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Some Further Reflections from North of Sixty

Further on my reflections on turning sixty, here are some other notes I made when about how life is like for me at sixty. I might as well put it on the blog as well.

Basically, life has gotten easier for me. I am sometimes considered a gloomy and depressed person but I have more reasons for cheeriness and optimism these days. The only really gloomy thing is that I got another skin cancer dug out of my head.

mortality

This time it is on my left temple right where my glasses run. This is three now. Another little reminder of mortality.

So, I wonder if sometime before I keel over and croak I will have got healthy, got the beautiful education, some skill that lets me get a job, and a wife and kids? Probably not. My life has been a race with time and time is winning.

But I will look forward. Here are a few things I have planned for my future.

I will continue living in St. Lawrence neighborhood. I love it here. Contrary to what a lot of people here think, I say it is improving, over all.

Yes, there are lots more odd customers in the neighborhood these days. The manager of the No Frills says the neighborhood is changing rapidly. He is getting a lot of shoplifting problems. He says the "shrinkage" was partly responsible for driving the Sobey's out of the neighborhood.

When I first came here, the area was full of a lot of aging bohemian types. My building in particular was full of these "gimme gimme" types who got themselves into the well maintained subsidized housing because of political pull.

The housing buildings along The Esplanade had to take in a lot of displaced people from the Regent park redevelopment. A lot of them now do not want to go back to Regent park. Some of them got thrown out because they could not get it that they are not in Regent park and such places anymore and anti social behavior is not tolerated. Most of them got it and became good neighbors.

The condos around here are now a bit old. The original owners have often moved on; retired or bought houses in suburbia. They have become rentals, inhabited by people who likely will never own homes under this economic regime but need to live close to work, downtown.

They are the post Yuppies. They have professional grade educations but cannot get stable employment. Everything is contract, now. Workforce flexibility.

I still attend the St. Lawrence neighborhood meetings regularly. I would love to become a delegate from my building, since one of the people appointed/anointed to the job never shows up. Besides, SLNA is in need of a shake up. Most residents do not even know they exist.

But the social controllers of TCHC still think they should handpick who they want for positions required to be filled by tenants. Around old 15 Scadding, I think there is a bit of a revolt brewing about that. There has not been an election for the tenant reps in five years. There has not been a building meeting in almost two years.

credit card

Another big advancement in my life; I am now a real person with a credit card. It should solve some problems I have with dealing with unexpected expenses. I can handle the interest on things under $1000 dollars. I knew when the credit card companies got desperate enough for new business they would start taking on people who are on disability pensions.

Every few months when I go into No Frills there is the guy with the clip board and the bag of cookies, with which to bribe me to fill out an application for a store credit card. At first I would not get a reply. Then they started sending chilly letters saying I did not qualify for a card. Then I began getting apologetic letters saying I did not qualify for a card. Then one fine day I got a credit card in the mail.

So, I will be buying a few things on credit. Microcredit really is a good thing for low income people. If the social services bureacracy were really smart, they would create something like a credit union for us long term recipients of government handouts. It would be better than the credit cards, the payday lenders, the cheque cashers, and so on.

paralegality

I start a paralegal program, one or two courses at a time, at George Brown College in January. Since I am such a litigious person, I should learn to do it right. Also, I would have more confidence and credibility in helping other people out with legal and tenant tribunal problems.

I hope I can figure out some way to afford the fees. If you are in "continuing education like me, part time, you get a one time grant that can cover four courses. I guess if you get decent marks you can apply for more grants. Or, that is what I hope. I doubt if I could handle a full time course load.

Razzberries

Move over, Johnny Apple seed! How about Raspberry Bush Rourke ? Of course I have to talk a bit about gardening on my blog.

I was talking about doing a bit of guerrilla gardening in the strip next to the former Sobey's and beside the flower patch which D and the old ladies have going pretty good now.

I ended up with quite a mess. I got plenty of flowers to grow, including a sunflower as tall as me. But people kept picking them. I also managed to grow some cucumbers, beans, and jalapeno peppers, and these were mostly left alone. Some things which were clearly weeds I eventually took to the dumpster.

I kept getting dog shit in my garden. People kept walking through it. I put up a white barrier at one end that some drunked up bozo should be able to see at night, but they kept getting tangled up in it.

But D gave me a bunch of raspberry seedlings. He insists that raspberries are the world's toughest plant. They will survive Armageddon. I always thought raspberries would be a good thing to plant in a city.

Over at the new Corktown commons park there are several patches of raspberry plants. Before D found me some seedlings I was contemplating borrowing some of them late some night.

But this autumn after I had harvested and pulled up most of the rest of the garden, some idiot went over my little patch with a lawn mower. I think the tulip bulbs will survive and maybe two of he raspberry plants. The other ones seem to have been ripped out by the force of the blade.

For next year I will follow the main piece of advice I got from a guerrilla gardener; put a fence of some kind around it, high enough to stop a small dog and maybe the racoons. I do not know what to do about the squirrels, though. I think they have already dug up most of the bulbs I put in this fall.

I had some words with one of these squirrels. "Listen, you beady eyed little black bugger, leave my Iris bulbs alone or I am going to garrote you with your own twitchy tail."

All he said as he hung upside down on a tree trunk and twitched his tail was "Yeah, try and catch me, you big fat sack of shit. Nyah!"

I have identified some other spots where a guerrilla raspberry garden would improve the neighborhood. D says he can get me some more raspberry canelets, so I do not have to turn into a raspberry rustler. Maybe I should grow them on my balcony or indoors until they are big enough to survive. I could use the raspberry bushes as a hedge and put the flowers inside them.

Life Online

Going to continue to be a force online. The net is a good communications and information medium, and works when used that way. I hate to break the news to all the internet fanatics and geniuses who can't get out of their mothers basement, that the net does not really work as a means of debate and discussion. And people still have to get up from the computer screen and go and do things.

The rosy red cheeks of the little children...

Ah, but one think I need to do before I die is visit my litle English Nieces and Nephews. Actually, they would not be so little anymore. The last time I met them was in 1987. That was before their mother did a spazz out and started refusing to communicate with me. Families...

How are they doing? I have been reading a lot about what is going on in the U.K. under this Cameron government. It is a very bad time and place to be young.

From what I have been able to learn, the neice has been trying to make it as an actress, which is cause for concern. I think nephew # 2 was playing some professional or semi professional rugby or soccer. I do not know about their mother but I got the impression from the last time I communicated with her, almost twenty years ago, that she was splitting up with her husband and even applied for welfare.

The dole, they call it there. There is one of these "hate the poor" attacks going on there, where they are trying to throw as many people as possible onto the streets, just trying to eliminate people. I had a huge struggle with this kind of crap when I lived in Alberta; it just takes all your energy to fight them.

We had the same kind of thing in Ontario, during the Harris years. I was on ODSP by that time and pretty much protected from it, but I saw its effects. But the Toronto city council, and a few other local governments, just refused to go along with it.

The key was that here, local government administer and partly fund general welfare. Toronto simply refused to carry out the uglier, harassing aspects of the Harris program. One reason Harris arbitrarily amalgamated the city government was to try to get a more compliant council elected. When that did not work he tried suing the councilors to make them comply with his dictates. The courts ruled that he could not do that. It was shortly after that when he abruptly quit.

In Alberta and in the UK, local governments have little control over general welfare. That is usually bad for low income people. In the case of Alberta, people could pack up and move to B.C. They finally had to back off their war on the poor because B.C. and other provinces complained about "welfare dumping". How do the U.K.'s poor escape persecution?

Well, with this credit card, I might be able to buy a plane ticket. I should renew my passport. I am starting to think that if I finally have some money for a plane trip, I might want to go to the U.K. first, rather than back to Alberta.

Future plans, future plans. Happy 2015, all.