Mystery leak(s) solved

Wasabi on the Grid

Wasabi on the Grid

Three holes in the boat!  NOT really big ones but a hole is a hole.  Hauled it.  Ground out the holes. ‘Glassed it.  Probably not fixed quite right.  Not really.  When you have a four hour window (tides in and out), it limits your working time, your f’iber-glassing set-up time, etc.

I used rapid set epoxy but adhesion is a problem.

And the whole damn schmozzle is a long way from your tools and supplies so all that has to be schlepped to the site first…down a cliff….along mud…over rocks.  Gensets weigh a helluva lot and they get heavier with elevation change. NOT fun. Necessary, but not optional and NOT fun.

No holes to be seen

No holes to be seen

But, it is done.

For awhile, anyway.  Wasabi is an old $500 boat (came with trailer, too) and it has seen it’s better days.  We are now seeing it’s worst.  It will have to go soon.  Too bad, really, the design is right. Seventeen feet, walk-thru windshield, powered nicely by my Honda 50.  It is ideal and would be even more ideal if it were in ‘restored’ condition but it is hard to restore something you are still using all the time.

So, I bought Aubergine, Wasabi’s twin sister almost a year ago.  She is still not here yet but stored nearby in the forest on the other island.  No one will steal it.  Aubergine was only $300 (included trailer) and it is in worse shape but, if Wasabi can keep on keeping on for say, another year (at my pace), I can haul Aubergine, do a little marine surgery and then retire Wasabi to that great boat graveyard that, actually, does not exist.

That’s why there are so many old boats sitting in yards.  No real dump for them.

In the US, they just abandon them somewhere.  In increasing numbers, too.  And some of the abandoned vessels are huge.  Seventy five footers laying in the swamps of Louisiana after Katrina, other boats just littering areas, sinking in shallow waters.  Florida is awash with them. There is a lot of marina junk out there.

We have a similar problem in the Gulf of Georgia but not as bad.  Still, there are committees all over the coast clucking and fretting over it.  Meetings being held.  Money being spent doing nothing.  We’ll eventually get enough of a problem that a grant will be issued and some guys with chainsaws will do the work.  But not before huge wastes of time in meetings first.

What a system!

I may….may…perhaps…..unlikely but there is a remote possibility…..actually ‘spring’ for a good boat…..maybe…….I doubt it….but, maybe.  Someday.  Ideally, I will find a 17 or 18 foot boat, mostly ‘open’ that has some driver protection like a console that has a great hull…..

……maybe.

I doubt it.

“I want it by next weekend”

And so it was that my nearest neighbour set the schedule for the

Remains of old grid

Remains of old grid

building of the new boat grid we would share.

I laughed it off, of course.  I was still resting from the day’s wood gathering.  “Ha ha….yeah…sure…ha, ha…..OK…….you serious?”

“So serious, I want to start tomorrow.”

“Oh, right!  Yeah!  Me, too.  No time like the present, eh?  Ooh…this will be good.  Lots of fun.  This is great.  Tomorrow, you say?  Early?”  (He may have missed my sarcasm.)  

(Maybe not).  “Got a problem with that…?  Wanna start NOW?”

So the next day we started to build the grid.  He and I are a bit weird, at times.  Timing, I mean.  I walked down the hill to the lagoon building site at exactly the same time as he did. We’ve done that a few times.  It’s like some kind of weird in-sync mutual inner clock.

J and David's work prior to final assembly

J and David’s work prior to final assembly

We looked at the salvaged material sprinkled about all over the surrounding acre and discussed various options as to method, design, what-goes-where and who-does-what, that kind of thing, but it’s essentially for nought.

Hardware from David's stock of junque

Hardware from David’s stock of junque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We do one thing and it basically leads to the next and, after a few minutes, we are, for the most part working in sync with logic’s plan.  Mind you, my tempo is half what his is, so I am bass, he is treble.  I do one thing while he does two but that rhythm keeps going until we are done.

And, after a few hours, we were almost done when I wanted to quit.

“Yeah, OK.  Me, too.  I am tired, too.  We can quit.  But, just before we do, why not…let’s just…lever, push and pull and carry it to the water’s edge and then it will launch easier.”

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Sally having fun working in the mud

To say ‘No.  I want to go home now!’ is much too wimpy, even for me, so I agreed and we spent the next half hour doing just that.  It launched like an upside down table.  It was a beauty.  While I trudged home, neighbour guy used his skiff to pull it all out into the lagoon and tied the assembly to an anchor.

 

 


“I’ll get Sal to put the cross beams on tomorrow,”
I shouted back at him as I crawled towards home.  The beams weigh hundreds of pounds.

David positioning final beam

David positioning final beam

 

And, the next morning, Sal and I went about doing just that.  We now have a beeeooooooootttyfulllllllll old creosoted, salvaged-from-junk, flotsam and jetsam tidal grid that Sal opines will hold a small ferry.  ‘Course, she exaggerates but it will definitely hold the boats we have around here.

 

 

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Done!

A day in the life……..

Update: Sal and I have been gettin’ in the wood these past few days.  Firewood.  We have not had to do much in the way of stocking the woodpile these past few years.  We’ve had it easy.  We’ve gotten soft.  Especially Sal (but I like that in a woman, personally).

We were away for the winter for a couple of the past few years, the house is well insulated and, of course, we get the heating benefits of global warming. The three or four cords we had in the wood shed served us for the better part of four years.  But this year, staying put, we pounded through the back half of it and so it was time to get back into the swing of things.

As the days go by, we generally keep an eye out for a good ‘floater’, a log that sits high in the water and looks generally knot free.  Potential heat.  We like the little ones – between 8 and 12 inches in diameter.  Easier to manage for us.  Don’t forget, we have to drag ’em up the hill on the highline, then drag ’em across the top of our property to pile up in the pile-up place.  Then they sit there until we have enough – 30 or 40 twelve-foot lengths – or, in some years we had to get on with it whether we had enough or not.  Usually we have enough to warrant the effort. Over the past few years, we had acquired the thirty or so logs and now we were gettin’ on with it.

Funny how age compensates for less energy……..now we double-thought and stewed about the process a bit more and did a few minor changes to our ‘system’ and then started up a’workin’ a few days ago.  A little different system.  A few efficiency moves…….

“God!  At this rate, we will still take ten or twelve days to get it all in.”

“Well, we are doin’ good.  The first day is always slow.  We can pick it up to a full row a day, I am sure.”

That’s my point.  We need twelve rows!”

“Right!  Quit yer lollygaggin’, then.  Let’s get on this!”

Today we put in the 11th row.  We only have one more to do.  We’ll finish it tomorrow.  We did good.  And so we are good.  The wood shed is full.

“Dave, one row doesn’t seem like a lot?”

It’s not.  One piece of split-wood, the row is 12 feet long and eight feet high.  That is the sad part.  One row is half a cord maybe a quarter…something like that.   If we worked hard, we could do one cord a day.  Maybe two.  But we don’t work hard.  We work hard for two hours.  Maybe three.  Then we have tea. That’s the day.  That’s the hard part of the day, anyway.  There is a great deal more to our day but the hard part is now quite limited.

It used to be four hours of hard work but, if we have a choice, it is now two.  We don’t always have a choice so four and even 6 hour days are not uncommon but they are usually not the ‘lifting logs’ and wheel-barrowing wood kind of days.  As a rule.  Typically, we can do a four or six hour day and be tired out but, to be honest, nothing all that heavy or difficult is undertaken. It is usually just the time spent.  Like making dinner, writing the blog/book, fielding calls, sharpening stuff, working on the motorbike….nothing that breaks a sweat.

Side note: motorbike improvement.  Clutch NOW works.   

But, when we lift logs, haul rocks, carry heavy steel crap back and forth or do carpentry or something, our work output is somewhat diminished.  The good part?  Well, we are better at doing that sort of thing nowadays.  So, despite NOT doing too much of it, we actually still get stuff done.

As soon as this is done, we have to build a large BOAT crib out of old creosoted logs we salvaged.  My boat is leaking.  But the old crib collapsed.  Time for a new one.  Quickly.

I’m gonna hafta get Sal on it.

Democracy as it is currently managed is headed for conflict

We can all vote and most of us do.  And, I suppose, that’s a good thing.  Democracy. Wahoo.  But, bear this in mind; 10 million people CAN be wrong and, if you had any doubts, look south of the border.  10 million people supporting Trump ARE wrong.  But they are doing it mostly because they are angry.  So, this is a bit of a revolution by the blue-collar poor, no?

Trump has emerged as the dark horse and, for that alone, he has to be admired.  And, on the surface, he did it is his way.  He LOOKS like a revolutionary.  He has the hair.

Or is he?  Democracy now needs dough to work.  Seems you can hardly get elected dog-catcher in the US without a wad of cash behind you and so Democracy as it is currently practiced is really like Thoroughbred racing. Appaloosas, Bays, Roans, draft and 1/4 horses need not apply.   The race is reserved for those ‘thoroughbreds’ with big money behind them.  Trump may be an outside breeder but he is a breeder nevertheless.

It’s the same for all politicians.

But why would BIG DOUGH be so willing to support politicians at such a high level?  Only because supported politicians give back to BIG DOUGH so that BIG DOUGH gets bigger. And the ‘bought’ politicians do it in the form of contracts and NON enforcement of laws, regulations and monitoring.  EXACTLY as the Auditor General of BC said of the ministry of mines just last week.  Exactly as BC Hydro is being eaten out from the centre by corruption and exactly as highways and tunnels and bridges have done so for all the favourite horses in the government’s stable.

BC is corrupt.  The Auditor General said so.

Most people already know this but they continue to vote for the ideals espoused by party-marketers but which are NOT in the least present in the party getting their vote.  Why are we so stupid? TRUMP: “I am going to make America great again!”  People believe that!? Christy Clark: “We are the government for the nurturing of family and children!”. People believe that?”

But this blog is not about just another political rant.  It is about the funding of elections and politicians.  The more expensive democracy is, the more corrupt it becomes.  The more it costs a politician to get a vote, the more that politician owes the vote-getter.  We have corrupted our own system by making it too expensive for anyone but the ‘thoroughbreds’ to participate in it.

Capitalism corrupted it.

Now, take a breath….for just a minute……and think about it..….we are a society committed to Capitalism.  And we are a society committed to Democracy.  In effect, we are a committed to two incompatible ideals.  Unless there is a fire-wall separation of the two, in a formal and enforceable way, one will corrupt the other.  It always does.

If the people really had the power, they would take the BIG DOUGH away from the less than .001% so even Democracy, if it had power, would destabilize the society.  ‘Course ‘the people rarely get that chance to take the capital away.  Capital would flee.  It does all the time.  As it stands, capital has the edge.  It usually does.  Capital used to be less mobile than labour but they have fixed that.  Capital is now quick-like-bunny to run and hide.  They keep their capital liquid.

With all the stealth wealth on one side of the scales and all the increasing numbers of less mobile poor on the other, capital is making more people poor labourers (enslaving labour to house purchasing was a smart tactic by banks/capital.  That made the suckers less mobile) rather than allowing a portion to make it up the ladder to middle class or even a few making it to upper class. The inequality of wealth distribution is so out of balance now, anyone can be bought.

For anything.

Capital rules.

That attracts people like Trump.  But it always has.  The elites know how to buy power and they have done so for decades.  The last time the people had any power, it really was by way of the union movements and they squandered their power then by becoming corrupt, too.

The next time people wanted power but didn’t want to be corrupted, they went Flower-power….a weak but effective eschewing of money for health, beauty and love. And, as weak as Flower-power was, it impacted the society and the boomers went hippy. Many opted out. The 60’s and 70’s were real.

Adam Smith stated that the economy worked on capital and labour getting together.  But getting together on some kind of equal basis.  If labour is SLAVE labour, that ain’t ‘getting together’. And that is where we are quickly heading.  I think we are already there but I have an exaggerated sense of freedom so I reacted badly a long time ago and, like petulant, paranoid, sensitive-to-change-and-threatened capital, I flew quickly from the situation.

I figured, if Capital can flee, so can this dumb labourer.  So, I flew.

The point is: Capital and labour cannot be so out of balance.  But it is.  And that portends of conflict.  The inequality is HUGE and getting huger.  Does that mean the conflict will be huge?  Or simply prompt a huge exodus?  And, if it is fleeing that is the option chosen by the slaves, where do they go?  Nobody is parting the Red Sea these days.

Even with the loss of the Panama/Bahamian/Isle of Man/Swiss havens, Capital will always be welcome.  Anywhere.  But the poor?  No one wants the poor, the tired and the huddled masses anymore.

Stop and smell the wood

Sal and I have been getting in the winter wood the last two days.  I buck the rounds, Sal wheelbarrows them to the wood shed and then we split ’em and stack ’em.  We have the system down pretty pat.

The really interesting thing (for us) is that we brought the logs up the hill over the last two years until we had a pile and then left them there, all higgly-piggly in a heap off to the side. Off the ground, tho.  The theory was that they would dry.

Of course, a log doesn’t dry like stacked wood does but it turns out that the theory was right. After two years, the logs were pretty dry.  We are stacking just-split wood that is 90% as dry as it will get. It is already quite burnable.  We had half a woodshed stacked anyway so the wood in it is already three years dry and the new stuff won’t be touched for likely two years or more so we are good to go.  We are now at the point that we only have to ‘do’ the wood every other year.

Which is good.  Because I am getting sore.  For me, it is my lower back.  Poor me.  Sal? “Nothing.  I am good.  Nothing sore.  Good to go.”

The woman is a rock.

Two young men came by today to take away one of our boats.  I sold them the old Surf. Great boat.  I will never use it now.  I have Wasabi and Aubergine.  They will put to good use the old Surf.  It is like a mini barge.  Great for carrying stuff.

I look at them…early thirties….setting up life off the grid….working up north…..working long hours, making cash and getting time off to spend on building their dream.  They will do one guy’s site work first.  Then the other guy gets a hand doing his.  Bloody bril.  No condo. No Starbucks.  But they have work trucks, D has a big backhoe.  They have boats.  They have tools.  They have skills.  And they work a lot.  Did I mention they are in the early thirties?

Their ride is just beginning. My back is sore after two days.

But that is OK.  Sore back?  So what!  It still works.  We still work.  Work gets done.  We are good.  And, even better…?  After four more days we will have the woodshed all full again and a day after that my back will feel fine.  Sal?  She’ll be quilting like hell to make up for lost time.

But, back to the blog title….I kinda went off on a tangent……sorry….

Sal and I are working away like the efficient duo we are.  Sal stops.  “What kind of wood is this?  It smells nice.  Here, take a smell” 

“Hmmm……..smells like Cedar but looks like Fir.  Could be Yellow Cedar….. ‘cept this is more pinkish, ya know?”

“Yeah.  Probably Yellow Cedar.  You know, we really should take time to stop and smell the wood now and then.”

Sal used to stop and smell the roses.  Now she stops and smells the wood we chop.  I stop and just wonder about how our life has changed.  I like it.

 

 

No consolations necessary…seriously…(sob)

OUR LIFE OFF THE GRID did not make the Stephen Leacock shortlist.  And, yes, we are a smidge disappointed.  But not too much.  Fame was only briefly within our grasp.  I was counting groupies before they hatched.  I think Sal was, too.  Boo hoo.

But no consoling needed.  Thank you in advance for such thoughts (I know you guys). We are still happy with what we achieved.  Ecstatic.  Getting that far was a huge surprise.  We are very pleased with that.  Still surprised too, actually.  We might even award ourselves extra chocolate (for Sal) and scotch for me anyway. I think she is funny.

I mention this to you only because we told you we were in the running.  Seems only fair to report the outcome.

Writing won’t stop.  You know that.  This was not even a bump in the road.  It was merely a beautiful distraction, like a wild rose bush blooming in the desert as we drive by at 100 miles an hour.  A blink, a delightful one, but still a blink by any other name.

Is assisted suicide legal yet?

 

Apocalyptic

That is the word being used to describe the wildfires destroying Fort McMurray.  There’s a tragedy underway in that northern city and it is unprecedented.  “The largest insurance claim in Canadian history is in the making.”

I feel for those people.  Disaster is always unfair and devastating on a personal level as well as at the perceived bigger picture level portrayed by the pictures and the reporting. They figure to lose $9 billion dollars in infrastructure if this fire continues but, of course, no one person loses that.  Single people and families lose all that they have instead. Corporate loss is insured.  Personal devastation is the real story.

Sadly, I am not so sure we should be surprised.  Surprised that it was Fort Mac, perhaps. But ‘global’ and ‘horrific’ and ‘devastating’ are words we have come to know more frequently these past few decades.  From terrorism, to mass migrations, from ice sheet disappearance to forest ‘bug’ infestation.  We have had Katrina, we have had significant flooding all over, we have experienced Fukishima and the Tsunami of Sumatra in 2004. China is polluted.  Droughts are evident and imminent everywhere.  Wildfires are now burning where snow used to be still melting.  The planet is acting up.

Up here, the planet may NOT have dealt us a devastating blow but there are some weird things to report.  Spring came at least six weeks early.  We hit 29 degrees Celsius a few weeks back in April.  We have had a Red tide in effect for the last few weeks and that NEVER used to happen so early or for so long.  The prawns came and went in record time. Our local climate has changed.  Maybe NOT for good.  Maybe NOT for long.  But it HAS changed.  And, of course, the last fifteen years have been the hottest on record worldwide.

How does climate change show up for urbanites?  More hot days.  More sun?  Maybe more AC installations?  One of my friends has spent hundreds maybe thousands of dollars on his lawn, first because the lawn was infested with bugs and then because of tighter watering restrictions in his municipality required him to install a complicated and expensive water metering system.  It’s an issue but NOT a huge one.  The city is somewhat less sensitive to the environment even if the people are not.

It all reminds me of the frog in the pot of water.  If you drop a frog in a pot of hot water, it jumps out.  But if you put him in a pot of cold water and heat it, he will sit there and cook.

It shouldn’t remind me of that story because the frog had a choice.  He exercised that choice when he could feel the problem clearly but he failed to exercise that choice when the problem sneaked up on him.  But he had one.  When the whole world heats up, you might know it, you might not.  But do you have a choice?

If the north is burning up, the deserts are expanding, the lower latitudes disgorging millions of refugees and nowhere seems immune, do you have a choice as to where to live, thrive and survive?

Maybe not.

I am surprised………

………….it has been a long time since a blog post got no response whatsoever.  Not one!  Ageing batteries….?  Rotating them?  This does not spark ANY interest for you?  Sheesh……..my jaded audience………….

“I was laid out flat and more than stunned.  My clothes were smokin’.  I had just been ‘flashed’ by a gazillion amps at 48 volts.  I had been zapped!  My friend was shaking and hyperventilating. One of the batteries slumped in a melted heap. The screwdriver that caused the arc to happen was a blob.  Man, oh man, ya gotta be careful around 700 amps of juice trying to jump out of the box.  Thank God my screwdriver had a thick plastic handle or I may not be here to tell the tale.”

Better now?

Well, that little one-paragraph story above is not true.  It was an uneventful rotating of batteries.  But I will lay it on thick if I have to.  

Got your attention now?

So, here’s what’s on my mind today: as you know, we are onto book two.  Haven’t been able to quite capture any magic yet.  It has some interest but no ‘spark’ so we are workin’ on it….may take awhile.

In the meantime, I have gone back to read some of the ‘comments’ and ‘reviews’ and ‘critiques’ of the first book.  Responding to those criticisms prompted the book-two effort in the first place but, to be honest, I just started writing and did not actually refer back to any specific criticism except, maybe, to some of the readers who wanted more in the way of HOW-TO.

And, since we still don’t know how-to very well, I was not doing much in the way of responding to that….

But after reading them again in detail, I re-discovered some vehement responses that were bitter in nature.  Angry.  People being kinda mean.  And the gist of their comments was, “They must have been rich.  It is easy to buy waterfront property if you are rich.”  OR “They use gasoline and buy food.  They are NOT off-the-grid.”

………..and such stuff.

It was odd how a story about two people struggling to have an adventure would annoy some other people.  Don’t you think?

And so, I will respond to some of that in book 2 but I wanted to say something about those mean comments here first.

The definition of living off the grid does not require one to be a mountain man or a Cougar Annie.  You do NOT have to be isolated, independent, self sustaining or primitive, brutal and dirty.  The image of the OTG’er as living like a savage in a drafty, log-hewn, moss-covered dump with a pack of mangy dogs for company is old fashioned at best and most likely a myth even when it was closer to the truth.  Some people lived like that back in the day when their larger society was also pumping water by hand and using outhouses.  You can always find stories of old-time homesteaders roughing it in wattle-and-daub dumps. But the key word in that sentence is ‘old-time’.

It’s not that way anymore.

Living OTG can, of course, be basic and minimalist.  Even downright hill-billy, if you want it to be. There is virtually no limit to scaling down.  But Denny Washington lives up here (one of the richest people on the planet) and so does the actress, Michelle Pfieffer (seasonally). They live rather well, if you must know.  Helicopters and all. But the vast majority are middle-class types with skill and ingenuity making up where income might otherwise be considered insufficient. They live rather well, too.

Seriously, I would guess that the median income up here is less than $36,000 per year but the lifestyle enjoyed could not be duplicated without over $100,000 a year or more in salary in the city.  The difference: they do a lot for themselves and more and more they are doing what urban people now have to pay for, like home maintenance.  Like going fishing or gathering oysters.  Like whale watching.  Gardening. The point: OTG lifestyle is better than the income would suggest.

So, when people suggest that we are somehow spoiled and privileged, they are right.  We think so, too.  The difference in the meaning, however, is that we are NOW spoiled and privileged because we live here and do this.  We did not COME that way.

And everyone is invited (not here, mind you, but Canada is big.  Go find a place.)

 

Ageing*….batteries this time…

 

*Aging or Ageing?  Both seem to ‘fly’.  Dictionary gives them both equal time….?

We have 12 batteries in 3 separate groups.  They are all of the same size and age and each group makes up a 200/210 amp hour ‘pack’.  So the three packs give me 600 ah. Maybe 630.   My alternative energy friend, Mike made some discrete queries regarding the state of my system and then politely suggested that he come by and help me rotate them.

“Rotate them?”

“Yeah.  Rotating ’em stretches their working life.  It’s a good thing to do.”

“Splain that, dawg.  What does the rotation look like?”

“Well, imagine these four batteries lined up in a square.  They are then marked numerically say 1, 2, 3 and four and so are the spots they are in. Clockwise.  We will rotate their positions beginning with number one down here at 7 or 8 o’clock and going around til we get to the one here (pointing) and that’s number four.  We mark ’em and then take the bank apart and make sure that all the batteries are put back into the same group but in different places.  In this case, they will be 3, 4, 1 then two.  Repeat for the other two banks.”

“Well, I am in to this shuffle if you say so but what is the logic?  Seems we are just moving batteries around. Given that they all make up a 48 volt pack battery, what difference can moving them around make?”

“No Idea.  But it works.  Batteries are weird, man.  It’s like the juice comes in and the juice goes out but the middle batteries do not get their share or something.  So, ya gotta mix ’em up to get the most out of all the batteries.  Don’t ask me, man.  All I know is that it works.”

So, we did it.  We mixed them up.  We took them all apart one group at a time and cleaned every terminal and did other minor ‘battery fuss’ and then rotated them.  Then we put ’em back.  Took the afternoon to do it.  Half my batteries are up at waist level (brilliant) and half of them are under that level on the floor (stupid).  Getting at huge black batteries on the floor in the back of the closet is awkward and heavy going.  Each battery weighs 160 pounds.  But, working together, it was easy.

“I think these are 250 amp hour batteries, Dave.  With three sets, you have 750 amp hours of batteries, dawg!  That’s some serious juice, man!”

“I am pretty sure they were sold to me as 210 maybe 220 amp hour batteries.  I rounded down in my head – to 200.  So, I have been figuring 600 and I thought that a smidge light. But if they are 250’s then that’s 750 amp hours and that would be great.  Mind you, they are all five years old so they are on their latter days.”

“Gonna cost you more than $6,000 to replace these.  More if you go with Surrette or Discovery.  But they may see you out.”

“I know.  That’s how I plan these days.  Can I get something now to ‘see me out’?  Grim, eh?  I used to only look at inch thick stainless steel fittings to see me out but now I am asking for the warranty on clear plastic roofing.  It’s all relative.  Another decade and it’s green bananas and hard avocados.  Mind you, working with a gazillion amps of batteries like this and I could easily be seen out prematurely so it’s all moot, really.”

 

 

Aging*

 

*Aging or Ageing?  Both seem to ‘fly’.  Dictionary gives them both equal time….?

“So, Doc, I think I am fine.  Kinda.  I got complaints but, well, I have no idea if I am unwell, sick, lame, dying or just plain getting old.  Seriously.  It’s confusing.  Maybe I am demented?  I have never been old before so I have no idea how to factor the age variable into the equation.  Am I tiring easily ’cause I got Ebola or because I got 68 long miles under me?”

“Yeah.  I know what you mean.”

“So, then, what is the answer?  Am I just gettin’ on or do I need to have something internal taken out or more chemicals and drugs pumped in?  Wazzup?”

“Dunno.  We can run some blood tests, I guess.  That always says something.”

“But nothing definitive…..”

“No.  Nothing definitive.”

“So, it’s probably just age?”

“Probably…..how confused are you?”

“Depends on the topic.  On this, I am clueless.  But I can still remember the cast of the Honeymooners.  I can almost recite all of Clint Eastwood’s movies.  I make great sushi. But technical books now just bore me.  So does much of what passes for entertainment too.  And, God help me, I am not looking at pretty girls anymore.  I don’t even see them!  I must be doomed.”

“Well, we can pump in some steroids and hormones if that’s the issue.”

“No.  Better not do that.  I am grouchy enough as it is.  And Sal would kill me if she thought I was trying to cling to any remnants of macho.”

“Well, then, it was good to see you.  Anything else I can do for you?”

“Yeah.  Here’s your propeller.”

“My propeller….?  What are you doing with my propeller?”

“I was in the propeller shop getting my own repaired.  Looked around.  Saw yours on the shelf.  Had your name on it.  I knew I would see you today, so I picked it up for you. Maybe saved you a trip to town?”

“Well, there’s nothing wrong with your mind, that’s for sure.”

“Don’t be so sure.  I had it tied to my jacket for the last few hours so I didn’t forget to give it to you”.