And Now We Have Bears

There I was minding my own business, doing some cool stuff with my new toy when …

… let’s back the story up a bit shall we?

This winter, for financial reasons, and the fact that we’re still working on the last of the additions to our travel trailer, we decided not to put it in storage.

Part of the whole ‘winterising’ thing we need to do to keep it here is to have some sort of protection between the tires and the ground, or in our case, gravel.

Cue me and my new table saw, cutting this honking great slab of wood we’ve had lying around doing nothing to earn its keep, in two, knocking off the flange, and putting a 45° on each of the ends so the RV can roll easily on and off them.

Farewell flanges

Farewell flanges

I love my table saw

I love my table saw

As I was taking a well-earned tea-break, with feet up and heater on …

You can't tell but the rain was pelting down outside. I felt rather smug and snug

You can’t tell but the rain was pelting down outside. I felt rather smug and snug

… I happened to glance across to the far corner of the garden, where the compost bins are stored.

We have a very simple compost system – fill one bin up with layers of kitchen scraps, garden waste, and poor-ish topsoil which we get from the supplier just up the road – then fill the next bin, and so on. By the time we need the first one empty again, its contents have been fully worm-erated and ready to sit in the open-air compost pile until needed. It’s a dead-easy, no work, system that’s survived the depredations of a mama racoon and her seasonally renewed offspring-ings for … goodness me, how long have we been here now? Almost ten years!

The word had gone around the neighbourhood that a black bear had been seen cavorting among the trees elsewhere on the island.

It’s not a very big island, and the lake surrounding it is rather shallow this time of year, so it wouldn’t’ve taken Madame, or Monsieur, Bruin, too much effort to come a’visiting. What is somewhat surprising is that the land surrounding the lake is well and truly domesticated, with housing developments and farmlands, but I suppose a bear’s gonna do what a bear’s gonna do.

And come a’visiting our Ursine friend certainly did.

No puny plastic garbage bin will stop me!

No puny plastic garbage bin will stop me!

I didn’t think I’d need a sturdier composting storage system, but it seems that now I do.

Autumn Melancholy

Although I’ve been around the interwebs, reading blog posts, etc, my attention hasn’t exactly been focused here.

It’s not that anything specific has happened since we last talked, it’s more like I’ve been grieving. Grieving the world that no longer exists, and not just because of Covid-19, although that has served to hasten things along.

This particular cycle started with my post on getting our Berkey water purification unit. (which by-the-way is absolutely wonderful)

I’m not going to go into the why’s and wherefores’ of the utter debacle of the climate crisis. You’re either on-board with it or you’re not. You’re either consciously taking action to secure the quality of life, and the lives of your Self and those around you, for the next couple of decades, (as much as is possible in any given circumstance) or you’re not. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you would be well aware of where I stand on this.

Mrs Widds and I are upending our familiar life here on Widder Island for this very reason.

Can you imagine? At our age? I certainly would’ve preferred to go forth into the unknown with a few less decades under my belt, but it is what it is.

This summer was a particularly shitty one, and it’s taken me until recently to shake off the effects, both physically and emotionally, all the while knowing that such ‘extremes’, are to be expected now.

Grief about these things is also to be expected, certainly at this time of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere) where endings are starting to occur in order for something new, something unknown, to rise in the Spring.

I’m not altogether good with unknowns. Given my ‘druthers’, I much prefer the known, but I’ve lived through enough sunrises and sunsets to know that staying within the ‘known’, once its ‘used-by’, date has come and gone only leads to stagnation.

And stagnation is much, much worse, (and far more dangerous) than venturing forth into the unknown.

Speaking of which … this was my view out of my study window this afternoon. You can’t really tell, but it’s miserable out there. Lots of wind, lots of rain … and one beautiful tree just going with the flow …

-oOo-

And I can’t use the word ‘melancholy’ in a blog post title without referencing this song in one way or another … take it away, Judy …

Water, Water, Everywhere And …

… not a drop to drink. At least not potable water, and we live on an island, in the middle of a lake!

When we moved here in 2012 the water, straight from a well, tasted divine. Certainly nothing like the city-water we were used to drinking in Vancouver.

In fact, when we drove out here to check out the place before we signed the lease, our prospective landlord at the time, offered us a glass of water, and it was probably one of the main things to convince us to move here.

Not so any more.

We’ve experienced a slow decline in water quality, but the stressors on the water-table this past year have been the final nail in the coffin – metaphorically speaking.

Population pressure: Since the farmers sold off their acreage this little island has been sub-divided, and sub-divided until there are far too many houses for the land to sustain. The older houses have septic sewage systems and the newer ones have pump-out ones.

The small creeks upstream of the lake are surrounded by commercial greenhouses. More and more are being built every day as people are finally starting to realise that food security for decades to come will have to be sourced as locally as possible – a legacy of the collateral damage from the last two years. And no matter how stringent their safety protocols are for their waste water something always gets past the system

This last summer heated up the lake and raised bacteria levels until swimming was a health hazard.

Our well water has been treated with chlorine to combat unsafe levels of bacteria four times, so far. It’s reasonable to expect we’ll be receiving ‘boil-water’ advisories next summer. (if we’re still here)

We don’t drink water straight from the tap anymore.

One of the things we were saving up for to buy next year as part of our preparations to head off for parts north-west of here, (and become the ‘Wunder-Lusters’ we’ve been hoping to be for the last two years) was a Berkey water filtration system.

With a little rearranging of priorities, we had the rather large, for us, sum of money to buy it now instead of next year.

Having a glass of water is a pleasure we cannot take for granted again.

 

‘… Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink …’

From ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 

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 …

The Terrifying Art Of Becoming

Freek Week downgraded itself to mere Freek Hours, thence to Freek Minutes. These minutes are, however, just as overwhelming as the hours and weeks. The only good thing about them is that it takes less time to overcome them but their ability to come seemingly out of nowhere, is disconcerting, to say the least.

Today’s Freek Minute comes to us directly from the Storage Locker …

Empty ... un-full-filled

Empty … un-full-filled

I know what I have become living here on our island in the middle of a lake. I have become a cancer survivor, a self-published author, (Prelude – which I am inordinately proud of) … I have become too overweight, too sedentary … I have become older, by eight years, and wiser, I hope … a survivor of 2020 … I am closer to my physical death than my birth, and I am far too fond of my habits.

… but what will I become if I stay here? The answer to that lies in a deep level of self honesty … which says I will become invisible, even to myself, with the passing of days … I will eventually disappear into the illusion of safety and security, the comfort of familiarity and routines, and a spirit-death of a thousand fear-filled thoughts.

What will I become, though, when I leave?

-oOo-

We have a leave date, the 31st May, and we have started to fill our storage unit with ‘stuff’.

Other ‘stuff’ is bound for the thrift store. Boxes, half-filled with ‘stuff’ are littered throughout the house, and we wonder, every day, how we managed to not only accumulate so much ‘stuff’, but how we’ve lived with it for this long.

The answer to that last bit is, of course, we’ve been gathering ‘stuff’ for this very outcome.

Think about it for a minute. Think about where and how you’re living right now. I know that for most of you, your life is set. There are routines you follow. The future, although as yet unwritten, is fairly well defined.

I know my life was.

This adventure of ours feels very much like we’re throwing all that out the window.

Imagine leaving all your familiarities behind, taking with you only what you can carry. What goes with you? What stays?

Mrs Widds’ grandmother came west, through the Canadian prairies, in a covered wagon. Everything she knew, everything she owned, was within that wagon. The rest, was, perhaps a few lines drawn on an old map that led to the hope of a new life.

In my more sleep-deprived moments, because some nights sleep is hard to come by when lists loom so large, I feel as though that’s what we’re doing too.

-oOo-

So, what will I become?

We shall see.

Freek Week!!!

Things are moving along a little faster than we expected.

Just before the pandemic closed down the world last year, Mrs Widds started working at a temp job that, luckily for us was in an essential industry.

Through a series of circumstances, that ‘temporary’ job extended and extended and extended, until we arrive here at the first couple of months of a new year.

At the beginning of February I did a wee Wunder-Lusters update, wherein we were planning to initiate the new and revised plan by the middle of this year-ish.

As the song goes, ‘t’aint necessarily so,’ folks.

Mrs Widds discovered today (Monday) that the company she’d worked for all through the pandemic pandemonium of 2020, was taking applications to fill the temp job she’d been working for the last year, with a permanent employee. Interviews for which got underway today, and Mrs Widds will be cleaning out her desk by the end of the week.

We were thinking that the job would wind down by May/June-ish anyway so we were ramping up our preparations with that timeframe in mind.

I understand the company’s position about the costs involved in hiring a temp versus paying an employee, but for fucks sake they could’a held off for another month or two.

So, money’s tight again, and the curve of our adventure has edged closer to vertical by about six weeks.

Are we freaking out right now?

Not at all. Why would you think that?

Not at all. Why would you think that?

In honour of our, hm, let’s call it , ‘enhanced’ timetable we have declared the rest of this week to be, FREEK WEEK … where all manner of squeaking, shrieking, weeping, freaking-out, procrastinating, denying, and assorted other coping mechanisms and stress release vocalisations are encouraged.

After that our motto is going to be, ‘It is what it is’, and we’ll get on with it.

I encourage you to take advantage of this burgeoning international movement and embrace your inner and outer FREEK WEEK, and then get on with it too.

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 Potpourri-ish List

1 – my CT scan came back clear, so I know another thing that isn’t causing my vertigo. I’ve learned to live with the sensations, it helps living in a small cottage, there’s always a wall nearby to lean on if required. The ’tilt factor’ hasn’t actually lessened but I tell myself that the world is right where I left it and to not succumb to the aural illusions. It mostly works, most of the time.

2 – It’s raining. The Autumn Tree outside my window has thrown off her green summer chapeau and has wrapped herself in a snug shawl of reds, and oranges, and yellows. Droplets of rain plink from leaf to leaf almost like notes being played on a piano. The tiny birds who frequent her dappled branches this time of year have returned and are probably busy collecting all sorts of wee beasties for supper, but they do look like they’re dancing to the tune of the raindrops.

Dancing in the rain

Dancing in the rain

3 – A hundred years ago, in 2019, I wanted to start making videos for our ‘Wunder-Lusters’ adventures but my poor old computer wasn’t up to the task. Mrs Widds needed an upgrade too, (her computer that is) so … fast forward to today where the first component of our new system has arrived. It’s Mrs Widds new monitor.

The hard-drives and other assorted ‘peripherals’ should arrive today too, but you never know with these things. The fact that we bought everything together, at the same place, on the same day, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll all be delivered on the same day.

I’ve had enough time to shift from, ‘Emegherd! Setting up a new computer is HELL!!!’, to ‘this is rather exciting’. Mind you, that might not last past the fifteenth snafu though. We’re planning on doing all that fun stuff this weekend, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

4 – The kitchen sink cold-water tap came off in my hand the other day. I wish I could say that I had a grip of iron, but it ain’t so. The bastard has been leaking for a while so it was just a matter of time. Also, the shower hot-water tap leaks, and the vanity taps, also in the bathroom, are corroded beyond redemption.

All that is to preface a plumber coming tomorrow, somewhere between the hours of midday and 2pm, to amend the above. Oh, you can guffaw, but plumbers have been known to turn up on the day they’re supposed to. (expecting them at the time of day they say, is a tad utopian)

There’s a catch, there’s always a catch. Two sets of replacement taps have been delivered, the third (and most important, the shower taps) are due to arrive today, at some point, they haven’t yet.

5 – the up-side (down-side? … depends on your point of view, I suspect) of getting a new computer is I have to go through ALL the old documents and files stored on my current computer, (as well as the masses of stuff saved to my external drive, some of which I haven’t set eyes on for most of the last decade) and delete and/or cut-and-paste, onto my external drive. I regularly back-up my current work, (a writer only forgets to back-up her files once. ‘Tis a painful but well-learned lesson) but some of this stuff originated last century!

6 – I was going to publish this post yesterday, but our computers arrived and I got a wee bit distracted … and today the plumber turned up, EARLY! … my head is spinning!

Just the thing a woman with vertigo needs - a spinning head

Just the thing a woman with vertigo needs – a spinning head

P.S. The third set of taps hasn’t shown up, so the 2020 effect is still in operation. The plumber will return when they do.

A Perfect Ten, Finale – 2010: Beginnings and Endings

Well, here we are, at the beginning.

It was quite a decade, and it’s been an interesting exercise revisiting it via, firstly, my Great Blog Post Emendation, and thence on to these ‘one-per-year’ posts.

In looking back, I’ve found my line-of-sight swinging towards, not only the present, but the future also. A future that is occluded by Covid-19 – as it is for all of us – but also has some threads weaving in and out of the mists that I can tug on and feel their energy pulling me forth.

Going on our trip-ette for ten days was the perfect way to end these last ten years, to give myself time to, as I said at the end of my last post, stare at the scenery and drink tea … which I did … both, in copious quantities.

I had fine ideas of doing some deep spiritual work, of writing down a few outlines (vague outlines, ‘cos I’m a dyed-in-the-wool ‘pantser’*) of the stories that are percolating underneath the attic stairs in the back of my mind, of brainstorming the, Covid-19-revised, future of ‘The Wunder-Lusters’, and many other things too numerous to mention. To give myself credit I had allowed the first five days to do the ‘scenery and tea’ bit, but after that I’d planned to get to work.

Yeah … about that plan … it was obvious by the first weekend that none of the above list of things was going to happen. I didn’t even get my camera out until we were almost at the end of our time there.

The first three days were still smoke-raddled by the capricious winds blowing up from the fires in the U.S. The next couple of days were filled with glorious blue skies and brisk winds … which got steadily stronger, and stronger and blew in thunderous storm clouds and rain … and more rain, and still more rain … that had reduced itself to occasional showers by the time we left.

Since getting home, late on Sunday afternoon, we’ve had nothing but sunshine … ain’t life twisty like that?

However, herewith, as promised, some photos and first ever videos of the (also first ever) official, Wunder-Lusters Adventure …

This is the view from where I sat under the trailer awning, all bundled up, sipping my tea, and listening to the rain.

 

And this made me smile …

A Puff of Dragon's Breath Cloud - busy with things to do and people to see

A Puff of Dragon’s Breath Cloud – busy with things to do and people to see

A little white cloud that had far greater ambitions than I …

(A bit wibbly-wobbly because of a stiff tripod. I ‘hand-held’ the rest, but I’m going to have to work through my equipment list poste-haste)

We did go for walks along the beach in-between the rain-showers and rain-deluges.

Very fine silt sand drifted between an endless vista of the most, pick-up-and-put-in-your-pocket-river-tumbled stones, I’ve seen for a good many years.

 

I have a selection of very special ones with me as I write this. I also picked up a piece of driftwood that caught my Attention. I don’t know, yet, what the stones and the wood will do, but they’ll make their opinions on the topic known when they’re ready, of that I’m sure.

The transition between sunshine and stormclouds happened in a matter of moments. Not long after I filmed this, another deluge descended upon us …

 

It was cold that night. I even tucked myself into bed with an extra hot water bottle. (a few things, among many, to make sure you have when camping, whatever you’re camping in – duct tape, wire, and an extra hot water bottle)

The next morning, I spied my most favourite weather event in the entire world

SNOW!!!

SNOW!!!

Of course Cheam Mountain is over 2000 meters high, and our campground sat at 23 meters, but still … SNOW!!!

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

And this is what she looks like, from another angle, when she’s really got her groove on, courtesy of Wikipedia and the photographer, Jack Borno …

Cheam_Peak by Jack Borno

Cheam_Peak by Jack Borno

It turns out I did think deep thoughts about ‘The Wunder-Lusters’, and Spirituality, and writing, and the Universe and Everything, but just not how I envisioned it before I started … life’s twisty like that.

-oOo-

We stayed at the Cheam Fishing VIllage and Campground (where the Stó:lō, the People of the River, have fished for 10,000 years) in Agassiz. They’re closed for the year now, but if you’re ever in the neighbourhood check them out.

* ‘pantser’ – a writer who writes her stories by the ‘seat-of-her-pants’, making it up as she goes along, as it were … as opposed to a ‘plotter’, who outlines the story ‘plot’ to varying degrees of detail before she starts in on the meat of it.

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