Third Alien Shore

In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

We are Married!

Julie and Rick stand before the officiant.
Photo by Taylor Campbell.

Backyard dogs

The latest thing I absolutely do not understand has to do with dogs. Julie and I each take Millie out for a walk every day. Millie is young and energetic so it works well for her. We’re not as young but the exercise is very good for us. Everyone is happy.

On these walks through the neighbourhood I pass three or four homes with dogs, and those dogs live in the backyard. No matter the time of day, when we walk by, the dogs in the backyard hear us and bark up a storm at our passing.

What I do not understand is why someone would go to the expense and trouble of giving multiple dogs a home, and then push them out the back door to live outside. In the winter is even worse because of the temperature, but let’s ignore that for now. Why have pets at all if you’re going to keep them outside the house, by themselves?

It just seems like a waste of time and money, and it’s not terribly nice to the dogs.

How is it 2024?

Time sure flies, doesn’t it? I managed to complete only one post last year! The year certainly had its ups and downs.

I bought a fully electric car. The plug-in hybrid was nice, but every time I exceeded the electric range, I felt like I had failed when the gasoline engine kicked in. Even worse, heating the car used engine waste heat. So if I was driving on battery, the engine would come on as soon as I enabled the heat. While operating under no load, the engine would take ages to warm up and finally heat the interior of the car. And lastly, whether true or not, I felt that two complete propulsion systems, and the mechanism to switch between them, would be more subject to problems than a simpler car. It just seems there’s more to fail there. So I went fully electric and it’s great so far.

In the span of one week in December 2022, we had two dogs pass away. Sloan and Oscar left us. They were both old, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Julie said she wanted to wait a while before even thinking about another dog, but we welcomed Millie in February anyway. It’s hard to believe that she’s already been with us for nearly a year!

This is Millie. She is a rescue who was living on the streets of Aruba. As of February 2023, she’s found a home with us. She loves the snow, too!

Another shock came a few months ago when my boss sat me down and fired me. After 30 minutes of talking, he completely failed to explain why. He said it had nothing to do with my work, but revealed little else. We met over video chat a week later he told me that once the renovations are done in a year’s time, there wouldn’t be full time hours for me until construction of the new building was complete. One would think this would mean that I’d be looking for a job in a year, but one would be wrong. I wasn’t even allowed to finish the day. I’m still so disappointed and upset because I was entirely invested in the place and my dismissal was handled so poorly. I genuinely feel that we could have talked and figured out a solution. Instead, we sat down and I was introduced to the topic by his saying, “I don’t see a future for you here any more.” I’m certain there is so much more to the situation that was not revealed to me, but it will remain a mystery.

That said, I have employment leads lined up and I’m certainly going to get something sooner than later.

I’m also planning to write more here. Certainly more than a single post a year. We’ll see how that goes because I’ve been planning this since New Years Day and it’s still taken me nearly three weeks to get going. I just need to make it a habit again. I look forward to writing to you much sooner!

Hyundai, it was short but sweet. Kinda.

Dear Hyundai Canada,

I regret to inform you that you’ve got a problem. I’m sure you know it, too.

Last year in June, I put $1000 down on an Ioniq 5 at my local Hyundai dealer. What the dealer did not tell me is that you stopped taking orders for the car a few months previously. My order has been sitting in a drawer at the dealership for the last ten months. In desperation, I called a Quebec dealership two months ago and asked how long delivery of an ordered car would take. They told me it would be three years.

Despite all this, your web site is plastered with sales copy like: “Vehicles arriving daily. Order yours today!” “You’re just a click away from a new vehicle.” “Try an EV, before you buy an EV.” Like it’s so simple and fast. Of course you have small print that refers to the current global supply chain issues and warns people that “delivery times on some of our vehicles are also longer than usual,” without telling potential buyers they’ll be waiting a hell of a long time.

It also seems like it’s not just a matter of my bad luck. I’ve seen only one Ioniq 5 in the wild … and the car’s been in production for two years now! I don’t know where you’re shipping them to be sold, but it’s not anywhere around here.

The Ioniq plug-in I bought in 2021 was my first Hyundai purchase and I quite like it. When I decided to eliminate gasoline from my driving, I went to Hyundai again. But you’ve let me down and kept me on the hook for a year, with delivery timeframes moving ever into the future. Either you’re doing your dealers no service by telling them they’ll get cars that don’t come, or your dealers are actively damaging your reputation by making delivery promises they can’t fulfil.

So as a result, two weeks ago I took delivery of a new electric car that is not a Hyundai. Last week I drove that car to the Hyundai dealer to cancel my order and collect my deposit. You cars are good, but I’ve found that I just can’t trust what your people say … and that’s not the kind of company I want to be involved with. I know it’s difficult to get a new customer, so why would you actively push me away?

It’s fine by me though. I have a car and I’m happy. It’s you who missed out on the sale.

Tongue and Groove

I don’t think I mentioned that my last year at the Willowbank School of the Restoration Arts is just six weeks of classes, and a placement. The placement I pursued and am delighted to have secured is with the Brown Homestead in St. Catherines, Ontario. It’s a home that was built c. 1802, making it the oldest house in the city. I’m not going to go on at length about it because although it is an amazing place, you can read about it firsthand by following the link.

This last week, my co-worker Holly and I were investigating the ceiling of a room that is currently undergoing renovation. The easiest way was from above so we removed the wood floor in the room above. While we had the floorboards so accessible, we made some repairs to the most damaged boards.

We’re not sure how old the floor is, because it’s in a loft that housed migrant workers in days past. Given the use of the room, the materials were not the highest quality and the room was likely not maintained to the same standards as the parts of the house in which the owners lived.

The floorboard wood was in good condition, but the tongue-and-groove boards themselves were only loosely fit together, and quite dirty.

Have a look for yourself:

What you see here is the edge of a floorboard with the tongue visible. The left side has been cleaned, but the right is the condition in which we found it. The gap between the floorboards was packed with a century or two of dried and hardened detritus. We have no idea what it is but we certainly took the precaution of wearing masks while cleaning it. I think it’s mostly dirt tracked in on the inhabitant’s shoes, but we also found signs of pests, probably squirrels, so there could easily be faeces and who knows what else in there. We didn’t want to inhale any of that!

To our great surprise, after very lightly sanding the areas we repaired, we saw the wood underneath the dirty grey surface was an almost cheery yellow/orange colour. It looked so unlike the colour of wood that we initially thought we’d revealed a layer of paint. Closer examination revealed that it was indeed bare wood.

We’re going to try to wash a board with linseed oil soap to see if we can bring that colour out in a less destructive way.

It struck me as I was cleaning the board that I held history in my hands. While it wasn’t as grand as a Fabergé egg, it was more real. The deposits between the boards were created by regular people going about their business. I suspect that the boards were installed at least a century ago. So a century of crud was packed between the boards, dried out and hardened. The people who brought that dirt into the room were just like us, but in a different time, long past.

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