Tag Archives: My Life

Men of War

This is not the first time I’ve dealt with this subject. Years ago on one of my many drives back and forth between Brampton and Westbank (now West Kelowna) I used my personal recorder to talk about my trip but, more importantly, to just express my thoughts on a number of topics. It was more than a forty hour drive and I love to talk, so it got pretty deep at times. One of the subjects was why men go off to war.

Although I had, thankfully, never experienced war, both Dad and my Granddad had. My grandfather had served and had been left with a plate in his forehead. I remember talking about it when he visited us at the farm in Streetsville one time, but I don’t remember how he got it. My Dad served in the navy in the second world war. He lied about this age and signed up underage, which was one of the things I did not understand at the time. His ship, the HMS Skeena was lost in a vicious storm in October, 1944. For some unknown reason my father said the ship had been torpedoed. He ended up in the freezing cold water off the coast of Iceland, watching his buddies around him die. Somehow he ended up on shore where he was stung by a rattlesnake, eventually losing one of his fingers because of it.

When I returned to BC I went through the lengthy process of transcribing my voice recordings to my computer then printed out this massive document, called My Body Time because that would be the preamble every time I started recording as I traveled across Canada through different time zones. My Dad actually read it and said he learned a lot about me. Whatever happened to that manuscript I don’t know. What I do know and regret is that the Word doc didn’t follow me to other computers. Given the mess I am in now I don’t know if reading it would help or make things worse. At least back then I had a future.

An entire chapter in the novel was about war. At the time I was still married and had two kids. I wondered if I was called to duty, first, would I go and, second, how could we survive being separated possibly for years? The very possibility of being killed was enough to make me question why I would go. I can only assume that the threat of losing your freedom would convince you to fight and risk your life. That so many women suffered through every single day wondering if their men were coming home is just unbelievable.

With so many nutcase leaders in the world today how would we react to that same threat of war? The entire technology of war has changed a lot. Pushing a coupe of buttons would wipe us all out.  No need to fight it out in the trenches like previous wars. What if there was an imminent ground invasion though, say Kim Jong-Un of North Korea? Given his military strength as compared to the US it would be more of a minor skirmish solved quickly. Hypothetically he decides to invade Mexico to get closer to threatening the US. I am a Canadian but would I sign up to defend Mexico? Well, luckily I am far too old to sign up for anything in the military so it’s academic. If I were a younger man, in all honesty, I don’t know.

Much of my confusion about war has always been, and will always be, how so many wars are based on religion. Admittedly I have never been a religious person but if I understand anything about faith I don’t understand why so many of the world’s wars are all about religion.

A Day in the Life

No doubt most people will think this is a weird exercise but once again being at great risk of slipping into a coma I hate to just go and have no one know what happened. If you suddenly see no more updates, well, then you will know I’m gone. At this point that would be a blessing for both you and me.

If you have been following my posts on Facebook about my meds, which I doubt because that thunderous sound you hear if no one caring. No one. I have been out of my critical diabetic medications for three weeks now and my blood sugar levels have been hovering in dangerous territory, around thirty. Coma time if thirty-two so that’s why I thought that the end was near. I’ve been doing everything humanly possible to save myself. Posts on Facebook begging for help, which only got me ridiculed. Emails to everyone I’ve ever known or had contact with. I even started a GoFundMe campaign asking for just a single dollar to help me. No response. Not a single person in the world willing to invest just one dollar to save me.

At seven this morning my “medical consultant” called to tell me to get to Seguro Popular as soon as possible. No time for a shower so I just threw on some clean clothes. It was going to be extremely difficult to walk to get the bus because the pain of the peripheral neuropathy in my feet is excruciating without my meds but I told him I would try.  I guess he knew how tough it was going to be because he picked me up half way down the street. We stopped at the bank on the way so I could pay him. We got to Seguro Popular and the place was packed. He took me to the long line-up where you checked in. Had your blood pressure taken and your blood tested. Weighed and checked how tall you were. There were at least ten people ahead of me in line. What I found strange was that when a person was finished another person would suddenly appear from nowhere and sit down. Not someone who was standing in the line. There was a white-haired man at the front of the line, but when someone sat down in front of him he just looked perplexed but didn’t question why he wasn’t next. Then they opened another table for this process not far away. Same thing again. People appeared out of nowhere to be processed. I swear one of them had just walked through the door. No waiting for these special people. All very confusing.

After about half an hour and having finally made it through the line I asked the nurse, Claudia if I had to stay to wait for my doctor’s appointment at 12:00? She said no. Just be back before twelve. So I was starving because I had no time to eat breakfast before rushing off. I asked if there was a restaurant nearby where I could get a coffee and some bakery things. A nice gentleman outside gave me directions but after walking more than I could handle I asked them at a taco place if they had coffee. Thankfully they did and it was good. I ended up having a potato taco which was also good. After too many coffees and a bottle of water I asked where the bathroom was, but they didn’t have one. They told me the closest one was two block down at the bus station. Another consequence of my screwed up meds has been a lack of bladder control. At home I normally get up three times a night to pee and during the day probably go twenty times, often with little notice and many times I don’t think I’ll make it in time. So, here I am with too much liquid in me and urgently in need of a bathroom but I’m blocks away and in no condition to run.

I finally get there, worrying all the way that I’m just going to blow out my shorts before I get there. By the time I wade through the crowd getting on their buses, find the bathroom and pay the lady for my toilet paper I’m on the verge of losing it when I finally get in my stall, and I do, peeing my pants before I sit down. Oh great! Now I’m on my way to see a doctor and I’ve peed my pants. How embarrassing!

On the way rushing to the bus station I had passed a barbershop where I would love to have had time to shave off my very itchy hair, but I would be late getting back to Seguro Popular so I figured I would come back after finishing there. After all this my heart skipped a beat at the thought of finally getting my meds. A glimmer of hope. That didn’t last long after the doctor called my name, took one look at my list of meds and said they couldn’t help me with any of them. This after three trips down. Paying Arturo. Not to mention all the people who had told me that I would be able to get my meds through them. My heart sank.

Arturo had told me to call him if I had any problems but he didn’t answer his phone or respond to my text messages that I sent him. I was lost. Despite being starving I went back to the barber to at least get rid of my itchy hair. I asked the barber where I could get a hamburger and he told me the Malecon. Now that had my bearings from the bus station I knew the Malecon was a long walk but I was starving so off I went. On the walk I saw a store selling ice cream and I noticed the milkshake makers. They made me a chocolate milkshake, well, more chocolate milk than a shake. While waiting for my shake I noticed that also had hamburgers on the menu so I ordered one. Not great but I was too hungry to care.

It was a nice day so I thought I would wander down to the Malecon now that I wasn’t starving. I had asked Arturo if we could go to Soriana after I was finished and he said he had an appointment but maybe later we could so I had some time to kill. On the way down I passed a lady selling some jelly for pain. After a pleasant chat I confessed that I had only stopped to talk to her because she was so beautiful. That got a a smile.

When I got to the Malecon I found a bench down by the water and sat down. As I looked out at the lake and saw the boats along the beach my thoughts once again turned to that long swim out in the lake too far to make it back. My focus became just not to break down in tears as my mind wondered what I could do. I figured it might be very traumatic for the boat operator to take me out and be told I just wanted overboard and for him to leave. Then my logical mind wondered if he would understand my request to take my messenger bag, my wallet and my phone. Would he understand my instructions to call Christine? Maybe he would just throw everything overboard on his way back.

I was so tired I just needed to lie down on the not very comfortable bench. I almost moved because the sun was so intense without any shade but I was tired enough not to care. I drifted off. An hour or so later I was awakened because I was in a downpour. Couldn’t move faster to get undercover. Called Arturo several times to get home but no answer. Sort of gave up and called Salvadore, one of my Uber drivers. Told him I needed to go to Soriana then home. He said he was on his way. I told him I would meet him at the Chapala sign. An hour later no Salvadore. My phone was about to go dead but I called him and got some crazy explanation about the police. He said he would send someone else and thankfully he did.

I forgot half the stuff I needed at Soriana but got some important things like milk. Got home and crashed for about three hours. Long day. No success. Back where I started with no meds and no hope.

 

 

 

You can’t give up hope when you have none to give up

Looks like this will be my last post, literally the “last post”. It has been the most difficult week of my life. Last week at this time I was so depressed and ready to give up. My only question was how to kill myself?

My dear friend, Christine Philipson, was so worried about me last Monday night that she sent a Doctor Lupita and her colleagues to my apartment late at night to talk to me. I was crying uncontrollably at the thought of losing my dog, Rollie, and I only had twenty-eight dollars in my bank for food for the rest of the month. I was out of many of my important medications for my diabetes and could not afford more. My website business, primarily AjijicToday.com.mx, that I had worked so hard on for over a year was in shambles because I did not have the money for my hosting and other things I desperately needed to keep it going. I had other medical issues like my urgent dental work to replace a crown, but I did not have the two thousand pesos to finish it. I did not see any way to go on and urgently needed help to survive.

Dr. Lupita held my hand, got me to stop crying and told me not to give up hope. She told me she would not let them take my dog, Rollie. She offered money to buy food. She said she would help me to get my medications. She even offered me some work to earn some money. That did not solve everything, but it gave me some small glimmer of hope.

The next day, first thing in the morning, without warning, they came and took Rollie, which broke my heart. Dr. Lupita said she would tell them that it would be the very worst time to take him from me, but they didn’t care. Their only concern was the dog but he was in no danger. I had food for him and I loved him to death. It was like losing a child. Again I could not stop crying and only wished that I had a gun to end this pain.

Then I got a call from John Kelly, the President of the Canadian Legion here. He scolded me for refusing the help I needed and went on to suggest that the Legion would help me. He said they would give me a small loan to keep me going, saying that they had just helped a lady to buy a car. I felt that my needs were far more justified and more modest than buying a car. He said there was a meeting on Wednesday to discuss it and he would call me around noon on Thursday. I followed this up with a detailed explanation of how much I needed and why. I requested the modest sum of forty thousand pesos, repayable at two thousand pesos a month and allowing me to pay it off early once the business started earning money. He said he would let me know after their meeting, which was now planned a day later.

Initially Dr. Lupita was angry about what happened with the dog, so she said she was fighting to get him back to me. She came back telling me that they would “consider” giving him back to me, in THREE MONTHS! They also said I could “visit” him, as though that would make everything just fine. I told Dr. Lupita to give up on getting him back to me because it was pointless and I had equally big problems that I needed help with, like food and medications.

For some unknown reason she then disappeared. No one could find her, not even her nurse or John Kelly, who understood that she was looking after getting my medications. He told me that he had spent the day running back and forth between Ajijic and Chapala trying to get my medications. He said that there was an organization called Secours Populaire that would provide my medications free of charge. When I asked him about the loan he said he would now let me know on Monday. Luckily I had received a small tax rebate from the Canadian government that allowed me to buy some much needed food. That made me feel a little better. At least I wouldn’t starve to death.

If you wonder if Dr. Lupita knew the terrible state I was in, I had messaged her asking if an insulin overdose would work? I told her I did not have the courage to swim out in the lake far enough that I could not make it back. I told her I did not want to hang myself here because of the trauma that would cause to the children who lived here. My research about an insulin overdose was inconclusive about whether that would work and I did not want to just end up in hospital instead because I could not afford that either. Her reaction to my pathetic mental state was simply to just ignore me. Very strange for a doctor.

Then John Kelly sent me a short message that the Legion could not help me with a loan because they “didn’t have that kind of money”. Considering that they did have the money for a car loan for someone else I figured that was just a way of saying we don’t want to help you and we don’t care what that might do to you.

On top of everything I was going through I was also the victim of vicious attacks after my honest post about what happened with Rollie. Regardless of whether people gave a damn about me I knew they cared for Rollie and I just felt I should let them know why I suddenly had no more photos or stories about our wonderful lives together. First I was threatened and told to delete the post which I refused to do because I felt people needed to know the truth. Then I got truly vile messages saying things like “suck it up”, “stop feeling sorry for yourself”and worse. Although these hurt, I realized just how these people were really showing how little they understood mental health and how dangerous their comments could be to someone already on the edge.

It is said that true friends are there in both good times and bad, especially bad, when you need their nonjudgmental support the most. During my year here I thought I had some of those kinds of friends. I could not have been more wrong. Someone I thought was a real friend since before I even came here to Mexico, Francis Dryden, ignored my request for help and instead picked this time to dump on me about the mistakes he felt I had made with my websites. He said my sites were “just a bunch of worthless code” and nothing more. He said if I had listened to him and done the things he had suggested I would not be in this mess. This despite the fact that I had been in this city portal business for thirty years and done the exact same project before in both Panama and Ecuador. He knows little about designing websites or the business, but somehow he knew better than me? I even sent him an email transferring ownership of my website business to him and hoping that he didn’t mind looking after getting rid of my stuff because my executor is back in London, Ontario. No response even to that very clear message.

Shortly after arriving here I met Jack Irish when he moved into the house in La Floresta. We became instant friends and spent many an hour over coffee in the mornings or drinks at night talking about a host of topics. He shared his hard to believe story about some money thing he had been involved in for some six years already, one that was going to make him a multi-millionaire soon. We spent hours talking about all the good projects he planned to do here in Mexico and how I could be involved. He would buy a house for my fiancee, Elba and I to live in, rent free. We declined saying we would pay whatever rent we could afford. He offered to just give me money for my website business, but, again, I said I would only consider an investment and partnership. He said we would “talk” after his millions came in, soon.That was months ago.

Then I went through the devastating experience of Elba, breaking up with me by text message with no explanation. I loved her unconditionally, more than I had ever loved anyone in my life. We had just returned from Canada where I applied for my visa to return to Mexico and get marry her. I was not only in love with her but also her amazing family who all loved me and wanted us to hurry up and get married. Of course I had lost my own kids when they wanted nothing to do with me, so now having her sons, Jonathan and Kevin, tell me they loved me being their new Dad was just awesome. Suddenly, without warning, I had lost that all in a simple text message and had no idea why.

Instead of being a good friend when I needed him the most, Jack chose instead to blame me for everything, regardless of the fact that he knew nothing about what had actually happened. That really hurt. When I told him I had enough of his arrogance telling me what I could and could not do, and blaming me for being “so stupid”, he ended our friendship. Although later more by accident at Arnie and Barbs, we got back together again, but he ended our friendship again and hasn’t spoken to me in weeks.

I sent him a heartfelt message saying I was sorry he had ended what I thought was a close friendship and just letting him know what a mess I had found myself in. I didn’t ask for financial help because I knew he had none to give. He didn’t respond and today I learn that he has apparently sent out what has been referred to as a very “vitriolic” message about Elba and I. After six months I thought our break-up was ancient history so I have no idea why he did that, but maybe he just wants to finish me off and take credit for it.

You earn some friendships literally over a lifetime. Regardless of not getting any response from those I naively considered to be friends here in Mexico I did get some very warm and encouraging messages from people back in BC, Canada and from Ecuador. They all expressed sadness at how things had turned out for me and encouraged me to go on in spite of the problems I faced. They gave me words of encouragement, telling me that I wasn’t worthless and hoping I would get through this very difficult time. They are good friends who clearly understand how a few words of support can make a huge difference and I thank them sincerely.

When someone gives up and takes their own life it is always sad, but there is also that feeling of guilt by people who feel that they should have known, recognized the cries for help, and done something. Anything. Although there are a lot of folks here who should feel that shame because they not only refused to help, but also thought this was a good time to criticize and insult me, I know and accept that for them it will be like that old adage – if you want to know how much you’ll be missed, stick your finger in a bucket of water then remove it and you will see just how much you will be missed.

Certainly I have a very long list of regrets, all of which I take full responsibility for. There is no one else to blame for my dreams crashing into pieces except me. I know all too well the mistakes I have made, what I deserve to be punished for and what I don’t. I can only say that I have always tried to do my best. I have treated people with the respect I hoped to earn from them. I have never knowingly tried to hurt anyone.

My biggest regret in my life is what happened with my children and I go to my demise having never understood why they cut me out of their lives. My daughter chose to have nothing more to do with me over twenty-five years ago and this has hurt me immensely every single day since. We always had a wonderful father-daughter relationship and she was the one who encouraged me to leave my terrible marriage and move out West. I couldn’t leave her then, but I did years later when my mother had cancer and was given less than a five percent chance of surviving more than six months (she lasted nineteen years). I had to be with her. It killed me to leave Heather but I thought we would be together again soon when she came out to visit. After she said that she actually wanted to see me I drove down from BC in the dead of winter to see her, but my ex and her new husband hid her away from me. I have never understood why. Despite being married for twenty-three years he wouldn’t even let me have coffee with my ex-wife.

My daughter has two sons I have never met. My son and his girlfriend had three daughters, only one I had met when she was just a baby, Danielle. Although it is yet another long and complicated story from my youth I also have another son, Andrew, who had decided he wanted nothing to do with me either, regardless of how hard I tried to connect with him. Andrew has actually met my son and daughter, a most complicated situation to say the least. He and my son, Chris, look like twins. Two years ago I reconnected with my granddaughter, Mackenzie, on Facebook. She was very angry that her parents had told her I was dead. She felt that it was her decision whether she connected with me or not. I was overjoyed that we had found each other at long last. She was now fourteen years old and totally gorgeous. She told me that she was coming to Mexico next May for a wedding and that she would let me know where so we could meet. Nothing in the world had ever given me more hope in the future than meeting her and I couldn’t wait. Of course, that was then and this is now. I honestly don’t know if she is going to be angry with me now or just disappointed a little. Forgive me, darling. Someday you will understand better.

Not that I am in any position to give advice to anyone, but I did want to share one aspect of my life that had a truly devastating effect on my entire life and one I hope others can avoid. I want to be very clear that there was nothing criminal about what I did, which even the Crown Attorney who prosecuted me agreed with, and no one lost a penny. Although the exact circumstances of what happened were only ever of concern to the RCMP, who apparently spent over two million dollars on a wild goose chase, it involved the disposition of forklifts that had been damaged by sea water on their trip overseas from Japan. The shipment was fully insured so there was no loss to the company I worked for at the time, American Hoist. After I arranged for the insurance settlement I was given clear instructions that the forklifts were to be destroyed, which was my plan.

Shortly after one of our dealers from Nova Scotia, Sam Osmond, came to our location in Brampton. He met with Terry, our warehouse manager, and they had a conversation about the fact that there were numerous forklifts in the shipment that would still be good for parts. They agreed that is was a shame that they would all be ground up and destroyed. Sam came to talk to me and suggested that he was willing to take the shipment off our hands as we had been instructed to do, but he wanted to offer us some “compensation”. I told him that the company had already been paid the insurance settlement so there was no way we could “sell” the goods to anyone. He said he understood but would talk to our General manager, Gerry Waterhouse. Later that day I was summoned to a meeting with Sam, Gerry and Terry. They had apparently agreed to “sell” the shipment to Sam for thirty thousand dollars in cash. All I was asked to do was to issue an invoice to Sam for zero dollars, clearly marked “sold as is, where is, with no warranty expressed or implied”. I didn’t see any problem with that because it showed that we had disposed of the goods as directed, so I had done my job.

Later, Gerry, who remember was my boss, said that I had been elected to fly down to Dartmouth to pickup the money. In exchange the thirty thousand dollars would be split equally, three ways, me, Gerry and Terry. Ten thousand each. To this day I remember wondering if I was just being played, especially by Terry who I never got along with, but at the time I was struggling financially and ten thousand dollars was sure attractive. I agonized over whether I had done my job properly or if there was something dangerous about doing this. I realized that I had done my job totally and the company had not lost a dime. It all made sense to me at the time.

Unfortunately at this exact same time Gerry and I had been approached to take on another line of forklifts from Japan by a company called NYK. For several other reasons, all of them the fault of management at American Hoist, we knew that it was a house of cards that would soon collapse, leaving us out of a job. Because of the contract between TCM in Japan and American Hoist we were not allowed to take on another line, even though the products from NYK, electric forklifts, were not competitive to TCM. It looked like a golden opportunity too good to miss. On our way flying down to Chicago to meet with the executives from NYK we formed our company, Canada Lift, at least that’s what we would tell the Japanese.

Soon after landing the distribution for Canada from NYK I organized a floor plan financing program with the Bank of Nova Scotia and we held a dealer meeting at the Millcroft Inn in Caledon. The dealers, many of whom were TCM dealers, were most impressed and they placed orders for over a quarter of a million dollars worth of NYK products. We had the Letter of Credit in place with the bank so we were off and placed our much welcomed order with NYK.

Not long after, both of us were escorted off the premises of American Hoist’s TCM division and duly fired. Shortly after that we were given the opportunity to turn ourselves in to police voluntarily. We learned that we were being charged with several offenses, mostly conspiracy to commit fraud. From our previous employees we learned that the RCMP had turned the place upside down looking for evidence to support these charges. Of course, there was none because there never was any conspiracy.

At our later trial I was most unlucky to have the dumbest Legal Aid lawyer ever. I wrote out the questions to ask that would have clearly disclosed to the jury that there was no conspiracy and not a penny had been lost by American Hoist, but he completely ignored me. Sam Osmond, the dealer, took the stand and basically played dumb Newfie, saying that he knew nothing. Joe Barone, the President of American Hoist, took the stand and basically said he knew nothing about nothing. Even my poor assistant, Betty White (not that Betty), took the stand and admitted she had no clue what anybody was talking about. It was all a total farce, but, boy, did I pay the price!

Mostly because the actual “facts” never came out in the trial I think that the jury was totally confused, but they thought that if the RCMP had spent millions on this investigation there must be something illegal here. They dropped most of the conspiracy charges but found us guilty of fraud. I still have no idea who was defrauded out of anything, but it was what it was. Outside the courtroom even the Crown Attorney said that the only reason I had been convicted was because of my stupid lawyer. When it came time for sentencing he was one of my best witnesses, admitting to the judge that he had failed to see any evidence of any fraud or any loss. Jon Leheup, the President of the company I worked for at the time, Indal Products, also gave a glowing description of how valuable I was to the company and that he would regret losing me if I went to jail. Given the severity of the charges, but the total lack of any evidence, the judge sentenced us both to ninety days to be served on weekends. As much as I may have dodged a bullet at the time, I had no idea how disastrous this was going to be for the rest of my life.

After losing our jobs earlier and despite being charged and facing a trial Gerry and I had to continue on with life. We both felt that we would never be convicted because there was nothing to be convicted of. I had some serious regrets about being the one who had gone to collect the money because the RCMP had my flight records and my hotel bills, so they had me on that, but, so what? It proved I went to Dartmouth to visit one of our dealers but what else did it prove? Nothing. Even Sam wasn’t stupid enough to admit to paying the thirty thousand dollars that he gave me on the trip.

We had rented an office and warehouse in Oakville, getting ready to receive our first shipment from NYK, all of which was pre-sold and we were working on our next order. That all came crashing down when we got a call from the Bank of Nova Scotia saying they wanted to see us at their Head Office in Toronto. When we got there we learned that our floor plan financing had been cancelled. Our Letter of Credit which gave us six months of free financing had been pulled. We suddenly had no way to pay for the NYK order that was on a ship heading to us and no way to ship the trucks to our dealers. Regardless of how hard we pushed to understand why they refused to give us any answers. One of the people in the meeting with the bank was their lawyer who just kept shaking his head no every time we asked a question.

On the way down from the bank’s penthouse office we stopped into a very famous lawyer’s office to see what we could do. After a lengthy conversation with him he said we would unquestionably win. The bank was clearly at fault. Good news, until he then said the bank would drag us through the courts for probably ten years and he would need a retainer of fifty thousand dollars! I still remember his fateful words. In Canada it’s not how much justice you have. It’s how much you can afford. We knew at that exact moment that we were done.

So everything I had worked so hard for was gone. No choice but to accept that we had been defeated and lost our business and all the profits that would have come in the future. Our weekends at the Metro West Detention Center were a lesson in humility. Yes, we called the guards Boss and we were stripped of any dignity we ever had. After a while we were sent out on charitable works like peeling potatoes and cleanup in various group kitchens where we were always treated like child molesters. Some people may well feel that the punishment did not fit the crime, but I can tell you it was horrible. My one saving grace was that my son had a hockey tournament in Lake Placid. A really big deal. They actually let me go which shocked the hell out of my son.

After my three months were finally done I tried to get back to a semblance of a normal life. I applied for a really good job and was within minutes of getting it when they called and said I lost it because I had a criminal record. That was the case for the rest of my life. I tried on numerous occasions to apply for a pardon. I wrote to every single Minister in the government but got nowhere. Eventually I learned from my local MP that I had a twelve hundred dollar fine that I never knew about. Then the Minister at the time, Vic Toews, changed the entire pardon system and I was told that after I paid the fine I could apply for a record suspension, as it was now called, in just TEN YEARS! I gave up hope of ever being cleared or that I would ever get a job again. At one point I was going to be hired for two weeks at Christmas at a call centre, but the day before I was to start they called and said that their client couldn’t accept anyone who had a criminal record.

Facing the fact that I would never be pardoned and never get a job I planned to move to Panama, which I had been researching for months,  hoping to put all this behind me. No sooner had I got to the border then they told me to pull over. The midget, failed police officer with Homeland Security asked me about my criminal record. What followed was three hours of questioning like I was a convicted child molester, fingerprinting, and telling me it didn’t matter if I ever got a pardon in Canada because that meant nothing to them, and then barring me from even flying through a US airport. I quickly drove back to West Kelowna, stopping into BCAA to get a direct flight from Vancouver to Panama City that night. Panama sure didn’t work out for me, getting arrested when the girl who worked for me, Verushka Valenzuela, lied about me being a drug smuggler, in the country illegally and accusing me of raping her. After stealing my rings, my phone, my new camera and ripping me off for every cent I had she forced me to return to Canada.

Some years later, facing the same dilemma in Canada because of my criminal record, I moved to Ecuador. That proved to be just as disastrous, especially when I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning because of the fireplace with no ventilation in my cabin. I was also ripped off by my landlords, my driver and the private hospital they took me to, who charged me fourteen hundred dollars US for four days of pathetic care, when they could have taken me to a public, free hospital. It didn’t help that Service Canada, who had told me there would be no problem receiving my GIS, instead denied payment for more than six months until I contacted the Minister responsible. I had been left penniless, borrowing money from friends back in Canada to eat plus being ripped off for three hundred and fifty dollars US by the person handling my residency application. She also refused to return my passport which nearly stopped me from flying back to Canada.

There. All the bad news and my total confession. When I read it back to myself I can’t believe the bad luck I’ve had and wonder why I didn’t give up long ago.

Right now I know that with the legalization of marijuana in Canada a lot of people are hoping that the government will just expunge their criminal records for simple possession. With what I have been through my entire life I hope they agree to do that.

So long mi amigos.

 

 

A startling discovery today. A Facebook page dedicated to the memory of the Club Bluenote.

Posted on the club’s Facebook page today. 

UPDATE: It came as quite the surprise that Pat objected so strongly to being included in the story. She threatened to report me to Facebook if I didn’t remove her from the post. I contacted the pages’s admin and asked them to delete the post, which only they can do and takes about two seconds. Their response was to criticize me for including her in the comment and said how difficult it was to delete the comment. Not true. I have followed this up with numerous messages requesting the deletion but they have done nothing. I told them she had threatened to report me to Facebook which I don’t want, of course, having been on Facebook since it started. My last message to the admin is that I will report them to Facebook, who may well overreact and take down the page, which I will very much regret. I do not understand why they are being so difficult. 

Wow! A whole lot of memories come flooding back. I was the drummer in the house band at the club for nine months way back in 1967, 1968, I think. Zak Marshall was on keyboard. Nolan Yearwood was our lead guitarist and Allan McQuillan was our rhythm guitarist and resident nutcase. Among our various names over ten years of playing I don’t recall what we were at the club. Either The Bow Street Runners, The Clyde Valley Showband, although I doubt that in a blues club, or maybe even HappyFace, when I painted my bass drum with the bright yellow logo.

Boy did I ever get some lessons in life at the club. Smoked my first joint thanks to Eric Mercury. That was a total disaster when our next set opened with You Keep Me Hanging On by Vanilla Fudge, at about half speed because I was so stoned and groovin on the sound of my kit. Never again!

We played every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, backing the floor show from about 1:00 til 4:00 in the morning, which was quite the challenge because we all had full time jobs during the day. By Sunday morning I don’t remember driving home to Streetsville because I was beyond tired. I worked at the bank at the time so who knows who I gave too much money to on a Friday?

Our gig was no doubt the same as for any other house band there. Top name entertainers like The Platters, The Ink Spots and many more would do their shows at other venues in town, then head over to the club for the floor show. I met so many talented people as well as a lot of rising local talent. Among my friends were Shawn Jackson, who I loved to death. I still remember having a long talk with her at a party at Al’s house. So many more who would go on to become famous, especially for Canadian artists at the time.

We became better known because of the club and got invited to go places with other musicians. I still remember going down Yonge St for a rehearsal for Grant Smith and The Power. Stony thrilled the heck out of me.

It was during this time that I first met George Olliver. Pretty sure they became the Mandala during this time period. A really cool guy. We were playing on the second floor of some club in Toronto and Domenic Troiano came down to ask if they could use my kit because theirs’ went missing. I was happy to help. I think Whitey Glan was with him then. Sorry to learn he’s gone.

Reading everyone’s comments I had a few laughs and a few tears. Those all too short months playing at the club changed my life forever. Haven’t had so much fun since.

Cheers from Mexico. Shameless self promo – check out my website at AjijicToday.com.mx.

A question for you my dear readers.

Having lived in Panama, Ecuador and now Mexico and visited Costa Rica many times, my question is about basic services – electricity, water and internet.

These counties in Central and South America (some consider Mexico part of North America) and quite possibly others, have been referred to as “third-world countries” when it comes to many things, such as hospitals are concerned. The shifting winds of governments over the years, together with the influx of Expats to these countries has brought on many improvements to healthcare, highways and sewage treatment, for example in Panama City where 40,000 metric tons of raw sewage were previously dumped into the Bay of Panama daily. This was the primary reason that all the big hotels on the bay, built to launder drug money, sat empty.

In the countries I have lived in or visited the most frequent occurrence was no water, no electricity or no internet, often for days on end. My question is if this is a result of inadequate infrastructure to support these services, corruption either in private companies or the governments, a lack of funding, incompetence or maybe just a lack of intent?

Each of these countries have at one point made International Living’s Best Places To Retire list. First it was Costa Rica, then Panama, then Ecuador and now Mexico. Those who have been part of the Age Wave, the baby boomer generation, are shocked when they move to these countries only to learn that the basic services that they have been accustomed to in their home counties are often not available. Electricity (power) in particular is an exception because people have experienced a loss of power as a result of thunderstorms, ice storms and high winds taking down power poles, but, except in extreme situations, such as the recent tornados in Canada, power is usually restored fairly quickly.

That is not the case in the countries mentioned because weather is seldom a contributing factor. Instead, the power just goes off for no apparent reason at any time of day or night. In some situations I understand that it is because of the electrical grid not being designed to allow localized outages for work to be done. The entire system must be brought down.

Water supply can be just as problematic. Unlike in more developed countries where water supply is a public utility, in Panama, for example, water is supplied by private companies which are often underfunded and ill-equipped to deal with problems that arise. Again, in Panama, a pipe broke in the system supplying my water and I had no water for over a week. Not so great to not be able to flush the toilets for a week. Here in Mexico it’s the well known don’t drink the water. Bottled water is the norm, although I for one don’t know what the problem is with the water supply. I can only assume that it is a lack of purification that is a normal part of water supply everywhere else.

Internet is a whole other issue, although improvements are being made gradually. A common complaint here in Lakeside will soon be solved when iLox brings 50 Mbps service here soon. Telmex is also introducing fiber-optic service. no doubt in response to iLox coming. That being said, Telmex service is completely unreliable. Many areas get less than 2 Mbps, if at all. And just yesterday the service from Telmex was out all day here in Riberas. The question is why?

The new President has pledged to bring WIFI to everyone in the country. A very lofty goal. He has also pledged to stop Guadalajara from drawing a foot of water out of Lake Chapala every year, although there is no indication how that might affect the local water supply.

Obviously I can only speak to these issues as an immigrant to the countries I have lived in, but I wonder how the locals feel. Do they just accept that this is the way it has always been or are they just as annoyed at the constant failure of these services? If so, why aren’t there loud protests to clean up the mess that is, for example, CFE? Are Mexicans just used to no water or no power? Don’t Mexican businesses suffer the same consequences when they can’t operate their equipment? It costs businesses a lot when they must close because they can’t function without power. Their employees must be sent home with no pay, which hurts everyone. Food spoils in restaurants when there is no refrigeration. They can’t open at night with no lights. Bands can’t play music without power.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love Lakeside and I do everything possible to promote the area on my website. I simply want to believe that these issues can actually be solved to make life here even better.

Ode to my boy

The last time I had a dog was way back in 2000 when I lived with Tracy and the kids. Somehow we learned about a lab being put up for adoption because the little girl had become allergic to him. They brought him over to meet us and, although it was very sad to see the little girl crying, we said she could come and visit him anytime.

His name was Spade and he was sure something. He was a mix, part pit-bull and part lab. We were a little concerned about how much pit-bull he was, even way back then, because the kids were small. Before we took him we made sure the kids understood they had to take him for walks and clean up his poop in the yard. They agreed, probably just because they instantly loved him.

………………………………..

I digress, but maybe a little personal history here. When I was knee high to a grasshopper I had horrible eczema. I scratched and scratched so badly that the skin on my hands was pretty well gone. My mother sewed me little bags to put over my hands so I wouldn’t gross out the other kids at school. They had to tie my hands to the crib, and later to my bed, to stop me scratching. My poor parents spent a fortune on creams and medications but nothing worked.

Along with the delights of the eczema, and I don’t pretend to understand the relationship, I was also deathly allergic to anything that had fur, feathers or just about anything else that contains dander. The only animals I could ever be close to were fish. It was so bad that we could go visiting to someone’s house and my eyes would swell up and I’d start sneezing and coughing uncontrollably. We would ask if they had a dog or cat and they would say no, but then they would tell us they had a dog ten years ago. That was enough. I had to go and sit in the car.

Then by some accident, of course long before the internet, my Dad learned about chiropractors, who, back then were considered quacks by most people. We lived in Streetsville and the nearest chiropractor was in Oakville, quite a ways away. We met with him and he took a bunch of x-rays. We learned from those x-rays that there was a bone out of place in my neck that was pressing on a nerve and apparently causing

both my eczema and my allergies. He said he would do the now famous neck crack thing to move it back into place and take the pressure off. Given how chiropractors were thought of back then I had no idea why my Dad was willing to believe all this, especially when the chiropractor told him it would take weekly visits for more than a year. Even considering the cost of gas back then, that was asking a lot of my Dad. I think my parents were just so desperate to find a solution and had been spending so much on failed creams and meds that they took a chance.

To this day I still remember meeting a charming patient at his office, who was basically a paraplegic in a wheelchair, but he was such a nice guy. He told me he was twenty-one, but the amazing part was when he was born the doctors gave him little chance of survival. His poor parents were told he wouldn’t make it to two years old. Well, here he was now twenty-one and it was only thanks to the chiropractor. That sure gave me confidence that this might actually work. The treatments were kind of brutal because he would massage my head back and forth and then, without warning, give me the crack. Sometimes I thought my head was going to come off.

Sure enough he was right. My eczema cleared up and I felt my allergies were gone. At least we hadn’t been anywhere that I had any troubles. Even my aunt and uncles in Toronto for the annual family Christmas party who had four dogs. I didn’t take any chances with them by playing with them and by now my aunt and uncle were used to locking them in a room when we came.

At long last I figured I might just be able to have a pet. My Dad wasn’t keen on a dog yet but he let me get a cat, Bootsy. We became inseparable because I was so thrilled I could finally have a pet after all those years.

Well, life can certainly be cruel, even at that tender young age. I was coming home on the school bus and as we got close to my laneway someone said something about a dead animal in the road. Sure enough it was my Bootsy. She had been hit and killed by a car. It broke my heart, especially after waiting all those years to have a pet.

Not long after that my Uncle Earl asked my Dad to take their dog. They were moving to Vancouver or something and couldn’t keep him. My Dad agreed and we got Hobie, who was part boxer and part hound. He became an instant member of the family and proved to be a great guard dog even though he wouldn’t hurt a fly. During the first thunderstorm we had we couldn’t find him. Eventually we found him shivering and shaking under my parent’s bed. The funny part was that once the storm was over he couldn’t get out from under the bed. We had to all lift up their big, heavy, four-poster bed to let him out. I often wondered if the people who visited us and Hobie would come charging at them barking away ever saw him under the bed would still be afraid of him.

He was with us for years, but, again, life’s cruelty struck. My Dad had taken him to the vet in Streetsville. It turned out he had cancer and I think it was going to cost something like eight hundred dollars, a fortune back then, to keep him alive. My Dad said the vet told him it would only give him a few more months and he would be in pain, so my Dad made the difficult decision to put him down. I still remember his funeral when we buried him on the side of the hill where he loved to play with us. We all cried and cried, surprisingly even my tough Dad, who I had never seen cry.

We did have another dog very briefly, Champ, after that but he was a nutcase who attacked and bit anyone who moved. He was gone soon. I remember my in-laws had a small dog. Jiggzy, I think was his name, but we never had a family dog. I honestly don’t know why. My kids would have probably loved to have one. I think it might have been that we were so busy traveling all over the country for their sports that owning a dog would have been a challenge.

………………………………..

So, back to my story. Flash forward many years to 2000 and Spade. He was the most patient dog in the world. The kids would use him as a pillow while they watched TV. They would maul him to death playing with him and he never complained. I think one time Brayden got a little rough and he let out a little growl to let him know that was too much. He was a pooping machine though and, you guessed it, I got to clean up after him. I never minded though because he was such a great dog. Every time I came home he went nuts as soon as he heard me at the door and he would greet me like a long lost friend every time.

There’s a theme here. Yup. Life’s cruelty struck again and this one was much worse. Tracy was the love of my life and so were the kids. We were twenty-two years apart in age but that was never an issue. I think she was older than her years and I was younger. When we were doing something like hiking or rollerblading she always had trouble keeping up with me.

One fateful weekend she went to Kamloops to spend some time with her friends from school. The minute she walked through the door Sunday night I knew something was wrong. I think her friends had got to her about the age difference, asking her what she was going to do when I was maybe seventy. She admitted that it might be the mistake of her life but she asked me to leave. I fell apart. The night we told the kids was one of the very worst of my life.

I found a place to live and moved out, leaving my family behind, including Spade. A few months later Tracy called and asked me if I could take Spade. Apparently he had started shitting all over the house and she couldn’t handle him anymore. I took him gladly but then at the time I was living with Ans, who had another dog, a three-legged dog, Skipper, who was not my favorite dog. Spade was okay for a while but then he started shitting in her house. After coming home I put him out after discovering a pile of shit in her living room. It was raining and she wanted to let him in. I told her that if she did that would be the last she would see of him. I guess she didn’t believe me because she let him in. The next day I took him back to Tracy. Ans was not happy and that pretty well ended that relationship, whatever it ever was.

A little while later Tracy called and asked me to come and get him again. When I started to explain that we had been down this road before she stopped me and said it was much worse. I rushed over and as soon as I knocked on the door he started barking. When I opened the door and he saw it was me he was at the top of the stairs. He came bounding down to me. I say “bounding” because I don’t know how else to describe it. He had completely lost the use of his hind legs so basically bounded down on only his front legs. Something was very wrong. Tracy then told me the news. She had taken him to the vet and been told he had to be put down, but she said she just couldn’t handle that, so she had called me to do it. Nice.

This was all going to be traumatic enough for me but my darling little Madison, who I believe was five at the time, insisted on coming with me to the vet. Here I was on the verge of falling apart and now I had to be strong for her. Looking back into the vet’s office at Spade for the last time is one of those traumatic life moments you will never ever forget.

So other than the fact that I’ve lived in BC, Panama, Ontario (twice), Ecuador and now Mexico, I haven’t even thought about having a dog again, until Rollie came along. Although I had been thinking about maybe getting a dog, mostly because of my failed relationships with women, I hadn’t done anything more. Then I saw Paola in a video walking Rollie along the malecon. Something clicked and I wanted to meet him. That was about a month ago. Let’s just say it was love at first sight on both parts. He was a riot and so affectionate. I truly wish I had been able to video me trying to put my shoes on in the morning to take him for a walk. He wanted to eat my socks, my shoes and my clothes as I tried to get dressed, laughing my ass off at this antics.

Being a rescue and a puppy he was pretty undisciplined but soon I had him sitting to put his leash on. He understood “no”, like not getting on my bed. The only problem was he wanted to eat everything in sight. He quickly devoured the chew toys they brought with him. He ate his leash. He desperately wanted to eat my slippers but got a “no” when he went near them. He started off peeing and pooping all over my apartment but soon understood that Daddy wasn’t happy with that so he started going on the terrace instead. A small improvement but still something.

Then I had to go out shopping and I wondered how he would handle our first separation. I was only gone for a couple of hours and when I came back he was thrilled to see me and hadn’t done anything bad. While I was out I had bought him a new and expensive bed and he took to that immediately. I went out at night and it was the same. No problem.

Then I was out at night working at the Spotlight Club. When I came home I guess you would call it severe separation anxiety. He had destroyed everything he could get his teeth on. His bed was in pieces. My slippers were toast. He had started eating the blanket he loved. It was a mess. He got put outside on the terrace while I fumed and cleaned up. I was not happy and he knew it.

The plan then became putting him out on the terrace when I was gone. I had always left the patio screen open all day to encourage him to go out there, but he had this strange timid reaction to venturing out there so I didn’t want to make it any worse. When I returned he was happy to see me and danger had been averted. It appeared to be a solution, although if I wasn’t watching him while I worked he was trying to eat something else. He destroyed my very expensive lifts in my shoes.

All that bad stuff being said he was still the love of my life. He brought such joy into my life at a time I really needed it. At first I had been hesitant to let him off the leash when we went for our walks, fearing that he would take off and not come back when I called him, but soon I was letting him off more and more. He never failed to come when I called him. About the only time I used the leash was when we walked to the store and I put it on him to wrap it around a tree while I was in the store. No big deal.

One thing that always amazed me, and I never understood, was how he told time. If I wasn’t up yet he would come at 8:15 every morning and start kissing me on the face, like “time to get up, Daddy”. It was exactly the same if I laid down for a quick nap in the late afternoon. An hour later, at most, he’s kissing me awake again. “Time for our walk, Dad”.

We sure had no shortage of things happen on our walks, some good, some not so good. When he did his business, which was usually at a vacant weed-filled lot just down the street, he got his treat and “good boys”. He rarely failed to do his pooping there. I always carried a poop bag with me but rarely needed to use it.

Then the little smart ass tried to get the better of me. When I had first got him he squatted like a girl to pee. Why he didn’t lift his leg like every other male confused me. I was told by others that he would eventually lift his leg. As though he understood the conversation that very day he lifted his leg to pee. Then a few days later, usually when he was not close to me and even after he had done his pooping in the lot, I would see him squatting to pee again. Then I realized that as soon as he peed he came running for his treat. Aha! Trying to fool me. No way, Buddy. Nice try.

As we came back to San Diego one day I heard someone calling his name. Sure enough it was Normis, who Rollie was nuts about. He took off to her in an instant. We ended up walking her home, mostly because she’s gorgeous and I really liked her. When we got to her place their pit-bull was safely behind the gate, going nuts. Her roomie came home with the other dog and the minute she opened the gate the pit-bull went for Rollie pinning him down with just an unbelievably strong grip on him. I tried to pull her off but that proved impossible. Finally her owner managed to get her off. I was panicking because I thought the next bite was going to be to Rollie’s very exposed throat and he would be gone.

Another day we were walking down a new road I had not been on before. We came around a corner and there was a big neighborhood fiesta going on. About ten dogs came running out to check out Rollie. The look on his face as he looked up at me was just priceless.

The last one with him was for me the funniest. Ramone Corona, the street we normally come back on was flooded by some burst pipe somewhere so we headed down to the road we had come back on before, the one with the fiesta. There was a car parked with a beautiful girl sitting on her boyfriend’s lap in the back seat with the door open. Before I could stop him he jumped up on her lap and started madly kissing her. She was squealing with laughter. I told her that Rollie’s problem was that he loved beautiful women. She liked that one. I finally got him to leave her and get out of the car.

Right before this walk, on what turned out to be our last day together, the people who gave him to me had been threatening to pick him up and take him from me. After I stopped laughing at this thing with the girl I started crying again realizing it might just be my last time with him. It was.

It’s another story, but things had basically been falling apart on me. I had just learned that I only had twenty-eight dollars to my name and a whole lot of month left and had no idea how I was going to survive. Worrying about Rollie on top of this was killing me. I did have a big bag of food left for him so I knew he was in no danger. I was. That night, having not eaten a thing all day and drinking way more than normal for me, I started losing it, believing that there was no point in going on. I just couldn’t handle all the crap coming my way all at once. It got so bad that my friend, Christine, sent over a doctor and her colleagues to talk to me. She offered to help me with food, medications and Rollie. I told her they were going to take him on Thursday but she said she would talk to them and explain that taking him from me was the worst thing they could do to me.

It didn’t matter. The next morning, without warning, they came and took him. It just broke my heart. When I told the doctor what happened she was mortified and said she would get him back. Then she called and told me they would “consider” giving him back to me, in THREE MONTHS! How stupid! Then they said I could “visit” him, as though that would make everything okay. I posted all this on Facebook. Big mistake!

First, people I honestly thought were friends started attacking me, without a clue what I was going through. They told me to “suck it up”, “stop feeling sorry for myself” and it was “all in my head”. Just brutal and the very last thing I needed. It’s no wonder that mental health is such an issue when so many people are so clueless about it.

I was deeply upset about losing Rollie, my best friend, but I had equally important things to deal with, like no food, no money, no medications and no future. Fighting over getting Rollie back was more than I could handle. I knew that the bitch who gave him to me was not going to “consider” anything. She was going to make sure he never came back to me again. I knew she would do her very best to get him adopted by someone else as quickly as she could so he could never be with me again. She showed her stripes when she took him from me in the first place knowing I was suicidal. What kind of person does that?

At this point all I can hope now is that he finds someone who loves him as much as I did and makes him happy. Daddy misses you, Buddy.

Good-bye.

Good Boy.

Here’s my thoughts on voting for governments

The process starts with getting your voter ID card when you turn legal age to vote in whatever country you live in or whatever country you are eligible to vote in based on your citizenship. This could be done at places like passport offices or driver license offices. Wherever they can take a photo and verify your other ID, ideally with a passport or any recognized photo ID. You would also need a valid credit card because you are going to be charged a fee for your voter ID just like you are with a passport. Also just like a passport it is good for five years.

After applying in person and providing all the required ID you would be sent a photo voter ID card along with instructions on how you register online, just like with a credit card activation. You would be provided an ID number and allowed to select a password which needs to be updated at least annually. You will receive a reminder email or text message to update your password. Because the card is a permanent voter ID information such as address, marital status and anything else that could change frequently would not be required although you can update your registration online at any time. For anyone whose marital status changes their legal name, they would need to go to the appropriate office to update their information and receive a new card with the proper legal name. Their new card would be valid for five years from the date of the changes.

Qualification for a voter ID card would not be automatic. Each country would develop a test based on their accepted values. The application would have conditions similar to filing an income tax return with the same sort of penalties. Basically, you could be fined or charged if you lie. So, a question such as are you now a member of a recognized terrorist organization would automatically disqualify you. Do you have a criminal record could also disqualify you conditional upon the type of conviction. Other questions would deal with the specific values of the specific country and the responses would be rated on a scale of importance. No questions related to sex, discrimination or politics would be allowed.

On voting day you simply log in on your computer or smartphone and vote. Although your vote is duly recorded it is anonymous so there is no record kept of how you voted. It also does away with voter lists. A related system could be added so that you can use your voter ID to donate to a specific party. These donations are recorded both for income tax purposes and to ensure that your donation meets the legal standards for making donations. A corporation would not be allowed to donate if the chief executive does not have a voter ID.

You would still be allowed to vote in person on election day as long as you show your ID card. Those overseas, such as military personnel serving outside the country would also vote online.

Would this totally eliminate voter fraud? Probably not but it sure would make it a lot harder. Once you have voted online that is recorded for your voter ID and the system does not allow you to vote again. If you make a mistake you would be allowed to void or change your vote until you make a final submission. It would be very difficult to fraudulently come up with all the ID documents required for your voter ID, but nothing is impossible. Regardless, producing documents such as a birth certificate, social insurance card, passport, government photo ID card or driver’s license would need a lot of effort for a simple voter ID card.

Is this big brother? It’s a question of the ends justifying the means. In most countries, the voter turnout is pathetic, often less than fifty percent. Does the elected government truly reflect the will of the people? No. In some countries it is a legal requirement that you vote. If this system were adopted there is no valid reason why every single citizen could not vote. Although maybe a bit heavy-handed, your credit card could be charged a fine for not voting.

With the rapid advances in technology, things like fingerprint ID and taking a photo when you vote could be added. The voting process could also allow clicking on a candidate’s name and getting a brief summary of their positions on the issues before recording your vote. By voting online you can take all the time you want to be informed before voting.

Also, in some countries, employers are required to allow their employees paid time off to vote. This cost would be eliminated completely.

Just one man’s opinion.

Turning Sixty-Nine

If you had asked me at any point in my early life, like when I was just a kid or even a teenager, what my life would be like at almost seventy I would have been honest and told you I never thought about it. I just muddled through every day with no real plan or thoughts for the future. As John Lennon famously said back when I was a teenager, “life is what happens while you’re making other plans”. So very true.

I guess my thoughts of my own demise started when my Dad died in my arms back in 2005 and then when my mother died in 2007. My Dad was 81 and my Mum was 84. I wondered if that was a sign of my future. Would I make it into my eighties and, more importantly, would I want to? My Dad smoked. So did I. My Dad had terrible asthma which is what killed him. My mother was much worse because she suffered from the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and I moved in with her to care for her until I could find proper facilities for her. Watching her waste away was just brutal. I wondered if that was in my future too, which I knew I couldn’t deal with after watching my Mum. I would rather be dead.

Okay, somehow I managed to make it this far. I’ve certainly had my share of near-death experiences in my life. My first was when I was just a kid at a camp in Algonquin Park. A bunch of us were playing on a raft, tipping it over and jumping off. At one point I came up and banged my head on the overturned raft. I was laughing and panicked. I started swimming like a mad fool and came up about twenty feet from the raft. Scared the crap out of me.

Flash forward to when I was in a band playing at Chez Monique, a club in Yorkville. It was a three-story house and I didn’t know that the third floor was a brothel. Our guitarist’s, Don Thurston, sister, Pat came with us this night. While we were playing I noticed this guy in an overcoat bothering her. The minute our set finished I went over to them and told him she was with the band and to leave her alone. He turned and pulled a gun on me! Hell. I was only sixteen at the time and I was going to die getting shot. Luckily he just put the gun away and left. You need to remember that I was a scrawny hundred and twenty pounds back then and certainly not threatening.

The next time I remember was dirt biking with my son, Chris. He was new to biking and I was worried he was getting too cocky and could get in trouble. We were racing down a mountain in Revelstoke which had what’s called switchback after switchback, basically a hairpin turn that you needed to be cautious going through. Chris was behind me and we were really booting it. I kept looking back to make sure he was okay, not paying attention to what was in front of me. I was in third gear and going fast when I looked forward and realized that I was going way too fast for the switchback ahead. Too late to apply the brakes so I just geared down, very quickly. I saw the gravel on the side of the roadway too close, with the drop off at least a few hundred feet. It took every bit of riding knowledge to somehow get around the hairpin without going over. My heart was racing. From then on Chris was on his own.

I had a ball in my fourteen years in the Okanagan. I had a much better life balance not working the crazy hours I had been working back in Ontario. I had my toys. I had three different boats. I had several different dirt-bikes. I had a snowmobile. I had both downhill skis and cross-country skis. It was quite the life. In all those years I only had one near-death experience.

Wade and I had found a gorgeous little-sheltered bay on the Okanagan Mountain side of the lake. There was room for several tents and there was a stone berm protecting our boats. Once we got all our friends there we decided to go down to the bar in Penticton. Late that night I guy comes running into the bar and hollers whoever owns those boats on the dock needs to go now! As is typical of the lake a huge storm had come in and our boats were smashing on the dock. Two of my bumpers were smashed to bits. On the way down I had several women with me but as soon as they saw the height of the waves they all went in Wade’s much bigger boat. Only my buddy, Greg, offered to come with me. At the back of the dock was a huge wall of rocks meaning that if I didn’t time it right getting out of there that’s where my boat would end up. Literally holding my breath I timed the incoming wave and accelerated. I made it but immediately porpoised into the next wave and the water flooded my boat. If it hadn’t been for Wade’s vital counseling I would have ended up on the bottom of the lake. He got us back to our campsite and got me into the bay. I wanted to kiss the ground.

The next one is in Ecuador and the closest I’ve ever come to buying the farm. I was staying in a cabin high on the mountain just outside Otavalo. It was freezing so I had to keep a fire going all the time. Funny and nearly tragic that my landlord and I had discussed putting a fan in the cabin to exhaust the gases from the fire. As usual, I was working and suddenly felt very tired so I laid down on my bed for a quick nap. My landlady brought my dinner down earlier but it’s important to understand that she valued my privacy and never once came down later in the evening. For some unknown reason this night she did.

Apparently, she tried to rouse me awake but couldn’t. She knew something was very wrong and thankfully called the ambulance. All I remember was waking up in the hospital just in time to hear the emergency doctor say that I was ten minutes from death! I had carbon monoxide poisoning from the fire. If my landlady had not come down to check on me I would be gone. Far too close for comfort.

Now that I’ve described the times I almost didn’t make it I wanted to turn to a more cheery subject and talk about my birthdays. With exception of one I honestly can’t remember any of them. I racked my brain trying to remember turning 21, 40 or even 60. Nothing. I guess they weren’t very memorable.

My fifthtiest would have to be the celebration of my life. My girlfriend at the time, Karen Falloon, had done an amazing job organizing a surprise birthday party for me. It was the first surprise party of my life and boy did she do a great job. We lived together and I don’t know how she managed to keep it a secret. The plan was we were going to meet some friends at a local restaurant. After we got seated she asked me to come with her to the back where they had meeting rooms. I was confused. When we got there the doors to the meeting room swung open and the first thing I saw were my parents. Then as I entered the room I realized that there were tons of people there. Friends, not only from Kelowna but from far-off places like Pete. Karen had organized the whole thing and kept it a secret from me. It was a really special birthday.

Last year was nice too because my friend Francis arranged for a small cake at La Sima. I had only just arrived here in Mexico so it was a nice touch.

This year was not shaping up to be anything other than sitting at home with my dog. I was a little down about that until Norma said she would join me at the plaza for what I thought was a night of the fiesta. There was nothing going on but we went down to the Malecon for a bit and then walked to El BarCo where I thought a great band was playing. We got there just in time to see the bass player, Sergio, leaving because they had five power outages and decided to quit. Norma and I went up on the rooftop area and had a nice chat. Not exactly a night of excitement but better than sitting at home alone.

Hopefully, I get to write something about turning SEVENTY. Never thought I would make it that far.

The Year In Review

One year ago I arrived in what was to become my new country, although I didn’t know that at the time.

Anyone who has followed my trials and tribulations knows that I spent time in both Panama and Ecuador, both of which I can only describe as total disasters. When my time in the group home was coming to an end in Belleville and I found it hard to believe that I had actually been there for two years, I knew I had to make a change. I considered returning to my beloved Okanagan but I knew that life would be a pale shadow of what it was before. My parents were both gone. All my wonderful toys, my boats, my dirt bikes, my snowmobile as well as things like my downhill skis, my bike and a host of other things were all gone and there was no way I could afford to replace any of them on my meagre pensions. Not only that but rents had basically tripled so I couldn’t afford to live there anymore. It had become only for the lifestyles of the rich and famous, certainly not me. The other option was Mexico.

The only reason I looked at Mexico was that a friend of mine from Ecuador had moved to Ajijic, a place I had never heard of and she posted glowing reports about the area. I started researching and was surprised to see how much it was like BC. A huge lake. Mountains. A gorgeous climate. Wonderful culture. And, no winter! The problem was that I was barely surviving month to month even living in a group home so going to Mexico was impossible. I had more than overstayed my welcome in the group homes so I started looking for a place to live in Belleville, Trenton and even Kingston, a place I really lived, but the rents everywhere were absurd. I would starve if I rented anything.

Life is timing. Earlier in the spring, I had bought a bike at Canadian Tire. When I came in the door they were doing one of those credit card promotions with double the points and so on. Knowing I had gone bankrupt twice I knew they would turn me down but what the hell? Go for it just for fun. When I bought the bike they gave me the points and processed it through my temporary credit card so it looked like I had made a payment of four hundred dollars. The next thing I knew I got a permanent MasterCard with a credit limit of two hundred dollars. Go figure. Over the next while anything I bought at Canadian Tire I put on my credit card and paid it off immediately, partly so I could use the points. Cool!

Next thing I get a letter from Canadian Tire that my credit limit has been extended to five hundred dollars. Hey, this is great. Me, a guy who has had more than my fair share of credit troubles, has five hundred bucks of credit. Before long my credit limit is one thousand dollars, then two thousand dollars and finally, ten thousand dollars! Of course, the interest rate was a crazy nineteen percent so I hadn’t planned to put anything on the card. Then they send me yet another promo that I can write a cheque to myself for four thousand dollars and deposit it then get three months interest-free. Talk about an offer you can’t refuse.

At this point, despite knowing that going to Mexico was an impossible dream, I had started working on a city portal website for Ajijic, something I felt was sorely needed. The more I learned about Ajijic the more I wanted to go. At the same time, the President of the group home had told me my rent was increased by a hundred dollars to $479 a month, for a room! I had learned enough about rents in Ajijic and actually found a nice looking apartment for less than that a month. The cost of living looked cheap, so the issue was my flights. Well, there’s my credit card staring at me, interest-free for three months, so being the eternal optimist I figured I would be making money from my website to pay off the flights. Oh, boy. Was I wrong.

My time at the group home was up at the end of September so I booked my flights to Mexico. I made a new friend, Francis Dryden, in Ajijic who was kind enough to go and check out the apartment and he said to take it, so I did for six months. My experience in Panama and Ecuador had taught me to not believe the tourist information you find on the internet, so checking it out for six months seemed like the right thing to do. The group home graciously let me store all my stuff in their basement while I was gone. I had no idea what I was going to do when I returned but that was a worry for the future. I was excited about my new adventure in Mexico.

My terrible experience with AeroMexico has been the subject of numerous other posts, so I won’t repeat it here. Let’s just say that it should have been a foreboding of the troubles that lay ahead.

Francis had agreed to pick me up at the airport in Guadalajara and take me to my apartment because he knew where it was, of course. I waited and waited outside the airport, but no Francis. Finally, when an Uber driver asked me where I was going I went with him, hoping Francis wasn’t just late. I learned later that he thought my arrival time was at night, not in the morning. My Uber guy, Mike, spoke pretty good English, which was good because I had lost most of my Spanish from Ecuador. He ended up spending a couple of hours with me while we tracked down where my apartment was. Nice guy. I can’t find the right words to describe my feelings as we came down into Ajijic. It was love at first sight. The area was so beautiful. The weather was incredible. The first thing I saw was the Walmart so I figured I might just be able to get the things I needed and was used to back home.

We then found our way to my new apartment and it was even better than I expected. It was huge and had everything you could imagine in it. I wouldn’t need anything except food. I met Perry and Kathy, my new landlords and their dogs. I was one happy camper. Francis and his wife, Anastasia, then took me out every night for a week to the best restaurants and bars ever. Monday night was my first trip to Adelita’s, a bar I would spend a lot of time in over the next couple of months. They had amazing food and a great band. The place was packed and I couldn’t believe this was a Monday night. A whole lot different than what I had left in Belleville.

In a couple of weeks, I met the love of my life. Here again, I have gone into great detail about my relationship and how it ended with her, so I won’t repeat myself. The point for this story is how that relationship changed my entire life plan. The day I had arrived in Ajijic my six-month plan went out the window and I started figuring out how I could stay here forever. I decided to return as planned to Canada and file for my temporal visa and return to get married. She surprised me by wanting to come with me to Canada and offered to pay for her own flights, so that became the new plan. To say that the trip back to Canada was the worst experience of my life would be a gross understatement. I have referred to it as a Murphy’s Law trip because what could go wrong did go wrong, from our flights to our hotel to applying for my visa to not being able to sell a single thing of all my stuff. It was also unusually freezing for that time of year, late March, early April which didn’t help.

As I’ve described elsewhere Plan D went out the window when she broke up with me by text. In terms of describing the highs and lows of the year that was, this was not only the low point of my last year. It was also the low point of my entire life. I completely fell apart and considered suicide for the first time in my life. I felt totally worthless and didn’t see any reason to go on. It was only through the support of good friends that I made it through and I’m still around. It was a life-changing experience that has changed my faith in love and people who you really can trust. It hurt so bad.

One of the things we were dealing with pre-breakup, was that we had to find a new place because my landlords had put the rent up almost sixty percent, which we could not afford. On the trip back from Canada she had informed me that I should look for a place on my own, which was clearly a forewarning of what was to come. It had become increasingly difficult to find a place and Ajijic was out of the question. I ended up moving to the disaster I am now stuck in here in Riberas, a short distance from Ajijic. I have the landlord from hell. I’ve had no water, no electricity, no internet, cockroaches, ants and on and on. No fun. I’m stuck in a one year lease and he refuses to give me back my deposit even if I could find somewhere else, which I can’t.

I don’t really want to admit this in public, but I should follow-up on the credit card story. Partly because of the flights back to Canada and partly the expense of my relationship, like losing three thousand pesos when she missed one of her flights, my credit card got to an unbelievable twelve thousand dollars, an amount I can’t possibly payoff! I have no clue what I’m going to do unless I finally start making some money off the websites. I’ve written to MasterCard confessing everything but they don’t respond. I am also paying nineteen percent on that huge amount so I’m just getting deeper and deeper in trouble. My only benefit is that I am not reachable in Mexico and still don’t ever plan to go back to Canada. I just have to put it out of my mind or I’ll go crazy with worry about it.

Since my devastating breakup, my feelings about women have certainly changed. I have always been a hopeless romantic and love women, but my faith in love was shattered. I’ve certainly met some nice women and there’s no shortage of beautiful women here, but I don’t trust anyone with my heart now. I know how difficult it was to make it through the breakup and I could not survive it again. I recently went through a horrible scam with a woman who I spent hours and hours on chat with and I still don’t understand it. I was just left feeling very stupid for falling for it. Made me even more cautious.

Just when I had pretty well given up on women and focused on work instead I saw a video on Facebook of a friend with a rescue dog who was up for adoption. It’s been a very long time since I had a dog, my wonderful Spade back in BC, who I had the tragic experience of putting down. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have a dog again but thought it would be nice to have some company. My boy, Rollie, joined me a little over a week ago and it has been a fabulous experience. We bonded instantly and he’s a real treat. A wonderful and welcome addition to my life here in Mexico.

Who knows what the future holds and what I’ll be reporting a year from now? I’m turning 69 in a week so I at least hope I’m still alive in a year to celebrate seventy. I’m still working all day, every day on my websites so hopefully I can finally find someone to work with me in the field and start making some desperately needed money. I lose one of my pensions now that I am out of the country more than six months and I will not be able to survive when that happens if I haven’t found a way to earn more money. Ever going back to Canada is out of the question. Regardless of what happens, I’m not ready to give up yet.

Stay tuned.

The “Dildo” History

Somehow for much of my adult life I avoided the need to ever use “Toys”. That’s probably because for my entire married life I didn’t really have any sex. Well, I remember three times, actually. One was Chris. One was Heather, and the last one was the one my ex-wife killed without my involvement. Probably would have been the “good” one, the one that actually talked to me.

Fate would have me meet a very sexy woman who did like her “toys”. It was all new to me but she sure enjoyed it and it increased the orgasm numbers, so I thought it was okay. She had one that as a man I did find intimidating because it was huge, but at least I found comfort that it wasn’t real.

That breakup came as quite the shocker and the toys were involved, unfortunately. She was going to Toronto to see her niece’s new baby, at least that’s what she told me. I found it strange that she came back without a single photo. Hmmm? A couple weeks later she was off to Toronto again and I was left cleaning her apartment. When I went to vacuum under the bed her suitcases were in the way. As I pulled them out I saw the baggage tags for the date she was supposed to be at her niece’s place and they read Ottawa. As if that wasn’t bad enough I looked in the drawer where we kept the toys and they were gone. When she came home Sunday I confronted her with the baggage tags and she broke down. She had gone to Ottawa to meet a guy she had met on the internet, just like she met ME! There went that relationship

So fast forward to when I met the love of my life here in Mexico. I asked her if he had ever used “toys” in a relationship and she hadn’t. I asked if she might want to give it a try and she agreed. Believe it or not we have a store here called the Dildoria. Not hard to figure out what they sell, right? I looked around but just wanted something small to try. I found the lipstick dildo. Perfect!

When I gave it to her I said it was ONLY for both of us to use together, not just her, and we were only to use it when we were together at our place. She was not to take it back to her place and use it alone. That was the deal and she agreed.

After she dumped me by text message she cleared all her stuff out of our apartment. To my considerable shock and surprise, she had stolen the dildo out of my drawer! Go figure!

 

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