Thursday 25 April 2019

Vancouver is Lovely in The Springtime

Ok, so here it is 12:24 AM and I am sitting in the Tim Horton’s at YVR (Vancouver Airport) its a steeped tea in front of me and an Everything bagel toasted with butter. I will be sitting here or someplace similar until about six the morning. I hate lay overs at the best of times and today isn’t the best of times. It is all due to a programming error by Boeing on the 737 MAX.

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that our plane didn’t nose dive into the Pacific Ocean or into Vancouver Island, but a seven hour layover just sucks. Especially when it happens at night. Okay, to be fair I am acclimatized to Hawaii time so from it is only 9:24 AM really. I did go to bed early in Hawaii but I woke up early because those fucking roosters wouldn’t shut up when the sun came up. I know what you are thinking, waking up in Hawaii is pretty good no matter when it happens. 


I know what will happen, I will stay awake till three or so and then I will drift off into Never-Neverland. It’s possible that I will miss my flight. Well, it would be if Louise wasn’t with me.


So, we had to wait until 3:45 AM to get our boarding passes and check our bags with Westjet. The guys that turn the conveyor belt on don’t work for WestJet but work for the Airport authority and the bags piled up until about 4:00 AM. After checking in and dropping the bags off we went to go thru security which is a Federal government department and they don’t open until 4:45 AM. More waiting! 

We at least have a relatively comfortable seat now, but no matter how comfy the chair it doesn’t make up for lost sleep. Believe me when I tell you that I need my beauty sleep just to stay on the good side of ugly.

In forty-five minutes I get to take off my belt and shoes, empty my pockets and feel guilty about things that I haven’t done. Once we pass security we will find a comfortable seat by our gate and wait some more. 

This is when I will probably fall asleep and miss my flight.

They say Vancouver is lovely in the springtime.

Monday 22 April 2019

And It Is

Still in paradise.

The funny thing about paradise is that the longer one stays here it seems less and less like paradise. The weather is wonderful, everywhere you look there are amazing, majestic vistas, the water is warm enough to enjoy dawn to dusk and yet is cool enough to be refreshing. The people are people, some beautiful and some less so, but most of them genuinely nice. Somehow thoughI feel as if I have stayed just a little too long.

Yesterday I developed a stiff neck that has stayed over today and is making things difficult for me if I nee to look anywhere but straight ahead. Also yesterday I tripped going up the stairs to our condo. I am not really an expert when it comes to flip-flops or “slippahs” as they are called here. Somehow when I slipped I tore skin on my big toe and had to deal with blood, pain, bandaids Randall that goes with it. If I were in Canada I would have gone to a doctor to see if I needed stitches, but even though we have insurance it just doesn’t seem right.

Today about twenty hours later the bleeding has mostly stopped and I have taken several over the counter drugs to deal with my neck and any swelling that may or may not come with torn flesh. I have been told that I shouldn’t go in the ocean with an open wound unless I am a fan of infection. My natural inclination is to use the ocean to cleanse and purify the wound, but I don’t dare because I couldn’t live with the “I TOLD YOU SO’S” that I would hear from Louise. So, no more ocean for me.

I knew before coming that I was a ten day vacation kind of guy, but it made sense at the time to book 14 days. I suppose that if I lived here and had something other than walking on the beach and getting a tan to do it would be alright. But, I don’t have a lot to do here.

I miss home. I miss puttering around the house and I miss looking and touching my stuff. I miss my dog and I worry that he doesn’t miss me as much as I miss him. Lucky for me he is a cuddle whore and anyone with a lap is his favourite person. Two days from now I will be on a plane heading east and a few hours after that I will be home surrounded by my stuff remembering how nice it was in paradise…and it is!

Sunday 21 April 2019

My Cross To Bear

It is Easter Sunday in paradise. When I walk the beach in the morning there are usually many people doing pretty much the same thing I am doing, wandering on the beach while watching people and keeping an eye on the ocean just in case it decides to do something odd. I had to make an airport run for some of the people who were staying and today had to be going. They weren’t looking forward to the trip home but I think they were ready to resume their normal lives and leave paradise until the next time.

When I got back from the airport I took a dip in the ocean and walked down the beach to let the sun dry me off. I prefer to use solar power. The odd thing is that the beach was strangely quiet. I suspect that Easter Sunday church service had something to do with it and perhaps more people were doing Sunday brunch than is normal. There is no shortage of wonderful eateries in paradise. Of course the ocean kept on making waves and I still had to keep my eyes on it, just in case.

Later on in the day I went to look for interesting things that the ocean had washed up on shore and noticed that there were more people than usual in my prime picking grounds. These people were no strangers to the ocean and came with fishing rods, beach umbrellas, radios, beach chairs, coolers full of cool drinks and I assume good food. They had been to church and the afternoon was a day of fun at the beach. I wish that we had had a beach closer to us when the kids were small because kids can be entertained by the sand and surf. 

One of the guys I was talking to kept an eye on his two little boys who were fishing. I asked him if they had caught anything and he just laughed saying that they didn’t have a hook on the line, just a weight but they had been busy “fishing” for an hour. I guess practice makes perfect and eventually those boys will put bait on a hook along with the weight and bring home something to eat for future Easter dinners.

We are having a pot luck Easter Dinner at the condo which should be delicious. There will probably be more salads than meat dishes, but when you eat with athletic people it is something you come to expect. That’s my cross to bear this Easter. I am hoping that someone will bring a delicious desert but that may be pie in the sky dreaming from me. I have some back up ice cream and a brownie in the condo just in case I overdose on kale and couscous.

We will have good conversation and get to watch the sun set into the ocean. Life in paradise is really living.

Friday 19 April 2019

One Old Guy

For the past week or so I have spent a good part of my day walking on the beach, sitting on the beach and being in the ocean within sight of the beach. Yes, it is a good life.

I like to look at interesting shells, rocks, patterns in the sand and if I am lucky I will find some beach glass. Yesterday I found a largish piece of blue glass which I have been told is relatively rare. If you look for blue glass bottles in the store they are pretty hard to find as well, so that’s another reason that blue glass is rare. Also in order to find blue sand glass, the bottle has to be thrown in the ocean by someone that doesn’t give a shit about conservation or my delicate Canadian feet, which limits the amount of glass as well. There isn’t a lot of glass this year so I must assume that people are not tossing glass bottles in the ocean as much, preferring plastic containers to litter with.

I also like to watch people. I can do this in secret by hiding my eyes behind a pair of sunglasses. Of course when my head spins around to follow a pretty girl the sunglasses don’t hide anything. I’d need a large dome shaped umbrella to hide that and I’m not sure that the umbrella wouldn’t cause peoples heads to turn and look at me. The secret to people watching is to keep it secret.

Now the people that print the travel magazines, posters and TV commercials want us to believe that everyone in paradise is beautiful. Well, after a week of people watching on the beach I can tell you for a certainty that all of the people on the beach are not beautiful. I know that because I see absolute proof every time I look in a mirror. I am sure that many are attractive to some and probably most of them are beautiful people on the inside. It is the outside I am talking about.

When I walked down the beach today I was wondering just how many of these sun worshipers I would like to see naked and my answer was almost none of them. Maybe I am too picky or maybe I believe that beauty lies in accessories, ie clothing. Maybe I am subconsciously thinking that if I can’t go naked then no one should. 

The truth is that in this day and age most of the people on the beach are effectively naked and they should be comfortable while swimming, walking and talking. Being on the beach is a lot like dancing in that you should dress as if no one is watching because no one is. Well, except for one old guy walking along the beach looking for pretty shells.

Thursday 18 April 2019

If Only I Could Remember His Name

A month or two ago my son and his wife gave me a couple of t-shirts. One was pretty good but I forget why and the other they suggested I could use it for a rag. Now, I always love free stuff, and free t-shirts will never go to waist unless my waist gets too big which has happened more than I care to admit. I had a plan for that rag t-shirt.

The shirt was bright red and the front was emblazoned with the Calgary Stampeders logo and name. It was a little big and was perfect for wearing when I walked down the beach every day. I knew that if and when my skin turned the colour of the t-shirt I could be certain that I have gotten too much sun and need to be slathered with aloe vera or some other off the shelf ointment. 

It is also quite literally a sign that I am from Canada, Alberta and I am a Calgarian. It is a wonderful ice breaker. People will make comments on the weather back home, how the Stamps did last year and what happened to the Flames last night. I try to avoid talking politics because more often than not my views and theirs differ slightly. I just mumble something about all politicians are crooks and I prefer to keep the current crop in power because their pockets are already full of my tax dollars. I have no need to mention that I also agree with their policies.

I have met more than a few Canadians this trip, some from the Atlantic provinces, some from Ontario, BC and Saskatchewan. The Quebecois are either stand offish or they don’t have a mastery of English. Little do they know that their English is far superior than my French.

Today I had a novel experience.

A couple about my age stopped me and asked if I were a Stamps season ticket holder. I told them that I just hold the t-shirt. We got to talking and it turns out that they live in Calgary and the woman was trying to convince me to volunteer for the 2020 Grey Cup which will be held in town. It’s a thought and except for the volunteering part it sounds great. We talked about what they have been up to since arriving in paradise and golf figured heavily in their to do lists. I suggested a couple of good spots for breakfast and they told me that they ate breakfast in their condo. To me it is more of a social thing rather than an eating thing, but to each his or her own.

We talked of hockey and the abysmal loss the other night and I told them I was used to supporting a losing team since I was originally from Toronto. The guy said “Me Too!”. 

“Where in Toronto are you from?” I asked.

“Scarborough” he replied.

I smiled and said “Me Too!”

As it turns out we grew up within a mile of each other, attended the same high school two or three years apart and knew many of the same people. I look forward to seeing him on the beach again before I leave because aside from the golf and not going out for breakfast, he was a nice guy. 

Now, if only I could remember his name…

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Carry a Mailbag

I am sitting on the lanai watching a palm tree swaying back and forth in the breeze. Nothing says paradise more than this.

Why then am I wondering just where it will hit the condo complex if it is uprooted by that same ocean breeze. I’m pretty sure that it will miss my condo, but I can’t say that with an absolute certainty. It’s only a foot or so in circumference but there is sixty or seventy feet of it which would be pretty destructive. Palm trees don’t have the deep root systems that trees have in Canada, they are more like small potted plants which will willingly leave the dirt for just about any reason.

I guess I shouldn’t worry about a palm tree falling on me, that is just stupid. It’s far more likely that a rogue shark will mistake my too white body for a seal while I am flopping around in the ocean. I doubt that I will taste very good, but by the time sharks figures that out I will be missing an important part of my body. Just to be clear, any part of my body is important as far as I am concerned. 

A shark is just me being silly, but there are these fish with wicked looking spines all over their bodies that I see washed up on the beach durning my daily walks. My hope is that they died somewhere out in the ocean and were washed up during the nightly high tide. Not knowing anything about mid Pacific fish this one might be a flying attack fish that launches itself at unsuspecting mammals that are walking along the beach looking for bits of sand glass and not paying attention to an attack from the ocean. Out of the blue yesterday Louise looked at me and with a serious look on her face she said “Never turn your back on the ocean!”  What the hell! I am on an island, so anyway I turn my back it will be pointed to the ocean. Sure there might be miles between the ocean and my back but who knows how crazy this ocean can be. Why would Louise do that? 

I am far more likely to get a thorn in my foot from the trees that line the beach. Why would they have thorn trees by the beach in paradise? Okay, all of this is just silliness because the real danger is from the sun. I have been feeling a warmth on my body for the past few days and even though I want a nice lightly bronze colour on my skin, I suspect that I am getting closer to fire engine red than chocolate tan. Well, I’m not staying away from the beach (I paid good money for this experience) so my skin will just have to suck it up.

At least I don’t have to carry a mailbag on my sunburnt shoulders when I go home…

Sunday 14 April 2019

We Deserve

I don’t know why I feel compelled to read about Donald Trump everyday, but I do. Perhaps it is the same as driving past a car wreck and wondering just how something so awful happened. What were the drivers thinking or were they just not paying attention to what was going on around them. If we follow with the car analogy, then the American public under Obama were on an interstate in North Dakota driving 10MPH over the limit under a blue sky with the top down and found themselves suddenly in a downtown Chicago rush hour on a cold, miserable November day. 

I guess that I just don’t understand US politics. Hell, I don’t understand Canadian politics. I don’t know why anyone in their right mind would run for office in the first place. Hmmm…maybe I hit on it. None of the politicians are in their right minds. It could be money that drives them or it could be power, but one thing seems certain to me, it sure doesn’t seem to be the desire to make our world a better place.

I need to be careful when describing old Donny Trump, I wouldn’t want to be unfair to all of the asshats, thieving bastards and chunts in the world. Trump is the banana slug of the human world, looks slimy, disgusting and you certainly wouldn’t want one anywhere near you or the people you love. I wouldn’t want Trump near the people I hate.

So, here I am in the US of A and find myself at a loss. I want to talk to my American friends about their views of the Commander and Chief, but I don’t really know just how to approach the topic. Most will make ambiguous comments about the terrible political situation, but that doesn’t really tell me much and on which side of the fence they choose to sit on. The few conversations I have had go only so far and then just stop. My feeling is that they don’t agree with what is going, but there are some things that they can live with. Good economy?

I will just keep on thinking of the orange guy as a prime example of a fuck-tard and leave it at that. I have my own political problems. Two days from now there will be a provincial election and the party that I think have been doing a good job will more than likely be replaced with a bunch of right wing liars and cheats. In a few months the federal election may bring on a change from the current liberal government to the federal version of liars and cheats.

I guess that at the end of the day we get the government that we deserve. It is a sad commentary.

Image result for hitler cartoon

Saturday 13 April 2019

Uncle George

So, here I am in paradise sitting on the lanai watching a small triangle of blue, green ocean send smallish whitecaps to shore while the palm trees sway in the not insignificant breeze. Did I mention that the sky was so blue it almost hurts to look at it? I suppose that there is road noice, but the sound of the surf and the wind in the trees cover it up nicely. I have a good book in front of me, a cold drink beside me and I am trying to decide whether to swim first and then walk along the beach or should it be the other way around. Certainly one of those first world problems.

Life is pretty good!

This morning we attended a beachside ceremony commemorating the passing of a 94 year old Kahuna. By all accounts “Uncle George” was beloved by the paddling community and pretty much everyone that knew him. He gave people laughter and strength. A life well lived.

The paddlers (seven or eight boatloads of them) gathered in a large circle in the ocean while prayers were said and Uncle George’s ashes were given back to the sea in a ceremony that sends his spirit on to the next challenge. The Kahuna joked that knowing Uncle George, there was a better than average chance that he wouldn’t wait for his spirit and would let it catch up later. It was a nice way to say goodbye for all who loved and respected him.

I stayed on the beach with some of the other land-locked people and watched the proceedings from the shore. It was less emotional that way. One of the women that I talked to had missed her spot on the boat because she was packing up her house to prepare for a move to the state of Washington. She didn’t want to move particularily but since she was about to retire she would no longer be able to afford to live in paradise. She was putting on a brave face, but you could tell that the tears were there just below the surface.

I can’t help but feel for her. In a perfect world you should be able to retire in the place that you spent your working life and where you raised your family. Unfortunately, this happens all of the time. There is a retirement community in Ontario that is in the middle of nowhere, hours form any large retail centre but it is affordable. Some folks want to start a new adventure late in their lives and I say good for them. I am one of the very lucky ones, able to live a life I choose and not one that is chosen for me. I wish I could say I planned for this, but I just fell into a job that enabled me to prepare for my retirement. Thank my lucky stars!

I wished that woman well and I hope that life in Washington will be fun for her. She seemed to be the type who could make friends easily and she is young enough to deal with her new circumstances.

Thursday 11 April 2019

Sandy Dogshit

I miss my dog.

We are on vacation and Buster has gone to live in the country where he can chase rabbits and play with other dogs. I know that it sounds as if we had him put down so that we could save on the kennel fees while we are away, but he is actually enjoying the good life on an acreage. My son’s wife’s mom and dad offered to look after Buster while we abandoned him so that we could enjoy ourselves. They also took Brendan’s dog Finnigan to keep Buster company. Also, if they have Finn as a hostage we will have to come and get Buster.

I know that I am missing him far more than he is missing me, but I attribute that to the fact that my brain is the size of a small melon and his is the size of a walnut. Sure, I only use a tiny fraction of my brain, but size does matter…probably.

Image result for melonImage result for walnut
Gord (Brendan’s father-in-law) is the type of guy that believes dogs should be allowed to run free and if they come back then you were meant to have said dog in your family. Ever since the first week Buster came to live with us and ran off, he has lived life on a short leash. I worry that at some time while we are lazing on the beach and looking for turtles and or whales, Buster may be scooped up by a large eagle and used to feed her young. That would suck for Buster. He also might be torn into tiny shards by a gang of hungry coyotes. That would suck for Buster too. 
Image result for eagle
There are stories about dogs that find themselves abandoned across the country and then in some miraculous fashion they team up with another dog and a stray cat to make it back to their master. I don’t see Buster doing that. He is more likely to find some sympathetic old lady and suck up to her to get on her lap and get his head scratched. Life would be different of course, but outside of the improvement he wouldn’t know the difference. That would suck for me.

I don’t know why I am missing him because it is my intention that he will be the last dog I have. I would prefer to outlive him of course but God works in mysterious ways. Maybe I don’t think that I am having as good a time as he is. Could I be jealous? Should I be jealous? I know that Gord and Maryanne would let me stay with them and I would be able to run through the fields whenever I chose. I might worry a little about coyotes, but Gord would let me borrow one of his rifles to protect myself. As for eagles, outside of Middle Earth there are none that could carry me away and I would more likely eat the eaglets than them eat me.
Image result for eagle from lotr

Nope. I am going to spend the next two weeks in paradise and whenever I see another person walking their dog down the beach I will be content that I don’t have to bag up sandy dogshit.