Tag Archives: Family

The randomness of existence

Illness in our little clan has reared its head once more, with eldest having a close brush with Malaria two weeks shy of her Australian residential / work permit medical. Brother in law looks to be on the mend, although post-op he’s looking a bit tattered and torn. This has also been a frustrating time because Mrs S and I have debated flying off to Africa on a rescue mission, but then deciding we’d be as much good as a chocolate teapot, because the medics at the hospital in question gave Eldest the most up to date treatment for the Malaria parasite, which has now been purged from her system. Like brother in law, she’s looking a bit worse for wear when we talk to her on Skype, but give her another forty eight hours and she’s going to be fine. Brother in law will take a bit longer because his condition was a direct hit on his lymphatic system. However, he is too robust and will recover quickly because if I know him, it would take a small thermonuclear device to put him down. This is good, because his Australian immigration medical is scheduled for November I think, and he and my other sister in law have worked too hard to fall at the final hurdle.

What else? I managed to piss off junior sister in law this weekend because I gave brother in law a small bag of birthday goodies we’d picked up in our trans american travels. She’d have been just as pissed off at me if I hadn’t, but I’ve learned that as far as she’s concerned, I’m always in a lose-lose scenario. Apparently I’m to blame for everything from her older sister, Mrs S, not calling her precisely on time because junior sister in law has such a busy schedule and never answers the phone herself anyway. Or some other minor inconvenience because I had the temerity to marry into ‘her’ family. Not middle class enough I think. Or as one of my cousins remarked, having met her briefly when Mrs S and I got married. “Lady Muck.”

At home I’m trying to steer clear on the subject of the US Presidential elections because although I’m not necessarily pro-Trump, I just feel he’s a much better bet than Clinton. While Mrs S disagrees, having swallowed the narrative being fed to the public via the lamestream. Why do I feel this way? Because I’m betting that Clinton will be no better than Obama, whose presidency now looks like it will only leave scorched earth behind it. Clinton, from what I can see is in hock to special interests and overseas influences as well as the big dark question mark over FBI investigations (It’s not just the emails, folks) and what seems to be a serious health problem that will directly impact on her ability to adequately fulfil the role of US President. Anyone remember the premise of Ivan Reitman’s amusing political fantasy movie ‘Dave‘? Where a cynical and corrupt US President (Republican of course) is replaced with an underachieving lookalike after suffering a massive stroke, who ironically turns out to be a better president than the real deal.

Yet could life end up mimicking art? Because I still think Clinton will win the Presidency because she’s bought and sold. Every dirty trick in the electoral book will be brought to bear upon her behalf, and like the scheming fictional Queen Cersei the throne of the west will be hers.

Although I hope she won’t win the election because instead of representing the US population, she only represents her own interests and those of big business and foreign donors. It seems that this is not an opinion that is uncommon. As I’ve said before, we toured through twenty three States on our big US road trip in May and June, and saw plenty of support for all the other hopefuls, but not one lawn sign, bumper sticker, banner or advertisement supporting Clinton. Most of the overt support we saw was for Bernie Sanders, with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz banners coming in second. There was even a John Kasich billboard up in Utah, but nary a one for Clinton. Which tells me one thing; popular support won’t win this election. Big money will. Just like for Bush and Obama.

Anyway. More important things have been done, like getting my recipe for dry garlic salt and peppered pork ribs right. It’s so easy it’s ridiculous. A pound of frozen pork back ribs. Rub with a lick of Olive Oil. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder to taste. Give it a quick rub, sprinkle with black pepper, set the oven at about 325-350 Fahrenheit (Gas Mark 3 or 180 Celsius). Stick the rack of ribs in a roasting pan, put in oven and leave for ninety five minutes. Switch oven off after time is up. Remove ribs and leave out to cool. Or if you’re feeling brave, eat while they’re piping hot. “Do not change this recipe. It’s evil.” Says Mrs S.

Well, far be it from me…. Good or bad it’s all part of the randomness of existence.

Grumpiness

At present I have much to be annoyed about, and I’m letting my inner grump have free reign. Why? From people in the UK trying to screw me over for tens of thousands (Good luck with that one – I know what they’re up to and so do my lawyers) and ill relatives, to the happy clappy attitude of some of the locals, who, it turns out, are far more likely to die younger than I. Which is a relief. A man can only take so much ‘nice’ before he considers committing an uncharacteristic act of malice and mayhem. Which tends to upset local law enforcement, and that would never do.

However, there is hope, because a new study has found that being a curmudgeon makes you likely to live longer, be more creative, effective, and generally be more prepared against life’s little vicissitudes. Of which there are a plethora.

The reason for my grumpiness? Hunting for a new apartment. Bills. ‘Hate crime’ laws going back on the books, people you’ve never met acting like you’re their best friend, usual shit. Now Mrs S has just announced she’s had a belly full of ‘nice’ because she’s just asked me what country I’d like to move to because she’s pissed off with the stinking tide of Political Correctness over here in BC. And going back to the UK isn’t going to happen because we like our personal space too much. After a few moments reflection I said “New Zealand. South Island.” For six months, certainly. Okay, I’ll give it a try. This is one of those ‘can hack’ situations where I have to do the hacking. Hey, I got us through the hoops of immigrating to Canada. Five or six months in NZ during 2017-8 by comparison should be a snip.

Just got to work out how to store the car, as the Bike will definitely be coming with us.

Stuff I think about…

“What’s going on in that head of yours, Bill?” Asked my lady wife while we were out shopping this morning. Well, she was shopping, I was just waiting.
“What happens when a warp field collapses.” I replied honestly. Truly. I was bored and wanted to give the old brain cells a quick wander around the block, just for fun. “Just random stuff like that.” Actually I was thinking along the lines of conservation of energy, the possibility of dropping a starship headlong into a relatively particle dense environment like an asteroid belt, comets tail or Lagrange point. Never mind the possibility of quantum foam erosion. In essence, what might happen when a travelling mass transitions from one state within a protected bubble of space time into an uncontrolled near vacuum with no field capable of deflecting incoming masses.
Her reply? “I don’t think I’ll ask you in future.”

A cure for boredomIt’s just my way of switching off. When stress is overwhelming, some people go for a run, bury themselves in their work while others read a book, burst into tears, drink a lot or gorge themselves silly. Sometimes all of the aforementioned. Which don’t work for me. Work is slack, I can’t focus on writing or reading a book and going out for exercise just makes me worry even more about things I can’t control. Telling other people is also off the table, because watching their eyes glaze over always makes me feel worse. That and there are things which should not be shared because in my experience they give others ammunition against and leverage over you. So, I put my mind on a leash and go for a stroll down the path less travelled. Some do pixie dust and unicorns. I like the chilly honesty of deep space.

The reason behind this is having to deal with familial events that I cannot help with but am desperately concerned about, like financial issues of a close relative in the UK which directly affect me, and a near fatal illness of a relative in the fabled land of Oz. I could leap on a plane and arrive all full of vim and vigour, but would my presence achieve anything? No. The UK matters are being handled by my lawyers, who know what they are doing, and the business in Oz by some surgeons with pretty impressive CV’s. Who also know what they are doing. All I can do is worry and get in their way, and that doesn’t do me or anyone else any good, so I have to lead my thoughts down a more picturesque route to take my mind off the bad stuff.

Which is why I think about weird shit that no-one else wants to bother with. Just for fun.

Going fishing

Trout fishing the lakes with brother in law up island tomorrow, as it’s a long weekend and Monday is a public holiday over here. Today I’ll make time to pop over to Canadian Tire to stock up on Steelhead trout and Smallmouth bass lures, as most of my gear is for salt water. Brother in law is a fly fisherman. I prefer spinners. What with the recent warm weather, I think the fish will be hugging the bottom and be too sluggish to rise for a fly, so my lures have to go deep.

Mrs S and her sister are going to have a picnic nearby, so they can natter and criticise our casting technique. So, picnic basket is being readied, finger food prepared. Although to be honest perhaps it’s best to let sis-in-law buy her own picnic stuff. She can be a bit picky, and has to watch what she eats because of the Statins and low salt regime she’s on.

The only threat to our plans are the forecast thunderstorms for Monday. Oh well, if the fishing is a washout we know a number of places for a decent lunch. Which with sister in law is too often a tense affair in case we say something she doesn’t like. Which can be anything from our holiday plans to what we choose for lunch. Heavy sigh. She can be very hard work.

At least when you go fishing, no one fusses about what your opinions are on a given topic, nor do the fish care what creed or colour you are or what you’re doing next year. It’s a simple hunter gatherer interaction and refreshingly free of human-induced complications and opinions. Which is probably why fishing is so enjoyable. Mr Rea and I agree on this, so it must be one of those universal truth thingies.

TTFN

So…

Another day, another picnic. Today I have prepared Tacos and Southern Fried (In my case baked) chicken. Previous taste tests have been positive, so I’m sticking with the tried and trusted today.

Anyway; what’s new out in the wider world?

I see 50,000-odd (Some odder than others) people have been marching against Democracy in London. By comparison; London February 15th 2003, around 750,000 protested against the Iraq war. Didn’t make a spit of difference. 50,000 by comparison, some of whom (If you read the text) are not UK citizens and therefore not eligible to vote in a UK referendum, making the protest a mere drop in the ocean. Not that the anti-Iraq war protests really achieved anything. Blair still committed the UK’s armed forces. 50,000? As the French would say; “Call that a march? It’s not even a Janvier – pff”

Similarly; Mrs S’s Open University course on the EU is proving lively, with a great many sceptical voices in the forums. It’s an online course with people from as far away as Brazil and New Zealand taking part. She tells me that only one pro-EU voice spoke out to indulge in a single trollish ad hominem attack against everyone else, which was promptly ignored. I think the person who made the bitter remark subsequently left the course in a huff as they haven’t been heard from since. Or possibly even huff a minute. (Ouch. Sorry, I’ll get me coat)

Over here the Postal workers are going on strike next week. I will be using UPS myself for important documentation. They get my packages and letters where needed on time every time. Not in three bloody weeks (For Air mail no less!) I have some important legal documents to go to the UK next week and am not entrusting sensitive documents to Canada Post. I can’t afford to muck around either as Mrs S and I are off to a conference on Wednesday and have to get stuff notarised and sent before then. Costs me a hundred and fifty bucks a time for notarising and sending, but as the deal is time sensitive it’s worth the expense.

It’s also National Fishing Week. Which I’m going to miss this year (Again!). Never mind, when I’m back home on the 12th I intend to cast my cares on the waters regardless of whether there’s a festival or not.

Another day…

…Another few dollars, although not quite as many as I’d hoped. Still, not a bad result for all that. Money is complicated. People must be reimbursed for their services, taxes must be paid, and so the money goes round. The timing could have been better, but I’m not totally unhappy. Next time it will only be me with my finger on the financial trigger, so I’ll only have myself to blame if it all goes arse about face. However, I’ve looked at the options of my chosen course of action, and I’m fairly confident of a stable long term outcome. Short of a cataclysmic meteorite impact or the Earth suddenly opening up and swallowing the piece of rock my money will be accumulating in, or the world having a total civil and cultural meltdown of course. Which is the investment version of touching wood or other action meant to placate the gods of finance.

2017 Europe tripAnyway; with all the whining and bitching about Brexit, this weekend I thought I’d post something a little more uplifting and pro-Europe (Although not pro-EU). Or annoying, depending on how sore a loser you are. The road map for the Bill Sticker European tour of 2017. Ta-daa! (Click to enlarge)

Now as no plan survives contact with the enemy, the above map should only be viewed as a general guideline. All locations are open to change. No definitive bookings have been made, and only a deposit has been put on the machine we are to purchase. Proposed starting date is from the UK in the first week of May 2017, thence heading south and west into France, towards the Rhone Valley and may take us further East and North than illustrated on the return leg, depending upon weather. I’ve done my stint riding in all sorts of shit and slush over the last three decades and have decided it’s not much fun. Especially when even the most impermeable waterproof trousers (Why is it always the trousers?) start to fail and unwanted moisture begins to make its presence felt in all those embarrassing little places.

The only way our proposed tour can go tits up is if all the wronged Brussels bureaucrats have a major snit at anyone speaking English and decides visas and passports from predominantly English speaking countries are invalid. In which case I’ll have just flushed a great deal of money down the great white telephone to no good purpose. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. Article 50 negotiations and changes will take a lot longer than two years because the lawyers will want all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Then said negotiations can’t even start until there’s a new Prime Monster in Number Ten Downing Street. Even if Brussels decides a total ban on all things and people British is a jolly super wheeze, we’ll have until at least September 2019 to shoehorn our trip in. Besides, we’re Canadian with certificates to prove it. With an EU fiendish PM no less. So will bluff our way through somehow.

I’m not going to find myself in the position my dear departed old mother found herself in around 11th June 1940. She was touring with a band in Italy at the outbreak of World War II and found herself with a whole train load of British, French and other refugees at the French / Italian border, having been kicked out by Benito Mussolini’s Fascist government. “Suitcases all over the place.” As she often gleefully recounted her temporary predicament. How she got out of Vichy France she never said, but I think she escaped as one of the civilians taken out by Operation Ariel, which is the unsung cousin of the famous Dunkirk evacuation.

Not that anything like that is going to happen to we 21st century travellers. We might get a little unhappiness from border guards, but frankly I think their attitude will be; “We’ve had your money – now piss off.” Which is fine by me.

A new hope…

Well the rebel alliance has struck a genuine blow against the evil empire. Forgive the Star Wars reference but I feel it’s relevant.

My Youngest just messaged us to say “Can I come and live in Canada now the UK is going down in flames?”
To which we said “Sure. For a fee.” We’re practical folk.

Not that the UK will go down in flames. The European Union will. It is a solution that creates too many problems in a desire to shoehorn too many diverse nations under one set of laws, without understanding that those laws have to be simple enough for everyone to understand and abide by. Nor does it understand that real prosperity comes from ordinary people doing ordinary things every day of their lives rather than unelected bureaucrats making seemingly random rules and regulations.

Bags I be Obi-Wan Kenobi, or as Mrs S has just observed “I always think of you more as Chewbacca.” Heavy sigh.

Meanwhile, away from the politics…

A pick a nic basketPolitics, like all creepy crawlies, gets everywhere doesn’t it? However, today I will be making a strenuous effort to avoid the wretched topic by staying away from the Interweb and going out for a picnic. We’ve been doing quite a bit of that recently. Going out to the park, choosing a shady spot away from all the noise, and just sitting to relax and partake of a little light lunch and delve into something literary. We’ve even got a proper picnic basket, just like the one in the picture. We have a small cool box for the food, a chill sleeve for the wine. Well, non alcoholic Cider really, as I don’t drink and drive, ever. Not even one glass of wine with a meal, but that’s just me. All of which fits in the pictured basket. Stylish, huh? Well I think so. No sitting on insect infested blankets for us, as we’ve also purchased two sturdy and very comfortable lightweight folding chairs which now live in the back of our pert little SUV.

Anyway, today’s little repast is spinach, salami and cheese stuffed chicken breasts, a small side salad with my patented hard boiled eggs (Large egg, boil for 8 minutes and 45 seconds only, then immediately dump into iced water for half an hour before serving – golden yolks with a still oozing centre) and a couple of nice crusty buns. I would have included a couple of small slices of cheesecake, but felt that would be gilding the lily. Did also toy with the idea of Salmon (It’s cheaper than chips locally at the moment), but decided against it. The idea of taking a small barbecue along has been mooted, but frankly they’re just too much fuss. Especially for just two of us.

Such is currently setting the tenor for our Late Spring / Early Summer Sunday afternoons. Mrs S and I chew the fat, set the world to rights, read, or just watch the antics of everyone else letting their kids burn off steam away from their Xboxes. Which is as pleasant a way of spending an afternoon as I can think of, short of fishing. Which is the next step. Leaving Mrs S to watch while I do some casting practice so she can have a giggle when I screw up. I can think of worse ways to spend my downtime.

The idea for today is to avoid politics. No American election news or reading about the forthcoming EU Referendum. Even though Mrs S insisted upon reading an article from the Spectator to me this morning about Donald Trump. Yes, he’s pissed off all the political insiders, which is no bad thing. They’ve had it all their own way for too long, made too many messes, and need a kick up their collective arses. Frankly I don’t care about whether some journalist thinks he’s ‘presidential material’ or not. I’ll reserve judgement until if and when he actually gets elected. The scary lady hasn’t finished singing yet. Or is there an Aria yet to be composed when the FBI finish messing around and decide to play hardball?

That is speculation for another day. For today we are going on a picnic.

My perverted tastes

Many years ago, when you could still do these things, I had a motorcycle licence plate bearing the subtitle ‘Leather pervert’ under the license number. It was a bit of fun, nothing to get wound up about because I used to wear a lot of leather. With body armour, because I’d learned that being hit by one of those clumsy people in their four wheeled tin boxes tended to hurt. As did falling off your motorcycle because your brakes jammed, or hitting a nasty patch of spilled diesel or ice on a sharp corner. These were my salad days, when I was green in judgement. At least according to someone else called William. I had a lot of fun back then, bending rules and generally just being a lad. Not that wild, but not that tame, either.

Anyway, I’ve always had a hankering for the different and occasionally exotic and my circle of close friends has often been a little eclectic to put it mildly. Much to my father’s irritation. He wanted me to join the golf club and settle down to a ‘job for life’, which never really existed anyway. Sorry Boss.

My issue with my Dad was always him telling me “Do this!” or “Do that!” but never exactly helping me find out how. Which was probably why I was such a disappointment to him. I was forced to make up my own rules as I went along. Without any guidance. So I experimented. In the process I ended up making some less than ideal life decisions but; I have learned a few things that I would not have otherwise have known. Like Frozen Vanilla Yoghurt and a teaspoonful of top notch Seville Marmalade make a dynamite dessert. By ‘Top notch’ marmalade I mean not the usual store bought stuff that’s mostly jelly. I mean the opaque, peel rich variety, solidly fruity and sinfully bitter. It’s like BDSM on the palate. The innocent creaminess of Frozen Vanilla Yoghurt contrasted with the wicked lash of Seville Oranges giving just a hint of barbed wire undergarment. This is a dessert that almost demands you raid the exotic corsetry section of your local sex shop to wear while eating it. Although if you’re not feeling formal you can go with the informal look of jeans and T-shirt with your zip partially undone at minimum. Notwithstanding; it’s what this perverted confection does on your tongue that’s important.

It’s so good it must be illegal.

A little weekend drama

A sunny Victorian Friday afternoon around four. Unscheduled call from sister in law up island. Our elderly widowed friend up there has suffered some kind of sudden illness and called an ambulance. Mrs S gets on Skype and contacts the sheltered living facility elderly widow is domiciled at. No answer. They’ve gone home because Friday is ‘poets’ day (Piss Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday). Has the Ambulance been called or not? Has it arrived? Has friend been admitted yet? After half an hour of phoning hospital we have our answer. In-laws will go in first to check because they’re closest. We’ll get ready. Just in case.

While waiting for answers I pack. Five minutes and we’re all set. Suited and booted. I’ve even thrown in a couple of books because I know from long experience that hospitals are all ‘hurry up and wait’. In-laws agree to put us up for the night, saving us a hotel bill, and after a flurry of exchanges on cell and Skype, we decide that since we have power of attorney over friends ‘living will’ we have to be there. Just in case. We were heading oop norf tomorrow for a visit and delivery of birthday presents anyway, but this event has shifted our timetable forward by twenty four hours.

So, out into the crawling nonsense of Victoria’s Friday afternoon traffic we go. Taking half an hour to travel the first four miles. Once out onto the highway it gets better and the hammer goes down, in a genteel sort of way. Moving briskly but safely. Out of the way boys and girls, Uncle Bill has a job to do.

Around seventy miles later. Me driving and Mrs S on the phone, we pull up and head into the hospital emergency department. Finding to our eternal relief that elderly widowed friend is mostly just dehydrated after a nasty bout of gastroenteritis, and will be ‘filled up’ and sent home between twenty four and forty eight hours later, providing all the other tests hospitals and doctors like to do draw a blank. We regale friend with tales of our recent US road trip to keep her entertained before a porter comes to wheel her down to X-ray. By the time we leave the hospital it’s eight, so Mrs S and I brave the sluggish evening service at a White Spot restaurant because neither of us have eaten since breakfast.

Over to in-laws for a tea and jaw session before bedtime. Hospital in the morning so we crash and roll out of our pit for a swift mug of tea before getting on the road again. Agree to meet in-laws later.

We arrive at the hospital and pile into the short stay facility to find elderly widow friend has had her check up from the neck up and down again. According to ER physician “There’s nothing we didn’t expect to find in a ninety six year old body.” So we found her rehydrated and good to go home, which was a pleasant surprise. By eleven am Saturday we’re all done and elderly widow friend is home and resting. We make sure Reception knows about her current state and ask them to make sure an appropriate fuss is made, which they are happy to do.

Thence it’s coffee, chat and cookies in a trendy but basic café with in-laws before heading back to the barn. Job done. By twelve noon all is well. After a stop for a leisurely lunch we’re home by three thirty. Our little weekend drama is over and we have now stopped to catch our breath. Wasn’t that fun? No. But we’d have only been bored otherwise.