A New Dawn, A New Day – The Wunderlusters: Plan B

When last we met our intrepid lesbians in the waning days of yesteryear, they planned to head out, in their trusty little travel trailer, into the wild blue yonder that is Canada.

Their motto,’ Two women, Eight Wheels, Coast to Coast to Coast’, would’ve taken them to such diverse places as Tyuktoyaktuk, which shakes hands with the rather chilly Arctic Ocean, Peggy’s Cove, nestled up against the mighty Atlantic Ocean, and catch a few waves off the shores of Ucluelet, brought in by the hemisphere-spanning Ocean that is the Pacific, just to name a few.

… … yeah … … about that … …

2020 – The Year That Changed The World!

We may yet get to visit all those places, but our priorities have changed … and who among us hasn’t had to rearrange a few things here and there over the last year?

Here’s the new plan.

We still do all of the above, but first, we get ourselves settled on a piece of land that’s not on a flood plain (here on Widder-island we’re barely above seal level as it is), or a major earthquake zone, or one of the battlefronts of the effects, social, environmental, economic, and political, that the climate crisis has wrought, and will continue to wrought (anyone know the present and future tense of ‘wrought’?) for decades to come. Decades that Mrs Widds and I, in our 70’s and 60’s respectively, hope to live long enough to survive.

What, I hear you ask, are a couple of middle-aged biddies going to realistically do to change their circumstances? Why don’t they just stay where they are? It’s comfortable, if a little small, all the services they need are nearby, and let’s face it they’re not getting any younger, and who knows if all the above mentioned crises will pan out as ‘worst-case scenario’s’ predict.

Yes, in the present moment, our lives are ‘secure’, but all we have to do is lift the veil and peer out from it’s comforting obscurity and see the world as it really is, and what it really will become in our lifetimes. (assuming, of course, we both make it happily and healthily into our 90’s and beyond)

That’s the thing with a slow moving crises, it’s really difficult to see any movement until the damn thing is breaking down your door.

There is hope in the world. Scientists are on the case, huge numbers of individuals, smaller numbers of corporations, governments, etc, are making changes to how they live their lives, conduct their business, make policy. I believe these efforts will be sufficient for the continuation of our species, but as to the quality of life for the greater percentage of eight billion-ish humans? That I think is where the dark might days lurk.

I have no wish to live out the remainder of my life in dark times if I can, in the immediate future, take steps to change that fate.

We have time, we don’t need to rush.

… back to the plan …

First, we’ve rented a storage space, sufficient to hold all our worldly goods. Then, after judicious sorting and taking of sorted stuffs to thrift stores, over the next couple of months, we’ll pack up everything into boxes and deposit them, (after carefully considering the order in which we will need to unpack) into storage.

In the meantime, we will set up all sorts of searches for land in our chosen area, that of the Kootenays, a mountainous region of the British Columbian Rockies, along the Columbia River, going both north and south.

In the meantime of that meantime, our trailer will be out of storage and I will be finishing off the last of the renovations so it will be livable for us both in the long term if necessary.

In the meantime of meantimes, our province has scheduled the covid-19 vaccinations for our age-groups in May-June-ish (all things being relatively equal-ish, and travel restrictions lifted) at which point all our meantimes should be aligned and we’ll be off.

We’re not foolish enough to believe that we won’t encounter any hiccups along the way, after all, this was our plan, with a few new tweaks, at this time last year, but without taking action all we’ll be doing is sitting here stewing in our own regrets … and I’ll be damned if I let that be my epitaph.

A Numbers Game

On Sunday the 8th March, 2020, I started a list of dates and numbers. The first number was 106,369. Every day thereafter I recorded another number, as well as the difference between the new number and the previous day’s number.

Almost an alternate universe ago

Almost an alternate universe ago

On the 1st of June 2020, the number was 6,274,136. An increase 101,688 from the previous day’s tally.

(I never recorded a third set of numbers. That would’ve broken me long before my meltdown at Winter solstice)

Even back in March the numbers were already out of control. The everyday public didn’t know that, but those of us who were following the science realised that something was amiss.

It wasn’t until Wednesday the 19th August 2020 that I managed to rein in my impulse to record a daily number. Thereafter I only noted them every week or so.

The last time was on Thursday 7th January 2021 – 87,753,382. By that time numbers were meaningless.

This is what eight months looks like – I might’ve skipped a day here and there but this is what I did, every day

This is what eight months looks like – I might’ve skipped a day here and there but this is what I did, every day

Like most humans who are alive on the planet in this Age, I was brought up to believe, (also reinforced by every societal structure around me) that taking action, any action, was tantamount to being in control. (humans aren’t very good at being without ‘control’, being power-less – we tend to make all sorts of ill-considered decisions)

I no longer wanted to use an action, my own personal version of the numbers game, to ease my psyche through a global catastrophe (another one – as if we didn’t have enough, even before the 8th March) that I was powerless to stop anyway.

What started out as a ritual, became a habit that, at the end, I came to resent. I didn’t want to look up the numbers. I didn’t want to remind myself of how our species abysmally mutated individualism had failed, yet again, to avert another fiasco of our own making. (honestly, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if we make it to the year 2050 without the cost being reckoned not in hundreds of millions, but billions, of lives)

The numbers are still out there, expanding almost exponentially, and I am in here, making sure, as best I can, that the very uncertain near future, doesn’t blindside me …

However, you know what they say about last words being famous. I suppose we shall see what tomorrow brings.

As for those three bits of paper with numbers all over them? I feel a Funeral Pyre coming on.

A Perfect Ten – 2013

Continuing my countdown to my blog’s 10th Anniversary on 27th September this year, I’m revisiting what I posted on or around that date each year.

Today we land precisely on the 27th of September 2013, wherein I bemoan my fate at losing the threads of a story I began the previous year which suffered from cancerous interruptous.

I had thyroid cancer. In July of 2013 I had surgery to remove my entire thyroid. (and thereafter had radiation therapy to destroy the rest of those nasty little immortal cells – they can be killed, they just refuse to die on their own – who escaped the scalpel)

So, by the end of September I was starting to feel like I could pick up the threads of my life again.

But, after such a momentous interlude the pieces of my life were scattered hither, thither and yon. (the irony of currently searching hither, thither, and you, for bits and pieces of my dreams and plans here in 2020 is not lost on me either)

Back then, it was a bit of an excruciating joust between my brain, exhaustion, my computer, and the very sparse notes I’d made prior to my interlude.

Today, I’m jousting with drills and wood-stain, and hammers and foam underlay, screws and staple-guns, as I work on finishing up the renovations to our travel trailer that we started … hmm … probably they had their genesis after our 2015 cross-Canada trip.

Storage and ventilation and paneling, oh my!

Storage and ventilation and paneling, oh my!

We’re planning on having a bit of a holiday (more like a Retreat for me, really) at a campground not far away from here, in the very, very near future – hence my jousting to get everything, if not finished, then at least travel-worthy and livable.

I’m looking at it as a trial run for next year, when we really get going with our plans.

Covid-19 may have cost us a year, (which at our age feels a whole lot more important than it might’ve when we were in the first few decades of our lives) but I’ll be damned if it costs us more than that.

The world, most of the world, has a handle on how to live with this virus now, (we certainly do) and within this new paradigm, barring the Unforeseen, we’ll be able to move ahead with a new-and-improved version of our Dream.

Dream Machine

Dream Machine

Face(mask)ing Evolution

We did our first ‘lockdown’ Costco shop in early March. (we do a regular once-a-month bulk-goods shop there)

We were the only one’s in the entire place wearing masks, (and gloves – which we don’t use anymore, but use soapy cloths that are immediately washed, instead – soap breaks down the virus protein) including the staff. (there was one other bloke, however, who came in with a full gas-mask-and goggles-and-gloves combo) Those were the days when no-one knew, at least in our neck of the woods, how virulent or transmissible the virus was.

Every stare that turned our way varied between incredulous, scathing, pitying, etc. Most people studiously avoided making eye contact with the crazy plague-rumour-mongers.

To say that we felt uncomfortable was an understatement. Not only did we experience that initial ’emegherd I’m going to suffocate!!!’ sensation when wearing masks for the first time, we also were very aware of those ‘slings and arrows’ being cast our way from the other shoppers. All we knew was that we were both in the ‘at-risk’ category and weren’t going to take any chances.

Each month there were a few more mask-wearers. We’d nod politely to each other, making sure we were two meters apart at all times, while some other (unmasked) shoppers would make a point of passing by even closer than they normally would. (I mean, what kind of dipshit arsehole do you have to be to do that on purpose? – rhetorical question, I know)

‘Normal’  – there’s a word that’s never going to have the same meaning again.

Scientific evidence slowly revealed more of the nature of the beast.

The global infection rates climbed, as did the global death-toll. (over 16 million people are confirmed to have been infected world-wide as of midnight last night – PDT)

Almost every government on the planet dropped the ball, big time, and most, to their credit, eventually, picked it up again.

Last month about a third of all the shoppers in Costco were wearing masks. Everyone looked uncomfortable – the wearers of masks and the un-wearers of masks.

But, a change was in the air.

The long-term reality of this plague sinking in, I suspect.

I felt a knot of tension in my gut that reared its head every time I went into a shop or enclosed public space, unravel, just a little bit.

Yesterday’s shop was, interesting.

About half the shoppers wore masks. I didn’t spot anyone wearing it under their nose, or chin.

We mask-wearers have learned to ‘eye-read’.

We smiled at each other, a camaraderie of shared responsibility, not just for ourselves but for the unknown health-status of others.

It was a good feeling.

I looked into the eyes of those who weren’t wearing masks. As best I could anyway, because this time no-one was making eye-contact, at all. Their brows were furrowed in a sort of defiant desperation.

Peer pressure, whether internally or externally imposed, is a fearsome thing, particularly when someone’s not ready to engage with the knowledge that they’re going to have to change their sense of their Self … It’s not just the actual wearing of a mask, it’s all the reasons why they chose not to in the first place, and how loudly they touted those reasons, and who they touted them to.

Like just about everything that sets off our flight/fight/fright knee-jerk response, reality is nowhere as universe-ending as we imagine it to be. Who knows, we may all come to appreciate learning how to ‘eye-read’.

A Perfect Ten – 2016

Continuing my countdown to my blog’s 10th Anniversary on 27th September this year, I’m revisiting what I posted on or around that date each year.

In 2016 I actually posted on the 27th of September. It was the third installment in my series about our adventures at Otter Lake.

Otter Lake was the second, and unfortunately the last (so far) of our ‘big’ adventures in our travel trailer. (the first was our epic cross-country, 10,000-kilometers-in-31-days peregrination from here to Niagara Falls and back the previous year – the archive reads chronologically from the bottom of the page to top)

There’s many sad things in this world but perhaps one of the saddest is seeing great swathes of Mother Nature decimated by the meddling of humans. In this instance I’m referring to the pine-beetle infestation that is as a result of the original forests being plundered for timber and never replanted properly. The rich bio-diversity that exists in a natural forest was replaced with a cash-crop of endless rows of pine trees.

Well, add to that diversity-desert an increase in global temperatures and the pine beetle became the apex predator in no time at all. (it’s taken decades for the penny to finally drop for them’s wot’s in charge of the forests, on both sides of the 49th parallel, to contemplate changing their business practices, but the damage has been done)

Wildfires love all that dead and dying wood, and when the wildfires are done the bare earth is washed away and mountainsides collapse.

Well done, humans.

(As we drove to Otter Lake along the Crowsnest Highway we saw attempts to mitigate this carnage by the establishment of ‘protected’ areas of bio-diverse treel-ings. (tree-lets?) If they survived predation and successive wildfires those trees should be mature enough by now (4 years later) to have grown fruitful and multiplied. I hope so)

Underneath our adventures at Otter Lake rested this sadness of the trees, which reflected in my writing at that time … which brings us full circle to today, doesn’t it?

So great are the changes to the human environment we’re living through right now, the one thing that has driven men of power since the times of Gilgamesh, the acquisition of ‘more’, (whatever their definition of ‘more’ may be) is being irrevocably, and painfully, extinguished.

The corona virus surrounds us all, whether we like it or not. The knowledge that the underpinnings of almost every society are being exposed for the anathema they are, sits with us all, whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we’re even aware of it or not, and it is what drives us now … it drives some of us to be and do better, for our Selves and others, and it drives some of us to resort to violence when asked to wear a mask.

These posts are about looking into a snapshot of my past to see if they connect to my present and have any influence on going forward.

By the time I wrote the story about Kerpy, I’d found a place of peace within the sadness of the trees, there was certainly nothing I could do about it other than to witness their lives.

My task in the present is to find a place of peace within the sadness, (and madness) of humanity, because there’s certainly nothing I can do for them other than to bear witness. Like so many of us, I’m not in a position of power to change the path humanity seems so bound and determined to follow.

What I can do, is appreciate humanity’s bio-diversity, live within my beliefs, do something really hard once in a while, love a few humans, have compassion for the majority, and hold accountable those dishonourable cowards who have shown their true colours.

A Perfect Ten – 2017

Previous years, HERE.

Because the 27th of September falls so near by Birth Day (30th Sept) I’ve noticed a trend of the nearby posts being variations on that theme. Who’da’thunk! … and while those are important to me, I’ve chosen to skip along to the nearest post that isn’t about my Birth Day.

Case in point, this one, on the 1st October 2017, in which we build our garden shed.

Storage has always been a premium here on Widder Island, because as I mentioned in the 2017 post we have a large farmhouse’s worth of equipment stored in a little two-bedroom cottage … and moreso now that we’ve shifted our ‘Wunder-Luster’ gears to focus on finding our ‘forever’ home and then travelling in our trusty travel trailer, rather than the other way around as we initially planned. Thank you Convid-19.

I’ve often thought throughout my three-score years (mostly during the second one-score of ’em anyway) that the fact that I didn’t have, nor need, many possessions to be a mark of independence.

Given my upbringing, it’s not surprising I felt that way. Permanence and security, safety and trust, were illusions that were inherently dangerous to my young self. It was best to carry as little with me as possible … a survival strategy that made for a quick getaway, when and if necessary.

But, that kind of ‘independence’ relied on the stability of a whole lot of social conditions which are no longer secure (if they ever were) Thank you, again, Covid-19

However, in order to live my life the way I yearned to do, (Mrs Widds too, by-the-way. That’s one of the reasons we get on so well together) which was to live sustainably and comfortably, it would require the gathering of certain possessions. Tools and equipment to be precise.

Since we’ve been on Widder Island (8 years, at last tally) we’ve been accumulating what we needed, when things came on sale, or good quality 2nd-hand or thrift-store purchases.

By the time September 2017 came around we just didn’t have enough room for storage and live our lives at the same time.

Hence the shed.

By the end of 2019 we were ready, finally.

2020 was going to be our year … we were going to put almost everything in storage, hitch up our travel trailer and head  off into the wild blue yonder. … and, recording it on our Wunder-Lusters YouTube channel, we would seek out strange and wonderful new places, meet all sorts of strange and wonderful new people, and if we came across our ‘forever home’ that was all the better … well, we all know how that turned out don’t we? … for everyone.

T’was a bitter pill. One that I still joust with on occasions … but then what’s life without a few jousts?

I don’t know when we’ll get there now. I’d like to think we will, but, there’s a giant gap between then and now. It’s funny isn’t it? I thought this series would be a bit of a celebration of my ten years blogging on WordPress.

Going back in time is enabling me to clarify going forward … which isn’t a bad thing at all.

The Troubling Dichotomy Of The Time We Live In

Last Friday I stubbed my little toe, (well it, and the one next it, as it turns out)  and now, they and that part of my foot, has turned a lovely purple/green colour and are very, very, sore … probably some cracked, if not broken, bones.

It’s funny isn’t it, that until we do even the smallest of damage to our appendages we don’t fully appreciate just how much we need ’em.

I’m not going to get my foot x-rayed, or go anywhere near our regional hospital at the moment. For one thing there’s nothing the medical establishment can do for my tootsies that, with a modicum of common sense, I can’t do for myself … and …a local outbreak of Covid-19 was traced back to the hospital and until they get a clean bill of health, I’m staying away.

In the early days of the known outbreak, I say ‘known’ because the more time goes by the more we learn that the virus was out in the world earlier than first thought. Current estimates have it hovering somewhere around December of last year.

What were you doing in December of 2019? I bet you weren’t social-distancing, or wearing a mask, or self-isolating if you felt a bit ‘flu-y’.

Anyway … In the early days of the known outbreak, I started keeping tabs on the global confirmed numbers registered on the John’s Hopkins website. In hindsight it was a way for me to make sense of the horrific tragedy that I knew was coming even back then. I check, every night, around midnight.

The first date was the 8th March – 103,369 confirmed cases, an increase of 3,923 from the day before. (those numbers seem almost like a fairytale now don’t they?)

From there it took 23 days to reach one million. Yesterday (Monday) the total was nine million, and only 7 days before it was eight million. The average infection rate, at the moment, is about 150,000. Per day. (the actual rate of infections is probably ten times those ‘official’ figures)

When you look out your window, does the world look normal to you?

The view from my desk is still of the Summer Tree, the green grass of our front yard, (which in this humid weather we’re having right now is growing like gangbusters, and isn’t going to get mowed any time soon – see above-mentioned broken toes), and the wee lad across the way who has progressed from trotting to a flat-out run-waddle.

The global climate crisis hasn’t gone away. Once things get back to ‘normal’, pollution, sea, and temperature, levels will continue to rise, and ecosystems will continue to experience catastrophic collapses.

I can walk out to the garden and pick strawberries that are sweet and juicy, and know that in a few weeks the blueberries too will be ripe for the picking, and we’ll go ‘hedge-harvesting for blackberries along our road (my toes better be all healed up by then!) after that.

Will we experience food shortages in Autumn and Winter? Not here, perhaps, but what about countries where people are already running drastically short of food, medicine, fresh water, etc?

This dichotomy troubles me. Not all the time, that way lies madness, and no-one can hold the enormity of what we, as a species, are facing, for long and stay sane.

It troubles me because there are times I don’t give a flying fuck about the enormity of what we are facing. All I want to do is nurse my broken toes, make something nice for dinner, read a book, write some words in my next story, and forget that anything else exists … but, thankfully those times don’t last very long either

Is this denial, grief?

We strive for balance in our lives, don’t we? Balance between things, whatever they may be, that are important to us. And yet on some level we know that that balance, once achieved, is fleeting. It never lasts, then we teeter off in another direction, perhaps far, perhaps not too far at all.

So, I teeter this way and that, and thus far, I haven’t stubbed my broken toes on anything else.

A Note To A Bank

To:  The’Let’s Think Of How Many Ways We Can Screw Over Our Customers During A Pandemic’, Department.

Re: The changes you’re implementing to your credit card ‘Terms of Service’, wherein you are going to add the unpaid interest charge to the account balance, resulting in charging ‘interest on unpaid interest’. (which began in March 2020, just when the global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were being felt – wot a coincidence, eh?)

Also, your intention to raise interest rates if the cardholder misses their minimum payment twice within 12 consecutive months, rather than the current practice of 2 missed payments in a row. (beginning in June 2020, just when the financial impacts of the ‘shutdowns’ around the world are heavily impacting the personal finances of … well, just about everyone – wot another coincidence, eh?)

What this means is that if anyone who is unable to make the appropriate payments to their credit card (and remember folks we’re in the midst of a pandemic where literally millions of people have lost their jobs/reduced income/etc) then those nasty defaulters will be suitably penalized, because hey, even multi-billion dollar corporations are hurting just as much as the little fella, amirite?

And just to round out this trilogy of ‘business as usual’ horror-fest, is the wonderful news that you are now offering Extended insurance to under your ‘Purchase Security and Extended Warranty Protection’ … which I’m sure will only cost the cardholder a small monthly fee to add to the many already supporting the spectacular, and I’m sure, ‘value-added’ services you offer.

Here’s the thing, Dear Bank, it’s not your money … let me say that again slowly … It’s … not … your … money. All you are, if all the bullshit is stripped away, is a replacement for the sock full of money stuffed under the mattress. Everything you’ve built for yourself out of that basic premise is has been founded on the principle of greed and venality.

Yours sincerely, The Person The Money Really Belongs To.

-oOo-

Funny how the bigger a company/corporation/service provider/business/institution is, the less willing they are to remember, and remain true to, where they came from.

So to each and every one them who has made the choice to put profits before people, (and I’m not talking about the idiocy of shooting yourself in the foot so you can give your shoes to someone else who’s walking barefoot – metaphorically speaking. ie people who are barely getting by anyway) let me ask you this, do you think you are immortal?

Our world is a closed system after all, and limits will be reached. Do you believe that ‘things’ will ‘return to normal’? Do you think we will not remember each and every one of you in the years and decades to come?

This time is a defining moment in the social evolution of our species.

Choose you way forward wisely.

A Perfect Ten – 2019

Here we go … as I mentioned in my last post, I’m doing a review of all my posts that published on or around the 27th of September going back over the last ten years.

Turns out I wasn’t very prolific last year and the closest to the date was this bit of absolute (video) cyootness, and what was probably the first of a string of ‘Have you ever’s’.

Here is the original … and because the link’s still live, I’m going to repost the video.

Having a bit of a read of other posts around this date, I see that I was focused on getting The Wunder-Lusters underway, and how we would be able to balance traveling in our little trailer and not lose our sense of personal space, that both of us value very highly. Underneath it all was the urgency to respond to the ongoing and ever-growing environmental crisis.

Alas, the vulnerabilities that the measures we’ve undertaken to keep ourselves safe in these first stages of the Covid-19 pandemic made it very clear, very quickly that our grand adventure was no more.

I have friends who are full-time Rv’ers, who’ve had to scramble for places to stay and wait out the shut-downs. Their stress-loads are terrible.

After much discussion, Mrs Widds and I agreed that to travel full-time without a home-base, even if it’s a bit of land that we can park our trailer on, would be the heart of folly now.

The fallout from this pandemic, both personal and global is literally unimaginable. no-one can imagine it, because there is no history to base such imaginings on. (the world was very different one hundred years ago during the last truly global pandemic so although there are similarities to be drawn on, they cannot, in any real sense be compared)

So, for the time being, here we will stay, on our little island in the middle of a lake. When our corner of the world opens up again, when there is a viable antibody test, when vaccines have been tested and not found wanting, then we shall see what we shall see.

Self-Entitlement

‘Of all the nasty human traits we’ve acquired over the centuries that Covid-19 has uncovered, self-entitlement is at the top of the rancid pile.’ … written by me, as a comment on a post by Luther Siler, wherein he has a wonderful rant about self-entitlement.

Each and every one of us, as we try and negotiate our way forward in a world which has changed forever, has a story about encountering arrogant idiots like the one in Luther’s post, who refuse to acknowledge that they are not the center of everyone else’s universe. (not that they ever were, except in their own delusions, but that’s another story)

Funny thing is, and what probably freaks them right out is that for every one of them, there are hundreds, thousands, of others who are holding the line.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got better things to do with my time and energy, (apart from a few swear-words and dirty looks, and occasional pointed comments in the direction of afore-mentioned idiots) like listening to the perfect song for these times we live within …

Bon Voyage, Little Richard – wherever you are, keep on rockin’ …