#OpHippie: the wildlife situation

and igloos are the hard tacos

and igloos are the hard tacos

This should end well.

Last night on the way back to the cabin I’m pretty sure I heard the local bear. It’s a small black bear, nothing to worry about, but all the same unsettling at 4am. There are also apparently cougars about, which is more of a worry, as the cougars of Vancouver Island are the most man-eating big cats in the world.

Then again, I’m not a man, so what do I care?

There are also wolves, although I haven’t heard any, but I’m prepared for that. You bet. I got a tip on Facebook. All the natural world cowers in fear of having its secrets exposed in a random Facebook status update or comment, and for good reason. In this case, the tip, which appeared in my friend Janine’s timeline, is that to keep coyotes off your property, pee on the boundary lines. They can’t see your invisible fence, but they can smell it and go, “Whoa, hippie territory. Hippies. Why’d it have to be hippies? I hate hippies,” and bugger right off. I’m going to see if it works with wolves too. And bears. And rats.

Oh, the rats. The rats. The rats in the walls.

Well, I wouldn’t care so much if they would stay IN the walls; it’s when they come out and poop on my floor and counter that I find annoying. Every couple of days I find another rat poop somewhere I was about to put my foot or my hand, and since the cabin is only about 15 feet square, this is TOO MUCH. At night as I’m lying in my cosy sleeping bag in the loft, I hear them directly above my head on the roof, scrabbling around and chittering, so I drum on the damn ceiling to encourage them to move on and they momentarily stop what they’re doing before starting up again shortly afterwards.

Now, I know what to do with rats, but the fact is I haven’t got a pack of flying Jack Russells with frickin’ laser beams on their heads, so I’m having to make do. If I could find the holes they are using for getting inside the cabin, I could stuff them with steel wool and/or spare tinfoil (washed, so it has no food smells) and that would stop the buggers. The problem is, because of the trees and overcast weather, there hasn’t been enough light to SEE such things in the first place. Once the sun comes out I’ll get a wooden ladder and circle the outside of the house, pull the tarps off the roof and check under there as well, and look at the cistern behind the cabin too. Having checked the weather reports for the area, I expect that will be in May or June.

In unrelated news, I have accidentally left my iPhone at the cabin. This is bad because that motherfucker’s flashlight app is the best damn flashlight this camp has ever seen, and the battery only has 20% left. It’ll die tonight and worse: I cannot use it to actually get to the cabin. I have a weak headlamp instead that Shahee loaned me.

In other unrelated news, I’m starving, haven’t eaten today, and am off to the Best Western down the road to have a burger. I have heard their veggie burgers are good, so hopefully their beef burgers will be as well. Too lazy to walk into town this late; the place rolls up the sidewalks at 5, which was an hour and a half ago.

Still haven’t heard from the new boss about when I start. At this point forget an advance: a retroactive payment would be nice. And oh yes, I started a new blog. Can’t afford the custom domain this week, but hopefully next week I’ll be able to get one registered. With the Manolosphere going the way of the dodo, Manolofood.com is going to disappear, and I need a place for my foodie posts, a dedicated food/drink/travel blog. Will import the old posts and get some new content coming in the next few days.

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#OpHippie: Day Seven

The Grand Haul

The Grand Haul

Well, there it is, as promised: The Grand Haul of my shopping trip.

  • Sorel Caribou boots with leather upper and removable felt liners which make excellent slippers for sitting by the fire: $99 plus tax.
  • latex-coated gloves for working in the cold and wet, plus cowhide gloves for working in the cold and wet with sharp edges and splinters: $20 for both pairs.
  • two pairs of socks which are apparently an historic line of socks from which comes the original sock monkey pattern, which I cannot use because I used the cardboard as a fire starter last night, $20 plus tax. Yeah, expensive, but feet are important. Feet in boots need the right socks. First night I was wearing those fuzzy synthetic socks that are so cute and warm and they formed a velcro lock with the boot liners and I nearly gave myself an injury getting my boots off. With these there are no such problems. A wool/cotton blend, I believe, thick enough to protect against blisters.
  • One bandanna. I would hate to live in the wilderness in the far West without a bandanna. It would just be wrong. I think this was like $7 or so.
  • One pair hunter green velvet jeans $4.98 minus 30% at the till because they were on clearance. At an original $80-some-odd dollars, no shit they were on clearance! But saving an extra buck and change was nice. It was, in fact, hilarious.
  • One pair clay-coloured twill jeans/work pants. For working. Because cold. Wet. Pointy. The woods are all these things. I think they were $9.98.
  • One pair denim jeans with some stretch to them. I dunno why I bought these, actually. I tried them on the second day I was here and they were too small. Couldn’t zip them up. Can now, though! In fact, I can put my full fist into the waistband of the twill jeans, at right angles to my waist. I’m gonna need a belt soon.
  • One Vicky/Christina cocktail at Little Jumbo, about $17 with tax and tip, but no way was I going to be in Victoria without seeing my friend Janice for cocktails at Little Jumbo.
  • Two bags of groceries purchased en route in Nanaimo. It was a Save On, if I’m not mistaken, and it cost $80-something, which, living as I have in Chinatown I am not used to paying, but I didn’t have that, so I put the peanut butter and the Vanity Fair back and then Mme Metro bought me the peanut butter anyway and my bill came to $69 and yes, I had enough for that with like three bucks left over.

So that’s the haul that my esteemed donors bought for me. You know who you are, and I cannot thank you enough.

From the sounds of it, my friend Brenda will be coming up-Island soon bearing fresh bedding for me (Shahee has loaned me an awesome sleeping bag which keeps me so warm some nights I don’t light a fire at all), plates and cups and the like, and some camping equipment to make life easier. Another very kind person whom I met on Twitter has bought me a Swiss Army Knife, destined to be useful every single moment of its existence. And tomorrow the newest arrival to camp is going to see about putting a window into my cabin; he’s handy with construction projects and mechanical items and may even fix the starter on the Beautiful Bus.

As distinct from the Magic Bus, which is an entirely different modified schoolbus a little farther along the trail. No, I’m not kidding.

The workshare here is about two hours a day, six days a week, which is not onerous but has a great deal to do with why I’m losing weight. Okay, so does having to walk two miles to the liquor store and not having any money when you get there. And the amount of meat I’ve consumed this week is: two bison sausages. Period. Otherwise, my protein comes from cheese, lentils, and free range eggs (no chickens here, but wait for it). And I’m not eating much that’s been fried, not even eggs, and the condiments I use are limited because I have to carry them in here from town: sambal, peanut butter, ponzu sauce, soy sauce, Major Grey Chutney which can render even quinoa edible or almost, and that’s pretty much it. Got some pasta, got some peppers and onions, got some rice noodles and quinoa and all the bloody kale you could ever eat.

The work itself is things like: breaking up tiles rejected from the factory, turning them into gravel, and spreading them in the potholes. Cutting up the tree trunks in the woodpile to manageable chunks. Bringing deadfall wood into the woodshed to dry out so it can become kindling. Picking up the garbage left behind by overnighters etc and cleaning up campsites in general in preparation for spring, working on the occupancy agreement (which I have been avoiding as it is already 41 pages long and I’d rather work on a simplified version, but the consensus model means a geometric increase in paper every time you make a change of any kind), breaking down and moving the old, full latrines and setting up new ones using the humanure composting system. It’s pretty basic: you have two pails. One is full of sawdust and a scoop. You put a toilet seat on the empty pail and do your thing in it, then you cover that with sawdust. Eventually it turns into compost.

When I was talking about coming here I thought what I’d be doing was basically setting up systems for workshops and marketing those workshops to whoever…and there are a lot of people interested in this sort of thing. We have people here who can teach, people with skills. We’ve got some musicians, we’ve got a civil engineer who can design shelters for people (who can then build them as part of the workshop), we’ve got Shahee who can teach raw vegan food preparation and do massage and lead yoga and meditation, we’ve got surfers who can teach, we’ve got me, and the new guy in addition to being a competent mechanic is also a tai chi instructor.

Yet.

At the moment, Symbiosis Ecovillage is a concept and an agreement but not yet a corporation, nonprofit, or registered society. So all of that is up in the air until some sort of legal framework is in place. Yes, I can work towards putting that legal framework in place, but there are things I’d rather do.

Like sit by the fire and share some Jameson’s with my friends.

Like go down to the beach (which I’ve done only once, and I am ashamed of myself for that).

Like do a hike on one of the local trails. Like take a kayaking tour of Clayoquot Sound. Like build my own rocket stove and hot water system, and install a thermal converter so that one little wood stove can give me power, heat, and hot water.

Not that there aren’t other distractions nearby in the great metropolis of Not-Ucluelet.

Good News/Bad News

Keven Spacey is as confused as I am

Keven Spacey is as confused as I am

Well, I may get whiplash from this rollercoaster life (if I don’t get it from doing yet another faceplant trying to walk on the slippery boardwalk). As some of you know, the Daily Dot and I have parted company. That was planned and a very long time coming, but it had to be done and it was done last week when I sent in the final invoice and, well, it was sad but it was better if you know what I mean. Then I moved to a place where my rent is paid with two hours a day of wood chopping, compost researching, boardwalk repairing, etc, started losing weight automatically, and all was well.

Yesterday, raincoaster.com celebrated its eighth birthday! I still remember all 64 of my first day’s hits, which I got by begging in the comments section on Boris Johnson’s blog.

That left me with Ayyyy.com as my sole paid gig.

Guess what happened to Ayyyy.com today.

Continue reading

#OpHippie Day Three

Barataria: new HQ for Operation Global Media Domination.

Barataria: new HQ for Operation Global Media Domination. What can I say, I like a challenge.

Well, say hello to the new Global HQ for Operation Global Media Domination. It is one-quarter mile down a dirt and gravel road, past the salmon stream, past the pond, to the left of the wood chip pile and the right of the kale garden (yet another kale garden), past the fish caddy, thirty yards up a slippery boardwalk into the rainforest, and it is all mine.

Well, mine and the rats’, but they’ll be leaving soon, trust me on that. If I have to borrow a honey badger, the rats will be leaving soon. They can’t get at my peanut butter, so they hate me and they pooped beside my bed last night. My bed is in a loft above the main floor, which is maybe 15×15, and I climb up a very steep ladder to get to bed, and as I said of the boardwalk “this is going to do wonders for my sobriety” and so far it has. If I fall off the ladder, I land on the stove, and I don’t want that, as the stove is likely to be burning hot when I go to bed.

One expects my days as a cocktail enthusiast are about to be severely curtailed. Oh, I’ll still go out for cocktails, but there’s something about having to walk two miles into town in the rain that takes the edge off a thirst, knowmasayin? Shawn at Little Jumbo and Simon at Veneto and Jay at The Blackbird may be seeing much more of me than they are used to, as I’m not paying rent and have nothing else to spend my money on other than trips of hundreds of miles just to drink the best cocktails in the world at their respective establishments.

I have named the cabin Barataria, after Jean Lafitte’s hideout in Louisiana. Jean Lafitte is the bomb, and when in doubt, choose an alliterative name from pirate history. Always.

This should be more widely known.

He, apparently, stole it from Don Quixote, where it was the name of a fictional island that was part of a deal from a conman, and the name derives from the Spanish word for “cheap” so this is perfect in every way.

OpHippie My Driveway

This is my driveway

This is the driveway. It is uphill, but not terribly steeply. You do feel it, though, when you push a load of firewood in a wheelbarrow all the way. I was enormously proud I got it all the way up the boardwalk to the cabin, but then it DID serve as a stability aid. I’ve taken three headers thanks to slimy boardwalks. Thank god for these boots; at least they have some tread. If I had to rely on my sneakers, I’d have been miserable since my arrival. Not that they aren’t great sneakers, but they are porous and they are not trail runners. Sticky, they are not.

As discussed last time in OpHippie, the boots are awesome. I have awesome boots. Awesome: those are what my boots are. I have been grateful for these boots every moment I’ve been here, although I keep forgetting to ask the donor if s/he would like to remain anonymous or not. Sorel Women’s Caribou, Da. Bomb. Waterproof, and 60% off, too! Also heavy, so I’ll lose weight simply wearing them.

Alas for my old hat, which was glorious and perfect in every way including folding up to nothing and popping back into shape. My new hat is cool, but it is no Old Hat. It is no Official Indiana Jones Stetson. I bought that hat the last day Woodwards was open, so 1985 I guess, and I paid ten dollars for it, which was far less, like 70% less, than it should have sold for, but they were just liquidating the stuff at that point. It was waterproof and perfect in every way as I mentioned before. Apparently they are still available. I should save up.

The new hat is an Aussie Akubra Snowy River hat and very good-looking although garnering fewer compliments than the old one (brim is too aggressive, methinks), it does not fold up, and it needs to have a leash and keepers put on, ie the string that goes under your chin, so I can hang it on my back when I don’t need it on my head and don’t want to hold it, and also so it won’t blow away when I board a ferry, for lo it cost me $150 and I am loathe to throw that away or let the wind gods steal it.

Today's shopping

Today’s shopping

The “dry firewood” thing is a challenge. There isn’t any. The new stuff comes in and it gets damp just hanging out in the woodshed. Moisture is contagious. I have a brand new pizza box that won’t burn now, because it’s been in my cabin two days and has absorbed too much moisture. It steams when you try to set it on fire. But I got some wax coated cardboard today that will burn like a candle, and some wood that just got cut, and Shahee helped me set up a rack to dry my wood on, on the top of the stove. I need a grate for the stove and if I can get a spare, that will make an excellent drying rack on top of the stove. We are discussing making me a rocket stove like his, which works amazingly well. The cabin isn’t as insulated as the bus, alas, but it could be improved. And a good stove will go a long way to that. Still, after living for two years without electricity in Vancouver, I’m used to chilly temperatures for sleeping. Can’t sleep if it’s hot, in fact.

Once the rocket stove is in, I get a converter and that transforms heat to electricity, and YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS! It means I don’t have to blog from the kitchen, that’s what it means.

Well, no wifi back there, but I can write offline and come to the kitchen to upload.

Oh, did I mention there’s a beach?

Middle Beach, Not-Ucluelet

Middle Beach, Not-Ucluelet

Not too scruffy. This was a very quiet day, apparently. Usually the waves are surfing sized. There is a beach to the left and also one to the right. They are also surfing beaches. Mostly, I use these beaches in the following traditional fashion: make coffee, put in thermos, doctor appropriately, go to beach. Walk up beach. Walk down beach. Repeat until coffee is gone. Return to kitchen.

Some local colour…

Get Trippy. YOU MUST OBEY. Or not, dude, Whatever's cool.

Get Trippy. YOU MUST OBEY. Or not, dude, Whatever’s cool.

Skyline, not-ucluelet

Just a local skyline view

OpHippie Sky Lights

OpHippie Sky Lights

This is down by the main gardens. It’s a sort of Gilligan’s Island with a nautical theme, a platform with a tire swing and sofas, a pond with salmon in it, and a cave for concerts and getting loud. Right now there’s a carpenter from Nanaimo and a guy from London whose mind is completely blown by the space staying there.

OpHippie You are so totally loved. Even you, yes you.

OpHippie You are so totally loved. Even you, yes you.

OpHippie My Pond

OpHippie My Pond

When I’m coming home in the dark I listen for the sound of the salmon stream waterfall to tell me I’m on the right path. Not long after this comes the pond, which is where the stream and the salmon come from. Last night I wandered around far too long in the dark, blundering into other camps because I was too proud to use the headlamp. I guess you gotta learn every lesson once, eh?

OpHippie close of the day

OpHippie close of the day

Basically, but the time you notice the clouds are starting to turn golden and magenta, it’s too late to walk to the beach. I have to set a “sunset alarm” on the phone so that I can make sure to get there in time. Watching the sun set, knowing there is nothing out there between you and Japan but some whales is a pretty awe-inspiring feeling. Sunsetting is a big activity here, as I have mentioned before.

Future plans include getting a human poop composting system designed and in place (I’ve actually been quite useful so far, thanks to connections with a certain Victoria-area garbage collector), making some sort of deal with the Best Western down the road for access to the hot tub, making some kind of deal with the local stables for some riding time, and finishing up the shopping.

Things I need now:

  • railway lantern
  • fuel for lantern
  • butane hot plate and fuel, although I’m ambivalent about cooking at the cabin. Attracts critters.
  • candles
  • pulley so I can winch things up to the loft and back down, cuz I’m way too lazy to take the stairs all those times
  • new glass for the window frame they put in. Plastic just isn’t cutting it, people. They also are talking about putting in a BIG ASS window on the wall underneath the loft. The frame is incredibly sturdy, being steel, the window is double glazed and mirrored, so the question becomes do I want it facing out or facing in?
  • space blankets, one or two to use as curtains at least while I only have plastic in the window
  • Swiss Army Knife (with corkscrew) or equivalent. You always need scissors and eight other things you don’t have
  • plates and cups for the cabin
  • chair for the cabin, maybe two if they’re cheap
  • pillow
  • bedding. The sleeping bag I borrowed from Shahee will do for now, but actual bedding would be better
  • manual coffee grinder. Makes the best coffee and is meditative and ecosensitive.

So, it takes inventory to be ecosensitive. Well, that’s not a surprise. I hope to get up to P-town to get some of my summer gear before the seasons turn, because I already OWN a lot of these things.

Anyway, now must write a proposal for my new boss to discuss rates, duties, hours, and expectations. God only knows when I’m going to work on the media startup I’ve got bookmarked, but all things in time. It’s amazing how many of my skills developed at Occupy Vancouver are coming in very handy. Also Girl Guides. Also living off-grid in the city for two years.

And how was YOUR day?

You can see the whole growing set of photos at Flickr.

Operation Hippie Update

Soon to be me. Titania, queen of hippie fisherpersons

Soon to be me. Titania, queen of hippie fisherpersons

So, preparing to move from a nomadic, cat-sitting existence to a geostationary one, and one in a vegan ecovillage at that, is proving to be somewhat of a bigger shift than even I realized.

For starters, there’s the busfare to get there, which I do not have. Nor will I have it until one of my clients pays me, and I just split from the biggest-paying one by mutual consent. Yeah, I sent in The Last Invoice, but it’ll be Monday before it’ll be paid, and then it’ll be paid in Paypal, so to get it to the bank will be no sooner than Wednesday, probably Friday of next week and that’s IF it gets paid Monday. And once the money is there, if I’m there also, there’s nothing to buy up there but nights in a B&B and whale watching tours.

So I made Mine Hosts Metro and Mrs Metro an offer they could refuse, but fortunately they didn’t. I will give them the money that would go for bus fare if they will drive me. They can then use this to get a night in a swanky B&B or hotel. This guarantees that I get the back seat of the car, but oh well, it also guarantees I don’t have to sit beside a random homicidal maniac who will hog the armrest. It also means they can drive me to the actual site instead of dropping me off where the highway meets the road and I get a nice long walk down a gravel shoulder before turning up a dirt road in the middle of the rainforest, all while toting three heavy suitcases filled with everything I’ve been wearing for the past nine or ten months.

My footwear collection, also being ported around all over BC in said suitcases, consists of one pair of metallic wedge sandals, one pair Doc Marten Mary Janes, and two pairs of Brooks running shoes made of mesh. Absolutely nothing of the rain boot gum boot variety. And that is the single most necessary type of footwear when approaching an ecovillage on the west side of Vancouver Island in the dead of winter.

When I show up to the ecovillage, I am expected to be self-sufficient and bring food. They have kale; anything else, I’ll have to lug in. Since I am not and do not wish to become a Kaletarian, this means I have to buy food (too busy to catch my own, and the hunting is atrocious in downtown Victoria, although I hear at certain bars it’s easy to catch crabs).

And I have $1.90.

So, being me, I bitched about this on social media.

And, my friends being my friends, one of them sent me $100 so I could buy some goddam boots, two offered to mail me their boots (postage is $40 or so from Vancouver, though), and one offered me a job doing copywriting for his companies. He asked if I needed an advance, and told me to name my own rate. He trusted me to do that honestly in part because when my friend, who is between jobs, offered me the $100 I posted about it and asked my friends if I should take it or turn it down.

As it turned out, I turned down the mailed boots as the postage was truly extravagant and I could buy boots at the end of the month anyway, and accepted the money on the advice to pay it forward.

Then I went to LL Bean and found out the boots I wanted were 37% off, but they were also sold out until April 22, and a fat lot of good that does me. MOST of their boots are sold out, which means everyone is having a pretty shitty, slushy winter. So tomorrow I’m off to do some shopping in downtown Victoria.

My shopping list is a bit different now. When I lived in Vancouver’s Chinatown my shopping lists looked like:

  • sambal oeleck
  • udon noodles
  • bean thread noodles
  • peanut butter (the universe’s most perfect food)
  • prawns
  • salmon
  • chicken
  • soy sauce (you could always tell when I was “rich” because then I’d have three kinds: Indonesian, Japanese for sushi, and Chinese for rice)
  • bok choy
  • onions
  • makeup
  • nail polish in outrageous colours
  • antique or collectable cocktail accoutrements
  • gin

My shopping list for tomorrow reads:

  • gumboots
  • keeper cord for my $150 Akubra hat so the wind doesn’t blow it away
  • crab trap so I can catch my own food
  • fishing rod
  • bean thread noodles
  • peanut butter
  • sambal oeleck (some things never change)
  • bag of oranges in case of scurvy or some goddam thing
  • coffee and GOD I HOPE THEY HAVE A COFFEE POT IN THE COMMUNAL KITCHEN

It would be nice to get some glasses before I leave (the kind for your face, not the kind for your cocktails) so I could actually SEE the view, but maybe I’ll squeeze in an eye exam at least. Metro and Madame Metro have promised me glasses for Christmas. If not, once I’m paid I can just wander into town and I’m sure there’s a doctor there who can write a prescription that Clearly Contacts will mail.

So, basically, gasp in wonder at my steez. My swag. My YOLO. My command of buzzwords.

And my D*CK!