Greens..can’t live with ’em………can’t live anywhere else

I’m a Green.  I really have no choice.  Being at the virtual birth of GreenPeace (Bob Hunter’s boat was right across from mine in False Creek back in the very early 70’s. Talked with Paul Watson, Patrick Moore and a few others now and then but as a neighbour only), being now so pure of heart living OTG and loving Gaia, my political stance is pretty much pre-determined.  Earth first.

Especially since I have tried all the other parties at one time or another and found them all extremely wanting in even basic manners, ethics and good intention.

Having said that, I have been a harsh critic of the Green party ever since I joined it back in the day.  Nincompoops.  They seem to be naive, silly, unfocused and, strangely, somewhat elitist.  It sounds odd, but they are loathe to listen to the public and even most of their own members (maybe it is just me) and the party, tho uniquely democratic in so many ways, is usually deaf to input from the hoi polloi – especially if it is about economics.

Which, in light of the latest debacle, seems odd but it isn’t.  It seems a narrow, single-interest group timed their late-submitted proposition to boycott Israel to the then-dissolving Green party forum and, by employing Saul Alinsky tactics, kinda hijacked the platform.  Or so I gather….

Politics is an ugly business and, it seems, the Greens play in the mud as well.  Well, maybe better put; they got played by the mud this time.

But in a normal political party, that ploy would never have worked.  All the parties I have been involved in are run by a slightly mad power group and there is little tolerance for ‘revolutionaries’ in any of the parties.  Political structure-wise, all parties are conservative and rigid.  “Follow the rules, toe the line, be blindly loyal, do as you are told” .  That is the basic operating rule of thumb and the most egregious offender/defender of that faith I ever encountered was the Reform Party – later (d)evolved to the Harper Conservatives.

When I considered running for the then new Reform Party, they promised in their WRITTEN political platform a plank that stated the MP would first represent their constituents and secondly, their own conscience. Loyalty to the party was the THIRD priority.  Even though I had some basic conflicts with the rest of their platform and certainly some of the personalities I encountered, the simple fact that I could speak my mind, vote my conscience and put the constituents first, meant that I was in.

Plus my hidden agenda was that I was gonna preach GREEN to the party if I got in.

That exercise did not last long.  At the Reform-turned-Canadian Alliance ‘electioneering school’, they made it crystal clear that we were obliged to say what Stockwell Day told us to say, do as he told us to do and the WRITTEN and stated MPs freedom to speak was just a way to appeal to the public.  It was NOT going to happen.  That plank was a bald-faced lie.

I walked out.

And that kind of duplicity has been manifestly illustrated by the NDP, Liberals, Socreds and even BC First and the Conservative Party over the years.  They all seem to lie straight to your face.

So, sadly, in politics lying is a given…… 

But I have to make the point: I am not naive.  I know that leadership has to make decisions.  I know that not all decisions can be made by consensus.  I know that communication amongst volunteers and the power-mad is poor at best, negligible most of the time and downright two-faced lying bastards a lot of the time.  T’is the nature of the beast, I guess.

I do not expect perfection.  I do not even expect ‘good’ behaviour.

But I do expect some of the ‘basics‘.

Example: when Adrian Carr ran the Greens, she was offered a chance to speak at a pulp mill.  She went.  She preached Green and, after that speech, she was presented with a cheque for $5000 from BOTH management AND union. One cheque, two signatories. Unprecedented cooperation.

She refused it.

That the contribution showed ‘real people’ showing ‘real concern’ for the environment and in a pulp mill no less would have been a huge political milestone at the time for the party but it was refused because it smacked of ‘corporate’.  Then, of course, they went and blew their feet off with putting too late emphasis on Proportional Representation when the average Joe didn’t know what it was, what it meant or how to spell it.

And the list of mis-steps just goes on and on and on.

For every crooked, stupid, giant mis-step the BC Liberals have done these past ten years, the NDP and the BC Greens have equally missed every opportunity to show up with something better.  They haven’t even, for the most part, shown up!

And now this:  Elizabeth May is likely the best MP Canada has ever had.  She works harder than ten others.  I like and respect her a great deal.  But she is NOT a leader.  She COULD be, but, so far, she refuses to wear the crown.  She prefers the female approach of consensus building.  (God bless her, everyone). Trump (and that old-school, George Patton managerial style of his) prefers the MY-WAY-OR-THE-HIGHWAY approach.  (The devil take him!)

The reality is that both ways are required now and then.  A lot of stuff can be discussed and committee’d and logic, reason, analysis and commonality will prevail and the party can move as one in a certain direction.  Democracy at work. Sometimes the issue is so sensitive to the party that massive majority or consensus is required for the party’s survival because splitting the party would be worse.

But sometimes a leader has to step up, take charge, make the right decision and let their career rest on it.  If their ‘leadership’ turns out to be wrong (ie. the Brexit Referendum), they should resign.  It is called the honourable thing to do.  Leaders should have that strength at the very least.

But to let a splinter group ‘steal’ a plank from your platform by way of Saul Alinsky tactics and then consider resigning over it, is NOT showing leadership.  Liz should not only have to stay as the leader (which she announced today that she will), she has to quash the uprising, stall the proposal against Israel, take her own sweet time reviewing it and, she should make sure she grows a spine in the meantime.

Then, when it is time for another Green group meeting, put the topic back on the agenda and say, “I stalled this nonsense last year.  Now you can vote on it properly and with all the members having their say.  If I did wrong, the proposal will pass and I will, too.  I will resign.  If we kill this sucker, then taking leadership was the right thing to do and I intend to do more of it.”  

Heaven

When the temperature gets warm out here, the wind blows.  Generally speaking, we can count on a nice breeze even when everywhere else is reporting record temperatures.  In other words, it’s still perfect out here in OTG land.

This interesting local weather phenomena is because there are a few fjords nearby and, when the high pressure area’s heated air abuts the cold glacier upper area, the cold air flows down and we get a nice cool breeze.  Despite that marvel of local nature, yesterday was warm. And so was the day before.  It was so warm, we tapped out at about 82 degrees F or 25C.  And, of course, it is ten degrees hotter the minute you step away from the breeze.  So, I don’t.

Day one was a bit too warm because we went into town.  Had to do a big shop for guests coming.  And our Pathfinder had a recall on the airbag.  I usually dread that sort of encounter whereby you get a free airbag and a report that the whole mainframe sub-assembly is ready to go and the mechanic is suggesting a $10,000 fix or else we are sure to die.  That didn’t happen.  They were perfect.  They even gave us a free air-conditioned courtesy car and it was a brand new Nissan Titan.  I drove around like king of the world for a few hours.  Fun.

Day two was kinda warm for Sal.  She worked the day at the little hot-as-hell post office. It’s a good 15 degrees hotter in that little bake-oven.

My neighbours went up into the back forty to do some work on the water system.  It was ten degrees hotter still up there.  Because of the tools and the work and because one neighbour defines work as wearing jeans and an undershirt regardless of temperature, they were melting.  I was in the breeze all but naked in a pair of undershorts working on a table for the boatshed.  A revolting picture but cool.

Today, the wind is up (about 18 knots) and there are the occasional whitecaps.  It is gonna be lovely.  I’ll work at something trivial, Sal will probably quilt, we will do what we do and another day in paradise will unfold.  Honestly?  I am not sure it can get any better.

There’s only one problem: no real fodder for making the second book worth writing.  Keep taking a run at it and coming up roses.  Literally, it is all good.  All nice.  All the time.  Hard to write a story without conflict and challenge.  Right now, we seem to have it made. Enveloped in bliss.  Happy as clams.

Well, the bilge pump is acting up a bit.  And we are running a bit low on beers.  And bloody Netflix hasn’t added anything interesting in a long time.  So, I don’t know, maybe all hell is about to break loose……

Deck built May, 2015. Railings? Yesterday

Last May we did a deck extension to accommodate the lower funicular (the absolutely beautiful, brilliant lower funicular) and it served the purpose well.  So well, we started using it without actually finishing the deck.

But….we have guests frequently and they stay in the adjacent boatshed (where they belong!) and the new-ish deck just never got around to growing hand rails on it’s own. One could ‘pitch’ right off the end and die a certain death on the rocks below.  It was time to finish that job.

“I think we better put rails on the lower deck.”

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“OK, but I am pretty busy quilting.  And baking.  Plus there’s book club and yoga and I work at the post office this week.  And the garden is going crazy!  How long is it gonna take?”

“With your help, maybe four hours or so.  Not counting getting the lumber.  Simple, really.”

“You putting in the mid cables as well?”

“OK…six hours.  Two half-days tops.”  

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Four half days later, it is done.  It’s good and strong.  It’s safe.  You’d have to be a doofus to fall in now.  Mind you, the season’s major guest days begin in a few days and there are a few doofuses expected amongst them…………….

Sal also finished mending the wall inside the boat shed (only 12 years late).  And re-routed the electrical wiring to look nicer.  The place is almost a one-star.  It would definitely rate one star in a backwater jungle country somewhere.  Maybe.  A one-star in a Bangladeshi poor village after a flood, fer sure.

And a neighbour was pitching out a square of carpet and so the boat house just got a nicer floor.  Decor improvement: $0.00

Sal’s been dragging ocean debris up to the deck….“we need a new end table…..”  Raw materials for an end table: $0.00

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I cobbled the deck lines together from old sailboat rigging cable I had tucked away and some marine fittings just hanging around…… bits and pieces for assembly:$0.00

This is pure OTG.  Can-do, make-do. Try to get Sally-to-do, too.

Labour costs: $0.00

Total project cost: $0.00 (altho the govt. may tax me on the improvements so we’ll see if that remains true.)

I can afford to keep doing this kind of hobby for a long time. I certainly have enough accumulated ‘stuff’ to cobble crap together for the rest of my natural life and the cost is limited to just creating more space under the house.

I am going to call this manly hobby ‘hard-quilting’.  It’s already a trend out here, we just don’t have a name for it. We do now.

Just so long as Sal keeps helping.

This blog was interrupted by a ‘poinking’ sound.  Jack the raven was outside calling to Sally.  ‘Poink!’  Translation: “I am here for breakfast!”  Sal, of course, runs down from her upstairs computer, dives into the fridge and comes out with valuable, hard-to-get-here, food from our town trips including cheeses and meats.  “Well, what am I gonna do, Jack doesn’t like anything else except eggs and I was saving one for you.”

Thanks. Very kind of you.

So…another day…..

These blogs lately are NOT great.  Apologies.  Some days are ordinary.  Still perfect bliss in paradise but ordinary perfect bliss, if you know what I mean.

Which reminds me of an Amazon book review last year on February 5, 2016 of our book….”…….and sometime life is boring. Slow moving book, sometimes I would just put it down because I couldn’t stand it anymore. Other times it was interesting. I just kept telling myself that this was a real life story, and sometime life is boring.”

And, as painful as it was at the time, she is right.  Sometimes life is boring and slow moving.  Mind you, I am becoming more and more slow moving all the time so that may portend for a lot more boredom to come.  Hard to say…..so let’s try on yesterday.…..

By late morning we had contacted our neighbours up the coast and gotten their requests. We were headed over to the other island to pick up a few things for us and them.  They needed milk.  It was to be a quick trip. I was also gonna ‘check out’ a jeep to buy for the community.  Some of our even-slower and older area dwellers were having a hard time getting from the dock to the community centre so I was looking for a cheap 4×4 to buy as a community gift. I figured I could get one for $1000.00.  Plus we needed some lumber to make the railings for the lower deck.  That’s a bit overdue given the guest schedule.  And Sal wanted to pick up enough ‘dairy’ to tide us over til our next town trip.

So, off we go in the boat.  And the day is just beautiful.  Windy, sunny and full of life.  The trip alone was a delight.

We cart some glass recyclables from the boat to the ramp, I get the car and we load up and head out along the logging road.  Lots of traffic as the tourists come to hike the woods at the end-of-the-road trails.  All with packsacks, hiking boots, shorts, ‘swooshes’ on things and floppy hats.  They are a cute but too abundant subspecies in summer.

Can’t find the old jeep.  We look.  It’s not there.  So, we take the recyclables in.  NEW sign at the depot: NO glass.  “WE DO NOT ACCEPT GLASS.”  Which is odd, don’t you think? There are 12 separate bins.  None for glass.

So, we head to the store and they take the bottles but, in the meantime, we see friends. Twenty minutes later, we all go about our business.  I go the bookstore, “Oh, good to see you.  We’ve sold out of your book.  Can I have ten more?”  And fifteen minutes later after chatting and signing and generally ‘being a local author for the few tourist-customers in the store’, I leave.  Sal had been busy talking with another person she knew.

Went to the lumber store.  Talked politics with the owner for the time it took to buy and load 8 two-bys.  Then a few minutes with another neighbour who was next in line but in no hurry. And then off we went.  “At this rate we won’t get home today!” 

Went shopping for the less-than-two bags of groceries but that took an hour because of Paul, Gloria, Doug, Tina and Sherri.  All encountered in different parts of the tiny store.  And ten minutes later, Paul again.  He came back for more.

And then we went down the road for an ice cream cone and met Paul for a third time.

By the time we got back to our boat, we had encountered Karen and her friend as well.

Loaded, we cast off, delivered the milk to nearby people and headed over to our beach. Sal jumped off the bow of the bobbing boat, went up the ramp and sent the lower funicular into the sea.  I tied up the boat to the lowered cart, unloaded the lumber and groceries and left while Sal lifted 300 pounds by funicular up an elevation of twenty feet or so, transferred the load to the next lift and took that it all up another 80 feet.  We’d been gone almost six hours.

Like I said, ‘not great’ story-telling or even ranting but that was our day, the busy part of the day, anyway.  The rest of the day was easier.  Slower.  MORE relaxing.  That is life for us out here. That, and marveling over the cucumbers Sal has grown, feeding the Ravens, drinking wine and well, I had a nap…….

A day in the life, eh?

 

Events of the day

“Hey, Dave, J here.  Do you have KB’s phone number?”

“Yeah.  Think so.  I’ll check.”

“Some folks back in town here lost their dog at the beach festival last week.  I am gonna get KB to put a notice in the newsletter.”

“Oh yeah?  What kinda dog?”

“Blue – something, a tick hound by the name of H.” 

“That’s funny,”

“That is not the funny part.”

“Tell me…..”

“Seems they looked high and low.  Called everyone they knew.  Finally went to a dog psychic in the city.”

“What?  You means someone who can communicate telepathically with lost dogs?”

“Yeah.  And the dog psychic says H is in a house being cared for and is OK.  The house is on your island and has a red roof.  So, I am going to ask everyone on your island to look for H.”

“Gonna use your real name?”

“Good point.” 

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Sal and I got a concrete step poured yesterday.  Actually, it is a concrete ‘covering’ of an old steel stair in the line of stairs I have referred to in the past as the sea stairs.  When we came here over 12 years ago, getting up the slippery, hard-barnacle beach was a scramble so I put down a series of heavy galvanized steps that covered the basic height of the tide.  I didn’t expect that steel-in-water would last forever but I thought they might last my lifetime.  And that will prove true if I croak tomorrow but not a long time after.  One of the steps is pretty much ‘done’.  It is so weak that stepping on it invites an accident. So….what to do….?

I can chop that one out but that leaves a missing tread.  I can chop them all out but many still have a half-life and the stairs are still mostly useful.  I can reallocate the spacing but that is incredibly hard.  So, what to do……?

I chose to encase the eroding steel (after cleaning it of sea life) in a thick ‘skin’ of concrete.  Yesterday we did that.  The day before we prepped.  As soon as the tide fell enough to reveal the bad step, we went at it.  I can’t believe how much cement powder and heavy sand I used hoping the steel stair frame and mesh would add the strength normally provided by the small rock component in the usual mix.  The mesh didn’t allow room for the small rocks.  The equivalent of maybe three ready-mix bags and I was still a bit short.  But, if it works, I will eventually re-do the entire steps (about 14 of them).  And they will ‘see us out’ for sure.

Sal’s not happy about this job.  But I don’t see why.  She just has to lie there.  It’s me running around, mixing, cutting, trimming, fitting.  All she has to do is lie under the sea stairs structure on slimy wet rock with bugs and crabs underneath her and with sea-life hanging in her face to ‘weave’ the support wires through where the cement will go.  In the dark.  It’s a smidge claustrophobic, wet, and barnacles squirt her in the face but, hey!  Life is always tough under a set of stairs.  At least there were no spiders.

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Trump………….what’s to say…………he’s doin’ all the talkin’ and it is not working out so well for him.  And it may be too late to shut up.  If Clinton debates him (and she should not) then she is going to have to find a way to talk over him, yell insults and/or interrupt with dignity and grace.  That’s a tough job.  Sal is the only one I know who has mastered it so far.

If Hillary doesn’t get a ‘handle’ on Trump’s bluster and crap, she’ll just be left standing there waiting politely for her turn to speak…….which will never come.  He’ll talk-bully her and look stupid, ignorant and ridiculous in the process but she’ll look inept and weak as well.

Sal knows………

Actually, Hillary should just hire Sal to stand in.  Jeez, I would almost feel sorry for Trump if he had to face Sal.  Like the lady she is, she would just walk over to him and punch him in the face so hard he tips over and then she would tell the audience, “Sorry. It had to be done.  So, I did it. Now back to regular programming.”

 

As the World Turns

The newbies are still cranking it out.  Getting up and started is a big job.  Takes awhile, too. Yesterday was spent assembling some sort of floating rig from poly pipes to haul their runabout out of the water, a chore I am more than familiar with.

But I use logs to do that.  I dragged two long logs up the beach, attached them to run parallel and, when the tide is high enough, I pull my boat up the log ‘runners’ using a handwinch (now rusted useless).  But, I am OK. As you know, I HAVE winches!  I’ll just get another.  The ramp is a Micky Mouse affair and requires re-cobbling and fussing every time but it does the job – so far.  I really need to readdress that issue but, all in good time. I have asked for pictures of their creation…………so, we’ll see.  Maybe I convert.

B & K are at: www.oceanecology.ca and in the Port Neville area forty or so miles north of us.  Permission to ‘tell’ was given.  Their journal is good.  Being that far north gives them completely different seasons and a whole foreign climate compare to our area. Our climate is moderated by that big giant sea of warm water called the Gulf of Georgia or Salish Sea.  Their weather is a smidge colder. Mind you, with climate change and our own tendency to wander, we have contemplated going further out and the considered location was even further north than B&K.  Sointula seems to have some appeal especially for the fishing.

Sal went down to the boat-shed yesterday to do a little carpentry and some electrical work ahead of the arrival of some August guests.  So, I did the dishes, made dinner, tidied up.  I was gonna change into something nice and comely for dinner but it started to feel weird, ya know?  But I did greet her at the door with a glass of wine and a fetching smile. She grumped her way inside, fell heavily into a chair, gulped down the wine and described her vexing trials and tribulations at remodeling the shed.  I said, “Oh, sweetie.  It’ll be fine, I am sure.” And followed that up with more wine and more smiles.

We may need to get out more…………..

You may have noticed a waning of political rants and a dearth of disasters being reported on the blog lately.  Shingles cut into some of my thoughts, activities and work output for a long while.  It still is somewhat present and attention getting now and then.  It really took a lot more energy than I expected until I noticed the summer half over and none of the major chores progressing.  Something is going to have to change.

We may need to stay home more……………

So, using that opposing logic; we are planning to stay home til it is winter (try and get something done) and then snowbird out of here for a bit.

And that is a nice segue into revealing what the second book title is likely going to be…

“Should I Go or Should I Stay?” – answering the off the grid question.

Or something like that.  I have come to terms with the nature of this book, it is just not funny.  It is not about adventure, injury, or danger either.  It is not even too much about our new way of life.  It is, instead, a re-hash of questions and answers that every OTG’er asks themselves usually without getting any real answers.  We hope to change that a bit.

And then get this book monkey off our back.

I wanna write something different already.  And Sal, of course, just wants to quilt more. So, we have to get this puppy up and running even if it can’t run with the big dogs.  It just has to go.  We’ll likely fuss more with it til January and then, ready or not, let it out.

Well, that’s the plan but you know plans….best laid or not…..?

 

And then there were two more…..

Received a very nice surprise email the other day…….B and K (introducing themselves) have recently taken to living OTG and doing so up the coast. They had been reading the blog for awhile (for fun) and just recently made the decision to go. I am guessing the blog title resonated.  And I guess they wanted out of the rat race, too.  Despite the blog gibberish and obviously with considerably more reading, education, skills and experience behind them, they chose to make the leap.

They moved further OTG than us and took their energies, equipment and with their probably-rapidly-depleting bank account, bought a large chunk of remote real estate and are currently building and solving problems just like we did.  Likely better.  They are younger.  They seem smarter.  Just two people. Husband and wife.  Just retired.

Nice to see.

And they are loving it.

“Geez, Dave, it must be getting crowded up there!”

No.  Not really.  You could sprinkle ten thousand people between us and them and no one would see anyone else from their living room window unless they were passing in a boat. It would take a helluva lot more people to ever get the designation ‘populated’ out here. And ‘civilized’ is never gonna happen.  We are all more like demented cats than sheep. Whole lotta eccentric and independence going on.

“But, is it a trend?”

No.  I don’t think so.  The overall numbers seem to remain relatively constant.  Maybe even dropping a bit.  Living OTG still ain’t a trend.  NOT hip.  Not yet, anyway. People 50 and over tend to ‘cabin’ and ‘cottage’ still and those younger tend to head for the nearest and biggest gene pool.  I think that is all we are really seeing.  Of course, the post war baby-boomers are now retiring so that would suggest a bump in the numbers but they just aren’t there.  Not yet.  Not now.  Not here.

Having said that, the ‘two’ mentioned above are actually the second couple to recently arrive and the other couple are much closer.  About four miles away.  But, get this, he is in his 80’s and she, tho younger, ain’t no spring chicken.  My age – ish.  So, they are starting OTG’ing a bit later than even we did.  Mind you, they have had a place up here for years that was their summer cabin so maybe that was really the start. It is hard to get a sense of any trends or anything when the numbers are so small so, basically the trend to report is just that: the numbers are small.

I used to think the retiring of the boomers would swell the ranks.  I don’t think so anymore. Then I thought that the 2007/08 bank debacle would reveal the futility of the system for more people and they would just opt out but that didn’t happen either.  Since then, as you know, I am inclined to think that madness and violence and zombies might just do it. Maybe not.

But lately….?  Well, I am pretty sure that Donald J. Trump will increase our book sales in the US at the very least. That is likely true for any book with OTG in the title.  And, if he actually succeeds in becoming emperor penguin, we may soon be standing in a crowd of Americans up here.   Democrats and Republicans.

Which reminds me: Director Ron Howard and Producer/actor Henry Winkler just put out a movie satirizing Trump.  It’s on Netflix.  It’s a bit too heavy handed to be ‘good’ but I haven’t watched much.  The first ten minutes was enough to get the gist.  But what is interesting for me is that it is so-soon up and watchable.  It is virtually a line being drawn while the race is still being run.  It is a media based declaration of civil war.  This seems like just not an act that can be laughed off as a joke, especially being released during the campaign. This is a media skewering without precedent.

I applaud their courage (if not the artistic merit that in their haste to present they seem to have missed).  They even referenced Trump knowing Roy Cohn (the infamous McCarthy era lawyer) early on to make their point that Trumpism is McCarthyism.  This is a new form of politics, it really is.

 

 

Age? Paranoia? Fad-in-news?

I am (by my own definition) an inferential scanner.  I tend to ‘scan’ information and then derive knowledge or even opinion from that very human, subjective, faulty, biased data processing operation.  It’s like scanning a dance floor to find the love of your life when you are 19.  It’s even a bit like reading the book jacket, a few pages here and there and maybe a synopsis on Amazon and considering yourself having ‘read’ the book.  Of course, I don’t do that with books but I tried numerous dance floors when I was young.  And I have resorted to doing that with professional sports as well – I just watch the last five minutes at the very most and deduce from that all I needed to know.  That is so much true for me now, I don’t even watch the last five minutes of anything except maybe the highlights of the Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup.  The whole season is right there in the executive summary of the ‘year’s highlights’.

It’s how Trump thinks but he doesn’t even know any of the games. Not really (silver spoon in the way). Perhaps Liar’s Poker.  I, at leas,t played hockey and played football and many other sports (it’s why I can watch golf but not curling or trout fishing).  You need to have had some REAL experience to see the brilliant one-handed catch by NY Giant’s wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr, to know that it is, in fact, a bloody brilliant miracle catch!

But that is not my topic………here it is:  Is my scanner off-base?  Am I seeing or am I NOT seeing an uptick in the violent madness that makes up our world these days?  I sense that the violence, murder, shooting, bombing, mayhem and even governmental heavy-handedness has increased markedly in the past year, maybe 18 months.  Do you think so?

I have taken to asking a few friends and the answers are ‘Yes, but….’ and what they mean with the ‘buts’ is that maybe it is all just being reported on more…..or social media is more on-the-spot than conventional media used to be……or maybe it is just that the new news simply follows the old news premise that ‘if it bleeds, it leads’.  No one knows, of course. We are not real data processors.  We are not hungry readers of stats.  Most of those I know don’t live in any ghettos, France, Turkey or Ferguson, Missouri.  We don’t know.

But it feels like it is so. I would suggest a 15% increase based on nothing rational, logical or researched at all.  Just my gut.

And, if it is true, what does that mean?  More specifically, what does that mean for us? Those of us NOT living in ghettos?

So, unlike my usual posts where I pontificate over some idiotic issue or wax poetic about ravens, this is really just a question.  Are we living in a crazier more violent world that is trending worse?

Or not?

OTG 101

Off the Gridding sounds so romantic, don’t you think?  Conjures up adventure, nature, simple, healthy, rustic and and being independent.  Flora and fauna abound.  Ravens. Whales.  Blackberries.  Oysters.

‘Oooooh, what’s not to like?’ 

The short answer: NOTHING!  That image is correct.  It’s heaven out here, no question.

The long answer?  Well, much the same….of course.  Heaven is heaven for a’ that.  But there is a slightly different reality over the long haul from the one first imagined from the statements above.  It ain’t just a walk in the park.

For one thing, you still need some money.  Not as much as you think you need but you have to have some.  I figure $1500 a month per person more or less depending on how far out you are. And that also requires whatever house you have built or bought out here being debt free.  Same for vehicles and equipment.  And the sky is the limit when it comes to equipment. So, bottom line: you need a lump sum to get started and then a regular income even if it is rather paltry.  OTG ain’t free and it is a rare person who can make much of a dependable income out here.

You need a good partner.  All the single people out here struggle so much more.  They also get more and more eccentric without the balances and off-sets a partner provides.  We all need partners and the further OTG you are, the more you need one.  No.  A dog or a pet Grizzly bear does not qualify.

You need basic good health.  Your prostate can be too big, your bowels easily irritated, you can suffer cat allergies or need to remain gluten and peanut free but your back has to be strong, you have to have your balance and you need to heal well.  OTG is physical. It is NOT for sissies.

You need to think outside the box-store.  75% of what you need, you can’t buy at Home Depot.  You are going to have to figure that out quickly and often.  My advice: start now, while you are in the best garbage dump in the world: the city throws away all the stuff you will ever need.  It is literally like a giant free-store if you have the ability to forage and hunt amongst the junk. Preferably with a one ton flatdeck.  Four-wheel drive.

You will need to develop some pretty basic skills quickly.  Like carpentry and mechanics. Skills are currency out here.  And they help keep you alive and your stuff operating. A good attitude and a lot of DIY books will suffice for awhile but you will have to rise higher than that over time.  You will be fixing your own washing machine, car, outboard, computer and, even more often, your own body and limbs.  Smarten up as fast as you can.

Try not to be a zealot about it.  Living OTG is great but you are allowed to enjoy a beer and a pizza if you go to town.  You do not have to be a Buddhist vegan pacifist who only eats raw vegetables and fruit.  That stuff has nothing to do with OTG.  I have no idea what that stuff has to do with but you can eat steak, drink scotch and watch cheap B blow-em-ups and still be an accepted OTG’er in my books.

I may even visit.

Living OTG is a simple goal – you are just not hooked up to all the umbilicals (read: leeches) of the world. Road, electrical, plumbing, social, communication, shopping – they are all grids, systems and the ties that bind.  But that’s it.  You may even try to pull them off of you while living in the city (ignoring the road grid)….it might be possible….but the fewer of the grids there are on offer, the easier it is NOT to have them.  So, I suggest just getting out.

To be honest, I suggest getting out to a small town that has some grid offerings.  Then go a step or two further out so you don’t have to rely on them but you can go there now and then for pizza and beer.  Best of both worlds.

But you don’t have to go far.  There is nothing about living OTG that requires the Dempster highway or Patagonia.  I think it does require a complete immersion in nature, the wilderness and a rejection of concrete, asphalt and stifling institutional-think but I am really only a short distance from the ‘grids’ myself.  Maybe an hour or so away.  I am definitely OFF them, but I can do a hop, skip and a jump to gain a toe-hold whenever that beer and pizza is heard calling to me.

I don’t go often, tho.  My last trip to town was over two months separated from the previous one.  And that was too soon!  If I girded up to attack and plunder the grid three times a year, it would be enough.

“Dave, why tell us this?”

Well, more and more it seems people are considering doing this or, at least curious as to what OTG means.  But almost all their questions show a lot of pre-acquired misinformation.  And many answers I am reading are just plain silly.  Many wannabes feel they have to be self-sustaining, live off the land, hunt squirrels, eat bugs and roots – that kind of thing.  “Gotta build a house from tires and straw bales. Compost my poop under glass”.  Others think they have to go vast distances into harsh environments armed to the teeth and dressed in camo.  I blame Survivor Man, the Idaho Militia and Duck Dynasty – for those very wrong pictures.  I blame hippy chicks for that raw vegan syndrome.

Living OTG can be sane, simple and doable.

It can also be hard.

So, this is a very brief perspective-sharing post to try to share that ‘moderate version’ of the OTG message.

 

 

 

 

Reminder ll – OTG hubris

Wouldn’t you just know it?  Yesterday’s blog……..I was thinking of ‘knocking on wood’ as I hit publish but didn’t.  It’s embarrassing.

Yesterday, I subtly gave myself a pat on the back for getting through a fairly simple outboard problem (out here) that would have stymied me a few years ago and would likely throw most of my city friends into the clutches of the nearest marine mechanic.  I was a smidge pleased with myself that we resolved the matter with only a few hours of fussing.

But last night we went for dinner at a nomadic neighbour’s.  S lives and works aboard his 100-foot mini-freighter.  It is a floating machine shop and he services the coast.  He was temporarily anchored just up the way and was our host.  Attending also was D who lives on his self-built 48 foot sailboat, St and K who just finished building their new speedboat to complement the 28 foot motorized barge he launched two years ago while, at the same time, building their house from scratch.  We also had J and J who, with two small children, are building a globe-girdling 45 foot catamaran to rival anything you have ever seen.  I was amongst incredibly skilled artisans who can do virtually anything.

And then I made the mistake of telling my ignition story.  

It was like telling Tiger Woods of the hole-in-one you achieved at pitch and putt.

S keeps a freighter going all by himself.  Mechanic, electrician, welder, captain, cook and general -all-around fixer of anything, he is competent and capable everywhere he goes. He is fully employed and in his sixties without even the assistance of a first mate or a dog. Cooks well, too.

D (also 60’s) once walked into the forest with his chainsaw and a few months later sailed away in a 48 foot sailboat that is gorgeous, well-equipped and in which he also stores his vintage motorcycle.  So, a few years later, he did it again with a 30 footer. Together S & D could conquer a small nation.

St and K are pushing 70 and, in the last five years built a house, garden, several boats and volunteered a lot for the community.  St learned to weld aluminum by first building a small dinghy and then building a fantastic, capable, powered barge complete with landing ramp and electronics and the whole shebang.  Think a value of $75,000 or more.  Then, while I whinged over Shingles, he and D – for fun – built two 26-foot speedboats.

J and J are younger (40) but have the same skill levels and independence.  They, too, can do anything AND have babies while they are doing it!

There was more practical expertise and outside-the-box thinking at that dinner than there would be in the entire city of Burnaby.

Of course, when it came time to leave, everyone went to the starboard side deck to wave us off and marvel at the jury-rigged ignition.  “Ooooh….will ya look at that, eh?  Started it with just two wires. Wow!  Be careful goin’ home guys.  Nice to have seen ya.”   

No place to hide in a small boat.