Called in to work: again.

MAY 18, 2022

MIDWAY, BC Wednesday— This was to have been a week devoted to planting in the garden, but just as I was finding my pace forking over a half-decomposed heap of compost from last year, a call came from the local secondary school asking if I would accept an ‘on-call’ assignment for the day, as they were unexpectedly ‘down’ a few teachers.  Two teachers were away attending district-sanctioned sports events in Fernie, but two had unexpectedly developed influenza-like symptoms and needed to go home.

So far this year I have resolved to work only occasionally, no more than one or two days per week, but it hasn’t worked out that way. I have declined Monday and Tuesday assignments fairly consistently since January,  but I’ve made exceptions for the regular Wednesday and Thursday jobs teaching the grade 1 and 2’s in Rock Creek, and for previously-booked jobs at soon-to-close elementary school across the street from our house.

Still, the phone requests keep coming in, In these pandemic times of Covid-19, when all workers are admonished to, ‘. . . not come to work if you are sick’, I feel obliged to accept calls like the one that came in on Monday, mainly because I’m very close-by, — only a two-minute walk away from the high school.

I accepted the call that came on Monday after the school day had already begun; once there, it almost immediately became a two-day assignment, which was fine, but which took me completely away from the garden for an additional two days, so that I am that much farther behind.  

In this unexpectedly cool Spring, I rationalize my neglect of work in the garden by telling myself and anyone who will listen that there’s no advantage to planting seeds until the air and soil warm up.  Working as a substitute teacher can sure get in the way of productive work in the garden, but in this instance, I think my weather-related excuse may be correct.

At the high school, I met a few of the teachers I hadn’t seen for awhile, and filled in for a couple of teachers I had filled-in for before, one of whom was our eldest son, which was a special treat for me.  The work wasn’t beyond me; all I had to do was supervise a math test which I did from my ‘seated teacher’ position.  It will be interesting to hear back from “Mr. T.” how well I fulfilled the lesson plan he left for me.

The highlight of the two days was watching a grade 10 physical education class organize themselves for a game of softball on Tuesday morning. Clearly, they’d done this before, so they required very little from me. 

One area where I decided they did need a little help and encouragement from me had to do with an incident from a previous day’s class.

After after some close physical contact during a soccer game, there had apparently been an exchange of harsh language and words along the lines of, “Eff-you!” and, “I’m going to effing kill you!”.  

Hearing these words had frightened  and alarmed the boy that had been on its receiving end and he correctly reported the matter to the school principal.

Inappropriate language, including but not limited to the ‘Eff-word’ is never acceptable at school, nor is the use of language is disrespectful to another person, language which berates, demeans, ridicules, bullies, or otherwise threatens another person.

Still, not every 15 year old student has learned how to effectively respond to unexpected provocations.  Mistakes are sometimes made and need to be addressed; response strategies need to be learned and practiced.

So I decided to provide a gentle-reminder to the entire group that the purpose of the the softball game was to enjoy the fresh-air, to get outside and have some fun, that having a good game didn’t mean that everybody playing needed to be ‘best-buds’, but that it would certainly be helpful if those few individuals who might have had past conflicts in the past could make a special effort to get along today — for the sake of having a good game.

The message was well-received by the group and I saw more than a few wry smiles and sidelong glances among them which told me everything I needed to know: something had happened on a previous day.  

More importantly, I wanted to let the boys know that I also knew what they already knew, and that I would be ‘there and aware’ providing encouragement, but also ready to deal with anything should any misconduct arise again.

It was a good, long game where everyone seemed to have fun. The final score was 25 – 19 and I heard no ‘eff’ words or threats. 

Today I’ll be heading West to Rock Creek for my regular Wednesday with the Grade 1/2’s at West Boundary Elementary School.  Although I haven’t seen them for the last 5 days, I know I that within five minutes of the kids’ arrival I will hardly feel I have been away at all, the days are just so full and busy.  I have taken on the “SunSense” awareness promotion at the school, a curriculum meant to promote awareness of the potential harmful effects of the sun among children, their teachers and their parents.



#229. In the Eye of the Perfect Storm – 2

The title of this and its previous, more elaborated version is “The Perfect Storm”, however another title, “The Expected Storm” might serve equally well for those who are familiar with the arguments advanced by Dr. Timothy Morgan since (at least) 2013. This shorter version provides an excellent entry point for those who are trying to find their way forward through manifest social, economic and familial uncertainties. Dr. Morgan’s preference is, ” . . . to face facts”, which he does very well. I encourage everyone reading this comment to also visit Dr. Morgan’s website, Surplus Energy Economics, and give due consideration to the observations and arguments advanced there.

Surplus Energy Economics

The previous article set out what was intended to be a short but comprehensive guide to the economy understood as a surplus energy system. It’s been pointed out that, however comprehensive that report may be, it’s far from being “short”.

Here, then, is “the short version”. The intention is to make both versions available as downloads.


With economies stumbling, the cost of living rising at rates not seen in forty years, and world markets gripped by nervousness, there are two ways in which we can try to make sense of current economic turbulence.

We can, if we wish, see all of this as temporary – caused by the lasting effects of the pandemic, latterly compounded by the war in Ukraine – and assure ourselves that the ‘normality’ of continuous economic “growth” will return once these crises are behind us.

The alternative is to face facts.

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No time for clogged drains

MIDWAY, Tuesday—The sewer backed up in our basement last weekend, as I learned when I came in from moving compost in the garden, so I made a wry face and did my best to ignore the obvious:  that I didn’t really have a clue what to do about it. 

Denial is of no help when it comes to a blocked drain, particularly when it is relied upon daily to move waste water out of the house regularly. 

Still, I turned my back to the situation.  I closed the door and walked away; maybe I hoped that this in itself might be seen as dealing properly with the situation.

But I also consulted with Mr. T. who advised that I should research ways to deal with the problem, and that he, for his part would commit to ‘attacking’ the drain after work on Monday. 

Clearly, this was his strategy for keeping me from doing something ‘stupid’ on my own.  I agreed, being more comfortable with a strategy that involved a retreat into theory rather than the reality of clogged drains.  

With this in mind, I sought out that great medium of fools, YouTube, and viewed three ‘do-it-your-self’ videos on how to unclog clogged basement drains.

All three of these helpful videos were unhelpful, but for different reasons.  The first offered three simple remedies: 1) a flexible, snaggle-toothed plastic stick designed to be inserted a foot or so into a drain; 2) an inflatable bladder meant to fit around a garden hose which, when filled with water expands into the full diameter of the drain pipe, creating pressure which then forces the blockage to move further into the drain; and 3) a fairly expensive, crank-operated ‘plumber’s ‘snake’, which feeds a long length of flat spring-wire with a screw-like fitting on its end which is supposed to dislodge whatever is blocking the drain making it easier to flush away with a normal flow of water.

The first remedy proposed would have been ideal had the first few inches of our drain been clogged with hair. It wasn’t. The second remedy might have worked, but we didn’t have it on hand.  The 3rd remedy, the ‘plumber’s snake’ we did have, but we found it impossible to use properly, possibly due to our lack of skill which is only achieved through experience and practice.

As an alternative to making things worse, I decided to go outside to tackle the four flat tires on the battered 14 year old vehicle I have recently inherited, a vehicle we’re referring to as  “The RB”, or  “The Red Bomb”.

The RB will be a source of used parts for an almost identical vehicle, the OB, or “Orange Bomb”, the battered, 14 year old vehicle which I drive only in Winter.

In contrast to the blocked sewer drain, there was probably nothing I could do to that vehicle, — nothing stupid — that had probably not  already been done to it: the vehicle had been used by three individuals to flee from the R.C.M.P.  in a protracted car chase that had started in Oliver, only after the RB’s four tires had been flattened after running over an RCMP spike-belt in Rock Creek. 


Midway RCMP arrested three suspects who allegedly fled police in Oliver in this late-model Dodge Caliber. One of the suspects allegedly backed the car into a police cruiser, denting the Dodge’s rear passenger quarter-panel. Photo: Submitted  Caption: Kelowna Capital News, January 28, 2022.

Once delivered to my driveway, I carefully went through the vehicle and carefully dealt with its contents. I removed the garbage, clothing, sharp objects, glass pipes and other drug paraphernalia that had been left behind.

Next, knowing that I had four wheels with solid, un-punctured tires on them, I spent an hour jacking up the car, removing its damaged tires and wheels and replacing them.  A car that rolls is better than a car that does not roll.

All of this happened on Monday. Mr. T.’s ‘attack’ on the drain was unsuccessful, (I’m hoping he didn’t do anything stupid), so I called the plumber on Tuesday who agreed to attend on Wednesday just before lunch, at a time when I will be unavailable.

Fortunately Brenda has agreed to meet the plumber and to show him to the clogged drain. 

Hopefully, by the time I return home on Wednesday afternoon, the issue with the clogged drain will have been resolved, mainly by appropriate delegation of the problem to an experienced tradesperson, a professional tradesperson, and an individual with, unlike me, enough knowledge, skill, and experience to get things moving again — in exchange for an appropriate infusion of Canadian dollars.

Is this not how things normally go?  Problems arise and have to be dealt with; problems subside.  Some problems are self-inflicted; others seem to arise on their own. All problems need to be acknowledged, dealt-with, delegated to others, or ignored.

I know I have just enough knowledge, skill and ability, time — and available cash — to be able to deal with most of these problems, or to delegate them to people who can.

 Later today we shall reassess the situation to see how well things have resolved.


P.S. Happy Birthday, Mr. C!


After Ottawa

Truckers’ protest in Ottawa: what happened to turn Canada into such a hot-mess?

In Canada, if there wasn’t before, there’s now a palpable sense of public discontent, which might be attributed to a variety of causes, but it’s visible for all to see.

What’s behind such a marked changes to what were thought to be the constitutional values of Canadians and their collective desire for peace, order and good government? 

What causes people to drive hundreds and thousands of kilometres, to join others in raucous demonstrations of protest, ostensibly for ‘FREEDOM!’ and against ‘MANDATES!’ while displaying the Canadian flag in a variety of unconventional ways?

It depends who you listen to

Some ascribe it to specific issues, (‘Masks, Mandates, Media); some to a dislike of (‘Government’), others to a generalized anger toward ‘the rich’. For others, it’s hatred of the current Prime Minister, “Justine” Trudeau.

But it’s clear the roiling public mood of late has ruptured its vessel of containment.

What has caused so many to act out an ‘all roads lead to Ottawa’ action, ostensibly to ‘bring down the government’?

Why have the heretofore mainly silent struggles of many thousands of working-class Canadians have exploded into angry, chaotic, demonstrations of noisy contempt?

It’s probably not “vaccine mandates” or “tyranny” or a lack of “freedom”; it’s probably economic hardship.

It’s still, “the economy, stupid”

Arguments exist which support the view that economic ‘growth’ ended in Canada on or about 2007.

Since then, 15 years’ of continuing increases in the costs of things without fully compensatory wage increases, have steadily eroded the ability of wage-earning Canadians, not only to earn a living, but, before every other cost, to pay the increasingly oppressive gate fees; the ‘pay-to-play’ expenses to pay for the actual job you need to earn a living.

Over the years, governments at all levels, and a myopic media continued to speak using the language of prosperity, but their depictions ring increasingly false to the ear of people who have seen their actual standards of living deteriorating for at least 15 years.

Self-employed truck drivers, owner-operators, do not need to be told such economic security as may have attracted them to the job is disappearing fast; for many it is already gone, fallen far out of view in their rear-view mirrors. 

Low interest rates have not helped

The enticements of low-interest and long-term loans have lured many into in a debt-trap loop, where credit is used as a substitute for cash to pay for not only shelter and capital expenses, but also to meet annual and monthly operating expenses — even such basic necessities as personal shelter, transportation and food.

Successive governments with the power to borrow, print and gather money have, through a combination of low interest rates and loose monetary policies, consistently encouraged borrowing among populations least able to pay them back.

At the same time, support for saving in the form of net-gain-post-inflation interest rates continues to punish thrift.  A dollar saved in 2020 and counted in 2021 has already lost 5 percent of its value to inflation alone.  Compounding erosion of savings continues.

The end of the truckers’ protest is not the end of social unrest in Canada

It is not only owner-operator truck drivers for whom economic prosperity is waning; other wage-earning sectors are experiencing it too.

Government policies are failing to address the actual needs of increasing numbers of workers to pay their bills, to be paid a living wage, and to save a portion of what they earn for the future, and to retire, someday.

Despite the obstinacy and expressed determination of truck drivers to maintain their protest in Ottawa, “ . . . for as long as it takes. . .”,  the average trucker has neither the means nor the ability to do so.  

In Windsor, where the Ambassador Bridge, Canada’s highest volume land border had been blocked by truckers and others for a week.

Over this past weekend, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police made it clear that to continue to block access and use of the bridge with vehicles would result in vehicles being towed away, impounded and possibly forfeited.

While media showed pictures of two defiant pickup truck drivers being arrested and their vehicles being towed away, the same media story reported two long-haul tractors simply driving away with air-horns blasting it was probably a prudent decision on their part. 

The  average owner operator already knows that tow-charges, impoundment, and forfeiture fees are all extraordinary costs which they can not afford to bear. For some, nothing would be worse, (nor more infuriating), than being obliged to pay a monthly truck-payment on a truck that has been forfeited to the government.

It’s for reasons such as these that I am expecting things to get worse, not only for self-employed truckers, but for most Canadians, before they get better.


#4 Beware the ides of November!

“All things are a-flowing, Sage Heraclitus says, but a tawdry cheapness shall outlast all days.” — Ezra Pound

Before all memory of it slumps into the torrent and is washed away downstream, I want to comment on the aftermath of the rainstorm that stalled over Southern British Columbia on November 15th, 2021.

Two weeks on from that singular event, media have been filled with stories about the unprecedented flooding and destruction caused by the meteorological phenomenon commonly known as “The Pineapple Express” now more solemnly and correctly referred to as an “Atmospheric River”.

Just over two weeks’ ago, as is expected most every year, an airborne river of warm, moist, equatorial air rolled up from the South Pacific ocean two weeks ago and flowed Northeast toward to the North America.

As the mass of air moved inland over rising terrain, it slowed, and the enormous volume of air rose and cooled which caused dissolved water vapour to change into liquid water and to fall as rain.

To some casual observers it seemed to stall completely, blocked by the physical barrier of the Coast Mountains.

In October and November, residents of South Eastern British Columbia expect the weather to turn increasingly dark and unsettled. Wind storms with heavy lashing rain and its effects: falling branches and trees, super-saturated soil, wash-outs, and flooding. But the almost stationary weather system that parked over British Columbia on November 15th, 2021 was unprecedented in the amount of precipitation it delivered to inland areas of British Columbia, particularly in the Eastern Fraser Valley and beyond up and through the rising, mountainous valleys of the Fraser, Coquihalla, Coldwater, Nicola, Tulameen and Similkameen Rivers and their tributaries.

Channels of fast-moving, warm, moist air moving inland slow down a lot and as the increasing altitude of the land forces the air above to rise.  Rising air cools; cool air is unable to hold as much water vapour as warm air, so it condenses and falls as rain. Think of a water-filled sponge being forced into an opening that is just a little too small to receive it. The sponge will be squeezed through the opening, but it will give up a lot of the water it is holding in the process.  That is what happened in Southern British Columbia on November 15th.  

I don’t want this to turn into a trite lesson on what happens when a month’s worth of precipitation falls in less than a day, (which is what happened in Southern British Columbia on November 15th, 2021); instead, want to focus on a single fact:  It was a single weather-event caused a long string of negative, consequential events which continue to play-out, now two weeks on from the singular event.

For now, I’d like to mention just one of these.

As a result of the precipitation that fell over Southern British Columbia on November 15th, ALL but one of the main, East-West highways in British Columbia were shut down.  They were either completely inundated by flood waters, overwhelmed by mud and debris flows, undermined by rushing water, or as in the case of at least one secondary highway, completely washed away.

I will not editorialize here except to say that such devastation across such a wide area does not usually happen to a country except in a time of total war.  

As far as I can tell, British Columbians are not ‘at war’ with anyone, except perhaps themselves, so in that sense we’ve gotten off lucky. 

Two weeks’ after the event, due to an effective response from federal, provincial and local governments, further catastrophic damage to infrastructure has been avoided.  Some damage has been restored, (dikes have been patched up), sand-bags have been laid to protect residential sub-divisions  built on flood-plains, and heavy equipment has been tasked with clearing a path through the muck and debris.

The job of rebuilding the highways and bridges that have been lost will take longer, but even that work seems to be proceeding well enough; as best as can be expected under the current circumstances, come what may.

What has over the past 50 years or so has been a never-ending train of highway transport trucks delivering all kinds of goods from places far away was suddenly blocked for a number of days.

Now, two weeks’ later, some of these transport trucks, semi-trailers and B-trains, (those that did not back-up, turn-around and head back from whence they came) are once again inching their way forward, in much the same way as water does when it starts to accumulate and back up on flat, level ground.

In a future blog-post, I’d like to comment on some of the, dare I say ‘downstream’ effects of the atmospheric disaster of November 15th, because I have a sense that there may be a lot more to capture our attention in the days and weeks to come.  


#3 Welcome!

If you haven’t been here before, welcome to my new website. If you haven’t done so already, do subscribe to it and consider leaving a comment or two, or three or more. Ask questions, stimulate conversation, editorialize.  For now, I am quite open, not closed to conversations, so feel free to ‘talk-back’ to me if you read something you disagree with.

And remember to send me your prompts and suggestions — topics you’d like to see discussed here.  If I have enough hubris to put my own words out there, being open to the ideas and perspectives of others is, I think, perfectly reasonable way to try to even things out.

Right now, there is no shortage of issues that I want to discuss.  The topic I have front of  mind right now is the latest weather-related, very Super-Unnatural disaster that happened here in British Columbia on November 15th, but there are many other subjects as well. As a mostly-retired teacher with an extraverted personality, (with strong introverted tendencies), I have a strong commitment to the ethic that there is nothing than cannot be talked about, that most things should be talked about,  as long as the dialogue is constructive — until it’s not.

From 1981 I was a teacher in public and indigenous schools in B.C. and Manitoba.  I was fortunate to have many different assignments over the years; I met all kinds of unique and interesting people, each of whom has their own story. For most, but not all, those stories continue.

Sometimes, quite rarely, some of these people reach out: either in person, through social media, or through the the serendipity of my own memory. This is not to say this blog is meant to be a warm fire fuels by stories of the past: it’s not.  My aim and focus is this time, this place, right where we are, right now — wherever we are.

We are walking the road together.

The daily question seems to be: “Where do we go from here?”

I realize that a blog written by a once and sometime teacher might be one that is easy to pass over, reject, turn away from — so many people have had negative experiences with teachers and schools — but I hope that you might give me — give us, US, — this chance.

Like I ended up almost always saying to students who arrived a half-hour, one, two or three hours late to school during the years I taught in several Alternate Programs: “I’m SO glad you’re here; it hasn’t been the same without YOU!”

What I’m saying is that my abiding hope is this blog might, in some way, be mutually beneficial: helpful to you and to me; helpful in the reflexive moment we find ourselves, individually and collectively, when we are alone and when we are together.

 It seems my main interest right now is  human energy — where it manifests, how it is applied, how it rolls out, — and what happens when IT happens.  

So I guess that means my interest is primarily humanistic; part of me wants to find out exactly what that means now, in the darker months of 2021 and beyond.

At the same time, I arrive empty-handed. I come to you with no book to promote, no product to sell, no self-serving pitch to make about a screenplay, project, or ideology. That might and probably will change someday — nor not — but probably in ways that are impossible to predict. For now, I’m comfortable knowing that change is certain even if I am not.  My motivation is to offer you something that might be of interest or help to you in some way. 

 Right now I’m comfortable leaving that assessment to you.

Since I ‘retired’ from full-time teaching work in 2018 and relocated with Herself to this small village, we’ve been focused on easing-off the throttle, slowing down, and backing off as much as necessary.  I’ve often referred to this intention process of change as “pressing the ‘reset’ button”.   So far, it has been a salutary experience, one that we have not so far regretted.

Our decision came well ahead of the epochal changes marked by the arrival of the novel Sars-2 Corona Virus, Covid-19, and other events, and the remarkable changes to local and regional weather that are playing out.

But I’ve also kept active in areas that are still interesting and stimulating: 

— I continue to teach on-call one or two days, every couple of weeks. 

—   I continue working in my ‘Sustainability Garden’ as much as I can, but lately, not as much as I should.    

 —   I continue to pursue my evolving interest in politics, but not in the usual way.

—   I continue to chase other stuff: lots of other stuff!

I also have a digital camera that I do not know how to use, so who knows, maybe pictures and videos may eventually be part of this.

Until later,



“Confidential to K.L: Thanks for your message today. You’ve made all of the difference. Hold on.”


Mask wearing while teaching on-call is not that easy.

I’ve found that teaching while wearing a mask is a challenge.

So it’s easy to imagine that learning while wearing a mask is also a challenge for the Kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 2 students who are wearing masks all day in their elementary school classrooms.

For too long in British Columbia, too many of unvaccinated students under the age of 12 have been exempted from the expectation that everyone over the age of 12 years wear a mask while indoors.

And this week has been the first I’ve been inside an elementary school since BC’s new ‘universal’ mask-mandate was put into effect.

Last week, I decided to decline all calls for me to work as a “teacher ‘on-call’ because it seemed I had been working almost every day during the month of September — a month when substitute, on-call teachers often don’t work at all.  I needed to take last week off to do other things, such as work in my garden, process a bumper-crop of tomatoes, and to breathe, deeply, without wearing a mask at all.

So this week, as I returned to the classroom on Tuesday, I was wondering how the primary classes I would be teaching in would be handling the expectation that mask-wearing was now obligatory: yet another thing — like walking, not running in the hallway, using appropriate, not inappropriate language at all times —  than children in school are always expected to do.

By lunchtime last Tuesday I had my answer.  Every child in grades K through 4 was wearing their mask while in the classroom, all of the time.  There was not a single child who needed help with their mask nor any kind of reminder from me to put their mask on. 

No teacher goes into the profession to teach from behind a mask, just the opposite: a teacher’s effectiveness is mainly about the ability to connect with their students — not just intellectually, but across the other realms of human experience. 

And doing this well is always challenging; doing this well from behind a mask makes it even more so.

But the difficult decision was made, and teachers have been doing their best to comply.

Fortunately, in every classroom I work in, I know there will be up to 30 very good reasons why I will also do my very best to ensure my mask is always in place.

For everyone who wants to be angry about mask-mandates and other restrictions currently in effect, don’t bother.  Do it for the children because they are so totally worth the inconvenience.

Our youngest are wearing their masks without complaint, setting a good example for me!

Let’s always remember to wear our masks and minimize the spread of infectious disease.

If our youngest citizens can do it, so can we!


Trying to save money, improve your health and simplify your life? BC’s ‘proof of vaccination required’ list just might help

Instead of downloading the BC Government’s vaccine passport app, I’m just going to avoid the places the Provincial Health Officer has ordered the passport be shown.

When the BC Vaccination Passport was announced last week, along with the list of venues where people would be required to show it, I realized right away that a lot of money, time, and complication could be avoided by simply staying away from those places.

I also noticed the Order was focussed primarily on events, social, and cultural activities that exist in the commercial sector of the economy.

Here is the text of the order on the BC government’s “Get the BC Vaccine Card” website:

By order of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), proof of vaccination is required to access some events, services and businesses. Starting September 13, you must have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. By October 24, you must be fully vaccinated. The requirement is in place until January 31, 2022 and could be extended. “

The requirement applies to all people born in 2009 or earlier (12+) and covers:

Indoor ticketed sporting events

Indoor concerts, theatre, dance and symphony events

Licensed restaurants and restaurants that offer table service (indoor and patio dining)

Pubs, bars and lounges (indoor and patio dining)

Nightclubs, casinos and movie theatres

Gyms, exercise facilities/studios and recreation facilities

Businesses offering indoor group exercise

Indoor adult group and team sports for people 19 years old or older

Indoor organized events with 50 or more people. For example: Wedding receptions, organized parties, conferences and workshops

Indoor organized group recreational classes and activities like pottery, art and choir

Post-secondary on-campus student housing

Of the dozen or so venues where a vaccine passport will be required after today, September 13th, the first two, “indoor ticketed sporting events” and “indoor concerts, theatre, dance and symphony events” will also be easy to avoid, especially for those who reside in rural areas and people who have no discretionary money to spend.

Likewise, licensed restaurants and restaurants that offer table service and pubs, bars and lounges with indoor and patio dining are already fairly expensive places to eat and drink.

Up to three quarters of the Canadian population is already overweight or obese. Avoiding bars, restaurants and pubs and opting to eat healthful, simply-prepared, nutritious food, mainly at home could be a smart alternative for many looking to conserve cash by reducing discretionary spending, reduce risk of infection, and increase personal resilience.

Attendance at nightclubs, casinos and movie theatres are completely optional; they too are options for which less expensive, healthier and perfectly reasonable alternatives already exist.

Maybe it’s time to acknowledge these venues for what they are: expensive commercial and government gambling concerns that promote over-consumption of food and drink, with a higher-than-necessary density of people who may or may not be carriers of an infectious variant of the Sars 2 Corona virus.

Similarly, the BC vaccine passport restrictions limit access to businesses offering indoor exercise. Again, it’s probably easier and less risky for individuals to avoid these places, especially when opportunities to exercise outdoors are so plentiful in BC, year round.

Just going for a brisk, half hour walk most days meets the minimum recommended standard for fitness, and is easily achieved, even in more densely populated centres. When walking is supplemented with strength and flexibility training such as intentionally lifting, carrying, setting-down and picking up heavy objects, BC’s vaccine passport becomes completely redundant, and the very idea of paying a business to exercise quickly evaporates.

Lately, I’ve been spending time loading mill-end logs into my truck, hauling them home, then splitting and stacking the pieces by hand. I’m doing this even though I don’t burn wood for heat, but I do need the exercise that splitting and stacking wood affords. Besides I’ll have a ready store of dry firewood to share with people hereabout who might need it.

Indoor adult group and team sports for people 19 years old or older is another area where BC’s Vaccine Passport will be required after today. While team sports are often played indoors, not all of them are. Some of these indoor sports can be easily taken outside. The indoor, often commercial spaces that are rented and booked hour by hour to an array of age-groupings: children, adolescents and adults.

If the main purpose of the BC vaccine passport to limit the spread of #Covid-19? How effective will these new measures be especially where fully-vaccinated adults vye with unvaccinated children and adolescents for use of these spaces?

Might the BC vaccine passport will prove less effective as a measure to limit the spread of infectious disease but remain an effective way to monitor the movement of people?

The BC government order also requires people attending events with 50 or more people to produce their vaccine passport. Attendance at wedding receptions, organized parties, conferences, meetings and workshops are cited in the government order as some but by no means all of the examples given.

Are there other examples of gathers of people in groups of greater than 50 also required where monitoring of their vaccine passport will also be required?

A curious example of an organized group mentioned in the BC government Order is the inclusion of some, but not all organized group recreational classes and activities: pottery, art and choir offered as three examples.

It has been a long time time since I have attempted pottery, taken a studio art class or sung in a choir, but once again, I wonder how effective the government’s monitoring the vaccine status of amateur potters, artists and singers will be in limiting the spread of Covid-19?

All it takes is one virus-shedding individual, (who may or may not have been vaccinated) to exhale enough of the virus to be inhaled by many others in the room. No government Order nor vaccine app has so far proven itself capable of limiting infectious spread nor of deciding who or who might not be a carrier, or at risk of infection.

As of today, The BC government’s order also requires individuals seeking admission to post-secondary on-campus student housing to show proof of vaccination using the government app.

To whom will this requirement apply? Only to the students occupying the dorm rooms, shared kitchen and living and recreational facilities, or will it also apply to visitors and guests, coming and going at all hours of the day and night?

Good luck to to any government or computer-based vaccine-checking application who would monitor all of that!

As for myself, for now, I shall hold off in downloading or registering for The BC government’s mandated vaccine passport.

I’m quite willing and able to avoid all of the venues and social gatherings covered by it; I’m ready to do without it.

In fact, my taking an increased measure of personal responsibility for my own and others’ health, by avoiding unnecessary spending, exercising, and not carrying an electronic device everywhere I go, I believe that I will be doing everything I reasonably can to limit the spread of the Sars2Corona virus — at least until the BC government’s vaccine App Order expires on January 31, 2022.

Until then, I’ll continue to carry my own proof of vaccination wallet card which I will be happy to show to almost anyone who has a good reason for asking.

I think one unintended consequence of the BC vaccine passport and others like it is to describe a boundary or fault line that describes more than those who have or do not have a mandated government proof of vaccination; it also describes two populations of citizens in British Columbia: those who may have easy access combined with the desire to engage in lots of discretionary spending, and those who cannot, for a variety of social and economic reasons.

For now, let me say that I have a few abiding concerns about the BC vaccine app. In solidarity with those who are less likely to be able to patronize the businesses and mainly commercial enterprises being monitored, I won’t be downloading it.


My tangled garden (II)

Early morning in the garden, indeed, visiting the garden at any time time during the day is almost always a calming, salutary experience; it’s a natural remedy for many ailments both real and imaginary.  

Inside the perimeter of the deer fence, there is no risk of contracting Covid-19, and though it might be prudent to wear an N95 mask when I’m shaking dry soil off of the weeds I’m pulling or running the tiller, both of which tend to throw a lot of dust into the air.

There are no vaccine passports required for admission to the garden. There is no cover-charge or need for a reservation nor any need for any kind of mask-on, mask-off ritual of any kind, such as those required for simple admission to all kinds of venues, public and private.

I once attended a lecture devoted to the garden as an intermediary space: not inside the home; outdoors, yet not fully within the public sphere.  I liked the idea; that’s probably why it stayed with me. It’s probably why I like to practice gardening now.    

What remains of the teacher in me reminds me that ‘garden’ is both a noun and a verb: a noun when I’m outside the fence, looking in; a verb once I’ve passed through the gate.

It occurs to me that many would benefit from having some kind of garden, especially during these increasingly maddening times.

On this Labour Day, I hope to find myself in the garden once again, not labouring, hopefully, but moving continually, where time is not measured by any clock but where I apply myself steadily, then realize how much has been accomplished once I’m done.


(My) Tangled Garden (1)

The Tangled Garden, J.E.H. MacDonald, 1916, oil on beaverboardJ.E.H. MACDONALD “Tangled Garden”

My garden is probably too large for me to manage on my own, and I’m painfully aware that the garden I hold in mind has fallen short, far short of my own minimal standard of success in each of the last four gardening seasons.

I first time I’ve pushed my spade into to ground in our 100′ x 115′ “Food Security Garden” was in 2018, when we returned to the Valley of the Kettle River in Midway, BC in early July.

The only thing I planted that year were four traumatized tomato plants that I’d ripped out of the brick planter back at our old place. I thrust them into a niche I’d found in the back of the pickup truck, and them the 450 kilometers East about half way across the Southern Mainland of British Columbia to the Boundary region of British Columbia. I should have left them alone.

I thrust the transplants into dusty holes; I flooded them with water from pails. I demanded they grow.

They would have done better had they been planted here in mid to late May after six weeks or so of careful nurturing in a controlled environment. It is very difficult to prevail when the rules change in the middle of the game.

Three of the tomatoes died right away; only one plant made it until the first frost arrived in September. The only home-grown tomato I saw that year yielded a single, yellow flower before it, too, collapsed; it was a passive, silent rebuke to me for being a gardener with the disgusting effrontery to do what I had done to these plants andcall it gardening.

But I knew the potential of this ground because I had gardened there before. In 1990, I had grown some of the best Red Pontiac potatoes I’d ever seen. After weeks of careful nurturing indoors and hardening-off outside, I watched some of the greenest, most vigorous tomato plants I had ever started become established there; — but a late frost on June 12, 1990 took all of them as well.

Results of gardening in 2019 were better than in 2018. How could they have been worse? But the work mandated by the garden itself needed to be neglected in favour of building a perimeter deer fence. A week of cultivation, planting and watering was lost to the work of manually digging about 40 post holes, setting those poles, and stapling not quite 8 feet of fencing wire around the perimeter.

Another challenge was access to water. I knew there had been a proven well on the property, but it hadn’t been called upon to raise water since the turn of the 21st century, and the last time I had used it myself was in 1990. It had been at least half a century old then.

Running power to the well pump would have required either installation of a power pole to support the almost 100 foot span of the main power pole as well as the installation of a dip-service and electricity meter. In the end, In the end we decided to tie in to the village water main at an ongoing cost of at least $240 per year in exchange for a ready, constant supply of high-pressure water to meet the garden’s irrigation needs.

In order to tie-in to the municipal system we needed to provide a 5 foot deep by 30 foot trench which would have cost us about $1500, the estimated cost of a contractor equipped with a back-hoe, so we elected to try to dig the trench by hand instead.

This would be my attempt to wrest a small bit of control for our food supply back from the powers of finance, commerce, marketing and transportation.

Using a ‘Swing shovel’ allows two diggers working cooperatively to dig a long, narrow trench using only human, rather than machine energy. We saved at least CA $1000.00 digging this trench ourselves over the course of one day.

We were amazed at how easy the job of digging a 5 foot deep by 30 foot long trench was. The top 10 or 12 inches consisted of very fine dusty sand. The next 24 inches consisted of a coarser, more densely compacted sand. Both of these layers yielded to the point of the spade very easily.

Below 24 inches, digging required more cooperation between both of us. Digger “A” would take hold of the handle-end of the swing-shovel and aim it at a downward angle where it would bite deeply into the, now gravel-layer at the bottom of the trench. Digger “B”, hold one end of the rubber strap connected to the shovel’s handle just above the shovel-head, would then drag the spade forward until it was loaded. Finally, both diggers would swing their end of the gravel-laden shovel up and out of the trench. Somehow, we devised a system where we could raise and dump a loaded shovelful of gravel onto the ‘tailings pile’ in one coordinated ‘up-and-over’ motion. It was cool.

I realize the material we were digging into functioned as a silent partner in our efforts; it never required more than the odd poke from a pry bar to loosen the aggregated sands and stones. No boulders blocked our digging; no stones larger than a baked potato appeared. This made for easy work. Digging the whole 30 foot trench took us only 4 or five hours. We did most of the work in the morning and were ready to set the water-hydrant and run the waterline to the main in the afternoon. We called the plumber and he stopped by on his way home and connected our lines to the village water main about 5:00 p.m.

Part of My tangled garden in August, 2021: from left to right: Corn, volunteer Sunflowers, fresh weeds atop the compost heap, In the background the newly-installed poly-greenhouse.

All of this water-work happened in March, well before the main part of the 2020 gardening season, so I was pleased to know I wouldn’t have to be carrying water in pails from off site any more. Though expensive and less than ideal, I could use garden hoses and sprinklers instead.

In a future blog post I’ll write more about my tangled garden and the unrelenting struggle of growing food in a way that is both sustainable, reliable and cost-effective. I’ll also write about how I’ve failed to achieve any of these in over the past four growing seasons as well as the rare, but gratifying ‘wins’ I’ve had along the way: things that keep me going.