Writer’s Block

So … I’m trying to get over writer’s block.  Or maybe it isn’t really writer’s block, but a combination of summertime busyness – gardening, making jam, cutting firewood, maintaining boats and buildings – and procrastination.  Whatever … it’s been quite a while since I added something to our blog.

We live in strange times.  Everything feels “off”, definitely not “normal”.  I kinda feel like I’m standing on thin, clear lake ice, just waiting for it to break.

COVID is slowing down as more Canadian are getting vaccinations, but there is still concern about yet another “wave” as the delta variant catches up to the younger, still unvaccinated, crowd and the anti-vaccers.  Elsewhere in the world, the pandemic is still going strong.

Here, in Port Neville the heat wave came and went.  We hit 43°C in the cabin clearing, which is open to the south, and probably the hottest spot on our property.  The heat came with still and humid conditions … tough on us and Brennan, but the birds loved it, and there was bird song from before dawn to after dusk.  I didn’t mind the heat so much with the moist air, as the garden wasn’t drying out as badly as it might.  However, once the heat wave broke, we got days and days of continuous northwesterly winds.  The birds went quite – they didn’t like the hot, dry wind anymore than we did.  Finally, after nearly three weeks of dry weather, we got a few days of showers.  Unfortunately, in the southern interior of the province, the dry, hot, windy conditions continue, and the number of fires grows daily.

After years of struggling to keep out of the red, I retired this spring, and for the first time in over 15 years, started getting a regular “pay cheque” in the bank each month.  Wow!  It felt like I was rich!  And then the prices of everything started going up – groceries, hardware, lumber, fuel.  Looks like we’ll soon be back to fighting to keep our heads above water again.

On a very personal level, I’ve been struggling with my own worries and fears.  I have very poor vision (astigmatism and severe near-sightedness), and can’t drive or navigate without wearing glasses.  Last year I broke my spare pair of glasses, and I was down to one working pair, which isn’t very good for out here.  I was also having a lot of problems with floaters and glare.  Floaters are a thing with me, but they seemed to have been multiplying over the last couple years.  Because my eyesight is so poor, I try to make it in to the optometrist once a year, but between life getting in the way and COVID, it was getting on to three years since my last checkup, and I was beginning to worry (macular degeneration is a hereditary condition in my family).  Then, in April, something went screwy in my right eye, producing a bright spot in my central vision.  Once we got our second COVID shot, I quickly booked an appointment with the optometrist, fearing the worst.  And so we made it into Campbell River a week ago, fighting unpleasant northwesterly winds on the Strait.  Thankfully, and am I very relieved, the optometrist quickly ruled out glaucoma and macular degeneration – two nasty eye problems I never want to have!  I do have an issue with the right eye, and I will need to go back in three months for another retinal photograph.  The optometrist believes I have something called an “epiretinal membrane”.  Yup, I had to look this one up.  And I learned something about ageing and eyes that we never hear about.  Apparently, the vitreous gel that fills the eye becomes liquid and shrinks due to age and normal wear and tear.  Eventually, it no longer fills the whole vitreous cavity and then the gel separates from the retina in a process called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).  The magical age for this is around 55 to 60 (bingo!).  The symptoms of PVD are (more) floaters and flashes (yup!).  Supposedly, these symptoms usually become less intense over several weeks (I’d say more like a year).  Thankfully, this condition is usually non-sight-threatening but occasionally affects vision more permanently in the event of complications, such as retinal detachment or epiretinal membrane.  And it looks like I have the epiretinal membrane problem in my right eye (which shows up as a cloudy spot on the retinal photo).  Mostly, at this point, the optometrist just wants to monitor my eye – apparently, this thing might go away on its own, or remain the way it is now.  If it gets really bad, they can surgically remove the membrane (yuck), but at least there is a treatment available that is fairly successful at restoring vision.  So, I’m happy that I don’t have some sort of incurable eye problem, although time will tell as to how bad it becomes and what I will need to do about it.

So, all in all, strange times.  Worrying times.  I still think we live in one of the best places on earth, but we’re all in this together, and we’re all going to feel the pain, no matter where we live or how well off we think we are.

I keep puzzling over in my mind how we humans can get ourselves out of the mess that we’ve created.  It surely won’t be easy.  I still (optimistically, and possibly unreasonably) believe that we can find a way out.  But as time goes on, I think the solution is going to get harder and harder to implement.  At some basic, gut-feeling level, most of us must realize that climate change and all the damage we have done to this planet, our home, isn’t just going to magically go away.  Our politicians poke at it a bit, but the things that have been done to date barely make a dent in the issues.  We need to radically change the way we do business on this planet.  In particular, there are two basic human traits that we somehow need to alter:

    • Greed. It was greed that got us to where we are now.  We’ve created a world that runs on “money” (a concept that exists only in the minds of humans), and those of us who have the most are the “winners” (of what?).  We need to replace greed with need.  Scrap the monetary systems.  Distribute resources fairly where they are needed.  Resist the urge to hoard, to sell to the highest bidder, to make profits hand over fist.  Everyone plays by the same rules, and has access to the same resources.  After all, aren’t we all in this together?
    • The Need to Breed. Unfortunately, there are truly too many of us on this planet right now, and this situation is only going to get worse.  Increasing human populations simply put more pressure on limited resources, resulting in a greater discrepancy between those who have and those who have not, ultimately resulting in conflict, war, and death.  Most animals have various mechanisms that kick in when resources get limiting, resulting in decreased reproduction rates and a reduction in population.  Humans seem to lack these controls.  It seems that the only things that thin our ranks significantly are disease and war.  And yet, if we implemented a planned population reduction through birth rate control, we could easily reduce our population to a globally sustainable number within two generations, with no bloodshed and needless, unpleasant deaths.  Why are we so stuck on the need to breed that we are blind to the consequences of over-population?

We could do this.  We could even do it relatively painlessly (except for maybe the extremely rich, who have had too much of a good thing for too long).  But will we do it?  I am beginning to fear that we are stuck in a rut, and cannot see our way out.