Tuesday, August 28, 2018

ROBBLOG #735- Almanac Hooey

Reason number "three thousand, four hundred and sixty-seven" as to why you should live on Vancouver Island.

The Farmer's Almanac- Yee-Haw, has released its winter forecast for Canada. Now being a "learned" man, I have studied this forecast very carefully.
Alright, that's a bit of a stretch.

I know very little about weather- except for the years the Mountain Ash Berries were in abundance back in Ontario. I figured it meant we should look out for a cold, nasty winter. I came to that scientific conclusion by noting that years when this happens it's always extremely cold and snow-packed come January and February. The birds that stay for those winters appreciate the January berry treat.

Of course, when I look at January and February past- back in Ontario, they are all cold and nasty- with very few exceptions.
How's that for global warming?
What global warming say the Tories?
By golly, you know, one day I might find myself votin' for that Scheer fellah and maybe even kissin' the rotund, fatty asscheeks of that there Ford boy once he raises himself to be King of Canada with the help of his "Ford Nation".
Another thing, why do Conservatives say "golly" and drop the "G's" off many words?

Anyhoo, all in the life of a Tory.
My life?
In my dreams of course.
"Fuck the carbon tax too!"- I might even scream in one of those right-wing dreams and "let's take all those liberal rights away that we been given over the past decades."

I'm kidding of course but really, how can someone actually say they are Conservative. It's like stepping backwards in time. They must have their head shoved ear deep up a horse's patooty!
In fact, I hear the Conservatives are so far in the past they'd endeavour to ask Sir John A. MacDonald to write the sexual curriculum for schools right across this fine country of ours.

Now I must say to their credit they seem to understand this Carbon Tax thing- since they don't want any part of it. They are actively poo-pooin' the pants off it whereas me, on the other hand, haven't the foggiest what a carbon tax is or what it does.
Ignorance can be bliss and this is one of those occasions.

Okay, back on topic...
Now that the Farmer's Almanac has released its winter forecast determined through the stars, planets and holding a saliva-soaked finger to the wind here is what it says-

"...'cold' weather in the Maritimes and Quebec. 'Biting cold' in Ontario and 'teeth-chattering' cold across the Prairies. BC bucks the trends with 'typical winter temperatures' in the forecast."

Ya hear the sound of that?

Then, relief comes in two words- "Typical Temps" in BC.
Alright, that's four words but you get what I mean.

"Typical" meaning one can sit in January Island sunshine and not freeze your nuts off.
Typical means green lawns.
Typical means no 20 foot snow plies in the Wal*Mart parking lot.
Typical means no huge icicles hanging from your eaves or a monkey's brass nuts.
Typical is February grass-cutting, palm trees, rhododendrons and magnolias as green as a turkey's arse at fly time!

Salt Spring Island View on a weekend in August
Now, to be clear, we Islanders don't want a bunch of you Easterners- particularly you "Orillia-Types", coming out here and spoiling it all for the rest of us.
I know you sneak a peak at this Blog of mine from time to time. Of course, when it's cold and snowy there's little else to do and I get that.
I really do.
I was an Easterner once.
A died-in-the-wool Ontario lover just a little more than a year ago but I have changed my old ways.
I have.
I mean that.
Stop laughing...

Why, if I encouraged the lot of you to come west, you'd be clogging our check out lines at Stupid Store in no time! Merrily chatting with the cashier. Smiling smugly at January Forecasts in the check out line newspapers published from three time zones back.

You'd all be holding up the cashouts at the numerous liquor stores- Liquor World. Liquor Plus. Liquor Barn. More Liquor. BC Liquor. Liquor Mart and a dozen more.
It just wouldn't be right.
Why I'll bet if I said that North Cowichan has more liquor stores than it has Tim Hortons, you folks would be out here in a flaming flash!
That wouldn't be right.

So, when you read that Farmers Almanac Winter forecast and it says typical, mild temperatures for British Columbia and out here on the Island, just ask yourself- "What in Hell do a bunch of right-wing, Conservative-lovin', God-fearin', tractor-ridin' farmers know about forecastin' Canadian weather.
Absolutely zip.
Reason enough to stay right where you are at.

I thank you for your time and attention.

Note: The preceding has been presented by the association of former Easterners trying to keep Vancouver Island for the Islanders.

Monday, August 20, 2018

ROBBLOG #734- Time Flies When You're Moving

I'm a bit early writing this post.

I had planned to have this ROBBLOG posted on August 22nd, one year since we drove Priscilla
onto this Island. However, I wanted to mention a bunch of stuff and it was getting all clogged up in my mind.

So, going back 365 days- give or take, Priscilla, The SwissshMobile, Tom and I, the mini-schnauzers Missy and Koko and our orange boy Dickens (Doyle stayed behind in Winnipeg) crossed the water on board the Queen of Alberni. It was a beautiful day for a sail- blue skies, sunshine and the smell of the ocean underneath the BC Ferry.

We had been on the road for eight days all the way from Orillia, Ontario through two eight hour driving days- just to get out of Ontario, then Manitoba, across the Prairies with salt flats and tumbleweed, driving up and over the majesty that is the Rockies, down the Coquihalla and across the mainland to Tsawassen to board the Ferry to Vancouver Island.

We did it.
We survived the sale of our wonderful Pine Tree House.
We still miss her so much but she gave us our future and a new home here in the Cowichan. For that she will be forever in our hearts. We know the first buyers flipped her. They had no idea what she meant to us. We thought she was being sold to someone who cared about the house- our home, not just making a dollar.

We know for those back in our old neighbourhood it is tough looking at her sitting there with new owners, perhaps not as loved as she was for the 25 years she was in our care.
At least, that's what your e-mails and texts are saying.
We are truly sorry for that.
Pine Tree House deserves more than a casual caretaking.
She needs devotion and constant upkeep.
I have to move on now or the tears will flow..

Our c.1882 Pine Tree House when we lived there.
Gawd, there was the packing.
Garage Sales. A car sale.
The Goodbyes..
The many heartfelt goodbyes.
I can't.....

Then, the final driving away early in the morning when the neighbourhood was quiet, late August pretty and forgiving, realizing we would no longer be a part of its daily life.
The fabric of a neighbourhood we loved.
Believe me it hit home at that moment.
That was hard. Real hard.
The driving away down Matchedash Street North...

~pause for a moment for the tears...again~

A year in the life.
Here we are today settled in our new house- Palm Villa, in a new neighbourhood, in a new province on an Island that's not so new.
It's been an adventure.
Sometimes challenging. Tough. Unexpected.
Today we have many new friends.
We go out to dinner. To the Theatre. We socialize with friends and neighbours.
We tell stories of our time in Pine Tree House and the years before.

West Coast Island Living. This is Palm Villa
Some things in our day-to-day lives are new- like smoke!
As I write this, I am staying indoors. The smoke is relentless today. We can't see Mount Prevost from our Lanai. Blue smoke swirls between trees and houses.
It's in my eyes causing them to water and itch. It's in my throat.
I can taste it  The air is thick. It's hot feeling like 30c.
We have all the indoor exhaust fans on and the air cleaner working at full blast. The air quality is not good which is to be expected with more than 500 fires burning across the province.

We were going to spend a couple of days in Vancouver- just the two of us, then, the smoke worsened and we cancelled out hotel and ferry crossings.

Usually you see Mount Prevost there behind that Hill.
That is all smoke!
It isn't as easy to travel about here on our Island as it was in Ontario. There you just pick up and go. Head the van south and you're in Toronto in an hour. Go east and you're in the Kawarthas or west to Midland and Owen Sound.

On the Island, you have to fly from Nanaimo or Victoria International to leave this paradise. Since we are former airline employees we stand by for available seats on flights. That's not always easy. The only other way off the Island besides swimming for the mainland is to take a Ferry from Departure Bay, Duke Point or drive all the way down to Sidney- east of Victoria in the Saanich Peninsula, to Swartz Bay. One more option would be Harbour Air- located about ten minutes from us at Maple Bay, flying in a float plane right into downtown Vancouver.

Driving is a new experience here with the many roundabouts and dead end "no exit" streets. That's because either a mountain or the ocean stops the road from continuing. Here in Duncan, city streets don't always allow you to "get there from here". You would understand that if you visited or lived here.

It is beautiful.
The ocean.
The flora and fauna- palms, banana trees, dogwoods and rhododendrons.
Many plants remain green all year through.

We don't have much of that moisture that Easterners think we have year round. We haven't had rain in a couple of months and things are brown- unless you have drip lines in your gardens or built-in lawn sprinklers and still there are watering rules. Vancouver Island is green in the winter and dead-brown in the summer.
It takes some getting used to but we don't get cold.
No minus 30's.
No snow piled high for months on end.
A sweatshirt and a weatherproof jacket is all you need from November through February. I wore a leather jacket only a handful of times last year and just a scarf or two- just for fashion.
We sat outside having coffee on sunny mornings in December, January AND February.
We planted in our gardens in all of those months!

Anyhoo, there it is and here we are, an entire year later.
So many changes and such a future to look forward to.
People from back home who have visited us- and in two cases moved here, say Tom and I look younger, healthier, better.
Thank you!
We feel that way.
We walk almost every day.
We relax. We garden. We read. We talk to neighbours. Everybody talks to everybody here on the Island- even in the grocery store lineups. It's disconcerting at first and then you get used to it. It was easy for us because we talk to every George, Dick and Harry we meet anyway.

Maple Bay with Salt Spring Island- 10 minutes from us
So Dear Friends, Family and former Neighbours, we are doing well.
We have settled.
We are smiling.
We have started a new life here on Vancouver Island- just don't get us started on ICBC insurance or some other government stuff!

Finally, we sold the Swissshmobile last fall- our Montana Van.
That was difficult.
Priscilla- the RV that got us here safely? She has just been sold and listen no matter what the folks at Heidi's back therein Ontario tell you, you will not make money on your RV when  you sell it here.
Quite the opposite.

And lastly-as the last Blog told you, our Doyle (Dicken's Brother) is still not with us and we can only hope he is happy- and safe, wherever he is- because we are...

The Island Boys

Thursday, August 16, 2018

ROBBLOG #733- Nine Lives. Done.

No picture of me this time.

The photo is one of our boys- Dickens on the left and Doyle on the right- staring into the camera lens.
They were eight in June and they came to live with us eight years ago on September 15th.

The picture is not perfect these days.
If you followed the blogs of our journey from Orillia, Ontario to Vancouver Island last year at this time, you may recall that Doyle left us on the evening of August 17th at a KOA Campground in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

We were devastated.

I had been writing a blog that evening while sitting at the dining table in Priscilla- our RV. Doyle was laying on the back of the seat just behind my head. He had been there for an hour or more, gently purring in my ear.
It was normal. Things seemed normal.
It's funny how fast normal can turn into tragedy.
Dickens had gone to bed with Tom and our mini-schnauzers Missy and Koko.
I liked the quiet when writing.

At one point I felt the air a bit cool. It was about 10:30 pm August 17th. The door to Priscilla was wide open except for the screen door that was closed to keep out summer bugs. I got up to close the door. It was hooked snugly to the left on the outside of Priscilla. I took a few steps to the door and reached out to grab the outer door latch. As I did this Doyle ran outside in a flash!

I stepped down and called.
He'd come back in a few seconds.

It was pitch black.
I grabbed a flashlight.
I called to a young lady who was parked two doors down, asking if she had seen him.
She hadn't but she grabbed her flashlight and we shone the beams under her RV.
There he was!
Eyes shining wide in the light beams.
I was able to crouch down, grab him and hug him to my chest.
"I have him!"- I called to her.
"I'm glad"- she cried.
Then suddenly Doyle jabbed his back claws into the palm of my left hand.
I don't know why.
The claws jabbed so deep I yelled, releasing my grip a bit. He then jumped up, over and out of my arms. His tail disappearing into the black night was the last I ever saw of him.

I have gone over this scenario a thousand times in the past year and it doesn't make me feel any better.
I had him.
I lost him.
I had him tightly and safely in my arms and he jumped free.

Back in Orillia Priscilla sat in our drive. Just outside the door to the left was the backyard gate which was propped open when we were in Priscilla. We tried to get the "kids" used to being inside in her but Doyle knew the safety of Pine Tree House was just outside and around the corner...only-
this time it wasn't.
All that lay in the darkness was unfamiliar smells.
Unfamiliar territory.
A deep, dark, black nothing.

I called to Tom awakening him from a sound sleep.
I told him what had happened.
We called and called his name into the night. We walked the perimeter of the KOA.

We left food outside. His litter. A familiar jacket so he could sniff us.
We went to bed.
A fitful sleep.
Even Dickens was crying out. Then around 330 am a horrendous thunderstorm.
Lightening. Heavy, heavy rain. Loud crashes of thunder.
Doyle would be scared.
Our hopes dimmed.

We spent the following day and the next morning after that searching and calling and asking people if they had seen an orange tabby.
The next night the KOA Groundskeeper knocked on our open door saying he saw him with a bunch of feral cats along the shore of the Assiniboine River that cut through the KOA.
We took flashlights.
We called.
We could see cat's eyes in the river grasses but Doyle didn't come running out to meet us.

Leaving the KOA the following morning was tough.
We sobbed salty tears.
The Groundskeeper assured us he would call when Doyle returned.
We had some hope.
I don't know how Tom could see through his teardrops as we drove out of the park and onto the Trans Canada Highway leaving a part of us behind and alone.

We haven't stopped searching all this past year.
Almost daily I check the Facebook Lost Cat Pages for Winnipeg. We have been registered with the Winnipeg Humane Society. Doyle is chipped and if he were found and taken to any vet, the chip would lead him straight home to us- his Dads.

Now a year is up.
I told myself we'd hold our hopes high for a year.
We've seen so many photos of cats that look like Doyle I could fill this page and several more with their photos.
So far- nothing. The leads always fell through and that made us sad all over again.

Our Boy...We'll always Love You...
The best we can hope for is that someone is looking after him.
Good Food.
A warm place to curl up and snooze.
I don't even want to think about the freezing cold temperatures in Winnipeg last winter.
Back in Orillia he might have come out with us for a few minutes on the side verandah in the mild sunshine but on a cold, crisp day or night?
We still have a glimmer of hope but reality has pushed hope way down.
We have to be realistic.

We will miss him forever.
I'd love to hold him in my arms again. Have him snooze on my lap or curl up in front of the fire in a doggie bed he borrows from Missy and Koko.

Dickens had some rough times a couple of months ago. Even he realized his brother was not coming home again.

So, we have memories and we love each and every one.
We hate the not knowing where he is tonight.
Is he safe or what happened that night a long year ago and what about the past 365 nights.

But- enough now.
Goodbye sweet Doyle wherever you are...

It's done.
~heavy sigh~ ~tears~

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

ROBBLOG #732- A Year in This Life

August 15, 2017.
The day we left Orillia, Ontario under the cover of early morning light to make the eight day trek across this wonderful country we call Canada to our new home on Vancouver Island.

Now, back up one day.

The day before, we packed up Pine Tree House our wonderful c.1882 Victorian Home on Matchedash Street, North.
L3V 4V5. I still remember the postal code!

The moving van arrived in late morning and took up the entire stretch of pavement in front of the house. Four movers helped to dis-assemble the interior.
Tables, wing chairs, cabinets, patio tables and more.

The BIG Truck in front of Pine Tree House
This was to be known as the boxes and chairs move by Great Canadian Van Lines from Coquitlam, British Columbia.

We didn't have a chesterfield or couch but we had wing chairs both static and moveable like our
Laz-Z-Boys. We had antique rockers and commode chairs. Wooden dining room chairs and arm chairs- with and without padded seats.

Then the boxes.
I dunno…
Over a hundred. Closer to two hundred maybe.
I never want to pack boxes again. At least not that many and this was post-purging.
The stuff one collects during one's life.
I couldn't believe it.
Even so, it was incredibly hard to part with "stuff"- but I did.
We did.
Well, more me but I will use the plural for the Mister was a good guide to run things past.

Boxes and Chairs
The day was sad.

We kept busy but it was sad.
Friends popped by.
There were tears.
Lots of tears as I remember.
There were hugs.
Many hugs.
Words that cut to the heart-
"We'll probably never see you again."
"It'll be so different without you living in Pine Tree House"

Then, the best goodbye of all.
I think if you go back to a blog a year ago I mentioned it.
Our lovely neighbour Louise sauntered across the street.
She was sad.
She was upset.
She stood for a second clenching her fists and sort of rocking from side to side on her heels. I had no idea what she was about to say but she did say something.
It was bombastic.
It was from the heart.
It was sincere.

She looked up into my face through reddened eyes.
Then, while a tear or two came rolling down her cheeks she said:
"Well, Fuck You!"
"Just Fuck You!"

It was the most heartfelt of goodbyes and I will never, ever forget the moment.
The look of sadness on her face.
The damp on her cheeks.
We hugged and she tottered off across the street back to tell Don- her husband, what she had said no doubt.

It was the first "Fuck You" of the rest of my life!

The Parlour at Pine Tree House

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

ROBBLOG #731- Awnings, Awwws and Pride

Good Gawd, it's August!

How in hairy, old hell did that happen? It was just May a couple of weeks ago. Now, in a couple of weeks , the Mister and I will celebrate one year on this Island of ours. Yup, Vancouver Island has lived with us for a year! I'll do a larger blog on that when we get closer to the date all about our year here and how we still look for our orange cat Doyle who will be missing one year on August 17th! We hope he's well and someone has taken him in back there in Winnipeg but I would still give anything to have him back in my arms. ~sigh~

Boy, it's been hot on this Island! I can't remember the last day with rain and like many other days in the past weeks it's been above 30c. The big different here on the Island than back in Ontario, is the heat continues without a thunderstorm- they are rare here, like tornadoes and summer bugs including mosquitos. Our heat pump has been keeping Palm Villa nice and evenly cool. Much better than the air conditioner in Orillia did. We always had a room there at Pine Tree House where we could hang meat or store ice cubes. Here, in this house, the cool seems to be evenly spread and the cost is lower.

The sun seems more intense here somehow. Maybe the lack of pollution. It's so hot on the east front side of Palm Villa that we would have to sit under an umbrella but boy are we tan! Tan like Hawaii tan. It's a much more golden brown. I don't sit for hours in the sun mind you. I mean, one doesn't have to or want to but one still tans up. Occasionally, the Island wind would topple our yellow umbrella, so the Mister and I spent a horrible amount of money on a new awning. The awning has an Italian/Western flair- since it is made in Italy, assembled in Mississauga and shipped here to the Island Awning boys. At times during the year they make their own but the install boys says it's just too busy these days, so they order the awnings from Italy, the parts in Mississauga and assemble them at the company warehouse in Victoria. Ours is sage green in colour- like Palm Villa, with a cream stripe matching the trim on our house.
Palm Villa with an Italian awning!
Imagne, it's like living in Tuscany without the Italian men!! Oh, you could count a couple of the building boys as Italian if they didn't open up their mouths to speak English. You know, chests covered with curly, thick, black chest hair. Talking with their hands. Nicely tanned.

Is it Tuscany or Vancouver Island?
The Mister and I were just off the Island over this past BC Holiday weekend. We took the ferry to Vancouver and stayed with friends to celebrate Vancouver Pride. The Vancouver Boys live just a block off Davie Street where the Gay Village is located. That's just a few clocks from the Ocean and the beach.

Vancouver is a beautiful city. Expensive and busy but beautiful and the boys in the parade were lovely to look at as well. We watched the parade go by from our vantage point on Robson- the main drag, for two and a half hours. It moved much faster than the Toronto Parade but Justin was still there with a ton more security and his two special cars following closely behind. We never saw that in a Toronto Parade but then again some Aboriginals are so crazy pissed at the pipeline that Justin insists is going ahead whether they like it or not that tighter security is in order. I just ask myself- do these folks drive cars or heat their homes or buy products made of petroleum? We know many live in houses where garbage is spread from pillar to post across their land.

Oh yes folks, that's reality here on the island. On many Aboriginal lands one sees broken down homes, rusting cars and garbage spewed  from one end of a property to the other. I should take pictures and show you. We're not supposed to talk about that or point it out. Everyone knows it though like the Emperor and his New Clothes.

Once you're here a while, you just get used to it. I'd like to say to these Indigenous BC' ers to clean up their lands before they point a finger at big petroleum. You should see the garbage laying next to the Casino in Duncan. Not what we were used to seeing adjacent to Casino Rama back in Orillia, Ontario and believe me what I'm say is mild. Very mild compared to what I hear.

That's Our Justin!
Anyhoo, there were mega branches of this tribe and that- including two-spirited folks, in the 40th Annual Pride Parade. Did you know that "two-spirited" folks were held in high esteem in Aboriginal Society. This could possibly mean they had "Pride" celebrations long before us Gay white folks even thought of the idea.
Huh, the things you learn...
The remainder of the parade was filled with floats, bands, walking groups and muscle boys. I only saw one pair of lady titties- much different than in Toronto, as well, there were no penises flapping in the midday sunshine....more's a pitty.
In Toronto, the Christians are all in the parade- except for the Baptists and the Catholics who still live in the middle ages. At the Vancouver Pride Parade I saw no religion marching. It doesn't appear to be such a big thing here on the left coast. Religion, I'm referring to here, however the Humanists (the Atheists) were there- signs and all. Did my heart good. One sign said- "This Atheist gives free hugs"

Boys and their Parade!
We also learned to book BC Ferries months in advance of a long weekend or in advance of the summer folks hitting the Island. We are surrounded by water and limited to escape via plane or water.
We made it both ways across the water to and from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. The ferries are very comfortable, have a couple of restaurants like White Spot and offer comfortable seating while you pass the 90 minutes to and from Horseshoe Bay on the mainland and Departure Bay here on the Island at Nanaimo. It takes us about 40 minutes to drive home after we dock on the Island.

Our Island Days continue to be full and there are times we feel like we are running our Bed and Breakfast again what with the company we get.
But, you know what?
It's all good.