Dell's Canadian Tails

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dell on Family

My grand-daughter keeps me up on the latest goings on. She's quite a woman. Sometimes I refer to Shelley as a kid. She's no kid. She survived a childhood that was awful, due in part to my hand in things. Now, how in the hell, you're asking, could I have had any effect on the life of a child two generations removed?

Have you read The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold? Shelley loaded it into the Kindle  for me. It could have been the story of my family if you left out the dying bits, changed the circumstances and switched the personalities around some.

I won't spoil it for you, but let me say this, Alice Sebold is one smart writer. I couldn't wait to finish it to find out how the situation would get resolved. I tell you, she nailed it with the mother who was pretty much like my mother and my sister Elaine: women unable to see their children as separate from themselves, wrapped up in putting on a public face.

When it came time to get myself married, everything seemed so wonderful in the beginning: this woman, who stole my heart and would bear my children, was my whole world. (I'll post the story about the actual romancing part another day). When I brought the future Mrs. Carver out to the east coast to meet the family, she got the stamp of approval the minute they laid eyes on her. That should have been clue number one that things were headed for disaster, yet I remained clueless for another dozen years. I couldn't see myself and I sure as heck wasn't seeing my wife clearly, either.

Having moved out to Ontario after university, looking for work, (stopped in Montreal for a bit: a tale for another day) I  married and ended up staying there. It was years before I understood that I had  purposely put distance between myself and my family only to recreate that same family in Ontario. Then there were days I would look at my wife in the morning and do a sort of check list of myself to see just how much I was looking like my own father.

Don't get me wrong. I loved my father, but knowing nothing else I thought what went on at our house went on at other homes. He was a successful businessman even during the depression. I rarely saw him and when I did all I could think was what a disappointment I must have been to him: nose in a book, more often than not at the library. Sure, I played ball with the boys and such, but the older I got the more I retreated into books. My two oldest brothers were both on their way to being lawyers and Marty was selling insurance and making a fortune. By comparison my successes were modest.

I'll cut to the chase: each bit of my life after I left home, either socially, economically or even emotionally, unfolded as a  repeat of everything I had wanted to leave behind. Worse, the longer it went on the more our daughter, Shelley's mother, suffered. My only child, the dearest little girl in the world, would be hanging on my pant legs before I could get off to work. Hell, I didn't want to spend five minutes with her mother yet I left her there day after day. Eventually, I had so many things on the go, the only time I spent at home was breakfast, dinner and sleeping. It wasn't my wife's fault any more than my own. We were just doing what we thought was expected; it was all we knew. No one talked back then about how these things might affect a child.

Our child, the one I spent no time with, married and was out the door before she was eighteen. A girl who could have been anything, she married the first fellow that said he loved her and then she put a couple thousand miles between her and us. Then my grand-daughter, Shelley, ended up being raised by my divorced daughter who changed men in her life faster than you can say jackrabbit. Her mother eventually got a taste for liquor, too, just as my older brothers had turned to the bottle. Shelley grew up with a childhood I wouldn't wish on anyone, yet she's grown into a fine woman who knows up from down where family is concerned.

Living this long, I've seen the effect my choices had on those around me. The miracle is that many folks love me anyway, including Shelley. Ain't life grand?

I lit the fire when I got into camp at supper time. Just a small one to take the damp out. My feet are still hurting so I'm going to crawl into bed now and see if getting horizontal doesn't help ease the pain. Sure hope I can sleep.

Dell on Seniors' Cottages or Camps

Canadian seniors face special difficulties having a camp or cottage. Technology has zoomed ahead with ways of Living off the Grid: that offer labour saving power; improvements in communication to remote areas, along with the advent of the All Terrain Vehicle, have all contributed to many more years living close to nature. That's no excuse for not planning today for the future of the family camp or cottage.

When my oldest brother Bill got cancer, the family had plenty of time to address the issue of what to do once Bill was gone: they decided to continue going to the cottage as long as they were physically able to do so. Unfortunately, the cottage was on leased land: what they failed to do was make sure his wife's name was on the lease while he was alive. Bill's widow faced an increase of five times the former lease rate when she received her renewal notice. She was considered a new lease.

The best way, to my way of thinking, to ensure a positive outcome is to do some homework: ask friends what experiences they have had or know about, check the internet. Once you start investigating matters regarding the camp, you may want to get the most current financial advise regarding estate law. I recommend you read You Can't Take it With You: Common-Sense Estate Planning for Canadians. Once you have narrowed down what you want to do, book in with a lawyer. It's always a deal to do several things at once. Have you updated your will? powers of attorney? for financial as well as medical authority? Maybe you want to start a charitable endowment on your death: now would be the time to combine as many of these legal matters as possible.

The way I figure it, the government pisses away enough of my tax dollars, I don't want to give them one more cent than I have to by law. If I don't take charge and administer my affairs the government will charge my estate after I'm dead to do it themselves. Over my dead body!

When it comes to making decisions about the family camp by the lake, there are basic areas that need reviewing: accessibility, maintenance, family dynamics and financial matters. The family with a history of heart problems should seriously consider selling the camp with access that consists of two flights of stairs over a rock cliff face. The couple with thirteen children may want to register the place as a "corporate" entity so the camp stays in the family regardless of divorce or other changes in relationships, shares requiring either "cash shares" or "work value shares" to be corporate members. Families with children living across the country may have to ask the children outright what they would like to see happen to a place they may have strong or unspoken feelings about. Don't draw the conclusion that because you love the camp, built with your own two hands, your children or grandchildren feel an equal affection for the place. Similarly, don't count on the continued assistance of friends or family because economic, health or any number of problems could suddenly require a laying out of cash to cover labour previously donated.

I think chatting with George this morning got this post percolating in my brain. Hope it brewed up all right. I'm off to my own camp now. I'll get back to you in a bit.

Dell on George and Vampires

Well my feet hurt. Raining to beat all get out. Made it to the clinic okay though. Leona was there so my blood work was pain free. Never thought much about referring to Leona as a vampire until Stephenie Meyer came out with The Twilight Saga Collection. My grand-daughter put it on the Kindle for me and then got me the DVDs, too. I tried explaining the story line to George H___, who was there waiting for his bloodwork, but he won't wear his hearing aids and I'm not sure he knew what I was talking about. He looked kind of startled when Leona said it was his turn.

Personally, I've always liked vampire tales. Blood symbolizes life. In my case I'm not sure there isn't more blood thinners than blood (just a little cut mind you and it bleeds like a sucker), but as long as that blood keeps pumping along inside of me, I'm good for a few more kilometers.

George was telling me (loudly) that he's moving to the city to a "residential care facility". I blathered on about all the good points: no grass to cut, no meals to cook, neighbours if you want 'em, nurses if you need one or want to chase one (that got a grin out of him) and all the things he'll be able to do, being right in the city. I don't expect he'll last long there and I am damned sure he didn't buy my nonsense.

The two of us go back to the late sixties when he and Clare bought the old Hansen farm. They did all right until the government regulated their life to death. The day they told George he couldn't butcher his own cows, had to be a certified butcher, you could see the oomph go out of him. Then Clare took sick, trips back and forth to the city, until she died last winter. Maybe I shouldn't say this, but George has always had a thing for the ladies. Now by that I don't mean he actually had another woman, but he had a habit of making an ass of himself if a pretty lady was around, and I'm sure Clare put up with ten tons of crap from him over the years. Still, he loved her. When she passed on he was kind of left dazed and confused (a great Led Zeppelin tune Kevin played for me on youtube). Clare wasn't even in the ground (cold storage until the kids could get here in spring to plant her) and the family began pushing George to sell the farm to them.

I better back up and mention that George's land has the only easy access to one of the finest little fishing lakes in the area. His brother and nephews hounded poor George saying he could use the money, promising he could stay on in the house as long as he wanted, work the fields, too, if he liked.

Now a lawyer would have told him to make a living lease, but George wouldn't go to a lawyer. He said he'd be damned if he had to get a lawyer to okay any deal he made with his own family.

George sold the farm to his nephews: the deal closes the end of next month. He didn't have to tell me why he's moving to the city. I've met his nephews.

Hell, maybe he'll have a good time where he's going. Bound to be plenty of women his age living there. Do I feel sorry for George? Damn right.

Some folks wear their faults right where you can see them, while others appear all sainted on the outside hiding their intentions.

Yes, George knows all about vampires waiting to suck the life's blood out of a person. I'm going to miss George.

Dell on Reefer Madness

My grand-daughter visits me at the camp for days at a time when she's off work and the weather's fine. For a while she thought I didn't know what she and her friends were up to taking walks in the bush, until I made a point of telling her I hadn't smelled so many skunks around camp since someone threw two dozen eggs in the bushes some years ago.

We had a rousing discussion around the fire that night along with a half dozen of her friends.  Three of them had seen the 1936 black and white propaganda piece Reefer Madness. Corey and his brother Kevin had me laughing until the tears ran down my face as they acted out bits and pieces from the film. The kids said they've made broadway and musical versions of it. Maybe I can get my grand-daughter to see if it's available. She's my IT wizard. Got me all fixed up at camp and the apartment in town. When I asked her about the expense, she said she had a little gardening project that just sort of took off and the total outfit was paid for from the proceeds. I didn't think it fitting to ask just where her little gardening project was located. Knowing her it will be somewhere past my property line.

My grand-daughter and her friends had no idea about Pierre Berton. Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush they knew from school assignments, but they had no idea he was a toker. They went inside, got on youtube and watched him give instructions on how to roll a joint: the one from The Rick Mercer Report six years ago. He was 84 (twenty years older than me) and supported marijuana law reform based on his 40 years of recreational use.

Having read history and understood prohibition, these kids shake their heads at the duplicity and propaganda the 'establishment' engage in with almost no accountability. Our young people are suffering a level of misery inflicted on their generation by the baby boomer and me generation (me, too) who were having such a good time getting divorced, buying and selling houses, cars, cottages and all sorts of toys, the job of social responsibility to neighbour was entrusted into the care of government. In Canada that usually means no one is held accountable in a court of law while acting as a public servant.

A decade ago most young adult Canadians could still dream  of ascending to the baby boomer wealth of their parents: jobs for all, a house, car, university and all the trimmings; that hope is no more. My grandchildren work hard but they will likely never have a home of their own or a new vehicle in their lifetime. It's not that it has to be that way. It's the way it will stay because the ones at the top don't want to redistribute the wealth. Hells bells, there's still a fortune to be made..why would they willingly reform?

Add to that the manic speed people call normal life nowadays, and it's little damn wonder they're mellowing out with Mary Jane. Breaks my heart to see one of them turn a drunk, or get into cocaine or heroine; reefer madness? What a crock of shit. I may be old but I'm not stupid and neither are these young people. Something's got to give and I think I might know what it would take. But that's a story for another day.

I'll close this post wishing everyone sunny days, just enough rain and no hermaphrodites. Excuse me while I spark one up...I'll post after I get back from the clinic tomorrow morning. Damn vampires.