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.

Crows

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I’ve been watching a nest of Crows at work. The mother was quite throughout, she sat on the eggs only to leave for a short while. Once the eggs hatched she was constantly busy going back and forth for food for the hatchlings. It rained a lot and there were worms on the pavement, plenty to choose from.

I had to climb to the third floor to see them. Sometimes my work didn’t take me there, but I did it anyway each day. I always said I’d bring my camera, but I didn’t.

Every time I looked at those birds I couldn’t get over how much bigger they got, day after day.

Today they sat on the edges of the nest, all three black and shiny, confident,  if they are lucky they will always be so, the mother on a branch above, her eye on me, trusting, but knowing I can never be trusted.

They looked at me. It’s said Crows can recognize faces, I wondered how those wings worked and when they will figure out they can fly.

There will be no new normal

RCE_5249A Song Sparrow greets the day.

Work wise things are back to where they were before. It’s almost like the virus never happened. Maybe it was a drill. Plenty of vehicles holidaying from Alberta. There is even vehicles from the United States. Odd, as I thought the borders were closed to non-essential travel. Perhaps vacationing is essential, I know it is for the well off.

Still plenty of people not going back to work as they make more on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). It doesn’t matter to me, I am not eligible. People who think these programs and health care for all is available to everyone in Canada is mistaken. I don’t want these benefits from our government. I am happy making slightly more than minimum wage. Somebody recently said to me, it’s because I refuse to accept the terms or ‘play the game’. Maybe so or I could just be fucking stupid..

I believe you don’t ask (or fight) for something that should be given, especially if promised. That’s a rule decent people adhere by. It’s the way it used to be. Dropping a deer off to people who need it. It’s not charity, nor do you need thanks, it’s what you hope would be offered if the shoe were on the other foot. Someday my health will go, I won’t be expecting help from our health care system (even though I’ve paid premiums my whole life), I won’t have the energy to fight for it, I’ll  be better served by the end of a loaded gun. I jest, but you need a mountainful of hope to get by in this day and age.

***

RCE_5205Wildflower by Lisa.

I planted a portion of the garden yesterday, peas, carrots, beets, lettuce a few things will have to wait until things warm up. Today I am waiting for the rain to stop to plant a couple rows of spuds.

Yesterday, was also the first day without long underwear. It seems I keep it on longer each year. Truth is a feel a little naked without it.

***

RCE_5255Fresh Juniper Berries. A powerful source of medicine.

It has been work and straight home these past few weeks. The snow is melting and the roads will be opening into the mountains. Fuel prices are going back up, not that they went down very much here. They should be back up to about $1.50 a litre by May long. 

Early May

RCE_5093Don’t make such a rhubarb about the current goings on!

Covid19 precautions are starting to ease in Canada. We are seeing more tourists. Shops are starting to reopen. About two thirds of the vehicles on the highway and around town, on the weekend, are from neighbouring province Alberta, ignoring warnings not to travel outside of your home province.

The ambulance has been out several times today, a sure sign the roads are getting busier with tourists.

It should be reminded, we are as susceptible to this disease now as we were two months ago.  The only thing changed is we have learned to social distance and bought time to possibly better ready our health care system. Numbers show most are still vulnerable to contract the sickness. This will remain so until a vaccine is developed. It will be interesting how we go forward.

RCE_5096A handsome Flicker.

Five years from now, we will know better how we managed this illness, did we overreact, was there things we could have done better? Right now we move forward with the information we have.

Strange times. One good thing in our small community; it’s amazing to see people forgetting about money and tourists, choosing instead to support each other.

0pt out

RCE_7828Crocuses, a sure sign of spring, are blooming in abundance on the benches and valley bottom.

Willow and I went into the bush, yesterday, to get some firewood. Storms have been threatening, clouds raining on the mountains, not much in the valley bottom. Lisa is afraid the government may close the bush due to the virus. The fear is fires will start and the province will not have the resources to fight the fires. It is a legitimate concern.

RCE_7790The surrounding mountains are still covered with many feet of snow. A quick melt could cause flooding in the valley.

The company I work for has extended my hours from three days a week back to five. This is very helpful for Lisa and I. Lisa, who was laid off from work several weeks ago, spends 7 hours a day trying to get through to check on her Employment Insurance claim. So far no luck and I don’t expect that will change. I mentioned in a previous post Lisa and I are not the kind of people who collect or are able to collect on many of the government programs available during the Covid19 crisis. I am okay with that. We are resourceful and will do anything to get by. I do believe, however that we shouldn’t have to pay into EI as we have done our entire lives without ever being able to use it when we lose our jobs, as Lisa has. I still believe, regardless of resourcefulness, a person or families best defence in these strange times is to be sitting on a piss pot full of money with nice secure, defined government pensions rolling in, another thing we pay into but never will collect.

RCE_4944A murder of crows peck seeds from a freshly thawed field.

The Albertan tourists and second home owners are back in force. There is no way they are going to stay away. The reports from BC and Alberta health ministers fall on deaf ears. And who can blame them, living in a concrete shithole like Calgary, spitting distance from their neighbours, it must be downright depressing.

RCE_5075No longer is the ice off the creeks and lake and the Osprey reappears.

Are we going to be different after this virus passes or are we going to go back to jumping on planes winging our way around the world, building second and third homes, piling motorboats onto a tiny lake and polluting and consuming at every opportunity with reckless abandon. I can imagine we will.

Regardless if this slowdown lasts for another week or several months it has been a nice respite from the usual ruck that is the tourist trap we call home.

down the valley

RCE_5065The snow covered mountains are over 130km away. There is a haze just above the lowest ridge. Woodstoves I suspect as it was a chilly morning.

More than a few years ago I would look south down the valley and wonder if the haze at the horizon was pollution? And was it there the year before or the last time I looked? It would glow orange. Of course we get our share of pollution when the forests are on fire during the summer months. I’m talking about the rest of the year.

Much of industry is carried on south of us where the majority of the population resides. It could be that I have been missing them, but the skies seem exceptionally blue at the horizons where smoke is most noticeable.

Regardless, it was a beautiful blue day. I can’t help but think we are going to be a more mindful society after this threat passes. I know this; the blue skies sure make the birds feel better, like always, they can be trusted.

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.

trouble down below

_LME4835-smThe spring Milky Way over a frozen lake.

This isolating, quarantining, whatever you want to call it is going to kill me. Lisa and I have been looking at each other with tiger eyes. Luckily she knows how to run away from me. I shaved my beard, that made Lisa happy. Lisa says I have Ron Duguay hair and Bobby Clark’s smile, her two favourite hockey players growing up. Desperate times call for desperate measures. If it means me not putting my teeth in so be it.

The valley bottom is all upset, yet the sky still marks time and reminds us where we stand. I feel comfort in that.

Once this is all over, I’m going to get in shape so I can catch Lisa anytime I want. Till then, fortunately, she pretends to trip up once and awhile.

late march

RCE_4780Taking a turn at the look out.

It’s been trying and we haven’t been locked up like some.

We hiked the east side of Columbia Lake. Where the mighty river starts. I’ve never seen where the Columbia turns huge before it spills into the Pacific. Where Salmon run before being turned back by hydro-electric dams. I prefer it up here in the hills.

RCE_4755Pictograph from another time.

The frost is below six inches of soil. Another week and the ground can be worked. I’ve started a few seeds inside. I worry for them as I am a lazy gardener, preferring plants outside.

RCE_4817Getting ready for war.

Most people I know have lost their jobs. Some small businesses may never reopen. It’s always close to the vest even in the best of times.

RCE_4812If only we could read.

We scrambled up into the rocks to an ancient cave where we couldn’t discern the writing. Where battles were recorded. Where people watched loved ones stolen or killed. Where Eagles swooped above goats, knocking newborn kids off ledges to jagged rocks below.

RCE_4770If we had a choice to come back.

The rhubarb is showing. It will be welcome.

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sparrow

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Strange days have found us. Still the birds sing, and why shouldn’t they? 

For them it’s business as usual. Singing for a mate. The ground is softening up, tempting a few seeds sown. My guess is the garlic, planted in fall, will be the first to show. 

The skies are exceptionally clear and blue. Snow is in every shaded crook and cranny. The roads will rise and fall as frost retreats. 

If this keeps up, I’m going to appreciate less tourists racing around. Then again, we will have to get used to less money, gardens being raided, watching for spring time cress and saving our energy.

Just like the Song Sparrow, we have been put on alert.