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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!

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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.

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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.

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A Little Good News

I was stopped at a red light near a busy intersection recently when I noticed a man run out into the crosswalk just as the light was about to change. I was three cars back so I couldn’t quite see what he was doing, but when he came back into sight, I realized he was helping another older man across the street. The two didn’t appear to know each other.

The older man’s legs seemed to be collapsing out from under him so the younger fellow was practically carrying him along the crosswalk. It took awhile, but they finally made it to the other side. All of the cars waited until they were safely across.

It was so lucky the younger man was there to help. What occurred to me later was that social distancing and wearing masks suddenly went out the window in that moment, because it was more important to jump in there and give the older man a hand. The selflessness and compassion made my heart swell.

It reminded me of all of the health care and front line workers who do the equivalent of that a hundred times a day, every day. Jump in there and help someone out. We are so lucky to have them.

And a pox on those who dare to protest them! Yes, I know what a pox is…

There’s a song that Anne Murray released about 40 years ago called “A Little Good News”. The gist of it was that it would be great to have just one day where nothing bad happened. Anywhere.

Mostly, it was about being tired of the bad news. We’re all feeling that.

But the odd thing about human beings is that we’re drawn to bad news. Sometimes we even seek it out. The psychology of it is that our brains are wired to help us survive by being more attuned to the bad things happening around us. It’s called “negativity bias”.

It’s just that there’s been so much negativity lately, that it has become overkill. Literally.

Quite often these days when my students first come in to have their guitar lesson (socially distanced, of course), we sit there for five minutes and just vent with each other. But when the music begins, all else is forgotten.

There IS good news out there. I recently posted a link to a New York Times article on my Facebook page about how scientists say that the coronavirus will eventually just resemble an annoying cold. I mean, it’ll take time, but won’t that be great?

Something to look forward to. Never thought I’d say that about a cold.

The thing is, that post didn’t get one response. Maybe it was because people know the New York Times is behind a paywall, or they tried and couldn’t read it. But maybe, just maybe, their brains were experiencing negativity bias, or they were tired of reading, period.

We always hear the phrase “work/life balance”. I’ve decided to apply that my own way. Instead of ignoring the news completely, I’ve been working on trying to make sure I find a good news/bad news balance. I know it exists.

Because you know…

We sure could use a little good news today. ~ Tommy Rocco, Charlie Black and Rory Bourke

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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.