Moving on

As I said in my sticky post this site is part diary and partly for my kids and grandkids, just in case they ever want to know about me. My kids, Heather and Chris, abandoned me years ago for reasons I will never understand, and four of my grandkids have nothing to do with me. My one joy was Mackenzie, who contacted me on Facebook back when she was fourteen, but then she stopped talking to me, again for reasons I don't know. 

Many years ago my dear Dad showed me a thick binder that he said was his father's diary of his life and asked me to read it. I barely knew my grandfather, having only met him once when I was a kid, so I didn't have a high degree of interest in him. That said, now that I am a grandfather to five grandkids I wish that I had taken the time to read it. 

This post is about where, why and when I have lived where I have in my life. It starts way back when I was maybe two or three years old so i don't have much of a memory about that time.

I was born October 4th, 1949 at St. Joseph's hospital in Toronto. My parents lived on Centre island back when there were still houses there, so my Mum was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night by the fireboat crew. Quite the entrance. I don't know how long they lived on the island or why they moved, but the next few years were spent at an apartment in Ajax and on what was called the Donalda Farm with a guy nicknamed Bumpy. Later it was to become the start of Don Mills. 















My parents then moved in with my maternal grandmother, Jenny Hardy, and grandfather, whose name I don't remember, at 7 Hugo Street in Toronto. I just researched the house and it's for sale. Boy, has it ever been renovated! 

I believe at the time my Dad was still either still teaching driving or he may have started working at the Texaco refinery in Port Credit. I don't remember my mother working back then. 

My grandfather died soon after we moved in with them so I have pretty well  no memories of him. I think he was only in his early fifties when he died.

I went to school at Perth Avenue Public school up until about grade five, I think. I loved living on Hugo because it was a different place and time. On the weekends I would be gone at daylight and the only rule was that I had to be home before the streetlights came on. I rode my bike everywhere or I took the streetcars, buses and subways all over the city. My favourite place to go was High Park and I spent a lot of hours there. My best buddy back then was a guy named Ralph Sholemberg, whose parents only spoke German and not a word of English. I vaguely remember going to his parents for dinner and somehow managing to communicate. I also had my first love, Sharon, who lived just a few doors away from me. She was my first "blonde", something that would last a lifetime for me. She was also a polio victim and walked with a limp. She was a doll. 

When I was twelve we moved to what I thought was the middle of nowhere to a farm on the Fifth Line north of what was called Streetsville back then, now part of Mississauga or I believe more specifically, Erin Mills. I was really mad at my parents because I went from being able to go anywhere in Toronto to being marooned miles from anywhere. I took the school bus to Churchville Public School so I had to take the same bus back home after school and couldn't spend any time with my school friends who lived in Churchville. Our house, which wasn't really a farm, but was on two acres surrounded by the actual farm, which was owned by Jack Fraser, was at least three miles from Churchville so it was a very long bike ride. In around Grade 7 or 8 I did fall hopelessly in love with my first fantasy girlfriend, Roxanne Rollings. We spent hours on the phone, which was a "party line"  so I annoyed everyone, especially my Dad, when Roxanne and I talked for hours. I would gladly do the long bike ride to her parents in Churchville. Our relationship never progressed beyond the dreaded "friends" and she ended up marrying my buddy Wayne Wilson.

To buy the place, from his years in the Navy my father got a loan for ten thousand dollars from the VLA. Moving there was like going back in time. There was no indoor plumbing so we had a well and an outhouse, which was brutal in the winters. There was a pot-bellied stove in the kitchen and pipes running throughout the house, although it was still freezing in the winter so we had kerosene heaters in our rooms. I still remember my Dad freaking out because he had put too much wood in the stove and it was overheating. He was draping wet towels all over it trying to cool it down. I spent the next few years helping my Dad renovate the place, not realizing at the time how much he was teaching me things that would come in handy later when I renovated all my houses over the years. We turned one of the bedrooms into a bathroom which was wonderful because we didn't need the outhouse anymore and I could actually have a shower. The old coal fired furnace was replaced with an oil furnace, I think and the stove was gone. The kitchen was totally changed and it's funny that my Dad actually went with my design, including the rather unique hanging kitchen table. We stripped all the walls back, removing all the old God-awful lathe and plaster to expose the amazing wood beams in the living room. He had the old insulbrick covered with aluminum siding.

We planted a massive garden down the middle of the acreage in front of the house. We got a thousand seedling trees from Orno for free and planted them around the perimeter of the lot out front. My mother managed to destroy them all when the guy from the farm asked her if he could cut the field grass out front. She forget about the tree saplings and he cut them all down. All our work gone. 

When I was sixteen I couldn't handle my father's brutal discipline anymore. I'd had my last strap so I left home and moved in with my buddy David Kirk's family in Streetsville. It was around this time that I got into my first group, The Tempests, with Dave, Don Thurston and Chris Hayes. I was also the first time I learned just how much girls liked guys in groups and I became quite popular with the ladies, something that would last for about ten years in various groups. The Bow Street Runners. The Clyde Valley Show band, HappyFace (my favourite). 

I don't honestly remember whether or not I moved back home at some point, although I must have. Then after a three week vacation trip out west to BC  my Dad decided to sell the place in Streetsville and move to Penticton. There was some thought that I would go with them but the place didn't sell so my parents put it off for another year. By then I had met my soon to be wife, Janice, so there went any thoughts of moving out west with my parents. My Dad had bought an apartment house in Brampton at 226 Main Street North and I had moved in with a buddy, Russ Bird, to the smallest apartment you could imagine. When I got married August 16th, 1969 Russ moved out and Janice moved in. After Chris came along we moved into the much larger main apartment on the ground floor. Sometime later I bought the place from my Dad with only a hundred dollar down payment and private mortgages to the hilt. I think we paid nineteen thousand dollars for it. 

When I had more than I could stand being a landlord we put the place up for sale, asking twenty-five thousand I believe but it didn't sell. I had been looking at single family homes believing that Main Street would sell and I found 29 Fairglen Avenue. It was a total mess when we looked at it. The minute we walked in the front door you could smell the dog pee in the carpets, which had been nailed into the floor below. The living room was orange shag carpet and black fabric wallpaper that made it look like a dungeon. The bathroom fixtures were propped up on two by fours. All the bedroom doors had been broken into when it had been a rooming house. Although the house itself was a disaster I knew that I could fix it up. It was on a huge lot right beside a big field at the rear of a factory. At the back was the CN rail line but there were very few trains a day. It was the first house you came to coming into the neighborhood but it was a very well established area with mature well kept houses. I knew I could bring it up to the standard of the neighborhood. It showed very badly though which the Realtor agreed on and my ex didn't even want to go in after she smelled it at the front door. I told the Realtor that I would make an offer but it would be low ball. I think it was listed at something like forty-nine nine thousand but I offered forty-two. It got accepted. 

So now we owned two homes and had to arrange bridge financing through our bank, BMO. The day the listing expired our criminal agent, Max Harris, offered us a low ball offer, threatening us that the Real Estate company would sue us if we didn't accept his offer. I told him to go to hell and reported him to his broker. It ended up that the next door neighbor bought the place. Years later my cousin took me to see some of the homes we had owned over the years and I was surprised that 226 Main Street was gone! Totally raised. No idea why.

We spent the next five years on Fairglen. This photo is around the time we listed it. I wish I had more photos of all the work I did. We bought the place in the winter so I didn't know that there was a giant hole in the front yard where they had removed a willow tree, a tree whose roots had pretty well destroyed the sewer line, which had to be replaced. When we bought the place there wasn't a single bush in front and the house was painted purple and green, and the roof shingles were coming apart. I had George Kent Aluminum do all the siding and added railings to the front porch. We also replaced the roof and I did all the landscaping including sodding the front yard on which I made my first landscaping mistake. I meticulously screeded the topsoil to be perfectly level before I laid the sod, not realizing that you don't make it perfectly level because you need it to drain. No sooner did we have lovely green grass than we also had mushrooms. 

This was also the first house on which I learned that any and all renovation work would only be done by me. My ex never once lifted a finger to help. All she did, and would do for the rest of our marriage, was complain about the drywall dust. Fast forward though and she was very happy when all my renovation work on nine houses turned our hundred dollar first investment into more than a hundred thousand dollars, every dime of which she got when we split. Lesson learned. When the work on Fairglen was just about done I started looking around again. I think it was a curse that would last a lifetime but once I got close to finishing renovating a place it was time to find another place to renovate. It became the story of my life. I think we sold Fairglen for fifty nine nine. From here we bought the one and only new house we ever owned. I had seen a sign for the new development called Elderwood Place and stopped in to the sales office to check it out. I was pleasantly surprised to not only love the designs but learned that there was a ravine lot still available. A higher price but to me well worth it. It was a really interesting experience visiting it as it was being built. I managed to convince the builder to let me install a complete home sound system as it was being drywalled even though we hadn't officially closed yet. Even with the lot premium I think we paid something like sixty-four thousand for it. 

It was around this time that I got into Real Estate working with Kyle Jamieson Real Estate who were part of the Welcome Home Group. Had the market not gone nuts at the time I may well have stayed in Real Estate for the rest of my life. Part of the problem was that mortgage rates went so crazy that you couldn't even get a commitment on a rate before closing. I was just too moral at the time and would never ask a client to do anything that I wouldn't do. I remember a deal on a house in Caledon that I couldn't get a second mortgage rate commitment on from anybody. My clients would need to just take a chance that the rate would be affordable on closing, some sixty days in advance. My client, John, asked me if he should sign the deal. I told him that I wouldn't so he shouldn't and he agreed. As it turned out rates in sixty days had gone completely insane and they would never have been able to afford the house they were going to buy. I lost both ends of the deal but kept my morals, something a lot of agents weren't doing at the time.

Another, and more major issue, was that I spent six months working on a mall development plan in downtown Brampton. The existing very small mall was owned by a company called Pacific Paving in Mississauga. I worked closely with the owner, not only designing the expanded mall, adding a second story of offices, but I also got approval from the city to add another access on the main street, greatly increasing access and visibility for the mall. To put the deal together I had to negotiate with four property owners of the houses on the main street, careful not to give them stars in their eyes when they realized what the deal was all about. One of the homes was run by Big Brothers and I agreed to find them another location as part of their deal. The corner lot, the one most critical to the whole deal, had gone into foreclosure and had been bought by the owner of Goodison Insurance. It hadn't closed yet so I met with him to offer him a deal he couldn't refuse. He had bought the place for forty thousand dollars and was going to spend probably at least that much in renovations. I offered him double his money not to close and even offered to find him another office location. He refused. To this day I remember the meeting that Kyle Jamieson and I had with him trying to convince him to sell, even going so far as to disclose to him the whole mall development that had been approved by the city and on which the three adjoining property owners had agreed to sell. He didn't care. The city really wanted this development and I remember a conversation I had with the planning department in which the city employee said maybe they wouldn't grant him a building permit for the renovations he wanted to do. Despite my six months of work going down the drain once again my morals kicked in and I couldn't agree with the city forcing him to sell to us. It spelled the end of my Real Estate career.

(Sidebar. Although I had this photo of Elderwood I went looking for anything I could find on the address. To my considerable shock I found that it had just sold for, are you ready for this? Seven hundred and forty thousand dollars this past July! Here's the video - A lot has changed over the years, like adding a pool, but it was fun to see how all the landscaping I did had matured)

Now faced with almost no income and mounting debts there was no real choice other than to sell Elderwood. Although I was an agent and therefore had to disclose that on the listing I knew what a great layout the house was and how incredible the lot was backing onto the ravine, so I listed it at the unheard of price of ninety-six thousand dollars. It sold in two days, cash, no conditions, quick closing, so now where do we go? It all happened so fast that we had no time to look at buying another place so I found a townhouse rental at 124 Ashurst. This was a development that was originally marketed as executive townhouses but that hadn't worked out so there were a lot of rentals. It was a five level townhouse backing onto a schoolyard.

No sooner had we moved in than our next door neighbor said she was going to sell. I think the ex's parents helped us with the down payment but we got it for a pretty good deal because the neighbor wanted out quickly and wasn't paying a Realtor because she was selling to us. Happy as I was to be owning something again what I didn't realize was that this was going to be the worst move ever! We were only moving next door so why bother boxing everything like you would in a normal move? What ended up happening was a thousand trips of handfuls of things, not boxed. Just imagine moving your cutlery next door. Yet again I renovated the whole place. I decided to remove the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, and add cabinets on the opposite side of the kitchen. We were going to Florida for a short vacation so I hired a cabinet maker to build the new cabinets. That turned out to be a total disaster because when we came back he hadn't finished the work. We had no water and no electricity in the kitchen and it was a messy construction zone. We had nowhere to cook or eat. I was not a happy camper to say the least. 

I also turned the upstairs bathroom into sort of a spa by adding tongue and groove wood panelling everywhere including the ceiling. Again more by accident I had seen a listing for another place on Mara Crescent. It was the general contractor's place and had a lot of improvements over the standard houses in the development. Upgraded doors. French doors into the living room. Massive jetted tub in the upstairs bathroom. Huge deck off the back of the house. As it turned out the owner, the contractor, was building a place in Caledon somewhere and needed a six month closing, which made it a hard sell. I was in no hurry though so I had my agent and friend, Greg Smith, make him an offer, I believe something like a hundred and sixty thousand and it was accepted. When Greg then asked about listing our townhouse I told him that I was in no hurry so let's list it at the highest price ever in the neighborhood and see what happens. He disagreed, of course, but the idea of double ending the deals appealed to him. Nothing had ever sold for more than the low fifties before but we listed at sixty-nine nine. I remember the agent's reactions on their inspection. They couldn't believe the expanded kitchen and the bathroom in particular. Within days we had multiple offers at full list. Not only was this wonderful but the prices where we were going were going up like crazy after buyers discovered the double cul-de-sac neighborhood. After we moved in six months later we learned that our next door neighbors had just paid two hundred and twenty thousand for a standard model.

As per usual I got to work renovating yet again. I turned one of the bedrooms into an office, adding wood tongue and groove panelling and turning the normal clothes closet into drawers and doors office storage. I ripped all the woodwork out and added new moldings to all the doors and windows. I had a door installed between the garage and the kitchen to make it easier to unload groceries when we came home in the winter. I added interlocking paving stones to the front yard and did a lot of landscaping, front and back. I wish I had a photo of the work I did in the back because I added beds with posts cut at different heights and lots of flowers, bushes and trees. I'd love to see how it all looks today. 

Well , as John Lennon famously said, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans". My twenty-three year marriage was over. I had tried and tried everything to make it better but nothing worked. We hadn't slept together for five years and there was no love left. At the time my buddy Jim had said "if you wake up and you would rather be somewhere else it's time to leave". He was right. I was working installing a new computer system at Fellowes Manufacturing in Markham, traveling back and forth to Brampton every day, which took forever if I took the 401. Instead I would head up into the country and take the scenic routes. Partly because some of the work I did could only be done after everyone had gone home I started staying at the local Journey's End motel. It was so great to just get up, shower and be at work in a few minutes. Shortly after I started working on the contract at Fellowes I got involved with their Executive Secretary which I won't go into here, but I was now paying a lot to stay at the Journey's End full-time, plus paying all the expenses of the house in Brampton. My ex hadn't worked for months and clearly had no intention of finding a job, so I told her I was done. Not only would I not keep paying for everything but it was time to sell the house. I gave her no choice. 

The market had changed a lot since the mortgage fiasco where people where buying additional places by buying the paper at the sales offices, and property values had fallen some twenty-five percent. The timing wasn't great but I knew that this had to come to an end and now. I listed and sold quickly at one eighty-nine nine, a lot less than we could have got before the crash but at least we still made money, or should I say that my ex still made money. Given my past I wasn't going to give a nickel to a lawyer so I gave her every dime after we closed. When I left for BC to be with my dying mother I took my last paycheque from Fellowes and that was it. All the work I had done for those twenty-three years amounted to not a cent for me.

Off I went to BC to be with my mother, who had been given less than a five percent chance of surviving more than six months because of her fifth stage melanoma. We had been apart for more than twenty years and I just wanted to spend whatever time she had left with her. She ended up beating the odds and lived another nineteen years before the cancer came back and took her. For some unknown reason, and despite my daughter having told me years before to leave my marriage and go out west where she said I was so much happier, my move out west cost me my daughter, who hasn't spoken to me now in twenty-six years. I've never had a clue as to why. She cut off my whole side of the family which really hurt my Mum and dad who did nothing to deserve that. 

When I moved out west in July of 1993 I lived with my parents at Shady Rest until they went south to Yuma for the winter, as they had done for some seventeen years. I remember the day they left in October. I closed the door, got my coffee and sat in my dad's leather chair, alone at last. I had no one to worry about except myself for the first time in my life. I was so happy. 

Little did I know at the time that I would live in a whole lot of places during my fourteen wonderful years in BC. To my considerable regret I was never able to buy anything or I would have made a fortune, so I always rented or was living with someone.




In no particular order these are some of the places I lived:

I'm not sure when I lived here or even how I got here but it was one of my favourite places. It was a second floor apartment that had a small kitchen, bedroom, laundry, dining room and a large living room with a gas fireplace, then a master bedroom, bathroom and a large area open to the living room below on the second level. I had a large custom made desk in this area. I loved that with the flip of a switch I could have the fire going. It also had a nice balcony and I had a parking space in the garage below. Although at the time it was expensive at eight hundred a month, I rented the upstairs bedroom to a guy who worked for Bell and he was rarely home. He would just pop in to do his laundry then he was gone. I think he paid me three hundred a month so that helped.






I think I met Karen Faloon at the Corral and we got involved and I moved in with her for a time. Of all the women who got renovations out of me Karen got the most. Not only did I remove the spa she never used in the basement level and replace it with a laundry, but I also renovated the kitchen in the apartment that she rented. She had a nice pool but her lot sloped steeply from there to the back of the lot. I had an idea how she could recover all this wasted space and she agreed. I raised the back of the lot about twelve feet building a perimeter wall of railroad ties all pinned together with rebar, then had loads and loads of fill brought in through the field at the back of the lot. I then added an irrigation system and sodded the lot. It was a ton of work and in the heat of the summer but it turned out great. Shortly after that she started planning our retirement for me which I didn't care for so I left to the place on Lanfranco.





This was an end unit single level townhouse that was actually quite nice. It had a nice layout with two bedrooms, one of which I used for an office, a bathroom off the master bedroom, a large living room, a dining room and a galley kitchen plus a small backyard off the living room. It had kind of strange crawl space under it but I stored a lot of stuff there. Being a rental I didn't do any major work but I did fix up the entrance with some nice plants and chairs. The managers of the complex were nice folks who I got along well with.







Then through my buddy, Wade, I met the first real love of my life, Tracy. We hit it off from the start and were soon dating. After a couple of months she asked me to move in. It made no sense for me to be paying rent for my place because I was never there so I gave my notice, although I was breaking my lease but they gave me no grief about it.

No surprise I'm sure that I started renovating Tracy's place from top to bottom. I did every room in the house. I completely redid the garage from a place you couldn't move in to a very organized one with shelving and a work bench. It was such a mess before that she didn't even know that she had a pit in the floor to change your oil. I designed and built what I called Molnar beach complete with a fire and water feature using an old stove her grandfather had given her and a sump pump waterfall. While her and her Mum were enjoying the Merritt Mountain Music Festival I totally renovated her one son's bedroom and repainted all the kitchen cupboards and installed a new kitchen floor. After a very bad breakup that nearly killed me I moved again, this time to Menu Road back in Westbank. 




This was a basement apartment, my first actually. It wasn't great. My upstairs landlord was a real party animal who constantly had loud parties. There was no insulation in the ceilings in my place so it was really loud. It also had a steep driveway which I was the only one to shovel in the winter. It did have nice views of the lake. I got involved with Ans and she invited me to move in with her so I gave my notice to Doug and moved out. 








Before my Dad passed away in 2005 I was living with Ans on McGinnis Road in what was then called Westbank, now called West Kelowna. Yet another place i renovated extensively for her. I installed new flooring in both the kitchen and main bathroom. I renovated the basement apartment and built shelving and a work bench in her garage, plus I pulled out a dilapidated garden under her deck. I replaced all the moldings around the house and again did a lot of landscaping out front. Our less than great relationship ended when she didn't listen to me about my dog, but more importantly I had to move in to care for my Mum after my Dad died in my arms. My brother and sister gave me no other choice.

Before all that happened my Dad had finally agreed to sell the place and get my mother into the care facility she so badly needed. I agreed to renovate their place, for free of course, and they moved to my sister's in Revelstoke while I did all the work. I pretty well went front to back except the living room, repainting every square inch, remodelling all the old kitchen cupboard doors and drawers, adding a dishwasher and more cupboard space, replacing the tired flooring in the kitchen, ripping out the dated half wall between the kitchen and the living room, and much more. I put in some very long days and it was made all the worse by my mother's constant badgering about coming home. When I was finally able to let them come back they were very happy with all the work I had done. They put the place up for sale but at much less than I told them to. My Dad called me that they had an offer for sixty-nine thousand but I told him to decline. He did, thankfully. 

Then, of course, the worst disaster of my life happened when he died in my arms. He had done nothing about getting my mother into a care facility so that wasn't an option. I moved in to care for her, which became the worst experience of my entire life. I spent some eight months trying to get her into a place and finally did manage to get her into Winterhaven in Kelowna. Then my idiot sister, who never accepted just how bad our mother was, took her out of the care home and, well, basically ended up killing her. Another story.

After Dad died I knew that it was not the time to sell the place. Mum had just lost her husband of some fifty-eight years. She was suffering from advancing Alzheimer's. I knew that if I got to work I could make some further improvements that would get more money when I finally got her into care and could sell the place. I pulled down the illegal carport that was falling down. I renovated the shed, adding proper shelving and a work bench. I replaced the horrible orange shag carpet in the living room. The biggest project was something i had been trying to convince my Dad to do for the thirty some years they had lived there and that was to renovate the beach area. It was pretty well useless because it just sloped down to the water. The concrete curbs my Dad had placed trying to keep the sand in had been torn away in a storm and were gone. With the help of a local kid who needed a job I built a perimeter with railroad ties, stepped back and lagged together with rebar, deep into the ground. I then got load after load of clean beach sand delivered and wheel barrowed it all down to to the new beach, building it up several feet to be level. Then I added a fire pit and horseshoe pits with the pins concreted in properly. I added steps up the front wall and built what I believe was the very first rock crib dock on the lake. When it was finished I added a plaque dedicating the dock to my Dad. No idea if that is still there although I doubt it. The manager of the park came by one day and called it the Shady Rest Seawall. 

After I got Mum into Winterhaven I listed the place for one hundred and thirty-nine nine, the highest price anyone had ever asked in the park, especially considering it was Indian land which can't be sold, so you could only rent it. My parents were paying four hundred and seventy-five dollars a month pad rent. Still reasonable for waterfront property on which they paid less than a hundred dollars a year in taxes. Friends of mine who owned the same lake frontage close to Kelowna paid sixteen thousand dollars a year in property tax. Once again my Realtor thought I was nuts but understood that I was in no hurry to move. He sold the place for one hundred and thirty-six thousand dollars cash to a group from Edmonton who were setting up a family syndicate to share the place.

Once again I needed to find somewhere to live. I moved to an interesting place. Uniquely designed homes that had two levels, one facing the street and one facing the back off the laneway. I thought that they were what I would call "mortgage helpers' where the owners could live in the upper floor and rent out the lower floor. Boy, was I wrong! No sooner had I moved in and still had boxes unpacked, than a by-law officer knocked on my door and told me that I had to move. He told me that these places were never zoned for multiple occupancy and they were not allowed to have stoves on the lower level. Oh, great! I had to move again and in a panic. My landlady upstairs was pissed but she couldn't do anything about it. She ended up selling and moving to Prince George. 

Just as I was on my way out the door to give a landlady my deposit on a basement apartment in Kelowna, for some unknown reason I checked my email. There was one from my Realtor telling me that there was a place in the park next to my Mum and Dad's that was in "rough shape" but he knew what I could do from what he saw at my parent's place so he said I should take a look at it. It was one of those life changing moments. His comment that it was in "rough shape" was an understatement at best. It was a disaster but I did see that I could make some good money if i did all the work. I basically took over the financing that was in default and moved in. I spent the next year and a half working day and night, seven days a week, stripping the place back to the studs, redesigning the whole place from top to bottom. I replaced the entire kitchen. I added two new bathrooms. I added walls. I resided the place with Hardyboard. I added to the concrete driveway. Of course I landscaped completely, adding new sod and an extensive rock garden. I rebuilt the shed. I tore out the falling down deck. I redid the roof from adding to the support beams to recoating the roof. I did laminate and tile flooring to the whole place. I replaced all the plumbing and electrical, which I also upgraded. I bought a fridge, stove and dishwasher. After I had looked at three other homes to renovate, done the CAD drawings for them and was ready to put in offers, I needed to list my place. I hesitated a short time because I still had to finish the baseboard in one of the rooms. BIG mistake. 

The Realtors I called because they had a lot of experience selling manufactured homes said it was the nicest manufactured home in the Okanagan. They wanted to list it at one hundred and forty-nine thousand dollars and said it would sell quickly. I told them that I wanted to put offers in on three other places so let's list at one hundred and thirty-nine thousand to get a quick sale and they agreed, obviously. Quick sale means no expenses and nice commission for them. I signed the listing on a Friday. The following Sunday there was an article in the local newspaper quoting one of the local Westbank Indian band chiefs, Noll Derriksan, saying that anyone who buys on native land is "stupid" because they could get their notice to vacate at any time and lose everything. He added that the crazy prices people were paying were the result of "greedy agents". Overnight the market collapsed. No Realtor would touch me for fear of getting sued. No lawyer would touch it. Even the native trust company, Peace Hills trust, who I had arranged a mortgage with in case my place didn't sell, backed out of their written commitment for the mortgage. I had run up debts with Home Hardware, Canadian Tire and Home Depot and now had no money to pay them. What was I going to do?   

My doctor at the time basically said that I was a poster child for a heart attack because of all the stress I was dealing with. He told me to just find a way to get out from under it to save myself. I started researching where I could go and settled on Boquete, Panama. I made arrangements to rent a house there, which turned out to be yet another mistake. What ended up happening with my place was the worst thing ever. My electrician who I let move in after he and his wife split up let snow build up on the roof despite me telling him how important it was to clear it off, and the roof collapsed. My hundred and forty thousand dollar place was now worth virtually nothing. My buddy ended up selling it for sixty thousand to a kid who never paid me in full. I had lost everything including my year and a half of work.  

Off the Panama. This was downtown Boquete. It was very small but showed the dangers of renting a place over the internet. It had no hot water so I had to pay to install an on demand heater. Despite me telling the girl I rented from that I was diabetic and needed a fridge for my insulin there was no fridge so I had to buy one. Things like pots and pans and dishes were sparse so I had to buy a lot of day to day things. The dog in the yard behind the house never stopped barking from morning to night so working was hard. Then I came home to find the power off and I learned that the previous tenant hadn't paid the bill for three months. My rent was supposed to include everything but suddenly I had to pay extra plus pay the previous tenant's overdue bill. I moved.






Next came yet another challenging and disastrous renovation. My friend in Boquete, Elizabeth, took me to see a place she was thinking of buying, Vista Grande, up on the hill overlooking Boquete. Although she decided not to buy it the owner from Kelowna did call me to ask if I was interested in renovating it so he could sell it. I moved into the lower apartment and got to work. I've written many stories about what happened with this place so I won't go into it here again, but save to say I ended up being forced back to Canada, thankfully to my cousin's home in Toronto.







Not much of a picture but my cousin basically saved my butt when things went so badly for me in Panama. She gave me a roof over my head and fed me too well for about six months before I moved to London, Ontario. I did do some minor maintenance for her and renovated her small bathroom in the basement.








My first place in London was the hotel. Things were very complicated with following Denise because she was still married but she was getting ready to leave him. For whatever reason we didn't discuss getting a place together, and we never would. I couldn't afford to stay in a hotel so I started looking for somewhere to rent. I soon discovered that London was an expensive place to live. I ended up renting what was basically a little more than a room in a tiny house with three other tenants. It was a nightmare trying to all share one fridge or to cook. I lived there in the winter and there was nowhere for me to park my car, so I found a place across the street where the tenant had no car and they let me park my car there. That meant that I would shovel the driveway there to get my car out, then come home and shovel that driveway too because no one else would. Although I did do some small renovations in her garage we eventually had a dispute and she threatened to lock my stuff in the garage. I left.    





Next came the strangest place I ever lived. It was a small studio apartment in the middle of the upper floor but had no windows. A couple of skylights were the only way I could tell if it was day or night and sometimes the weather because there would be snow on them. I wasn't here very long because I got a call for geared to income housing, but I did like being downtown.








Ah, the very first apartment building I ever lived in. I quickly learned that it is no way to live. Everything from the laundry to the elevators was annoying. Add a bed bug infestation, my car being broken into and destroyed, and the landlord company wrongly coming after me for over two thousand dollars in overdue rent, which turned out to be someone else, and it was my last apartment building. After five years of wasting my life away I left London to move to Cotacachi, Ecuador, yet again trying to find somewhere with a lower cost of living. 







When I planned to go to Ecuador and was looking for a place to live I obviously had not learned my lesson from Panama. I rented a cabin way up on the mountain outside Otavalo. It had such a great view and i was looking for somewhere with peace and quiet. After the first month or so there I made what I thought was a good deal with my landlady to rent long term including everything and meals. That didn't work out and I had numerous problems with them like them letting everyone in the other cabins help themselves to the firewood that I paid for. The worst part was when I got carbon monoxide poisoning from the fireplace and came within minutes of dying.

When I had had enough I moved to Cotacachi but couldn't find a place anywhere so I stayed in a hostel, the name of which I've forgotten. The couple who ran it were very nice and the cook would often make me something special. I kept looking for a place but there was nothing. I happened to mention that I was looking for a place to my doctor and she said that her daughter was moving out of an apartment that I might like. I did and moved in. It had some challenges, like the two big dogs on the roof of the place across the road who never stopped barking day and night. Things fell apart on me thanks to my government not paying my pension as promised so I had to limp back to Canada. My dear friend, Heather Paul, who worked with me forty years ago at Indal Products, said her son had a place north of Belleville that he was renovating to sell, so maybe I could help him in exchange for rent. Her son, Greg, was amazing. He gave me his VIP points to take the train from Toronto to Belleville and he put a lot of things in the house for me, like a fridge and stove, washer and dryer, bed and a pellet stove. Unfortunately the pellet stove failed and I froze my butt off for a week. I ended up collapsing in tears at the Salvation Army and they managed to get me into transitional housing at 10 Murney in Belleville. 

From there I went to where I am now, 20 Forin Street, then 51 Victoria Street, then back to Forin until I left for Mexico in September of 2017. My rent for a room had gone from $397 a month to $497 in one month and I knew that I could get a whole apartment for less than that in Mexico. After horrible experiences in both Panama and Ecuador I was very cautious about Mexico, figuring that it might not be any different, but it sure was.

Thanks to a new friend in Mexico, Francis Dryden, I managed to rent a huge two bedroom apartment in Ajijic for six thousand pesos a month (about $360 CDN) for six months, which was the term of my tourist visa. If Mexico didn't work out I had no idea what I was going to do when I came back to Canada, but I figured I had to try. I had put all my stuff in bins and stored them in the basement at Forin. I fell in love with Ajijic the very first day and my plan immediately changed to figuring out how I could stay forever. Long story how that failed including getting dumped by text message by my fiancée after we returned from a trip to Toronto to apply for my visa to stay in Mexico.. 

When my landlords put my rent up fifty-seven percent to ten thousand pesos a month I searched desperately for somewhere else and found a studio apartment in Riberas del Pillar. That turned into yet another nightmare with the landlord from hell and days and days with no water, no electricity or no internet. The ants and cockroaches also made me crazy. The place did have a nice pool but I only used it twice in over a year living there. 

When all hell broke loose with losing one of my pensions, running out of my meds and the rent going up two thousand pesos illegally, I made yet another huge mistake. A guy on Facebook offered me a month's free rent in Chelem in the Yucatan. I had to get away from all the stress I was under and couldn't find anywhere to live where I was so I went. One of the biggest mistakes of my life and I ended up coming back to Canada yet again. Total failure and the loss of my dream of getting married and living happily ever after. I debated whether to go back to Belleville or the Okanagan but an official with the city of Kelowna told be bluntly that on my pensions I couldn't afford to live there. I was also offered a room back at Forin, although that didn't turn out either. 

After a horrible trip back I ended up being put in a hotel in Trenton for the night. The next morning I learned that I had no way back, but then the hotel owner put me in touch with some other people who were coming back to Belleville and would give me a ride. That turned into a disaster and I ended up in the Comfort Inn in Belleville. The next day I was accepted back at 12 Murney on the condition that I would go to the hospital first, which I did. My sugars were off the charts and it's amazing that I didn't die but after five days in the hospital I was okay. I went to Murney and into a horrible room. I was only there a few days when I was told that I was moving to 49 Dunbar which I understood was the seniors house. After a few months there, again with numerous problems and coming close to getting evicted to the street, I was moved back to 20 Forin, where I am now.

At this point I am consumed by guilt over all the mistakes I've made and the things that have gone so wrong. I miss the Okanagan but my parents are now both gone and my life would be a pale shadow of what it once was. I am not in any shape to be able to downhill or cross-country ski, water ski, rollerblade, or hike and I would never be able to get my "toys" again, like my dirt bike, my snowmobile, my boat or even my rollerblades. I would be able to dance again at my favourite bar, The Corral, but I will never have a car so even that would be doubtful. It's also very expensive to live there now with rents having tripled since back when I was there. I do have quite a few friends that have stayed in touch with me over the years so that would be nice compared to the zero friends that I have here in Belleville. 

Belleville was never my first choice and I only ended up here more by accident and circumstances. The city has nothing to offer. I'm supposedly near the top of the emergency housing list but rents in this city are insane so unless it's geared to income there's no way I'll be able to afford anything. Having spent a lot of time in Kingston before on weekends I would much rather live there and I've been trying to get on their geared to income list but that's proven to be very difficult. There's a lot more to offer in Kingston, with a beautiful and thriving downtown, unlike Belleville, and a lot more to do. I also think that once the virus is over I would have a lot more opportunities building websites for businesses. I'm still going to hate the weather but it might be the only place I can live, unaffordable as it is. 

My dream was to marry and live out my life in Mexico. Even after that fell apart and nearly killed me I still loved so much about Mexico. The climate is perfect. The culture, the festivals, and the Mexican people are wonderful. I miss it every day and hate that I had to leave. I doubt that I could ever afford to go back because I would again lose one of my pensions after six months. I would have challenges getting my critical medications. Even when I went I was very worried about what would happen if I got sick and ended up needing the hospital. I couldn't possibly afford that. There's no public healthcare like there is in Canada, so I would end up dying or returning to Canada if I could even do that. The whole virus thing has made that even worse now. Not only that but life in Mexico is now a whole lot different because of the virus. No more taking the crammed buses. No more festivals or parades. The bars and restaurants are mostly closed still. My first attempt at building the local website was a disaster and I never made a dime. Would that be any different? I knew that I failed because I couldn't find someone local to work with me to call on clients and I have no reason to believe that would be any different. 

There's been two times in my life that I had serious thoughts about ending it. The first was after my fiancée broke up with me by text message. I cried for days and saw no reason to go on. I love her more than life itself and could not have been happier that we were getting married. Losing her and not understanding why tore my heart to pieces. I only thought of swimming out in the lake far enough to not make it back. I came dangerously close to giving up. Although i survived, the next time was after everything fell part on me with losing one of my pensions, running out of my meds and what happened with the landlord from hell. I had no idea what to do. The last thing I wanted to do was come back to Canada. I started researching if doing an overdose of insulin would kill me. It wouldn't. Then I was just going to get enough sleeping pills to do the job. Lie down on my bed and go peacefully. Had I not gotten that fateful message on Facebook from the guy offering me a place I might not be writing this. 

Stay tuned. Hopefully there will be more to the story.                                

Yet another chapter in my life

Good grief! Hard to believe that it's been more than six months since I started this post. I also can't figure out the date because on that day I was in the air somewhere returning from Merida, Mexico to Belleville, Ontario, Canada. My desktop computer was safely packed in my carry-on luggage so I couldn't use it. 

At long last I arrived back in Canada on November 2nd, just after midnight. It was one of the worst trips I had ever had, rivalling the disastrous trip Elba and I had in 2018 when I came back to apply for my temporal visa. I've covered that horror elsewhere. 

As one of the airline clerks had commented, "you have the worst flights I've ever seen". I left Merida, two hours late, and flew to Mexico City, where I had about a seven hour layover before flying on to Cancun. There was nowhere to sit or lay down at the airport so I wandered around until the Krispy Kreme donuts place finally opened at three in the morning. Gorging on coffee and chocolate donuts would come back on me later. Again I had a very long layover until flying on to Toronto. Throughout this very long trip I had not been taking my medications or my insulin. At one point I was sitting on one of the very hard benches trying to sleep when a very nice airline official asked me if I was okay. I wasn't. The next thing I knew they had me in a wheelchair and were taking me to the medical clinic at the Cancun airport. A very nice doctor, who spoke perfect English, did some tests, told me that my sugars were "off the charts, and then gave me a shot of insulin and some meds. They wheeled me back to the waiting area where I dosed off about two hours before my flight. Next I heard my name being paged and an airline person came rushing up asking my name, then wheeled me to the boarding gate. The stuck me in row one behind the wall. Not a great spot for a long flight but at least I was on the right plane. 

I arrived at Pearson just after midnight. My bus to Belleville was not until six in the morning so I had a lot of time to kill. I did mange to find the Tim Hortons so I got to have my first Timmie's coffee in two years. Delicious! Of course you can't smoke in the airport so I had to go outside to smoke. That was the first time I realized that it was freezing and I only had my leather spring coat. I was not happy to leave the perfect weather in Mexico. When I first left two years ago I said goodbye to winter, figuring I would never see cold or snow again. Wrong!

The bus ride was only from the airport to the terminal in downtown Toronto, then I had to wait another two hours for my bus to Belleville. That didn't start well when the bus driver initially refused my two pieces of luggage, telling me I was only allowed one. Eventually he agreed and threw my bags, including the one I just told him had my computer in it, under the bus. I didn't know that another surprise was waiting for me in Belleville. Haven seen the Greyhound bus downtown at the main bus terminal before I assumed that was where I would get dropped off. Wrong! For some unknown reason the bus only stopped just off the 401 highway at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere, miles from downtown Belleville. It was a twenty dollar cab ride and I didn't have twenty dollars on me. Luckily I had my friend, Doral's number and she agreed to pick me up. She was planning to go to a dance at the Legion so I went along. Hard to believe that I actually managed to dance when I hadn't slept in two days. 

At this point my memory is a little foggy about how I ended up at a motel in Trenton for the night. I had called the OW emergency number and they had sent a cab to take me there. I was beyond exhausted and had my first good night's sleep and a wonderful shower in the morning. It was then that I learned that OW takes you to Trenton but does not bring you back. I was very lucky that the motel owner told me there were people in another unit that would take me to Belleville for ten dollars. That was the start of a couple of very strange days where I ended up going with them to the Comfort Inn in Napanee, then back on the reserve they wouldn't let me stay with them again, so I was going to stay at their daughter's place. That ended when the police came and told me that I was not allowed to stay there, but a very nice officer drove me all the way to the Comfort Inn in Belleville where OW put me up for another night. They also gave the officer twenty dollars for me to get something to eat.

The next day two people came from the CMHA in Belleville and took me to the office for an intake interview. I met with a guy I knew from before and they took me to the first house on Murney where I had stayed years earlier. Not long after they told me that I was moving to Dunbar, the seniors' house because someone there couldn't handle the stairs. What they didn't tell me was that it was a shared room. The guy I shared the room with basically slept all day and night so I was always creeping around trying not to wake him. He moved to Markham shortly after and I had the room to myself for several months. I eventually moved to a larger shared room and then, over my strong objections, they moved me to my current "emergency" room at Forin, where I had lived twice before years ago.

I was forced to come back to Canada because I had lost my GIS pension which was about a third of my income. I was also running out of my critical medications including insulin and I would die without my meds. After my idiot landlord put my rent up forty percent, totally illegal, and demanded the money right away I had made a fatal mistake taking up an offer for a month's free rent in Chelem, only to learn that the house was sold and I had to find another place to live. It was brutally hot there and I never wanted to stay there. It was all crashing in on me so I figured I had no other choice than to return to Canada, much as that broke my heart. 

I came back figuring that I would get my meds again. Wrong. I figured I would get my dental work. Wrong. I figured I would live in a decent room. Wrong. I figured I would schedule my shoulder surgery. Wrong. I figured I would find a decent place to live in Belleville. Wrong. I figured that I could get some financial help on getting new glasses. Wrong. I figured that I would restart my web design business and make some extra money. Wrong. I figured that my GIS pension would be reinstated as I had been told in writing. Wrong!

My doctor here in Belleville before had been charged with some narcotics offence and his office closed. I was told that it would take at least a year to find a new doctor. I applied at the local health centre but when I followed up a couple of months later was told the same thing. As a diabetic my medications are critical. I met with the pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart but they would only give me insulin and a couple of the more critical meds until I manged to find a doctor. I was on Metformin for years but Dr. Savic had switched me to Janumet when Metformin stopped working. Despite getting Janumet for years from Shoppers they wouldn't renew it. I went to a walk in clinic but they would only give me a prescription for a month of Metformin. Eventually I met with a nurse at the Diabetic Education Centre at the hospital and got an appointment with the diabetic doctor a month out. Thanks to the virus that was cancelled and the appointment was by phone instead. The doctor would only renew my diabetic meds and not the other ones that I am on. The only hoe for those is the telemedicine offered by Shoppers, but it is apparently almost impossible to get in touch with.

Although dental work is ten times the price it was in Mexico, the Ontario government had launched a new dental program for seniors. I applied and was accepted. I asked about my broken tooth and, more importantly, the bridge that was falling out any day now. Both were approved and I was given an appointment at the Quinte Health Centre for March 19th. It was not easy to get there so I walked most of the way, only to get there and learn that the centre was closed because of the virus. They had left a message but I didn't get it. No clue now if and when they will re-open but no doubt it will take months to clear the backlog. 

Prior to coming back to Canada the President of the charity who ran the home I was in before leaving for Mexico told me that they would have a place for me. The day I was leaving I got an email saying that he no longer had a place for me. My flights were booked so I had no choice but to come back despite having nowhere to live. After being shunted around by OW on the emergency list I ended up back at Murney where I had first been years ago. It was not a great room with nowhere to hang my clothes. I was only there a few days when they moved me Dunbar into a shared room. I had so many issues with what was then the CMHA, at one point being threatened with immediate eviction to the street. It was nothing but outright lies, failed promises and abuse. Just one of the outright lies was that they would not move me to the "emergency" room at Forin unless I had more permanent housing arranged, which I didn't have because they failed to pay London Middlesex Housing as they promised in December. On a Monday the Housing Manager said that she knew that I was happy sharing a room at Dunbar and I would not be moving. On Tuesday I got an email telling me that I was moving to Forin the next day. I knew how bad the room was here. I had had issues with the "facilitator" here before because he was power tripping and I knew we would have problems again, and we have. This room is also hotter than hell in the summer and I will never be able to sleep. My only hope is that now that I am finally on the emergency housing list I will find permanent housing. I have been in touch with a lady at Aldersgate who have wonderful seniors' apartments. When a unit becomes available they contact Hastings Housing and get three names. Hopefully one of them is mine and I am approved. 

Just before I went to Mexico Dr. Savic had given me a referral to a surgeon who I met with. He gave me a shot of cortisone for my should er but it didn't work so we were going to schedule surgery. The wait was about six months and I was leaving for Mexico in two, so that didn't work. When I came back to Belleville I went to his office but I was told that I needed a new referral from a doctor, which, of course, I don't have and won't have for months if not years. Looks like I'm stuck with my aching shoulder for now. 

My glasses are now about eight years old. When I got them I had the coating added to protect my eyes. What I didn't know was that this coating is only good for a year. Maybe it was the strength of the sun in Progreso but I noticed that the coating started breaking up, leaving steaks of it making it very difficult to see. As a senior I hoped to get some assistance getting new glasses when I came back but there is nothing. Even what was a free examination is now eighty dollars. My glasses will cost about eight hundred dollars which, of course, I don't have. Beyond the streaks my vision has also changed. I need a magnifying glass to read anything small now and my eyes are very strained working on the computer all day.

I've been designing websites for decades now, sometimes more successfully than others. That was the case in Mexico where I spent the better part of two years building what I thought was the best site I had ever done, It had everything, from free classifieds and forums, to the most affordable advertising available. Before I went to Mexico I knew that I was going to lose the GIS pension once I was out of the country for six months so I had to replace this income. Several colleagues in Ajijic told me this would be a breeze. It wasn't. I never made a dime so losing a third of my income became even more critical. 

After going through a horrible time when the government suspended my pensions, in error, leaving me thirty-three cents in the bank, I knew that my GIS pension would be restored as of the date I returned to Canada. The government was claiming that I had been overpaid the GIS so I needed to know EXACTLY what was going to happen with my GIS. I had been dealing with a very helpful lady at Service Canada, Melanie Shumilak. She sent me an email saying that the GIS would be restored as of the date of my return, then there would be a negotiation about the claimed over-payment, but it would never be more than thirty percent of the GIS. That was a major reason that I returned to Canada. 

Based o my return November 2nd I submitted all the documents Melanie told me to submit. I faxed them and mailed them as confirmation. She told me that I had been put on an emergency list and should hear within five days. I didn't. Instead I went through three months of unbelievable grief with people in the CPP Integrity Office, the same ones who had suspended my pensions in total in error before. Finally a Nicole at Service Canada phoned to give me the "good news". My GIS had been restored; however, they were taking one hundred percent for November, December and January, leaving me NOTHING! That's good news? It's now been over six months that I've been fighting with everyone, from the Prime Minister on down, to do what I was told in writing. I learned that Melanie had been wrong about the percentage of my income that they could take. It was twenty-five percent, not thirty. So then tell me how they could take one hundred percent. Taking twenty-five percent as of the date I returned would mean they owe me thirteen hundred and fifty dollars! That would sure help me right now! 

As I've repeated many times. John Lennon got it right when he said, "life is what happens while you are making other plans". I am living, breathing proof of that.                            

Happy Birthday to me....NOT!

Birthdays are often a time for reflection, both on the life you've lived, your successes and your failures, and the things you have not yet done, like your bucket list. Today on my seventieth birthday, a day I never expected to make, my reflections on the past are only a very long list of failures, mistakes and regrets, and my only thoughts about a bucket list are about kicking it.

Today is certainly not a day to celebrate. I am totally alone in the world and realize now that no one cares whether I live or die. All I can say is that I have always tried. There's no question that I have made many mistakes along the way and I accept full responsibility for the consequences. Some things have just been the result of incredibly bad luck. Others have no explanation. 

The biggest regret of my life has been with my family. It's been twenty-five years since I spoke with my daughter, Heather, but I don't know why she choose to cut me off. We always had a great father daughter relationship until I left to go to BC to be with my dying mother. At the time I didn't know whether I would stay in BC after my mother died or not but if I did I hoped that my kids would come out for vacations. We had such an amazing time when my kids had come out before, although it broke my heart when my daughter told me to stay out west. She said she had never seen me happier. Over the years many people have tried to contact my daughter, but failed. Even my Dad had called her one winter from Arizona asking her to call him collect. He could well have been telling her that I had died, but she never called him back. It really hurt.

The year after I went out west my daughter had called my parents, asking me to come down to her graduation. Certainly I would find a way but then she called again to say that her grad had been delayed until the fall but I would still go. I never heard from her again about it. In January of the following year I talked to her briefly and she said that she wanted to see me so I took my life in my hands and drove through the winter across the country to see her. When I got there they had hidden her away and wouldn't let me see her. After three weeks of trying but failing I drove back to BC, crying all the way back. I never saw her again. 

It was the same with my son. We met when he was coming to London, Ontario with his work, but it was a very short meeting. The end result was that he was going to organize a meeting in the summer with me and his three daughters, my grandchildren. He never contacted me again and when I called the number he had given me it was someone else who had bought his phone. I was upset and asked him what was going on on Facebook. His answer was to block me.

Then after I had moved to Mexico I got a Facebook message from Mackenzie, one of my granddaughters. She was fourteen at the time and was so upset that her parents had not told her about me. She said that she should have been allowed to make her own decision about contacting me, which was so right. We chatted back and forth for a while then she told me that she was coming to Mexico for a friend's wedding. She was going to let me know where and when. I was so thrilled at the thought of meeting her. Then she suddenly cut me off with no explanation. The next thing I saw was a photo of her in Puerto Villarta at the wedding. She hasn't spoken to me since or given me any explanation as to why. It hurts every day.

No, turning seventy is not as happy day.      


I was sitting at our usual table at the Legion

When a girl stood up and she was a vision

Blondes have always been my nemesis

And this one was sure one not to miss

Her dance moves made my heart skip a beat

I just knew that we needed to meet

I got up my courage to go and talk to her

That she could dance with me I wasn’t sure

What to say to her I started to worry

I said my name but she said “I’m sorry”

She was sorry about my name?

That was a first. Was I to blame?

She laughed and said her name was Sornia

So much better but I thought she said Sonia

Only later did I learn that was wrong

I’d finally get it right. It wouldn’t be long

Her hair. Her eyes. Her smile had my heart in a whirl

I wondered to myself if she could be my girl.

My friend said to take it slow. Don’t frighten her off

But I was so worried it would not be enough

Total honesty has been my crutch for my whole life

And I sure knew being honest about being my wife

Would end it before it had even could begin

Caution would rule if her heart I could win

But I blew it by making a comment I’d regret

“When we get married forget a cigarette

The choice between you and smoking is clear as a bell”

Being with you is pure heaven. Smoking is pure hell

She is the very best dance partner I’ve ever had

That I found her at last sure makes me glad

What the future will hold who really knows?

That there’s only two perfect people really shows

Just how hard it is to find your soulmate

Especially when right now we don’t even date

She says she wants to be my “friend”

That dreaded “kiss of death” to the end

But hope springs eternal is what they say

So I won’t give up until she says “no way!”

A hopeless romantic is certainly me

With her in my life so very happy I’d be

You got it. They want it. They will take it.

Okay, so you’re asking how I could be so stupid trusting a Mexican “friend” when I had been ripped off of my jewelry by a young Mexican girl who I only tried to help get some food for her baby? Good question. This was much different in that I trusted a guy who I had known for two years and considered to be a “friend”. Boy, was I wrong!

No doubt you think I am just complaining and I do agree that I need to vent a little because I’m so angry and I can’t do a thing about it because of my own stupidity; however,  I am posting this in the hopes that someone will learn from my mistakes and not be victimized the way I was.

I’ve gone into what was happening with my idiot landlord in another post, so I won’t repeat all that here. He had made my life a living hell since the day I moved in but recently it got worse. My apartment flooded every time it rained at night so I got up to an inch of water everywhere. The ceiling was leaking badly plus I had two windows that had been broken for months. Not only did he not do the repairs, but he increased my rent 2,000 a month, which is totally illegal under the terms of my lease and rent control in Mexico, demanded that I pay it early, and said nothing would be repaired until I paid the new rent. It was an intolerable situation to say the least.

Just when I was about to give up two things happened. First, a Canadian friend offered to pick up all my stuff and move it to her storage and let me stay in her trailer until October 28th when it was rented to another tenant. She said she would have me out of there by Saturday, August 31st. She would bring over some plastic bins for me to pack everything in and to go downstairs and wait for her to bring them to me. I waited and I waited, then I sent her a message asking what was going on? She replied that her boyfriend did not agree with what she was doing, so the deal was off.

Now the panic really set in. As much as I had some very dark thoughts about what to do I hated the idea that my idiot landlord was going to get all my stuff, like my desktop computer, my big screen monitor, my printer, my desk and more. I posted photos of everything for sale on Facebook with how much I had paid. Not a soul responded; however two things did happen.

First, a lady in Guadalajara who I had been chatting with on Messenger, asked me what type of things I had for sale. She ended up coming to my place and buying an iron, ironing board and some patio tables. That got us talking a lot more on Messenger and when she understood what I going through she offered to sell my things if I moved them to her place. That avoided my landlord getting everything but I still had no clue what to do with me.

Then out of the blue a guy posted on Messenger an offer to help me with a free apartment for the month. His house was in Chelem, Yucatan and he sent me photos of the apartment which was gorgeous. Right on the ocean. Originally I declined if only because it would be a major move to a place I knew nothing about plus my two years of work on my website, AjijicToday would be toast, but we ended up talking for quite a while and he convinced me to come, although he also said that he needed to know right away or he would rent the apartment. It was a very stressful time and was about to result in some hasty decisions which I lived to regret.

I called a driver I had used for two years, someone I considered more of a friend, to ask about moving my things to my friend in Guadalajara. As luck would have it he said he had been hired by someone to move furniture from Guadalajara, he had a van booked, and, most importantly, he would move my things for free. This was on a Tuesday and he had the van booked for Thursday. Now panic really set in. I had one day to pack all my stuff to move, book a flight to Merida and figure out what I was going to do with my computer.

This is where the lessons learned start.

He took me to get some boxes from Strom and to Walmart to get some plastic bins, which were on sale. I bought five, hoping that would be enough with the boxes. That Wednesday was one of the most difficult of my life and beyond exhausting to pack everything. I knew that I would only be allowed two suitcases, one of which was already oversized so I would have to pay extra for it. It was incredibly difficult to look at everything and decide whether to give it up or take it with me in my luggage.

In the meantime my dentist had asked me about my executive office chair, my monitor and my printer. He was interested in the monitor and he said his brother’s office had been broken into and everything stolen so he would probably want the printer. I was very concerned about these two things making it to Guadalajara or if my friend could get a reasonable price for them, so I had my driver take them to my dentist. I also gave him my 2,000 pesos office chair because of all the work he had done to relieve my pain.

Shortly after the trouble started and I had no idea just how bad it was going to get. My driver called and said that the van had broken down. He had two guys who would move my stuff for seven hundred pesos. What choice did I have? My life was packed in boxes and bins piled high. I had packed my food for my friend in Guadalajara. My landlord was pressing me for the rent. I had to agree.

In all the panic I didn’t have a bin to pack all the food from my refrigerator, so we rushed to Walmart again to get another one. This is only important because it’s important to note that there were now six bins in total.

The guys showed up with a pickup truck which I didn’t believe had enough room for my stuff. They also had no room for me, so I had to go with my driver in his car. Yet more money that I could not afford.

The guys left and we followed them shortly after. Again, important to the story of what happened. We found my friend’s house and the moving guys arrived shortly after and unloaded everything into her garage. Given that I would probably never see her again I wanted to spend some time with her, if only to thank her for what she was doing for me. That didn’t happen because my driver said he had another client to take back to Ajijic after he dropped me off at the airport. Here again, important to the story, and the first of many lies.

After I finally arrived to my new apartment here I went on Messenger to let my friend know that I had arrived safely. This was the first indication of the trouble that would soon unfold. She said my driver had come back to her place after dropping me off at the airport. He said that the bins were his and he had loaned them to me. Another lie. He knew that they were mine because he was there when I bought them. Then she asked me where the coffee maker that I had promised to her was? I had no idea. I texted my driver and he said it was there. Another lie.

Then she had gone through all the photos I had taken for the Facebook post and she started asking me where certain things were. Not surprisingly things of value. The ones I hoped that she got a decent price for so I would have some money after paying her a commission that she had agreed to. She had apparently texted my driver asking where certain things were, like her coffee make and he said that I had sold a lot of things before I moved. Yet another lie because I hadn’t sold a thing. She also said my very expensive desk wasn’t there either.

As it became more and more apparent that things had been stolen, either by the guys who moved my stuff, either on their own volition or on instructions from my driver, I started texting him asking what was going on? No response for days, with the last text telling him to respond or I would phone the police.

Still no response so I texted one of his drivers telling her to tell him to answer me or I would contact the police. A short time later he called threatening my life if I sent one more text message. I was now two thousand kilometers away so I wasn’t worried, but he did know where my friend lived and she was already worried now that she knew he was a thief. She begged me not to contact the police because she was obviously worried about her family.

The point in all of this is a question of trust. Not only did I believe that my driver was an honorable, honest man, certainly no thief, but after two years I considered him to be more of a friend than just my driver. He proved that he was no friend. Just a common criminal, willing to screw anyone including friends.

So, what’s the lesson learned, and at great expense to boot?

When it comes to Mexicans trust no one. I am certainly not saying that the majority of Mexicans aren’t wonderful, warm, friendly, hard-working, honest people. They are, but, based on my horrible experience, I still believe that you can’t trust anyone.  

Hindsight, of course, is always 20/20. What should I have done? First, I should have carefully taken photos of everything as I packed. I should have had a documented receipt signed by the moving guys and my driver confirming the number of bins and boxes. For the boxes I should have signed each one on the top and had my driver sign as well so I would know if the box had been opened after it arrived at my friend’s place.

After everything was delivered I should have checked that nothing had been opened, or damaged (they destroyed my large and expensive fan), and taken photos of everything to confirm that what was loaded at my place was actually delivered. It wasn’t. I soon understood why my driver was in such a hurry to leave. He didn’t want me to realize how much had been stolen.

What do I think happened? First, the van did not break down because not only was there room for everything but also room for me to go with the bins and boxes so nothing could be taken. The trip would also have been free as he had promised. Instead remember that the moving guys left before we did and arrived after we did. Why?

Either on their own, or more likely as instructed by my driver, they had stopped somewhere along the way and gone through all the bins and boxes to steal anything of value. They kept the coffee maker and my desk on the truck for my driver who hadn’t even had the decency to make me an offer for them. They put everything that they stole in one bin, a bin that later I understood had never been delivered because we were short one bin.

That a “friend” would do this to me has made me very upset and angry. Yes, I feel stupid for trusting him. Much worse is how it has upset my friend in Guadalajara. She was incredibly generous in offering to sell everything for me. At first I wondered if I was just being unbelievably stupid trusting someone that I barely knew with all my stuff? There was no guarantee that she wouldn’t just sell everything and keep the money, but this was still better than leaving everything for my idiot landlord. In fact, she has already sent me money that literally saved my life because I had no money for food. She’s a wonderful lady who has proved to be a great friend, far better than all the “friends” I thought I had, not one of which offered to help me in any way.

Just in case you think I somehow gipped my terrible landlord by not paying the rent for September, he got to keep eight hundred pesos of the damage deposit. I left the blinds I had bought for the two big windows that I had also paid to have installed. I left many things that were just too difficult to remove or pack, like the bathroom mirror, toilet seat, lighting strip, shower curtain, under counter light in the kitchen, dish drainer, upgraded kitchen faucet, huge 20 X 12 tarp that had blown off the mirador, and three plants on the terrace.

Lessons learned. Don’t trust anyone here.

The Last Post, Again

I guess it speaks volumes about my life that this is my third attempted "last post". My first very dark days were after I was dumped by the love of my life by text message with no explanation, then or since. It came as close to destroying me as I had ever been in my life. I felt totally worthless and saw no future. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and if I knew then what I know now I wouldn't have bothered trying to go on. The months since the breakup have only brought more and more pain. 

Around this time last year, believing that it was over for me, I wrote my own eulogy, dumb as that was. I accepted full blame for the mess I found myself in and knew that there sure wouldn't be anyone at any memorial for me or who would really say anything nice about me. As I said in that original eulogy when someone takes their own life often people around them are left feeling very guilty that they didn't pay any attention or offer to help before it was too late. There's also the question about how someone could be so stupid to just give up and take what is often called the "easy way out". Believe me, there's nothing easy about this decision. It's gut-wrenching. I've spent days on the verge of tears and fell apart crying uncontrollably many times. You become consumed with that single fact that you will finally be out of all the pain and suffering. Any regrets? Certainly. Hundreds. 

Not that it will matter one iota to me because I'll be gone, but I do feel the need to explain how I ended up in this mess. Mainly it will be for my family, despite the fact that they have never given a damn about me. My own kids, Chris and Heather, cut me off years ago for reasons I never understood other than their vindictive mother. My daughter was the best thing ever in my life and I was so proud of her, but she cut me off over twenty-four years ago with no explanation. Hurt me every single day since. In explaining myself here, or trying to, the only real reason I could think of was my five grandchildren. With the exception of Mackenzie, who contacted me on Messenger when she was fourteen and was so angry that her Dad had told her I was dead, no one else has ever tried to contact me. I've always been very public with this website and I've had the same email address for twenty years. Same with Facebook which I joined back in 2004 when it first started. Mackenzie chatted with me several times and then said that she was coming to Mexico for a friend's wedding last May. She said she would let me know where and when and maybe we could meet. That was a thrill. Then just as suddenly she stopped talking to me, refusing to answer me about her trip. It broke my heart to see her Facebook photos in Puerto Villarta. I have no clue why she cut me off completely.

So I thought what if when my other grand kids are older and somehow they learn that they had a grandfather they didn't know about they just might want to know about him? Even if this possibility is beyond remote I wanted to be able to share something with them to answer any questions they might have. There's also my hope that they might learn something from all the mistakes I've made and avoid repeating them. I also believe that many lies have been told about me or why would they have cut me off? There just has to be some valid reason, especially for my son and daughter who are long passed being adults who can make their own decisions. Over the years many friends have said that my kids would reconnect with me once they got out from under their mother's skirt. Never happened. My hosting for this personal website expires at the end of October so everything I've ever written will disappear so I'm hoping that someone, anyone, will share this with my family before it's gone. Yet another total waste of time if it doesn't. 

So, why is the fat lady singing her lungs out? 

It's virtually impossible to prioritize the reasons, so I won't even try. Here, totally randomly then, are the reasons for me to give up:

First, and foremost I guess, is money. Back in Canada before I made the decision to come to Mexico, I was living in a group home in Belleville, Ontario. I had been bounced around their homes in town and was about to wear out my welcome. They had also just put my rent up from $379 a month for just a room to $479, which was totally not affordable on my measly pensions. An apartment would have cost me at least eight hundred a month, plus utilities or at least a grand a month, leaving me no money for food or anything else. This was also unfurnished and I had little else besides my desk, my laptop and my clothes. All totally impossible. That's when I started looking at Mexico. It's a very long story as to how I managed to fly to Mexico, but I've covered that elsewhere on this site. The fact was that, thanks to the help of my new friend at the time, Francis Dryden, I managed to get a great apartment in La Floresta, for 6,700 pesos, or about three hundred and fifty dollars at the time, everything included. This was a big apartment of my own, not just a room! Good deal!

As I've said many times I fell in love with Ajijic the day I arrived. That very first day I gave up on the idea of just spending my six month tourist visa here and I wanted to figure out how to stay. Then, shortly after, I met the love of my life and everything changed. Now the plan was to go back to Canada to apply for my temporal visa, come back, get married and live happily ever after. That plan went in the dumper the day we got back because she dumped me n a simple text message with no explanation. That sent me spiraling down into a very dark place. I had no wish to go on. 

Somehow, mostly thanks to a couple of friends, well, friends back then anyway, Don and Violata, I pulled through and went on. After my landlords put my rent up to ten thousand a month, illegally, I moved to an apartment in Riberas del Pilar, the one soon to prove to be the apartment from hell. 

Back to finances. Back when I decided to give Mexico a try, after disasters in both Panama and Ecuador, I never gave a thought to my pensions other than could I survive on them in Mexico? From my previous experience with Ecuador I knew that I would lose the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) once I was out of the country for six months, but I thought with Mexico I would probably return to Canada before the six months expired. I had also done a ton of research on websites for the area known as Lakeside, found nothing like I had created in both Panama and Ecuador, so I started building AjijicToday. Francis had said that he thought replacing the five hundred dollars from losing the GIS would be easy to replace. I hoped so but nothing could have been further from the truth. In almost two years of very long days working on my websites I had yet to make a dime. A total disaster compared to Panama and Ecuador. 

Although there was a whole lot of confusion about when I would lose the GIS, I knew that coming back to Mexico in April of last year meant that I might lose it in October, but that didn't happen, thankfully; however, doom was on the horizon. Earlier this year my pensions were suspended, leaving me thirty-three cents in the bank. What followed was a nightmare with a total asshole in the Federal Government, a Victor Sokolov in the CPP Integrity Services, who said that my pensions had been suspended because a letter had been returned from my old address in Belleville and there had been no response to phone calls made to my dead cell phone in Canada either. After agreeing that all my information had been updated to my address in Mexico and my cell number here, and that suspending my pensions had been wrong, he still did nothing to restore my pension payments. He wanted me to send him the the answers to a multi-page questionnaire along with a Travel History Report from the Canada Border Services Agency, something that takes weeks to get. It was only through the valiant efforts of both Melanie at Service Canada and Adrianna at my MP office back in Belleville that I finally got funds released after three weeks of grief.

Not only had I now lost the GIS of about five hundred dollars a month, or a third of my income, but now this Victor idiot was going to go after me to claw back the over payment of the GIS I had received, about three thousand dollars. If I were to return to Canada I would get the GIS again; however, they would garnishee thirty percent of my total pensions until this was paid back, leaving me even less to try to live on. Hopeless!

Living on fifteen hundred dollars, especially lowly Canadian dollars, was hard enough. Now trying to survive on less than a thousand dollars has been impossible. I end up borrowing money. I end up with no food for days on end. I can't afford my rent of only five thousand pesos. There are days I don't have bus fare. The stress has become unbearable. How could it get any worse? 

Well, yesterday, right at the worst possible time possible when I am seriously thinking of just giving up, my idiot landlord increase my rent to seven thousand pesos, plus he wants it now! He whines that he has no money to do all the repairs desperately needed unless I pay him right away. This idiot has made my life a living hell since the day I moved in last year in May. No hot water for days on end. No internet, which he lied about in the first place telling me it was great. It's not. No electricity when the local utility came to shut off our power because the bill hand't been paid. Numerous times when I was infested with ants and cockroaches. Most recently my apartment floods every time it rains. One of the windows by my bed has been broken for months and it's not tempered glass so if it falls out it could take my leg off. The bathroom window which is wooden and so warped and damaged by the rain that half of it fell out onto the toilet the other day is also the reason my bathroom floods as well. He has refused to fix any of this until I pay him more rent. 

I reminded him today that under the law here in Mexico the rent is due on the first of each month in accordance with the lease. The lease also states that any notice of eviction, termination by either party or changes, such as the rental amount, must be notified in writing thirty days in advance. He doesn't care about the law. The last time I had had enough and told him that I would pay my rent into the court, as I am entitled to do, he shut the water and the electricity off on me. He is unquestionably the worst landlord I've ever had in my entire life. A total idiot! Now I was worried that he would change the locks on me and leave me on the street. Just adding to my stress.

My health is in equally bad shape. Somehow, maybe thanks to the climate here, I have managed to survive without my critical diabetic medications for more than eight months, although I still have insulin which is also about to run out very soon. Months ago John Kelly, the President of the Canadian Legion here, told me that I could get my medications from Seguro Popular, but after three trips to their office in Chapala the doctor said they couldn't give me anything but my insulin. Better than nothing but not enough to deal with my diabetes, especially my very painful peripheral neuropathy in my feet.

Out of total desperation I tried to contact my doctor back in Belleville to see if there was any way for them to renew my medications. When I had not heard back from my wonderful nurse, Claudia, I took a chance and called the pharmacy. The pharmacist informed me that my doctor had been charged with some narcotics offense and the clinic had been shutdown. She was most empathetic and agreed to renew my meds for three months until I could find another doctor. My friend, Doral, back in Belleville agreed to pick them up for me and ship them to me. I just asked her to give me the size and weight of the carton so I could figure out what courier to use. Instead she sent them with Canada Post who are located in the pharmacy. The clerk said that I would have them in two weeks, which only shows how little Canada Post knows about the mail system, or rather lack thereof, here in Mexico. The shipment was January 19th. I received it five months later!

Could it get any worse? Oh, yeah! When I opened the small box it was insulin, not my dry meds! Obviously total garbage after sitting somewhere, not refrigerated, for five months. Why she would have picked up insulin instead of my dry meds, then shipped them by mail, destroying it in the process, is beyond me. Doesn't everyone know that insulin must be kept refrigerated? Guess not. So, after five months of delay and then still not getting my meds I contacted Shoppers Drug Mart and explained the whole situation, asking if my proper meds could still be shipped? They refused despite telling them that it was death sentence for me. They're in the health industry, professing to care, but they don't.

Like any diabetic constantly at risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, even on the right medications, there is also a risk of losing hands or feet to amputation, vision damage including blindness, kidney failure, hearing loss, dental problems with fracturing teeth, infections, slow healing and even Alzheimer's. Such fun! With your feet it is important that they are inspected regularly for any cracks or dryness and your nails must be cut to avoid fungal infections. Whenever I could afford it, which was all too rarely, Elisa at Doctor George cut my nails and inspected my feet. She also gave me some medication to treat some minor infection. After losing the GIS pension I had not been able to afford to see her so my nails were in terrible shape. I also dropped my mirror and broke it, so I couldn't even check the bottom of my feet myself.                           

So many things have contributed to my current depression. Some big. Some small. One thing that has surprised me is that I believe, like most people do, that when you are in trouble, either from mental illness or severe depression, all you need to do is ask for help. Turns out that's not true. I've begged for help from everyone. People I thought were friends. Family. Every level of government in Canada, from the Prime Minister's Office on down, including the Minister responsible for Seniors. The Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Sheer, who is facing an election soon. I've begged every politician to restore the GIS for seniors who are just looking for somewhere that they can afford to live. I've asked them to increase pensions to at least the poverty level so seniors can live with some dignity. Not a single response from anyone. I went so far as to contact gopublic at the CBC, who didn't care and wouldn't pick up the cause. I emailed or tweeted every news organization in Canada trying to tell my story. Not just for me but for others who were also suffering. After watching a story about mental illness on The National on the CBC, about an organization in Ontario and funded by OHIP, called Big White Wall, I registered and sent them an email detailing my desperate situation and begging for help. I got no response. 

This is what you get when you ask for help? What is painfully obvious is that no one cares. You are alone in the world. Period. 

Another huge disappointment is with people I stupidly, naively thought were true friends. I'm not referring to my more than a thousand Facebook "friends" because few of them are friends or even people I know. Facebook just seems to be a case of he who has the most friends wins. Stupid! I did believe though that some of the "friends" I have made in my life, back in Canada, during my twenty-five plus years in Brampton, Ontario, my five years in London, Ontario, my two years in Belleville, Ontario and especially my fourteen years in BC, plus in Panama, in Ecuador, and here in Mexico, were people who actually cared. They would read or listen and offer to help in anyway they could, just like I would as a true friend. Boy, was I wrong! Not a soul has ever made a comment on this personal website in more than ten years. The only thing I ever got from Facebook "friends" was personal attacks telling me to "suck it up", "get over yourself", or "stop posting". So cruel and dangerous at a time when you are so fragile. 

When I first arrived here in Mexico I met so many people and I thought I would soon have as many friends as I had back in BC. About forty at least. I met Francis who had helped me with that first apartment, his lovely wife, Anastasia, their friends, Violeta and Bill, who were the ones who soon got me and my love together, and just so many other wonderful people at the places Francis and Anastasia took me to the very first week I was here. I could not have been more thrilled to have met so many potential friends, if only because I have always been a very social person who loves being with a lot of people. I thought that this was going to be paradise here for sure. 

Well, it seems that just like everything else in my wasted life, that didn't turn out to be true either. Just like when couples get divorced, people choose sides and you lose the friends you had as a couple. I don't think that happened with us. It was more because I stopped going to all the places we had gone for months, like Adelita's, because I just couldn't face her, plus she married Don Row, a guy who had been my best friend before she dumped me. Seeing them together would have killed me so I just stopped going out. The friends I had before I got involved with her, Bill and Violeta, had their own troubles after Bill got very sick, spent months in hospital and Violeta cared for him. Something terrible happened because she suddenly went on a tirade to me against him swearing to never have anything to do with him anymore. I offered to get together and talk, but she never answered me, in fact, she never spoke to me again. We haven't seen each other since January of last year and she has ignored my requests to get together to catch up. She was good friends with my former fiancee so I can only think that she was told some lies. 

On a hopefully less depressing topic and mostly if anyone who ever cared for me in any way ever actually reads this, I want to cover how hard I've tried to get ahead here and survive. I mentioned earlier that I hadn't made a dime from my websites and that I have never understood. I've built what I believe is the best city portal website that I've ever built. There's so much to offer, both to advertising clients at very affordable rates, and to visitors with tons of free features. I've just failed miserably to attract any paying clients or visitors, no matter how hard I've tried. It's a mystery to me. 

Hard as I've worked on my websites though it isn't all I've done to try to survive. For decades I've come up with business ideas that were eventually launched by others and it seems that I was always ahead of my time. Decades ago, back in Kelowna, BC I put together a group of companies to launch what today we know as the "cloud", long before its time, but Microsoft had no vision of just what it could be and they squashed it. Ironically my slogan for our concept, called iNetworks, was "access anytime, anywhere and on any device". Months later, after turning down our proposal, Microsoft launched their plan with the slogan, you guessed it, "access anytime, anywhere and on any device". Had I had any money at the time I would have sued their ass off. 

At one point in my life, many years ago, I had a hard copy file chock full of ideas, drawings, written proposals, hand-drawn CAD renditions and more. Just one of them was for what I called The Future Shoppe, which was going to be a store featuring all the latest products. I paid a graphic designer to draw up a logo which was basically a light bulb logo showing the future. This was all long before the actual Future Shop started but is now closed. My idea would have been better. Years later I built a website for what I called Google World, featuring all the many apps they could easily create to serve every need, including what I told them to call Office Suite which would replace Microsoft Office. Of course they ignored me and now offer all the apps I proposed.

Speaking of Google I have been trying to connect with anyone in their senior ,management with an idea that would revolutionize the way we all use the digital world. I prepared a detailed proposal on how it would work and that it would make Google millions, if not billions. Despite spending hours of research on both Google Inc and Alphabet, their parent company, I have failed to contact anyone. Like so many companies when they become successful they insulate themselves from the real world and stop listening to the people who made them successful in the first place, believing now that only their own ideas have any merit. Quite obviously my proposal has remained closely guarded until I finally connected with someone who could be trusted to actually do something with it. My decision now is whether to post it publicly on this site so the world will know who came up with it, but I need to believe that anyone will ever read it. 

Going all the way back to when I lived in BC I got involved in developing websites, first with an ancient program called Hot Dog Pro, which was basically HTML coding. I built many sites of my own such as the Okanagan Manufactured Homeowners Association, later the Canadian Manufactured Homeowners Association, to fight the horrible situation with people getting evicted from mobile home parks where they had lived and invested in their homes for decades. I also formed a partnership with Westcorp in Edmonton and Chaparral Homes in Kelowna to build a unique manufactured home park on what was a Land Trust concept. Westcorp had unceremoniously been thrown out of Kelowna after proposing a two hundred and fifty million dollar waterfront project that would have invigorated all of Kelowna. They were willing to develop the infrastructure in exchange for an interest in the development company. Chaparral was willing to provide a model home and pay me a commission on home sales. I needed the involvement of the Westbank Indian Band, CMHC and the provincial government to agree to the Land Trust concept. The housing minister at the time, Rich Coleman, a total idiot, said that he didn't want to disrupt the development of any planned parks in BC, despite the fact that none were planned. Yet another promising idea failed. 

As much as I really didn't want to get involved in building websites here in Mexico, mostly because there were now sites like WIX where you could build your own sites, I needed the money so I created a site for myself called the Lakeside Design Group. That's when I first met Sergio Gonzalez, one of the owners in the group that had taken overt the old Salvador's restaurant. When I first met with him he said that they were going to call it Spago's. I suggested that this was going to be a very bad idea because that was a world-wide registered trademark and no doubt they were going to sue. He didn't listen. They installed a new sign for Spago's and the next time I saw him he said they were buried with lawyers fighting Spago's. Certainly they were. What else did they expect? Could you open a burger joint in Lakeside and call it McDonald's? No way! Only the lawyers get rich. 

That started a search for another name. I liked Clasico and designed several logos for him, but it turned out that there were sixteen Clasico restaurants in Mexico so that was the end of that idea. He then said that they had come up with Scallion, which means "onion". Not the best association for a restaurant but it was available. He wanted a logo that looked like ribbons and I managed to find a font called ribbons and designed his logo. He said he loved it! There was then the discussion about calling it Scallion or including Ajijic in the name. I suggested that it was kind of insulting to have a sign that included Ajijic as though people were too stupid to know that they were in Ajijic. I lost. They decided to call it Scallion Ajijic Bistro and I registered the domain name. I also suggested registering Scallion Bistro to protect themselves if they opened in other locations because obviously they couldn't include Ajijic in the name. Eventually he agreed. 

I had found a website theme I thought would be great for them, called Elegantia and Sergio agreed. I met with him and his partner, Erick to discuss designing the site. I offered to build the site at far less than I would normally charge, only because I needed the money. For the first time in my career I also asked for a deposit, only because I was starving. They beat me down but eventually agreed and I got to work. What followed was at least ten times the work I had charged them for. It was a completely new theme for me and a new developer that I had never worked with before. Despite that they proved to be very good with support and even made some requested changes for me. Over far more hours than I had planned in my low price I managed to come up with a very good site, although there was still a lot of information I needed from Sergio to finish the site. That's when the problems started. 

In my original meeting with Sergio and Erick I had carefully laid out a plan on what would be needed for their site. This included things like their social media links, photographs, specifically photos of their actual food, decision on including a blog, a reservation form, responding to customer comments and so on. They agreed to provide everything. Since then everything has been a total mess. Sergio sent me some twenty photos of food but didn't tell me what menu items they were. I carefully prepared a return email to him showing a space under each photo that he could show me what menu items they were. That was weeks ago but no response. The photos on the menu are for items I had carefully researched and found comparable photos for, but not his actual food, which could result in huge problems when customers didn't get what the photos showed. His social media was a disaster! Their Facebook page didn't even have a photo and their hours were wrong. Someone else did their Facebook page for him and he didn't have the login information for me. This was even worse because I was going to add Facebook Live for his planned cooking shows. It was the same with his Instagram account. He didn't have the login information for that either so I couldn't add all the photos he had. There were many other social media links I wanted to add but failed because he didn't give me the information. I had created a special home page for the site which included their daily specials, which because he failed to provide me the Spanish version I had designed myself. They have a Sunday special and I had asked for the graphic for it at least ten times, but never gotten it. 

I sent him a detailed email listing some twenty-seven issues that needed to be resolved. Two weeks ago he said he wanted to come over to my place Sunday afternoon to review everything and get it finished. He never showed up or called or let me know what was going on. I was very upset and sent him a message that I would remove my logo from his site and provide the information for someone else to finish the site, stressing that high season would soon be upon us and the site needed to be finished, albeit not by me. He still hasn't responded. That leaves me very confused and upset because I probably did at least forty thousand pesos of work for a measly five thousand. I also wanted to promote this site to the many other restaurants here to build their sites for them. Now I can't do that because the site isn't finished properly which is clearly not my fault.

Then I connected with Patrick O"Heffernan, who has a number of sites relating to what he calls Music Fridays Live. He has a Facebook page, an Instagram page, a YouTube channel and a podcast on BlogTalkRadio and wanted a new website to pull it all together. I admit that we had a tough time getting together and that I failed to follow my normal process to build a website for someone. First I meet with them to learn why exactly do they want a website. Sometimes it is only because they say everyone else has a site which is not a good reason. Once we have agreed on the website they want I go to work. First I research available domain names for them. Once I have found one that they agree on I register the domain name along with other similar names to protect them. I also offer free hosting which means I need to point the website to this, or what's called the DNS (Domain Named Server). This can take about forty-eight hours to propagate and I can't work on the site until it does. I then do a lot of research to find a theme for their site. This alone can take hours searching through numerous free sites and premium sites. Eventually I find several to recommend to the client. I then purchase the theme and start building the website for them. 

In this case I found a theme, called OnAir2 which seemed to fit the bill. I was confused by why I found this theme for only nineteen dollars one one site but fifty-nine on another. I thought something must be wrong, but after Patrick liked the theme I recommended that we buy it quickly before they discovered the mistake. What I didn't notice and clearly should have was that this was the HTML version, not the WordPress version that we needed. Not only did Patrick not agree to let me handle the domain registration but he also setup an account with Envato and bought the theme, the wrong theme, himself. He also did not understand what adding the DNS records was all about so I could not start working on his site. Eventually everything got sorted out and his new site, was live. Now there's another problem because I can't afford to renew my hosting so I have asked him to get his own account, preferably with my hosting company, so his site content can be moved. I'm still waiting. 

Just when I thought that my life could not get any worse, it has. Stay tuned.   


Regrets, I've had more than a few

The last few days have been such "dark times" for me that I have lost any sense of reason on what I'm doing. As I said in another post the Canadian government is making me crazy and doing their best to do me in. Over two weeks later, countless emails to anyone who might listen, threats that I can't take anymore, hours on the phone to the most heartless a-hole I've ever had to deal with in my life in the government, and today I'm no better off. I still have not received the pensions that were suspended in error, so I can't pay my rent and have no money for food. A couple of nice friends offered to loan me a few bucks for food, but I declined their offers because I have no way to pay them back. 

The saddest part of this whole fiasco for me has been the failed belief that when you are in real trouble, considering ending it all, you just need to ask for help. Not true. I have been doing every single thing that I can think of, from launching my fund-raising campaign to appealing to every single person I could think of, from the Prime Minister to the Minister responsible for seniors, to friends and family, to desperate appeals to the CBC and CTV news networks, to, but not a single response from anyone. It's a very sad commentary on my life, and at a time when I am so beyond depressed to boot. It's enough to push me over the edge. 

Although, as usual, I doubt that anyone will ever read this, if only because not a soul has ever made a comment in the more than ten years that I've been maintaining this website. Maybe friends I thought I had, and family, not that I have a lot of those left who give a damn, just don't care about anyone but themselves. Maybe I've somehow wronged people in ways I never knew about. I've always considered myself a guy who's always been pretty easy to get along with and never had any major issues or fights with anyone. Some folks just aren't that easy to get along with but I've always considered it a challenge to win them over. Most folks have described me as a pretty likable guy. Maybe that's only because I've been a bit of a sucker to get the better of, and too often. Some people are just users, like my brother, and they're done with you when you are done with them. 

This exercise is just trying to retain some degree of sanity and avoid taking the final leap. I've been thinking that it's a good thing I don't own a gun because it would be far too easy to take that final shot. A crime of passion, I guess, just to relieve all the pain. Anywho, here are some of the regrets of a life well wasted:

  • Absolutely no question right now is what's happened with my government. They've sounded the final death knell by screwing up my pension deposits in the first place, and then making it so much worse doing nothing about it or giving a damn about what they're doing to me. 
  • Next would be my family. Not so much my birth family because I take no responsibility for my mum and dad passing away as is natural. I do feel bad that my Dad died in my arms, selfishly, because it was the most traumatic thing that ever happened to me. I miss him. My mother's death was more of a relief because, thanks to my sister, my mother's quality of life was zero. She was racked with inoperable cancer and couldn't remember squat because of her Alzheimer's. Just a shell of her former self and a sad way to go. My sister and brother can take sole responsibility for the incredibly stupid things they did. I tried very hard with both of them but they were way beyond hope.

My regrets are not only with what happened with my own family but more so never understanding what happened to have my kids and grand-kids abandon me. My darling daughter encouraged me to stay out west to be with my dying mother and to get out of my failed marriage. I knew she had suffered so badly listening to her mother and I fight all the time and she saw that I was so much happier out west. When I left not for one second did I believe it would be the last time I ever saw her. I never knew why. Over the twenty-four years since numerous friends tried so hard to get in touch with her to explain how hurt I was but that never went anywhere. Only Heather knows why she cut me off, as well as my entire family out west. Her grandpa and grandma loved her so much and they were so hurt when she cut them off along with me. Whatever Heather thinks I did to deserve losing her, what did they do to her? 

It's the same with my son, Chris. We reconnected briefly way back ten years ago, but then he blocked me on Facebook and ended everything after I just wanted to meet his kids, my grand-kids. Over the years we certainly had more than our fair share of troubles, mostly when his mother and grandmother stuck their noses in where they didn't belong. Many years ago I reconnected online with his oldest, Danielle, who I had held when she was just a baby and we talked a lot. Then out of the blue, she stopped, I assume because her Dad told her to. A few years ago I found a nice photo of her with her two sisters and posted it to my website, but she threatened to report me if I didn't remove the photo. No idea to who because it's my website. 

Then his daughter, Mackenzie, found me on Facebook when she was fourteen. She was very upset that her parents had told her that I was dead and not let her make her own decision whether to connect with me or not. We shared quite a few messages back and forth on Facebook then she told me she was coming to Mexico in May for a wedding. She didn't know where so she was going to let me know so we could maybe finally meet. I was thrilled. Then she stopped talking to me on Messenger. Just recently she posted photos with her friends on Facebook in Puerto Villarta, I assume at the wedding! Hit me like a knife in my heart. So much for wanting to meet me. Just like with Heather I have no clue what happened. Maybe her Dad learned she was talking to me on Facebook and planned to meet me so he put a stop to that. So much hurt from a family I loved more than anything in the world! I think even child molesters get more forgiveness from their families than I ever have, and I never did anything! I gave both my son and daughter unconditional love and busted my buns doing everything I could for them. This is the thanks I get?

The logic of what happened is sure lost on me. Anyone who has heard my story always says it's my ex-wife's fault because she was always paranoid that my kids would move out west with me and leave her alone. That was back when they were just kids so people said as soon as they were adults they would get out from under their mother's skirt and start to think for themselves, realize that I had done nothing and reconnect with me. So much for that idea. Long ago they were free to make their own decisions but nothing changed. I leave this world never having understood why. Nothing more than one of the biggest regrets of my life.

  • Next, still under the relationships heading, would be what happened with the proverbial love of my life, Elba. There was rarely a time in my life when I was more contented and just plain happy than when I was with her and coming back to Mexico to get married and live happily ever after. We had such great plans. It's said that a man does not fall in love with a woman, rather, he falls in love with how she makes him feel. That was so true with her. My self-worth was never better. She told me over and over how happy I made her and how much she loved me. She always told me how handsome I was when we were going out. People who saw us together always said they never saw two people more in love. She was incredibly gorgeous and sexy. She laughed easily, which I often made her do. We slept together spooned, something I had always dreamed of but never found. I would let her sleep in while I made her coffee. She would wake up and come and hug and kiss me. The perfect start to the day. 

That all came crashing down the day we got back from Canada and she dumped me by text message simply ending our relationship. No explanation why. It came as close to killing me as anything ever has in my life. I felt totally worthless and saw no reason to go on. My dreams had been shattered. I thought of nothing other than swimming out in the lake far enough to not make it back. I cried uncontrollably for days. I was crushed. Now well over a year later I still have no clue why she ended what she had said was the best relationship of her life, as it was mine.

  • To give credit where it's due, I've had no shortage of women in my life and, again, as I've described elsewhere on this site. What I didn't cover was any regrets I have about any of the women I have been involved with, and there are a few. 

For the mother of my other son, Andrew, I regret that I was too young and stupid to get her pregnant but I know she wouldn't change a thing as far as our son is concerned. He's a great guy. A wonderful father. Very successful. Another regret is that he didn't want to have a relationship with his father after I tried to reconnect at his mother's urging. He has a wonderful family and things might have been different, especially after my other kids and grand-kids abandoned me.

For my wife of twenty-three years, I regret that we also screwed up and you got pregnant, although for me I always knew I would marry you so it was never a big issue for me. Not the same for you. On our wedding night you decided to make me pay for getting you pregnant and that never changed. Although I don't believe you ever gave me any other choice, I do regret that I wasn't faithful in our marriage. I desperately needed love, affection, and romance but you would have nothing to do with that. Not until the final day we were together did you confess that you had been a terrible wife and that everything was your fault. Too late for that. I regret that I wasted so many years of our lives trying so hard to make you love me. I figured that if we just had a better car or a better house that you would come around, but that was a total waste. Then when you aborted our third child without even talking to me I finally knew it was over. Someone once asked me if I regretted it for one day after I left? I didn't. 

I won't go into the various relationships that I had during our marriage, except to say that I wished any of them had convinced me to leave. They all restored my undying faith in love and convinced me that I wasn't wrong to want love in my marriage.

After moving out west I had various girlfriends, well, sort of, but none were the love I had been searching for, that is until I met Tracy. She was the first woman I was unconditionally deeply in love with and the first to make me want to get married again. Everything with her was perfect, including the joy of having kids again. Although I do regret writing her the letter about how messy she was, I think the real issue was our age difference. It wasn't something we ever thought about, but after the weekend she spent with her girlfriends in Kamloops I knew something had changed. When she asked me to leave she did say that she might be making the mistake of her life, but it did nothing to help the hurt I felt after things had been so great between us.

Off to Panama. There I found Magaly. Only regret with her was when I had no choice but to go back to Canada. Back to Toronto, then London, with Denise. My only regret with her was when she decided to fly to Ottawa to spend the weekend with yet another guy she met on the internet. No surprise there. I do miss her daughter, Emily, who was the daughter I had lost with Heather. Then it was off to Ecuador, still trying to find that elusive place that I could afford to live. Met Patricia. Although I had regrets when I had to go back to Canada, it became clear that Patricia was more interested in money than me. 

Then here in Mexico where I met Elba, and I have gone into that under an earlier regret. 

  • Next would come my business, if I can even call it that. When you haven't earned a single dime after two years of working all day, every day to build the best website you've ever created, well, that's not exactly a business. Long before I even considered coming to Mexico I did a lot of research on the websites that were here for Lakeside. I learned that some of them had ulterior motives, like selling Real Estate and others were just plain bad, but there were no local sites for the various communities around the lake. I started with Ajijic and built what I thought was the best site I've ever built, and I have built a lot of sites. In addition to features like a local Business Directory, a Restaurant Guide, a Health Care Guide, a Hotel, B&B and House Rentals section, a Real Estate section, an Events Calendar, tons of information for both tourists and locals, like Immigration, and a list of all the local clubs and organizations, I added a number of free features to attract visitors to the site, like FREE Classifieds, FREE Forums, and a FREE Dating page. It was a site I was very proud of and I honestly believed it would attract a lot of visitors and advertisers, but I was so very wrong. My expectations were minimal and reasonable. I knew that I would lose the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) pension after six months out of Canada, about five hundred dollars Canadian, so that is what I needed to replace with income from the websites. Didn't happen. Not a dime. A huge regret. The same city portal concept, far less advanced, had worked well in both Panama and Ecuador. Still no clue why it didn't work here in Mexico. 

Another huge confusion was trying to hire someone to work with me calling on prospective clients. Although my Spanish had certainly improved, it wasn't good enough to call on clients. At this point I'd interviewed seven women who sounded interested. One spent three hours with me going over the website and she understood English well enough, but I never heard from her again. Just recently I spoke with a Samantha who worked at Walmart, making the usual pathetic three hundred pesos a day. Her English was really good and she understood the concept perfectly. She agreed to come to my place the following Monday to discuss things in more detail. She never showed up. I always believed that if I could just find someone professional who understood what relationship selling was that they would make a lot of money and I would make enough to survive. Never happened here in Mexico.  

  • Next would be the many, many business ideas I have come up with over many years, going all the way back to BASIC, Best Available Service In Canada. It was one of the few businesses that had not been franchised or absorbed by a big national company. Bookkeeping. My background in accounting, including moving companies from manual systems to computer based systems, plus my education, plus my experience with clients who had major issues with their bookkeepers, told me that a nation franchised organization of bookkeepers would work great. Never got passed the concept stage. 

Years and years ago I carried around a file folder called Business Ideas, chock full of everything I could think of. I even had a professional graphic done of The Future Shoppe, long before that company ever existed. The concept was to feature all the latest products from around the world. No shortage of those, ever. Although expensive I wished that I had registered the name before The Future Shop got started, Maybe I would have made some money. It was the same with Canada Lift, the name I came up with on the plane on the way to negotiate with NYK to get national distributorship for their forklifts, which we got. Years later after the Bank of Nova Scotia had sent us into bankruptcy and we lost everything I learned that Coca-Cola had wanted to get the name Canada Lift for a new soft drink.. Again. Not registered so didn't make a dime. 

Out of all the ideas I've had, all of which went nowhere, maybe because people have always told me that I am ahead of my time, was my invention of what we call The Cloud today. Yes, many years ago I put a group together of a commercial landlord and construction company, Al Stober Construction, an ISP, SILK Internet, a company called BIG PIPE to provide access to the internet backbone, and the computer company that I worked for, Northern Computer, to build a server farm in the lower level of Stober's new tower providing shared access to business. It all fell apart when an assistant to Bill Gates at Microsoft said they would NEVER allow pay-per-use access to their software, plus every client who had access to our servers would require duplicate licenses for everything. The slogan for the company, InTouch Networks, was access anywhere, anytime, on any device.  Long after Microsoft killed the whole project I got an email about their new Office 365, including their new slogan offering access anywhere, anytime, on any device. They were very lucky I couldn't afford a high profile lawyer. 

When people learn what I've been through they often comment that they don't know how I've survived and why I'm still around. More than once I've agreed. 



James Taylor got it right, but it depends on which "friends" you have

The very popular song from way back in 1971 expressed so very well the true value of real friends, but it also had an ominous verse, for me, at least.

Ain't it good to know that you've got a friend
When people can be so cold?
They'll hurt you and desert you
Well, they'll take your soul if you let them

These days Facebook is chocked full of "false friends" who delight in pretending to be actual friends. Most of these have never met you in real life. Many of them are just there to criticize you and insult you when you say something they don't like. Some just friend you because they think that their value is somehow determined by the sheer number of friends they have. Some just want to air their opinions, good and bad, because they are very lonely. I guess I fall into that last category.

In real life there's nothing quite as wonderful as having great friends. They share the good times with you and build strong and lasting memories. I always considered that I had a lot of those, mostly because I have lived in a lot of places in my life. Like most people I had school friends, first when I lived in Toronto as a young kid, then in Churchville at a one-room schoolhouse, then in high school in Streetsville. That's when I first joined the group I played in for ten years during which I made tons of people I would call friends. During my twenty-three year marriage we made a lot of friends as a couple, many of those with our son and daughter's sports, traveling all over the place for tournaments. When my failed marriage was clearly over and my mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer In 1993 I moved to the Okanagan in BC to spend what time she had left with her, having been apart for more than twenty years. Thankfully she beat the odds and survived another fourteen years and I ended up spending those fourteen years in the Okanagan where I met an incredible group of simply fantastic friends, the best of my life.

In 2007 disaster struck, which I have detailed elsewhere, and my doctor told me that I had to leave to survive, so I moved to Boquete, Panama and stayed for just under two years. Met a lot of people, some good and some not so good, who ripped me off and I was forced back to Canada. My darling cousin, Joan Thomson, in Toronto gave me refuge for several months until I met a girl and moved to London, Ontario, where I spent the next uneventful five years, and hardly made any friends. I did meet one man, Siege Pedde, who changed my life by giving me a job and lending me the money to buy a car at a time I was living in shelters.

As I approached pension age and knew I could not possibly afford to live in Canada on my measly pensions I started researching warmer climes where the cost of living was lower and discovered Ecuador. I moved to Cotacachi in the mountains and soon made many friends, both Expats and locals, including my soon to be fiancee. Patricia. Again disaster struck when I didn't get one of my pensions and I was forced back to Canada again, this time to Belleville to live in a house in the country owned by my dear friend Heather's son. Yet another disaster when I was left freezing in the dead of winter with no heat and I moved into my first group home and spent the next two years moving around various group homes. The various guys I lived with could never be considered friends, but the President of the charity that ran the homes, Bob Cottrell, sure was. He helped me immensely over the next two years, especially when I returned to Canada for my visa.

Then it was off to here in Mexico, originally on a six-month tourist visa to just check it out. Within days I met a host of people I thought were going to become really good friends. Then I met the proverbial love of my life, Elba, and we planned to get married as soon as I got my visa and came back to stay here in Mexico. Not only did we have a wonderful group of friends together, but she also introduced me to her large family, including her two wonderful sons who were soon calling me Dad. It was the happiest time of my life.

It's over a year ago now and getting dumped came dangerously close to killing me. I saw no point in going on. I felt totally worthless. I had no future. I was filled with dark thoughts of swimming out in the lake far enough not to make it back. It's was only through the grace of two real friends at the time, Violeta and Don, that I survived. They convinced me that I wasn't worthless and that I would be missed. That was then, and this is now. How things have changed with both of them.

Last October I discovered that I only had twenty-eight dollars in the bank in the middle of the month. I had no idea how I was going to survive and I got very depressed, thinking my life was over. I reached out for help on Facebook and got an onslaught of horrible attacks, both public and private. "Suck it up", "Quit whining", "Grow up", "Stop f*cking posting", and worse in private messages. It became painfully clear that these people I had thought were friends were not. I was shocked and deeply hurt. About a month before this I had adopted my best Buddy, Rollie, my new dog. We had so much fun together and he filled a very big void in my life. After I had gotten very drunk and was chatting online with my friend Christine, she sent over a doctor, Dr. Lupita, and some of her colleagues to talk to me. She held my hand and promised to help me with food and even some website work to earn a little money. She also said she would talk to the animal rescue operation, who had been threatening to take Rollie from me, to convince them that this would be the very worst time to take him from me. It didn't matter. They showed up unannounced the next morning and took him from me. Losing my best buddy at such a distressing time nearly killed me. I never heard from the good doctor again. So much for getting the help I so desperately needed.

To make matters even worse this was also the time I started to run out of my critical diabetic medications that I had brought back from Canada in April, without which I would be at great risk of having a heart attack or stroke and would die. Someone told me that I could get my meds from a place called Seguro Popular in Chapala. With help from John Kelly, the President of the Canadian Legion here, I went to the office to apply. After pulling together tons of documents and going to the office three times the doctor informed me that they couldn't help me. Dead end, literally.

In desperation, I contacted the nurse at my doctor's office back in Belleville to see if there was any way they would renew my meds without seeing me. When I hadn't heard back from her I took a chance and called the pharmacy and learned that my doctor had been charged with some offense and his clinic closed. The pharmacist was very understanding and agreed to give me a three-month renewal until I could find another doctor. My friend, Doral, agreed to pick them up for me and ship them to me. I asked her to give me the size and weight so I could check out what courier to use, but she sent them by mail. That was last January 18th. I didn't know at the time that customs here seizes all meds not sent by bonded courier. Yet another dead end, this time terminal. 

Now that the end is near I again reached out to the friends I thought I had in the world. Although it may well have been pointless, one of my many regrets was that I have maintained this website for more than ten years now, basically a diary of my life since starting to write. In all that time not a single person has ever added a comment, good or bad. I was totally mystified and confused, especially for one post that took me days to create because I listed every friend's name who I could remember, adding links to their Facebook pages if they existed and asking them to comment. Not a soul responded. Recently I did another Facebook post appealing to my "friends" in all those places to please comment on this site. I prefaced the comment with "my time in Mexico was coming to an end", not wanting to sound overly dramatic by saying I was leaving feet first. I got only one comment from a stranger, a Facebook friend, saying that she would read more and comment. Not one friend responded. Sad.

I guess it all boils down to how naive I am. People have always said I was a likable guy and a good friend. I truly thought that these people were my friends and that they cared at least a little for me. Not so. No one cares if I live or die. Many of the people I thought I was really close to, people who I thought cared as much about me as I cared about them, totally abandoned me. My best buddy in the whole world, Wade Silver, who had been my closest friend for fourteen years in the Okanagan, never said a word. Those two friends who had saved me after I was dumped, Violeta and Don, haven't said a word. Don ended up marrying Elba but said our friendship would not change. Wrong. I left two heartfelt messages on Facebook Messenger for Violeta, begging to see her one more time, went unanswered. Even my desperate pleas to Christine, who had agreed to handle my affairs after I was gone, have gone unanswered for months now. I've had to turn to John Kelly again for help, but so far he hasn't responded either. 

Obviously part of the reason I have found myself in such a mess is the fact that I haven't made a dime with my websites. Despite more than two years of working all day, every day, building my sites I knew I had to do something, so I offered to sell a forty-nine percent interest in my umbrella site, The Mexico Today Group. I sent a detailed proposal to people I knew had money and who would make a fortune by investing in the business. Siege Pedde back in London, Ontario. Jon LeHoup, who I had worked for decades ago. Francis Dryden, who had befriended me before I loved to Mexico and had helped me to find my first apartment. Frank Roberts, who was recently here in Mexico. And many more. Not just people who I knew had the money, but people who knew other investors and might pass the proposal on. Not a single response. When I followed up with Frank a few days after sending him the proposal, asking him if he had read it, he said that he thought the fact that he hadn't answered me was my answer. Cruel. Not even so much as a thanks but no thanks after all the effort I had put into the proposal to him.

I can't comment on friends without also including my family. Again I've gone into great depth elsewhere about what happened with my family so I won't repeat myself here, save to say that to this day I don't understand what happened with my kids, Christopher and Heather. They both encouraged me to leave my terrible marriage and move out West where they saw how happy I was. They both understood after I ended my marriage and went out West to be with my dying mother for whatever time she had left. The day I left my daughter to go out West I never once thought that it would be the last time I would ever see her. I figured she would come out on vacation as she had done before. That was over twenty-four years ago and not a day has gone by that I don't miss her with all my heart. Chris and I reconnected way back in 2009 and I was to meet his three daughters but that never happened and he ended up blocking me on Facebook. One of his daughters, Mackenzie, connected with me on Messenger when she was fourteen and I was thrilled. She was very upset that her parents hadn't let her make her own decision about connecting with me. We had many great chats and she told me she was coming to Mexico for a wedding. She was going to let me know where and when and I was praying that I could somehow afford to go and meet her. That was months ago and she stopped talking to me for some reason. 

The only family member I have maintained any contact with is my dear cousin, Joan, but even that has turned sour. Admittedly in my depths of depression, I wrote emails to her explaining my situation and telling her I was about to give up and why. I included my last ditch effort, my website called, a fund-raising site to save myself and go on to leave a legacy for myself by doing good works here in Mexico. My goal, quite possibly absurd, is to raise a hundred million dollars, a dollar at a time. I asked her to visit the site and let me know what she thought of it, but she either didn't read my email or didn't go to the site or didn't think much of it. I'll never know. After she rescued me and I lived with her for several months after returning from Panama all those years ago Joan knows all too well how tough my family situation with my kids has been on me and I thought she understood that she was the only family I had left, but I guess not. Just like everyone else in the world, at least in my world, no one cares.   


Understanding Mexican women

There's that old joke. A genie grants three wishes. The first wish is for tons of money, naturally. Genie says, "no problem". The second wish is to build a highway from the US to Hawaii. The third wish is to understand women. The genie responds, "will that be two-lane or four-lane?".

Most of the time it's totally impossible to understand women, love them as I do. For me, one of the most tragic lack of understanding of women was when my fiancee suddenly dumped me by text message with no explanation. A year later I still don't have a clue why she ended what she said was the best relationship she had ever had in her life. Go figure. 

Yesterday I had yet another most confusing situation with a woman. A few days ago when one of my drivers picked me up he introduced me to one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen here in Mexico. She took my breath away. Her English was very good and after I handed her my business card, something I do with pretty well everyone I meet, we got talking about how I am looking for someone to work with me on my websites. She sounded very interested so she was going to call me the next day to meet and discuss it further. My driver then brought her over to my place yesterday around four. Most unfortunately, my internet was out (not uncommon here) so I couldn't show her my website, but we managed to talk about a lot of related things, such as the commission program, relationship selling and so on. After about an hour and a half of talking, during which I asked her many times if she understood me and if she was interested, she kept saying she was. Then her phone rang. 

It was her son and she said she needed to meet him on the highway for some reason but she would "be right back", so I gave her my house keys to get back in. She said she might be ten or fifteen minutes. Still no internet but I printed out a number of things related to my websites, such as the listing form for the Business Directory, the client contract, and the employment contract to show her the specifics of working with me. Then I waited for her to come right back.

An hour went by, then two hours, then three hours. I didn't have her number to call her until I texted my driver to ask what the hell was going on? He came over and called her. No answer. He gave me her number so I started texting her, asking her if she was okay and asking her to let me know what was going on. No response to several text messages. In one of the last texts I told her I needed my keys back. Still no response and she never did come back. Today I have texted her again, now desperate to get my keys back, but no answer. My driver has also been calling her to pick up my keys and return them to me, but he's not getting any answer either.

Why would someone who is apparently interested in working with me and making a lot of money do this? She is divorced and has four kids to support. I learned that her only experience was working in a restaurant but I was willing to train her with my decades of experience in relationship selling. She was the right age that I was looking for, late thirties. She was attractive which would mean she is confident and make it easier for her to talk to people when she first met them. She came dressed very professionally in a pretty black dress. She spoke very good English which would make training her much easier for me, plus she would be able to deal with clients who didn't speak Spanish that well. She was perfect for the part, that is until she pulled this fiasco last night. Regardless of what was going on why couldn't she just give me a quick call or text to let me know what was going on, particularly when she had my house keys?

Yes. I will never understand women, I guess especially Mexican women.     

Lesson learned - a question of who to trust

Yesterday as I picked up a few essentials at Super Lake, bemoaning the fact that I had thirteen dollars left until my pensions come in at the end of the month and wondering how I was going to make it, and, yes, feeling sorry for myself, when I came out of the store I noticed a young girl standing just outside the entrance. She had a crude cardboard sign with English and Spanish scrawled on it saying "please help me. I need food for my baby".

It's a sad fact of life here that Mexicans are forced to beg. Kids are often trying to sell you something. Ladies sit outside places like Super Lake with a cup in their hands hoping you will give them a few pesos. The vast majority of Mexicans live in abject poverty.

As I came out I reached into my pocket and gave her the few coins I had planned for the bus. I couldn't carry what I had on the bus so I was going to need my driver to come and get me, something I could ill afford.

As I stood outside waiting for him I watched person after person just ignores this girl, not even returning the hello she said to them. They saw her sign but just walked by her. As usual with Super Lake, there were no locals coming out because they can't afford to shop there. I wondered if local folks would ignore a woman begging for food for her baby?

After a few minutes watching this I couldn't take it anymore. I asked her to come back to the store with me to get some food for her baby. I told her I was not a rich American so I couldn't get her very much but I would try. She got bread and some small jars of baby food and I treated her to some chocolate for herself. It was only a couple hundred pesos.

She was thrilled at this very small gesture. She told me her name was Melissa and she showed me a picture of her baby, Daniel Alexander. I gave her my card and told her that if she ever faced a day when she had no food to come to my place and I would feed her something. She couldn't stop smiling and even helped me with my groceries when my driver arrived.

My point in telling this story is simply to encourage you to give when you can, especially if you have more money than you need. The locals are an admirable, warm, proud people, happy with little but when someone like Melissa needs our help please give. It will make you feel very good, as it did for me.

As that old radio program used to say, "And now for the rest of the story." Oh, and this is a good one. If all you get out of it is how stupid I am, well, you are SO right.

First, Melissa called me yesterday and asked to meet me at Super Lake so I could buy her more food for her "baby". I told her it wouldn't be much because I don't have it to give her but I would buy some for her. I said I would be there around 3:30 and we agreed to meet. She wasn't there but called me later to tell me she was now at Super Lake and expected me to come back. I said no but told her if she came to my house I would give her a little money. Big mistake!

She showed up a while later with a friend in tow, no doubt because she didn't want to be alone with a man in his apartment, regardless of the fact that I could be her grandfather. So be it. I understood. I fed both of them. Her friend and I went out on the terrace to have a smoke and Melissa asked where my broom was because she was going to do some cleaning for me for the money I gave her. Nice, I thought. Then she said they had to go because her "baby" was sick. We said our goodbyes.

Oh, read on. This gets a lot juicier. A little while later her friend came back alone. Needless to say, I wondered why. I thought she might have forgotten something. She then tells me that Mellissa had shown her my diamond ring and said she was going to sell it! Sure enough, I checked and it was gone! This was the thanks I got for helping her?

We called the police who showed up fairly quickly. They took all the information and then told me to call Uber to take us to the Chapala police station where they would meet us and then go to Melissa's house together. When her friend and I arrived at the police station it was closed. No sight of the two officers that came to my apartment. An officer outside said we couldn't do anything more tonight and we had to come back in the morning.

I figured that my thousand dollar ring would be sold by then so I convinced her friend to go to her house and confront Melissa to give back my ring or she could deal with the police tomorrow. She didn't answer the door and when her friend called her on my driver's phone so she wouldn't recognize the number she hung up on her. Now the plan is to go to her house in the morning with her friend and the police to confront her to get my ring back. No doubt she has either sold the ring by then or will simply deny she stole it. The police believe her friend who Melissa was dumb enough to show the ring to and tell her she was going to sell it.

We gave her the chance tonight to just give my ring back and be done with it. No police. No charges. No possible jail time, but she refused.

The bad part of my story is how stupid I was to trust this girl. It turns out she has five children, all of whom have been taken away from her. For me, as dumb as I know I was to trust her and try to help her, the good part is that I know her friend could have simply gone home and forgotten about it. Instead, she came back to my place to tell me what happened and then she spent hours with me dealing with the police, going to Chapala, confronting Melissa, and now she's doing it all again tomorrow.

I have hesitated to name her until this is hopefully over and maybe I get my ring back, but she works at Super Lake and I hope to be able to disclose this amazingly honest girl's name so you can tell her she did the right thing when you see her.

I pray that tomorrow will bring a better ending to this story. Even if she hasn't already sold my ring and gives it back I don't know how things work here in Mexico. Will she still be charged with theft now that the police are involved? Do I have the right to stop her being charged if I get the ring back? Do I even want to? She's clearly a thief and I don't want her doing this to anyone else. I am trying to warn anyone who sees her begging at Super Lake to avoid her like the plague.

Live and learn.

Just when you think it can't get any worse....

After the police station was closed last night my driver, Salvador, suggested we go to the police station at 8:30 when it opened today. I handed my phone to her friend to make arrangements to pick her up this morning. When she hung up I asked what time he was picking her up and she said 8:00 o'clock. I asked if she had given him her address and she said yes.

This morning I'm anxiously waiting for them to show up at my place. It gets later and later and she has to be at work at Super Lake at 10:00 so I begin to panic. I text Salvador asking where they are? He calls and tells me he is in Chapala, knows nothing about picking her up and doesn't know where she lives. By now, with all this total screw-up, Melissa has had plenty of time to sell my ring. The police no doubt wonder where we are and drop the case.

A very bittersweet end and a huge loss for me. A thief gets away with it. and will no doubt do it again? For me, my trust is gone. Never again will I try to help a local. Expensive lesson learned.

A final note. Just when I thought Melissa's "friend" was so wonderfully honest and was being so helpful, she told me she worked at Super Lake and was working 10:00 until 2:00. My very confused driver, Salvador, and I went to Super Lake to see if Estafan could come with us to the police at 2:00 when she finished work. 

Yup, you guessed it. She doesn't work at Super Lake. Although I am still absurdly confused as to why she came back to tell me that Melissa had stolen my ring, I guess she was in on it from the start. Maybe she came back to see if she could steal something else. I'll never understand all this. I'm out my ring and there's no hope I'll ever get it back And the little thief gets away with it.

If you are at Super Lake and see a girl holding a sign begging for food for her "baby" rip the sign out of her hands and tell her to scram!