating any brightly coloured frogs!”… my brother
I’m on hold. That’s as far as I’ve progressed with an inquiry to our beloved Canada Revenue Agency. What? Well I’ve been on hold for only an hour so far. Yes, I’ve noted their message warning me about using foul or abusive language. I wonder why that note comes up front??? I hope that if I do achieve contact with a living being that they can speak fluent English. I shall always recall being told by someone with a broad Asian accent that I “No spreak Engritch vely good.” This year the good folks at CRA have decided that my taxable income should be doubled. Instead of a desperately needed refund I’m told to pay a huge amount beyond my ability. So, I’m practising my polite-speak and enduring the horrible looped bargain-classical music while once again I hurry up and wait and (redneck words) bloody wait.
I wonder how many Canadian citizens just roll their eyes and groan and pay. Complacency seems to be in our dna and the path of least resistance is what we choose. Well, not me. I’m too old and arthritic to goose-step to anyone’s tune. Eventually I was connected with two different ladies with, once again, broad Asian accents. We all soldiered through amicably and discovered the mistake. It was mine. Uhuh!
To enhance the experience I am apparently enduring Covid 49. Whatever the virus, it has sneaked past the perimeters of my flu shot and I have all the resilience of a left-over noodle. I won’t describe the graphic details. I’ll just say this is snot a recommended weight-loss program. I’m told that this strain of flu is rampant at the moment so it is the chicken soup diet for me. I can only hope that the birds in my broth did not come from the Boneless Chicken Ranch.
After a third attempt, I’ve finally received a third keyboard to match the wee tablet I purchased. Amazon was quite affordable compared to locally available products. The company was also prompt with correcting and refunding my orders, twice. I love to rail on about computer errors and big company fumbles but in this matter it was my fumbles which caused my problems. Kudus to the monster. It is interesting that Amazon can perform as it does with its computerized infrastructure. Without the demand for computers and all that cyber stuff Amazon could not exist. There was a time when every dollar Canada Post charged included five cents for shipping and the rest was for storage. Now, with Amazon as a prime client they are able to deliver across the country, sometimes in a day. Amazing what happens when we inject a little free enterprise.
The renewal license for my wee scooter-cycle insurance came and it is clearly described as a motorcycle. My recently renewed driver’s license clearly has an endorsement for scooters only. Should I have a wreck or an apprehension by constable Bob there is an obvious conundrum. So…here goes a 70 year old to get his correctly endorsed driver’s license. That involves at least three tests which will require me to endure various subjective interpretations by various examiners. That I’ve held the scooter ticket for forty years and have an accident-free driving history of over fifty-five years is irrelevant. I’ll feel like a hero when this geezer gets the correct number on my driver’s license. Just wait till I go to renew my pilot’s license!
The licensing issue is resolved. I’m perfectly legal as I was licensed but to cover any doubts I also took out a motorcycle learner’s license which permits me to drive any two-wheeled beast I choose. So off to the chopper shop; I’ll take the black one with the orange lightening bolts and the signal light skull.
I’m afraid I don’t have much respect for licenses. All the suicidal morons hurtling around on our roads have ostensibly passed tests and are licensed. In the marine and aviation industries I’ve often found that the most incompetent were also those who held the highest ticketed ratings. There’s no point in dissecting a situation which is already firmly in place. Clearly my notion of competence is irrelevant to someone’s license. So now I can wobble off with a pocketful of paper, straight into a telephone pole.
Sadly real life is not like being on hold to a government telephone line. You only get one quarter to make the call. There’s no “Please hang up and try again later.”
Tax time! Woohaw! This recalcitrant old redneck rises into a quick fury when dealing with things online like CRA websites. Any manner of cyber idiocy immediately blows my rage guage. Gollygee and goshdarn, it just annoys me. Artifical intelligence may now be with us but genuine stupidity will be here forever. Today my wife Jill submitted my online tax return. There’s money coming back, enough to just cover the ICBC insurance renewal on my old truck and camper. How exciting is that? Things might work out, it’s frightening but sometimes a person’s luck has to click. Right! Uhuh?
Shortly after Jill filed my tax report on line an email came from the Canada Revenue Agency tell me that they were processing my return and to go to “My Account” and sign in or create an account. So I did. Well I tried. It was suggested that an easy way to set up this account was to use my already-secure bank account. And so I did. Within minutes I found myself locked out of my banking accounts. Can’t be too careful, fair enough, stay cool old son. Hmmmpf. I noticed that another way of getting on board was to engage the QR code of my Provincial Government accounts. I fumbled into that and within seconds found myself also locked out of my cellphone. The password I had stashed away did not work. Rage galore! I have learned as I peer into the dark tunnel that is my approaching dotage that there is no gain in bursting arteries over things which you cannot control. Are these situations really sent to try us?
I went to the bank and with the help of a fine young fellow resolved my banking password and left the building proud that I had not expressed any of my frustrations. After a pro-longed attempt of poking at the cellphone and then consulting the Samsung guru there was nothing that could be resolved about my cellphone and the server tech suggested I go to the nearest Bell store in Duncan. That is about a twenty-five minute drive but I found the store and parachuted in there with my sad story. Fortunately there was another fine young gentleman who soon discovered my cellphone contract was about to expire with a payout due on my present phone of seven hundred-twenty dollars if… I didn’t upgrade to a new contract and a new phone. Extortionate pirates! My fury returned but I knew the contract was coming due so, I mused that I’d saved myself a trip. I’m home again with my new cellphone, a Samsung S23 ultra with mega gadoggles, 5 gigs and a pony. There is also a virgin Samsung tablet sitting here daring me to try and turn it on. The cursing will begin again.
That phone is now playing very dull classical music while I’m on hold to talk to a live “agent” at CRA and get this damned account set up. And now you know how I’ve spent my Monday. As I wait and wait, I’m writing this blog.
This weekend a friend sent me a link to a YouTube video titled “Cape to Cairo By Bike.” It is about a young German man who rides his bicycle the entire length of Africa. It is a stellar effort that rivals any professional production you’ll ever see and offers some stunning wildlife photography as well as journeys within journeys. You will find inspiration and enrichment if you take the time to sit and watch the entire eighty-eight minutes. What a treat to see! It was all done with rudimentary equipment and I cannot rave enough about what one young man has done. It certainly took me away from my CRA day.
So, GOOD MORNING. Day two. After over an hour yesterday I gave up waiting for a CRA agent and am now trying to connect once again this morning. There is no change in that dull canned music loop. I don’t recognize one tune; the bargain sonatas. Finally I was connected with a very nice lady who spoke English like a native daughter and who, incredibly, had a wonderful sense of humour. We laughed together and soon resolved the problem. I can’t use her name, CRA probably has regulations against employing humour and one can only imagine the tactics they might employ. Now that I was able to access my account I promptly learned that someone with a different sense of humour has decided I owe another big chunk of money from last year’s tax report. I’m numb. Jeeeeeeeeeehulia! Poverty sucks.
Right now our new Premier is hurling basket-loads of money into the wind in an attempt to curry favour. I’ve just got to figure how to find the right downwind spot to run to. Clearly the next election campaign has begun already, long before it has been called. Sleazy bugger!
Yesterday my wee friend Arye came to my shoulder and demanded my attention. She’s becoming ever more vocal. She clearly knows what she is trying to tell me and for once I was able to video some of the performance. It is now on you tube. Here’s the link. Hope you like it.
I know I’m a recluse but I don’t need my computer to keep telling me that my “social tab is empty.” This morning I checked my email as usual. I receive a daily e-bulletin board from La Manzanilla in Mexico with a post from someone named Rebecca. “Does anyone know of a beach town in the area without so many gringos?” Uh Becky! Mirror? Just leave my social tab as it is.
Last blog I promised new adventure and this isn’t it; but it’s an interesting little story. When our daughter passed away nearly a year ago, we inherited her little dog Arye. It’s taken us that long in our continuing grief to each find a balance and a way to live. That little dog has taught us a lot. When our daughter’s close friend also passed a few months later the shock of that news came with a request that we consider adopting her little dog Libby, a miniature daschund. At first we said no but by next morning we knew what we had to. The two dogs had been buddies and their mutual company would help ease everyone through whatever lay ahead. In the moment that I was picking up Libby, Jill was being rushed to a Victoria hospital in an ambulance. That’s another story. She is recovering but we’ve had a very long dull winter and thank the gods for the blessing of those two wee dogs. Libby and Arye are “thick as thieves” and help to make our house a home.
Somehow five months have passed since Libby joined us. Based on the veterinary records we have it was time to take her for a checkup, an ID chip and the necessary vaccinations. For some reason we both went with her. I waited in the lobby while Jill took wee one (4.7 kg) into the examination room. I waited and waited. A RCMP constable walked in to the back of the clinic. I waited some more, wondering what in hell was taking so long. Then Jill emerged with a stricken look on her face and beckoned me in with her as Libby came pelting out and hopped into my arms. I walked in to find the constable there. A hairball of emotion popped into my throat. “Who’s died now!?” was my first instinct.
It turned out that our vet clinic had phoned Libby’s previous vet to learn if there were any interesting details. There were. A few weeks ago, the former boyfriend of Libby’s previous owner had appeared at that clinic after all those months, to claim that the little dog had been stolen from him. We do know that he’s not a savoury character and not the sort to care one fig about any dog. However Libby could produce valuable pups. Bastard! We’ve learned that the vet thinks it is best for Libby not to have pups, it could be devastating to her if not fatal.
There is a legal protocol that requires the veterinary clinic to do as they had and I understand why we were kept in the dark until the gestapo arrived. (The CIA: Canine Insinuation Agency) This old pirate does not like being told to sit in the corner and just listen. Both the vet and the cop assured us that they had no suspicions about us and that we were obviously loving care givers. I must say that both folks were quite supportive in the end.
Fortunately Jill had kept all of her texting records which confirmed our story. We’ll consider the matter closed but will employ reasonable caution in future. After all we, and especially Jill, have endured in the last year it was reasonable to assume there were no more lumps to hit the fan. For a while at least, we’ll have to shoulder a burden of paranoia. Leaving the wee ones to wait in a locked vehicle for even a little while has a new perspective. Gee thanks. I do prefer to trust folks ….but!
Never trust a person who doesn’t love dogs.” anon.
I never made it Astoria. Jill endured a last-minute medical issue and off course I could not go and leave her alone. Jill is fine now. Thank goodness! I’m disgusted that I missed my Fisher Poets Gathering but life is a series of dead-ends and disappointments. That’s the way the pickle squirts and you have to look for the good part when you hit a bump in the road. Last weekend was very snowy, all the way to California. I could have been stuck down in Astoria, sampling their wonderful local craft beer and fresh seafood; survival food That’d be terrible! Maybe next year! Because I was home, I happened to discover an article in the “Times Colonist,” our island rag, and wrote the following response. You may not know or care about the debacle which is our island railway, but I believe it is a backbone of our economy and civilization. It is appalling to me that anyone can consider abandoning it forever.
Providentially, the very next evening I caught a documentary about the Ukraine Railway system. An upgraded number now has the number of evacuated folk fleeing invasion at nearly four million. There is of course no civilian air travel within the Ukraine, roads are impassable and so the rail system there is a prime weapon and defense supply line. The Russians bomb it incessantly and the Ukrainians make repairs with even more determination. Their skills have improved out of necessity. Jobs that once took a week can now be done overnight. It critically underscores the importance of a railway to any country and its regions.
There is an argument that Vancouver Island does not have a large enough population base to support a modern rail line. It has occurred to me that the single piece of infrastructure which became the foundation for the nation of Canada was our transcontinental railway. The population then was a mere fraction of our present and rapidly growing number of Canadians. Enough said. I’ve also sent a copy of this letter to our Provincial Transport Minister, Rob Fleming.
There are lots of snow photos in this blog. I’m trying to see the beauty. I’ll try to find new adventure for my next post.
I respond to your front-page story in today’s edition titled “First Nation says it’s end of the line for Island railway. ” Every progressive nation around the planet struggles to develop environmentally friendly modern railways in a bid to improve their infrastructure. Why do we need to continue this debate? Ukrainian Railways, for example, with over 19,000 kilometers of rail line, has been the life-saving implement in that country’s effort to defend itself. In the past year of it’s horrible invasion, nearly 4,000,000 people have been transported to safety and the network continues to be a prime supply artery.
On Vancouver Island, permission for the E&N Railway was provided to Robert Dunsmuir to help exploit the mineral and timber resources of this island. The Provincial Government of the time even provided funding to that MLA for the railway’s development. Now it lies abandoned, a bizarre story of nepotism, exploitation and gross mismanagement. To turn this valuable asset over to any regressive interest would be a poignant footnote to this saga of epic tragedy.
However: let’s look at our rail line in a positive light. Logging companies, over the past century, have built a macrame of rail grades over the entire island. It would be no great feat to extend the E&N railway all the way to the large population of Campbell River. Employment once required me to travel the Island Parkway (Itself viciously opposed at one time) in the small hours of early morning. That highway is very busy with traffic in both directs in the middle of the night. Where all those folks are going at all hours is a mystery, but people clearly need to travel. Consider a newly built electric rail line which would join Campbell River, Port Alberni, Nanaimo, and all points in between to Victoria, just think of the environmental sense. The passenger service would need to run at regular intervals of a few hours, going both ways, round the clock. Think of the relief to our ever busier highways and the simple savings of fossil fuel. Think green, act green. The cost of the rebuild would prove a wise investment.
A container port could be built near Port of Alberni with a direct rail link to mainland Canada via Nanaimo. Can you think of a better contingency plan in the event of the massive earthquake we anticipate? What an economic stimulus that would provide to Vancouver Island. Add a couple of steam-powered excursion trains for our tourist industry and develop a marine link on classic ships between Victoria and Port Alberni. Run the route both ways, it would soon be a world famous attraction. The possibilities are as limited as anyone’s imagination.
If we give away the existing remnant of our rail line, we will never have the opportunity to reclaim it. We are desperately overdue for this piece of basic infrastructure on Vancouver Island. It is essential for the future of our beloved island. I am a retired caucasian male heterosexual married man who has tried to earn a living in the resource industries of British Columbia. I understand I am part of a group we can call Canada’s “Last Nation,” but if this geezer can think out of the box, so can the rest of us. We just have to think of what we can achieve by working together. Special interest groups pulling against each other ultimately achieve nothing.
Even if you are on the right track you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers
This morning, while posting my daily Facebook blog, the app. showed my own mugshot to me and advised that this guy and I have nine mutual friends. OK? Lately, they’ve been sending out repeat friendship requests on my behalf to various facebook acquaintances. Interestingly, Facebook has no live complaint department a person can contact. Social media, oh yeah! I’m weary of young girls, and a few men, who want to show me their body parts and are declaring their profound love to this old stranger. I’ve unsubscribed from Facebook in disgust once before, which was a biblically complicated ordeal but I’m close to leaving again. I’d been persuaded that Facebook was the epicentre of social media and e-commerce. I needed to be there to further my interests. It’s the way things are done now. Well, I’ve seen no cheques. Haar! I’m losing interest. If this is indeed one of society’s prime fulcrums, we’re deep in the cack!
Perhaps I’m in an advanced state of cabin fever after a long, grey winter. Jill has been ill the whole time, we have tight funds and are restricted to a close-range dull existence. I am frustrated and yes, angry. I do find delight in events like multi-billion dollar jet fighter defense umbrellas being thwarted by simple balloons. I’ve found some fun in inventing scenarios like an explosion in a North Korean condom factory. A friend reminded me that during WWII Japan was successful in sending paper balloons with bombs to North America. Simple wins! So, when an F-69 blasts a carnival because some child lost their birthday balloon….. Yep, it’s crazy out there!
This last week has tipped my canoe. I am tired of feeling like a sub-species because I am an older man. I have lived my biblical span of three score and ten. To make things worse, I am a white male heterosexual, married to a woman for more than six months, and I have earned a living from different BC resource industries. Wot a loser! I have realized that I am a member of the “Last Nation.” Do I sound jaded? Bet yer arse Billy! I’m burned out from years of bashing and smashing myself up in the woods and at sea. That doesn’t compare with the thrashing you take from the squadrons of bureaucratic desk jockeys along the way who cavalierly try to control a person’s existence. I feel tossed out at a time when I have my best to offer. All those years of experience, developed skills and perspectives to pass on and I’m left to feel like a discarded fast-food wrapper blowing in the wind. I guess I never did learn to work clever instead of simply hard. Clever like a donkey. All I can do is try to make a difference with my writing and photography.
Now understand this, I refuse to regard people in terms of age, gender, race or social circumstance. Religion? Believe what you want, just do not try to impose it on me. Part of my spiritual dogma is tolerance, but don’t press your insecurity on me, just show me your better way. As one of my senior employees once told a snippy young government brown shirt, “ Son if I come over there and pull down yer pants, we’re gonna find a belly button and an arsehole just like the rest of us.” His message, in best Redneck eloquence, was that we’re all in this together and nobody is superior, or inferior, to anyone else; not if we’re all doing our best.
Twenty-three years ago I endured an accident and injury which required the installation of a dacron aorta and some other repairs to my heart. Doctors told me I’d never be able to go back to work as I had. The surgeon gave me twenty years to live but the bugger refused to sign a letter agreeing that a severe trauma was probably the cause of the injury. That gave license to WorkSafe BC to cock their leg on me despite all the other medical reports. The union was not inclined to take its feet off the desk and support the cause of one paying labour brother. At a time like that, you don’t have the berries to get up on your knees and fight for yourself. You need a little help. Life is not fair, I’ve made my own way and, for a while, have even gone back to the type of work I was advised to avoid. I’m not complaining although it’s damned tough to survive as a geezer with a tiny pension. Bought a cabbage lately?
What does piss me off is all the folks who seem to think the world owes them something for simply showing up and that the solution for their problems is to throw huge lumps of money their way. I’m damned tired of one ethnic group or another claiming discrimination because someone didn’t get a mortgage as expected, or a promotion at work or a political appointment. Fewer folks in this province now work in a resource-based industry, they don’t actually produce anything. Poking at a computer keyboard a few hours per week has nothing to do with the raw mass we eat and otherwise consume. I’m also fed up with some folks asking me to step aside and bend over because of their personal anomalies. If you choose to marry a duck, and have that bird’s mutual consent and affection, go for it. That’s your business, you don’t need to make it mine. We are all engineered to be heterosexual. That’s how you got to be here. If you have other gratifications, it is your business, not my obligation, to embrace. So, when are we going to have a heterosexual rights parade? We’re normal!
This is in a province that should be entirely self-sufficient in all ways. We should be exporting much, much more than we import. It seems to me that a lot of folks are very detached from basic reality and have ridiculous expectations. Not fitting into this new world order, and I don’t want to fit, leaves me feeling that I am a member of a group that is indeed a “Last Nation.” And to all of you self-appointed “environmentalists” who live somewhere in a multi-level condo within the biggest clear-cut in the province, commonly called the “Lower Mainland;” quit all your consuming and go learn something about what it is you say is so precious to you. Otherwise, go to hell. How’s that for politically correct?
Considering so many other places on the planet, we are all so very well off here. We’ve no real clue about suffering, deprivation and discrimination. So, when I hear from a group wanting to start a special appeal for funding research about women’s heart health, or someone complaining about not getting a mortgage because of their ethnic tone….Jeez Louise. REALLY? If staying alive meant accepting the implant of a black male pig heart, would you turn it down? You cannot have equal rights and special rights at the same time. I’m beginning to clearly understand the discrimination that seniors endure living in a condition towards which we all progress without choice. Just remember, don’t piss us off, we don’t have much left to lose! I worked hard to get here and I will not be dismissed as a minority.
I do worry about ending up in a hospital bed, plumbed with a macrame of tubes and wires, staring endlessly at a poo-brindle beige ceiling while waiting for the lights to go out and knowing I still had much more to give. I’ve been there; it’s horrible. I’d prefer to die in the saddle, trying to still do something positive and meaningful.
I refuse to watch those ridiculous TV wilderness survival unreality shows, but I’m wondering about one for not-so-sexy geezers doing the same sort of thing. Remember the story about the old bull and the young one? Upon discovering a herd of heifers, the young bull wanted to run over and make love to one. The old bull suggested that by walking over, they’d have enough energy to make love to them all. We could call the program the “Last Nation.”
In a few days, I’ll travel to Astoria, Oregon. For the first time since Covid reared its ugly head, we are meeting again in person. It is a gathering of professional mariners, especially fishermen, who write, read and sing some amazing material about their life at sea. Check out fisherpoets.org. Love to see you there, or have you listen on the various radio taps available.