My Bi-Annual Bloodletting, 2021-Style

Since my brush with cancer in 2013, I’ve had a blood-test every 6 months specifically to make sure my TSH hasn’t gone all squirrelly on account of not having a thyroid anymore, and the radiation therapy immediately proceeding its removal from my person.

Last year I escaped the bloodletting altogether. Our local hospital where I’d normally get such things taken care of didn’t want anything to do with me, and I certainly didn’t want anything to do with it.

I call 2020 the Year of Covid, and 2021 the Year of Consequences. Consequentially, last week I had my first blood-test since 2019, and because of this delay I was getting tested for everything I’d missed out on. Fasting was required.

(I don’t know about you but I find it a bit of a challenge to go out into the world after I’ve been crook for an extended period of time and I wasn’t completely myself after my vaccine shot)

This how it went down …

Clothes – Shoes and socks are weird.

In the car – OMG!!! Why is everyone driving so FAST?

At the hospital – Where’s my mask? Why won’t it fit properly? (trying to put the mask on over my glasses and my hearing aids) Also, I can’t breeeeeathe!

Waiting room – I’m #82. The display is stuck on #75, and I haven’t had anything to eat or drink (except water) since yester-bloody-day!

Bloodletting – Just exactly how many vials of blood are you taking? (answer – 7)

Back in the car – Mrs Widds had packed a thermos of tea, made just the way I like it. I love her.

An ‘Interesting’ Week

I had …

… an, ‘oh gawd, I feel like I’m about to keel over’ reaction to my vaccine shot.

… a migraine cluster. (of the galaxy-busting variety – I rate them as planet, then solar system, then galaxy, then universe-busting)

… and at least more three layers of physically debilitating craptitude … that I won’t go into here because …

… I am done with this week!

The only saving grace was that my brain was still fully functioning-ish, and I managed a few hours of editing in every day. (my typo’s however are hilarious due to pain meds interfering with the connection between my brain – super slow, and my fingers – used to typing super fast)

Even with these delays, I still just might be able have the final product all tied up with a polka-dot bow by the end of June.

Which would be truly awesome – to have a novel go from first word to finished product in six months.

Who’d’a thunk it!!?

3 Bits And A Piece

I had my first vaccine last week with no nasty side effects, only a sore arm for a few days and feeling a bit seedy but that was it. Mrs Widds had hers two weeks before that so we’re good to go on that front until our second shots in a couple of months.

We’re still taking all the same precautions when we go out into the world, of course. Only the willfully ignorant-by-choice believe that this pandemic is in any way shape or form, over.

-oOo-

We’ve hit a bit of a plateau with our packing stuff into storage plan. Although we’re nibbling away at it, we’ve acknowledged that we may not be able to do a permanent move this year.

It’s a fine balance between leaving everything until the last minute and having far too many ‘oh shit!’ moments, and getting everything into storage and living out of boxes and sitting on the floor. (OK, that last bit was an exaggeration, but you get the picture)

Although we can live a minimalist lifestyle for a few months, the prospect of another year without certain items, that are already in storage, isn’t attractive. So, as usual, we’ll see.

-oOo-

Editing is coming along swimmingly. I feel a bit like Data in the movie Star Trek: Generations, when I sit down to work on another chapter, of which there currently are, thirty-nine.

Speaking of Data …

Deconstruction

The Covid-19 infection rate in our Province is rising alarmingly. Essential travel only is recommended – to be reviewed at the end of the month (April) by the Provincial health authorities.

If we wish to stay with our current departure date (31st May) we will have to give notice to our landlady at the end of this month.

We’re only a third of the way through the month, but given that there’s usually a 2-3 week lag between infection rates and the numbers being released, the 31st of May isn’t looking good.

We can reschedule our campground booking without losing our deposit, if we give them enough advance warning.

So, all-in-all, blergh, humbug, and other assorted grumbling noises.

On the up side, we’ll have more time to get on with our packing and sorting, storing and deconstructing of various elements of our house. Case in point – shelving units …

This used to be a very organised workspace

This used to be a very organised workspace

Second case of points – our storage unit is slowly filling …

A box here, a garbage bag there ... it all adds up

A box here, a garbage bag there … it all adds up

Funny thing is though, having all this time to do the sorting, packing, etc, is wonderful, but the process feels like it’s going on forever. I’ve never experienced moving like this.

In my younger days in OZ (Australia) I could be packed up and out of a house in a week, which in some of those early digs was about all the notice I got. Ah yes, those rousing days of shared housing and inner-city living.

Even when I could afford to live by myself, and/or with partners, house-moving took a month at the longest. Hell, even when Mrs Widds and I moved her to Widder Island, we were out of our old place in Vancouver in a month. (nearly bloody killed us, but we did it)

This more sedate pace feels right though. We have time enough to look at each and every object and go, ‘storage’, ‘in the trailer’, or ‘thrift store/garbage’. Those are our only three options for every thing here.

It does clarify one’s decision-making processes.

-oOo-

Here’s something I uncovered the other day. A rough template I created in another Era, (somewhere around the end-ish of 2019) look familiar?

Same women, same wheels, same three coasts ... hell yeah!

Same women, same wheels, same three coasts … hell yeah!

Maybe not yet, and maybe not as soon as we’d planned, nevertheless …

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.