Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Post 3931 - Yes. I am still alive.

Hello again, my friends.

It has been so long since I have written a blog post, that Blogger itself has changed its interface to one I do not recognize. 

In the last few months, much has happened to me, and for me, and with me. I sold the house in the Valley at the end of April. I miss the place a lot, but the new buyers are doing right by the place, spending a tidy sum sprucing it up. I would never have been in a position to spend that kind of money on the place, not when I still have a mortgage here at Casa Bevboy. 

I have spent a bit of the proceeds of the sale on this house. We got a new deck in the last few weeks. It is 10x10, so not large, but much bigger than the glorified landing we had before. And there is a privacy panel there now. We get along fine with our neighbours, but there is nothing wrong with having that panel. The deck and the panel were money well spent. 

In about a month we are getting new doors and window as well. That is another significant cash outlay, but once again, it will be money well spent. The existing doors and windows are almost certainly original to the house, which was built around 1987. 

Ten months after we retired, we are in a pretty good place. We do not regret retirement, but we fully admit that if we had known that the world would have gone to hell shortly after we left; if we had had some kind of intuition that there would be a pandemic, then one or both of us would have remained working. As it is, we are collecting our pensions every month, which comfortably pay our bills. 

And, you know how you pay your bills according to your bi-weekly paycheques? (In my case, I always paid one day after payday). I still pay those bills bi-weekly, even though I just get the one "pay cheque" now. For those of you who are reading this who are eligible to retire, and are worried sick about whether you will have enough to live on, then unless you still have kids in school whose tuitions you still have to pay, then you likely have nothing to worry about, especially if you have little or no debt otherwise. 

I have been thinking long and hard about this, and I have made the following decision. My cold case series at Frank is on... let's call it a hiatus. And for some reason Jordan Bonaparte at the Nighttime Podcast appears no longer to be interested in recording episodes about Nova Scotia cold cases with me. I am going to dip my toe into the podcasting world, myself. 

I have some technical hurdles to jump through and over, first, which I will describe as I overcome them. But I just dropped a bit of money on a new microphone, a pop filter, and some of those little "socks" you put on the business end of a microphone, so I have begun this journey.

The full nature of the podcast, its shape and content, and its very name, will be rolled out in the coming weeks. It will not just be a recitation of my Frank articles, me just reading them into the mic. I think I can do better than that.

Please bear with me while I sort this stuff out. 

And please forgive me for taking so long to write you guys. I do miss you. I had thought that I would have more time for bloggin' post retirement, but it hasn't worked out that way, has it? Sleeping in until 9 or so every morning cuts into this stuff, and my honey-do list is long and sprawling. 

Let me try to make a pledge here. I promise to write more frequently. I miss you guys, and I hope you haven't forgotten me. I started this blog in 2007 for a reason, and that reason still exists. 

Talk to you... very soon!


Monday, July 27, 2020

Post 3930 - Hello? Is Anybody Out There?

Been a long time. Do you miss me?

Should I bring the blog back?

You know how to contact me. Let me know your thoughts on this important matter.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Post 3929 - Sorry

Hi. I'm sorry I haven't written lately. Been busy. Selling a house during a pandemic is surprisingly time consuming. Who would have thought it?

On the 17th, we rented a U-Haul truck/van at the Bayer's Lake depot, which is huge and sprawling as it occupies the space formerly owned by Rona. I drove it from there to the Valley house, with Patricia following me in the Soul. The men who were supposed to help us were quarantined so they were not able to help us. Due to a misunderstanding I will take responsibility for, the neighbours buying the property did not drop by to help, so Patricia and I, and a hand truck, loaded that van all by ourselves. Some pretty heavy items went into that van over the course of several hours.

Our bodies aching and sore, barely able to stand, we returned to the city around 6. The young men who mow our lawn and plow out our driveway in the Winter were both home. I hired them both to help us unload the contents of the van. They did the bulk of the work. They worked really hard and quickly. Took them an hour to get the stuff off the van and into the house. We were so happy and grateful that we paid them for two hours of work.

The house is full of stuff. It is even more full tonight as on Sunday we went back down to get a few more items, and returned yet again on Monday.

The closing date is the 29th, barely 24 hours from now. On that day, the property which has been in my family since my father built it some 60 years ago, will no longer be in the family. I have come to terms with that decision, and am even comfortable with it. But it took me years to get to that point.

And for those who think I am doing this for the money: shame on you. A pox on you. Frig you. Up your nose with a rubber hose. Kiss my grits. Sit on it. Whatever. My mother moved out of that house seven years ago, at which time I took over the full cost of keeping the house up and running. Imagine the monthly costs of oil, property taxes, power, insurance, a security system, an internet connection (which I disabled some time ago), cable (ditto), and even a satellite system (ditto again). Re-shingling the roof of the garage and the house as required. Hiring someone to plow out the driveway and to mow the lawn and do light landscaping duties. Various and other sundry costs. Now, consider that overall cost over the course of seven years. Do you think I am making a mint off the sale of this house? I assure you, I am not.

The time I have spent in recent months in preparation of this week's closing date has been more than considerable. I have had little downtime in recent months. Just work. House stuff. Sleep. Maybe watching some stuff on the PVR. Stress over the house and work and all the associated mental anguish. I cannot wait until it is all over.

Tomorrow awaits. It beckons like a lover, and I am drawn to its caresses. I think I will turn in.

Lots going on, on Tuesday.

See you soon.


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Post 3928 - A Few Weeks Later

Uh, yes. Here I am.

Sorry I haven't written lately. I have clearly got out of the habit of updating this here blog.

A few things have happened.

The house in the Valley is about to be sold. My parents' house. The one I grew up in. The closing date is April 29th. The last many weeks have been about cleaning out the place and trying to decide what things to keep. We are at the point where there are mostly just larger items to move out. A couple of bookcases. A bit of furniture. A couple of Patricia's kilns. Some odds and sods.

I had forgotten just now much WD-40 type stuff I own. I wanted to make sure that there was an adequate supply of the material, both here at Casa Bevboy, and the Valley house. I had cans of the stuff in strategic parts of the garage such that there would be one within easy reach. Ditto for the basement of the house. I suppose it was overkill. I have brought back 12 cans or so of the stuff, and I wonder what I will do with it all, given that I had several cans of it here already. I was worried about losing those little red straws that comes with the various types of water displacement products I own, so I put most of them in a standard non-business size envelope and keep it with the cans of those products, which I keep in a re-usable grocery bag. I likely have enough cans of that stuff to last me for quite  few years. If there is a run on that stuff at the stores, because it is needed to combat the pandemic, then we are in good shape.

A bit of good news a couple of weeks ago. Remember that we had that flood last year? There was a $2000 deductible on the work, which was completed months ago. I finally managed to track down the new claim adjuster, because the old one left suddenly. She went through the file and because there had been some damage to the property (wrecked couch, and some other stuff), plus the work we did to mitigate the work of the people who tore the basement apart and put it back together again, that we had suffered enough. We will not get a bill for that deductible! That is $2000 I do not have to shell out, that I get to keep for a rainy day, that I get to keep in my savings account. I wrote her and told her that she had made my day. She wrote back and stated she was glad to be able to put a smile on someone's face in this day and age.

Yeah. Smiles are hard to come by these days, aren't they? Nova Scotia's numbers of people with the corona virus are up over 400. The number has doubled in... 10 days? Two people have died, and there will doubtless be more.

My editor at Frank wants us to work from home as much as possible, especially during the "off" weeks. Those are the non-deadline weeks. Even on deadline weeks we work from home a couple of days before assembling in "the bunker" for the last few days. I am happy to oblige. The commute down to the home office is pretty easy.

We are natural homebodies. By and large, staying at home is actually not difficult. If I were not selling the house I would be home that much more.

The government is telling us to "stay the blazes home". Other than work, and getting victuals, we mostly do. Shopping has become a chore, anyway. We have to wait to get inside. They have direction arrows in stores pointing us which way to walk. If you delay for more than a moment, you can get exasperated sighs from people. So we go get what we need and leave as soon as possible. Plus, we go as seldom as possible.

I can't help but think that when this is over, that this may be the new normal. Society has changed so much in the last 30 days that I am not sure it can just snap back to normal when they relax the rules for getting out. People may decide they don't need a closed full of shirts they will just end up donating to a thrift store. May as well wear them until they can no longer be worn. Then, remove the buttons from the shirts, and tear up the shirts for rags. That is what we did when we were growing up.

When this is all over, the world economy will be in such horrid condition that people will have no choice but to economize as much as they can. I think we are heading into a few years of people just having to make do. Which is what a huge percentage of the population has always had to do.

People are encouraging others to keep a diary of this pandemic. I suppose some folks are doing that. But they are doubtless full of comments dealing with being cooped up, and worried sick about how they will support themselves once this is over. I don't mind being cooped up. As for money, I still have a job, and am grateful for that. And, on top of that, I have a pension from my civil service job. If that folds up like a cheap tent, then there would be thousands of people, long since pensioned off, who would be at a huge disadvantage. And all the people in the civil service now, contributing to their pensions for the day when they can run out the door, would all of a sudden wonder why they were contributing to something that would never happen for them. The bottom line is that I am not worried about the state of our pension fund, or of the amount that I am getting paid every month. If something untoward happened to it, the government would have to prop it up somehow. Would not sit well with the electorate, but neither does eliminating pension benefits for everyone.

I have found that worrying needlessly, particularly over things you cannot control, accomplishes nothing. I have fallen prey to this fretting, but once again, it got me nowhere. The government is doing everything it reasonably can to make sure people do not starve and can pay their bills.

Some people seem to be falling through the cracks, though. On Facebook today I read someone's plea for help. She lost most, but not all, of her income due to COVID-19. As such, she will not qualify for the government's CERB program, which only helps you if you have lost 100% of your income due to the pandemic. Other than EI, I am not sure what is out there to help her. I am confident the government will think of people like her and do something for them.

We live in scary, scary times, ladies and gentlemen.

Tomorrow promises to be a busy day for me. I will be unable to write a blog post tomorrow night, but I will try really hard to produce one on Monday.

Let's try to make it a date, ok? I miss you guys.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Post 3297 - Shame on Me!


Where have I been? Et cetera.

Well, I have been working hard. Frank keeps me busy. And in recent weeks I have been dealing with the house in the Valley, which has been sold. "Sold" is a relative term. I have accepted an offer, and the closing date is the end of April. Big move out of the stuff I'm keeping will be shortly before that.

That is assuming that the world doesn't end before that. My goodness, the Covid-19 story grows worse by the day. Paid half attention to it as it swept through China and then Europe.

To give you one brief example of how much things change, and how quickly: my editor and I read the paper a week ago Thursday, where it stated that the buses in Halifax could be called off the roads. We both scoffed at that, thinking that there was no way that this could ever happen. I wrote as much on Facebook.

Well, today, March 23, Metro Transit cut back its service by 30%. And nobody is saying that the service will not be eliminated.

Every day, the number of people who can be together at once became ever smaller. Bars could have 150 people in them, max. Then 100. Then 50. Social distancing was introduced. Bus service became free last...Wednesday, I think it was, not that it mattered because by then we were working from home and therefore did not need the bus.

Now, we can only have groups of five together at once. The province declared a State of Emergency on the 22nd, and now we get conflicting messages as to whether it is safe to go for a walk, or whether we should, as Parker Donham says, "Stay the F*** Home!", even though he himself attended a play upon a recent return home from abroad, rather than self-isolating.

What has been happening here has been breath taking in its speed  and efficiency. I can't get over it. And it is far from over.

The day may yet come, in the next week or so, when we literally cannot leave our homes, not even to get groceries or meds. We have not made a run on toilet paper, but we are well stocked for provisions should the feces hit the fan.

Uh, what else? Not much. Just living. Working. Trying to get through the days, and trying to absorb the dizzying pace at which things are changing in this world. It is not an easy thing to do.

I feel very badly that I haven't written much lately. I hereby resolve to write something more often. I like the idea of writing a log, a blog, a diary, a something, of the extraordinary events that are happening now, and how they affect you. If nothing else, this blog can become that, for a time.

Let's do that, starting tomorrow.


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Post 3296 - Back from the wilderness!

Hello again, my friends. I missed you.

Where have I been?

Mostly, working. Frank keeps me busy, which I'm not complaining about. But it leads to the following: What does the fisherman eat for supper? In my case, how difficult would it be for me to write something here on the blog when I had spent the whole day writing and researching stuff?

As it turns out, quite difficult.

But I am going to persevere here. I am going to write something more often. As often as I can.

A few highs and lows the last few weeks. About 3 weeks ago I ate lunch some place downtown. The next day, I felt awful. Flu-like symptoms, one of which was vomiting. I puked at work and had to reluctantly take a sick day. Patricia drove downtown to pick me up, and I promptly puked in the car. When we got home, I went right to bed and slept the rest of the day away.

I have been going to the archives lately. Not as much as I could, but quite often. It is nice to be able to go there during a work day.

Patricia has taken on part time work at Otis & Clementines. The schedule is ad hoc. It is the used bookstore where there are the cats. Since that story ran a couple of months ago, it has been picked up across the United States and even in Greece. Good for business.

The Valley house? There may be some news on that in the next little while. I am thinking good thoughts on this. Please think them with me.

I am going to draw this post to a close. I have some other things to do, and 5:30 comes mighty early.

See you soon. I hope... tomorrow?


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Post 3295 - Where Have I Been? What Have I Been Up To?

Yeah, pretty much says it all.

32 years ago this month, I got on one of those Van Pools, the overpriced van that transported folks from the Valley to Halifax, and then back home again, and began a short-term work assignment. I had just completed my studies at Acadia University. I could not graduate until May of 1988. I had the Winter term to find a job.

In theory, it was a leg up for me. I could find a gig while my fellow students were still studenting away. By the time I could graduate in May, along with them, I might be working away. That was the theory.

The practice of it was that I was ill-prepared to begin my working... let's go with the word "career". Sounds more professional and pre-thought out.

The job that Acadia lined up for me was at a government department. I barely knew where that building was, so poor was my knowledge of the city of Halifax. I can't even quite remember where the van dropped me off at.

The whole while I was working there I was applying for full time work. I would walk around during my lunch hour and try to figure out where things were, relative to where I was. The buildings all looked so tall, so foreboding, and the apprehension I felt twisted my heart and made me feel sick inside. I had never been so frightened in my life. A hick kid from the Valley moving to the big city. 75 minutes or so from my parents' driveway, but it may as well have been the dark side of the moon.

By my birthday I had signed a contract to work for a company in town. Twenty-three thousand dollars per annum. Not a pile of money, even then, but I could get by on it.

My fears worsened. The knot in my gut got tighter and tighter. And I feared for my future. That fear, that anxiety, that worry, is something I inherited from my father, who was the king of all worry warts.

I did get through it, as you know. It was not easy. But I got through it. And I have always figured that if I could do it, if I could persevere in whatever thing I happened to try, or was allowed to try as in the case of my years in government, then I did not have much patience for those who could not measure up. Call it a prejudice. Call it me being a stinker. It doesn't matter.

Well, I retired from that line of work at the end of December, 2019. I am trying something else now, which is being a writer and reporter for Frank Magazine. After this short a period of time, the apprehension is not what it was for me in 1988, but after trying something so new at this point in my life, then I know that I have a lot to learn. And not to sound too much like Donald Rumsfeld, I know there are things I don't know. The Socratic paradox, that I know that I know nothing, also applies.

All I can do is keep at it. Learn stuff incrementally. I know more now than I did this time last week. I can only expect that by this time next week, I will have learned more. In six months time, I hope to look back on January of 2020 with some degree of embarrassment over all the stuff I did not know about my new job.

As for my old job: I get my final government pay cheque this Thursday. It will contain the pay for the last days of December (seven, I think) plus the pay out for the last of my vacation. And last week Patricia and I both got a letter from the Nova Scotia Pensions Agency, spelling out how much we can expect to receive for our pension payments every month. Between my Frank income and my pension income, I will be on par with what I was making before I retired. I may even be a few dollars ahead of the game.

So, anyway, I am fine. But I do find that at the end of the day, after spending it writing and researching or what have you, there it not much tiger left in the tank to write a blog post. I do hope that this situation changes soon, but I cannot make any guarantees.

How about this, then: I will produce a blog post as often as I can. That may be once a week, or twice, or more often. But I will try harder. I miss you guys. And I hope you miss me.

See you... soon?