As The World Turns

It’s kind of cruel for Mother Nature to be throwing all of this fire at us during the Covid situation.  Those of us in the West are choking on American smoke from the fires south of us.  Yesterday I felt a bit nauseated and headachy from the filth in he air.

But my pal Marie brilliantly figured out we could still do our walk as it could be done inside the mall which has a secret door unlocked for mall walkers.  We got there at 9:00 on Sunday morning and all the stores were closed and we could easily lap Orchard Park Mall three times to come in at just under three kilometres.

A lot of the stores now require masks, so I went into Dollarama and found your basic black model.  However then I noticed people (women) wearing adorable masks and decided I want to have a cute mask wardrobe.  To that end I purchased a navy floral one for more casual occasions and will continue to be on the lookout for spiffy masks.

You may find this hard to believe, but my car is still being repaired after the “tire incident.”  It was going to be ready last week, and then they called to say surprise, we found a dent in the transmission oil panel, so it has to be towed to Volkswagen for them to fix that, then back to the body shop for painting.

Before they discovered that mechanical fault, the bill was $9500, so I can imagine Volkswagen’s bill will be adding a good amount onto the final bill.  I sure hope my car’s returned in mint operating condition after all that time and money.

And then I had to fight like a maniac to get a loaner vehicle through BCAA.  They had okayed $1000 worth of car rental, which I’d used up, but I had been told by the body shop my BCAA person hadn’t okayed the repair for a good week or more.  I brought this up to a manager at BCAA who kindly okayed another week of a loaner for me.

So one would think the car, the forest fire smoke, and the overall Covid stuff would be enough angst, but no.  My washing machine broke, and I had one delivered from Best Buy.  Sadly, the young man driving the gigantic truck wasn’t aware of how tall the vehicle was and tore a huge branch off one of my ponderosa pines.

Prior to this the septic needed pumping, several drains were plugged and needed snaking, and the people digging the well for me discovered we could’ve all been blown up as the gas line runs right under the area where they were going to dig.

As one must be 100 feet from the septic tank and obviously not on City property or on a gas line, there’s a teeny tiny X where a well could be drilled, and it’s now necessary for them to get a shorter drill truck in there as they had to move their project up a metre and my fence is an impediment.

A harder well drilling project could never be envisioned so I’ll be quite surprised if I do get my own well.  But given what I’ve learned in life if I don’t, it means the fates decided one wasn’t necessary.

Plus from all the strange things that’ve occurred so far in 2020 just surviving is good, never mind getting anything extraneous.

Nearly Killed

A couple of weeks ago I was driving home from spending the night with mom, motoring along, thinking of nothing in particular, when out of the blue I saw a cylindrical object spinning toward me.  I had no idea what I was looking at until the very last moment when I realized it was a tire.

Ka-wham! The tire collided with my car with a huge force, and I pulled over to the side of the highway.  A woman ahead of me had been hit as well, and a woman who gave me her name as a witness was parked behind me.

I tried to get out but the driver’s side door wouldn’t open, so I had to clamber out the passenger door.  I walked to the front of my dear Volkswagen Jetta and my heart sunk as I saw a lot of the bumper, fender and hood were actually gone.  I was peering at my left front tire.

The nice woman who acted as a witness pointed at the pickup truck parked beside the highway a distance away, facing in the opposite direction, and missing his rear left tire.  As it turned out his tire came loose as he was driving, and collided with two vehicles, mine getting the worse of it.

I got a ride to a fast food joint in Westbank from a nice volunteer fireman, and then my pal Elsa picked me up and drove me home.  Now I wait for my car to be repaired, as that’s allegedly the plan as it wasn’t written off.

Two days later a 24-year-old man was killed in Ontario when a tire came off a car and collided with his vehicle, so I know I was lucky.  The fireman said had the tire bounced and gone through my windshield I would be dead.

So I guess that’s a good news, bad news kind of story isn’t it?  Kind of like my new plan to get a well, given the City of Kelowna appears unable to manage their way out of a paper bag.

I attended the council meeting wherein I learned the water utilities manager was shocked at the amount of water used by this agricultural area of Kelowna, and also that he was “surprised” by the hot weather in July.

The reason for my attendance was to try to understand how the City thoroughly botched the takeover of our former water district.  Once I left there, I realized my only recourse was to get my own well, and that’s currently in progress.

I have to thank the City though, as if they hadn’t imposed once-weekly watering restrictions in mid-July after a very wet and cold spring, I wouldn’t have known the City is run by a bunch of bozos and might have signed up for their system which comes complete with a water meter.

Hence the good news, bad news scenario here.  The bad news?  You cannot water.  The good news?  You can get a well and water yourself into a stupor.  Not that I would gentle reader, as I’m a careful conservationist with our resources.  I just can’t work with stupid people.

The Bat

The other morning I went outside and saw a brown blob near the door so went for a closer look and saw it was a bat.  Frieda tried to sniff it, but I said “Leave it!” and she listened, so we came into the house as I pondered what to do about the bat.  I was reluctant to try to pick it up with the shovel in case it wasn’t really dead.

I did some watering and came in for a break and so Frieda took the opportunity to be picked up and put on my lap where she likes to bite my nose and chin.  She has a long pointy nose and she likes to poke it into eyes and use her tongue to enter mouths as quick as a wink.

I put her down after a few minutes of this assault, and idly looked out the kitchen window expecting to see the bat, but it was gone.  I then freaked as I wondered if Frieda had eaten it, then spread her rabies-filled filth over my face.

It didn’t take me long to blame George the cat for bringing this bat as he’s a voracious hunter, and is covered in sores and scabs all spring and summer long from his battles with cats and birds.  I Googled rabies, and thought maybe the cat should be vaccinated.

I e mailed the vet who replied any pet that came into contact with the bat should be vaccinated, but I replied I didn’t know which pet, if any came in contact.  I also said I didn’t know for sure if it was eaten by a bird, or if it wasn’t really dead and flew away.

After that I went into a frenzy of yes, the cat’s going to get vaccinated and no, that’s too toxic for the cat.  So I decided my best course of action would be research.  Luckily at my age I have amassed a small team of professionals at my disposal.

In total I canvassed two pharmacists, one RN, two chiropractors, a Reiki master and a retired GP.  All felt the odds of rabies was quite low, and so after two days of wrestling with my conscience, I did nothing at all.  To date, we’re all still alive, no one foaming at the mouth.

Although I might have to amend that somewhat, given the rabid response I’ve had toward the City of Kelowna.  We were on the South East Kelowna Irrigation District for decades, but now have been taken over by the City, and in their first year of trying to manage this area, we were given no notice or explanation and put on one day a week water restrictions.

I attended the council meeting on Monday, and you’ll have to excuse me but the only apt term I can find to describe it would be a shit show.  The mayor and council happily take the word of their manager and not a soul says to this person, “But with 86 million dollars, if nothing else, surely you could’ve afforded better communication with the residents.” But no.

And so what does one do in this dire situation?  I got a recommendation for a well driller, and in about two months I’m going to have my very own well.  If you knew the quandary I was in about the bat, and then the water restrictions, I think you’d be very happy and proud to know I’ve made it through both still sane.

I’m Getting Three Birthday Parties

Tonight I’m off to a birthday party for lil’ol’ me at my friend Petra’s in Westbank, then on Saturday mom’s having a party out on her lovely deck for me, and then Sunday there’s a family gathering over here at my house to celebrate my momentous birth.

It just happened that way, and especially since its not an important number it seems unnecessary, but I’ll take it.  You know how I love to have the opportunity to cater an event, so Saturday I’ll be making dinner for twelve, and Sunday it’s for eight people.

Most people laugh nervously when I tell them I’m cooking for my birthday, but they don’t know how much joy it is for me to browse the web for interesting recipes.  Our pal Jim’s coming from Vancouver on Friday and I’m going to try out buffalo chicken wing lasagna on us.

Poor Louie still has to stay in Kelowna with Frieda when I go to Osoyoos as the latter animal’s just too dirty for mom’s wall to wall carpets.  I don’t think it hurts them as Nicky and his missus are downstairs, and they’re in their own environment so they just have to chill out until I return.

I was within a hair’s breadth of hiring a dog behaviourist for Frieda, as she made no connection between going to the bathroom outside or inside.  I fully recognize this isn’t her fault, given she was tossed into a kennel situation at maybe eight or ten weeks of age.

The person I bought her from breeds miniature dachshunds and was going to use Frieda for that purpose, but she turned out to be the wrong size for the breeder.  Or so the story goes.  In any case, she was never taught a thing, and so it’s been an uphill battle.  Finally, after three months, she’s slowly turning the corner and learning something.

Unfortunately she’s a very small animal, no bigger than a cat, and black, so she’s hard to see at night.  Though not for an owl or hawk, I imagine.

Margaret and I were out and about for a staycation, and went to Vernon to have lunch at Sparkling Hill Resort which is a beautiful setting.  Nice food, but we were the only guests in the dining room, which would make it quite hard to break even with three staff in front and at least that many cooking in the back.

We also had a nice outing to the south, stopping at Zia’s Stonehouse Restaurant in Summerland for lunch, then onto the Naramata bench for wine tastings at Lang and Black Widow wineries.  The weather was lovely for it, sunny and warm.

I took Nicky’s missus for lunch at the Eldorado and we sat lakeside which is so lovely.  Then a couple of days ago I met Kathy at Smack Dab for their Happy Hour.  I was thrilled to find a two-ounce cocktail for $8.00.

And so the life of the retired person in the Age of Covid continues pretty much as before.  Only now I dye my own hair, and trust me when it says to discard the mixture as it will explode, it will!  Who knew?

A Return to Normalcy at Last

With the opening of more businesses, life’s gotten a lot closer to normal.  I can see my chiropractor again, and also had a Reiki treatment and a haircut, all of which were hopeful signs of normalcy.

I had the Crones as I affectionately like to call them for a Happy Hour.  There are five of us in total, and it’s a lot of fun making several little appies and then of course monstrously large Margaritas made with two ounces of Cazadores tequila and an ounce of Grand Marnier.

I also had a barbecue on one of the few half decent days we’ve had in June which was attended by family and a couple of outside guests.  I think there were ten of us in all so that meant lashings of potato and pasta salad as well as thick burgers and smokies.

Last Tuesday, joy of joys, Elsa and I went to thrift stores for the first time in three months.  She’s from Mexico so browsing is in her blood.  Because we’d been deprived for so long, we spent three hours in just two stores, the Salvation Army and the Mennonite Thrift Store.

Only so many people are allowed into the stores at a time, so imagine the consternation of anyone following Elsa and me in the line up.

I found a boxed set of Beatles-themed drinking glasses and a triple strand pearl necklace that I’d been searching for since seeing The Crown.  Have you noticed how the Queen always wore a triple strand?  I looked for that for so damned long, and then there it was.

Another thing I’ve looked for for years, and then gave up and bought new, is the DVD of Home Alone.  Imagine my consternation to find not just one but two of them in the Salvation Army.   Too late for me but someone was going to see that and swoon.

One can’t try anything on, and the bathrooms are closed, so three hours is probably the maximum for my bladder anyway.  I fail to see how a virus is going to live on fabric when all of us in the thrift store are picking stuff up and putting it down all the time.

We can now bring our own bags to the grocery stores which is great because I was getting totally backed up on plastic bags.  Is it 2030 when there’ll be more plastic in the oceans than fish?  I hope all of that was worth it.

I drove to Osoyoos on Friday and had a divine lunch with my childhood pals Phyllis and Mary at Phyll’s house.  She made a Thai noodle and chicken salad, with a trifle for dessert and all of it was delicious.  We sat outside which was a bonus as June’s been the pits here in Kelowna.

The good thing about the damp weather is there won’t be forest fires and hence no smoke filling the valley.  If we could just get some sun it could turn out to be a half decent summer after all.

Freddie

I’m sad to say my only sibling, my dear brother Freddie, died just a few hours before his 74th birthday.  This Saturday mom’s going to have a wake for him at her house, and as per Dr. Bonnie Henry’s recommendations, will have under 50 people.  Actually, there’ll be around 35 and it’ll be outside so people can stand apart.

I had a long time to prepare myself, so that helped a bit, but it’s still terrible to lose a sibling.  I knew after visiting him last year in June that his health was in serious trouble, and indeed, he continued to go downhill from there.

Freddie was eight years older than me, so I have very little memory of him when I was small.  I recall when he left for university I was ten, and I built him a lightning rod as I knew Vancouver was a rainy place.  I suppose I must’ve thought rain meant lightning.

When I was around 15, he and his wife Wendy, nicknamed Twig, moved to Oliver and I was thrilled as they were hippies which gave me a certain cache.  I recall one night in grade eleven they let me use their house for a small party while they went over to their friends’ place.  Unsupervised teens!  Those were great times.

I loved the smell of their house, which was pure incense, and it was totally decked out in macramé, beaded curtains, mattresses and pillows on the floor for furniture, and a large hookah in the living room.  I often think of the poster they had on the wall of George Harrison and Patti Boyd.  It said “See all without looking.  Arrive without travelling.”

I think you’re getting the idea of the thrill a cool older brother like that was.  I recall when he was 16 he was driving our mom nuts as he had the waterfall hairdo in front, and the duck tail in back, and mom would scream at him that he looked like a “hood.”

Freddie and Twig left Oliver and moved to the Pitt River in Coquitlam when I was also living at the Coast and attending university.  I adored Sundays when I would drive out, either alone or with a boyfriend to spend the day.  They rented a house there for 30 years for which they paid $75 a month rent.

After deciding to buy a house they found a lovely property on Whonnock Lake in Maple Ridge which came with an above-ground pool.  Freddie said when they saw it they went ugh to the idea of a pool but since have grown to love it.  I adore visiting there because Freddie liked to keep the pool at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  So comfy!

Freddie just loved their house and property, and who wouldn’t, as you don’t see a single house, given there are only four homes around that lake.  It’s also on two acres so it’s completely private.  Some of his ashes will be scattered there.

About an hour ago I stepped on a wasp in my bare feet and had my middle toe stung and thought my God the pain of that is just terrible.  But it’s so fleeting compared to the pain of loss and grieving, as it comes in waves, and hits unexpectedly.  However, knowing Freddie, the coolest human on Earth, he’d beg us all to chill out and carry on.

New Skills and Habits

I can thank my hairdresser for this, as I now know how to dye my own hair!  Isn’t that amazing?  A couple of my friends told me their hairdressers have sold them their individual hair colours from the salon, so I e mailed mine and said do you do that, too?  She replied she didn’t, so I had to bravely learn something new.

So now Miss Clairol Nice N Easy light blonde it is.  I got advice from six feet away from a nice customer service woman in the drug store who told me exactly what to do.  I said do I need one of those flat brushes or clips to part the hair, and she scoffed saying you don’t need any of that.  And indeed I didn’t as I got rid of the nasty gray roots.

Here’s another beauty enhancement story of a different kind.  Nicky, his partner and their baby were out for a walk when they stopped to chat with a neighbour.  Nicky said the neighbour pointed out an ingrown hair which caused a pimple and bam! Before Nicky could think the neighbour popped the pimple for him.

I said oh my God that’s a person not overly worried about physical distancing.  And speaking of which, I’ve developed a nice habit of going for hour-long walks with friends along the Mission Creek Greenway.  That way we visit and catch up while exercising and getting fresh air.  I hope we continue once this is over as that’s a good thing to do.

The other day on a bench Marie pointed out a sticker which had said Trump 2020 and someone had scratched off the T.  I said Rump 2020 sounds about right.

Poor Shaw Cable.  The other day my phone was dead so I used the live chat and explained the situation.  I had three different people over an hour, and none could help so I gave up after giving them supreme hell.  I then went to the where the phone’s plugged in and saw Frieda had chewed the cord.  Off to Best Buy for a new one.

After one of the walks Margaret came over to sit out in the sun room for a drink, and then Luke and Jan came by as she needed help to apply for a government grant on-line.  During the visit Luke explained his plan to sell his condo and then he and Jan will move into Denis’ tiny house.

It was so hilarious as of course Jan is totally aghast and I don’t blame her as that’s a very small house for three people.  There’s one bathroom and a second dumpy bedroom in the basement which Denis is allegedly voluntarily going to move into!  Who does stuff like that?  Why?

But here’s a great situation for developing a script.  A millennial gamer and his Thai wife move into a little old house with the gamer’s dad, only to find nothing but strife and hilarity ensues.  I’m hoping it’ll happen as at times one needs a bit of a chuckle.

And maybe it’s because Nicky lives in my basement that Luke thought hey I wanna live with a parent, too.  Who would know what’s in these kids’ minds?

My latest skill has been to grow bedding plants from seeds, and again, thank you Covid 19 for making me want to avoid lining up to both enter and exit a store.  It’s funny but it turns out there are few things I want that badly.  Hopefully that’ll last, too.

Life’s Events

One thing I knew for sure was I didn’t want a female, miniature, long haired dachshund, and that’s exactly what Frieda is.  When I wanted to have kids, I always wanted two girls, and instead got two boys, so life’s funny that way isn’t it?  Ya just never know what’s gonna happen next.

Now, however a terrible sadness has descended as my only brother, dear Freddie, is dying, and so it’s horrible to deal with that, and especially during this corona virus business.

Frieda’s job, besides being the female namesake of Freddie, is to divert us all and bring dachshund joy into the day.  So far, the diversion part is working great as she makes puddles and piles of crap anywhere and everywhere, so one is always walking around in fear.

And the joy is definitely there as she and Louie will do that adorable wrestling over the same toy where they each have an end of it and are doing a tug of war, growling.  She also does cute stuff like gently bite my nose, however that’s less adorable after I’ve seen her helping herself to one of the cats’ turds.

Social distancing is all well and good, however I’ve been able t o stay current with friends by making dates to meet and walk along the Mission Creek Greenway.  We walk half an hour each way, get caught up, and go home satiated.

In the last blog I’d mused perhaps I’d killed my dahlias by putting them into the greenhouse too early and indeed, maybe half of them show no signs of life.  But I got a bunch more from my friend Lynne in Osoyoos and hope to have a grand showing of them this summer.

My cousin was going to come from Germany this July, and now I suppose that’s off.  I can’t imagine the stress of people who’ve booked halls for weddings or family reunions.  It’d be wonderful to have a crystal ball to see when all of this will finally and mercifully end.

The one positive thing about this is you can phone a friend at any time, and guess what, they’re home and are free.  Though in Kelowna the weather’s very nice and I’ve been spending more time out in the yard as the sun’s lovely and rejuvenating.

We’re told to head out into the fresh air, and I think it’s good advice.  Yesterday Nicky said do you hear the frogs down in the pond?  He also pointed out the interesting sounds a crow was making in the tree as he worked.  Nature helps at these times.

Because when you look around you see the trees don’t give a rat’s ass about covid 19, they’re sprouting leaves and blooming away.  The dandelions are starting to dot the lawns, and my apricot tree has the usual sparse blooms indicating another disastrous year of apricot growing.

As we know, some things are predictable, and others aren’t, and so we have to try to be brave and roll with the punches.

Covid Puppy

I guess the destruction from the two cats and one dog wasn’t enough, as I now find myself the owner of a small female dachshund puppy which I named Frieda.  I’m pretty sure you’re well-aware of my total lack of impulse control by now, so this probably isn’t coming as any kind of a surprise.  When the world goes to Hell, I buy a puppy.

Louie is now seven, very overweight and sedentary, so I thought what better way to exercise the dog than to get a little companion for him.  It turns out, however, that Frieda is quite content to lay on the dog bed with Louie, so now I have two sedentary animals in my home.

To her credit, when I go out with them, Frieda likes to run around and act like the five- month-old puppy that she is.  However, despite being that age, she then runs into the house and does her business.  She appears to have no clear understanding of how the outside, not the inside, is the bathroom for dogs.

The cats are extremely angry over the new interloper because she’s already learned from Louie to bark at them when they come or go through the pet door.  George made short work of her puppy stunts as all of a sudden I heard her yelping and realized he must’ve given Frieda a swipe.  After that she kept her distance.

But I suppose by the time all of this Covid 19 stuff ends, a lot of people will have had their lives altered in major ways.  If all that happens is that I’m saddled with an overly small dachshund for the next fifteen years, I’ll consider myself fortunate.

I feel so bad for small business owners and their employees right now.  And I hate thinking about the poor people dying alone in hospitals or seniors’ homes.  Whenever I go to the grocery store I think of how brave it is for the people to come to work every day.  Unlike healthcare workers, they didn’t sign up for this level of danger.

I pray we can educate palates to eschew foods such as bats, rats and pangolins. And like everyone else going nuts at home, I also hope that at some point this whole shut-down will end sooner rather than later.

And then when it does end, we have to wonder what the Bay, Holt Renfrew, Winners, and all small retailers in malls will do with their out of season clothing.  I imagine it all has to go into the landfills, along with the plastic bags we’re all using when we get groceries.  The pollution from the waste after this ends will be immense.

I’m fortunate I have the kids in the basement as I can cook and bake for them, as well as for my old mom.  For myself I research and make a lot of keto dessert items as I don’t want to emerge from this thing a hundred pounds heavier than I already am.  You’d be surprised at how decent keto marshmallows actually are.

I may have killed my dahlias as I put them into pots and into the greenhouse about two weeks ago, and it’s been really cold at night, so I wonder if they’re going to make it.  Why I do these things, I do not know, other than to go back to the original premise that I have zero impulse control.

Scene from a Horror Movie

The scene from a horror movie isn’t anything to do with Covid 19.  No, it’s a description provided by my son Nick when I called him upstairs to show him what the cat had done.  I was in Osoyoos bringing food to mom and cleaning her house, and returned to a note from him saying the cat had crapped on the living room floor.

This in itself was somewhat surprising in that the cats use a cat door to let themselves in and out.  I cleaned that, and went into the hall to enter the bathroom to wash my hands when I encountered a huge pile of feathers that just got larger inside the bathroom.

I followed the trail to the toilet where to my shock and horror I saw a large Stellar’s jay sitting in it, and I couldn’t tell if it was alive or dead.  I called Nick and he came up and looked at it and we both left the bathroom and decided we had to think.  That’s when he said “Wow that’s just like a scene from a horror movie.”

He got his garbage pick-up stick for me, though he was too scared to do anything further, so I prodded the bird, and to my relief, it was dead, so I could lift it out, dripping, and put it into a garbage bag.  I then had to vacuum and clean and vacuum and clean and felt murderous toward the cat.

George came in meowing super loud, as he likes to do, and so I went downstairs and gave him a can of food.  He ate it, came upstairs, jumped on the dining room table and threw up the can of food onto the tablecloth.

But ya know, this is exactly the type of activity one should thank God for as it’s a distraction from all the hysteria around Covid 19.  Though I have to say, as a retired person whose motto is the same as Greta Garbo’s, “I vant to be alone” I haven’t noticed a lot of difference in my life other than the inconvenience.

And as a senior, I can’t even complain much about that as we get to the front of any line at the grocery store if there between 7:00 and 8:00 AM.  As someone who’s routinely awake by 6:00, this is easy to do.

I’m quite pleased at the amount of tequila I managed to stockpile, as even though liquor stores have mercifully been deemed an essential service, the line-ups are annoying and to be avoided.  I wonder if they’d let us old folks in there early too.

Yoga with Adrienne on You Tube’s very good for the mind and body so I do that for half an hour a day, and recently I started to do some gardening.  I got out one of my boxes of dahlia bulbs and put them into pots in the greenhouse as I always like to have blooms by June.

And then I read an article in the Globe about a trashy low-brow embarrassing reality TV show on Netflix called Love is Blind, so immediately tuned in and just loved it.  Now that’s what I call entertainment.  Can you imagine exposing yourself to the entire world like that?  Fun!

And then today when I came home with the groceries I went to the bathroom and came out to find Louie had picked up the carton of eggs and had chewed off the top and was about to bite into his first one when I stopped him.  Another wonderful moment of distraction from Armageddon.