Brave New World

Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, is planning a meeting with the incoming president of the United States.  She is following protocol.  She has to do this.

But what choice has a ‘leader’ of a western country in indicating (or not) some kind of official support for an ally?  Not much. She has to ‘recognize’ the new president. It’s part of her job.  It’s part of her, too. She’s Thatcher in May clothing.  So, it is not hard for her.  She is steeped in the establishment.  She believes and thinks that way. She IS the establishment.  All leaders of countries in the first world are steeped in the establishment.

And the establishment reinforces itself – no matter who is at the helm.  It is what institutions do: they survive by defending the larger ‘status quo’.  The larger status quo is the BIG LIE.

Germany has not yet lined up to kiss Trump’s ring.  Neither has France.  Mind you, Germany and France remain in the EU and Trump dissed the EU and supported Brexit.  So…they are caught like a deer in headlights.  They may legitimately be reluctant to embrace the new POTUS because he seemingly did not act subservient to the status quo…and yet…isn’t the US the leader of the status quo?

Many are similarly confused.  Do you support the office when you cannot support the occupant of that office?  Will the job make the man or will the imbecile corrupt the office?

We don’t know the answer to the really big question yet (how long can they pretend the BIG LIE system is working?). But the other so-called leaders of countries will eventually come around to genuflecting to the USA. They have to. They have to so as to legitimize themselves and the offices they hold.  It’s a matter of survival.  It’s what they do. They support one another.

That is how the BIG LIE holds together.

Just-in Trudeau must be having heart palpitations. He is more than willing to sacrifice any semblance of ethics and morality (certainly he has NOT kept his word on the substantive issues) but……I am sure he is dithering on this one, too…….is this the place to sell your soul?  At the altar of the Donald?  His big dithering question is not whether to suck-hole or not.  It is: will he get the best price?

He’s a lightweight.  He’ll fold to corporate interests.  Again.

They will all fall in line.  Eventually.  If they all don’t keep up the facade, it’s a crack in the foundation of the BIG LIE. And none of the establishment can have that.  The King is Dead! Long Live the King! “Steady as she goes!  Whose ring is next to kiss?”  

But here’s the deal:  Trump won because he was revolutionary.  Symbolically, anyway.  The American people wanted change.  They wanted real change.  And they got it.  Sadly, they did not define the change they wanted but, in psychological terms, you cannot change your constructs using your own constructs.  Change comes from without.

Trump is clearly very much without.  And rarely has the old adage, ‘Be careful what you wish for’ been set up to be so proven true.

I think they will come to regret the change they have wrought but, to be fair, you cannot plan a revolution.  When it comes, it comes.  And what results is the result. They may very well regret this one but the old way of doing things was simply NOT working for them and so they voted for the dingbat from Hell.  (And I think that is were this is heading).  

But I don’t blame them.  Not every decision comes from an enlightened place.  Gut instincts aren’t always right.  Even Jesus made mistakes.  And clearly 150 million people CAN be wrong.  I am pretty sure they are but I, too, have been wrong.

We’ll see.

I certainly don’t blame Americans.  Not even the Bubbas. They voted for change with Obama and won the ring toss the first time around but got precious little in that petite revolution.  Obama was just NOT enough.

So, this time, they more than doubled down …………..this time they bet the farm.



Dateline: Arizona.  Phoenix.  Desert.  Flat.  Brown.  And not just a little bit mind boggling.

First impressions: clean, pleasant, nice people, new, not-as-cheap as I remember it from our last visit 45 years ago (and again about 20 years ago) but, of course, still cheaper than Canada.  Gasoline is $2.05 a gallon.  With exchange and the imperial gallon, I am guessing the equivalent of $3.00 a gallon.  Food seems practically free except in restaurants. Limes were 19 cents in the store, free on the neighbourhood trees.  Same for oranges.

One of my chores is to squeeze the one hundred or so already picked oranges from the trees in the yard.

But the biggest first impression is this: Infrastructure.  We are living in a distant subdivision in the southeast area of Phoenix, basically the equivalent of Mission or outer Abbotsford in the lower mainland.  Hell and gone.  Way out in the desert.  All the houses are new.  All the shopping centres are new.  Everything is new….within the last ten years for sure.  Even the cars!

The area is still under-developed with a mile of desert between walled communities and then another mile or more before the next one.  This area is in transition from cactus and burros to walled communities sporting fake grass and manicured cactus. NOT highly populated. Not yet, anyway.

But, still, the highway system is better than anywhere in Canada.  By a HUGE margin. Seriously.  Even Toronto.  Within five minutes of driving I am on a six lane (one way) freeway heading into downtown Phoenix.  Overhead cloverleafs with other highways passing over and under me appear every ten minutes or so and NOT just one level either.  Four or more overpasses are the norm.

And they are attractive.  No graffiti.  No dirt.  Attractive native patterns cast into the concrete.  All the ‘grounds’ around the highways are manicured, landscaped and free of litter.

You drive along at 65 miles per hour, four or more abreast, flying by sagebrush and sand heading towards a shopping centre intersection with huge big box stores and acres of parking.  These places are so big that, should you need something else from another store across the street, it is at least a five minute drive.  You can walk but no one does.  There is no pedestrian traffic.

Mind you, we are still orienting.  It may be different elsewhere. It has to be.  This area in the southeast is new.  Phoenix is not; it has some age.  We just haven’t seen it yet.

Still, there are two large airports that we have seen.  There is the aforementioned phenomenal highway system.  There are incredible shopping centres.  Everywhere. And much of the population lives in clean, new, adobe-esque style walled communities, it seems.

It is all brown and flat.  And, to be honest – I can’t really see (yet) why the huge investment in this, a rather inhospitable environment that does not have major industry, has been made.  Why?

So, my curiosity is piqued.  We’ll go exploring soon.  But one thing is evident – Canadian infrastructure is closer to Mexican than American.

It’s a car culture here

More doing what needs doing

Sal and I will be gone for a bit.  We’ll be ON the grid in a big way.  It’s just a winter getta-way-cum-respite but we lock up and leave the homestead just like any vacationer does once in awhile.  We drain the pipes, suspend the satellite service, give away the frozen food and any fresh veggies and ask our neighbours to watch over things.  And our neighbours are the best in the world and will do a great job. So, it is all good.

But, when you leave Off-TG, you have a few extra challenges.  All the motors have to be left fueled up to the brim so that condensation doesn’t form.  All vulnerables have to be stored away.  You kinda winter-proof (rain, wind and snow) what needs extra protection when you are not there.  But the biggest concern is what to do with the boat.

Enclosed boats can be left, of course.  Most boats over 22 feet have full enclosures and are left at a marina, some for years at a time.  Leaving a boat in the water is OK so long as it is NOT an open runabout-type.  Open runabouts will fill with water after three days of heavy rain and sink engine first. It is not uncommon for boats to sink out here.  Happens all the time.

“Why not get a canvas enclosure?”

That’s a good idea.  But they are annoying as hell, expensive, structurally weak and not in the least foolproof.  Canvas is not an answer for us – we use the boat too often and a full enclosure is just another way to waste time and money – for us.  And a usable partial enclosure doesn’t do the job of full weather protection.

There’s no two ways about it; when you leave for any length of time, you have to haul the boat up on to the ‘hard’.

If I am gone for only a week, I’ll leave it it dockside and take a chance that the crappy bilge pump doesn’t pack it in THAT week or maybe it doesn’t rain that much. I’ll just leave it if I can stand to do so.  If it is a ten-day escape, I may do the same thing but I will worry more.  I simply cannot leave the boat two weeks without having it attended to every three days and that’s a burden on others.  Too crazy making.

Two weeks of absence requires the boat be pulled up onto the land usually by way of the make-shift marine ways that has served us well for the past decade.

Not this time.  This year the higher tides, a poorly-timed storm and the advanced structural degradation of our slung-to logs took our haul-out away ramp from us. Building a new one is yet another project for the coming year.  In the meantime, we have to take the boat to the other island, haul it, tow it and pay for storage on it’s trailer.

And so, that was the plan for yesterday.

Yesterday was -2C.  Sal took her boat, I took ours (she has 75% of the shares in our navy).  We were destined for the end-of-the-road on the opposite island.  We also took all our vacation luggage and a bunch of tools (for the trailer) and a huge bag of concentrated, unrecyclable garbage.  My boat was full.

The immediate chore was to pull out our trailer from the forest undergrowth where we push it so as NOT to take up a parking space, hook it up (after years in the bush) to the car and then for me to go back to the boat and head down the coast to the community ramp on the other island.  Sal would drive the car and empty trailer on the treacherous ice-road down that neighbouring island and meet me if she can make the journey.  In these conditions, the trip is not a given.

An hour later, I was down at the south end, tied up at the ramp and putting on my gumboots.  One was unexpectedly filled full of water.  An untended fender had kicked up a spray on the way down and filled my boot.  But, what else are gumboots for, really?  You fill ’em! Everyone fills their boots, no?  So, I put on my one dry and one wet boot and got about our business.

Sal was there.

I then drove the car and trailer down the ramp and into the water to receive the boat.  Sal maneuvered the boat expertly onto the trailer.  Like a pro.  We winched Wasabi up and on.  It was remarkably uneventful.  I was pleased.

Until I saw the trailer’s flat tire.  “Oh well, we only have to go a block or two.  We’ll drive on the flat slowly.  It will get us there.  Better put on the list two more newer tires.”

“Shouldn’t we tie the boat down?”

“Nah.  At 5 kms an hour it won’t bounce out.  But better add to the list a new winch rope.  That old one looked pretty sketchy.”

And so the boat was hauled slowly up the ramp, along the yard and up the nearby road and put away in the storage yard.  Then we went to the local Inn to dump a bag of garbage ($7.00 which we pay about twice a year).  And, while there, they (Inn management) ordered five more books. And we had them with us!  THAT cheered me up.  And then, off we went headed back home.

Forty five minutes of ice-roading got us back to the top of the island, parked at the end of the road and then we helped two neighbours with a heavy stove they were loading onto a small boat.  Other neighbours arrived, exchanged good wishes, helped each other and, after all the greetings, we all headed off in different directions.  Sal and I on her little 11.5′ skateboard.  It was getting on to dusk and the temperature was dropping.

We arrived soon enough at our nearest neighbour’s dock.  Hailed farewell.  No hugs ’cause everyone is ill………..but, then she said…:”We went crabbing today.  Got two for you if you want ’em?” 

“We do.  We forgot all about planning for dinner and now, here it is!  Thanks!”

And so one neighbourly good turn was returned right back at us for dinner.  I made sushi.  Crab and avocado sushi to die for.  Drank some hot sake to ease it down.

PURE, FRESH CRAB Sushi……seriously?  Does it get any better?

So?  What did we do today?  Well, we took the boat out of the water and made dinner. ………..I dunno…… me crazy but it sounded like so much more at the time.  The day was rich and full and exciting and beautiful and we enjoyed some friendship and some really good food to boot.  

Mind you………….there WAS the boot….

“shouldn’t take too long….” (hah!)

You’d think we’d know Murphy better by now.  But we don’t.  Even when we factor in that it will take at least twice as long to do something as it should, that factor is absorbed by Murphy and we then take four times longer.  Death, taxes and Murphy’s laws….inevitable.

I bought a long heat tape for the stretch of water line that was freezing up.  One hundred feet.  Then I bought 16 insulating foamy wraps each 6 feet long (96′). Then I opened the package…’NOT TO BE USED ON WATER PIPES’.

Seems I had purchased ice-dam, gutter protector wire that uses electrical heat to melt ice just before the gutter so that you don’t lose your gutters to excess ice build up.  The item was billed as heat tape. Part of the problem when shopping Amazon – you can’t always read the fine print first.

Sal: “Well, how bad can it be?”

So, I unraveled it and fired it up and it got warm.  Then it got a bit warmer.  Just as I was wondering how hot it might get, it stopped and cooled and stayed cold. “Of course!  It is thermostatically controlled and, right now, during this test, it is NOT cold enough so it turned itself off.  Of course!” 

“So, do we put it on when it says NOT to?  Do we wait til it is so cold that the pipes freeze and then put it on?  How hot is too hot?  And how hot will it get?  Will it melt our pipe? What exactly are you planning here, big boy?”

“We put it on.  The temperature is dropping again and it will take a few hours to do the work and we don’t want to be out here that long so let’s get on it.”

And, so we did.  Two hours later, we could not feel out fingers and we had only put the tape on, and insulated 24 feet.  Each foamy insulator needed taping up so it did not come off.  Hard to put on duct tape with frozen hands.  We went in.

Next day it was colder but we put on another thirty feet before wussing out.

Today I got the last of it on and with no time to lose.  Everything was frozen again.  Last night was simply too cold for the water in the pipes.  It all went hard. So, after the last of the pipe was done, I fired up the genset and we turned the NOT-TO-BE-USED tape on.  I monitored the pipe every 15 minutes to see if it was melting or the tape was not working or something else was happening that should NOT.

But it worked.  We celebrated with showers.

What is the point, Dave? 

Not much.  No point, really.  It’s just that nothing is simple.  Murphy always interferes.  Cold is a big factor when duct taping.  What looked like a simple, easy fix turned out to be a three day chore fraught with anxiety because of the words, ‘DO NOT USE IT AS YOU WANT TO, YOU FOOL!’

Just another minor chapter in disobeying the rules, doing what you were warned not to do and being persistent in so doing.  Another example of ‘making do’ and ‘surviving’ as best you can with what you have.

Or: what a man and woman will do for a warm shower.

I dunno…..just another day in the life?

It’s been awhile, Margy.

And I miss you. All of you – even all the Russians and the Chinese hackers who visit the site for reasons unknown.  Especially those of you who comment.  And I really appreciate the genuine friendship exhibited by some whose relationship with me now is entirely based on this blog or the book. Truly this exercise in writing undertaken a few years ago has paid off in many varied and unexpected ways.  It’s all been a real gift.

I just went through ten days of Xmas and it was pleasant enough.  Family is good. Friends are good.  Even just getting away from frozen pipes was good.  But, I confess, I have never really been into Xmas.  I am not the type.  I like people and I like to celebrate (a little) but I tend to balk at scheduled, ritualized celebration and festivities. Feels a bit contrived, a bit phony to me, somehow.  I prefer to celebrate and have fun when something good happens rather than when just a date rolls around.

But I know I am wrong about this.  Just being alive and healthy and enjoying my life off the grid is cause for celebration and even a festivity or two and so, why not schedule it in so others can join in?  No good answer to that so I comply and put on a Xmas smile not really feeling it but knowing it should be there nevertheless.  I show up, drink the egg nog, eat the turkey and kiss all the little kids.  Ho Ho Ho.

But that is now over and I am happy to be home.  REALLY happy to be home. Especially since the pipes thawed and I have acquired the means to keep them thawed even if it gets colder.

Twelve years late, but we will now be prepared.

Mind you, it is even easier if you put in the ‘fix’ and then go south without really having to test it but I never balk at taking the easy way out.  I constantly seek the path of least resistance and, in a week or so, that will take the form of a flight to Arizona.  I envision the hard part of January to be the hike to the pool.

And, I suppose, that is the point of this rather pointless blog.  Living OTG is easier today.  It is NOT the brutal hardship that it was even fifty years ago.  Wusses can and do live this way.  We are testament to that.

That point was brought home to us recently by a friend with whom we sometimes stay when in town or when doing something that requires a ‘sleep-over’.  She said, “Geez, I liked the book.  It made living off the grid seem doable and not so hard as I thought.  I was left thinking that I could do that!”  

And she can.

The difference today is a weird combination of communications, other technologies, markets, modern consumer habits and, most amazingly, the incredible number of living opportunities constantly opening up.  Here’s what I mean: OTG and ordinary rural land, even small town properties are getting cheaper to buy just as the thriving urban condo world gets more concentrated and expensive.  Finally, economics is working as you’d expect: more people moving into the city means less demand on non urban markets and that is showing up in the prices.  .

Score one for the OTG wannabe guys.

Alternative energy (mainly solar is now affordable, simple and dependable).  People can have the ‘amenities’ they are used to even living remote.  PLUS more of those amenities/services are becoming available from satellite services.  That technology alone, makes a world of difference.  Ironically, remote no longer means isolated.

China.  The virtual flood of cheaply made Chinese products means that the less capitalized OTG wannabe can now afford to do it.  Admittedly, much of that purchased will need replacing over time but the point is that one can afford a log splitter, a few winches, a few engines and the like.  One can get started.  Plus, we have a society that throws away the equivalent of a house a day just in the demolition and rebuilding process.

Amazon.  Modern-day shipping is only going to get better.  And shipping is still cheaper than shopping.  The whole purchasing-stuff exercise from finding it (communications) to buying it (Amazon) to getting it (shipping companies) makes living the more ‘comfortable’ version of life OTG more possible.  Maybe even cheaper.

Do I really think my 60 year old out-of-shape female friend can live OTG like we do? No.  I don’t.  The OTG challenge has been made much, much easier (thank God) by what I just mentioned above (and more) but it is still quite difficult at times and there is a HUGE learning curve.  We are 12 years into it and still learning.  I would guess that it will take the rest of our lives to even get close to half-competent.

Still, the point is: one hundred years ago OTGers were lean, hard pioneers existing on hardscrabble and beans.  They might have an axe and a mule.  Very few could do it.  Fifty years ago, OTG’ers were the not-so-penniless hippies who could gather implements and information, support and even some income and so it was markedly easier.  Still bloody tough but easier than ol’ hardscrabble-man.

Today, we have leapt that difficulty gap again.  It is only half as difficult for a young person today to do what the hippy back-to-the-landers-did back then.  And it is even easier for an equity-holding older person to do it depending on the equity they are holding and how long they wait to cash it in.

Put more bluntly, $1M won’t buy you a rat-trap on the east side of Vancouver.  But $1M would put you in a modern, equipped, beautiful cabin with half of the money left over.  Today, money is a viable solution to getting off the grid.  Much more than it used to be.

“Dave…?  Is this just another not-so-subtle hint for us to get OTG, too?” 

Well, yes and no.  As you know, I am an OTG advocate.  Unabashedly so.  I will promote and hint and suggest in every way I can so, yes….I am dong that.  But I also thought it newsworthy to note that the whole exercise – tho NOT easy – has become much, much easier than it used to be. Markedly so.

In the meantime, I wish you all the very best.  I really do.  I hope you have a GREAT 2017.  I hope some of you might even take a step away from the urban cauldron, maybe sleep in a cabin or two.  The magic is in getting away (not to a resort but a real cabin in the woods) for at least month….you may never go back…..


Running then. Siphoning now…

…water…..out of the up-hill tank.  The surface ice layer in it is only half an inch or so and we can poke through that, stick in a hose and siphon off thirty gallons or so and get our daily water allotment. If we do that every two or three days, we are good.  A smidge on the rustic side, some would say, but good enough for us.

Siphoning water into containers--technically, water IS running...

Siphoning water into containers–technically, water IS running…

We are also pounding through a wheelbarrow of wood a day now.  That’s double what we have ever had to do before.  Minus 8 C is cold for here.  I’ve been in -50 up in the Yukon in January and there is no doubt that it was colder then but -8 on the coast feels somehow much colder than -8 in the interior of the province.  I am just ‘Davidizing’ on this but -8 here feels like -25 in the Okanagan to me. It’s likely the humidity factor.

This weather doesn’t bother the guys who have been here a long time, tho.  At 13 years, I am still a newbie.  I find it cold.  DG (40+ years) just dropped by in his boat and handed us some fresh caught fish.  “That there Ling is just 18 minutes from seeing the light o’ day. Filleted it fer ya, too, ’cause KB loves the carcasses.  Fer her garden, don’tcha know?  I am headin’ up her way now.”

“Dawg!  It’s like 90 below.  It’s colder here than Mars or something.  What the hell ya doin’ fishin’?”

“Nah.  It’s nice out.  Warm, really, what with all the clothes I got on.  And, anyway, I only fish where it’s sunny in weather like this.  We gotta go out fishin’ sometime.”

“I dunno.  I tend to repel fish like I do militant feminists.  I am one of those guys with the wrong polarity or something.  Anti-magnetic…..Bi-polar, maybe.  Where I go, fish don’t.  Some guys can’t catch fish.  I am one of them.”

“No question there are people like that.  When I was a guide, I’d have one guy catching fish hand over fist on one side and the other guy, on the other side, would get skunked.  Sometimes we would swap sides just for the fun of it.  Gear, too. Made no difference.  One guy got lucky.  The other not.

The doctor came out to the twice-monthly clinic at the community centre the other day.   She had chains on all four wheels, her VHF radio was on (no cell service) and she was bundled up for survival.  That’s beyond intrepid and almost heroic.  Sal picked her up to bring her over.  Twenty kms down a frozen logging road with ice valleys and snow everywhere and then a small boat.  So bloody impressive, I almost faked an illness just to go see her.

Sal’s into it, too.  She and a neighbour are headed up to visit the accident victims (see blogs re end of the day at end of the road) and have a ‘nice cuppa tea.’.  That will be 6 – 8 miles in -8 in a small boat through one the most dangerous passes on the coast.  Currents run fast and furious through there.  They’ll likely chat about dogs or quilting the whole way.

Me?  I’ll write this and then go under the house to try thawing some pipes so I can drain them better.

Fifteen years ago I was parking the car in a parkade, grabbing my briefcase and heading into a boardroom.  I, too, was running then.  Weird, eh?  This is better.  By far!


So much to rant about, so little time….

….so, I’ll do it in sound bites:

Trumps ‘staff’ picks reads like a cast of super villains.  Economic adviser, Gary Cohn, current head of Goldman Sachs – likely the greatest gang of thieves in history; Rex Tillerson, secretary of state and ‘friend’ of Russia, steps away from EXXON to ‘represent’ the face of the (greedy imperialist) nation; Ex Texas Gov. Rick Perry for Head of the Dept. of Energy, the one he wanted to eliminate when he was running for president; Scott Pruitt, climate change denier, to be head of Environmental Protection Agency; Gen, Maddog Mattis for secretary of Defense (Maddog?); Steven Mnuchin – another from Goldman Sachs – as Secretary of the Treasury (chief Fox in largest coop ever); Andy Pudzer – the CEO of a fast food chain – for Dept of Labour; Pathological liar, Steve Bannon, for Chief Strategist AND he is unbelievably considering the insane Sarah Palin for Veterans Affairs.

These are the people who would be the FIRST to be eliminated from any sane cabinet.

It’s a house of fools, bigots and a hotbed of conflict of interest.  But get this: all the Bubbas who voted for Trump because he was NOT part of the ESTABLISHMENT are looking at a cabinet steeped in it.  Gary Cohn and Rex Tillerson are the 1% of the 1%-ers. Did Bubba and all the cousin Darryls really vote for this group to fix what ails them?  Gary Cohn?! 

Nearer to our very own-but now closed Riverview Mental Hospital, we have a $3B dollar bridge that gets closed in winter because they did not put de-icers on the top of it.  Or even heat tape! Billions more are wasted on the internationally recognized unnecessary Site C dam.  Kinder Morgan is being permitted to pumping dilbit into the Salish Sea. Trudeau is backing away from his electoral reform promises. Christy Clark keeps smiling in our face while she sells out to China and big Petronas.

And no one seems to care….?  I mean, no one I can see or hear clearly, anyway. Horgan is MIA. Mulcair is hiding with him.  Really…what ARE they doing?  My MLA is useless and my MP is just gaining weight in the Ottawa cafeteria.

And the CBC reported this morning on some poor teen’s beating death in Surrey two years ago being remembered by his friends.  Then they cut to the freezing temperatures.  Then back to Anna Maria Tremonti (snapshots of refugees in Canada one year later).  It is like they are AVOIDING the real news!

Has the world gone mad?

But here’e the one that is literally pushing me over the edge: David Black is willing to build a refinery for Tar Sands oil.  He’ll build it in Fort MacMurray, the BC interior or anywhere they will allow it.  He’ll take the financial risk.  That means that dilbit does not get to the Gulf of Georgia.  It gets refined to a point that it evaporates.  They still ship it through sensitive waters but the product is less poisonous. That is NO solution to the carbon problem globally but it is a solution to the pollution problem locally.  It also creates way, way more jobs.  Kinder Morgan still makes the same amount of money. Christy makes even more money.  Trudeau still gets his cut plus some.  Win win for everyone but Gaia.  But that ship sailed with Trudeau’s integrity.

Black cannot get arrested.  He cannot get an audience. He is being ignored.  I know, I have tried to support the idea.  Nothing.  No one answers.  No one acknowledges receipt of even hearing the idea.  What kind of evil is it that deafens the decision makers?

Wanna do me a favour?  Write everyone with a title, an office or even just access to any level of government and say, “Why the hell would you NOT listen to David Black’s proposal to mitigate the damage to the Gulf as well as increase jobs and resource value in Canada?  Why else are you there?”

PS – we are frozen up again.  Last night defeated our previous efforts.  Back to buckets.


Winter is here more tenaciously than I would like….

…..mostly because the previously mentioned mis-timed water project is proving to be extra awkward at this freezing point in time.  No water on tap.

We’ve had cold winters before and there have been freeze-ups of course and life simply went on….somehow.  Canada getting cold in Winter should not be a surprise.

Usually we simply leave a small amount of piped stream-water running through our system and, where the pipes are a bit exposed under the house, wrap them in heat tape.  It is all usually good.  But, when you are on a one-tank system, you can’t leave the pipe run as readily or else you might – if the stream stops for any reason – simply drain your system.

And the piped stream water DID stop running last night.  

So, no ‘let it run’ for us.  Small consolation that the water will not be frozen as the last gallon pours out.  We normally cut the flow a bit to minimize that risk and check every day to ensure inflow is matching outgo. Today’s check revealed no water.

This time our basic precautions were inadequate.  It’s all frozen up – pipes, inlet, outlet, pipes and pump.

When we took the usually-warmer, under-the-house tank offline, we reverted to the bigger up-the-hill tank and, wouldn’t you know, the pipe leading from the upper one is longer, more exposed and worse, now known to be more easily frozen.  Duh.

And, when one part of a system freezes, the idea seems to catch on and the whole system gets frozen.

Maybe the brain freezes up a bit, too, eh?

That little mistake did not deter us at first.  With the bigger genset running we simply put two electric heaters on all the coldest parts and, covering those pipes with blankets, warmed the pipes for a couple of hours in what was then also a warmer and sunny day. The plan: Once the water got flowing again, we would simply let more flow through…..

….it never did thaw enough.

There is no flow.  No flow from the now fully open tap.  No flow from the pump when I turn it on.  NO FLOW.  NO WATER!

“Well, damn it all to hell, I guess we’ll just have to go primitive and haul buckets from the last free-flowing part of the system (about 100 feet away)”.

And so we did that.  Been that way for a few days now. That was an easy challenge to face because the weather suggested two warming days were coming (today and tomorrow) and that ‘the warming window’ might be enough to get us flowing again.

Imagine my surprise to feel the cold just as persistent today as it has been.  No thawing in our near future it seems.  Not in the morning, anyway.  No thawing and no water.  ‘Cept for the already-collected buckets.

Fingers crossed, there is a small ‘window’ of above freezing temps this afternoon…….we’ll be on it.  

AND – this morning – the last flowing part 100 feet away also stopped.  Bad to worse.

How is it….now?  Awkward.  That’s all.  We were carrying fifty pound totes of water 100 or so feet.  Yesterday I carried thirteen.  We use three or four totes a day totaling 20 gallons per day.  No biggy.  The house is warm to come back to.  We are good.  For three or four days…….

But now, even that won’t work – no place to take the totes except all the way to the main stream (almost a kilometer and steep) and that is just crazy.  The timing of the lower tank project could not have been worse.  All I can think of is that I must have somehow mentally adjusted for global warming and must have also unconsciously relied on it.  That has to be a new definition of stupid.

Climate change, as it turns out, is less than dependable.  Who knew?  I think we have to call it what it is: capricious.

There!  I have said it.  Global warming is capricious.  So, sue me.

Latest update: late this afternoon (11th) we got the upper tank and pipe system flowing but the stream is still frozen.  So we can now take from our tank but we cannot replenish it.  But that tank will last us over a month with semi-judicious use.

If we can keep the last part of the system (from pump to tank) thawed.

The bad news is that we JUST got the water moving – just barely – and, with colder temps threatening, this just may be a small battle won in a longer protracted cold war.

Guess which project has just climbed the priority list for Spring?

Paranoid? Nuts?

I am referring in the above title to the previous blog where I opined that the Trump victory smelled bad to me……

….and, it seems, I was not alone.

Reportedly, the CIA is investigating Russia’s recently discovered ‘hacking’ interference in the US electoral process more intensely and extensively than before. The part they are not hesitant to state is kinda what we already knew: Russians hacked Clinton’s (and party’s) emails in an effort to somehow assist Trump. But the real news is that the CIA and Obama have ‘stepped up’ the investigation to pursue other avenues and no one is saying even what those avenues are.

And therein lies the news – hidden, obfuscated and NOT clearly stated.  BUT (and it is a big BUT) – they are saying that it is taking priority for them.  This is job #1 in the US right now.  THAT’S the news!  You can tell that by reading between the lines that are not even being published.

I have no idea if they can catch anything, anyone or even have any real hard evidence.  And how would they decide, prosecute or reverse, reveal or even release the outcome or even the TRUTH?  If the truth was that Russia interfered enough to influence the election, how do they prove that before January 20th when the Donald takes over?  If they can’t prove it but they KNOW it, how can they let a Russian flunky take the Oval office?

If they can’t prove it, can’t act legally nor can they reveal what they know, how the hell can they do anything?

And, if they do anything less than decisive and fact-based does it not then look like (and may be just sour grapes and suspicion?).

It seems the CIA is also briefing the house and the senate – all controlled by the Republicans.  So, how does briefing the Congress, itself full of foxes, about the shenanigans of their top fox work?  Isn’t that like telling the mob that Michael Corleone might have cheated?  What good do they expect to come from that?

And do you think for one minute, Obama can refuse to accede the office?  Do you think that an investigation that reveals proof of the lying, cheating, interfering and manipulation could be revealed to the public in such a short time?

And, if so, to what end?

Face it, politics is all about lying and cheating and manipulation. Is there not an immense, vast wasteland of lies and plots to wade through almost everywhere? And how could the CIA possibly find enough NEW and DIFFERENT to do ANYTHING decisive with it in such a short time?

They can’t.  Obama can’t.  They may just have to watch it happen…………….

And us?  The proletariat?  The slaves, muppets and minions?  The dupes, fools, fodder and the grist for their money-loving corporations…what of us?  Will we ever know the truth?

Nope.  Those most paranoid or in-the-know (hard to tell the difference) will make outrageous statements and claims but we, the hoi polloi, will never know the truth so clearly that everyone will know it to be true.  And, with the proliferation of Liar News 24/7/365 how will any kind of truth ever will out?

Ever-so-Slight Change of View (mine, anyway)

Urbanites often ask, “But what will you do if you need medical assistance way out there?”

I, like many who live off the grid, answer somewhat dismissively and definitely fatalistically, “Well, we do what everyone does, of course, we get ourselves to the emergency ward and simply expect that it will take a bit longer to get there. We deal with a few more situations at home than do city dwellers but, when the situation is dire and emergent in the extreme, we seek professional help.” 

I am changing my mind a bit on that……….

The last blog illustrated the problem well.  We had an emergent and dire situation and we called for help.  It came.  It took too long but it happened.  All in all, the situation was handled just like the first two paragraphs above suggested.

But it was NOT ideal.  Of course, no emergency situation will ever be ideal but our response might have been better.  We were definitely willing.

So, I have been re-thinking it.  FOR ME.

Maybe it is just me…maybe I am NOT as experienced as some others.  But, regardless, rather than acting decisively, we all deferred to the ‘professionals’ and that is the part I am re-thinking for myself.

When I burnt my leg badly a few years ago, I just treated it at home.  A nurse-friend visiting the day after the burn was horrified and sent pictures to her burn-specialist sister who advised immediate medical attention with a suggested skin graft.  I opted to ignore her, treated it myself and the decision worked out.  I do not even have a scar.  Had it been even worse than it was, I might have followed her suggestion.  I doubt it.  I know what they do for burns and I can do it as well as they can.

And therein lies the issue.  We can often deal with our own problems.  People have been doing so for eons.  But, more and more, we defer to ‘experts’.  I am not so sure that is as necessary as we all think.  I could be wrong.  But I think we can do more for ourselves than we have been conditioned to think we can.

Admittedly, when one is hurt, thinking that independently is NOT the first instinct. Our first instinct is to ask for assistance and I understand that completely.  I have been hurt badly enough times to know what goes through the victim’s head. “Yikes! Help!”

Having said that, when I cut my little toe off when I was involved in a large crash while racing motorcycles decades ago, I drove myself home from the race course because it was taking too long for the ambulance to get there and, of course, no one was going to take care of my bike and equipment.  I went home and asked my father to drive me to the hospital.  It was about 11:00 am when I got home, my boot was filled with blood and I was covered in mud.  So, I cut off the boot and I had a shower with the toe hanging off my foot by a ligament.  Seemed like a good idea at the time and it was.

When my father drove me to Vancouver General, I realized that I was also very hungry and that we were not likely to get seen right away so I suggested we stop at the White Spot for take-out.  We did.  I got into VGH at about 1:00 pm.  My toe was on the ice-bag we brought from home.

The surgeon sewed my right foot little toe back on at 11:00 pm.  More than twelve hours after the event!  He erred a bit and it now sits a bit sideways.  It did not work for a few years but it is now a fine specimen of a right little toe only a bit less efficient because of it’s sideways orientation.

Could I have sewed on my own toe?  No.  I could not.  Sally, maybe (hadn’t met her yet)….but I could get cleaned up.  I could get some food in me.  And I could get all my stuff home and have someone who cared take me to the hospital.  In other words, I first did what I could for myself.

And – transferring that silly story to living out here – I think we first have to do what we can for ourselves.  Most everyone does already.  Sal takes out any stitches I may have acquired – it’s a simple task (made simpler by repetition).  And do not forget the woman who broke her leg last year and then drove herself to the hospital.

She had it right.  Basically, I think we have to rely even less on the professionals and become a bit more skilled in treating ourselves.  I think all of us can.

Our little community is already starting to talk about that.

I think my answer to the city-dweller as written above will eventually change.  “Well, we first take the time to assess the situation.  Then we factor in the delay of waiting for help and the inevitable slowness of the pace of the professionals involved.  So we MAY just call one of our own first aid trained OTG’ers first and allow them to make decisions.  It is very likely that in all circumstances, we will eventually seek professional help but we are going to have to learn to act as ‘first responders’ ourselves.  In fact, we may undertake to provide our own transport instead of waiting for people in uniform.

It is NOT an equipment or logistical thing, it is an attitudinal shift that is required.

I am NOT being critical of the police when I say this: they could do nothing to help us. They even eventually retreated to the warmth of their own vehicle at one point.

When they first arrived, they took note of the victims, took notes from the witnesses but, after those first two to three minutes of being official observers, they inspected the inside of the overturned vehicle checking for booze or drugs (my assumption but I cannot conceive of anything else) and they were looking at the vehicle longer than they were looking at the worst hurt of the accident victims.

Am I really critical and just pretending NOT to be…?  NO.  They made sure the car was going to be eligible for an ICBC clam and they had the vehicle towed off the hill by early the next day and that was a huge assist to the community.

But – as first responders – they were not helpful to the victims.

If it makes sense for us to live more independently, that has to include emergency situations.  We do it already but we may have to do it a bit better.  I am thinking we may have to elevate that ability in our own community.”