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Knock, Knock

Well, ’tis the season once again. Three times in one week, we’ve had a knock at the door from canvassers. It’s been kind of quiet at the front door for the last year-and-a-half, other than the odd package arriving, so the sudden “deluge” surprised me.

Two of the door knockers were looking for donations for their organizations. The other was from a political party regarding the upcoming Federal election. As soon as I answered the door the first time, I thought “Doh! Should have hidden in the bathroom.” Instead I was stuck there listening to the spiel.

I try to look polite and patient, but I’m sure they can see the “Oh my lord, can we get this over with?” haze in my eyes. I was a canvasser for a political party many, many years ago so I know that disengaged look well.

As soon as you open the door and realize who’s in front of you, there’s a momentary panic. What do I do? How do I end this? A couple of times in past when I’ve been in a particularly bad state, I’ve just cut a canvasser off with a quick “Not interested,” and closed the door. But then I feel bad.

Most of the time, I let them finish their pitch and, as politely as I can, tell them I’d rather not contribute.

Occasionally, I actually do hide in the bathroom.

Two of the canvassers last week were young women, intelligent, well spoken and sincere. They had their speeches down pat from having to repeat it many times. But as soon as I see one of those electronic credit card units in their hands, I know they’re trying to lock me into a lifetime of financial commitment to their cause.

I mean, they would be most happy if we all pledged monthly donations for the rest of eternity to the organizations they are so passionate about. I get that.

The reality is that none of us can support absolutely every cause and every emergency that comes up. Well, maybe 1% can.

I made the decision years ago to pick the organizations I wanted to support, and then set up a regular financial contribution to them. And when I have my wits about me, I remember to tell the canvassers that before things progress too much. But I’m out of practice.

I also feel for political party canvassers, especially now. It’s always been difficult to be out there knocking on the doors of people who clearly can’t stand your politics. But these days, there’s even more nastiness out there than usual, and an election just gives some people another excuse to bicker, bellow and blame.

I’m trying to make myself remember that first part of Dr. Bonnie Henry’s motto: be kind.

Oh, and speaking of the election, here’s one for you:

Knock, knock!

Who’s there?

Gladys.

Gladys who?

Gladys Almostover.

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I Wish It Would Rain

I remember as a kid sitting and playing outside my house one summer day, when I felt a small drop of rain on my shoulder. And then another on my head. I decided to sit there and let the whole rain storm come and go, feeling every drop of it. Eventually I went inside the house, completely soaked but happy. The memory of that very personal rainstorm has always stayed with me.

There are dozens of old, popular songs about rain out there. “Here Comes The Rain Again”, “Rainy Night In Georgia”, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”, “I Love A Rainy Night”. One of those titles is sure to give some of you boomers an earworm.

A lot of the time, rain songs are about sadness or loss. We often think of rain in a negative way, for example, when an event gets “rained out” or “it rained on my parade.” It never rains but it pours.

Over the years I’ve heard both locals and tourists complain about the rain here on the west coast. I like to refer to it as the “wet coast”. Well, we live in a rainforest, what do you expect?

My Dad always hated the rain, but then he had to drive a bus in it for 40 years. People laughed at him “So why the heck do you live on the west coast then?”

People who move out here from somewhere else in the country usually have to acclimatize to our weather, especially during the winter. It isn’t always about the rain itself, but the endless grey days we have to endure. It just makes the winter feel longer and darker.

Ah, yes. Rain. The good ol’ days. It almost seems sacrilegious to complain about it any more. The fires are raging, the harvests aren’t happening, the cows have no hay. If you surf the web, watch the news or read the paper, you know all the bad stuff going on because of our drought. These days the skies can just as easily be filled with smoke as with clouds.

The other day, I received an email from my cousin in Denmark, and in it she complained about the endless rain in her country this summer. There have been flash floods in Europe, in Venezuela and even in Tennessee. If there was only a way for them to send some of it here!

Looking out my window right now, there is cloud cover and the possibility of rain in the forecast this afternoon. If it begins, I will go outside and sit there and feel every drop. I’ll appreciate it like never before.

I have vowed to myself to never, ever complain about the rain again.

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Empty Nesters

We recently helped our eldest daughter and her boyfriend move out of our house and into an apartment of their own. This officially makes us “empty nesters”. The fledglings have flown. Yay!

It reminded me of seeing my first Robin’s nest in a birch tree outside our dining room window when I was a little girl. It was exciting to watch the adult birds build the nest and then fill it with those tiny, blue eggs. We had to be careful not to startle them so the eggs wouldn’t be abandoned. And then one day, lo and behold, one by one, the eggs cracked open.

My mother said that eventually the mother bird would kick the babies out of the nest and make them fly. I thought this was a horrid thing. What kind of mother kicks her kids out of the nest?

A number of years and a whole lot of experience later, I understand completely. It’s not that either of my daughters were difficult to live with. But there comes a time when they need to take flight and find a life for themselves.

The thing is, these days many of our children remain in the nest for a lot longer. I was 18 when I moved out, and I more or less expected the same from my offspring. But now kids often stay home until their late 20’s, or into their 30’s and beyond.

For some, it takes awhile for them to get on their feet. And many of them live at home while they are going to college or university if the schools are nearby. But the reality is that it’s not easy for any of them to afford a place to live right now, especially if they have lower paying jobs.

And never mind actually BUYING a home for the first time.

My husband and I were lucky to be able to purchase our first house on Cook Street in 1983 for $66,000. These days you might get an SUV for that money. A used one, anyway.

In 1988 we sold the first house and bought a bigger one for our expanding family. That one cost $112,000. You can’t even get a “no bedroom” condo for that right now.

Sure, we went through periods of poverty, like most first time home owners do. There were some months that we just barely got by, struggling with the upkeep and repairs. But it was our home sweet home, and as long as we could pay the mortgage, we could always eat KD.

It’s not a surprise that housing prices increase over time. That is pretty much expected. But there has been a growing disparity between the cost of living and today’s average wages, especially more recently.

High demand and low interest rates are among the many reasons real estate has become pretty much out of reach for many younger people. Not only that, but house flipping and the popular trend of listing properties on places like VRBO have changed housing dynamics considerably. The B.C. Speculation and Vacancy Tax shows how concerned government officials are about the lack of affordable housing.

It took awhile for my daughter and her boyfriend to find something, but in the end they got themselves a two bedroom apartment in Langford through the Capital Region’s Housing Corporation. Their place is a newer unit subsidized by the CRD, whose mission is “a commitment to the development, management and promotion of affordable housing that is essential for the well-being of the people and communities in the Capital Region.”

I think it’s a wonderful thing. No foreseeable renovictions, no fear of outrageous rent increases. Well maintained and operated.

There are certain rules and criteria that have to be met, such as a minimum and maximum income. But they can have pets and it’s also a family friendly building.

And one day they’ll have their own little fledglings.

Not that I’m trying to rush them or anything…

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Too Much Stuff

As the late comedian George Carlin once said “A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.” I was thinking about that awhile back on one of my daily walks, when I came across a whole lot of “stuff” spread out on someone’s front lawn and across the boulevard. There were old tools and pieces of metal and wood, boxes and other items you might find in a workshop.

The thing is, I saw the same junk out on that lawn almost a week later. I wondered, are they just going to leave it there until someone from the city has to come and clean it up? I know that happens a lot.

On another walk, I found an interesting collection on top of a manhole cover, pictured here. A pair of slip on boots and a wine glass. My imagination ran wild. Someone who had been partying a bit too much? Maybe fell down the manhole? Or was beamed up into a UFO? Of course it was probably just someone trying to get rid of their stuff.

That was confirmed days later when I came across the same spot. The boots were gone, but the wine glass was still there. And added to the collection was a frying pan and some cutlery. Dinner is served.

My husband and I have occasionally put things out on the boulevard with a “free” sign, and usually someone will take it. If it isn’t claimed within a day or so, we put it back inside and find another way to get rid of it.

Many years ago we left an old sofa out on the boulevard and watched through our living room window as a couple of young guys plopped each end of the sofa on their skateboards and rolled it away. Perfect.

Old couches and chairs are probably one of the more common sights on the side of the street. What I don’t get is why someone would leave them out there when it’s raining? I mean, if it wasn’t that appealing to begin with, a stuffed chair that has been left in the rain to rot is even less so.

Actually, in these days of COVID, I wouldn’t take anyone’s old couch anymore. You never know where it’s been.

And then there are the electronics. I’ve seen stereos, tv’s, computers and toaster ovens left out in the rain. If they were in working order once, they’re not anymore. What are people thinking? Well, that’s just it. They’re not.

When I left home at 18 years old, all I had was my bed, a dresser, some clothes and my guitar. Every time I moved after that, I seemed to have more things to pack up. Now I sit in a big house with more things than I’ll ever know what to do with. Not just my stuff, but my family’s old stuff too. I need to feng shui and declutter pretty badly.

In a few years, we will have to downsize and I’m not going to be able to bring everything with me. Neither of my kids wants any of it and I don’t blame them. They want to buy their own stuff. And things like old silverware and china don’t appeal to younger generations. They prefer new things from Ikea.

I have a feeling that the first year or two of my retirement is going to be spent just getting rid of stuff. And in the meantime, I’ve got to train myself to stop buying more stuff.

Except for that new bedroom set. I DO need that.

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The A-Zed Blues

I had just about a week or so to enjoy the fact that I had received my second vaccination and it was all done. I was officially a double doser. Then the NACI completely spoiled my fun. And, as you well know, there has not been much fun of any kind for a very long time.

In a statement on June 17th, the NCAI, or National Advisory Committee on Immunization said “…an mRNA vaccine is now preferred as the second dose for individuals who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine.”

Now preferred? Now you’re freaking me out.

Both of the doses I had were the AstraZeneca. It’s just mean to encourage us with “you should take the first vaccine you are offered” and then say “Oh, wait, not THAT one.” It’s not like a piece of clothing you bought that you can exchange when you change your mind. “Oh, I prefer THAT jacket.”

No. Now it’s too late.

Not long after that shocker, Bruce Springsteen literally left me dancing in the dark when he decided that those of us who were vaccinated with AstraZeneca wouldn’t be allowed to attend his concerts. He has since changed his mind. But now I’m really wondering what we AstraZeneca double dosers are going to have to face in the coming months. Or as I like to refer to us, the AZeders.

Will we be shunned in other venues? Will they have specialized AZed dog sniffers at the malls causing a commotion when they corner us? Security guards yelling “Put that down, ma’am. Back out of the store slowly and go home.”?

Will border guards be checking our vaccine passports to assure themselves that we’ve taken the “preferred” vaccines? “Eh, zed? Go back to Canada!” How humiliating.

I understand that these are extraordinary times. None of us alive today has been through anything like this before, so we are just feeling our way, especially with the vaccines. And those in authority have the double duty of not only getting the right information out there, but battling all of the MIS-information.

But I also think there is such a thing as too much information. Because a lot of us are not smart enough to know what to do with it anyway. And we’re already over-anxious as it is, so it’s not a great idea to make us even more so.

I have never before thought to ask where my flu vaccine comes from, I just trusted whatever was put in my arm. It would be nice to feel the same way about the COVID vaccine, but it’s already too late for us AZeders. We took what we could get, with only the intention of protecting ourselves and each other.

Our aim was true. So please don’t Astra-cize us.