Sunday, December 30, 2007

Stressed out

One thing pisses me off about my family is the way they can't deal with things. Everything has to be a big drama.

Went to Mount Washington Ski resort for a spot of snow tube fun which turned out to be anything but; Wife and Stepdaughters couldn't do a thing for themselves without making an unnecessary fuss. They assaulted my ears with a litany of complaints. All they could do was complain about the cold, about the queues. They really annoy me. All they can do is whine. I don't get to choose where and when I go. I thought I could deal with it. Not so.

Then when I get home, Wife asked me a question about accumulators which Mother in Law was rambing on about.
"What do you mean by accumulator? A bet?" I asked. It took me five long minutes to prize out of them what they were on about. Wife had got stressed and was taking it out on my hide, and even when I gave her the correct answer (An accumulator is a battery) she was still in a strop with me. Fuck a duck.

Half an hour later my pulse is hammering around 120 and doesn't seem to want to stop. This echoes symptoms I had thirteen years ago when my job at the time sent me screaming up the wall. Over these past two months I've been repeatedly backed into a corner with no way out. No recourse, and my own good nature won't let me hit back.

I am rapidly falling out of love with my family. No money, no help, no one to talk to. Well if the old ticker gives out and I die, that will get me out of it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I drive therefore I am

Day trip out to Victoria today with a vanful of five females bent on shopping. Age range mid 80's to late teens. Driver, age 50, male. State of mind; sarcastic, irascible and tiring rapidly. Weather conditions deteriorating. Navigation skills of co-pilot negligible.

The run down from Nanaimo was a bit damp and dreary. There was noticable sleet hitting the windscreen until we cleared the Malahat. By the time we arrived in Victoria, it was dry but as grey as an English summer day.

The next four hours were punishment detail, being taken from one clothes store after another. On the bright side, I did get a brand new leather car coat out of the trip which cost CDN$225, marked down from CDN$680.

One thing that puzzles me about my little clan; how on earth do they find so much to bicker about? It's like English winter drizzle, it gets worse, then it slacks off, but it never stops altogether. Even when everything is laid on to perfection, all they can do is whine at each other (And me). Home is set in minor piece of British Columbian paradise. All in whinge mode. DVD's are exactly the ones they wanted to see. Continuous state of discord. What is wrong with these people? Wife is like a Tiger bumping the bars of a cage, Stepdaughters are as querulous as a troop of chimpanzees, mother in law playing the victim card at every juncture like it was some kind of trump for all life's problems, sister in law as bad as wife. Me keeping my head down and wishing for a flak jacket and kevlar helmet.

This isn't the family Christmas I signed up for. I think the coat was the consolation prize.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Real men cook

Stormy day outside, with a gale pushing the tide up the narrows. There are whitecaps out in the straits and next time I go walking in the woods I expect to see trees down.

Damn it all I feel tired. I'm stone cold sober and have been for three days. Not a drop has touched my lips.

Sobriety? At Christmas? WTF is wrong with me? The answer is I'm driving again today as it is both Christmas day and Wife's birthday. We have to visit sister in law as we did last night, which is proving a little stressful.

I'd like to give up this Christmas lark as, being the cook of the household, I seem to end up at everybody else's beck and call. The mirror is doing me near favours either, I have bags under my eyes that were not designed by Louis Vitton. I seem to have aged twenty years in less than a week. Not a happy state of affairs.

Was I looking forward to this? Jesus H Christ I'm bloody exhausted. My sleep patterns are more disturbed than a psychopathic schizophrenic on amphetamines. I'd like to find out if the drugs were working, but nothing seems to help. I need to work solid for a few days with no interruptions to kick my system back into it's usual hyperactive groove.

At the moment I'm cooking Christmas lunch. Dessert is a complete experiment because youngest whined about pre prepared pudding. A sort of apple and batter slice with maple vanilla ice cream. Real men can cook, but I'd really like to have some privacy for a while. Just to work. Failing that, a bullet in the brain might be nice.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Who am I?

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

I love these quizzes. Apparently I have a similar psychological profile to this character. Now all I have to do is start a war, shag an alien hybrid, get killed, then come back to life again. I'd forgotten how much better Babylon 5 was than Star Trek. Better characters, less preachy, better dialogue, broader story arc and all that jazz. One day I hope to rival J Michael Straczynsky's epic.

Hi ho. The festive season is upon us, and I'm getting absolutely no work done at all.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Night and Day out

Today has been spent ferrying Wife, Mother in Law, and two Stepdaughters around. We ran into snow on the Parkway heading up to Woodgrove Mall, and I had a few nervous moments on the slush, made worse by four back seat drivers as I felt the back wheels twitch and skitter on compacted snow. Despite that, I kept the old Ford under control and we got to where we were going safely. Went home and walked the dog, allowing myself an hours peace and quiet before heading back up to the Mall to pick up my passengers. By noon the snowploughs and traffic had cleared all the roads and it was a much easier journey.

Last night was better. I attended my first ever Canadian Ice Hockey game between the Nanaimo Clippers, and the Victoria Grizzlies. My main impression of the game is that of speed and testosterone. The Fast and furious, with plenty of speed, because ice hockey as a game is incredibly fast. The action happens at a 'blink and you've missed it' pace, and those guys are fast, in both forwards and reverse gear. As for furious, players are regularly sent off for trying to turn each others lights out, rather like these guys pictured below.Picture 1 was taken when two of them got into a barney over a foul.
Picture 2 is when the fight was properly underway.
Picture 3 is where the Umpire and Linesman rugby tackled the combatants to the ground as their scrap was holding up play. None of this tap on the ankle and dive to the ground screaming, like 'professional' Football (Soccer) players. These guys take their lumps and that's that. I'm impressed. I think I shall be going again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More bad news folks

I've been browsing around various environmental web sites and came across this one, The Climate Skeptic which I think I'll post a link to for my own convenience. Whoever writes this stuff definitely knows what he's talking about as he is quite good at debunking all the horror stories in the mainstream news.

Where this all comes to is that the 'science' of the global warming lobby appears to be more a 'political' science which owes more to the writings of Nicolo Macchiavelli than physical science, which is the practice of structured experiment, argument and discourse to establish incontrovertible fact, or best of all, continued tenure at the University of your choice.

The recent Bali conference on 'Climate change' or 'politicians jolly' seems to have come up with the assertion that unless those naughty Westerners (Specifically the citizens of the USA and Western Europe) stop using so much of the earths resources, we will all drown when the seas rise, burn when the ozone layer is depleted, and all those cute cuddly Polar Bears, who are one of the few animals that will actively hunt humans, will all die. They tell us that the Antarctic ice is shrinking (Overall in Northern Winters this is not true), that the Arctic ice is shrinking (Also not true, the ice is mostly thickening), and that the sea levels in the Pacific are threatening to inundate the Islands of Tuvalu (Not true either).

Methinks if these politicians really cared as they say they do about the world and it's climatic variations, then all 15000 of them should have stayed home and done it all via video conferencing links, thus not polluting the air of our planet with quite so many extra unnecessary flights. Me, I'm still persuaded that the variations are primarily 'natural' (Solar variation, orbital tilt, orbital variations, magnetosphere variation, cyclic nature of climate, volcanic activity, variable nature of global climate) and that the human influence on Earth's natural processes is a very thin scum on this particular pond. You only have to look at Earth's chronology to accept this rough proof. After all, we're a fairly new species, having only been around in our current form for less than half a million years.

Whilst we should, as a matter of principle, try to be as clean and non wasteful as possible so as not to spoil the earth we live upon; I think the huge guilt trip that certain parties are trying to lay upon the Western Nations is a bit of a con. Don't know what the 'sting' is, but I've been around a while and think I can smell a snow job like the one Al Gore and his fellow travellers are trying to pull. I think he still considers that he should have been President of the USA and not George Bush, so this is how he gets even. In the meantime we all get shafted.

For my own part, I live fairly frugally, recycle as a matter of habit, have few possessions to lug around, and wear the Earth lightly. It's just how I was brought up. I do this in the sure and certain knowledge that the universe is vast and hostile to my continued existence, because conditions for my well being only exist in a relatively thin layer of the biosphere surrounding this planet. I also think (Being a practising personal environmentalist) that the 'Greenies' are lying / incorrect / fatally deluded about the effect we have on the climate.

Adopting the Kyoto protocols won't make a spit of difference either. The climate will 'change' no matter what we do. The climate has always changed, you only have to look at the fossil record to see that. Our arrogance is in the ego trip of asserting that it has all that much to do with us. The day mankind vanishes from this planet, all trace of us will be gone inside of a few millennia.

That's enough for now. Back to the MSS.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wet and wild

Bit of a breezy day today out in the Straits and the Narrows. Lots of whitecaps being driven north by the wind. Plenty of sediment being stirred up, and a fair few logs bobbing around. Not a day to be trying to get anywhere fast on the water. Not if you wanted to keep your hull in one piece. Some of those logs weigh over two tons.
Took Dog for a hike in the woods while Wife got our place ready for our two (and Mother in law) to visit from the UK. While crossing Canada we heard lots about the damage done by various beetles to trees, noting that it was an offence to take untreated logs or bark from province to province. Took this photo to show what the larva of these nasty little so and so's have don to the local tree population. On this particular specimen they've chomped rather decorative channels through the inner bark and killed the tree in the process. It's not the only one by any manner of means, within twenty paces of entering this particular patch of woodland I could see at least four or five similarly damaged trees.

Hopefully the recent frosts and snowfalls will cull the culprits so the pest populations won't be as large next year. The forecast is for snow by the weekend, which our kids are looking forward to. Even if it means a hike to Mount Washington to go 'Snow Tubing' which sounds like fun.

Have been busy over the past few days going to various functions and friends houses, so the Novel MSS has been lagging behing schedule a little. Got to work out a game plan for my new job too. There's a lot to be done, and only three of us to make a dent in the tasks at hand. I know there are quite a few challenges to be faced, but I reckon I can crack it if I put my head down and graft.

I haven't looked forward to Christmas and New Year like this since I was a boy. God bless Canada.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I see Eagles

Dropped Wife off to do her voluntary work, did the recycling and returned a few books to the Library before returning to walk Dog. Landladies gardening chap was busy chopping back the apple tree that has left so much fodder for the local Deer population. Stopped to pass a word or two in greeting and as I looked up saw one of the local Eagles lazily swoop down to the top of a precariously leaning Douglas Fir upslope from the waters edge.

"You know, it still knocks me out to see that." I remarked.
"Oh yeah, the Eagles, they're back again, eh?"
"Yeah, where I come from all you hear is sirens all hours of the day and night. This place just bowls me over."
"Great, isn't it?" He grinned back.
"Yes." Another two of the big birds, probably it's mate, wheeled around unconcerned in the sky while a pair of crows challedged it's casual mastery.

Not much of a day news wise, but after yesterday, I'm feeling pretty relaxed, and for a change have very few earthly cares. My home country seems to be sliding downhill rapidly from a socio-economic point of view. That no longer bothers me overmuch. The finger waggers and critics have won and much good may it do them. To quote a couple of people I've come across recently; "England isn't England any more."

Glad I'm out of there.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Red letter day

Today has been a day and a half. Today we got notice from our Solicitors that the buyers of our house in the UK have exchanged contracts. Today I got word from the Immigration people that the job I have been offered is worth a work permit and that they do not need a HRSDC Market opinion on the job. Today I got my job offer confirmed. All I need now is for a publisher to tell me they want my latest manuscript to publish as a book. Although I do not mind if I get another rejection letter.

This, despite the rain, has been a very good day for me. I love Canada.

The news from the UK isn't good. The Police are threatening to go on strike, the Western economies look like they are in for a banking meltdown. The current Prime Monster of the UK has just signed away their national sovereignty. Christ knows what else is going to go pear shaped over there. I just thank the Lord I'm over here.

I still think my good news is all too good to be true. Maybe God has decided that it's my turn to have a really great day. If that truly is the case, then thank you God. Thnak you. I really mean that.

Wife loves me, my kids think I'm an okay sort of guy, Dog loves me, my cup runneth over. Of such things is true happiness constructed.

Now watch some bastard try to rain on my parade.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More bad news

I'm really going to give up reading the on line UK Newspapers. If you believe all you read, then the country I was born in is going to hell in a handbasket like a greased pig on glass. The Police, Teachers and everyone else have their hands tied by a politicised bureaucracy, the armed forces are under resourced, the economy appear to be in danger of going bust, and the political masters are as corrupt a bunch of cheeseparing incompetants as it is possible to be.

I have a book to write. All this stuff is distracting and very, very disturbing. To think I have to go back to that mess for a week in January is somewhat disturbing.

Sent off the first three chapters of MSS to UK publishers yesterday while I go and poke a metaphorical stick at the story and see if I can't ginger it up a bit. Maybe I've been working on it too long and I'm getting bored, however, the opening chapter is truly dramatic and every time I start reading it, I keep on needing to finish off going through the whole 100,000 words, so perhaps it's just me. Maybe one of the major publishing houses will take it up if they find it as compelling. Who knows?

Wife is off doing her midweek voluntary stuff. I have to get back in the groove. Must say this 'getting it off your chest' style of writing lets me unload and frees up the logjams in my head. Back to work.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Odd noises

Sitting down and hitting the keyboard with a vengeance this morning when I was disturbed by a muffled tapping noise. Ignored the incessant tapping until it annoyed, then wandered out of the office to see what Wife and Dog were up to and see if I could get them to stop. The moment the office door closed behind me, the noise disappeared. Mildly perplexed, I went back in and sat down. There was that wretched noise again.

Looked around. The noise wasn't coming from inside, it was just outside the window. Took the camera with me to record whatever fault there was with the guttering of the apartment, only to find the Woodpecker as pictured above feeding off the bark of the old apple tree outside the back of our apartment.

Haven't a clue what species it is. I think a trip to the library is in order to see what the local species are.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Front Window

Another weekend, another fall of snow. This is the view that greeted me when I got up this morning. Wife giggled with delight when I gave her morning tea and biscuits. She says it reminds her of Quebec and Ontario when she was a little girl.

This isn't the mood of grey and miserable English Decembers. This is something else.

The kids are going to love this when they get here at Christmas. Dog likes it too.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Curses foiled again

Gorgeously sunny today, though a little chilly. Definitely saw Orca's out in the Narrows this morning. Too far away to take a photo, even on full zoom, but it looked like there were two or maybe three of them zipping around after something piscine and tasty down towards Round Island.

Lots of tell tale fin wakes and blowing. Boy can those critters shift! There was a big Whale watching boat shadowing them, but that was well over a mile away when I dashed out of the house with Dog drushing excitedly around, trying to trip me up, silly mutt.

Have done the Christmas socialising at our respective voluntary venues. Got an e-mail about the potential job with a load of attachments that I have to read and digest. All makes work for the working man to do as they say in 1960's comedy songs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A different kind of fishing

Looks like no fishing until at least Sunday. My favoured perches are still crammed with log debris, and there's way too much floating in the channel to cast over or around, so without hiking a mile through the woods to find another good perch, I'm going to have to wait for conditions to improve, and the tides to settle the debris out of the way. It's just a blasted nuisance.

My good news is that there may be a job in the offing. Not one that pays awfully well, but still enough to cover a few bills like heat, light, Internet, and phones. Not sure of the ins and outs, but my extended skill set might just be a very good fit for what these people want. That and the book, which is fairly rocketing along at present.

Something has freed up between my ears recently and I'm finding it much easier to think clearly. Time to start preparing samples for prospective publishers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Not with this wind or this tide

What with all the weather changes over the past few days, my cherished ambition of spending a day standing on my rocks with my rod in hand has had to go begging. Instead I've found myself writing, running errands and shopping.

Took a hike down to a neighbours vantage point late morning and looked down. The southerly winds and tides have driven a lot of log boom debris into the little corner I'd planned to daydream a day away on. I could have chanced it of course, but some of those logs bobbing and rolling happily away in the surf weigh over a ton, and would do my delicate pallid flesh no good whatsoever if I took a tumble. Wife does not look good in black, and Dog might not be so pleased either, so today I'm back at the keyboard and drinking lots of tea while hammering my story out on the anvils of narrative. At least that seems to be going well.

Up the road are a crew from BC Hydro, BC's main electricity suppliers, busily clearing a tree away that was in danger of coming down and taking some of the local power lines with it. They have been merrily serenading us with a melody of chainsaw and wood chipper since eight, although by the sound of things they're packing up and getting ready to find other nadirs.

Tomorrow I have an important transatlantic phone call to make and a 'do' to attend. Wife is out and I shall be shuttling back and forth to Nanaimo, which will rather set the scenario's for the next couple of days. I will make time to think a few things through, so I shall not be spending all of my day at others behest.

Have just finished 'Farnhams Freehold' by Robert A Heinlein. One of his books that takes a sideswipe at the issues of race relations and power structures of society. Some of the physics was a bit space opera, but nonetheless a good, generally unchallenging but enjoyable read.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Raining again

There's a saying on the Island, "If you don't like the weather - go indoors and wait five minutes." Certainly true of this weekend. If it isn't snowing then the sun comes out, then it buckets down with rain (Like this morning). Lots of wind and rain coming in from the south and west. Fishing not possible as the tides are sweeping over my favourite perch at the waters edge. Have elected to be chicken today and sit indoors listening to the rush of the tide through the narrows. That and read up on fishing in these waters.

Lay awake in bed last night listening to the rain on the skylight with a quiet smile on my face while thinking about the latest turn in my current manuscripts narrative. Word count is something like 2000 a day, and despite my personal misgivings it reads well and has a certain tide in the story that pushes things along nicely.

Wife has made me promise not to get any more Grishams as she is developing my habit of devouring a whole book in a day. Not having a TV helps of course. We have debated having one with a DVD player, but tell you the truth I'm not really interested. Book first, other stuff later. TV is such a leech on one's leisure time.

Have just noticed that someone has left a comment on yesterday's diary entry. I shan't read it. I'm sure it's someone disagreeing with what I wrote about all this global warming panic and at present I'm just not interested in debating the issue. I've got other things I want to do. Life, as the saying goes, is too short.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Global warming - my arse!

I'm quite amused with all the nonsense talked about 'Climate Change' and 'Global Warming'. If those naughty Americans don't stop driving their SUV's it will be the heat death of us all.

Well if the last twenty four hours are anything to go by then the panics all just got turned on their head and the climate has gone 'business as usual' and here on Vancouver Island and all points east is snow, snow, snow.

Dog loves it and has just whinged to go out and chase snowflakes, despite a good play in the white stuff this morning. Oh well, what the hell, I'll just have to towel the dumb mutt off when he finally wants to come in.

Yes, Deer

Got woken up in the early hours by two hinds outside our bedroom window. Wife is always gobsmacked about there only being a thickness of plasterboard, rockwool and timber cladding between her and the local wildlife. The wildlife is only concerned about getting enough to eat. I would like it better if they ate a little more quietly. Especially at four in the morning.

Lots of Deer tracks all over the place. I would have taken a picture and posted it, but Dog has elected to run all over the Deer tracks, sniffing madly at these new scents, so no pictures worth taking. Still snowbound, but the actual snowfall has stopped, and a slow thaw is in progress.

The novel progresses in fits and starts. The characters feel solid and do change as humans do when pressured by circumstance. I reckon it's going to be spring before I have anything worth submitting to a publisher. As for my other blogs, I've shut them down because they get in the way of the novel and it's so easy to get sidetracked and distracted from my main focus. Besides, the writing style is very different, and mucks up what I'm trying to do.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

More snow

This photo was taken four hours after the first one posted earlier today. There's about seven centimetres on the ground as opposed to the one and a bit around 12:30. Wife took photo of me and dog after we went out and had a snowball fight in the driveway like a couple of kids larking about. Neither of us can throw for toffee, and so we came back in mostly unscathed but slightly out of breath. Sent photo's via e-mail to kids with the tag line "It's Snowing!"

Ferry services and airport out of and into Nanaimo are all shut down, and there's an RCMP roads warning out. Around two o'clock you were only allowed on to the main Trans Canada highway to Victoria if you had a 4x4 or snow chains.

At the bottom of our drive were a set of tyre marks where a neighbour from further round the road had begun to drive towards town, only to look at the way the snow was building up and pull a U turn and go home. Sounds like a plan to me. I've no intention to go out this weekend.

Don't know what's happening over on the mainland, but we're snug and cosy over here.

Weather forecast is for more snow turning to rain in the early hours of Monday morning. Well, we'll believe that when we see it.

Snowing again

"Stay home." Was the advice one of the guys I do occasional voluntary work with gave me yesterday when we were talking about snow and driving. Today at 12:30 Pacific time I took the above picture from my front window.

Looks as though it's set in for the day. The snow warnings are out, so I've elected not to be, ergo no fishing. Tea is brewed. We have cookies. Just finished 'Dreamcatcher' by Stephen King. I'm developing a serious Grisham and King Addiction, but that could be because they are so good at what they do. Time for a mug of tea and another book then.

Friday, November 30, 2007

New kit

For the first time in months I have spent hard cash on myself and no one else. I spent the grand total of CDN$49.53 on fishing gear.

Tomorrow I intend to find a dry little niche overlooking the narrows and hunker down to meditate upon the waters, and if I'm very, very lucky, catch a half decent fish.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Much craftiness

Today, Wife and I have been doing a craft fair, which over here means visiting ten other houses and perusing all the stuff they have to sell. A complete volte face on the UK where the suppliers come to you, here in Canada, you end up going to them.

Any old road up. We saw this cute Christmas tree beladen with fretwork and this serious log cabin to end all log cabins. All Wife had to say was, "Jones, when are you going to write that best seller. I want one of those." I was so gobsmacked I was lost for words, and that doesn't happen very often.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Trail walking

Well, not so much 'walking' but clambering, scrambling, and climbing. 'Trail walking' over here is a bit more energetic than in my country of origin. The paths and trails around here are little better than game trails over fallen logs, up and down slopes etc. Good fun though. Got sworn at by one of the Sea Otter clans, and watched by the soulful face of a Common Seal.

Dog and I went trail walking to get away from Wife, who has been 'going off on one' because she has little patience dealing with Internet support mechanisms. I couldn't do anything for her, so elected to get the hell out of dodge so I could actually think through a narrative conundrum while walking. I don't think Wife really understands about the level of concentration it takes to keep track of a narrative thread, and has a habit of wandering into my study and unloading whatever is on her mind at the time, which has the net result of putting my birds of thought to flight. That and I'm reading Stephen King's "Liseys Story" which is about insanity and narrative. Fascinating but disturbing. King is a master of his genre.

Just wish I was.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Goodness gracious me

Lets101 - Free Online Dating

This makes a change from 'all Pisceans are gloomy losers'. Wife agrees about the kissing. Nice.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Spoils of beach combing

Meandering along the storm damage and came across a 3 inch mooring rope snapped clean, presumably in last weekends storm. Still had a 4 foot mooring splice in, so I dragged all fifteen feet of it (Weighed quite a bit soaking wet) up the path and made a crude safty barrier with it. This way, if I do slip on the trail, there will be something to stop me going over the edge and breaking my stupid neck. Jolly good idea.

Must take my little hatchet down the trail on Sunday and shift some of the fallen timber that is threatening to block my private beach access.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Working day

The channel is more or less clear of the debris that choked it last night. The sea has been calm, even though the overall tone has been steely grey. Wife was out doing her voluntary thing this morning, so I had the place to myself, and miracle of miracles, came up with a story thread that would move my novels narrative along. Progress was made, and the bare bones of 2000 words was laid down, which should flesh out into 5000 once I've sorted out the next plot development. What with one thing and another, I haven't been able to get the whole plot picture in my head. It's not that it's too big, it's me.

When Wife returned we spent time working out how to accommodate Mother in Law and two students in our small apartment over Christmas. A B&B up the road will help, but I may end up sleeping in the car with snow all around. This is not good. Well off sister in law has a place up in town, but no one is sure if she is going to be around, so we can't rely on her. This is going to be an expensive and cramped Christmas, and precious little writing is going to get done. Wonder if I could bunk off fishing? Wrap up warm. Sidle off at daybreak with the dog. Go dangle my rod in the water. Got to be worth a try.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Debris on sea

Down on the beach this afternoon looking at the changes the recent storm had wrought. Lots of debris floating about still. The sand washed up was fine granular and grey, not yellow like traditional beach sand. Landmarks I'd come to know had been washed away like waste down a gutter. A tree trunk over two foot in diameter had been neatly pruned as though by an axe. Completely gone. A rather picturesque antique stump of a mature metre thick pine had vanished, and the beach had changed profile. Not so many rocks either. Just sea washed logs, stark, pale, and sanded as if by machine. Glad I was tucked up safely in my bed with wife while all the damage was being done.

Sometimes we don't know we're born.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Noisy and damp

Sleep was a little difficult to come by last night. Massive thunderclaps from the storm as it passed overhead, solid rain from Sunday afternoon all the way through to late Monday morning. Glad we chose to go to the movies yesterday, as it has been exceeding wet.
The logging company tug was bimbling around trying to make the best of a bad job. Logs all over the place in the Straits. Big log cabin building size logs which could make a pretty mess of a fibreglass hull in very short order.

As I write, the tides are clearing the mess up, and the log booms leftovers are piling up on every foot of the shoreline. I'll go down and check in the morning, but I think we've just gained a couple of sandy beaches overninght. Not big ones, however, we'll have to see what they are like when the weather has settled a little more.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Elizabeth the movie

Bit of a choppy day out in the Narrows this morning. Plenty of whitecaps marching northbound. The good part being that it is clearing all the floating logs from the channel that towed logboom left behind yesterday. Most of them are now washed up on the shoreline. Probably enough to build a small log cabin.

This afternoon, Wife and I went to see 'Elizabeth the Golden Age'. Not bad as works of fiction go, but hardly worth the fuss the Vatican has made about it. Cate Blanchett worked well as the lead, but I found Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh a bit watered down. In real life, Walter Raleigh was a bit of a rake and is thought to have seduced more than just the one lady from Elizabeth's Court. There is one where he is supposed to have pinned one lady in waiting up against a tree and had his evil way with her as her protestations went from "Sweet Sir Walter!" to "Swizzer-swatter!".

I was a bit disappointed that they didn't include the line from Elizabeth's speech to her troops at Tilbury "I may only have the body of a weak and feeble woman." etc. Still, visually stunning, and well worth a look. Not a bad way to spend a rainy British Columbian afternoon.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Boom Boom!

Getting ready to do Sea Otter patrol on neighbours property this morning when I saw a log boom being towed through the narrows. It left a lot of logs floating about in its wake, and I'll take a meander across the shoreline tomorrow to see what the tide has washed up. Photo's will be available.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Wife and I re-insured the car today, having sweated blood prizing statement of no claims out of UK insurance company. Went in to renew, only to be told that we should fill in a form, pay the full whack, then when our 'evidence' of good driving was accepted, we might, just might, qualify for a discount.

I wondered aloud why we weren't told about this form when we first got insured. The clerk just shrugged and smiled. I didn't have a go as it wasn't her fault, it was just one of those pieces of information that everyone expects you to know. Heavy sigh. Pass me the whiskey.

Oh what the hell, we're still legal and we'll get the money back eventually.


Feeling mildly pleased with myself. Friend in trouble and in danger of getting kicked out of Medical School - I spent the past 36 hours writing a bunch of begging e-mails to all the people I could think of, called in favours, begged, made promises, sold my soul etc.

Result is that with a little (A lot) help from my friends, and people that I did not know were friends, we raised enough cash to get my betroubled friends Medical School funding back. All she has to do is follow through and sieze the opportunity.

Today I feel as though I'm on the side of the Angels. It feels good.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sweet and sticky

One of the things I recall from my youth was the toffee apple. One particular shop in the small place I grew up in sold them, but after the mid 1960's they seemed to disappear off the shopping map. In Victoria the other day I came across this shop that makes a speciality of Toffee Apples. Holy Calories Batman! It was like hitting a mental timewarp sideways at lightspeed. What can I say but "oh my".

I really love this place. It's both old and new. Both stepdaughters are coming over for Christmas and they will love it too. Especially shopping in Victoria. We're going to have trouble getting them on the flight home. The RCMP may be needed to get them back on the plane.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Wife is still pretty jetlagged, so I've been spending my time shepherding her around and supporting her as we do the rounds of all the offices we have to visit in our continuing immigration merry go round. Pensions and tax are sorted. We visit immigration on Thursday to see how her new tax status affects her status as a Landed Migrant, and does she still need to go out of Canada every six months.

I say she needs to stay here to rack up the points, but who listens to me? I'm just a writer.

Oh what the hell, it's been another nice day, even if I have spent most of it sitting in offices waiting.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Do I care?

Another month and a bit to go before my English bankruptcy discharge is due. Today I received another form to fill out to say I'm so poor monetarily speaking even church mice are having a whip round on my behalf.
Oh what the hell, with views like this right on my doorstep, who really cares?

Day out in Victoria

Wife is still jet lagged, but not a little jubilant today, having closed most of our affairs in England down. To celebrate, we took a little meander down to Victoria. As we have now sold the house (We hope) we purchased some winter headgear (Stocking cap, Breton peaked cap)and for me some boots for when the snow starts to fall, which some have claimed will be Tuesday.

Victoria is a very nice looking city of Victorian pedigree, rather like the city fathers of Birmingham seem to aspire to. Very clean, full of polite Canadians (There are impolite Canadians but they are thankfully a minority). Have decided to do Christmas shopping here instead of going over to Vancouver. This will mean more money for presents, and hopefully more fun all round when stepdaughters and Mother in Law descend upon us on the 21st December.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cool tool

Wife is back home. Kaloo Kalay! Oh frabjous day! House in England is sold (Finally we hope). Oh yes, and I've found this really cool little flight tracker tool which gives you close to real time information on flights over Canada and the USA.

I had it running and keeping track of where the plane carrying my love was all the way in from where it crossed into Canadian airspace somewhere around Baffin Island all the way to touchdown at Vancouver at 5:39pm Pacific time. What was even better was that Wife managed to get on the last plane to Vancouver Island from YVR which arrived at 19:55. There was me going to tell her to catch the 9pm ferry to Swartz Bay where I would pick her up when there was no need.

I am a very happy bunny right now.

BC Ferries

Waiting for wife to get home safely and just checked the ferry schedule to the island; her flight arrives at 6pm and she will probably clear customs and baggage before 7pm. The trouble is that the next ferry leaves for Vancouver Island at 11:30pm. The journey is 2hours, which means she doesn't get back to Duke point and me until at least 1:30am Sunday morning.

Oh stuff it. I will just be happy if she gets home safe and sound.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Red Cross Fridays

I enjoy my Friday afternoons delivering stuff for the Canadian Red Cross. They seem to like me too, and I have been asked to go on another course in two weeks. This time it's to do with missing person searches during disasters. Mainly administrative stuff, but it's all grist to the employment search mill. This stuff looks good on your CV, and I enjoy it as well.

On our rounds today, my oppo and I chatted about Elizabeth the golden age, Cate Blanchetts latest movie. This is the one the Vatican is up in arms about, saying that the movie is amongst other things 'Anti-Catholic'.

Sometimes methinks that all these religious types don't get it. You point something glaringly obvious out to them, and they are worse than Socialists, who take it as an extreme personal affront that you have noticed a factual error in their dogma. Perhaps it is because they are weak of faith, because those who are strong in their faith blithely ignore contradictions raised by their religion.

The point is that the movie is a fictionalised account of events during the reign of Elizabeth the 1st of England. It is a work of entertainment and therefore not something that is worth taking too seriously because film makers always take liberties with history. A lot of historical revisionists do too, but that is besides the point.

We drove past the local Islamic centre, where a number of young men were standing outside in a group, eyeing everyone who passed by with suspicion. Don't see why they feel they have to do that, as it only antagonises people. Canadians are the most inclusive people in the world, at least as far as I can see, and these cliquish little enclaves of whatever religion do themselves and their belief system no favours by behaving so defensively. Shame really.

Anyway; I'm looking forward to tomorrow night when my love returns. The dog has missed her too, and in all our transatlantic phone conversations I keep on telling her that the dog is bored with just my company, and can she hurry up and get back here please. I think I get a bit bored with my own company as well.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bears, Cougars and Seals

Chatting to neighbour while walking dog. There was a Seal or sea lion in the Strait being dive bombed for it's catch of Salmon by gulls. It didn't seemed to mind, it just ploughed up and down the tidal flow hunting.

Oh yes, didn't get any 'trick or treaters' last night, which was a trifle disappointing. However, there's definitely a Cougar in the area, and a young Black Bear which came snuffling round our back yard for the apples on the tree at the back last night, so maybe that's why the kids didn't come our way.

Oh yes, and 'wet' snow has been forecast for Tuesday according to neighbour, yet I've just checked the long range Weather and it's going to rain allegedly. I shan't say anything. Let it come as a surprise, or rather not.

Looking forward to Saturday and Wife's return. Missed her terribly. It's my turn at the end of November, and I am emphatically not looking forward to going back to England.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Talking about Orca's

Ran into one of my Californian neighbours while walking the dog this morning.
"Hi, did you hear about the Orca's yesterday?" She greeted me.
"No, didn't know they came through this way until January." I responded.
"I was real disappointed. Got a call from Terry who said they were in the channel, but by the time I got my binoculars they were gone."
"Could hear them blowing out in the channel. Pity we missed them."

We talked a little more about the Herring run when a whole pod of Killer whales would follow the Seals and Sea Lions feeding off the Salmon which were in turn feeding off the Herrings around February time.
"Apparently the sea round here turns red with 'em." She said enthusiastically.
"Really?" This has quite piqued my interest, and I shall be carrying a camera at all times.

Other news; we have an offer on our house in England, and hopefully a backup buyer if things go wrong. Didn't get the price we were hoping for, and Wife sounded really frazzled on the phone when we discussed it at 5am Pacific Time this morning. I shall be happy to get her back on Saturday evening. Hot chocolate, Cookies, Cuddles, and a good nights few sleep are my prescription. Everything is laid on, all she has to do is get on the right plane home.

That's funny; I'm already calling this place home.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Love this place

Another blue sky day. Wife is having a time of it in England trying to negotiate a sale on the house. The market there has gone so flat it's reminiscent of a pancake that's really got so depressed it truly couldn't give a toss.

This side of the pond is splendid,and I'm drinking it all in. Dog is spooking at every unfamiliar sight, smell and sound, but then that's nothing new. Off to see friends with a invitation for supper tonight (Taking Dog as they think he's super - if only they knew). The above photo was taken with my phone camera which has no zoom function, but it's really a phone so who cares? Just gives a flavour of the view from our apartment which is absolutely superb.

Landlady dropped by to give me the rundown on what the plumber did. Rent is due tomorrow, but that's all covered. Call from the Canadian equivalent of a Job centre, Supporting Employment Transitions. They had a message for wife, who is now okay to work over here without a work permit. Do they have a job for her? I hope so. I'd like it if they had a job for me, but then I need sponsorship to go down the 9 to 5 again. Not many people willing to do that at present. I live in hope.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Another nice sunny day, if a touch chilly. Wonderful sunset lit up the Islands across the Strait. Phone call from the Pensions Office saying that my wifes Social Insurance Number is live and kicking and ready for use. I forgot to ask if this meant she didn't need to go back to England every six months, but I've got the feeling she needs to stay here as long as possible to rack up her permanent residency points. At least three years out of every five. I'm good with that.

Took a movie with the phone camera, only to find I haven't got a compatible format video converter loaded on my knackered old slaptop. Hi de ho, off to ZDnet I go. Got to be a format converter on their ever so helpful download site.

Another call from Royal bank of Canada to say they had a minor problem with paying the Telus bill for the land line, no account number. Went into town to run a few errands and went into the bank. I must say I'm seriously impressed with RBC's level of and speed service. The line from the 'Cheers' theme tune came into my head 'Where everybody knows your name'. Bloody hell, it feels good. I love this place. Just got to generate some income.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A little ennui

While wife is over in grey old England I'm supposed to be writing a blockbuster novel. This past couple of days my get up and go has got up and taken the week off. I've tried all my usual cures, walked the dog, read, about the only thing I haven't done is drink any alcohol. Perhaps all the alarums and diversions have overturned my motivation.

Maybe I need to try writing something totally different, just to break the spell. After a glass of wine. I'll try that.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Point scoring

Getting to know neighbours and getting on their right side has to be one of the key objectives in a new country. This evening I managed a little with the help of a bowl of candy and a glove puppet found perched on a rock near a place called Revelstoke.

This isn't to say that there's anything calculating or cynical about what I say and do. I truly like our new neighbours. They are so refreshingly open and up front. Besides, I also like children, and look forward to the day when stepdaughters decide they want to raise the next generation. In which case I intend to be the most disreputable Grandfather figure possible, carrying them on my shoulders through the woods and frightening the wildlife. Taking them for rides on Motorbikes, hunting and fishing; stuff like that.

To enlarge; Californian neighbours were bringing small child trick or treating. We'd arranged this a couple of days ago, and I said I'd do something amusing. So a bowl filled with assorted candy was set aside by the back door with the glove puppet, and when the little girl arrived with two female bodyguards in tow, I went into the routine as follows;

Knock on door. I put on the glove puppet and poked it's head so it could be seen by the child (Who was wearing a kind of crocodile costume) into the glass pane of the rear door. Then I made it duck down before bringing it back into view, apparently shivering with fright. Then I opened the door slightly and made it look as if the puppet was answering the door. At the magic words "Trick or treat" the bowl of candy was proffered, a handful was taken and there was a little 'nk you' . I caught my neighbours eye through the part open dorway. She was obviously impressed that an Englishman had so quickly gotten into the spirit of things. Dix points I think.

Besides. I like the people round here, and such little touches are well worth the effort, even if it might look a little like a cynical and needlessly ingratiating point scoring exercise to an outsider. That little girl came to a strangers door and went away having been amused. Such things count for a lot with small children. A good friendly environment promotes good behaviour in future. Well that's the theory. It's better than locking the door and hiding with the lights out.

Good news at last

Bounced out of bed by the phone at an ungodly hour this morning. Wife was online and was calling me to see where I was. "Did I wake you up?" She asked from the other side of the Atlantic.
"Er, yes." I responded groggily as Mister Brain kicked at the inside of my skull demanding who the hell did I think I was, waking it up at this hour.

We spent the next half hour on Google chat updating each other on developments either side of the pond. Our old Saab is now sold and we have cancelled all the insurance etc. Letters requested from Insurance company to give record of clean driving licences for obtaining provincial BC driving licences. Wife's Social Insurance Number is now active and she can get a job without the tedious business of applying for a work permit at the US border. Old house has been discounted in price to see if we can attract any more potential buyers in the current flat UK housing market. The chinese water torture is over as the dribbling faucet has been replaced (Hooray!). Significant progress has been attained.

A little addition to the mornings good news exchange was that we have been invited to wander around posh Californian neighbours property during the winter (The views from their deck are superb, and there's a set of private steps to the beach) when they are back in California next week. Apparently the Sea Otters tear things up when there isn't a regular human presence. Our is dog especially welcome for that purpose. We can lunch on their deck overlooking the sea and everything. Might get cold, but we'll wrap up warm and drink lots of hot drinks.

Halloween tonight. Have been promised a 'scary' visit from a four year old. Glove puppet and bowl of candy is on standby. I'm not going to sit behind a closed door and grumble. A little old fashioned fun is in order, and if you can't do that - what's the point of living?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Busy day ahead

Dog was fretting all last night. I think we had bloody raccoons on the roof by the sound of the chittering I heard around four am this morning.

Any old how, lot to do today. Bills to pay, money to bank. If I can squeeze in a haircut this morning I'll be lucky.

Must get some extra candy in for Halloween. Just in case. The health fascists are saying 'no candy' and give out balloons etc instead. I think we'd be better off getting rid of these pundits rather than the trick or treat.

The tap still leaks by the way.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Ever since we got this new land line from Telus, we've been getting autodialler calls where some computer randomly dials you number and then asks you to dial '1' to get customer service. Don't. I think it goes through to some godforsaken call centre in India or something.

If it isn't a real person - the call gets trashed. I'm sorry if this is uncommercial of me, but I don't buy stuff over the phone unless it's me dialling out to a recognised service. I think while wife is not here, I'll cut the ring numbers down to two and let whatever system it is talk to my answerphone instead, while I smirk quietly to myself.

The rate of return on this method of marketing must be so low that this is the only way it can be made to pay. Problem is, the only people who fall for this are the elderly and . The rest of us tell them to sod off.

Not forgetting to write

While Wife is in England I have been hitting the keyboard with a vengeance and have resurrected a project I thought had stalled for good. It was half way through and the narrative had a mildly compelling feel, just that the characters felt a bit cardboardy. After a re-read and a bit of adjustment, they feel fresh and more real, as does the backstory. Did over 1500 words yesterday.

It's the wrong project of course, but the 'funny' I'm supposed to be working on just isn't amusing right now. I need Wife to look at it and hear her laughing to be sure I'm wired in to the humorous thread, otherwise I tend to lose track.

To cap it all that blasted faucet is still dripping. Stuff it, I'm off out to pay some bills and get my hair cut. I can't hang around for others all day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Front window

There are times I love the view from our front window and this is one of many I've seen today. Apart from sitting up from six every morning to watch the sun rise over the Strait of Georgia, apart from the Quail, apart from the Roebuck and every patch of blue sky that makes me smile.

A double rainbow of such vivid quality it could have been painted on the clouds. Pity my camera doesn't have the widescreen option and then I could have gotten the whole lot in a picture. Regrettably it was only a fleeting phenomenon, and I was so busy going 'wow' that I missed the best part of it.

Neighbours came over to help deal with our leaky faucet, but to no avail. The valve is on the way out and it needs a replacement. With the roto-rooter mans current performance it'll be past Christmas before it's fixed.

Water torture

Ever since we moved in here three weeks ago we've been plagued by a leaky faucet. Now we aren't talking about drips every thirty seconds, more like a continuous dribble that can fill a one pound margerine tub inside two minutes. Plumber (Rota-Rooter man) came out last week and left saying he needed to get some 'parts' which would take a week to arrive. Landlady is annoyed, we're annoyed that something like a dripping tap takes over three weeks to fix. To be honest I think the whole fitting needs replacement.

At the moment it's unseasonably warm. 14 to 16 Celsius. In Canada? In late October?

Minor problem with Internet connection. Shaw cable (Whose customer service is quite good over here) are coming out to check the signal strength. They are billing me for a 5meg connection, and are quite keen that I should stay their cusotmer. I'm good with that.

House price in UK has been cut by another 10K to see if it will sell at that price. Wife is currently up in Leeds with stepdaughters. I'm missing her and counting the days. Roll on a week on Sunday.

Have updated the blog to include a few newsfeeds from the UK broadsheet dailies and some interesting wildlife movies off YouTube. It will stop me getting bored while things are slowly rolling into place.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Do bears?

Well I don't know about what Bears do in the woods, but I found a young archaeology field team digging holes in the woods while walking the dog this lunchtime. Wonder what we'll find if we go off to the point round by the slipway to do some fishing - find Orcas in the channel?

Nice day

Glorious sunny day today. Wife is okay in our old house in England, Estate Agent is positive about selling our old place, and I have been invited to dinner with some of Wife's family friends.

I am showered, clean, the bills have come in and they are half of what I anticipated. If only the dog would lick his arse a bit more quietly. Well, you can't have everything.

Monday, October 22, 2007


It seems all my anxieties about Wife were just that, anxieties. She rang me at 06:30 local time from Gatwick to say she was fine and I heard youngest stepdaughter in the background, taking the mickey as usual, bless her. Must e-mail those International Law book titles to her.

E-mail from pompous elder brother suggesting I get a 'McJob'. My response to that ends in 'off'. Those jobs never look good on your CV, and we aren't that desperate. The work I do for the Canadian Red Cross is opening doors, and people are much more open to newcomers out here. The cost of living is much lower than in the UK, so our money is going further, and we are living far better than we could back in soggy old England.

Talking of which, I have to book a flight to the UK for Mothers birthday. I'm looking forward to seeing her, but not pompous brother. If he doesn't come down off his high horse soon there's going to be an argument; one of those that estranges families. I don't particularly want that, but he is becoming a nuisance. I strongly suspect the influence of evil sister in law, who has her head so far up herself she only has to blink to do an instant colonoscopy.

Any old how, Wife is going to talk to estate agents about how best to sell our house in England and release the capital therein. We have a conference call booked for first thing tomorrow morning Pacific time, so it's an early night with a book and mug of hot chocolate for me. Got to be fresh for decision making.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sweet sorrow

This morning Wife left for sorry old England to oversee some details about our house sale and see the stepdaughters. For some odd reason I've been dreading this for days. Don't ask me why, maybe I'm getting soft in my old age. Dog hasn't seemed too worried, and he fusses at the least little thing.

As we watched the plane take off, Wife saw me on the runways edge. She waved, I waved back with tears that she couldn't see. Yes, that's right, big tough looking curmudgeonly old me had tears in his eyes. "There goes my heart." I said as the wheels went up, my voice creaking a little with the emotion. The dog pulled me back to our minivan and we went back to our new home. Wife phoned from Vancouver International airport to say all was well less than fifteen minutes after we returned.

I'm not sure what the truth of the matter is; maybe Wife and I have been in such close proximity here in what is to this Englishman, a strange land, that I felt the parting more than I should. We've handled a lot in the past few weeks and rarely got on each others nerves, even though we've been virtually joined at the hip for all that time. An hour later I am feeling calmer, but will feel better when I get the phone call to say she is back at our old place in England in the company of our two reprobates.

It's funny, of late I've felt like I'm a puppet whose strings have been cut. Now here I am, metaphorically speaking, slumped in a corner, staring at my clumsy wooden body wondering what to do next, willing the splints and pins to move like they used to at the behest of my controlling strings. Perhaps I will go out and get some cookies to have with a mug of tea and read Bruce Cooks novel "Young Will" until I feel better. Then I will go fishing down in the cove to calm my spirit tomorrow. You never know, maybe I'll catch something.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New identity, new blog

I've started this blog because I've run out of ideas for my old one, and quite frankly I'm bored with it. The time is rapidly coming to cut all ties with it and start afresh under a new identity. Just for the sake of consistency this too is under a new assumed identity. Don't know what I'm going to write about, just that I'm going to write something every day if I can.

Tomorrow my beloved wife flies back to England to see the kids, but tonight I am cooking an old family favourite - Beef stew. Recipe as follows;

A couple of pounds of stewing or marinading beef cubed
Bisto gravy powder (Do not use any other kind - tastes awful if you do)
Two cooking onions
Two carrots
You will need a large wok and large stewing pan

Slice carrots, dice onions and cut your beef into half inch cubes.
Coat beef cubes in gravy powder until lightly dusted.
Dry fry beef cubes in wok, constantly stirring until lightly browned (Don't use cooking oil or any other pan lubricant - ruins the flavour).

Dump carrots and onions into stewing pan.
When beef cubes are lightly browned (A little charring is permissible), add water to make a thin gravy. This will reduce, so don't worry if you think it's too 'wet'. Bring to boil, stirring constantly.
Take off heat and add carrots and onions.
Dump the lot into the stewing pan put on heat and bring to gentle boil, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat so that stew is barely simmering.
Leave on heat, stirring every five minutes or so as you read a book.
Continue for over an hour or so, or at least until gravy has become thickened and beef tender.
Take off heat.
Wait five minutes.


This is good old fashioned 'stick to your ribs' cooking which can be left to cool, portioned off into freezer containers, and reheated or stuck in a pie, used as a baked potato filling, whatever.

Enjoy, and thank God you are not a vegetarian.