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A group of one

I’ve noticed recently that people seem to need to be in some sort of group. We’ve joined several groups: Chair yoga, circuit training, healthy diet seminars, monster truck mechanics for seniors and much more.

GroupMaybe group culture started back in the cave man (or cave people to be politically correct) days when we hunted in packs The men hunted while the women sat around talking about babies and kittens and how to cook them; the kittens, not the babies.

I can see the women sitting down as a group after the hunt, gutting, skinning and hacking at the kill. (Thoughts of their hubbies giving them inspiration.) Or doing the laundry as a group, arguing about who gets what rock to bash their loin cloths on. Again using their hubbies as inspiration. (“Take that you *%#&*@!!!”) In the meantime, the hubbies are sitting around the fire B-S-ing about boobs, fermented mare’s milk and who’s got the biggest spear.

Personally, I don’t like being a member of a group. Except of course the Beer and Book club. I tend to join up full of enthusiasm and then fade away after a couple of visits. We joined chair yoga to help get Rosalie back into shape. I didn’t need it of course as I am a perfect specimen. (?)

In the end, I stopped going as I was the only guy there and couldn’t take the stares of all the little old ladies. I thought they might do Rosalie some sort of damage trying to get to me. Once again it reminded me of the scene from “The Birds” where they all sit around staring at you. One little old lady (my age) almost fell off the perch on the back of her chair. You’d think they’d never seen a man before.

I’ve noticed that all of these groups consist mainly of women? Perhaps guys are more introverted and would rather not be involved. Or perhaps they don’t like mixed groups, preferring their own company. Mixed groups somehow don’t seem to work anyway. In any social situation, the men and women tend to drift away from each other; somewhat like oil and water, or Trump and the Republican Party.

It’s probably that our interests are different. Women like to talk about babies and kittens and guys like to talk about beer, boobs and who’s got the biggest deck.

I once went to group therapy for depression. Again I was the only guy there. Seeing that course through was tough but in the end, I realised that I was just fine. All the women were far worse off than I was. I tried to bring on a few tears to keep up, but it just didn’t work.

Women in their group will touch and hug each other. Men, on the other hand, will say, ” You can sit with me but don’t get too close.” But there is always that one guy!

 

Spring has Sprung

Has Spring final sprung or, are we just kidding ourselves? We know spring will soon be here as the Beer/Book Club guys are starting to come back from warmer places. They remind me of crocuses popping up at the first hint of warmth.

Spring

The guys returning from down south and down under.

We had an interesting winter. Things started getting weird in the late summer with Rosalie’s ‘coronary event’ and ended with us not going to Mexico. In between, we had two funerals, decision made to go on the Camino walk, snow storms, a treadmill, new flooring, new window coverings, writing an e-book and a few parties. For us, this winter was far from boring.

In a few weeks, we will head up to the trailer to open it for the season. As soon as it gets a bit warmer we’ll have us a party. I have to do some work first as our windbreak for the fire pit collapsed. It was due to me being lazy and the unexpectedly heavy snowfall. We have been up a few times over the winter just to check things out. All seems to be well. We had no critter invasions this year, so that’s good.

So what are we doing during the summer? Who the heck knows? Now that we’re retired, we think we’ll get bored and start throwing things at each other for fun. It never turns out that way. Something always seems to crop up to keep us amused. In the meantime, we always have Rosalie’s training.

I decided to support Rosalie in her walk when she explained that I didn’t have to do it. What she very slyly left out was that I would have to support her in her training walks. So now, I will be doing my least favourite pastime of hiking. I need it though as I’m a little overweight and starting to feel a bit sluggish after the winter.

There are all kinds of trails around here so we’ve selected a few to try out. We have been walking a local route almost three kilometres long.  It may be time to push it a little more as Rosalie handled it easily. I manage to crawl home eventually. I found one 6.5 kilometres long and as soon as it gets a little warmer we will try that out. Maybe, by that time, I’ll able to walk a little faster so Rosalie doesn’t have to keep stopping and frowning at me as I try to catch up.

She gets on the treadmill most days. I stand and watch thereby getting my own exercise. Treadmills are great but not the same as an actual walk, so we have to get out there soon. (heavy sigh!)

The Book

Okay, you asked for it! A few people said that, after reading my blogs that I should write a book. Well, I have done and I’m hoping to publish it in the next month. It will be an ebook as regular publishing costs too much. (Look out for the hit movie soon after that! Starring Donald Duck as me.)

bookNot having a clue what to write about, I picked a time in my life that was somewhat the foundation for the rest of my time as a Canadian. I spent just over a year in Wawa Ontario. While there, I was head foreman of a Junior Ranger camp. So I decided to write about that.

It’s not a big book, only twenty-two thousand words, but I think it’s a neat story and so do the other four people who have read it. When I originally started, it was going to be a series of blogs so I had some of the info handy. The problem was that it all only amounted to about five to six thousand words and I needed a minimum of twenty thousand.

Encouraged by Rosalie I started to write. The more I got into it, the more I remembered. The word count started to creep up. My daughter Lisa contributed with some of her memories and jogged my mind to write more. I’ve kept at it for several months and now have a finished work of art. I had to have it heavily edited by Rosalie and the final polish was put on by Peter.

I knew that somewhere there was a bunch of photos from the Wawa days but had no clue where they were. While at Lisa’s house, she told me that her Mum had given her some old family albums. I looked through them, and there were all the photos I had been looking for. It was at that point that I knew that this was meant to happen.

One of the central people in the book is Freddie. He taught me a lot and without him, the book wouldn’t be as good. Freddie and I haven’t spoken or seen each other since I left Wawa forty-four years ago. Putting social media to work, I found him on Facebook. I got lucky as he had just got an account. I contacted him and the first thing he asked was: did I remember moose hunting. Yes, I did! It’s in the book. From what I know, he and his wife Inez still live in the same house.

We’ve been texting back and forth all morning. I got his email address and brought him up to date on what I’ve been doing. Now I am waiting for the answer to “What happened to the bus?”

Flooring

We were visiting my former friend Gordie when he mentioned that he had a roll of cushion flooring that he wanted to sell. As we were thinking about redoing the flooring in our kitchen we ended up buying it. He’s my former friend because he

Flooring

Rosalie keeping an eye on me

knew full well how much work and angst he was going to cause me but offered it to us anyway. I think he knew that Rosalie wouldn’t say no. He could have said nothing and we would never have known about his screaming good deal.

I started early the next day under the watchful eye of Rosalie. I had to level the kitchen floor so I went to Lowes and spoke to an eastern European speaking associate. Between his accent, my very proper English accent and a bit of sign language I managed to get the product I needed.

I measured, and measured a second time, at Rosalie’s insistance. I fitted the floor and when I’d finished I came to the disagreeable conclusion that I also had enough flooring to do both bathrooms. There were tears in my eyes as I grabbed my tape measure and trudged upstairs to take further measurements. The thought crossed my mind that if I screwed it up bad enough I wouldn’t have to do the downstairs bathroom. The thought of Rosalie finding out, though, was discouragement enough. I had to remove and flooringreplace the toilets so that made the job a little more enjoyable?

I had decided to remove the ceramic tile floor in the bathrooms as neither of the toilets had ever fit very well. We often had to hold on or else we tended to slide off. Whoever did the upstairs bathroom laid the tile right on the old lino. This was great for me as all I had to do was pull it up and the tile came with it. The downstairs was a different proposition. I had to chip the tile up from the concrete floor. Fortunately, they didn’t do a very good job and it came up fairly easily, and I only bled a little bit.

I started the downstairs bathroom. All went well…for a while. I laid the flooring and as I made to reinstall the toilet it rolled over and smashed. Now a reasonably priced job turned into an expensive one. We had to wait until the next day to buy a  new one. In the meantime, I had visions of Rosalie spending hours in the lone upstairs bathroom when I needed to go. She tends to do that.

Besides the actual work of installing the flooring, I had to replace all the baseboard, recycle the toydies as well as making a couple of runs to the dump. Gordie, I may never forgive you. I know I will, though, we need you at the pub on Thursdays.

Camino del Santiago

When we were in Prince George Rosalie got together with her sisters who were saying how they are going to walk the Camino del Santiago in Portugal. It’s about 100 km of walking with a bus tour on the side. She got quite enthusiastic about it. We checked with her doctor and Cardiologist and they both thought it was a great idea. So she may well go.

CaminoI told her it was a stupid idea until I realised she wasn’t expecting me to do it. I also get a couple of weeks to myself. She does need to get into shape for the event so I thought I would be her personal trainer. I had visions of sitting in the car driving along beside her, prodding her with a stick every time she flagged. Apparently, this wasn’t how she saw it.

I foolishly suggested a treadmill. We were no sooner off the ferry from Vancouver when she started to text Lyn. Lyn happened to be at Canadian Tire and started to egg Rosalie on. Next thing I know we are there looking at the darn things. I knew this could not turn out well. They had a special on and we got one for almost a quarter of the original price. Which was ridiculous anyway. I’ll pay for it with the proceeds of my book: “How husbands are killed passively”

Our car is tiny and this thing was huge but we managed to stuff it in with the help of two  burley guys from the store. I went home to unload it from the car by myself (did I mention that it was also heavy?) and started putting it together while Rosalie and Lyn went to the Longwood Brew Pub for lunch. (Sounds fair to me?)Camino

I dragged it out of the car and started the assembly. It mostly went well. The instructions for once were it English, not Swahili, with pictures. Even so the job took over two hours. It was a good workout just assembling it.

I hope she uses it as she swore she would. She’ll get me to show her how to use it and I’ll have run a five K before I know it. Then she’ll walk off with that happy little smile on her face knowing that I may live a few days longer.

You’ll be able to view our treadmill some time in the summer at our garage sale. It will no doubt be for sale at a fraction of the price we paid for it.

 

Snow, and lots of it

Snow and lots of it. Tis the season that everybody loves to Complain about. Especially this year. Lots of snow.

I don’t know what people are complaining about; this is Canada after all. We are the Land of freezing temperatures, Snowdeep snow, red runny noses and frostbite. I for one, love it. However, I don’t have to drive to work anymore. There are those who manage to get to where they are going okay. Then mutter that conditions weren’t bad enough to keep them home. Then there are the people who really want to get to where they are going and can’t. If these two groups could get together maybe they could work something out to everyone’s satisfaction.

I always put my snow tires on in October as we never know if we have to make a trip to Prince George. Unfortunately this year we had to. I take them off again in March….or April….or May. Any later than that and I don’t bother as winter will soon be here again.

As we’re retired we award ourselves a snow day at the first flake, even if it melts before it hits the ground. This entitles us to stay in bed in the morning even longer than we usually do. We spend the day reading our books and drinking tea. Later in the day, we may partake of an afternoon aperitif. By now that first flake has just about landed. We have lots more to look forward to. Thinking about it, that’s our routine in the summer as well, without the snowflake.

I wanted to make a snowman. First I had to get permission from the strata council. We need permission for everything. After bugging the manager it turned out that I didn’t need it. Then permission from Rosalie as she was going to lend me the carrot. I was also going to use one of her bras. I wasn’t going to tell her, though. The city had to be involved as I’m sure there are by-laws about such things. Finally, all permissions in place and all the snow has gone.

Going out for a walk is out of the question (I like that bit) and all our exercise classes have been cancelled (I like that bit even more). Someone is doing some bad planning. When we are young we don’t really need the exercise but have lots of energy we have to burn off. When we get older we have no energy but have to exercise to keep alive.

Oh well! We’ll soon be complaining about the heat.

No TV Box

We turned on the TV last week but couldn’t get any sound. I knew the problem was with our TV box so I reset it for the third time in the last few months. It didn’t work this time, though. Still no sound!

tv boxWe couldn’t just turn on the cable as we’d cancelled that months ago. We took the TV box back to Best Buy and got a refund as this was the second box with the same problem. They only offered a store credit after 30 days so I had to speak to a manager and threatened her with Rosalie. They soon caved in and gave us a full rebate.

I ordered a new box from Amazon but would have to wait two weeks for delivery. This shouldn’t have been a problem because we could still access Kodi with our laptop, or so I thought. I plugged the HDMI cable in but it didn’t work. Our laptop is getting a bit geriatric and like me, bits are starting to fail. We already had to get a WiFi dongle because the built in one didn’t work.

Not wanting to hook up cable again for a short period, I looked into other methods to watch our favourite shows. I can get Kodi on my tablet and cast it to the TV but for some reason, Kodi refused to work. I scratched my head for a few days and things got serious when I missed a hockey game.

Bare with me for this next bit as it gets a little complicated. I have Kodi on my desktop PC but it’s in the office. The question was, how to get it to the TV. I had installed a VPN for added security and one of the features was that I could see my PC desktop from my tablet. With me so far? Great!

OK, first find a movie on the PC, next connect the tablet to the PC via Wifi so I could watch it on my tablet then cast the tablet to the smart TV… It worked! It worked!.. Problem was, the picture was very choppy for some reason and not worth watching. Back to the drawing board.

We would have to wait it out until our new TV box arrived as I was out of ideas. So, we watched some YouTube. Unfortunately, anything decent to watch had a price tag. We watched a few movies on Crackle. A great service, free, legal but limited in choices and has short commercials every five minutes.

I was messing around with my tablet a little later and decided to try Kodi again. It worked. All that stress and angst for nothing. The only problem with using my tablet is, that I can’t read or play games while watching a movie.

“Life doesn’t imitate art, it imitates bad television.”

Woody Allen.

One Thumb Up

Having no idea what my next blog would me about, I decided to slice the top of my thumb off and talk about that.

thunbs upIt’s was a minor accident so you don’t have to feel sorry for me. But if you want, you can. I was using my ‘mandolin’ which is basically a veggie slicer but I adapted it for my blog and thereby sliced my thumb.

It was the tip of my thumb, a bit awkward for a bandaid so I used a gauze dressing. Problem was, we didn’t have any surgical tape to hold it on with. Remembering my days in the Saint Johns Ambulance Brigade (yes I was, two years) I held it in place with electrical tape until we could get to the pharmacy. It now looks like a lollypop.

The point is, that life can be difficult when a digit is out of action, especially a thumb. Try picking up a coffee mug without using it.  I get Rosalie to button my shirt. Writing with a pen is a bit of an issue, but as my penmanship is so bad anyway I don’t think anyone would notice the difference. Texting is also a problem. If I try to text “how are you” All you would get would be “–w are —“. Not good. Wars have been started for less.

The good thing is, that when I type, I mostly only use two fingers so I don’t have too much of a problem there. I’d rather not talk about using the bathroom, though. Not wanting to get it wet in the shower, I cut the finger off a latex glove and put it over the bandage like a mini condom. It looks quite cute.

When I’m out and about people think I’m being friendly and positive walking along with my thumb up. I’m lucky that I didn’t hurt my middle finger as I think it would cause all sorts of unnecessary problems.

I thought for a while I would get some relief from being Rosalie’s ‘house elf’ but she’s too used to me crying wolf so I have to endure. I try standing up to her but she just gives me one of her smiles and I melt. When she asks for me to do something, she sees me with my thumb up and assumes that I have agreed to remain her slave. I can’t win. Not sure if I want to. I’d curl up, whimper and suck my favourite thumb, but I can’t.

A Sad Day

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”  Charles Dickens, “A tale of two cities”. Seems, to sum up, our week.

January 24th was a very sad day in our family as Rosalie’s Dad passed away. He was nearly 95,  had sad daylived an illness-free life but was ready to go.

We got the news that he was in the hospital at about 8:30 on Tuesday morning. We started to pack to head out to Prince George and as we were getting ready to leave for the ferry, we got the message that he had passed. In the rush to pack I forgot about the funeral and took nothing that I could wear, so I had to borrow from my brother-in-law.

We had a couple of days driving and arrived at 2 pm on Wednesday. I was the only guy around initially so was worried that I would be surrounded by weeping women. But I underestimated my sisters-in-law. They were already hard at organising the funeral. I sat at the table and listened to five sisters talk about what was going into the eulogy. No fights, no dissension, just discussion and friendly agreement.

Later that evening we went over to Pepere’s apartment and started to remove stuff. We didn’t get far as the stories started to come. We sat, listened and laughed. Younger brother Norris was there. He was the executor so had the task of going through all the papers and seeing that all bills were paid. A tough job. He also went over the will. We had a light snack and retired to Suzanne and Vic’s place. The girls sat around again continuing to do work on the eulogy

The priest was coming the next afternoon, so I made myself scarce. Eventually, Rosalie approached me to ask if I could produce the memorial pamphlet. I said no, as I didn’t have my own computer and didn’t want to have to take the time to learn Vic’s, Mac. After a few minutes of thought, I decided to volunteer so that changes could more easily be made plus, it would save the cost of a professional printer.  With those five women making decisions there were a lot of changes. I was eventually taken to task because I forgot to capitalise an ‘I’.

The funeral went really well and the church was packed. We had a nice reception afterwards and reconnected with family and friends.

The following day we again went to Pepere’s apartment to finish the job of clearing the place out. There were lots of strong young grandsons so the job went fast. It went so well in fact that we decided to leave early and head home. We spent the night at 100 Mile House and found out that Rosalie was coming down with a cold.

The following morning a light snow was falling so we got out of town as fast as we could without checking the ferry schedule. Arriving in Hope we refuelled and found that if I drove really fast and there were no delays we just might make the 3 pm ferry. As we neared Langley we ran into heavy traffic. But with some muttering and foot to the floor driving, we finally made it ok. Rosalie, of course, slept through the whole thing.

Traffic Calming

Last night we were having a discussion about driving, particularly about speeding through residential areas. I happened to mention some of the innovations used in England for ‘traffic calming’ and thought it might make a good blog. We watched some very entertaining video. A link will appear later.

traffic calming

A one lane chicane

While we were in England, we noticed that sometimes there are bus-only lanes and sometimes a lane just to slow traffic. They don’t just put sign’s up, though. They use a physical deterrent, rising bollards, which a lot of people try to beat with sometimes hilarious results. Though not for the car drivers involved. Check this link. And this is how it should be done.

In England, the streets are narrow as some of the areas are hundreds of years old. Consequently, there is not much room to park a car, and those that are parked, narrow the street even more. People drive down some of these streets as though they were at a race track. So, most side streets have speed humps or “sleeping policemen”.

There are other methods such as kerb extensions which force you to drive over a speed hump.  Chicanes, slow you down and make you weave around an obstacle. There are really narrow lanes that force you to slow down because if you miss judging the gap, your side mirrors could be ripped off by strategically placed posts. It reminded me of Italy and Greece where most cars in the larger towns had either damaged side mirrors or none at all. They also have some very narrow streets.

One of my favourites is the roundabout. These can be seen anywhere. You see the larger ones mostly on main roads but can also find smaller ones in residential areas. They are small enough that you can drive right over them, but if another car approaches at the same time the regular rules apply.

Roundabouts are a great way of keeping traffic moving and it’s nice to see more of them in Canada. The only problem is, though, most Canadians don’t signal enough. For example, if you approach a roundabout with someone is on it approaching from your left, if he signals to turn right you don’t have to slow down but can just drive through. If he doesn’t signal, though, you have to stop and wait to see what he is going to do. I like the idea of round about’s a lot more than 4 way stops as it keeps the traffic moving.

Having said all this about road safety and traffic calming, when we go to England, there is no way that I will drive while there, even if they do drive on the correct side of the road.

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”

George Carlin.

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