The View from Here


 I’m a guy in my mid-50’s, and rakishly handsome in an Elmer Fudd sort-of-way. My physique is less Mr. Universe and more Mr. Fix-it.

I have two university degrees in science. I also have two cats. The cats like to follow me around all day, purring and laying on the keyboard. The degrees used to sit on a wall, looking important. I like purring cats; the degrees are in a drawer somewhere.

I also have two kids. Not only are they wonderful young ladies who are far prettier and much smarter than I am, but they allow me to use my place on the lofty Parent Pedestal as a soapbox to rail against everything I perceive as not being perfect for the kind of world their generation will inherit.

Annie and Christine

I drive a compact Toyota, so I can rage about SUV’s and oil depletion. I recycle regularly, so I can rage about the wasting of our resources. And I drink rye whisky (well, not anymore) so I can rage about everything else.

I started my career as a wildlife biologist, then was a forestry consultant, then a biologist again, then a university professor, then a municipal planner. Now I’m trying to juggle all of them in an attempt to find a career which is both rewarding and free of workplace idiots. That first requirement is probably attainable; I suspect the latter is a pipe-dream.

I live in a small loft apartment in Victoria, BC, which has strangely-shaped walls painted a hideous yellow-beige colour. But it has lots of kitchen counters and it’s the only apartment I’ve ever found which has a picture window as part of the shower, with a view of trees in the foreground and the snow-covered Olympic Mountains in the distance. If I can sit on the toilet and look at a glacier, I can put up with the dreadful wall colour.

I live in western Canada, a good perch from which to observe the passing world because the worst thing anybody thinks about us is that, as a people, we Canadians are “very polite”. So other people usually don’t mind when we criticize them.

I thought reality TV was a cool concept when it first came along. But then it evolved into “Here Come the Kardashians” and “Honey Boo Boo”. I can’t believe that the social values of our society can possibly sink any lower. I’m probably wrong.

I found my dream house on the internet. It has palm trees, blue floor tiles, a blue-felt pool table, a blue-colored swimming pool, blue sky, blue ocean and is owned by a company which rents it to tourists for $7,000 a week. I don’t make $7,000 a week.

I love my kids. Love my family. Love cats, peanut butter and dark Irish beer.

Pint of Guinness

I live in a country that everybody says is the best place in the world to live (Canada) but very few people outside this fine nation can find it on the map, nor wonders why they can’t.

I awake in the mornings as an optimist, have lunch as a realist, finish dinner as a pessimist, and then hit the sack as a cynical optimist.

I was once one word away from completing the Sunday New York Times crossword in less than 45 minutes. One lousy four letter word. Never did figure it out. Oh well, it’s just water off a duck’s back. (And in hindsight, ‘duck’ was probably the right answer).

I like to collect eccentric things, like animal skulls (approaching 150 of those), Canadian RCMP quarters from 1973 (over 200) and traditional Irish Dance costumes (5 so far – they are expensive, as opposed to animal skulls which are generally free and RCMP quarters which cost about a dollar if you buy them – ¢25 if you can find them).

RCMP quarter

I’m thinking that I should also collect ironies since I run into so many odd ones. If so, then the crossword puzzle ‘duck’ would be a fine addition since I was once a waterfowl biologist. I would file that one under Iconic Ironies.

I like to watch the International Space Station pass over my house; it reminds me of how far we have come. I don’t like to get hit on by homeless panhandlers; it reminds me of how far we have yet to go.

Five decades into this life and I’m still doing things that wouldn’t have even crossed my mind before. This is fun.