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.

hard in the mountains

RCE_5991Rare Yellow Orchids 

Lisa thought it was a good idea to take a trip behind the mountain and look for Yellow Orchids. I thought it was too early.

We walked to a spring where we have found them before. It was tricky as we had to find a crossing to the creek that was running quick. Sure enough, Lisa was right (should I have doubted?) and the Yellow Orchids had just started to bloom.

RCE_5983Oregon Grape, blossoms promising a good year of ‘grapes’.

We also noticed plenty of young cones on the pine and spruce. Oregon Grape is covered with blossoms, possibly suggesting a good crop of the sour pitted fruit.

RCE_5986Young Pine cones covered in pollen. Pine pollen is used medicinally for many ailments. I told Lisa it is also said to boost testosterone, she said, ‘we should take some home’. I chewed on a few cones on the way home. Very sweet. Sure enough, I was harder than algebra when we pulled into the driveway. Unfortunately, Willow wouldn’t let me get close to Lisa. What nature gives, nature also takes away. 

It has been a damp year so far. The plants and trees seem to be enjoying it.

thunder

_LME5376Willow smells for meat to go with the spuds and cabbage.

Off for a couple days after a shitty week. Took off for the creek last night to clear my mind. Plenty of snow up top still to come down. It’s got the second home owners scared on the edge of the lake. I don’t like this global warming trend. It would only take a couple of years of winters with lots of snow paired with some chilly summers and those glaciers would grow. Then when it warmed up it would wash those second homes, along with the rest of the pollution down the Columbia.

RCE_5970 A new bear.

Was worried about one of the young crows. It was stubborn to take up flying, it found itself along a fence line with mother in a tree offering encouragement, swooping at anything she thought a threat.

She must of done her job because the young one was out of the corner, hopping around with the other two. It must have paid off looking at them everyday because they let me get close.

You know you’re getting old when all you want to do is spend time in the garden and woodpile on your day off.

_LME5361Bad Cabbage.

early June

RCE_5618More rain in the valley bottom, snow in the mountains. We took an extra special trip behind Swansea, beside the swollen creek running pure mud, under a canopy of black spruce. My kind of day Lisa remarked.

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It would be nice to have a rainy year for a change. It does the bush good. I expect the bush to be extra busy this year with people from out of province camping in every nook and cranny due to campsites being closed to out of province visitors. The rational for this decision is to keep people close to home during the pandemic. Both Alberta and British Columbia have implemented this rule.
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In our neck of the woods I have already seen Albertans camped in the damndest places with, motorbikes, ATV’s, trailers on jacked up trucks, booze and loud music, sky high bonfires and not a drop of water in a five mile radius. It’s a recipe for disaster. At least if the recreational and commercial campsites were available to them they would be kept in check with plenty of water available and threat of a scolding if they get out of hand.

It started to pour, we were back down too soon for my liking.
RCE_5633

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.

mid April

RCE_5047Had to bribe Willow for this picture. She was amply rewarded with a generous piece of breakfast sausage.

It’s never too early to get a truck full of wood. The backroads are still snow covered. Got lucky finding a down pine and fir before heavy snow. Both dry but thawing out. I cut and Lisa loaded. Willow kept the perimeter.

We saw Whitetail Deer, the rivers are clear and I could have brought home fish if the season wasn’t closed. It’s hard to know when we won’t give a shit. For now everything is fine.

Lisa and I talked about the anxiety we have been feeling, especially when the virus first hit, and how we are feeling now. We both can do with a lot less. Still, having a shitload of money stockpiled, including pensions, would be the best defence. Neither, we have, but neither did all our descendants before us.

The grass is greening. I’m looking for garlic to come up.

Spring

RCE_4954.sm

Slept in and had the moon damn near go down without my witness. Dug part of the garden, mixing in some manure. The seedlings are coming up and giving me anxiety, because I hate caring for young plants. If I had my way I would just buy the plants I need. I feel sorry for the seeds that fall into my hands.

Once the moon was down the sun was shining on the western mountains. It would be so much easier if everything was opposite. Like today. The moon goes down and the sun comes up. Of course it doesn’t work that way most of the time.

RCE_4976

Once the moon was down a Cooper’s Hawk landed above. I think Willow and the bird were working in cohoots. Willow was ripping open rotten logs looking for mice. Almost all were skedaddling out, oblivious to Willow, but obvious to the hawk.

Damn saddened by the passing of John Prine. He sure has given me some good times. I used to play him all the time driving the backroads with a beer in my hand.

oh Canada

_LME3683

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.