All right. Let's get through 2 years in one blog post!
At the beginning of 2004, I still didn't have my car back. I wouldn't have it back until my birthday in February. It meant taking the bus to Patricia's every day, from which we would drive to work in her car.
February came. The Thursday before my birthday we got hit with the "weather bomb" that people have nicknamed "White Juan". There are people who hate that name. I have never understood why. Everyone who lives in Nova Scotia knows about Hurricane Juan. This massive snowstorm less than 6 months later was at least as devastating to the city, in its own way, as Juan was. "White Juan" is descriptive, and evokes so much. People won't forget that, either.
The next day, Friday, we were off work. We didn't go back until Monday as I recall. My front door had so much snow jammed up against it that it was impossible for me to open it. My side door did open, and I was able to push it open just enough to exit the house. Snow was piled up on those steps such that I had to slide down them.
Venturing out further I saw huge piles of snow on the street. I could climb on top of one pile of snow, which was a good 15 feet high. I took some pictures from atop that pile of snow and still have them somewhere. I will try to include a picture or two with this post.
My neighbor Don was eventually able to dig his own way out and kindly cleared out his driveway and mine. Since there was no car in my driveway, it made things easier for him. It still remained for me to shovel my steps, which I did over the course of many hours.
Buses were called off the road for a few days. They still weren't running all routes on Monday when we had to return to work. A neighbor drove Patricia and me to work that first day or two. I still marvel at how the roads were so narrow and how high the snow piles were.
Radio was an important communication medium during Hurricane Juan, and just as important during White Juan. Rick Howe's Hotline provided as much information to folks as possible. Other radio stations relaxed their formats enough to provide information to folks as well.
Patricia still had her place. She couldn't get her side door open at all. Her cat, Cindy, jumped out the open screen window and frolicked in the snow. At one point, she looked up at Patricia with a little snowbeard. Wish I'd been there to see it.
Patricia couldn't get out of her place. She actually put a "help" sign up in the window in the hope of getting dug out. None was forthcoming. As I recall, she had to crawl out of a window and dig for a long time in order to have a path from the door to her vehicle, which remained buried in snow for days and days.
What are your thoughts about White Juan?
Patricia's mother died in late July, the 29th if I recall. It was a sudden death. I still remember where I was. I was at work. It was just past 10am. I recall thinking that I was getting pretty hungry and was looking forward to getting a snack when my phone rang. It was a co-worker of Patricia's telling me that her mom had died. I told my boss that I had to leave and explained the situation. Our vacation was about to start anyway, so it began a day or so early.
I picked up Patricia at her work. As you can imagine, she was devastated. We got back to her place for her to pack her things. I went back to mine to do the same thing. I returned to her place and we drove to her parents' place to prepare for the funeral.
The next several days were about preparing for the funeral. Afterward, there were financial matters to be dealt with. For much of that, Patricia and her father worked together, leaving Cindy and me behind to keep the house occupied.
Patricia returned to work in September.
My car, repaired in the Winter, just wasn't working well at all. It had no power and had to be warmed up for a good 10 minutes before it could be driven any distance. My dad let me use his van for a time. My car remained at my parents' place.
Also in September, my house needed to be re-shingled, so Dad arranged to hire a roofer who was a friend of his to do this work. Normally, he and his crew would only do work for companies, but there was a strike at the phone company back then and no work could be performed on Bell property until it was over.
I booked off work for a day or so to "supervise" the work. My parents were up. I decided to cook a roast beef lunch for the crew, which was greatly enjoyed. It didn't earn me a discount, though. It still cost me a lot of money, but was well worth it.
I had one of the guys take some pictures from on top of the roof just for gits and shiggles. I still have those pictures, too. A unique perspective, as I have never been up on top of my house.
2004 finished with me having Christmas with my folks. Patricia opted to have Christmas with her father and her aunt. That was a rough year for her, and I should have been there with her.
I got Patricia a new tv for Christmas, and one for my parents, as well. Both tv's are still alive and well. Her old tv ended up at the cottage where it eventually ended up being sent to one of those Ace recycling places.
Anyway, 2004 was an eventful year for me and for Patricia. It was marked by loss, extreme weather, and an expensive re-roofing job. Surely 2005 would be better!
Welcome to 2005, folks!
Let's see here. What happened?
I finally broke down and got a newer car in 2005. It was a 2002 Malibu. It would end up giving me lots of problems. A design flaw resulted in the signal lights not working whenever it rained. Portions of the instrument cluster stopped working so that I couldn't tell how much gas I had. I would have those things replaced and keep the car for another 3 years.
That summer we would have gone to the cottage. My hair was pretty long back then, and I had a strange beard and moustache that made me look a bit like David Suzuki. Don't believe me? Here's proof:
That's me puckering up with the blue shirt on. David Suzuki is in the picture with the red background. Granted it's an older picture of Dr. Suzuki, but I am sure you will agree that there is a resemblance!
I cut my vacation a bit short to return to the city as I had promised to volunteer for the Busker's Festival. My dad had never been to see the Buskers. My mother, several years earlier, was strong enough to walk around the city with Gayle and Patricia and me to see Buskers and get lunch somewhere. It would tire Mom out, but she could do it. I remember her enjoying the Buskers very much. Good memories.
But, Dad had never been. They were both at the point in their lives where they would have a hard time getting around. I took a chance, a big chance, that we might be able to find a parking space close enough in the downtown where we might be able to walk to a place where the Buskers would be performing.
We got lucky! On Bedford Row, barely a block away from one of the Buskers stages, there was a parking space, probably vacated moments before, or someone else would have grabbed it. Once parked, we gingerly made our way down to the stage. We got lucky again. There was nobody performing at that moment, so people were milling about, and we could grab a place to sit at the bleachers set up for the festival.
Here's a picture of my folks that magical evening.
As you can see, Dad had a cane back then. It was his older cane, one I think that had belonged to my brother, who had lost his leg and needed a prosthetic and a cane, not long before his death in 1970. The cane had never been thrown out, but both of my parents got newer canes not long after this photo was taken.
I don't remember what Buskers we saw that night. I do know that my parents enjoyed themselves immensely and often spoke of what they saw that night. It's one of my favourite memories of my folks.
In the mid 00's, I started selling stuff on ebay. I had a surprising amount of stuff that was deemed collectable. Quite a bit of it had to do with KISS, whose fans are ravenous in their passion for the band. I had some magazines of theirs, as well as the original KISS comic from 1977. I sold that stuff and did quite well.
People used to ask me what the best things to sell on ebay were. I figured it was the kind of stuff that would be aimed at the fans of a person or a thing who didn't know that the item in question existed.
An example? Sure. You are looking at a mass market paperback copy of Robert's Rules of Order. It is used by service clubs around the world to make meetings run efficiently. These rules are used in parliaments everywhere. Millions of people use these rules and would have a book like this.
However, look at one thing for me. See where it says that the illustrations are by Will Eisner? That was the key!
Who's Will Eisner? He's a seminal writer and artist from the Golden Age of comics. His best-known creation was The Spirit, the subject of a terrible movie a few years ago directed by Frank Miller, who should be ashamed of himself.
There is a Will Eisner mailing list. When he was still alive, Eisner would contribute to it and answer fans' questions. When I bought the above book for 2 dollars at the local Value Village, I asked him about the book. He replied that he wanted to use sequential art to illustrate the mundane, dry aspects of parliamentary procedure, that it was a challenge to him that he wanted to confront.
In July of 2005, I offered the above book on ebay. Eisner fans from around the world put in bids on this book. These folks had no idea that this book existed, and why would they? Not many comics fans go around studying parliamentary procedure. Even if they did, they would have no reason to think that Eisner had ever spent any time in this side project.
The book sold on ebay for about $175, maybe a bit more. Remember, I paid 2 bucks for it. I was very pleased.
I had other successes on ebay, and many failures: Books that had cost me quite a bit, but which I sold at a loss, barely covering the shipping and handling costs. By '07, I was done with selling on ebay, and stopped buying stuff on ebay not long after. The shipping costs are just too crazy to Canada.
Christmas came. I bought Dad the complete Mr. Bean on dvd, as well as a multi pack of WD-40. After his death, I was cleaning out one of his trucks, in preparation of its sale, and found a partial container of WD-40. To Dad, that stuff was practically a food group. I'm glad I got this picture of him:
Oh, the watch he's wearing in the picture? It's the one I'm wearing now. After his death, my mother and my two sisters all told me they wanted me to have the watch. I proudly wear it to this day.
I returned to the city on December 26th. I remember turning in early that night, being tired from a busy Christmas.
The next morning, I picked up Patricia and we drove into work. I turned on News 95.7, which had signed on a mere 2.5 months earlier, and learned that there had been a body found in the trunk of a car, parked in parking lot of a school. In fact, it was the school behind my house! This turned out to be the Paula Gallant murder mystery, which would not be solved until her husband was finally convicted of the murder in 2011. This murder certainly rocked our community.
If you google "Bevboy", you will find a very early blog post which discusses the murder. I will go out on a limb here for the people who find this blog post here and state that I had no idea who murdered Ms. Gallant. Most people didn't, but "knew" it was "obviously" her husband. I don't know how they knew that, because I sure didn't. Neither did they. The police were suspicious for a long time, but could only arrest him and earn a conviction, after they pulled the Mr. Big scam on him and tricked him into a confession. If he had not confessed, he might have got away with her murder. That's the nature of our judicial system, whether you like it or not.
People are such busy bodies and "know" things that they in fact do not. I would one day run afoul of gossiping harpies in my own neighbourhood, but not until 2011. Remind me to tell you about that next week. It isn't pretty.
2005 was a pretty decent year for me, all things told. Work still wasn't much fun, but other things were. I had a good vacation, spent some quality time with my parents, made a few bucks on ebay, and got to pucker up for the camera. It all nicely presages 2006, and I will tell you about that tomorrow.
See you then.