post

Happy 2022?

I remember getting my first “real” job at the Vancouver Public Library just around the time of my 18th birthday. I had interviewed for a couple of positions there, and ended up working in the Sociology Department as a Library Assistant.

Once I got the job, I was invited up to the H.R. office to sign a bunch of papers. Since I was technically working for the City Of Vancouver, I was lucky to receive medical and dental benefits and also something called superannuation, which I’d never heard of before. The idea of a pension was a first for me, but something I really didn’t concern myself too much with at the tender age of 18.

I remember looking at that paper and seeing the year that I would be able to retire. It was 2022.

At the time, it felt like something out of Star Trek. The OLD Star Trek show, I mean. Any of you who watched it might remember how they often started with “Captain’s Log, Star date…”. Well Star Date 2022 seemed like a strange, futuristic time that I could not wrap my head around.

Would we all be flying around on jetpacks by then? Would we be living on Mars? And most importantly, would I be RICH?

Now suddenly here we are in the first few days of 2022. I have no idea how that happened.

So what will this new year bring us all? I almost hate to ask. Not new COVID variants, I hope.

A couple of polls I saw recently showed that most people (well, the people who responded to the polls anyway) don’t do New Year’s resolutions anymore. I get that. If you’ve ever made one, you know that it’s hard to keep resolutions, even at the best of times. Never mind the worst of times.

I tried to make the same New Year’s resolution the last few years, remembering to be grateful for what I have. An Attitude of Gratitude, I called it. But it’s been difficult to stay positive about anything lately, so I’ve decided to join the rest and ditch the resolution. EVERYTHING is TOO HARD.

With Omicron raging on and getting worse, it’s really difficult to feel positive or hopeful about anything. I’ve now had two friends and several family members (none of which I’ve had any close contact with) who’ve gone through this wretched virus. They are all okay. But the experts are now telling us that we’ll all get COVID eventually??

Well, I don’t want it!

I think I might consider holding off on any new year celebrations until Chinese New Year comes around. This year it’s on February 1st. Maybe Omicron will have peaked by then.

According to the Chinese calendar, this year will be the year of the Tiger. That sounds good to me. I’m not a Tiger, I’m a Rooster.

One of my family members keeps telling me that, technically, I’m a chicken. Roosters are male, he says. But I don’t like what being a chicken implies, so I’m sticking with Rooster.

In my excitement, I’ve been Googling “Year of the Tiger” to see what we might expect. One website says “it won’t be a dull year.” Okay, what does that mean?

Another one says “The year of the Tiger 2022 is under the influence of the water element, which means that it will be a year in which we must make all kinds of changes in our lives.” Oh, oh. Another says “Tiger years such as 2022 are all about going big or going home.”

Yeah, I’m not sure I’m liking this yet.

Ah, but here’s one. According to this website, “In the Year of the Tiger, Rooster people¬†are destined to enjoy a smooth life and¬†good luck in making money in 2022.”

You see? I WILL be rich!

So to all of you, whenever you celebrate it, Happy 2022!

post

A Cozy Heat Pumped Christmas

At this very moment, I am trapped in my living room. There are sheets of plastic covering door ways and on top of our furniture. Drills and saws are squealing everywhere, and muffled shouts are flying from one guy to another.

They are carpenters, electricians, installers, inspectors and duct cleaners. All in my house at varying times. All wearing masks, of course.

I can’t work in my basement studio or office because of the equipment, cables, tools, bits of garbage, and large sheets of metal strewn everywhere.

The dust is flying as carpenters drill and saw through the old lathe and plaster to install a new duct behind the walls.

And then there is the noise. I have to wear my noise cancelling headphones to muffle the sound of the old ducts being cleaned. Apparently they should have been cleaned more often. The occasional swearing I’ve heard from the guy cleaning them confirms that.

It’s an invasion in every sense, but it’s all for a good cause.

We are finally getting a heat pump installed.

Over the years, we’ve had all kinds of renovations, installations and repairs done on this old house. It was built in 1938, and didn’t even have insulation when we first moved in 32 years ago.

It had an oil furnace which is a lovely kind of heat, but over our first winter here we nearly froze to death. The heat just seeped out of the walls and windows and the cold blew back in. During one particularly cold stretch, I remember sitting on the floor of the living room in front of the lit fireplace, holding my infant daughter tightly because we were chilled to the bone.

Eventually we replaced the old cardboard that was tacked under the roof in the attic with real insulation, and had more insulation blown into the exterior walls. Later, we installed new double-paned windows.

It all made a big difference.

But last June when B.C. was overwhelmed with that blasted heat dome, we had to sleep in the basement of our house to stay cool enough. Our electric fans were useless, and air conditioning units were out of stock everywhere.

And that’s when we heard about this magical new thing called a heat pump.

Now don’t ask me to explain all of the technology behind it. But, essentially, it works as both a heater and an air cooler, depending on the time of year, with much more efficiency built in.

Wikipedia says: “A heat pump is a device used to warm the interior of a building or heat domestic hot water by transferring thermal energy from a cooler space to a warmer space using the refrigeration cycle, being the opposite direction in which heat transfer would take place without the application of external power.”

Did you get that?

All I care about is that it is more energy efficient, better for the environment, and over time, it will save us money.

The best news is that there are grants for heat pumps available from the federal and provincial governments, and you can even apply for them from some municipalities. It is quite the process to get these grants, including house inspections before and after the installation and all kinds of paperwork, but I don’t mind the effort to help mitigate the cost.

Ssshhh. It just got eerily quiet in the house. Have the workers gone for coffee? Lunch? I’m taking a chance and sneaking a peek down in the basement.

Oh dear. It’s a disaster area. I should have just stayed away.

There have been a number of interesting items found under shelves and inside the old ducts over the last couple of days. A golf ball, two dice, an old key, an eraser, some ancient door hooks, an ice cube tray, plus a lot of dirt and dust. And a partridge in a pear tree.

Wait. An ice cube tray?? Well, at least they didn’t find any dead mice.

The best Christmas present this year will be a cozy, heat-pumped house.

And they’re back. With the squeal of a drill and the pounding of a hammer, I can hear the workers have returned. There seems to be an argument erupting between two of the guys about something. Here comes the swearing.

Now where did I put those darned headphones?

post

A Pet Is For Life – Theirs

Moe was a funny cat. Our family always joked that she wasn’t very good at “catting”. She never caught much of anything that she chased because she was pretty slow. Thankfully.

She couldn’t jump very high, and when she did jump, she sort of landed with a look of surprise that she’d actually made it.

Oddly enough, Moe got her name because we thought “she” was a “he”.

She was left with her littermates in a cardboard box by a bus stop in Vancouver BC. Fortunately, someone noticed the box move and looked inside. Seeing a squirmy batch of tiny Calico kittens, he took the box home and contacted a rescue society.

They had been taken from their mother far too soon so they weren’t properly weaned, and their genders weren’t known. When they were old enough, the woman who eventually fostered them here in Victoria posted some pictures in an attempt to find them homes. My daughter sent me a link, knowing that I was looking for a new cat. It had been almost a year since our last one died.

I saw Moe and fell instantly in love.

My other daughter came up with a list of names, and because we assumed the cat was male, we were thinking Larry, Curly or Moe. Moe seemed the right fit. When we found out that Moe was actually female, we decided the name still worked and kept it.

The first vet who examined Moe said she had a bit of a heart murmur, but when we brought her to our own vet a couple of months later, the murmur seemed to have disappeared.

So we started life with our sweet and silly kitten.

I had only ever had male cats in past, so I found Moe to be quite different.

She never was much for the outdoors unless it was just lounging on the deck or the driveway. She didn’t like the feel of grass on her paws, so she would kind of hop precariously over the lawn to get to the patio where we were.

She could be clumsy and goofy, but she was also extremely affectionate. Towards me, that is. Other cats, no.

We didn’t know her actual date of birth, so we made a guess and decided to celebrate it on St. Patrick’s Day each year. She lead a happy, contented and spoiled life, as cats should do.

A couple of months before her birthday this year, I found out that Moe had congestive heart failure. Maybe her heart had always had problems after all.

She was in the vet hospital overnight while they drained fluid that had built up in her chest. Then she was sent home with lots of pills and instructions. Eventually she had a scan to confirm the diagnosis, and her pills were adjusted again. And, of course, I worried about her every day.

I spoiled her even more during this time. If she wanted a treat, I gave it (don’t tell the vet). If she wanted attention at 3 o’clock in the morning, I got up and gave her lots of cuddles. Whatever Moe wanted, Moe got.

Our last cat, Picard, had lived to almost 18, and I was hoping for the same from this one. But when I finally had to say good bye to little Miss Moe a couple of weeks ago, she was only 10.

As many of you know, losing a pet is a heartbreak like no other. One of my friends said that “grief is just love with nowhere to go.” That spoke to me.

I miss her terribly, but I’m so very grateful to the people who made it possible for me to adopt Moe.

During COVID, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, pet adoptions went sky high. Our pets gave us comfort, made us smile, and showed up in our Zoom videos while we worked from home.

With Christmas coming, some people will once again be tempted to give a cute kitten or puppy to someone as a gift. But I hope they will think about it long and hard first.

These are creatures who deserve all of the love and attention we can give them for as long as they need it. We can’t just put them away like toys when we get bored, or return them like car rentals.

Sometimes they get sick or hurt, or if we’re lucky, they get old, and that’s when they need us most. If you decide to adopt a pet, as I know I will again some day, remember that it is a commitment like no other.

It’s for life.

post

A Tip Of The Cap to Ferry Workers

After a lovely girl’s weekend away recently, my friends and I drove back to Victoria from Nanoose Bay, half expecting the car to be blown off the highway. But the weather bomb/wind storm that had been predicted, didn’t quite live up to what we had anticipated.

One of my friends had been texting back and forth with her husband who was in Vancouver. It turned out that in some areas on the west coast, the winds were much worse. As a result, BC Ferries cancelled most of the following day’s sailings in anticipation of an even bigger storm.

So many people were trying to catch a ferry before the cancellations came into effect, that my friend’s husband was worried about being able to get back.

It is that time of year. “Blow-vember” is here. I have lots of family on the mainland so I’ve travelled by ferry many, many times, even through the fall and winter.

On one especially blustery trip, the ferry had made it safely across the strait and was attempting to dock in Tsawwassen. I was walking on the car deck trying to keep my balance as the ferry rocked from side to side. We perilously inched towards the dock as every car on that deck started swaying. I wasn’t sure we’d make it, but thanks to some fine skills at the helm, we eventually pulled in safely. Phew.

Most people don’t realize that it’s the “docking” part that plays the biggest role in whether or not a ferry is cancelled. The boats can handle rough seas, but if they can’t dock, we’re in trouble.

I’ve been on a ferry that hit the dock pretty hard, hard enough that I’m sure it must have caused some serious damage.

Of course we’re going to whine and complain to ourselves when we’re trying to get off the island and our sailing is cancelled. It may be inconvenient to us, but these ferry people know what they’re up against. If they say so, then we’re better off staying put.

During COVID, there have been a number of incidents involving the public harassing and verbally abusing ferry workers. But it happens in non-COVID times too. It’s completely uncalled for. Having a family member who works on the ferries, I hear everything they have to put up with.

What most of us don’t realize is that these people are trained entirely to protect us, to save our lives and potentially risk their own. We owe them at least a little respect for that. Serving us White Spot burgers and cleaning the washrooms is just a side gig for them. As is announcing over the intercom when our car alarms go off. Cue the eye roll.

BC Ferries has had a lot of bad luck lately, especially on the main routes, with ferries breaking down at the worst times. Never mind Blow-vember.

I’d just like to tip my cap to all of the ferry workers who do everything they can to keep our sailings smooth.

post

Never Mind Astro, I Want Rosey

I couldn’t believe it was actually going to happen. Rosey the Robot was finally coming to life.

If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the old cartoon series “The Jetsons”. There was George and Jane Jetson and their children Elroy and Judy, and one of my favourite characters on the series, Rosey, their personal robot maid.

I loved Rosey. She was like a sassy, no-nonsense aunt. “Beep! Beep! I may be homely, buster, but I am s-m-a-r-t, smart! Beep! Beep!” She didn’t take any baloney from anyone. But boy, could she clean their space house!

I always wanted a Rosey of my own. Who wouldn’t?

So when Amazon announced their new home robot Astro, I was beside myself with excitement. Finally! My own personal housecleaner.

I was imagining all of the things I would never have to do again. Scrub the toilet. Wash the kitchen floor. Dust and vacuum. Maybe Astro would even make my bed and prepare my favourite dinner. Wow.

I decided to watch Amazon’s introductory video, announcing Astro.

“What are we going to do with a robot?” the lady in the video asks her husband. Are you kidding me? I said that out loud. Housecleaning as we know it is now over!

“Astro, follow me,” the husband says.

I watched with great anticipation. Was he going to give Astro a toilet brush and put him right to work?

Astro followed him. Okay, so you can command him to follow you. Sort of like a dog.

That lead to another scene with a little girl talking to her grandmother through Astro’s video screen face.

I started wondering if the exciting stuff was still to come.

In yet another scene, a guy sitting on a park bench used his phone to give Astro the command to check and make sure that he turned the stove off at home.

Astro can relay text messages, re-charge itself, check the house for intruders, and play and dance to music. So basically a video camera that moves. And can catch a raccoon stealing your cupcakes.

At the very end, Astro brings the woman a beer on its tiny platter, and she declares “Alright, I’m in!”

Well, I’m not.

I already have a video doorbell. I can video chat with anyone I want using my phone or my tablet. And if I’ve accidently left the stove on, the fire department will surely let me know. As they’re dousing the flames.

I also have a man servant to bring me my wine. Begrudgingly, perhaps, but he’ll do it if I ask nicely.

I want a robot that can do the real work!

Who created Astro anyway? Let’s see. It can follow you like your dog, re-charge itself and bring you a beer. Was it a MAN?

Something I saw recently was an extract from a 1950s home economics book called “Tips To Look After Your Husband”. It’s filled with eye rolling suggestions for wives, like having dinner ready when he gets home. Preparing yourself and your children so you are presentable to him. Clearing away the clutter.

At the end of the article, it says “Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.” Cue another eye roll.

I have an idea. Let’s change that to “Your home robot will make your house a place of peace and order when you can renew yourself in body and spirit”. And instead of Astro, we’ll call our robot Rosey.

Alright, I’m in!