A change?

I am considering making a ‘hosting server’ change for the blog.  If I do, the site will be down for a bit…a day or so….not unlike the porn-hack interruption.  I do NOT think the change will alter anything for the reader.  Same URL, address, name, whatever. Just a different ‘host’.  But…if I move….it should be less prone to whacked-out hackers.

I have also deleted all the ‘plug-ins’ like the Facebook ‘like’ button.  I may have deleted too much.  But I can add them back as it is determined they are ‘safe’ or not.  Seems the hackers ride in on plug-ins…or something… who knows?

So….out to meet the barge with the too-late-ordered wood to build the too-late marine ways so as to too-late fix the holes in the boat which still weep a smidge but should be a slow enough leak to allow me to build the haul-out.

Barge broke it’s hy-ab arm but it was broke in a way they could still drop our load of lumber….made it a little ‘haywire’ but we got it.  Didn’t help that it was blowing like hell and the barge had to make two passes.  After they left, Sal and I took the lumber over to the marine-ways site and dragged each piece up the slippery rocks. Sixteen foot six-by-six treated beams weigh a lot!  And we only had four of them. Might have been better to get 6.  No room on the ‘lift’ for extra 6×6’s.  We’ll see how this goes.  But we also had a bunch of 2×8’s to go with ’em.  And 2×12’s.  We will be busy.

Sheeesh……..and people wonder what we do all day…

Trump, sex, crime and ignorance.

I got nothing (ignorance) on any of that……

But I needed the headline (the crime).  Why?  Because no comments are coming in (Trump gets ALL the attention).

And my sex life is none of your business but it is safe to say, nothing much to write novels about but it has to be included in the headline to get the numbers.

I am still on the beach, still weaseling my way around the logs, the boat and the rocks trying not to get too wet while always lying on a board in a small stream of run-off from the constant rain. As per one of my OWN comments on the last blog, the patches all still ‘weep’ a smidge like a fat man’s sweat but that is a 97% improvement on gaping holes. I will attempt to fix the cry-babies today.

Squeezing under the boat

It’s NOT raining right now but the tide is up.  When it falls away, it may rain.  That seems to be the pattern.

Halfway there

I am not a religious person but if someone started the Church of St. Murphy, I would have to join.  How could I not?  I believe in Murphy.

Positioned for grinding and glassing

The book is delayed a couple of weeks.  Waiting on the cover and a few bureaucratic processes – like ISBN numbers and that sort of thing.  We have two beta readers unaccounted for but not being accounted for kinda means they are accounted for – they aren’t doing it. That says something.

I have been feeling (about the book) that I have missed something that I wanted to say…..but I couldn’t put my finger on it…..still can’t…but the feeling is dissipating anyway.  I am starting to feel as if I may have said it, after all.  I think I am good. Rotten book but I am now good with that.  So, I am good.

For the last little while I have been doing some research on OTG living (It’s not my style to do research.  I am now fully onside with post-truth and alt-facts.  That kind of ADHD insanity actually works well for me).  But I got side-tracked into focusing for a bit and actually went and learned something.  Accidental student, that I am.

Seems the book addresses a series of issues that other authors and documentarians have also identified and attempted.  Basically this: “Why the hell do it in the first place?”

In this second, monkey-on-my-back book I try to answer that while, at the same time, describing my own, personal way of defining OTG. In other words, it is entirely subjective and I step into that subjective breach like the know-it-all OTG’er I am pretending to be.  I mention this because some of my research has revealed others who have half-addressed it, others who have fully-but-erroneously addressed it and still others who simply went about describing and listing the mechanics and logistics of it without any self-awareness of the whys and why-nots.  I hope to do a smidge better in the motivation category at least.

‘Cept for one category that I do not fully embrace anyway: the lone wolf (or pair) of eccentrics in the crazy-remote areas like Deadhorse, Alaska (on the Arctic ocean) or the wilds of Tasmania.  I do not believe living OTG requires a mad-trapper mentality and so I am not including that branch of OTG mutants in my book.  They are a category unto themselves. The rest of us are sane.

So, after breakfast I will go back under the logs and work on an old boat and contemplate my own sanity.

Doesn’t portend well for the book, does it?

 

Spelunking boat repairs

Spelunking?

Because I have to exhale to get under the logs on which the boat is resting so as to insert myself under the hull to get at the hole in the hull.  And it’s dark under there. Even doing that, I am like toothpaste squeezed out of a tube as I wriggle and wrestle to get into position.

The position?  Face to face with the bottom of a boat at way too intimate a distance for my personal preference.  Then I grind off the under-crap and try to get at the clean f’glass underneath.  There is not enough room to turn the grinder except one way and it is just enough to get at the spot. Lots of crap-in-the-face doing this kind of fine finishing work.

But the ugliest part of the prepping got done a few days ago.  Then we waited for a dry day to put on the patch. Today.  I went under and cleaned the area with acetone and cleaned inside the hole, too. Everything dry and clean, we proceeded.  Sal mixed the resin and hardener and passed it under to me with some f’glass cloth and I covered and smoothed and let resin fall on my face.  It was a lovely thing to see the hole get covered and the patch take form – from the eye without resin in it.

Beautiful.

A drip formed on the downside end of the patch.  I wiped it away.  Cursed the dripping resin.  A few seconds later another drip.  I wiped it away.  And again. Hmmmmmm…..these drips don’t seem like resin…?  They were not!  They were water drips!!

Where the hell did the water come from?

The boat has been high and dry for a few days…..I checked the hole…..I cleaned the hole….I acetoned the hole…..nada…no water when I checked and cleaned…not then…..?

But there is water now, now that that the patch is in place.  Water is leaking from the trailing end of the patch that is intended to keep the water out.  This is NOT beautiful.  Worse, the stream of water seems to be increasing….?  How is that possible?  Murphy?  You there?

Outcome: I formed the patch anyway.  I’ll let it harden up to cover the majority of the hole. Let the channel that the drip formed drip away.  Guess what?  The hole left by the dripping water will be the size of a cocktail straw.  Where have I heard that before?

Tomorrow, after the patch has set up, I’ll grind the straw-sized channel out leaving a small cocktail-straw-sized hole that will get plugged with Sikaflex and then, when NOT dripping, glassed over again.

“Dave!  Isn’t glasswork supposed to be done when the old surface is dry?”

Yes.  Yes it is.  That would be a good thing, that would.  But, in this case some magic water appeared and so I have had to adjust.  It must be holy water….it came from a hole….

Fortunately, I was using cold cure.  Cold cure is an epoxy that will set up under water.  This is NOT under water but there is magic water appearing where no water was supposed to be and so I am glad I used cold cure.  Blessed holy cold cure. The patch I put on today will be good for the bulk of the problem.  If there is a God in heaven!

The straw-hole will be a patch-on-a-patch and done tomorrow.

Nothing is simple.  Not even a patch on a hole.

BREAKING NEWS!!!!

Job is done!  Patches holding.  Wasabi is afloat and dry inside.  We caught the trailing edge of the ebbing tide and hauled it off the beach logs back into the water.  It was touch and go…literally…the makeshift ramp was disintegrating as we winched it back into the almost-too-shallow water (boat and motor just touching the bottom), spun it on the last of the log and floated it back to it’s rightful place in our lives.  Happy is the man whose boat gets floated.  Happier is the woman freed up for quilting.

A day in the life….

Previous blog (PROJECT ONE) has had an ‘epilogue added.  Pictures will also be added to it. I will keep you posted as project one proceeds.  But THIS blog is the one I wanted to write and I do not want to ‘sit on it’ any longer.  This is what our people are like… 

……….a day in the life of our local school teacher.

It was winter out here (we were doing hard-time in Arizona at the time).  Cold.  Two feet of snow in most places, as much as three or four in others.  She works out here teaching in the two-room school to about twelve (on a full day) students.  Grades 1 to 7.  Winter rarely finds a full day of attendance.  The boat-arrivals can make it but the children of same-island residents have to come by cross-island logging road and it is impassable with more than two feet of snow for the few old, wrecked vehicles on the island.

Because getting to school is such a trek, the kids stay longer on the days they attend.  That means they have only a 3 day week.  The teacher stays at the ‘teacherage’ for the nights she is here (a small mini-shack of 150 sft about 50 yards from the school).  She leaves by her own small 16-foot boat Friday night or Saturday morning to return home to the other island – and she subsequently returns Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning the following week.  She travels alone. All weather.

This winter she had a few problems.

On one occasion, she had called her other-island partner ahead of time to ‘suss’ out the road conditions on their home island.  Seemed the twenty-mile road (half of it dirt logging road) over there was also snowed under and, of course, the island’s single road plow was busy on the paved roads and would not be getting to the lesser-used and deeper-snowed-in outer logging roads any time soon.  The two agreed to make equal efforts to meet up from their respective directions.

That agreement  – once made – is cast in stone.

Teacher got in her small boat and proceeded down channel to the community dock on the other island where her car was parked.  It was snowing and it was damn cold because she had stayed over the previous night so as to leave with a full day in which to get home. Later after school in the winter is deep dusk – too dark to leave as a rule. She got in her car and pointed it towards the ‘civilized’ end of the logging road from the ‘uncivilized’ end. She didn’t get far.  Her partner did the same from the other end but also didn’t get far.

There is no cell phone service on the ‘civilized’ island.  Nor, of course, on the uncivilized end.  They did not carry walkie-talkies.  Both vehicles were stuck in the snow miles from one another.  Each knew the other was trekking through the snow alone in the forest.  They were committed.

Both left their vehicles and began pushing through the heavy going towards one another following the barely distinguishable clearing-space that was the blanketed logging road. Hours of hiking ensued.

They eventually met up.  Both exhausted.  Both wet.  Both overjoyed to see the other.  They had left from their respective places early that morning.  They got home at 3:00.  Well in excess of six hours of snow-hiking, most of it alone.

Bonus challenge: our teacher is short.  Five feet in heels.  A three foot snowdrift is almost belly-button high. She was in it thigh-high most of the time. It was somewhat shallower on the road trail but still heavy going.  Their schlep was arduous.

City teachers don’t do that.

But she does.  And she was at school the next week, on time and ready for action. Bonus: she is also a great teacher.  Our local kids do well, stay healthy, stay engaged and learn.  It does NOT get any better.

Project one with epilogue

 

Our boat is sinking.  Slowly.  But surely.  Only the bilge pump is keeping old Wasabi afloat and 12 volt bilge pumps are the least dependable piece of a small boat.  We could be doomed.

Probably not, though. The leak is slow.  Less than a cocktail drinking straw.  But, of course, it is relentless.  I have to address it.

It’s not easy.

The first issue is not the boat, it’s where to haul it out.  I need to haul it out where I can work on it and our recent tidal grid gets wet every tide change.  So, my window of opportunity on the go-to, paint-the-bottom grid is too short for the fibre-glassing I need to do.

I have been meaning to re-build the old haul-out I used for ‘winter boat storage’ – a few logs laid out at an angle that allowed me to drag the boat up to a dry part of the beach.  But that is not a good long term plan (the last ten years notwithstanding).

When the logs are used, they remain partly in the water and, if there is a rough sea (as there always is in winter) then the logs get moved around a bit and the boat is sitting on them….and, well,….two years ago the logs moved enough that the boat and the logs were imperiled.  As it was, the logs collapsed off their rock pedestals and fell a foot or so.  The boat was fine and I put it back in the water easily enough but my faith in jerry-rigged log ramps was eroded.  I am planning on a proper deck next time.

This time.

And therein lies the problem.  Building a skookum haul-out deck in the early days of spring, at an awkward distance from my tool shop and doing so while the boat it is intended for is sinking, puts a bit of pressure into the equation.  Plus the specs for a haul-out capable of taking a boat weighing a ton are not light.  I have to work with cement and 6×6 treated beams and use heavy steel fastenings and such.  This is NOT a one-day chore.

Logic says it will take me a week of good weather.

Logic also says, “there is unlikely to be a week of good weather.”

So, it may take three weeks of sporadic weather.

Murphy says, “You are forgetting about me!”

I will need a generator down there for the tools.  So, when our latest guests were here last week, I dragged out the old, neglected, heavy-duty genset that had not been started for two years and was full of stale gas and started the ‘boat haul-out’ chore by first trying to get the genset started.  After a bit of cleaning and fiddling, that work was rewarded and we had a good running genset to drag down a cliff.

The best way to do that was to use the high-line that I use for hauling logs up.  But that had broken just before Arizona so job #2 was getting that puppy up and working so that the genset could be lowered to the beach.  But Trev and I got that done, too.  So, we can now get crap up and down the hill.

Which is good.  Because cement is heavy crap.  And I need to get wheelbarrows and Reddi-mix bags and rock drills and heavy steel down there, too.  That’s 120 feet at a 35 degree angle.

And, once again, a lesson is hammered home.  Getting prepared and in position to do a job is just as much work as actually doing the damn job, especially if you factor in the after-job clean-up and tool return.

Now, if it would only stop raining…..

Prescient epilogue: the boat sank!  Fortunately, it was noticed by a passing friend while doing so and it only plunged in neck deep.  Two thirds of the engine was covered and that meant water in it.  That’s bad.  But we are blessed.  J, another friend and neighbour, is a marine mechanic. He came to the rescue.  Did all the right things and quickly, too.  Quick is essential when dealing with salt water.  Once that was done, Sal and I dragged ol’ Wasabi up the aforementioned broken logs from yesteryear. That was a huge job.  Took us til 8:00 pm to get that done.

Wasabe on the rickety old marine ways

Today we moved repair materials down to the bech.  Assessed the damage.  It will take me a few days to do the work but it is not a hard job except for the fact that I have to squeeze between two logs to get to the bottom of the boat. Worst part: I am rounder than the logs. That’s gonna be tight – already was.  That’s how the assessment was done. Doubly worse: the logs are lying over small trickle stream so, when Sal had the first look, she was half in the water doing so.  I managed to put some planks in and avoided much of that but doing the actual job will be wet work.

David readying one of the pallets of supplies and equipment

Will it be a good job?  No.  Too hard to do it right.  I really need the boat higher and drier than I can manage on the beach.  But it should be good enough to get the new haul-out deck built and then…well, we’ll see.

Pallet attached to highline heads downhill

 

I have another boat with a better hull but a rotten floor that I was gonna rebuild to replace ol’ Wasabi.  I’ll likely stick with that plan.

Pallet of supplies nearing the bottom of the hill

 

Lesson: no lesson.  Not really. Should have listened to Murphy, maybe?  He’s gonna get ya…one way or another…and he did.  Moved the plan up two weeks or so, the bastard.  Timing is everything.

 

 

Getting educated a bit too late

I am 69.  Sal is a few years younger.  We both acknowledge we are well into ‘middle-age’ and I may be creeping up on ‘old’.  Maybe.  The government already thinks so, anyway. We both get old age pensions.  We both get discounts on the ferry.  If we remember, (which we never do) we are eligible for other ‘senior’ discounts at stores and services as well. Somewhere, I am sure.  I just never remember to ask.

Overall, I would say that, with decreased consuming, increased discounts and ‘free money’ in the way of old age pensions, we are doing fine financially.  We are still at or below the official urban (2015) poverty line of approximately $22,000 per person ($19,000 if you live rurally), but we have never had it so good. $40,000+ per couple per annum is a good life off the grid.

The key, of course, is no debt.  We owe nothing except the monthly outstanding Visa bill and that gets paid off every month so ‘interest’ at usurious mobster rates is not a factor.  And the key to no debt is no mortgage, rent or the parasitical ‘umbilicals’ of cable, hydro, strata fees and the like.  And mortgages and rent are prohibitively expensive in the city.  Everything is.  But that is not so in small towns and even less so in cottage country (during the off-season, anyway).  Go off the grid altogether and the extortions become minimal to non-existent.

And that’s the point of this blog.  As of this writing the BC minimum wage is $10.85, soon to reach $11.25.  That hourly wage equates to about $20K a year.  If earned in a small town, it is pleasantly liveable.  If earned off the grid, it is more than enough.

Of course, off the grid work is seasonal at best but, then again, the work is not always at minimum wage and, if one was to work at least 600-700 hours during say, the tourist season (3 or 4 months), then wages plus ‘pogey’ is enough to live much better than a full time job in the city at similar or better wages.

The second book we are still wrestling with makes this point as well.  Why the hell would anyone live in the city and go into debt while renting a rat-hole and hating their job when a ‘regular’ and more pleasant job in a small town results in a much more pleasant and healthy existence?

I understand why I did it….I didn’t know any better.  I had an urban-centric bias. But, now that the city is totally unaffordable for young people, immigrants, single mothers, the ill-educated and elderly, why is there not a constant exodus to small towns?  And consider this: Sal and I did OK by city standards.  We bought a house. We walked away with some ‘equity’.  But, really…?  What did we do with that equity?  We just bought outright our own OTG home.  We still needed to supply the labour.  We did not sell Trump tower. We sold a cul-de-sac house.  We came away with just enough to build our own modest house.

That could have been achieved in half the time had we started in say, Campbell River or Comox.  The point: you come away with more money after a life in the city but it only serves to buy what you would have already had if you had started out in a small town.

So, why are small towns not blooming?  Why is the city growing?  Why are there NOT more people moving OTG?  Part of the answer, of course, is that OTG is physically harder.  I get that – especially if you are older.  But small towns aren’t any more physically challenging. Small towns have it all and you can commute in five minutes, park for free and still be a five minute walk from nature.

Seriously?  Except for a larger gene pool when you are younger, what does the city really have to offer?

Watson erred. Trump was right.

Dear John and Aaron – I feel I have your permission to return to Trumplandia one more time because, in this instance, I (gasp, choke) support Trump.  I expect that such anomalies will be a rare occurrence, indeed, but one has to tell the truth as one sees it and, in this case, I side with Trump.  I do not so much agree with Trump as I disagree with judge Watson.  You guys deserve to win this one.

Hawaii judge, Derrick Watson, put a temporary hold on Trump’s revised travel ban. He was wrong.  Trump will get that decision overturned.  And, so he should.

Watson’s decision was based on the argument that Trump had ‘said’ publicly many times that he was intending to ‘ban Muslims’ and that those words have to be taken literally as religious persecution. On the face of it, that is logical.

But, on the flip-side of it, that reasoning is also illogical when applied to the actual lawyer-crafted written ban on the presidential order because the words in the travel ban did NOT say Muslims.  In effect, Watson is taking some words literally (Trump’s electioneering blather) but not the most important words, the actual written words of the presidential order.

“…. when words lose their meaning and their capacity to bind those who use them, neither democracy nor the rule of law can long survive.”  (that cuts both ways).

No sane person could disagree with that.  Especially in law.  However, it is also true that individual people can change their minds, alter their positions and even mis-speak.  No one can (or should be) be held accountable for their words say, twenty years later. In fact, every negotiation is an example of ‘words’ changing as positions on an issue are altered to find agreement.  That’s why we actually put things in carefully crafted wording on paper so that those finally-arrived-at words can extend accountability rather than one’s older, personal, off-the-cuff, first-position statements.  Contract law is the very best example of that and Watson should know that.

In other words, I think Trump is a fool and loose-tongued bigot but the words that count are the ones that were actually written in the order.  And the ones that were written are the ones that will be implemented.  Those are the ones that should be judged.

I am pleased that Watson slapped down Trump because I do not like Trump but the judge’s reasoning is faulty and his decision was based on a wrong legal premise. I think Watson showed his bias.  Trump’s order may remain overturned but NOT because of Watson’s reasoning.

The most interesting aspect of this incident is that the judiciary used the power of ‘words’ to make their decision (as they should) and Trump’s speaking-style is ignorant, bigoted and barely coherent so his own words undermined him.  His bias has been showing for some time.  He is his own worst enemy in a war of words. That is why he hires so many lawyers.

But I suspect that his lawyers actually came through for him on the travel ban and the wording was good even if I disagree with it.  The 9th court of Appeals will likely overturn Watson not because of the correctness of the ban but because of Watson’s faulty reasoning.

Trump is also in ‘trouble’ with the words he uses when accusing Obama of wire-tapping his residence prior to the election.  His ‘words’ aren’t right. So, if the next four years of political battle is to be waged with carefully scrutinized words, then Trump will have to take a back seat except when speaking like a fire-brand preacher to some populist choir.

Trump is much too vulnerable to real wordsmiths like lawyers and journalists. If the GOP is to govern, they are gonna have to muzzle that gibbering beast.       

Trump will be impeached…

….but you didn’t hear it here first.  I heard it first, of course, on the day he was elected and I have heard it almost every time I have looked deeply into a Trump subject. The latest clarion on the topic was from the author and former Secretary of Labour to three different presidents, Robert Reich.

Mind you, there are several competing reasons for impeachment and none of them are yet proven altho, on the face of it, one or two are unofficially proved in the court of common sense.

  • Trump violated his pledge to “faithfully” execute the laws and the Constitution when he accused his predecessor, President Obama, of illegally wiretapping him;  TOUGHEST IMPEACHMENT CHARGE TO PULL OFF, I think…..
  • Trump violate the Emolulent clause of the Constitution, which prohibits public officials from accepting money or gifts from foreign governments;  SHOULD BE THE EASIEST ONE TO ‘SELL’.  All ‘Mericans understand money.  
  • Trump violated the First Amendment’s freedom of religion provision by instituting a travel ban on residents of seven Muslim-majority countries; and
  • Trump violated the First Amendment’s free speech provision by calling the press the “enemy of the American people” and declining critical news outlets access to certain White House events.

Reich also asserts that if Trump colluded with the Russians – in any way – to help his election, that would constitute a fifth reason.  Already two close aides have had to resign over private ‘discussions’ with the Russians.

In my opinion, Trump should be impeached simply because of the Emoluments clause in the US Constitution that prohibits a president from profiting from the office. Or receiving gifts.  Trump is clearly doing so and, additionally, Melania launched and won a lawsuit that claimed allegations against her limited her ‘brand’s value and her ability to profit from being a ‘first lady’ (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one).

While the first lady making money over her position is not Trump, it suggests an insensitivity to the ‘visuals.’

But we are NOT talking visuals with TRUMP.  He got his ‘brand’ protected by the Chinese government a few days after he won the election. They had refused until then.  So, clearly, his presidency is now making him more profitable.  He is also making money ‘as the president’ because he insists on staying at his golf resort, Mar-a-lago, in Florida. A lot. He charges the Secret Service for staying there while they protect him.  His son’s get SS service when they open a new hotel in Vancouver!  That makes it extra profitable.

And there are other examples form golf courses to massage parlors.  Trump has his fingers in so many pies that profiting from the office is almost inevitable and unavoidable.  Think about it….advance notice decisions of the president….insider trading?  Spell it T-R-U-M-P.

But, frankly, I do not care.  Not really.  I expect nothing different.  He is a greedy, narcissistic bully and that’s what they do.  They get rich and they die like everyone else but with a large bank account….big whoop!  The point is: it is against the Constitution to do it.  100%.  No wriggle room.  See Jimmy Carter’s dilemma with his peanut farm.  That Trump ignores that rule has nothing to do with it – it’s a CONSTITUTIONAL rule and that means Congress.

That the House majority Republicans ignore it, however, is another matter.  If they choose to continue to ignore their profiteering president, wife and family, their majority in Congress means that he will never experience the ‘rule of law’ as it applies to presidents.  That makes the GOP accomplices.  That makes them complicit in a crime.  That makes them criminals, too.  So, we may not only see Trump impeached, we may see the end of the Republican Party.  It will be a major setback at the very least.

That sounds a tad mad but the Judiciary is the major check and balance in the US government and they cannot ignore the law. If they do, they are effectively ignoring their own role in government.  Somewhere along the line, this HUGE/YUGE conflict of interest will play out.

When that happens, the Republicans will throw Trump under the bus.  It’s what they do.

Bounty sustained

We’re home.  Time to refresh the larder.  A big shopping trip is due but, after the long schlep home, we decided to put it off for a week or so.  Logistics.  However, we had plenty to do to get the house back in order and so we have been pretty busy.

Our neighbour helped us re-provision somewhat by leaving his prawn traps out before he went back to the city.  “You pull ’em.  Git yerself a few prawns.  Maybe put the traps down a day before I return but I have no set plans.”  

So, we went out and pulled the traps.  Fifteen pounds!

That is our expected annual haul!  One day!  (we might have prawns once a month and use a bit extra when we have guests).  Fifteen pounds is plenty.  We spent the latter part of the day cleaning, bagging and freezing the catch.  We are now good til next year.

Just as the government can print money as they need to, Sal can bake.  Another bachelor neighbour way further north sorta hinted at a crabs-for-cheesecake trade. Sal will do that.  We’ll have fresh crab again this year.

When we go to town to replenish stocks, we’ll take the trailer and fill it it with topsoil, fertilizer, mulch and steer manure.  The garden is soon-to-be started (as soon as the snow quits).  I can see fresh salads already.  Sal sees flowers.  We are still working out the flowers-to-food planting ratio.  I want NO flowers and all food.  She wants flowers and herbs and is happy to buy lettuce and tomatoes at the store.  Talks will continue throughout the year.  One thing I am sure of: we’ll have plenty of flowers and herbs. Lettuce?  Not so sure.

Saw my doctor the other day.  She was pleased that I had lost a bit of weight.  But not pleased enough.  “Maybe you should do a bit more exercise?  Go for a nice walk?  Do you and Sally walk?”  

I showed her the chocolate cookies that Sal had baked for her.  “No.  I do not walk. Not for no reason, anyway.  I walk when I have to go somewhere.  And I’m often carrying 20 to 50 pounds when I do.  Usually uphill.  But no, I do not hike for fun. Hiking for no purpose is not fun for me.”

“Maybe you should try hiking.  It’s good for you.  Go for a nice long walk, wear headphones, listen to music.  It’s lovely.”

“If I walk two hundred feet in any one direction, I will fall into the sea.  Plus I’ll have gained and lost another hundred feet in elevation.  How ’bout we forgo the walk and I will just carry boulders up the hill when I come?”

“Really?  You’ll fall into the sea?  What about a nice park or something?  Can’t you go to a nice park somewhere and walk around it a few times?”

“No.  That would be stupid.  Boulder carrying makes more sense and, to be honest, boulder carrying makes no sense at all.  I appreciate the advice but I’m not walking around for exercise.  Ain’t gonna happen.  I will just have to lose weight the way I am doing it now. Slowly.”

“Well, I attended a conference in which they described patients like you so let me apply the lesson they taught me.  If you wanted to lose more weight how do you see yourself doing that?”

“Eat less fruit?  Carry more boulders?”

“Don’t be silly!”

“Well, I seem to get a lot of exercise when I build crap and I do need a new haul-out deck for the boat repairs…so I guess, I’ll just get on it…..?”

“But, is ‘building crap’ a sustainable exercise regime?”

“Well, I am not very good at it and so I have to rebuild the stuff again and again….so, yes, I think it is a sustainable exercise regime.”

“Good!  We have an exercise plan.  I am glad we had this little talk.  Pass the cookies.”   

 

 

 

Free thinking or simply Machiavellian….?

We finally met a dyed-in-the-wool, true-Trump supporter and believer as we were leaving Arizona.  He was the cabby taking us to the airport.  ‘Bout 70.  Small, leathery, skinny, polite, nice, poorly dressed and ill-spoken.  But clearly an ‘on-the-surface’ ordinary and decent kinda guy.  Dale.

We got to talkin’ and he offered up his political views.  “Time to make America Great Again.  Trump is gonna shake up the establishment.  Gonna help us poor folks get back on our feet. He cares about America.  Obama is an African Muslim with a forged birth certificate.  He created ISIS.  Hillary is crooked and so is the Clinton machine.  Trump has already done more in the last few weeks than Obama did in eight years.”  

Well, I said, I disagree one hundred percent with you.  I liked Obama.  He, at least spoke well.  And I don’t like Trump at all.  Admittedly, I did not like Clinton either. Still, I could be wrong.  You could be right.  Or, vice versa….right?”

“Sure.  But I think Trump speaks from the heart.  That’s why he sounds a bit crazy but he truly cares.  That’s what I believe.  He wants to do the right thing.  I am sure of that.”

Agreeing on ‘doing the right thing’ was our common ground.

And so we went on to other things. His part of the area is famous for being the sunniest place in the western hemisphere.  But he did not believe in solar panels.  I explained why solar panels are not too expensive when you live in Arizona and get half of the cost subsidized by a govt. grant.  He didn’t like the Chinese.  I told him about China and my experience with the culture.  He wondered why Canadian tourism was down 40% and that the tips were lousy.  I told him about it costing twice as much to live in Canada and how our dollar has dropped so even Arizona was not as cheap for us.  He told me about his high cost of living.  I told him about our gas and food prices vs Arizona prices and pointed out that 40% of their gasoline comes from Canada.

He didn’t know that.

He told me that he had to move in with his son ’cause he had a hard time making ends meet.  He told me that Mexicans were fine people who did most of the hard work in his area. Told me his wife left him.  Told me he was in favour of guns and expressed surprise to learn that Trump/Sessions repealed the law that forbade certifiably insane people from buying them.  Now they can.

He didn’t know that either.

When we arrived at the airport we shook hands.  He said, “Well, this has been the most educational fare I have ever had.  Thank you very much.  It was nice to meet you”.

As I said above, he was nice and polite. He was also working hard at 70.  He was poor.  He was also looking for the ‘tip’.  Still, being naive by nature and sussing him out as sincere, I believed him.  I think he truly found the conversation interesting.  I sure did.  I do know that many ‘facts’ or bits of ‘common knowledge’ I shared were news to him because he explored them with interested questions.  But I am not deluding myself.  He will support Trump regardless of what happens because, for him, Trump represented hope.

And therein lies the point of this blog: many Americans seem to have lost hope in themselves. Or their ‘circumstance’ at the very least.  On the other hand, many ‘Mericans (it seems, anyway) do not seem to seek out more information so as to find options.  He did NOT strike me as a zealot or a bigot (well, he was certainly against blacks because they burn down their own houses when they riot) but, given his miserable life, he was looking for something and that something was NOT the system or the establishment that he had lived in for the bulk of his life.  His American Dream was over because it had never really started.

The truly sad part was that Dale, though no genius, was not tree-stump stupid.  But, OMG, he was so incredibly ignorant of what passes for common knowledge in not only our life but also in just about any 8th grader’s life. Dale knew nothing and seemed to be content with that.

I say that ‘we finally met a true-Trump believer’ and Dale was the only person we met who identified openly that way but we must have encountered others.  We did encounter a helluva lot of people in Arizona who had little knowledge of much of anything outside of the US.  NOT all, of course, but that ‘local hick’, no-nothing-but what’s-on-TV attitude was fairly common.

Did it surprise me?

Not really.  I have friends who have never left BC. I know a guy who has never left Quadra Island.  NOT knowing about the world and having the perspective travel gives you is likely more common than traveling and learning about others.  England is famous for those who ‘never left the village‘.  Every country has them.

The thing is, tho: if you do not travel at least some, then your entire perspective is influenced by your family, peers and the TV station you watch.  If you hang out with Bubba at Redneck Taxi and watch only FOX TV, you are programmed a certain way. If you travel the globe and read instead of watch anything, then you are programmed another way.

But, face it, both groups are programmed. It is difficult to be a free-thinker.  I recommend the larger program if, for no other reason, it is more interesting and provides more hope.

And I hope this blog has helped to program you into thinking the way I want you to think……