2018 recap

I wrote a recap last year and I really liked it so I’m doing it again this year. I was thinking about it the other day and it reminds me of the letters my family would receive at xmas from friends and family we didn’t see very often, letters those people had written to keep us abreast of what they got up to over the year. I found those letters universally boring and old-fashioned but when it comes to my own life and writing about it in point form, well, it’s just a really doggone efficient way to sum up a year’s worth of living.

Without further ado, here is what the masses have been clamouring for all year long! Sound the trumpets, open the gates! It’s my recap of 2018, yahoooooo…

  • Jenn took part in a video that went modestly viral, accumulating almost one million views in a week or two. She thinks the video will be the single ‘biggest’ thing she ever does in her life, in terms of reaching a vast audience. I agree with her, and think that’s pretty neat.
  • After selling her horse last year, Jenn found a new project in a one-eyed walking panic attack she named Marvel. To liken him to a human so he’s understandable to people who aren’t familiar with horses: he’s like the son of Usain Bolt and Serena Williams (in other words, a gifted athlete by nature) who was always a nervous child to start with, who then went blind in one eye at an early age and subsequently passed from foster home to foster home, accumulating mountains of mental trauma along the way which resulted in turning him from an anxious fellow into a full-on delusional, paranoid spaz. But Jenn saw the natural talent in Marvel and decided to try putting a lot of love and effort into him and what do you know, he’s come around in a big way. Personally, I love him because he’s a big, gentle beast who wants nothing more than someone to show him affection — he’s like a big dog, and that’s the only kind of horse I really like.
  • In January, I bought a Nissan X-trail after lusting for one for years. It turned out to be a very frustrating lemon. I managed to sell it without too much difficulty but it was an unpleasant experience.
  • In early February, Jenn and I drove the Pacific Marine Circle Route from here to Sooke to Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan to home. We left at 7 am and got home at 7 pm, and had a fantastic time. We saw lots of cool waterfalls, giant trees, and abandoned towns. I love doing ‘tourist in your own town’ shit.
  • Jenn and I explored and hiked some other areas around here we hadn’t seen, like Mount Manuel Quimper in Sooke and some tucked-away areas in Goldstream.
  • In March, we went up to our property in Sointula to build a lean-to so we had a place to store some shit and keep it dry before we started building a small cabin. We didn’t do a very good job on the lean-to but it (almost) does the job. On the bright side, we did some fun stuff while we were there. The tide was out so we walked across the bay to the marina to use their showers, and we hiked to Melvin’s Bog which sounds shitty but was actually very pretty, and on the drive home from Sointula we hiked up to the Woss Lookout which was downright breathtaking. We were above the clouds and it felt like being in a fantasy movie.
  • Spring 2018 was a banner year for chickens having babies at our place, as five of my eight hens went broody. For those not familiar with chickens, that’s a lot for breeds like Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks. Altogether, we raised a dozen chicks here over the summer, and I learned a lot about what I want to do different with raising chicks next year. I kept two, slaughtered one rooster, and gave the rest away to my dear friends Tom and Marion. I still visit the kids when their new parents allow me.
  • I built a 200-gallon rainwater collection system off of our barn for use in our vegetable garden. It went pretty well, and was a good learning experience in case we decide to do something similar for our cabin up island.
  • Jenn and I started building a one-room cabin on our second property. Falling trees was fucking hard work, and took much longer than expected. Learning to lay out the construction blocks square and level was frustrating, and had a steep learning curve. Putting the walls and roof up was extremely challenging — even writing this now, I’m having flashbacks to how awful I felt at the time. But since getting the roof on, things have gone smoother: we got the doors and windows in and put the Tyvek stuff up, then Liam came up with me and basically built the frame for a roof over the deck by himself. Slowly, the dread from the worst parts of the build is receding in my mind, and that’s good. That was a dark week.
  • On the way back from another trip to Sointula, Jenn, Stella and I went swimming at Stotan Falls in Courtenay. Beautiful place, easy access. What a gem of a swimming hole.
  • Some friends from Vancouver came and stayed with us for a long weekend in the summer, and we tried to give them a nice ‘small town weekend.’ I think it went perfectly. We went thrift shopping with them, took them to some local breweries, went bowling at Duncan Lanes, took them to The Black Swan for karaoke, went swimming in the quarry, and watched a horror movie on the side of the house. I get wistful just thinking about that weekend, it was such a good time.
  • Ben, Tom, Dana, Paul and I went tubing down the Cowichan River in July, and it couldn’t have been any better. Dana’s Star Trek floating chair was a huge hit with everyone who saw it, Paul was gooned basically from the start till the end and was mercilessly tossed from his tube countless times (almost face-first into a rock wall, at one point), and we all had a groovy 3 hr float in the sun. We went for dinner at the York St. Diner and Ben was too drunk to stop the content of his sandwich from exploding onto his plate. The waitress was very understanding of our situation. Our better halves all worried sick about us being gone so much longer than we’d originally estimated, but these are the trials and tribulations of river floating. I am eagerly looking forward to doing it again next year.
  • Jenn bought a second project horse named Gossip, who was an adorable and easy baby of a pony. She was perfectly sweet, friendly, curious, eager to learn, and eager to please. She took longer to sell than Jenn hoped for but she finally went to a great home, which was the most important thing. However, the lesson learned was: two horses is too much — one horse is enough.
  • My chicken’s eggs won first place in the Cobble Hill Fair in the ‘large, brown’ division. I was such a proud daddy!
  • Jenn and I went to the Cowichan Exhibition for the first time in years. It was…gross. I don’t think I’ll go again for another five years or so.
  • My revamped Misfits cover band finally played a Halloween show. The promoter was an odd duck, a strange schmoozy rude brat of a person, but our performance was fine. More than anything, I just loved playing music I love with guys I love hanging out with, and am excited to start playing with the gents again soon.
  • I volunteered at the Glenora Haunted Hall for the second year in a row, and it was just as great as last year. My friend Julia teamed up with me for a gory human butcher scene, and we were a big hit. Dana even came and volunteered at the hall with us on the second night. I felt like a kid again.
  • I watched my grandfather die. He was 95 or so and his health suddenly declined so he signed up for a medically assisted death. Jenn and I joined my mom and the rest of that side of the family to see him off. I’ve witnessed enough death that I wasn’t fazed. But he wasn’t the warmest individual either so I’m sure that made the whole process a bit easier.
  • I went down the rabbit hole this year with acquiring all manners of vintage household items — appliances, artwork, kitchen utensils, stereo equipment, clothing, xmas decorations, etc. I now like our home much more than before, and I have to once again thank my wonderful friends who indulged my insanity and helped me get my hands on a lot of this stuff.
  • Xmas 2018 was a little weird overall. I worked xmas day, I was the only member of my family at my family dinner, there was a huge storm just before xmas that knocked out power and internet to everyone for a few days, and it wasn’t snowy or even very cold. That being said, this was the best family dinner I can remember, free of endless, pointless Grandpa Simpson-esque stories and an undercurrent of awkwardness and strained relationships. And Jenn and I did our typical xmas morning stuff on xmas eve and that was perfectly lovely. And because of the power outage caused by the storm, Jenn and I made soup on our wood stove and played Scrabble by candlelight, which was a beautiful, ‘slow living’ evening that reminded me of how different life can be if we just turn shit off for a while.
  • Speaking of slow living, after some thought and a blog post, I decided to start reading at home more, and so far I’m really enjoying it and feel good about my efforts.

Boy, I had been worried that I wouldn’t have much to write here, that not much really happened in 2018. Was I ever wrong. That’s one of the beauties of this exercise, it really illustrates just how much note-worthy stuff goes on in a year, even if we take it for granted or just don’t remember it all at once.

I lead a charmed life, and I’m grateful for it. Many thanks to Jenn and all my friends who, against great odds, make life in this proto-wasteland fun and worth living.

Happy new year.

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…and the recap

what is recap even short for? anyway.

since xmas, i’ve been thinking about writing a recap of my year on here. it’s terribly typical and i doubt many people would find it interesting since i certainly wouldn’t give a shit about reading some random person’s “we went camping in the summer and that was nice” thoughts. luckily, this whole blog is entirely self indulgent so i’m going to go for it regardless. i think it’s a good tradition to consider starting so that i can have a summary stored here for future perusal once i completely lose my mind.

so here goes with my fave moments of 2017. read on only if you’re incredibly bored with everything else.

  • i don’t remember much from january or february.
  • in march, jenn and i went to bamfield with our friends kristina and jason. they have a cabin there so we spent a few nights at it, and it was lovely. bamfield is such a remote, tiny, haunting, beautiful place.
  • i learned to humanely euthanize chickens.
  • i learned to slaughter chickens and make stew with the meat. i also learned that even the meat of spent old laying hens is just fine as long as you boil the hell out of it. don’t listen to all the dummies who tell you it’s no good, they’re just uppity bitches.
  • i finally started learning to play bass using the traditional slap and fingers styles. it reignited my love of bass guitar, and sent me on a long quest to find a 5-string that satisfied me.
  • we got a second dog, laika, and learned how poorly things can go with a new animal but my god, she was a sweetheart.
  • i helped my mom move from quesnel down here to the island, and got to try an $8,000 massage chair in the process. the move was fine, the massage chair was unreal. worth the price, if you can afford one.
  • i bought my first suit. each part of the suit is sweatshop-free. i felt really good about that and have made an effort to make sure all of the clothing i buy now is sweatshop-free.
  • we went to three weddings over the summer: steph and tony, matt and chant, and genevieve and matt. all of them were a lot of fun.
  • we stayed in strathcona park for another 4 days after matt and chant’s wedding and did a bunch more exploring there. we checked out gold river (which was neat) and tahsis (which was just sad) while we were in that neck of the woods. on the drive back to shawnigan, we went up to mount washington and hiked some more strathcona trails from that side of the park, and they were the best trails we’ve seen in the park.
  • we lucked out and were able to view the solar eclipse with our naked eyes thanks to the perfect amount of well-timed cloud cover. then, even more cool, we saw the two giant solar flares on the sun, once again with our naked eyes. the smoke from the forest fires made the sun a dull, hazy red, and we could see two small dark spots on the lower right face of it. i wondered what the hell those spots were so i looked it up online and learned about the solar flares. fucking incredible.
  • we had a good friend build a large garage with hay loft on our property. i helped him and learned a lot about construction, and the frustration of building inspections.
  • we retired jenn’s ’92 civic VX in favour of something that doesn’t leak when it rains and has a better crash rating.
  • i took july off of work due to problems with my back flaring up again. that sucked, but it spurred me on to try new forms of rehab which have worked out splendidly since. it’s now been 6 months since i last hurt my back. that’s great.
  • we got a second goat, fay, to keep jamie company when the horse is away for extended periods. we learned that even a formerly charming little fellow like jamie will turn into a disgusting rapist once a female goat is brought into the mix.
  • we bought 10 acres of land up in sointula, and went to the salmon days festival for the second time. we want to build a small cabin up there this summer. we’ve never built a cabin before so i’m a little nervous how it will turn out but i’m confident that with the incredible power of the internet, we can figure it out.
  • we hatched a half dozen chicks, just the second time we’ve done this. i’m a proud daddy.
  • jenn and i hiked out to an old hydro power plant just outside of victoria. it was nerve-wracking and exciting as all hell. the ice cream afterwards was to die for.
  • we got two black female kittens, jinx and wednesday. i quickly fell in love with them.
  • at halloween, jenn and i volunteered at a haunted house in glenora and it was amazing. really looking forward to doing it again this year. after that on the 31st, dante and i walked around the beach estates and hung out with sue and jim baker around their campfire. a jack-o-lantern may or may not have been smashed on the walk back to the car. what a solid halloween.
  • jenn sold her horse, ollie, to a very good home down in the US. then she got a new project horse, a neurotic one-eyed fellow she renamed marvel. despite his quirks, i like him. he’s very gentle and affectionate.
  • i played my first gig in 7 years with a misfits cover band. i had wanted to play a halloween show with the band but it didn’t pan out so we ended up playing a show in december that went pretty well.
  • the holiday season of 2017 was fantastic. my clan’s family dinner went as well as once can hope for; jenn’s family dinner was wonderful, complete with snow falling on xmas eve; spencer and julia hosted festivus and it was another great one; jenn and i hosted a new years party (our first ever, actually) and despite the short notice and a lot of people being sick, it had a good turnout of our closest friends. much karaoke and dancing ensued. i made brunch the next morning for some of our pals and that was a lot of fun too. i think it was only the second time in my life that i’ve made food for more than just myself, yet it went well.

i wonder what other notable events i’m forgetting. whatever, that’s a way longer list than i even expected to come up with.

happy new year to all you sons of bitches. looking forward to another year of this shit, provided we don’t die somewhere in the middle of it, which is a persistent possibility. do you ever wonder if this new years eve/xmas/birthday/etc was the last you will ever see? i do. i think about it all the time.

and that’s why you should make the best of each day. you don’t want to be dying in a ditch or hospital bed somewhere this year, thinking, “i really should have gone out and seen my pals last new years.”

funeral-etiquette-rude-behavior

2018, i’m ready. let’s do this.