December 1969.

I was six years old. It was the same year that humanity slipped its earth-bound mortal coil and alit on the Moon. A young lad, I was astounded and wanted to be an astronaut.

December 1969. The US government instituted the draft for the first time since WWII as it dealt with the spiralling human consequences of its foray into the forests and jungles of southeast Asia. A young American decided it might be better to be a professor in Canada.

December 1969. ARPANet was launched, an academic collaboration by four US colleges (generously sponsored by the US military) to create a nuke-proof telecommunications network. Somewhere, a young Al Gore is dreaming of inventing the Internet.

December 1969. The date-stamp for every single article posted TODAY to AlternativesJournal.ca, in spite of robust best-efforts to understand and solve this seemingly unsolvable riddle.

The young lad has grown into middle age. The young American is now a retired Canadian. And Al Gore is still trying to understand what the heck a hanging-chad is. Oh, and Alternatives Journal, founded by Dr. Robert Paehlke in November of 1971, continues to publish stories and articles about confounding and astounding environmental news and innovations. And every SINGLE article we publish to our website bears the date-stamp of DECEMBER 1969, two full years before the birth of the publication but consistent with the birth of the internet. How? Why? And what does this mean?

Source: Historic Toronto

***

November 2011.

I just started working for Alternatives Journal a week ago, and all my spare time is devoted to filling the considerable knowledge gap for the later-day-environmentalist that I am. I start reading:

It was during this verdant time that Robert Paehlke (then in his first year of teaching at Trent University) met Jim White (a Trent student who was active in Pollution Probe Peterborough). The two concocted the idea of a journal/magazine hybrid that would transform scholarly research into ideas for tangible community action. In 1971, Paehlke established Alternatives Incorporated, a registered charity, with the sole purpose of publishing Alternatives Journal.

The diverse challenges arising from humanity’s complex relationship with nature require diverse responses. This fact formed the genesis of the Alternatives vision: a forum in which intellectuals and activists from separate fields could exchange ideas with one another, and bring their stories and research to a general audience. The first volume combined the expertise of political scientists, historians, anthropologists, lawyers, economists, psychologists, philosophers, biochemists, zoologists and activists.

You have to keep in mind that Environment Canada, the federal ministry, was only founded in 1971, as were early eco-pioneers like Pollution Probe and Greenpeace. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) alerted the world to the negative impacts of DDT and other agri-chemicals. The Santa Barbara Oil Spill, an environmental disaster of epic-film proportions, was playing out just a klieg’s light away from the HOLLYWOOD sign. In Canada, the initial research into the impacts of acid rain on our ecosystems was taking place in labs and lecture rooms on campuses across the country. It was a time of a lot of questions – and not a lot of answers. Why is kind of why Dr. Paehlke founded Alternatives Journal in the first place, to help raise the EQ of the average Canadian, one article, one issue of the magazine at a time.

It’s interesting now to look back at the first issue of Alternatives Journal with the benefit of 40 years of distance and perspective.

(There still might be a copy kicking around in your local university library….we’re out of stock at the moment!)

Here’s the original Table of Contents:

Power and the Liberation of Nature: The politics of Ecology - Henry Steck

Canada, The United States, and the Environment: The Third Alternative - Geoff Mains

A Hint from the Past - R. K. Vastokas

The Environmental Impact of Economic Activity: a multidisciplinary view - Peter Victor

Sound the Sirens: Our Air is being Raided! - Joel C. Edelstein

Pollution: The Tip of the Iceberg - C. A. Hooker

It is stunning to read the prescience of the issue, stories and articles that were truly only academic at that point in time, asked and answered by men and women who were actively learning how to educate Canadians on the importance of environmental awareness and ecological protection. In 1971, Canada’s leading environmental educators were asking themselves HOW DO WE GET PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF ECOLOGY? and HOW THE HECK ARE WE GOING TO SELL THIS IDEA TO MAIN STREET AND TO BAY STREET?

The contribution from Peter Victor is especially prescient – and it must be, to him, a little annoying to read now that we’re still needing to make the same arguments, over and over again. I heard a lecture of his the other day. It must be frustrating and downright disheartening to think that almost 40 years of ideas, innovations and solutions seem to have disappeared into some space-time blackhole of fossil-fuel fueled frivolity.

***

July 2020.

A\J was fortunate to be joined in March 2017 by Professor Victor for our special ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS issue.

Here’s a close-up of the Table of Contents:

Notice any similarities? Like an echo chamber of good-intentioned arguments? Or maybe ghosts in the environmental ecosystem that keep coming back to haunt us?

Professor Victor, in his contribution WE’VE OUTGROWN GROWTH, elaborated his thoughts about the need to overturn our thinking when it comes to what is truly valuable to a country’s healthy development:

Mainstream macroeconomics is blind to many of the problems of our era. It does not account for any loss of capacity of the environment to provide resources, the implications of climate change, or the need to obtain resources from increasingly remote areas. It pays insufficient attention to the financial sector, and focuses heavily on growing GDP. If we continue to rely on traditional macroeconomics, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes. A new ecological macroeconomics can help us escape the limitations and failures of the current economic system.

Economists and those concerned with the environment must demonstrate that by pursuing growth when it has become uneconomic – when its benefits outweigh its costs – we will fail to achieve our real objectives. The way to do this is to show as best we can that Canada, like any advanced economy, can manage without economic growth. Then we can hope that growth as an overarching objective of economic policy will fade into the past where it belongs.

Fading into the past. We keep waiting for the NOW to be the PAST, but the NOW is a resilient S.O.B., with moneyed interests ensuring that the wheel of progress is greased with glue. We’re stuck, it seems, like the movie Groundhog Day; we’ve got the better arguments, we keep making them, and then we formulate even better arguments, and then we keep making them…..rinse, repeat, tune out.

Maybe it’s not an echo chamber, maybe it’s the hum and buzz of the incessantly repeating talking points intoned by well-intentioned men and women seriously committed to making a career – and making money – by doing their littlest part to make the world a better place. But is it making the world a better place? Really?

You look around. Simply on the ‘climate emergency’ browser, we’ve got tabs opened to DYING SPECIES, MELTING ARCTICS, POISONED WATERS, RISING TEMPERATURES, UNSTABLE WEATHER, ad nauseum until it truly makes you nauseous. Forty-nine years ago, Dr. Paehlke sensed a vital need to help educate Canadians on topics that were relevant in 1971 and even more relevant today. Educate in terms of understanding the complexities of the problems – and then being open to a myriad of possible solutions. To challenge the real impacts of all-is-great 1960s perceptions all too prevalent as we baby-boomed our way toward the 70s and 80s. Educate so that we average citizens could make more informed decisions, from the products we buy to the politicians we support. Where the market meets the ballot box is the true needle that needed to be moved – and Dr. Paehlke and his peers did their best to provide Alternatives Journal as a literary lab and ideas laboratory for environmental education, awareness and knowledge mobilization.

Dr. Paehlke and Dr. Victor, among many, helped to train today’s greying leadership class in Canada’s environmental community. And the leadership-tree that emanated from those giants in the wilderness is measured today in sitting MPs, powerful CEOs and visionary Executive Directors. Professors have taught professors who are readying to teach the next generation of intellectual tour guides as they walk the path of higher learning. And, due in some small part to the work being done in November 1971, there are hundreds of thousands of young Canadians studying the environment as part of their core curriculum, and millions more joining them on climate strikes and protest marches that are cross-denominational but singular in purpose: NOW IS THE TIME TO END ALL INJUSTICES!

When have I heard that before?

***

November 2017.

Marcia Ruby, long-time A\J and former Publisher, walks into the office in the old Electrohome factory and shares her prize.

“Look. It’s from November 1971,” Marcia says as she hands me the thick catalogue in her hands. “It’s the Eaton’s catalogue for FALL/WINTER; I figured we might use it one day when we get around to celebrating our 50th anniversary.”

“You mind if I take a quick look?” I reply with a slight smile creeping across my face.

After a few minutes rifling through the pages, I return the catalogue to Marcia with my finger holding the page.

“Oh my goodness! Is that you on the left?!?” chuckles Marcia.

“Yes,” I reply, continuing, “that’s from my days as a child model. I did a lot of catalogue work and some posters, too. My sister Elaine told me I was in some soap-on-a-rope-for-kids commercial back in the day, which would explain my hazy memories of being soaking wet in a shower on a set in my bathing suit.”

“Wow,” Marcia chimes in, “you could have been the model for our first-ever issue. How weird is that, huh?”

“Weird enough.”

***

July 2020

I keep getting a bounce-back message. My email to my past self, an attempt to subtly fore-warn myself about the excitement coming to me over the next few months, seems not to recognize an email from ME to ME. Or maybe it’s just me. I’ve been having problems with technology lately.

And I forgot to email Dr. Paehlke about his upcoming contribution. Damn Gmail!!!

***

May 2012

We’re sitting around a conference room, waiting to see the fruits of our collective labours as we prepare to re-launch the AlternativesJournal.ca website. The team, of which I’ve been a member for about half a year, is a combination of folks like me, a bit seasoned but still spicy, and younger team members imbued with the passion to change the world (and having yet accumulated enough scars to have given up trying).

I’d joined in November 2011, just after A\J had celebrated its 40th anniversary with a special issue and a party, both of which I had nothing to do with (they were both smashing successes). I was an outlier, told to ‘lose the suit’ on my second day by our Finance Officer/Naturopath/OG Emo-goth/nicest person in the world. I lost the suit, and then lost myself in the process of getting a whole lot smarter on the subject matter of ‘environment’. I was in a room with very smart people – and they were thinking very smart things. I wanted to learn their language, to be initiated in this special society of foreseers and truth-tellers. It wasn’t the language of publishing and business that I knew all too well. It was a world of hard debates and team hugs.

A\J was still part of uWaterloo FES at the time, although the shotgun divorce (we weren’t holding the gun) was not-too-far into the future. But that’s another story. Forgive me for falling into the rabbit holes of stories and memories, truth and fiction, all of which can, is and were interchangeable in the strange land that this stranger alit upon. Oh, speaking of rabbit holes, back to the conference room….

…where we awaited the reps from Mad Hatter Technology, the firm we decided to hire to manage the re-boot our website. No joke. Actually, now that I type that, maybe that’s a clue to investigate later/today (or later today, whichever comes first).

***

July 2020

For the record, I have absolutely no hard feelings against the ghosts in our website. The core platform is 3+ years past end of life, but seems to be hanging on with great tenacity, demonstrating a digital resilience that many brick-and-mortar enterprises today would enviously emulate. The back-end is full of out-dated interfaces and hard-to-adjust wizards and presets. But it works for what we need it to do, which is to be a canvas upon which wordsmiths, image gurus and video visionaries paint, write, and dream their stories and solutions to share with our readership and the wider world. We’ve got 49+ years of archived content there on the website, and we’ll probably do something a bit more special for the upcoming 50th anniversary celebration that kicks off January 1, 2021.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been joined by a bunch of smart and savvy young Canadian environmental communicators. We’re collaborating with Western University’s Centre for the Environment and Sustainability to create and deliver the 191st issue of A\J, GETTING THERE, out in mid-September. These young people bring big ideas and wide eyes, hoping to have a little bit of their voice heard, their message heard, in the cacophony of bloviating that poisons the air of civil discourse in some quarters of our society. My job, as the chief cook and bottle washer, is to help them find their voice, find their causes, and then allow them to channel those two energy sources into tangible, active and meaningful symphonies of syllables (and the occasional silliness). They’ve been posting like crazy in addition to the core work of learning-how and then showing-how when it comes to the assembling of a magazine today.

Oh, and about today. Did I mention that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic? And there’s an uprising underway against entrenched injustices, especially noticeable on my favourite soap opera, AS AMERICA BURNS, showing 24/7 on CNN. The Idiot-in-Chief plays his violin in self-pity and impotent rage, lying to himself about his re-election chances – and to Americans about their survival chances. It’s like Hieronymus Bosch teamed up with Salvador Dali to paint the official White House portrait. But I digress.

It’s like everything we know is eroding before our eyes, and I don’t know about you, I’m pretty sure that I’m supposed to be frightened. Here’s the thing, though. I’m not. Actually, I’m kind of excited. Not about the pain and suffering that comes with birthing a new society; that can be bloody and messy and deadly and devastating. But, then again, so is a flash flood or a forest fire, modern-day Biblical plagues fueled by our own indifferences and discarded, smoking embers.

And it’s not like WHAT WAS was so damned great anyway. There were too many looking-away to what was plainly obvious: we, as humans, had become hardened and inured to pain and suffering, ours, theirs and the planets. Noah served 40 days of penance for the sins of humans that came before him. Today, we’re all measuring our lockdowns and our depressions and our ennui in months and months. We’re lost in a spiral of time that doesn’t seem to fit any more. “What day is it again?”, is my new favourite question. Not that I’m not working – when you have a team of strong horses you need to stay sharp in the saddle – but it seems that between Zoom calls and Zumba e-workouts, I’m bewitched, bewildered and bedraggled. And when that happens, I’ll search FIONA APPLE and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE on YouTube, hit PLAY and REPEAT:

Source: YouTube

“Nothing’s going to change my world….”

***

December 1969.

It’s Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year’s celebration that can last days and days. But it starts on December 31st. In this case, December 31st, 1969, the end of a decade and the end of an era. The Sixties began with the Camelot of Kennedy and the façade of Leave It To Beaver Americana. The cheerful greatness, however, quickly traipsed dangerously close to nuclear annihilation with the Cuban Missile Crisis and then time stopped in Dallas with bullets ending the American Dream while they shattered the skull of the modern-day King Arthur. Rest in Peace, JFK.

Vietnam was starting to bubble up as a ‘hot spot’ to show up, increasingly, on the nightly news. There was the Civil Rights movement, an attempt to finally shake off the shackles of institutional and systemic racism in America, a movement that started on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, marched in Selma, Alabama, saw its leader assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee – and continued throughout the Sixties, with civil unrest in most major US cities, with police dogs biting grandmothers in the name of peace-and-order. But on who’s orders? We, the people?

There were anti-war protests. The rise of the Equal Rights movement and the fight for gender equality was starting to capture Main Street America’s attention. The LGBTQ+ community was still in the hiding spots and dark corners, although those spots and corners that they were forced into were frequently and conveniently raided by police in the name of, you guessed it, peace-and-order.

And in classrooms on campuses across North America, questioning students raised in questioning times begun to ask themselves questions about the way that we lived and the eventual impact on the planet. Scientists, sociologists, political scientists, botanists, seeing the degradation all around and seeking to put a name on it, coalesced into a soft coalition of the like-minded. They formed study groups, which led to action groups, which led to protest movements and fledgling organizations like Pollution Probe and Greenpeace. We humans may have closed the door to environmental awareness in a Faustian bargain for a bag full of progress – but it seemed like, finally, the next generation, the kids they called the Baby Boomers, were, in fact, going to come together as the Beatles suggested to be heroes and change the world to be more as they wanted it to be.

But I was happily oblivious to all this negativity as I danced and sang to the latest songs in sincere and admiring imitation of my older brothers and sisters. And my parents, too. My dad, George, and my mom, May, were generally the ring-leaders in the hooting and hollering that generally ensues when Scots get together with family, and with Scotch. I can hear George Harrison from the Beatles, freshly returned from the ashram, croon ACROSS THE UNIVERSE as my oldest brother Bob, 18 years my senior, jived like the coolest cat I’d ever seen.

(The author, top row left, already looking at his world askew at such an early age)

At some point in the long evening that led into the next day and new decade, I wandered back to my room to admire my Moon-landing poster, a reproduction of the Toronto Star’s cover of that giant-leap of a day. Like most, I had sat transfixed as I stared at the large wooden box holding the glowing screen showing me images of humans like me actually stepping on the surface of the Moon. Take that, Icarus! Everything was now possible. If we could fly to the Moon, we could do anything, move any mountain and right any wrong. It was a lovely coda and a fitting gift to President Kennedy who had launched the decade with a promise to ‘go to the Moon’. It was the end of 1969 and we, humans, had actually been to the Moon and back. It was a remarkable achievement that would soon lead to Moon homes. Or so we thought as we watched the stars twinkle just a little brighter as we searched for the signs from Apollo.

At one point in the evening, the #1 hit from 1969, the Fifth Dimension’s AQUARIUS catches my attention and causing me to lean in to hear it.

“When the moon is in the Seventh House, And Jupiter aligns with Mars, Then peace will guide the planets, And love will steer the stars, This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius,

 Age of Aquarius, Aquarius, Aquarius…”

The crowd in my house starts singing en masse, with thick and thin Scottish accents warbling out the words that I don’t really understand. My mom, a spiritual seeker in the truest sense of the phrase, has a lot of books on shelves and tables about 10,000 DREAMS and NOSTRADAMUS. I think there’s one about the signs of the Zodiac, so I look at the pages for Aquarius and come away none the wiser. But there’s an earnestness to the singing, with my Royal Marine Commando father harmonizing with my beatnik brothers, each lamenting and hoping and pleading and crying. Yes, crying. What, you got a problem with that. We Scots do two things well, cry and bleed. And you’ll do more of both if you mess with us!

I might have sneaked a sip or two of the Scotch to get my Scottish up for the Highland fling that my mother leads through the living room. I feel a bit dizzy, a bit sleepy but I’m too excited to rest. I need to keep going, keep dancing, keep singing like my life depended on it.

***

July 2012

“Anyone else notice that glitch in the website’s date-stamp widget?”

That’s Jordan, the webmaster for the new website. I hear him in the back room, speaking with Laura the web editor.

“Yeah. I saw that,” says Laura. “Weird.”

December 2019

I’ve just turned 56, fifty years after you first me in 1969. I’m taller, greyer and definitely wrinklier – and I’m 100% okay with that. It has been a wild year for A\J. The new Board rescued the organization in January, re-booted operations by May, pushed out the WE, THE NORTH print issue in June, launched the SUMMER STUDENT TAKEOVER on AlternativesJournal.ca, and had launched ENVMedia.org as a social-first digital communications platform for young environmental communicators, artists and creators. We moved from one office to another in the old Electrohome factory in downtown Kitchener. Lots of stuff had worked – and a few things didn’t. And that’s okay, too, because we still remain a literary lab for environmental journalism and our key role is to train the trainers when it comes to messaging with impacts for those fighting for a greener tomorrow.

I got married – again – in late 2018 and was settling into a new life and a new life paradigm after a decade on my own. Things were changing, and change can be scary, but that’s okay. I’m still heart, scars and all. Although I did hear that there’s this weird SARS-like virus in Wuhan, China that sends shivers up my spine remembering the trauma that the limited Toronto-based SARS outbreak in 2003 caused. I’m sure they’ll get it under control, sooner or later.

***

July 2020.

The ghost in our website lives on, as the young team posts their articles and chuckle at the date-stamp.

“Were YOU even alive then?” comes the gently teasing aside over the Zoom call.

This has been a very interesting experiment, running a media charity and an active newsroom in the middle of pandemic, with the fires of righteousness burning down the dead-growth to clear room for new shoots of rainbow of trees. If I’m being truthful, I’m tired and I’m hurting, not for me but for all those in pain and all those suffering in the world today – and, if you haven’t noticed, there’s far, far too many people in pain and suffering today. I’m also frustrated by the inertia of the march of progress, lazing in the cushy offices of the privileged and their pals. Would it kill to at least drive an EV to the board meeting?!

I’m trying to help people who care to raise their voices even louder and to more affect. They are learning how to shout now whatever they need to shout, but I implore them to shout louder and louder. I may be older and I’m greyer and I’m beaten just a bit by the misadventures that I’ve gotten myself into, but I’m energized by the young people who care, who run to the barricades, who lead the marches, and who suffer the slings-and-arrows, not to mention tear gas and rubber bullets.

(The author has very little drawing talent – as you can see – but attempted to make a point regardless)

We’re working on two magazine issues at once, and are posting and promoting in the digital sphere with reckless abandon and to amazing results. The team has taken my challenge to heart: do not go gently.

But I still can’t figure out the glitch in the website. I’ve resorted to conspiracy theories and new-age ideas. Something I read about ARPANet and the birth of the internet, or was it SkyNet and Terminator? Or was the system trying to tell me something? I seek clues in the actual and the esoteric. I listen to songs over and over again while scrolling through YouTube videos about Nostradamus and the Book of Revelations. I binge-watch the X-Files and the Simpsons, hoping that Homer or Mulder can tell me what it all means. I’m pretty sure it isn’t helping, and I’m not really sure that it matters all that much. Except it does, at least to me.

We’re preparing to celebrate our 50th anniversary. We’re probably going to need a re-boot to the website soon. There’s far too much that we need to be communicating. There’s a Green Recovery that needs to be strongly promoted; let’s aim for the Moon when it comes to next-generation infrastructure projects that free us from our addiction to atmosphere-clogging GhGs. Let’s put the fossils in a museum, and leave the fossil fuels in the ground. There’s Climate Strikes to organize in support of the most powerful force for good in the environmental community, a 17 year-old with a handmade sign (“Make the World Greta Again!”). And there’s plenty to worry about, and then do something about. Plastics in the oceans, surfing in Siberia, freshwaters drying up and saltwaters replacing them. Species are disappearing at an alarming rate and I hate to tell you and I, we Goldilocks, that our bed will soon be too hot and too unstable to sleep comfortably at night (or day….does it really matter in a pandemic?).

There’s still so much injustice and unrightness in our world, and it pains me to know that there’s more that we can be doing if I can just figure out what the heck is going on with the website. My eyes are drying and blurring. Chris Martin from Coldplay keeps reminding me of when I used to rule the world – and that the old king is dead, and long live the new king. I watch the video on YouTube as the sands of time erase Chris and his bandmates, as Chris sings about the passing of an era and the diminishing of a power. And I still can’t find a solution. The 50-year Glitch remains.

***

December 1969.

Dick Clark is speaking to me from the glowing black and white TV embedded within the giant block of wood that seemed de rigeur at the time. Manufactured by Electrohome in Kitchener, Ontario.

My hippy older cousin, Douglas, has popped in with a wild new book idea and a thought or two about the past, present and future. He’s talking to my more straight-laced brother Bob about what the whole ‘age of Aquarius’ thing is all about.

“No, Bob, you’ve got that wrong,” asserts Douglas. “The age of anything isn’t one specific moment in time, its an epoch that can stretch for decades, even centuries. Think about the rise-of-man; that must have taken thousands of years. The key word they sing is ‘dawning’. This is just the beginning of a cycle that is seeking to overturn centuries of oppression and injustices that stretches to a planetary scale. Those things don’t happen overnight. They take time.”

I nod my head in agreement, without knowing what I’m agreeing with. But it sounds right to my childish mind. It’s taken me six whole years to get to this point in time, and I’ve barely even grown if I’m to be compared to the grown-ups in my life.

Douglas continues, “…the march of progress is never straight and it is never easy. But it is worth it, especially if you can see a better tomorrow so very clearly on the horizon. Some push back, some pull against, each of us has a role to play. I remember reading something from some Sufi somewhere that went along the lines of:

Swirl like a dervish,

Spin like brothers Hasidic.

Progress pulls as Tradition holds,

Grow ecstatic in the process.

Who has the next dance of life?

I have no idea what that means, although I do like dancing so I smile unknowingly.

“One Sisyphus can only do so much, in one day. You need an army of Sisyphuses, each pushing, day in and day out, until the rock gets close to the top. And then you need to push that much harder, just when you’ve thought you’ve got no more to give. Aye, that’s the time that magic happens, when the revolution becomes simply evolution. And the people live in peace and people live in order with each other and with nature. That’s what’s in the cards, if we keep pushing the rock up the hill, in our own little way.”

I look a bit confused. My brother Bob chimes in:

“Davey, you know how you like to arm-wrestle? Right now, you’re just realizing that you need to get a bit stronger, a bit wiser to become the family’s champion. You can challenge me, or George, or Jimmy, or even Dad if you like, right now, and you won’t win. We’re holding against your pulling. And we’re bigger and we’re stronger. Right now. Eventually, some day, you’ll be able to beat us all.”

“Even Dad?!?!” I exclaim, knowing that my father is the closest thing to a real-life superhero in my eyes.

“Yes, even Dad,” continues Bob as I stare in wide wonder. “But, for now, you have to do more pulling and soon enough, we’ll no longer be able to hold you, and you’ll win.”

“But how long until then?” I ask with a hint of tired grumpiness creeping into my voice.

“Who knows?” states Douglas. “It could be five days – but you’re over-wee at the moment – or it could be five years. Or maybe even fifty years. Can you imagine that? All of us sitting around in 2019, laughing and singing and dancing and celebrating the family’s newest arm-wrestling champion, wee Davey McConnachie.”

“50 YEARS?!.....that’s like forever from now,” I sigh.

“Time is a funny thing, Davey,” says Bob as he tousles my unruly semi-hippy-length hair. “It’s like a game of Snakes and Ladders. Sometimes you feel like everything’s moving too fast, and sometimes you feel like everything’s moving too slow. And sometimes you can feel both at the same time. You can be here, wee Davey today, and in the blink of an eye, you’re older and wiser and singing and dancing in 2019. And we’ll all be there with you.”

I can hear Douglas and Bob discuss some theories on time and space, and hear the name Einstein mentioned in passing.

“All time is relative,” states Douglas.

“Yeah, and I can prove it because MY relatives are always trying to tell me what to do with my time!” shoots Bob with a cheeky look over at my mom.

I drift off to sleep, dreaming of astronauts and the Moon. Maybe some day I’ll visit. That would be nice.

***

December 2020.

Well, that was interesting.

A year filled with such pain and suffering did in fact provide the pinpoint of light kicked through the darkness. The pandemic is still in its second wave, but the vaccines are helping to curtail the damage, although we’re all still mourning the massive loss of life that could have and should have been prevented if we’d just paid attention a bit earlier and acted more cohesively a bit earlier. But you can’t undo, you can only do. And Canadians, in particular, did an incredible job of adhering to the public safety protocols and stamping out outbreaks as they occurred throughout the fall and into the beginning of the second wave.

We’re still hunkering down and awaiting the vaccines full roll-out to non-essential workers (and again, a HUGE thank-you to our frontline workers who served while the rest of us sheltered). But the later is rapidly becoming sooner and we’re all optimistic about 2021.

The civil unrest that roiled across the world seemed to reach its Gotterdammerung with the US election in November of somebody other than the Idiot-in-Chief; he’ll be seen soon enough on infomercials playing exclusively on Faux News. He seemed to have embodied EVERY worst aspect of humanity that desperately needed overthrowing, and like his beloved statutes to treasonous losers, he was unceremoniously toppled by the people power that he tried to squelch when he started sending Federal Police to Portland and other cities (again, thank you #WallOfMoms and friends) to shot, gas and arrest innocent citizens. A funny thing happens when you do that – people generally want you out the door as quick as can be, and the people arranged the moving trucks to be sent to 1600 Black Lives Matter Avenue in Washington as soon as could be scheduled.

It’s still too early to tell if the damage wrought by ignorance and hate emanating from upon high can be rectified. Some scars go too deep to repair. But others, led by the good-hearts of the do-gooders who took to the barricades, quickly turned their swords into plowshares.

And strangely, there’s more peace and more order and more quiet on the streets and in the souls of our cities and towns. We’ve survived, so far, and we’re still around to make things better. But we better hurry with the bettering as there’s a lot of mess to start cleaning up. The new boss in the US combined with the fine leadership examples shown by many national leaders across the planet have lead polite society to re-embrace the science, to deny the denialists, and have seemingly decided to take a giant leap forward toward a more just and equal society of humans living in peace and harmony with our planet.

As I grab my cup of tea and head out to the back porch to look up, I can hear the Fifth Dimension sing “Age of Aquarius” on the oldies station on a smartphone.

When the moon is in the Seventh House, And Jupiter aligns with Mars

Then peace will guide the planets, And love will steer the stars

Interestingly, I remember the article on EarthSky.org that I read earlier about the great Jupiter-Saturn conjunction. Seems they only happen every 20 years, with the last one coming in the year 2000. Tomorrow night’s conjunction, happening as it is on December 21, 2020, will be the closest the two planets have appeared in our skies in conjunction since 1623.

I chuckle to myself thinking back to my July fugues trying to find out what happened to the website and the ghost in our ecosystem. So, I decide to visit the site; there’s a new article on eco-pirates of the Caribbean that I’ve been dying to read. I squint to read the text, although I’ve pleaded to increase the font size for those of us who enjoy Geezer Day benefits at Shoppers. I smile as I read:

December 1969.