Housing Solutions

“Camp, what do you think of the argument that all these Airbnb’s should be permanent rentals, instead of temporary holiday rentals?”

Campbell, Camp to us all, took a long swig from his cold beer and sat back in his chair.  This was going to be a long answer. “First of all you can’t force people to rent out their extra apartments or rooms to people who can’t find affordable housing elsewhere,” he pontificated.  “You cannot roll off a communal and collective responsibility onto the shoulders of individuals. You can tax holiday rental income and put that money to work and you can limit the amount of Airbnb’s in specific communities and maybe even give out licenses but then you’ll have the big operators buying up all the licenses and leave the mom-and-pop operations out of the loop.”

“There were always B&B’s and holiday rentals and exchanges. I remember my parents renting somebody’s flat or farmhouse in the mountains for ski holidays. Cheap and affordable.  Nothing new about all that except Airbnb have really cornered the market with their user friendly and peer reviewed platform. We use it all the time when we travel.”

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Cannabis Day

I love Indian Summer.  Balmy, sunny days, harvest festivals, pumpkin pie, a palette of red, gold and brown leaves lazily floating in the air, cool evenings and maybe a fire in the hearth and candles for dinner. The walk along the pebble beach to my weekly tète-a-tète with Campbell, Camp to all and sundry, is the most pleasant this time of year.

“Camp, do you know what day it was yesterday?”

“Wednesday. Oh you mean national Mary Jane day is what you’re referring to isn’t it. You know my take on all of that don’t you?”

“Yes, you did run it by me before but please let’s have it again. I know you’re not totally in favour with the whole process.”

“We would have been better off to decriminalize marijuana instead of legalizing it. Just take the crime out of growing, toking and eating it, throw the jails open and give every one with a criminal record for pot an amnesty and then treat it like all the other famous drugs which are legal now.”

“What famous drugs?” I asked.

“How about sugar, the world’s biggest drug which brought about slavery, rum running and made untold riches for the plantation owners, importers and refineries. Or coffee, which is making fortunes today for the likes of Starbuck’s and has everybody walking around with a non-disposable cup of the black liquid. Did I mention alcohol? Please don’t make me count the ways the drink makes the world go round, right to this table here at ‘Gramma’s Pub’ on the lovely Gibsons’ harbour.”

“Yeah, you’re right Camp and we all know prohibition doesn’t work but it’s quite an achievement for the federal government to legalize pot. I’m not sure if there are any other countries that have done that. I know there are about 26 states in the US and I think Portugal has legalized all drugs about ten years ago but it is quite a radical policy for a federal government of an industrialized nation, don’t you think.”

“Yes, I agree but all they want is control, like for alcohol, and get a bonanza in tax dollars. I’m afraid that giving out licenses will result in a few big corporate players to monopolize the market and leave small operators who have cultivated and produced some fine products over the years, out on the street and possibly on the wrong side of the law. This would take a huge chunk of commerce and money out of small communities like Gibsons and Nelson.”

“Yeah, the usual. Good for corporate share holders, bad for small time operators. Let’s wait and see what happens. It’s been promised by Trudeau’s dad, Pierre,  45 years ago. The world will be watching.”

“I’ve read that the first problem will be one of supply,” Camp said, “meaning that no government sanctioned pot is available as of yet and nobody is in charge of the store, meaning, no pricing, no standardization, no packaging, no labelling, no distribution and no grading. Maybe they’ll have somebody like that Parker guy who grades wines for weed?”


“You mean something like:  This ‘Kubla Khan Purple Dagga’bud is 93 points and on special this week.”

“That’s not going to happen any time soon,” Camp laughed.

I still think it’s a day worth celebrating. In fact I’ll buy the next round.”

“I can live with that,” Camp said, quickly downing the rest of his pint.

“You two seem to be in a good mood today,” Rosie said as she brought us a fresh round.

“We’re celebrating legalization day,” I said, “don’t you think that’s worth a toast and a pint?”

“Next you two will want me to bring around a couple of reefers and a cup of ginseng tea instead of beers.”

“No fear of that Rosie,” Camp said, we’ll stick with the golden liquid but I know that Muriel will grow a couple of plants in the garden, just because she can.”

“I think they should make the 17th October a national holiday, it’s a historic event,” I said.

“And what would you call it?” Rosie chuckled, “Cannabis Day?”

“It has a certain ring to it,” Camp said.

“I’ll drink to that,” I said. “Here is to Cannabis Day!”


Life & Beer talk

“Sue told me that her husband is very sick and has been in intensive care for a few weeks,” Clare said just before I left to walk down to the pub. “I know he’s Camp’s friend and I’m sure he’s aware of it. Be easy on him,” Clare said, “it’s not a good situation.”

“I guess we’re lucky to be healthy,” I said.

“Luck is arbitrary but we eat well thanks to your cooking,” she said, “and as the saying goes: Every day spend some time looking after your health otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time spending on your illness later in life.”

“Well, that’s a cliché,” I said. “Life’s a lottery.”

I walked along the quiet waterfront and tried to enjoy the beautiful fall weather, the changing colours, which were also indicative of the cyclic nature lo life. Nature takes its course but we don’t like it if it attacks us personally with nasty cell mutations and painful malfunctions.

Camp was sitting at our table, intent on his smartphone, which he swiftly pocketed when he saw me approach.

Without my prompting he broached the subject of his sick friend. “I visited a good friend today, who has been in the hospital for the past 3 months and it doesn’t look like he’s coming out any time soon,” he said as I sat down at our usual table overlooking the harbour and Keats Island in the near distance.

“Clare mentioned him to me. What’s wrong with him? Not the c-word I hope?”

“No, it’s not cancer. Fact is he is deathly ill, hooked up to a multiple of beeping, flashing, dripping and ticking machines. It has a definite Frankenstein feeling.”

“It’s sounds miserable,” I said.

“Miserable is an understatement. If it was me I would be furious, like they’ve cheated me out of dying. Instead of a medical miracle I would feel more like a human catastrophe. ‘Death by instalments’. ”

Go easy on Camp, Clare said. What does that mean? “Maybe I should go talk to my doctor and make sure that wouldn’t happen to me,” I said,  “maybe put something in writing. We plan everything from buying a car to vacations, why not plan how we would like to die?”

“It’s not something people want to talk about, not when they’re healthy. Death is still a taboo, sort of right next to erectile dysfunction, or a bad case of flatulence, or the plunging stock market. Not exactly welcome conversation topics around the water cooler or dinner table,” Camp said, “but you’re right, it would be smart to have a plan in place, just in case.”

We both looked out at the sparkling waters of Howe Sound, each with our own thoughts. Vicky appeared at the table and took one long look at us. “Somebody die?” she asked, intuitive as she is.

“Not yet,” Camp said, sighing and shaking his head.

I just remembered what I was going to show Camp and dug my cell phone out against our unspoken rule. “I just got this video from my nephew about their four months old baby girl. What a delight and joy this young life is bringing to her parents and all those who meet her,” I said. “In a way it’s the complete opposite of your friend’s condition.”

Vicky put two fresh pints down and squealed with delight at the baby pictures. “That’s why you two guys need to enjoy every day, every moment and every beer,” she said.

“Tell that to my friend,” Camp said, trying not to sound too cynical. “To him life as he knew it is over while for this little girl it’s just the beginning, while you and I my friend,” pointing his finger at me, “are just two spectators, passing through this vale of tears and laughter and enjoying the movie of life.”

“So much for this week’s episode of ‘One Life, two beers’,” I said, trying to maintain a modicum of humour. “We never even touched the week’s politics.”

“What a relief!” Camp said, raising his glass. “To life.”


Books & Memories

Fall is here and summer is just 8 months away. Kind of depressing unless you like rainy, cold weather and five o’clock twilight. Clare diagnosed me with s.a.d., seasonal-asshole-disorder and I tend to agree. Nevertheless I put on my sunglasses and head out into the rain towards the village, the pub and a couple of frosty pints.

“Camp do all of us go back to our childhood days to figure out why we are the people we are today, afraid of commitments or driven to succeed, maybe resentful and bitter or over protective of our space, even depressed and unable to hold down relationships and jobs or even addicted to a smorgasbord of vices and delusions?”

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