I have a friend. Surprising perhaps, but actually, yes I have a few. I’ve always reckoned that if someone claims to have lots of friends, they may well have none. Perhaps acquaintances are considered friends by some, but you find out quickly whom your true friends are and who are not when the chips are down. You need to be relied on at all costs, and vice versa. I have a few of those and of course they have me.
Jimmy is a buddy whom I have known over forty years. Anyone who can put up with me for that long is worth keeping in touch with. He’s also the same age I am and tonight as I write he’s setting up his tent somewhere in Northern Yukon. From here I can hear the whine and bump of bugs outside the thin fabric as he settles down to rest from a long day and recharges for the next one ahead. An avid and seasoned motorcycle dude, he has ridden his Suzuki DR650 toward Tuktoyuktuk.
Once he’s had a sip of Arctic Ocean he’ll turn southward to return home to Ladner, an entire trip intended to be completed in six weeks. Phew, there’ll be no moss on his wheels! You’ve seen other folks making videos about similar feats, but Jimmy and I are the same age. We’re firmly into our seventies. He has previously ridden a motorcycle all over the continent and also sailed several boats all over the Pacific. You can’t keep a good man down and…there’s a lovely wife who provides him with excellent ground support; long-suffering Donna.
I’ve been following Jimmys progress on Goggle Earth. Donna sends me his position on SPOT and I survey where he is. Tonight his wee tent is set up about fifty feet from a huge bear pile, right behind a blueberry bush. His next town will be Dawson City. I’ve noticed that just to the north is the place name of Off Leash Dog Park. In all of that vast wilderness that’s got to be the town for me!
As a young man I was deeply inspired by Francis Chichester, an Englishman in his mid-seventies who incidentally also had cancer. He had already become famous with global exploits in his tiny Tiger Moth biplane. Now in a newly-commissioned huge and hard-to-sail yawl he sailed off to go around the planet once again. Crews of younger men have since tried to re-create parts of the original voyage in that same boat. It beat them down until they had to head for port. It’s clearly all about attitude. I’m afraid mine is terrible at the moment. I don’t want to discuss issues here but I do want to thank the inspiration of folks like my friend Jimmy. My sense of mission in life is to create a little light in other people’s eyes. You’ve certainly done that for me amigo. Thanks!
By strange coincidence I stumbled on a YouTube video about a 94 year old man who still rides his fleet of Triumph motorcycles. He began racing Triumphs in 1952 (The year I was born) and became known as ‘Fast Eddie’. So he’s been riding all my life and is still going strong although he can barely walk out to his barn full of kick-start motorcycles. Inspiring!
There is no glory in vicarious adventure. No-one will ever be recognized for what they watched on television. You’ve got to get out there on your own and light your own little star. I can also state from personal experience that often there is a quiet courage in the business of simple daily living. As I get older and my body decomposes while yet I breath, like everyone else, I endure physical pain as well as the guilt and frustration about all the things I could have done differently. There is great anxiety about not being able to do what I want due to lack of funds. Still there are people who make excuses and those who get things done. The two seldom mix.
There are a lot of folks my age and younger in a similar situation. Trying to make it through the month on a tiny pension without ending up a little further in debt is an acheivement now. Bought a cabbage lately?
Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for the ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.” ― Sam Ewing
Nothing at all. That’s what I’m doing. It’s hard. The surf thunders on the beach beneath a cloudless sky. The long crescent of sand and shingle is miles long and we have it nearly all to ourselves. We are backed up to the driftwood at the top of foreshore at the Pacheedaht First Nations Campground near Port Renfrew. It looks out on the bay known as Port San Juan. Only a two hour drive from home we are in a different world here on the opposite side of the island. The sea air from the open ocean and the sweeping view are bliss.
Port San Juan looks directly across the mouth of Juan de Fuca Strait to Cape Flattery and then the entire Pacific Ocean. That is the Northwestern tip of the State of Worshington (As they say) and also that of continental US. Last night, just on the horizon I could see the instantly familiar rhythm of the Cape Flattery Light, on Tattosh Island which marks the gateway in and out of the straight. Considering the strong tides, it is perhaps more of a hinge to that long and deadly gate. This is an area known as the Graveyard of the Pacific where the bones of ships are littered, on average one per mile. I could see radio tower lights on the ridge above Neah Bay and the twinkle of stars overhead. An outbound deep sea vessel shows her green starboard light.
Tonight in this bay moonlight from a gibbous moon sparkles on the waves. A cold west wind subsided as the day’s warmth faded but I relished the heat of my small campfire. Of course I ached to be back out on the ocean, where I feel truly at home. I’ve anchored boats here when a trip along the outside of Vancouver Island met opposing tides and winds and seeking shelter here made sense. It is a rolly place to sit on the end of an anchor chain but the only option in consideration of the thrashing a boat would take out on the open sea. Being here now on the beach with my wife and two little dogs is enviable, especially in mid-week. This place is a mecca for surfers who come in droves and party hardy through the night. When the surf is right in the daytime they don neoprene suits and hone their skills in the bitter cold waters. They’re still working at the office in the city at the moment.
This certainly beats hell out of the small town environment and the strata-titled patio home where we live. That tedium and mediocrity is a fate worse than death. It is also the first time since Jill’s horrible health ordeal that she has been able to get out away from home base. THAT is something to celebrate. She is cold, cold, cold and I’ve given her one of my old fat boy shirts, which seems to help against the chill sea wind. We listen to the pulsing rhythm of the surf angling along the beach, there is a clatter of round hard stones which are first cast up the sloping sand then drawn back down; a grinding and polishing routine that is eternal. Sleep comes easily.
Morning comes sweetly and a day without an agenda unfurls before us in the rising wind. Campers leave, others arrive. It’s a campground after all. There is a field of monstrous logs and stumps cast up beyond the beach. The debris is scattered thickly for over a mile, a testament to the incredible power of winter storms at high tide. It would be a wonderland for children with all those spots and niches to hide and explore; a nightmare for parents trying to find their wee ones again. And there are goggles of sticks and stones for creative young minds to play with, no batteries required. What a place for children to roam, especially the city-bound, adults too! Down the beach someone flies a kite.
Despite the incredible ocean panorama most campers settle in by shutting their Rv window blinds shortly after arriving. I can’t understand but it’s none of my business. Then a young couple arrives in a small car which bounds over the bumps and huge potholes. They soon claim the furthest picnic table and strip down to skimpy bathing costumes despite the shrill chill wind. Minutes later my old eyes see these two enjoying a vigourous round of rumpy bumby up on the table. Despite the privacy of all those logs, where they could indulge in hours of afternoon delight, they are having sex on stage. I understand some folks find thrills in being exhibitionists. Part of me is a little jealous, part of me wants to find a big stick. I’m no prude but there are children on the beach as well as others who must find such stray-dog behaviour offensive. In the end, their hormones assuaged, they leave as quickly as they arrived. The surf rolls on.
Just before sundown, a burly bicycle trekker arrives wearing a huge flourescent jacket. She transports huge bags of gear and I wonder what possesses folks to indulge in such an ambition. I’ve done remarkable things alone in sailing boats and in tiny airplanes and I’d like to do a few wee trips on a motorcycle, but a bicycle! I’d rather walk and hitch hike but then who in the hell would stop and pick up the likes of me. They’d have to be more nutters than I am. This bicycle lady expertly erected a bell tent and disappeared inside. She was gone at first light.
As darkness falls a convoy arrives, parking trailers and motorhomes in a circle, pitching tents all around where their dogs roam free. The little community settles in for a serious party, but they’re quieter than expected. Sleep comes easily. Then one great farting Harley Davidson motorcycle arrives, touring slowly past each camping spot, looking for someone. I start thinking of that big stick again. Later, after midnight, I’m awakened again by brilliant white lights slashing into our quietude. Someone next door is out there at 01:30 erecting a tent and using their hiking headlamps. They mean no harm, they just want to sleep but their lights are annoying and so I lay listening to the surf until its zen rhytmn fades my senses into peaceful sleep; finally.
Next morning we return home on the same route through the abandoned remains of raped first growth forest. I used to travel this road before it was paved. One would follow as closely as they dared behind a massively loaded off-highway truck. The dust would billow biblically and fist-sized rocks would be flung up from the tires of the behemoth vehicles. Other vehicles would emerge out of the dust and appear in the rearview mirror. It could be terrifying. It was my first practical use for air-conditioning which pressurized my vehicle against the ingress of smothering dust. Now that it is paved the road is bliss although dips and twists make it a different sort of challenge to navigate. Morons in vehicles, both locals and transients, travel far too fast for the road surface and don’t understand why they should stay on the right hand side of the road. So, in a new way, the road can still be terrifying. The surrounding forest is the collateral damage left after the original timber were systematically levelled about a century ago. That decimation continues, now often in stands of second-growth which arose on their own, without any help, only to be cut down again.
Our forest industry has become a complicated issue. Many factions each demand to be given control of our vast forestlands. Few seem to know what the hell they’re really yelling about. Within less than two centuries we have managed to obliterate much of the original forests we marched into. We did it with the spirit of men who posed proudly beside the massive stumps they would leave behind as monuments to an age when making daylight in the swamp was a good thing. It is pathetic that so much of that resource, and its wealth, have been squandered at the hands of men who have probably never held an axe, let alone used one. A group has rallied against the logging-off a remaining stand of original timber at Fairy Creek. I don’t agree with all of their perspectives but what little is left of those pristine groves must be left in their natural state. They hold a value beyond anything monetary. So says someone who spent much of his life involved with various aspects of logging.
There is one remaining spruce tree along the roadside. Not all the old forest was comprised of trees nearly so big but it was certainly not the tangled mass of windfalls and thick debris left behind by loggers. It is excellent fodder for fire and at the moment a hard to fight conflagration has closed the road to Port Alberni. Traffic from the far side of the island is being re-routed along rough logging roads into the Cowichan Valley and back to paved roads and civilization. I can only imagine the urbane sensibilities of folks trying to navigate a rough, dusty, rocky trail in a huge Rv while dodging other Rvs and logging traffic. Hopefully no-one chucks their cigar butt, or joint, out the window.
“Forests may be gorgeous but there is nothing more alive than a tree that learns how to grow in a cemetery.”
― Andrea Gibson
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.