Fuck Zoom

RCE_5926Willow agrees!

The world is changing and there is plenty I don’t understand or know how to navigate.

Last week I had my first Zoom meeting with four other people. It was a business meeting. I found it awkward. I didn’t realize how much I rely on body language and looking into peoples eyes to understand what they are saying. From my perspective I was half blind.

I believe they were also at a disadvantage, however they were more experienced with the Zoom experience than I. They were also all younger than I. Perhaps the only disadvantage was my age. Like I said the world is changing, social cues are also changing, for instance I’ve never felt bullied by something someone wrote on Facebook.

Two of the people in the meeting, were obviously not interested in being there. Although they were the ones who requested the meeting they were disengaged. Maybe it was the hour (early).

Everyone was in a makeshift office, kitchen, bedroom or home office made to look impersonal, or professional as they have been taught, no personal pictures at your desk etc. A bright spot was when a dog barked, I made light of it, but it fell on deaf ears, they were gone to shut up the dog.

To be distant in such an environment is easy, to be engaged is difficult.

I failed at this first meeting. I am getting old. There are new ways I don’t understand. It’s unlikely, at my age, I will ever get it. That’s okay with me. I prefer my meeting face to face, even if it’s six feet apart.

And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even really like the company of people.

planting schedule

RCE_5234Willow tries to harvest gophers.

There is a whole lot of theories out there. Some say you plant when the snow is off Baldy, or when the snow pulls up Three Finger Slide.

Others say you keep a close watch on worms, two weeks later, the tender stuff, like tomatoes and squash can go in. Frost and greening of grass, count too.

As for seeds, put them in whenever, even the year before.

RCE_5191What’s down there?

If I had two hundred years to plant a garden I might get it right.

This is only my thirty-fifth garden, not counting my father’s and grandfather’s gardens, that I only ran through raiding radishes and carrots. 

It’s life, those plants, they can be delicate, but most time strong, like everything I guess.

The storms are close to the mountains, the snow is melting in rain. It will start sliding. Down here we keep watch and try to make sense of  it all.

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oh Canada

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Interesting times indeed. I’ve never had much good to say about the government, the people that work in it or politicians of any stripe or size. Unfortunately, these are the people we are told we must rely on during this crisis.

Lisa lost her job a little over a week ago, she won’t be getting it back even when the lock down passes. The business she worked for was one hanging be a thread at the best of times, it probably won’t reopen and if it does it will be at a diminished capacity. Fortunately the owners are wealthy and don’t need the income, the business was more of a hobby for them.

Even though she worked for over seven years for the company, she won’t receive a dime of severance. Since there is no jobs available she will apply for Employment Insurance (EI) that she has paid into since she was fourteen. So far she hasn’t been able to get through to file a claim. This is understandable considering what Canada is experiencing.

I was on EI once. Many years ago the company I was working for told me in November they would try but most likely not be able to keep me on during the winter months due to lack of work. Since it was November, I thought I would be proactive and apply for Employment Insurance, something I also had paid into since I was fourteen. 

I was accepted, however, I never collected a cent, because I continued to work. I kept the claim open in the event of shortage of work. This is something just about every support worker in the school system does to collect EI during Spring, Summer, and Christmas breaks. I worked for the school system for many years and saw people do this regularly.

After about a month of being on EI I was phoned by a government agent who told me there was plenty of work in the oil industry and I should move to Alberta and get a job there. 

She was daft to the fact I hadn’t collected on my claim and was still working. After talking to her for some time I realized she was like most government workers – incompetent. I cancelled my claim right there and then and told her I would never file again. She was happy with that. She figured her job was done.

Before I hung up I asked her how I was picked to be harassed, she said they pick people with EI claims by random.

I have relayed my experience to many people who rely on EI regularly and not one has shared my experience. I guess I was just unlucky. Of course after the claim was cancelled I lost my job for several months due to shortage of work. I ended up doing what I could to make ends meet.

***

The place I work has laid almost everybody off due to the virus, I have been kept on three days a week. That could change tomorrow. If I get laid off completely I will not be filing for EI. I will do anything to make a buck and get by, just like I always have.

I feel sorry for people who think they can rely on government during this difficult time, it is filled with the worst workers with the most advantages in Canada. Every time I see our Prime Minister preening for the camera, or our Mayor warning people, in dulcet tones, not to flush rags or wipes into the municipal sewer system, I feel sickened.

I want bugger all from government other than a half assed road and water in the tap, not much to ask considering the high taxes we pay. Taxes, I should stress, I have always paid, never hiding income, always playing by the rules and even speaking out, on every available occasion, against the widely practised ‘under the table’ economy in Canada.

What I ask in return is for the government to get out of the way and stop making life more difficult for the people they supposedly serve.

COVID-19

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This week the coronavirus hit the valley. Although, to my knowledge, there hasn’t been any reported cases, there is a sense of panic in the air. 

People shopping the stores bare of hand sanitizer, toilet paper and everything on sale. Others cancelling travel plans, as recommended by our government.  

The resort I work at has cut everyone’s hours. This didn’t come as a surprise, as we cater to international travellers and Canadian tourists, most cancelling their reservations during the usual busy spring break.

The schools in the area have gone on spring break, scheduled for two weeks, still without official word, will undoubtedly be off at least two weeks longer.

It will be interesting how the virus plays out in the coming days and weeks. So far, in Canada, the issue has not become politicized. The information we are receiving from government officials has been consistent and unified. 

My feeling is we may be entering a different time. That things are about to change for many people around the world and here in Canada. 

Rex Murphy, of the National Post, pointed out in his recent column that coronavirus is doing everything the climate change movement has been advocating for several years. Emissions are down, including a whooping 25% in China, more than the entire green house emissions of Canada. Travel, another huge source of pollution, is down.

There has been plenty of news saying we must change for the sake of the environment, but to date very little has changed. Maybe this is where we take it seriously; where we realize we don’t need to travel and build second homes on the edge of every lake.

Now with that said, this is the way it will play out. The people, who consider themselves left leaning environmentalists with lots of money, who live in mansions or on the edge of the wetlands won’t miss a flight or change one iota. 

The middle-class will become poorer and they will have to learn to live with less. They won’t be able to afford to pollute (read heat their homes).

The lower class, which Lisa and I are included, will have a lot less. 

I don’t worry much about Lisa and I, we are used to having not much. Our last holiday was over thirty years ago. We are workers and the world will always need workers. We consigned ourselves long ago to working until we died. Not so bad or unfair considering most of our descendants also did this, why should we be any different?

However, to see many of my co-workers given the word their hours are cut and layoffs are inevitable was painful. They are low on the totem pole, regardless of what our government, left or right says, they are inconsequential, the bottom of the bottom. 

They will have to come to work if they are sick.

Sure the government has plenty of relief policies in place, but not for housekeeping, and not for the poorest Canadians. A teacher or government worker will never miss a pay check, they may even come out ahead.

And so it goes. 

The New Religion

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I had an argument with a guy recently. It was about dwindling elk populations. He said, elk where being decimated by predators such as wolves, grizzlies and cougars. It was his view that these animals should be culled. I said maybe we should quit hunting elk during their rut and taking the biggest bulls from the heard. Colorado has seen success with managing these hunting practices.

This guy was a hunter and a scientist (so he said) and my comment made him fly off the handle. He over and over again said, ‘Science’ shows it is the predators that are responsible for diminished elk populations.

I infuriated him more by saying, we have to be careful culling animals, because we’ve got it wrong before, I was thinking about those same wolves and plenty of fish species. 

He continued, ranting Science, Science, Science, without so much as offering a fact. It was like the word Science was enough.

I knew he wasn’t worth engaging in an argument. He was a fervent believer.

***

I don’t understand science. I always thought it was nature. The way I alternately blink my eyes at the sky, being the same way we figure out the distance to the stars. 

***

I also don’t understand climate change, but the Science seems to have become a replacement for religion, especially for us in the most prosperous parts of the world. It has sin, guilt and the need for atonement. The Science also promises a way out, if only we live carefully.

And like religion the biggest sinners are the ones who preach the loudest and conjure their desired deity in every conversation and argument. Like the above mentioned hunter/Scientist who, lives on a ranch, and wants to shoot bigger elk.

Today’s Elmer Gantry’s and Jimmy Swaggart’s are now the ‘environmentalists’ living in their big houses on the side of the wetlands, winging their way to explore exotic locations with their light weight Sony cameras, oblivious to there own sins, or perhaps smug in their belief they are pulling the wool over our eyes. 

Fuck I hate religion regardless of what they call it.

kootenay gothic

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Sunflowers

A spritz of rain all day long, never cold enough to turn to snow. Maybe overnight.

The woodpile is stocked but badly piled. Never two pieces sawed the same length. Or chopped the same width. Ununiform, a crooked fence line, lots of space between blocks. Pine mixed with fir, tamarack, birch, depending on winter temperatures. It’s good to have options.

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Headed high into the bush, behind the old mountain, that still holds mystery to this old fool.

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Tested the spring, cut cedar boughs. The dog chased sticks and brought them back. It’s good to be god. 

It’s dark early. The cold is coming. Winter. The meat can stay outside, hanging in the shed overhead or stashed, frozen underground. Prepared, even down a quart, hiding behind a crooked windbreak, it’s the best time to be alive.

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storing it up

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The Chickadees have been busy in the remaining sunflowers. I put a couple large heads on the deck so we can watch the tough little birds do their business. They fly from the garden, to the deck, to the trees where they hide the seed for future consumption, presumably when the cold and snow hits and food is scarce.

A Downey Woodpecker has been watching them and I wonder if he will be the beneficiary of all their hard work.

Like all of nature these small birds seem to work extra hard just to survive. They hide ten times what they will need, because they know most of it will be gone when they need it.

A Turtle lays a hundred eggs and only a small number survive. A tree produces many cones, some fall and lay dormant, some are eaten by birds. Some sprout and are trampled and die or don’t get enough light. Sometimes it takes a lightening strike or fire to clear the brush and let them survive. Without going ‘above and beyond’ perhaps all would have died out by now.

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Then there is us. Humans are the cruelest animal, it is our nature to wreak havoc on animals, resources and the natural world, because we feel we are somehow above or separate from the trees and fish and even the coal in the ground. It’s because, like every other living thing, we guard our young. For them, we produce and consume much more than is required. In this moment of time we have gotten too good at being cruel. All of our seeds are still in the trees, we have ten times more than we need, but we’ve killed off all the woodpeckers.

The last 200 years, even the last 2000 years is such a small amount of time for nature. It is our hubris, maybe even our nature and our weakness, to think we are on top, or somehow in control.

get your tongue out of my ear

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The election is over. I didn’t talk to anyone who was happy today. Most couldn’t give a shit. I talked to a few with Alberta plates who were devastated.

There is plenty of people left out of these decisions. Sure they cast a vote, out of duty or, maybe even, hope. They roll with it when house prices become unaffordable, and keep working until they die. Some even believe they are in a predicament, because of some shortcoming.

That’s the big lie. The same lie that makes people who are well off think it was their hard work who got them where they are. Both sides never considering the situation they were born into.

Before you think it; fuck you, if you say ‘look at me, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps’. If you think it and say it you are an asshole.

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The world is going through a change. Most of the change won’t be bad. Do you remember we changed from vinyl, to 8 track, to cassette, to CD. At every change we were told how much better the next format was.

That’s what’s happening now. Unfortunately, it’s designed to leave a lot of poor people from every corner of the world in it’s wake.

It was interesting to see several teachers working at the polling booths. When I worked at the School District, during an election, some would take a sick or vacation day and work the polls. Double the money.

Our incumbent NDP, MP, Wayne Stetski was voted out. He will get close to $90 thousand severance for the effort he put in for the past 4 years, on top of his $180 thousand a year he made sitting way, way, back behind leader Mulcair, stuttering out how he liked local food and biking to work.

Lucky bastard.

Our next MP, Rob Morrison of the Conservatives will do the same. He will be as ineffectual. Sure he will help his friends, and spew the ‘right’ rhetoric. But in the end, he will collect his money.

Thats why I don’t give a shit about political parties, The right and left are in cohoots. They take long vacations with each other, spend and bullshit. It’s us who are left behind.

My good friend said it’s criminal, and it would be, if it wasn’t them making the laws.  

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Mid September

CRW_0028.jpgPlenty of moisture for September. Still good to have the seasons change, with longer nights and cool mornings. The mountains have a touch of white. Plenty of mushrooms for soup in the bush. Lisa never eats the soup the first day, she lets me eat it, if I’m still alive the next day she’ll have some.

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A small sparrow braves the rain to have a chance at the garden’s sunflowers. Lots of overcast, the full Harvest Moon has passed and still no frost.

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The smoke blossoms have ripened and need to be cut and dried. They have done well considering the lack of sunshine. It really is a beautiful fragrant plant. As usual there is much more than we can use. The rest will be given away or traded to friends, who like I, refuse to get from the government. 

RCE_3518.jpgFall is still on.