Saturday, 31 October 2020

Halloween 2020

So, this is Halloween 2020. We are about an hour away from the time that the Ghosts,  Goblins, clowns, princesses, tramps and any number of scary, horrifying creatures come knocking on the door crying out TRICK OR TREAT and here in the west they will sometimes call out HALLOWEEN APPLES! That must be a holdover from when we trusted our neighbours not to put needles in apples or poison in the candy. The good old days.

 

Louise and I aren’t sure how many kids or if there will be any at all come knocking this year. I don’t think I would send the kids out to strangers homes for candy. The mayor said a week or two ago that Halloween will go on as per usual but cautioned parents and kids to practice social distancing and to wear masks. We will see how much weight that the mayor has with kids on sugar highs or kids that want to be on sugar highs.

 

I don’t think that a global pandemic would have stopped me and my friends from going out in search of candy when I was the right age. Mind you, we didn’t have as much candy on a regular basis as the kids do today. We just didn’t have the disposable income and being raised by parents who went through the Great Depression and the hardships of the second world war we were lucky to get anything sweeter than raisins. It wasn’t that bad, but we sure enjoyed free candy, even those hard toffees that were so sticky you thought that your teeth would pull out of your mouth when you ate them. They were the last candy left so you really didn’t have any choice. Even your big brother wouldn’t steal those candies.

 

So, I am waiting…waiting…waiting to see how much candy Louise and I will be “forced” to eat in the aftermath of the night. We just had our first two Princesses and I will finish this after the witching hour is over…

 

Okay, the final count is in. We had about 31 kids come to the door in costume and a few cute kids that didn’t seem to quite understand the concept but got candy anyways of course. We had about ten high school kids who were probably looking for free munchies to take to a party. They got candy as well, but they received the “lesser” candy, the stuff I would prefer not to eat. All in all this year wasn’t a lot different than the last few years have been. We live in a neighbourhood that is just starting to transition from older folks like us who are in the majority and younger folks that have moved in with young kids. Too soon the young families will be in the majority and the cycle will begin again.

 

Maybe next year we can all be a little more normal than this year and get back to not being concerned about how we hand out our candy.

Thursday, 29 October 2020

X

WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!

 


I just watched an interview that asked people in the USA how they were going to vote and just where their loyalties lay. The breakdown was pretty much as I thought it would be, the better educated, thoughtful people were going to vote Biden for president and the poorly educated, unwashed, ignorant militia types were voting for Trump. I’m not sure how many are actually voting for Biden and how many are voting against Trump and all that he stands for, but that doesn’t matter, all that matters is having a human as the most powerful man in the world and not an orange.

 

The interview was one of those man on the street type of interviews which although not very scientific it does seem representative of that particular corner at that particular time of day. Who could ask for more? The interview that bothered me was of the two college aged kids that were sprawled of cement steps somewhere contemplating if they should smoke another doobie or just let the last one take effect. The one kid said that he was unsure of who to vote for and the other one said he wasn’t intending to vote because it wouldn’t make any difference. WTF?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpS4ebEtLUE

 

Where have these kids been the last four years? Oh yeah, in a cloud of smoke more than likely. Don’t they know that a vote for Biden will more than likely be a vote for legalizing grass. How could you watch your country drop so far in such a short span of time and not want to do anything that you could to help change things. I guess that right there is one of the reasons that Trump was elected in 2016. The politicians have convinced the bulk of the people that nothing will change no matter what you do or who you vote for. That just might be correct, but you should still try if only so that you can say you voted the other way and aren’t to blame.

 

I’m not even an American and I know that everything rests on what happens in the coming five days. Get off of those stone steps and go vote! It would be better if you vote for Biden, but if you happen to be ignorant, unwashed, uneducated and own five or more semi-automatic weapons, you should vote too. All you have to do is this

 

….X…

Monday, 26 October 2020

Feel Sorry For Me

I had a roller coaster kind of day today.

 

It was one of those days that you just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head and forget the world for a few hours. I tend to be a worrier and I had a couple of things I needed to worry about today. We had scheduled our flu shots for today at 2:35 PM and had to take Buster to the vets at 1:45 PM which didn’t leave us with a lot of travel time. Originally I had planned to go to the vets at 11:30 but Louise changed the appointment because she didn’t like the 11:30 vet. She told me not to worry. Good luck with that.

 

I don’t like to be late for anything and thought that we should have changed one of the appointments to another day. I was over ruled of course. Buster has been not himself for a couple of months, having breathing problems and sounding like he had a something (fishbone? Thorn? Mass of ticks? Cancerous growth?) caught in his throat. I actually thought that we would be driving home without our beloved pet and certainly wouldn’t want to be brave getting my flu shot. When we got to the vets they put us in a waiting room and as the name implies they made us wait. All the time I was worrying about Buster and to a lesser degree about being late for our flu shot.

 

Just so you don’t worry, Buster will be alright and with a couple of weeks of antibiotics should be his old self. His old self is old and a 14 year old dog is a 14 year old dog after all. It was a traumatic day for him and he slept for the rest of today, just waking up long enough to puke his pill on the carpet.

 

We did get our flu shot but arrived about 15 minutes late. I figured they would send us away but they made us wait. The place we waited was bigger than the vet’s waiting room but not as cozy. The lady giving the shots was very pleasant and gave a painless needle. She is very over worked and we felt sorry for her, but I got mine. My shoulder has been hurting since I got home and I suspect it will hurt tomorrow. The BITCH!

 

I have been getting the flu shots since they began giving them for free at the Post Office 25 years ago or so. For some inexplicable reason they gave the shots on a Wednesday and even though I was told I couldn’t get sick as the virus they injected was dead, I got sick every Thursday after “Shot Wednesday”. The sad thing is that I got sick psychosomatically(?) and actually felt shitty the whole day off. Sometimes I hate being honest…ish.

 

Anyways, Buster and I will soon go to bed and tomorrow we should be back to our old selves. We will go for a walk in the morning and find the best posts and bushes to pee on. We don’t take turns, it is mainly Busted doing the work. Hopefully tomorrow all I have to do is complain to Louise about how sore my arm is and why doesn’t she feel sorry for me. 

Saturday, 24 October 2020

I Made a Drum

I think that I mentioned I have begun to use my mom’s old sewing machine to do assorted shop projects, some clothing repairs and of course make enough face masks so that I have enough face masks. Calgary’s weather is a little odd to say the least, tonight for instance it will feel like -21⁰ C and this coming Tuesday it will be +10⁰ C. We just can’t rely on the weather to stay normal. Of course it is nice when it warms up suddenly but not so nice when it gets far too cold for the season/

 

Keeping that in mind, I have an assortment of coats and jackets in the closet that I keep rotating through pretty much the year round. I have very light wind breakers right up to a parka that keeps me warm when it is minus 40⁰. In the pockets of all of those coats I have a pair of mini gloves because when the weather is mild that is all that I need and when the weather is “I wish I were dead!” cold, all I need is to keep my hands warm during the twenty feet from the back door to the car in the garage. It may be a stupid system, but it works for me and if I have gloves in each coat then I never find myself outside in the cold without at least some protection.

 

I plan to do the same thing with masks. I will probably need more than one mask for each coat because you really should wash the mask after every use. Also, I should leave one or two masks in each of the cars just in case. I hate the idea that I will drive to the store only to find that I did remember my wallet, but forgot my mask and can’t get into the store.

 

When I was last at my favourite second hand store I noticed ten inch squares of assorted material that is meant for the beginner quilter to make a quilt. I may make a quilt this winter, but right now my interest in those squares is to make masks from them. Ten inches is just about the right size for the mask pattern that I make and 25 of the squares are about $1.50. The way I figure it I am getting each mask for about 12¢ not counting the cost of elastic. So far I have bought two packs of colourful squares for the front of the masks and one package of plain material for the lining of the masks.

 

These packages of squares come wrapped in cling wrap tapped with packing tape which once opened is pretty much useless. I started to look around the house for some kind of container that has the dimensions of 11” X 11” that will house the squares flat and make it easy…ish to sort through. I wandered the house for an hour or so trying to find the perfect container to no avail and the garage was too cold to spend very much time looking, but I am confident there wasn’t anything remotely adequate.

 

Well, the only thing that I can do is to make a shallow box for it. I had a few boards from another thing-a-ma-jig which I cut down and glued together. I had sides but no bottom for the box and I didn’t want to go out to the cold garage to cut some plywood to fit. I do have a small box of leather that I stripped from an old couch that I took apart a few years back and a leather bottom seems like the easiest thing to do. I stapled the leather on to the frame good and taut and then nailed strips of wood around the edges. It isn’t pretty, but it holds the fabric squares nicely.




An added bonus is that with the leather pulled tight it makes a pretty good drum. My buddy is into drums and drumming and I think Louise went on a drum workshop one weekend years ago, but I was born without rhythm or really any kind of musical talent. 

Thursday, 22 October 2020

I Wonder If Dick Can Hear The Geese This Year

The flakes are falling outside as I sit here and it is just around -3⁰C with a windchill about 10⁰C colder than that. I have decided that today is a good day to sit and look out of my window. Yes, I should have taken the dog for a walk but he didn’t seem any more enthusiastic about being outside than I was. I guess it is true that the longer you have a pet the more you become that pet.

 

I can’t help but think of all those summer days that I frittered away putting off projects because I had months of warm weather ahead of me. I spent too much time doing indoor projects that are meant for the colder days of winter. Mind you, I did enjoy my summer a lot so I guess all things considered it was time well spent.

 


I heard my first flock of geese today which is really late for it. Now, I’m not sure if it just happened that I was inside when the flocks flew over or perhaps the lead goose saw me and told the other geese to run silent. I don’t see why he or she would do that because I don’t pose a threat of any kind to geese. I have never had goose for dinner although I wouldn’t say no if I were offered. Well, I might say no, why break a long standing tradition.

 

I have been wondering if the geese and ducks were planning their flight south this year. I wouldn’t go south or should I say I wouldn’t willingly fly over the USA for the foreseeable future. I have a feeling that there will be too many reckless, disappointed people who have a right to bear arms and bullets could be flying everywhere. Nope, the geese, ducks and human snowbirds should take the year off and let the good citizens or America have their civil war while we prepare for an influx of political refugees.

 


It wouldn’t be the first time I harboured people that fled the US in my house. During the Vietnam war my brother was dating a girl from Rochester that he met in Florida. Well, she had a brother named Dick who was unable to avoid the draft and had to go to Fort Dix for basic training. Well, Dick didn’t like army life too much and decided to leave. One dark, moonless night Dick jumped from a second story window in the barracks, used some of that basic training to get out of Fort Dix and entered Canada on vacation, never planning to return to the US of A.

 


Dick showed up at our door and asked mom and dad if he could stay at our house until he got a job and a place of his own. Dad wasn’t sure, the war he fought in most people signed up to fight willingly, but Dick explained his reasoning and dad relented. I think dad saw too many things he couldn’t unsee while he served his country and in the German prison camp.

 

Dick stayed for a while and mom got him a job where she worked and eventually he got his own place, a nice basement apartment not too far from our place. From time to time friends of Dicks would show up at our door in much the same predicament as Dick had been in and we would feed them and put them up for a few days until they decided what they would do and where they would go.

 

These people were true hippies and I learned a lot from them about life and choices. Also about drugs and music. In fact, the first time I heard Abbey Road by the Beatles was in Dick’s basement apartment and I can still remember the smells and sounds of that day.



Dick left the area and I mostly lost track of him. From time to time others that had stayed with us would drop by and catch us up on all the latest gossip. Tony got into heroin and he drifted away from everyone, and John began traveling the world and probably still is to this day. Dick was stoned on acid at a party and put his arm through a plate glass window. He was cut up pretty badly but the good news is that he met and talked to God who told him his life’s purpose. The last I heard about him was that he was living in northern Alberta had cleaned up and was running a Christian retreat making oodles of money for whatever sect he was following.

 


I wonder if Dick can hear the geese this year.  

Sunday, 18 October 2020

My Right Hand

I’ve spent most of the day staring at my right hand.

 

It is the same hand that I had yesterday, the day before that and the day before that, going back decades. It has aged with me, developing too many wrinkles from use, there are a lot of small scars the cause of which have been lost in the mists of time. One from a dog bite and probably one or two from working with wood and more than likely the rest are from something stupid that I did and don’t wish to remember even if I could.

 

The knuckle on my index finger is a little over sized and has a slight crack in the middle going lengthwise as opposed to the more common width wise. I broke it when I was fourteen or so and threw a punch at my brother, he blocked it with his elbow. I lost the fight and my finger hurt like hell. I knew that it wasn’t broken because I could move it even though it hurt when I did. A few days or weeks later my parents had the doctor do an x-ray and sure enough it was broken…lengthwise. It doesn’t even help me by hurting when the weather is about to change, all it does is remind me of a lost fight.

 

I have a series of scars running down my thumb and terminating on my wrist where the hand meets the wrist in a jagged scar. It happened about thirty or thirty-five years ago around this time of year. Maybe it was closer to Christmas because I was making some kind of decoration. I was ripping a two by four that was on saw horses and rather than stop the saw when I came to the sawhorse I just switched hands and lifted the two by four with my right hand. The saw blade caught and kicked back down my thumb and ending up in my wrist. There was screaming and Louise loaded me in the car and raced to the doctors after telling the kids (under ten) to go to the neighbours. We had just moved in and didn’t know the neighbours but they were and probably still are good people. I passed out a few times in the car on the way and when we got to the clinic I passed out while the nurse walked me to the back room. If you show up to the clinic with a blood soaked towel wrapped around your arm, you jump to the head of the line.

 

Dr. Hudy stitched me up and there was some doubt if I would regain full use of my hand. The positive was that I got a couple of months off of work (with pay) because a mailman without the use of one hand is even more useless than a two handed mailman. Lucky for me we had just bought an Atari game console with Space Invaders and Millipede. I attribute getting full use of my hand back to playing hours and hours of video games using the joy stick. I got pretty good at Space Invaders too.

 

I have a little rheumatism in my middle finger, possibly from overuse when driving on Deerfoot Trail. I use it to educate the mass of poor drivers in the city but unfortunately I have had little to no effect over the years. I also tend to pick at my nails which I wish I didn’t, but I am a work in progress and I suspect that will be something I need to work on in my next life.

 

My right hand tells the story of my life I guess and probably the other parts of my body have their own stories to tell but that will wait for another day. The reason I have been staring at my right hand today is because of the weather. It was -8⁰C and felt like -18⁰C and there were a few brave flakes of snow drifting down. I was looking at my hand because we are looking forward to five months of winter ahead of us. That is one month for each finger.


I know which finger I should show old man winter!

Saturday, 17 October 2020

A Great Winter Vacation

Well, lucky me! We had our first sort of major snowfall last night, in four months time I will laugh at calling this a major snowfall, but I don’t live four months in the future, I live in the now. In the now the temperature feels cold, there is ice under the four centimetres snow that we received and I had to shovel and spread sand on the ice. This wouldn’t normally bother me except that it is forecast to stay cold for the foreseeable future. It is too early to settle into winter.

 

I had to help a woman up that fell in a parking lot outside of the market today. My initial impulse was to rush to her aid which is laudable. When I started to help her I couldn’t help but think she might not appreciate the help due to the threat of getting Covid 19 from a perfect stranger. Well, I’m not perfect but I am strange. While we were struggling to get her off of the wet ice I worried that I might fall and then they would have to get a crane truck in to lift me vertical. That was too much thinking for just a few seconds. I will be pretty pissed if I get sick.

 

I tend to dread the coming of winter even while I look forward to it. The first snowfall means that it can’t be very long before we start to look forward to the Christmas season. Of course since winter seems to have come along a trifle early this year it is signaling the imminence of Halloween. I wasn’t sure if Halloween would happen this year, but I have been assured that it will. Alberta’s top doctor says Halloween is a go and if you ask any kid if we should cancel Candy Day they just give you a look that says things that little kids shouldn’t say. I thought that maybe the door to door collection of candy might pose a threat but I guess some things are worth dying for.

 

I put away most of the out door stuff a couple of days ago, but I still need to organize the shed bringing winter things forward and moving the summer things to the back. I won’t be needing flower pots for a few months and those garden tools can take a nap until April. I do have to put the lawnmower away, I should drain the oil and gas but there is a better than even chance that won’t happen unless the snow melts and it warms up to seasonal temperatures. It will all get done, I just have to acclimatize myself to a new reality.

 

There is zero chance of a trip to a tropical paradise this year even if I win a lottery or my uncle Scrooge McDuck dies and leaves me a vault of money for me to swim in. I just can’t trust our American cousins to show wisdom in their Covid 19 precautions. Maybe I will take a virtual trip to Hawaii. I can turn the heat up in the house and stand in a couple of inches of water in the tub pretending I am walking along the beach. I will get Louise to waft a dead fish under my nose every now and then to add a little realism. I can maybe make a shave ice and pretend that my breakfast comes from the Kihei Cafe and lunch from Nalu’s. At sunset I will sit on a lawn chair in the front window and if I squint my eyes and use my imagination I should be able to see a whale just on the horizon just before the rare green flash happens.

 

Should be a great winter vacation…  

 

Friday, 16 October 2020

Favourite Burner

One of the things I find interesting about writing a blog is that it forces you to think about why you do the things you do and why you do them the way that you do. That kind of sounds like a song lyric.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJn-Jl2ZeQU

Last week I read something that I have been thinking about since I read it. The question was “Do you have a favourite burner on your stove?” First I thought “What a stupid question!” and then I thought “The front left burner of course. What other option is there?”. Well, on our stove there are three other choices, but one is too hot, one is too small and the other is too far to the right. In point of fact, all of the burners work equally well and the right front burner gives the option of extra burner size if you want it for those large stock pots.

 

I have been thinking about why I do things the way I do them. For instance, this morning I was getting dressed and put my left leg into the pants first, followed by the right. I always dress this way but in the spirit of scientific discovery I took my pants off and put my right leg in first and the pants went on just fine. It felt a little weird doing it that way but I am sure that I could get used to it. I could, but I won’t because it is the wrong way to dress.

 

My right side is the dominant side so maybe that explains it. I work with lefty and if lefty fucks up then I can fall back by doing things the right way. Except the right way is left, or has been for most of six decades. I wonder what other things I do out of habit. I pretty much always walk the dog on the same route convincing myself that Buster prefers the smells he knows and likes to shit in a familiar place. Who doesn’t? A friend always walks her dog on a different route every day, thus confusing her dog and running the risk of running into a pack of feral dogs that will eat her dog and quite probably her.

 

I close the curtains at night because it is safer that way. That probably goes back to the lizard brain and wanting to be safe at night. I like to eat what I know and don’t really want to know what I eat. I have favourite items of clothing that probably should be thrown in the garbage but they are comfortable. I have a neon blue sweat shirt that I like to wear when I get sick because blue makes me feel better, not actually better, but mentally better.

 

I guess I just like to be comfortable and know what is coming into my life. It isn’t very exciting, but I can live with that and I know just where I belong. Things will change eventually, the kids will put me in a home or the ground and I won’t be allowed to make decisions for myself any longer. Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound much different from being married.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Everything I Need

 I haven’t been doing very much since the pandemic started back in March, but to tell the truth I didn’t do too much before the pandemic. I guess you might say I have been in training for the pandemic since I retired, I am highly experienced at isolation and frittering away hours and hours every day.

 

To the people who say that they have watched everything that there is to watch on Netflix, I say you just aren’t trying hard enough. I haven’t even scratched the surface of Netflix’s content and I watch far too much TV. Oh, there is regular TV as well that has a backlog of 70 years of programming that is still or could still be relevant. Don’t even get me started on all of those DVD’s that are lurking in my house and at the library.

 


Yes, I know that some of you are really, really, really missing sports programming, but not nearly as much as the team owners are missing the billions of dollars they are losing by not having seasons or having half assed seasons. I don’t know why they just don’t play seasons from the sixties or seventies. Only the old farts have seen those games and you can’t tell me that anyone remembers the entire NHL season from 1967. Sure, you probably could Google who won which game but you can Google the end of new movies as well and you don’t. Maybe the powers that be are worried that if we get to see sports from bygone days we just won’t be satisfied with the watered down product we get now. I could be wrong.

 


When my mom passed in 2000 we sold the house and I kept certain things that reminded me of her and that I thought I could use. Mom was a very good seamstress and had a very good sewing machine as well as a killer semi-professional ironing board that had a built in water reservoir for the iron and a vacumn that would pull the steam through the fabric to make the iron more effective I suppose. Well, it has been 20 years and neither has been used since returning from Ontario with me. Louise prefers her machine that she has used for years and it has been easier to use the hand held iron that we are used to. A couple of months ago I oiled up Mom's old machine and got it working again. A few weeks back I dropped the old iron on the floor and broke it so rather than buy a new iron I set up mom’s old board.

 


That’s right, I have been teaching myself how to sew. It helps that I can get advice and direction from Louise, but the internet also has an unlimited supply of information just there for the taking. I started sewing things for the shop, a holder for my box end wrenches since the 30 year old plastic one fell apart years ago and I just kept using it. I made some draw string bags for projects that I can’t remember now, but the bags turned out well. Since we are in the middle of a plague I made two plague doctor masks, one dark and one light. They look kind of like the spies in the Spy vs Spy comic. I tried to design a face mask based on a neoprene one I wear on extremely cold winter days. It sort of worked, but didn’t look pretty. I tried variations and found some designs for masks on the internet. With each project my skill improved from terrible to not as terrible and eventually to barely passable. I’ll take it.

 



Some of my jeans needed patching and although Louise is more than happy to fix them I decided that I could probably do it and surprise, surprise I did. The patches aren’t the best, but they are good enough for me. I have an old flannel shirt I wear around the house when I feel a chill but the collar is frayed and there was a tear around the belly. Probably from a knife fight…not because I am too fat. Anyways, I took the collar off, flipped it over and sewed it back on. Voila! It looks new again. Well, it looks like an old shirt that doesn’t have a frayed collar. Patching the rip in the shirt just involved finding a scrap of material that sort of looked like the material in the shirt

 

I found a Youtube video of a 3D face mask that works well for me and looks pretty good. I now have five of them for me, made a couple for the grandkids and even Louise is testing the pattern out to see is she likes the mask. You should give it a try if you are so inclined.

 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh8M8oukXWw

 

Well, time for me to check on the mail and see what pizza joint wants my business and which charity thinks I should give them money. Everybody needs something I suppose. Well, except me, everything I need is either on TV or my computer.

 

 

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

The Local Pizza Joint

This spring after we had had a nice meal of Spaghetti squash I took some seeds and planted them in an egg carton. There was some growth but frankly it was pretty pathetic. I thought that perhaps the squash was genetically modified so that the seeds would not produce a plant. I have heard that Monsanto does things like that but I don’t know it for a fact. Eventually the plants started to grow and I transplanted them to an empty section of the garden and ever so slowly the two plants began to grow.

 


The growing season in Calgary begins towards the end of May and ends in mid September, a total of about 115 frost free days. From what I read about Spaghetti squash the plants need about 100 warm sunny days for the fruit to attain full maturity which would take us into mid October. I didn’t have much hope, but on the plus side the vines had lovely yellow flowers and I can but squash at the supermarket any day of the week.

 


Well, on the news tonight the weather guy was predicting the first snowfall of the year and a heavy frost to go with it. Yes, fuck off Brian and all of your Vancouver Island sun worshipping, lotus eaters…snow! I cut the two squash off of the plant and brought them into the house. One of them (the big one) might actually be edible and the dwarf one might be good for making a mini jack-o-lantern. They both might just end up in the compost bin next week, but we will see.

 


I still have some carrots in the ground and the tomato plants actually produced edible fruit this year beginning in early August. Thank God I don’t have to grow enough food to feed myself for a whole year. I don’t know how large a garden you would need to produce enough food to feed a family for a year. That knowledge has mostly disappeared in Canada and much of the industrialized countries. We could gain it back if we had to but most of us would be dead by the time enough food was grown, assuming our farmers stopped producing and the truckers stopped bringing the food to us.

 

I don’t know why we don’t have factory farms in the cities that could grow veggies year round. I imagine it has something to do with cost, but it would be a smart thing for the governments to subsidize. Hey, I just wrote a sentence that had “smart” and “government” in it.

 

So, tomorrow maybe we will have Spaghetti squash for dinner but I will keep the number of the local pizza joint handy just in case.



Monday, 12 October 2020

That Asshole

I am a Canadian and very lucky to be one. Of course I had no say in where I was born unless you subscribe to reincarnation and the super soul belief, in that case I chose my parents and where I would end up or start I suppose. Canada is arguably one of the most beautiful countries in the world, has plenty of raw materials, isn’t too crowded, has pretty good health care and education and depending on your political leanings we have a fairly effective system of government. Canada is not a perfect place, but it could be and with luck and work we can make it so. I have built a comfortable life for myself, surrounded with people that love me or at least put up with me, a good home and enough money that I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. Life is pretty good all in all.

 




don’t know why the orange asshole south of the border bothers me so much, but he does. I blame him for the fact that I have written only about 130 blogs since he was elected when I should have ten times that amount. I guess to be fair there might be other reasons but Trump is still an asshole. I think I am getting over him. Perhaps if all goes well he will be tossed out of office in a month or so and if things go badly then the world will spin totally out of control and I will be thankful that I will die sooner rather than later.

 

I have always had a love/hate thing with the USA and Americans. Living in Canada I was bombarded with American TV and radio so the brainwashing began at an early age. For many years the loud mouthed, arrogant, ignorant American braggart was how I and a good portion of the rest of the world viewed our southern neighbour. It was not entirely their fault, because the only thing they learned about in school was the US. To tell the truth, we learned more about America than we did about Canada. I have mostly liked the individual Americans that I have met during my life and the world is or was a better place for them being here. At the end of the day people are pretty much the same the world over, they love their family and feel a loyalty towards their country.

 


I thought that the world was going to change when the young people of my generation grew into positions of responsibility and authority. Well, I was wrong. The hippies that made candles or made hash pipes to buy grass eventually automated the process and became conservative millionaires. The musicians who wrote the words that defined my generation were just pumping out content to fulfil their contractual obligations which in turn made them rich beyond their wildest dreams. The books we read that told us we should love each other and strive to make the world better have been replaced with Hollywood versions of the books which retain a similarity to those original books only with a stronger love story and of course more than a few brutal murders.


 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0QbkfibYcI


The human race doesn’t change and I don’t think that we can change as long as the rich and powerful determine our destinies. Each and every one of us have to make our small part of the world a pleasant place to be and then maybe if enough of us do the same thing the world will change. We also need to get rid of that asshole south of the border though.

 

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Evil Spirits

Every time I Google something like a box wrench. For the next two months I get ads for box wrenches popping up on every page I look at on my computer. Even if all I wanted to know from my search on Google was the difference between a box wrench and an open ended wrench or if I could possible kill someone when or if I hit them in the head with it. My computer isn’t judgemental and doesn’t care about the moral or legal aspects of my killing someone, the computer just wants me to know that I could get a nice hefty wrench on Amazon for $15.78 plus shipping. What kind of fucked up algorithm is that?

 


The thing that gets me is that I have already Googled my potential purchase and in theory I have already made my decision and all of those ads just turn me off whatever company is paying to get my attention. The algorithm should target people that aren’t looking to buy something online and maybe they will forsake the brick and mortar store for an online retailer.

 


A buddy of mine saw an ad on Facebook for a record player that had the look and he wanted, the specs he was looking for, was made of good materials and had the ability to play 78RPM as well as 45RPM and 33⅓RPM. He had been looking for a good record player for a while now, as he had all of those albums and singles he bought in the 60’s and 70’s and he had inherited his dads 78”s. It was time to hear the music in the original scratchy, poppy version so he ordered the record player.

 

Two months pass and my buddy got his turntable which was nothing like the ad he ordered from. Quite frankly, it was crap and from China which wasn’t mentioned in the ad. I have bought things from China and been very happy with what I received, but I knew what I was ordering and where it was coming from. When my friend contacted the seller he was told that it would cost too much to send it back and perhaps he should gift it to a friend or relative. He has tried to contact Facebook to no avail and it looks like he received a $200 lesson in international trade.

 


Recently I saw an ad for Merrell Moab hiking boots on Facebook for $49USD from a company called Adoreby. Those hiking shoes are usually double the price and I actually own a pair which have served me faithfully for years. The ad said that I would have the shoes in 7 - 15 business days. Now, I am a firm believer in the maxim “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.” Somehow and for some inexplicable reason I bought the shoes using my Paypal account. Let’s fast forward a month to when I contacted the seller and they told me there was a problem with the Post Office and would resend the shoes. Fast forward another month and there was a package in my mailbox. I was pretty excited to finally get my Merrell Moab hiking shoes, well, I was until I opened the package and saw that the shoes in the package were really crap, inferior shoes with a plastic sole and they came with a broken heart. I should have known better…I do know better!


I contacted the company and they insisted that the shoes were as ordered. I told them they weren’t and sent a photo to prove it. They offered me a $1 refund and I could keep the shoes. I said I want the shoes I ordered or a full refund! Two dollars and keep the shoes…three dollars and keep the shoes…four dollars and that is our final offer. Fuck them! I contacted Paypal and eventually was offered a partial refund of $38USD and keep the shoes. I told Paypal that I deserved a full refund due to how long I have waited and the inferior shoes I was sent. Paypal got me the full refund! I just had to return the shoes and once I sent Paypal a tracking number all would eventually be well. I wrapped up the shitty shoes and took them to the Post Office only to find that it would cost me $42 Canadian to sent the shoes to China. FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  MARLINA BINTI ISMAIL

8th Floor, Warehouse Building 2, Qian Long Logistics Park,

Ping An Street No.1, Pinghu Town, LongGang

District Shenzhen Guang Dong, Pahang 51811 MY

I contacted Paypal and asked if the partial refund was still on the table and they told me that it was and we closed the case. So now I have a shitty pair of shoes that I may wear as garden shes or I just might set fire to them in order to rid myself of the evil spirits that live on the internet.

Friday, 9 October 2020

Unless I Move It

I have mentioned before in this blog that I have a fascination with pens, fountain pens in particular, but pens that write well with a line that isn’t too thin or too thick and of course they must feel good in your hand. The appearance isn’t really very important but who wants to hold an ugly pen?

 

Now, I am far too frugal…cheap to buy pens at a stationary store and the thought of owning a $1000 pen is laughable, but, I do have a plentiful source that offers a variety that suits me. The local thrift store has a small bin that holds baggies of up to about twenty assorted pens. The pens get donated by misguided people who are cleaning out drawers and boxes that have housed the pens for years. Most of the pens are cheap Bic pens and some are even cheaper knock off Bic like pens. A lot are pens that people have picked up as advertising from some now defunct company here or abroad.

 



The down side of my interest in used pens is that I have hundreds of pens in various places throughout the house that I will never use and no one that I offer them to wants any. I am beginning to understand where the secondhand store gets the pens. They have probably sold the same pens a hundred times.

 

The advertising ones can be pretty interesting. Some have little fuzzy teddy bears on top kind of like if you stuck a pen up a bears ass. Others have carabiners(?) so that you can clip them to a belt loop or lanyard I suppose. I’ve found a few that have pull out calendars but of course who needs a calendar from 1993. Still, Tornado likes the idea as much as I do. The ones I don’t really understand are the ones that have a tiny flashlight incorporated on one end. I understand the ones with laser pointers, who doesn’t like playing with laser pointers, putting a bright red dot on your significant others chest. Okay, the significant other might not like it. In order for the flashlight to be any use it would have to be in your pocket or purse just when you needed it and it has been my experience that what you need, when you need it, it is never available.

 

Yesterday morning I woke up far too early, I’d like to say I had a “EUREKA” moment but I just had a “got to pee” moment followed by a “why does the dog breathe so loud” moment. Anyway, it was as they say it’s always darkest before the dawn and I was lucky enough to see a spectacular sunrise. I tiptoed into the office room to get my camera which was on the desk but since it was dark and I was trying to let Louise sleep I didn’t want to turn on the light. Yes, she was in another room and asleep, but hey, I wasn’t thinking clearly it was early. As I was feeling for the camera on my messy desk my fingers found a pen with a flashlight on it. I turned on the flashlight, stuck it in my mouth and rummaged on the desk till I found the camera. It worked like a charm!

 


I did get the picture and interesting enough a new respect for pens with flashlights. I won’t carry one of course, but for now I will keep it to the left of my keyboard so that the next time I need a small flashlight in some Mission Impossible moment I will know exactly where it is.

 

Add caption

Well, unless I move it.  

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Take Only Pictures and Leave Only Footprints

Yesterday Mother Nature obliged us with a perfectly splendid fall day. The temperature was around 20°C, the wind was light and being retired we have all the time in the world to enjoy life. Normally we stay at home puttering or should I say just frittering the day away, but yesterday we decided to go somewhere. That was the easy part, deciding what to do is always the hard part for me because I am pretty indecisive. Lucky for me I am married to someone who is pretty good at making decisions. We packed a few hiking essentials and headed off to the mountains.

 

How lucky we are that just an hour or so away God put a huge selection of mountains for us to enjoy. We decided that Grassi Lakes would be our destination which is just to the south of Canmore and a little past the Canmore Nordic centre. We have been there many times but it has been a few years and I don’t think it is possible to get bored hiking in the mountains.

 


We parked in the parking lot at the trail head and just a little ways in at a fork in the trail was a sign indicating the easy path or the more difficult trail. We opted for the easy fork but in years past we took the more difficult route, probably trying to tire out three energetic kids. One thing you should know about the word “easy” when used in a mountain setting, it means that the trail is easier than any other option but it isn’t particularly what one might consider “easy” in a city setting. The trail was a continuous uphill and the more difficult way had bigger rocks and was less direct but slightly more scenic as I recall.


 

We took our time and made the climb with a few stops to rest and take pictures on the way up, chatting with the more energetic people who passed us going one way or the other. Once you arrive at Grassi Lakes you are greeted with the most stunning little lakes that are on this planet. There are many benches located around the lakes for people to sit and enjoy being alive. We had a granola bar and a juice box to replenish our energy while we absorbed earth energy from the lakes and mountains surrounding them. The wind picked up and we put on our jackets, but it was nice to cool down after the climb.

 








We took more pictures and in the fullness of time we took our leave of the lakes. Going downhill is in it’s own way just as difficult as going uphill, and a little harder on older knees. We arrived at the trail head after a few stops to rest and take pictures on the way down, chatting with the more energetic people who passed us going one way or the other. Once in the parking lot we chatted with the person whose job it is to clean up after people have treated this serene, beautiful bit of God’s country like a dump. And all for $8.00 an hour.

 

Louise and I did as we always do, we took only pictures and left only foot prints. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

You Never Know

I have mentioned before that I am something of a Magpie, if I see something on the ground that interests me or that I can find a use for I will pick it up, put it in my pocket and find a home for it somewhere on my workbench. It isn’t just that I am cheap, I am, but I like to think of it as my small way of keeping the planet clean. Unfortunately, my workbench suffers, but I can live with it.

 

Most of the stuff I bring home like washers, have a special home in a large yogurt container on the third shelf. Actually, today I moved the washers into a labeled (WASHERS) coffee tin. The plastic tie wraps live in an aluminum tube that once held welding rods I think. I have a few tie wraps in my basement workshop that I straightened using my heat gun. I have lots of time on my hands recently. I figured I should make sure all of my found tie wraps are straight so I went to the garage to get the tube.

 

The aluminum tube was missing! What? I almost never use those tie wraps, and actually often when I do use them they are so old and brittle that they break. Where did I put them? Hmmmm…

 

The day before I thought that I really don’t need five claw hammers hanging over the bench. I have a wooden mallet, a rubber mallet a small welding hammer, a small claw hammer and a large claw hammer and that should be enough. I found a box to put the excess hammers in and off they went to storage on a shelf behind a ten pound box of assorted sandpaper. I couldn’t help but notice that the small sledge hammer wasn’t in it’s usual place. Where did that hammer go?

 

Back to yesterday when I noticed the aluminum tube of tie wraps was missing. I remembered that my mini sledge was missing too. Hmmm… I spent a hour or so looking for the aluminum tube or the sledge in all the likely and unlikely places that either one could have gone but to no avail. There were some things I could do. I could blame Louise for taking the tie wraps for some reason even though she wouldn’t know where I keep them and she really would have no need for the mini sledge. Brendan hasn’t been over lately and besides, he has more than his fair share f hammers and he is the kind of guy that would buy new tie wraps if he needed them.

 

Of course the only other option is that someone scaled the gate, broke into the garage and then after searching the garage with a flashlight they passed all of the power tools the money in the cars and stole my tube of used tie wraps and a small sledge. I could understand the sledge because it would be handy when breaking into other peoples homes and garages, but the tie wraps, well, that doesn’t make sense.

 

Two hours later I remembered that I moved the tie wraps to a lower shelf so that I could put a sun shield in the window and the mini sledge…well…I put it on the temporary drill press shelf for some unknown reason.

 

So, to sum up, no one broke into the garage, I have straightened and sorted the tie wraps according to size and the mini sledge now hangs with the other five must keep out hammers.

 

I made sure to lock the garage tonight…you never know.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Neither One Worked

A while ago now I was walking Buster and we came across an empty can of Clamato juice tossed carelessly onto the student parking lot of the local high school.

 


Clamato Juice!

 

When I walk through the parking lot I expect to see discarded pens and pencils, fast food wrappers, Tim Horton’s cups, empty cigarette packs, dead lighters, broken ear buds, used condoms, latex gloves and since Covid reared it’s ugly head face masks. I’m surprised that there isn’t a lot of test papers marked with big, red F’s. High school kids can be pigs.

 

In my day I would have to go out and pick up all the garbage in the school yard as punishment during detention. I guess that would be considered child labour or beneath the kids. I am sure there is some insurance issue that prevents forcing kids to work with garbage. Hell, it is probably a union thing, taking jobs away from the hard working custodians. It could be anything I suppose.

 


Just a quick look on the internet tells me that clamato juice has been around since 1935. The only thing I know that it is used for is Bloody Mary’s or Bloody Ceasar’s. I guess it is one way to mask the taste of Vodka, but orange juice seems so much more tasteful to me. I hope that it was some underage kid mixing a Bloody Mary in the back seat of a car, but wouldn’t that entail also having a celery stalk or two as well? I can just picture the cashier at the grocery store questioning some kid trying to buy celery on a Friday night.

 


“Hey kid what you want the celery for?”

 

“...ahhh…ummm…to eat? It’s really good for you…it has antioxidents, reduces inflammation, helps digestion, is rich in vitamins and…”

 

“Is it for a school project?”

 

“Sure…that’s it…it is for a project.”

 

I can’t picture drinking Clamato juice straight up, but people are weird and seem to be getting weirder all the time. I guess I shouldn’t judge, I smoked banana peels in high school and make a drink of Morning Glory seeds to get an acid like buzz. Before you ask, neither one worked worth a shit.




Friday, 2 October 2020

Carbon Paper

You never know what will come in handy someday. That is what pretty much every serious hoarder tells themselves and causes their homes to fill up with useless junk.

 

“Useless” is the term that normal people use when referring to the accumulated “handy” stuff that fills the garage, shed, closets and basements in homes pretty much everywhere. I personally don’t have a hoarding problem but I guess that is just what most hoarders will say about their treasures. I don’t have a problem because I really can’t afford to bring home everything that I really, really, really need. God help me if I ever win a lottery!

 

I do crafty things from time to time and need to make copies of pictures or sketches from books and magazines. I make these copies so that I can use spray to glue them to a board and cut out the pattern on the scroll saw or whatever implement that I need to use for the particular craft I am making. Mostly I just find the image that I need on the internet, scan it into the computer and then manipulate the image in PhotoShop and then print it on the computer. Life couldn’t be easier.

 

In the old days it was more of a challenge. I have a light table so that I can take a picture from a magazine or book and trace an outline onto a blank sheet of paper which I could then use carbon paper retracing the sketch thus transferring it to the piece of wood. I don’t use much carbon paper any longer, but I have several hundred sheets of it in my workroom.

 

When I worked as a letter carrier we had to write up the registered letters, COD’s, Express post and priority posts that we got every day to deliver. The Post office needed three copies and yes, you guessed it the copies were made using carbon paper. Most of the normal carriers just tossed the used carbon paper out but I saw a potential need and saved mine. Now I have enough carbon paper to last at least my lifetime and perhaps the lifetimes of my grandchildren. Tornado shows promise of being a mini hoarder, but his parents are trying to “civilize” him.

 


The thing about carbon paper is that it retains a perfect copy of whatever was written on the paper so I have documentation of all the parcels (most of the parcels) that I delivered during a large part of my career and Canada Post. Technically I am on pretty shaky legal ground because I suspect that there is some inferred right of privacy when you use the Postal Service.

 

If you wouldn’t mind, don’t mention the carbon paper to anyone. Unless you have need of a few sheets of course. I can hook you up.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Outstanding

The other day while I was walking Buster or should I say while Buster was walking me, we stopped to do our business at the side of the road. When I say we did our business, Buster squatted and squeezed out one or two capsules of food waste. I stood by trying not to watch him and readied the plastic bag. Man’s best friend indeed! A true friend wouldn’t make me pick up his shit and carry it around for a couple of miles.

 

So, while I was waiting for Buster to find the perfect spot to drop his load I couldn’t help but notice that the leaves were cascading down around me like large, yellow snowflakes. The same thing was happening the length of the street and it was beautiful. I’m sure that the owners of the properties that the leaves were falling on might have a different opinion but they are obviously wrong. We don’t get a large variation in leaf colour in western Canada, but I have come to appreciate the monochrome nature of our Nature.

 

I would love to have the variety of hues that eastern Canada gets every fall but I suspect I would have many thousands of multi-coloured tree pictures on my computer and in albums as well as boxes that would need to be tossed out when I die. We do get some colour variation, but mainly the reds come from bushes and the odd (how the hell did that get here?) deciduous tree. 

 

Louise and I took a drive south of the city today and took more than a few pictures of the fall colours. More for the kids to toss out when I die. The most stunning contrasts came when those yellow leafed trees were mixed with many thousands of coniferous trees. The bright yellow and deep green took my breath away. Could have been from Covid, but hopefully not.

 

It is also the time of year when the ranchers harvest the hay…straw and leave the bales out to dry. When I was growing up there was only one kind of hay bale  which was rectangular and about 3’ X 2’ X 2’ and they weighed about 50 pounds. The farmers or the farmers kids would stack them in a pyramid shape to dry and eventually put them into the barn or in some kind of shed so that the animals would have something to eat and sleep on during the winter. That was in Ontario. Out here in Wild Rose Country the bales tend to be about six feet around and weigh in at around 1200 pounds needing a tractor attachment to move them. They used to be tied with a twine, but today we noticed that they seemed to be wrapped with a light green plastic. I don’t know if that is to keep the rain off the hay or if it is just more efficient. There is a good chance that I will never know and I’m good with that. I don’t have to know everything. All I really need to know is that hundreds of those large, round bales of hay look stunning with the gold and green backdrop of trees.

 

I did notice some very large, rectangular bales that were 4’ X 4’ X 8’ and from a distance looked like the bales I remember from childhood. I have no idea why one farmer would use small bales, one would use large round bales and still others would use those humongous, rectangular ones. I could Google it, but to tell the truth I just don’t think Google would give me the same kind of answer I could get from a local rancher.

 

Now…where am I going to find a local rancher? One that is out standing in his field.