R.I.P. Alice Munro (1931 – 2024)

“Compared to Anton Chekhov for her peerless short stories for which she won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013, Alice Munro (left) has died.FULL STORY


#65 Happy New Year

December 20th, 2016

I’m having some repairs done on the sardine can.

I might check myself into the mental before it’s over.

Got a phone call today from the guy at the building supply store; he wanted to know if I would prefer a round toilet bowl or an oval one.  I can’t ever remember pondering the shape of the toilet bowl so I went all Gertrude Stein on him “a toilet is a toilet is a toilet is a toilet” and told him whichever was easiest to order.

Oh, and what kind of taps did I want?  I want one connected to the hot water and one connected to the cold water.

Sorry, I just cannot get enthused about toilets and taps.

It’s been a helluva few months around this place. First the furnace packed it in and, wouldn’t you know it, it couldn’t be fixed, I had to buy a new one. Well, that devoured a week. Then, for reasons I did not fully understand, I had to get a new thermostat, something about two wires going to three wires.

I had no more than started to recuperate from the financial shock of all that and I hear this …sound… odd sound… haven’t heard that one before… so I went looking. Holy old baldy, there’s water all over the damn place! Had to run and get my neighbour to shut off the water because my back wouldn’t let me get at it myself.

Why do they put these shut-offs in places where you need a contortionist to get near them? So. Took every towel I own and a couple of blankets to soak up the mess on the floor, and then it was a half-hour with the mop and bucket… and the sad realization I had to get a new hot water tank…

The nice young man who came to install the hot water tank is six-foot-five inches tall. How he manages to do his job in the tight spaces in which they hide hot water tanks, I don’t know. He wanted to drain it by running a hose from the thingy at the bottom, out of the bedroom window and down into the back yard… however, the jigger thingy to which the hose ought to have connected was made of plastic (WHY?) and was twenty-plus years old and it broke.

So we had to do the job with, believe it or not, a bowl and a pail. The only bowl I had which was short enough to fit under the jigger thingy was the metal bowl which is actually the dogs’ dinner dish… true thing, that! It took eight of them to fill the pail. Then I lurched off to empty the pail while this very tall young man refilled the dogs’ dinner dish with more hot water…

Well, then he wrestled the hot water tank out of it’s hidey hole and… “Oh my,” he said, “this isn’t good…” Seems the bugger had been dripping for quite some time and the floor was …yep… had to cut out a section of floor and replace it with plywood… then wrestle the new tank in place and hook it up…

I made the mistake of taking a deep breath. I mean what else could go wrong? I found out a few days later when the pipe going to the hot water tap blew.

More water all over the damn house! Up the wall, across the ceiling… I could have screeched.  I may have screeched.  I probably DID screech.

So the handyman, Mike, goes under the house… tells me something about the size of a spaniel dog has been living under the house. IT ripped down the pink fibreglass insulation and made a nice soft comfy bed of it.  I can only hope it didn’t raise a family. I don’t know what my critter was, my neighbour down the street had her own critter, she thinks it was a weasel. Or maybe a mink.

She tried all manner of thing to send it on its way. She even set a big rat trap but her critter was smart enough to recognize a trap and it didn’t get caught in it. Her critter pooped on the trap. She did get rid of it, though. She put a radio under her house because critters do not like the sound of the human voice. She left the radio turned on day and night and on the fourth day the critter left.

She had the radio tuned to the CBC so there, see, it proves that as knackered as it is, it’s still good for something. I think it was Rick Cluff that did it.

Other than that the news is good.

We had a fierce wind storm last night with lashing rain, and that got rid of the white shyte which had ruined the place. It’s also much warmer today, for which we give due thanks to all the elder goddesses because what was happening was just not what we’re used to. It ruined the banana crop and I think the pineapple crop is scuppered, too. I hope everyone enjoys the festive season. Eat your faces off, and have fun.  Hold your family close and cherish them.

Read lots of good books.

Happy New Year.


Anne Cameron grows pussywillows on the western edge of Vancouver Island. She received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia in 2010. Her 23 books include Daughters of Copper Woman, the bestselling work of fiction ever written about B.C. and published from within B.C. She has banished herself to Tahsis, a small town not far from Friendly Cove where the shenanigans called British Columbia all began.



9 Responses to “#65 Happy New Year”

  1. Anne Miles says:

    I feel for you, as my aging townhouse unit has saddled me with large personal expenses, as well as special levies from the strata, in the past year. Property management lectures us to replace hot water tanks every seven years whether they need it or not. Seven years is a lot shorter time than it used to be and I don’t, frankly, know for sure when we last changed hot water tanks–it just feels closer to 14 years than 7, and it’s been okay so far. Didn’t hot water tanks used to last longer? I recall seeing half an old hot water tank being used as a feeding trough for pigs back in ’68. I’ll bet these wimpy ones aren’t even good for that! In any event, before he passed away, my partner assured me that I’d see small leaks in the saucer at the bottom before a major deluge happened, so I watch for that, and hope he was right. Thanks for reminding me to go take a look. We and our homes are growing old together.

  2. Tor Forsberg says:

    You are a treat, Cam. I hear your voice when I read you, even after all these years. You made me aware of how easy it is for me to revel in our Yukon winter: I live in a snug place where the water doesn’t freeze and the furnace does its job and my Toyota truck starts in 40 below and I don’t have to work if I don’t feel like it and I have no pressing financial concerns. I am also made even more aware since I started volunteering at the soup kitchen where in a town of 1100 we are feeding 45 people a day.
    Do you feel humourous when in the thick of your domestic disasters? or is it afterwards? I do hope it’s the former.

  3. A \”Classic Cameron\” column! Happy New Year to you and may you continue to vex the pompous, irritate the entitled and generally kick ass wherever it is most needed! Also, that you suffer no more major appliance collapses or back pain going forward boldly into 2017. Thank you for writing. It is a wonderful mix of tenderness toward fallible humanity and hands on hips hollering at same, a uniquely BC blend!

  4. Maggie Paquet says:

    Anne, it’s the bleak midwinter here in Port Alberni, complete with an air quality advisory the other day. But at least people here have the sense to shovel their own sidewalks! Vancouver, eh? Your sad (and funny) story reminded me of the day a few years back when I needed a new hot water heater. Because this is a tiny house, it’s located in the back of my clothes closet… way back. The plumber wheeled in a tank, struggled with it, swore a lot… really bad swearing, too (with me chuckling away in my office NOT out of hearing range)… turns out it was too big for the space. So away he went, came back, trudged all kind of mud and crap into my house, but wheeled in another tank. Yup, you guessed it. The fool didn’t think to measure the space before he went for another tank. Eventually, he found the right size. I hope like hell I don’t need a new toilet; I don’t think I could decide if I wanted a round one or an oval one! Love your stories. Thanks.

  5. Holy crow, Anne! This just happened to me, but the other way around! Furnace man is just leaving as I type this, weeping for my non-existent saving account.

    I live in Duncan. We met some years ago at the AVICC in Powell River.Hope 2017 is better for you.

  6. Hi Anne, so enjoyed your column and admire how you excavate the humour from the agony. Seems like 2016 was our year for appliance breakdowns as well! Boiler/heater replacement as there was not much left for Al to replace/weld, hit water tank, washing machine, propane stove….ad infinitum. I never ask ‘what else could go wrong’ anymore! Something damn well will. Still a beautiful seaside life, right? And I too feel for those out in the cold…Yvonne

  7. Heather Harbord says:

    Yes, this sounds familiar. A couple of years ago I had a leak in the basement which resulted in my hiring my neighbour who brought all his big toys over and built Mt. Everest in the back yard and Annapurna in the front. I am still paying off the debt, but we haven’t had a leak since, touch wood.

  8. anne cameron says:

    Happy Hagmenai,Bill… So far…touch wood… nothing else has expired but I’m keeping a close watch on the washing machine… and the white shyte is back… now frozen into something as solid as cement… I took a bag of trash up to the garbage gobbler two days ago, that was “interesting”… I’m waiting to hear what mark the Russian judge gives me… and I can’t seem to shake my mind of thoughts of the homeless who are “camping out” and trying to survive in this muck. Surely to God we can do better than leave people in such a predicament! Kinda makes the “appliance apocalypse” seem…. a bit silly, really… and more than ever I feel very fortunate!

  9. I apologize for delighting in your agony, Anne. It sounds like at least three of the four appliances of the apocalypse have gathered around you. Hopefully the fourth got the holidays off. Thanks for the delightfully grimacing tale. Happy New Year

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • About Us

    BC BookLook is an independent website dedicated to continuously promoting the literary culture of British Columbia.