Sunday, 9 October 2022

Unpacking the Hurricane

Hurricane Fiona was reclassified as a post-tropical cyclone by the time it hit Nova Scotia, but everyone here, including government agencies, is calling it a hurricane, and I will do the same for the sake of convenience. Sustained winds reached 165 km/hr in some places. The destruction was felt primarily in the northeastern counties and Cape Breton. I live in one of those northern counties, and there are still a significant number of people who have been warned not to expect their power to be restored until as late as next weekend -- three weeks in total without power. There were so many downed power lines and so many trees in, around, and tangled up with those lines that it has been a laborious process to get it all fixed. Our province's power crews have been helped by others from across Canada and northeastern New England (in the USA), and the military has also contributed manpower to move trees and do other tasks. I realize that this hurricane, like so many others, brought much worse conditions and results to countries further south. But for us, this was a record storm and a sobering reminder that this could be our new normal.

The roar of the wind at the peak of the hurricane was incredible. The wind was coming from the north, hitting the back of our house full on. It sounded like a locomotive was passing behind the house -- for four hours straight. Not long after it reached that pitch and volume, I heard a very loud tearing noise. It was the power line from our house to the street, pulling away from the house. There was no sleep for me until the wind decreased somewhat. I couldn't even bring myself to lie down. I sat in a chair to be ready -- for what, I don't know. I have no idea what I could have done if the wind had torn off the roof (it happened to other people) or caused some other kind of damage or imminent danger. At dawn I was able to see that my neighbour's tree had split down the middle, with one side bringing down both their lines and mine.

The smell throughout the house during the storm was of smashed leaves and torn branches. It was the most exotic, intoxicating, and eerie smell I have ever experienced. It felt like the storm was trying to come right in the house. I don't think I will ever forget that smell. The next day, the north sides of people's homes were littered with pulverized bits of leaves. They stuck to windows and siding and needed to be removed by brush or broom -- a laborious process but one I also found meditative and comforting. The day was sunny and warm -- typical of weather here following hurricanes or tropical storms -- and quiet except for the buzz of chain saws all over the neighbourhood.

Seven of the trees in my back yard came down fully or partially. That was the story all over our county. People started cleaning up the day after the storm, making piles of branches and trees and sawn-up tree trunks at the curb, awaiting town pickup. As the week went on, nighttime temperatures started dipping to zero. My brother came from three hours away, bringing us a generator and heater. The next day he drove here again with his chain saw which he used to fell and cut up six of those trees. Together, we carried or dragged almost everything to the curb, although he did most of it as I had to keep checking on my mother. We spent two days doing that.The following day my son came from two hours away to finish the job. Anything not at the curb when the town crew came by would have had to be removed by homeowners at considerable expense. I'm grateful for the help I received to avoid that expense.

I was told by those who saw it personally that whole sections of trees along the highway were either flattened or broken off partway up their trunks, all in the same direction, north to south; lines of trees along country lanes were toppled across the lanes, again from north to south; and crews had to use earth moving equipment to push downed trees away so the power company could get to downed poles.

The only damage to my house was a row of shingles that came off, the shattering of the mast for the electrical connection, some siding at the point of connection, and one downspout. I felt very lucky to have been spared worse damage. My mother's house was not affected at all except for a small insulator which broke free from the place where it had been bolted to her house (and which caused a delay in her power restoration). If only I'd had my chimney inspected prior to the storm (a job I had in fact contacted a company to do prior to Fiona ever forming in the south), we could have been comfortable using the the wood stove. But I was not about to add chimney fire to the chaos and destruction.

More to come.


Smashed leaves at my back door


One of my downed trees

Some of the damaged lines in front of my house, backlit by a beautiful sky at dusk. Normally there are two bundles of wires coming from the right side of that post, one to my house and one to my neighbours' house.


I took more pictures; unfortunately, it was twilight and they were very blurry. I didn't check them because it was so dark by then and we had no lights. Ah, well. Them's the breaks.

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Still Kicking

Just a brief post to let you know we are all well here. 

We just had our power restored, twelve days after Hurricane Fiona hit.

It's been a long, loooooooong twelve days, my friends.

My mother stayed with me and is still waiting for a repair to her house power line. That is supposed to happen within the next few hours.

I feel for those who are still without power.

It was a storm for the record books.

More later.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

It's Going to be Breezy and Damp in Donkeyland


Hurricane Fiona is headed toward the Atlantic Provinces here in Canada. It's a storm that we are being "strongly encouraged" to "take seriously" because the prediction is for category 1 sustained winds and category 2 gusts, along with significant rainfall.

I am not looking forward to this, nor is anyone else. And yet here we are. Nature wins again.

I am scheduled to have the new bivalent vaccine tomorrow just as the storm begins in earnest. I'm not sure whether to go ahead or not; I've read that some people are experiencing extreme tiredness for 24 hours afterward. It feels a little risky to chance that during what is being called "an historic hurricane." But I've looked at the available appointments for rescheduling, and there is nothing in the near future. My last shot was in January, so I am keen to get another as soon as possible.

If the pharmacy doesn't cancel the appointment due to the storm, I will probably go ahead with it. 

My mom is going to stay with me for the duration. Maybe she can look after me! As long as she doesn't let the cats into the same room together, it will be okay.

If I'm not answering comments for a few days (starting Friday afternoon) it will be because we have lost power. I'll be back as soon as I'm able.

Being vertically challenged, at just under five feet in height, I felt special when I found this meme (with apologies to the tall people reading):


Of course, tall people also dry out first once the rain has stopped 😄

I know that Marie of Island Musings with Marie is facing this in PEI also. Good luck, Marie.

For the rest of you, I hope you have no storms looming, and have a good weekend.


Monday, 19 September 2022

Talk Like a Pirate Day

I missed Pirate Day last year, so gotta hurry and use up my pirate memes this trip around the sun: 

For more "Talk Like a Pirate Day" memes, visit bluebird of bitterness HERE. Don't forget to check out the additional memes from other years under "Related" at the bottom of that post!

Thursday, 8 September 2022

My Spirit Animal, Plus Home Repairs

I may not run as fast as the little guy in this video, but most of the time I fall asleep this fast.

As for the snoring, well, let's just gloss over that part.

(The video is six seconds long, for those who are wondering.)

Click here.



I've been offline more than usual, trying to arrange to take care of things that need fixed around the house, which takes longer than I ever thought possible, and also worrying about everything that needs fixed, which also takes longer than I ever thought possible.

So far I've dealt with a plumber, to fix a leaky supply line, replace shut-off valves, and stop toilets from running; an air exchanger technician, to find the source of an air quality issue and fix it; and the power company, to reconnect a loose power supply line where it attaches to our house.

Now I'm waiting on a masonry company and a general contractor. 

The need for a mason arose because the floor-to-ceiling brick behind our wood stove started separating about mid-way up the wall a few years ago. The gap continues to grow. I was recently advised to have it repaired or removed ASAP as the top half is not being held up by anything other than brick ties, air, and my naivete, and it could (and probably will) fall down at some point.

Yay! There's nothing like the thought of an imminent fall of 126 bricks inside the house to make a person get on speed dial to a chimney and fireplace expert.

The chimney also needs a new cap, an inspection, and a cleaning. We rarely used it, and heaven knows what they'll find. But it's the back-up heat source in case of prolonged power outage, so it needs to be reliable.

The general contractor is needed to replace some very drafty windows (original to the house which was built thirty-four years ago) and also - I hope - expand the main-level half-bathroom to include a shower. That will make the ground level of the house more accessible and potentially self-contained. I would like to keep living here for a good many years and I hope this renovation will allow me to do that. I'm crossing my fingers that the way I envision it being done will actually work.

It's hard to find tradespeople who are available to do any of this kind of work. They're in short supply as many are aging out of the industry and not many young people are training for this work. Those who are still working are very busy. It is not uncommon to have to book work six months or more in advance.

But just as hard, in my experience, has been finding contact information for smaller businesses. Often they do not have an office or an assistant to take calls, and they use cell phones, which are not included in our phone directories, and they don't advertise in the yellow pages of those directories. Frequently they are not on the internet either. I think they have so much work from word-of-mouth that they don't need to look for any more. For every successful contact I have made, I have chased several dead ends. When you are an introvert who gets anxious even phoning your relatives, it makes the job of finding and calling complete strangers who may cost you enormous amounts of money a trying situation indeed.

But what must be done must be done. And I'm slowly crossing things off my list. 



Fix-it funnies! I hope I don't end up with any of these - except maybe the dog in the hole in the fence.













Until next time, I hope you need zero home repairs - or if you do, I hope they are easy and successful and do not involve 126 bricks potentially falling on your hardwood floor, or on you 😬



Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Fruit Fly Season

It's that time of year again.

Late summer.

And the fruit flies multiplieth.

They got a little out of control here about a week ago.

Some of them were so fat they could hardly fly.

But the little devils were still surprisingly agile and able to evade my quick hands* and the fly swatter.

Usually I dig out the cider vinegar and a shallow can, use an elastic to fasten plastic wrap over the top, and poke a few holes in the plastic with a toothpick. Fruit flies are attracted to the vinegar and crawl through the holes, but can't find their way back out again. When they accumulate, I take the can outside and let the flies go, hopefully before they drown in the vinegar.

I was too tired to do that this year, so instead I periodically threw a damp paper towel over the top of the container I keep my compostable items in, took it outside and released the fruit flies.

It was so much easier and very effective. In one evening I got rid of the majority of them. It usually takes several days to trap them using the vinegar method.

The only questionable moment came when I noticed a spider just outside the door. He was in the center of his web, waiting for some dinner, so without really thinking it through I waved the fruit-fly-laden paper towel in his direction, wondering if he'd like a treat. Four of the fattest fruit flies were immediately caught in the web. The spider ran lickety-split over to the first one and devoured it, then moved on to the second one and devoured it too. The other two flies didn't even struggle while this was happening.

By the next day the spider had packed his bags and moved on. You'd think he would stay where there were plenty of victuals but no.

I was glad he'd had a good meal, but I felt bad for the fruit flies. I was trying to release them into the wild and due to my reckless and thoughtless action they had .5 seconds of freedom before being caught and eaten.

Some days I hate Nature.

Then again, the spider wasn't the only one killing the fruit flies ... (see the * above)

Some days I hate my hypocrisy too.


Let's have a quick survey:

Do you swat, drown, or catch and release fruit flies?


What the Heck

Our local dollar store has a book section. I've found some pretty good books there for myself and I always check the children's books as well, hoping for something to interest my two little grandsons.

Recently I found a kids' book about a little mouse who hears a lot of strange noises after he's in bed for the night, and the noises scare him. Eventually he lets out a frightened cry, and his mama comes quickly to his bed and explains what all the noises were. He is comforted by her explanations and soon the only noise is the snoring of the little mouse as he falls fast asleep.

The illustrations were lovely; I was completely captivated by them.

And the story line addressed a common cause of children's fears.

I felt there was a slight problem with it, though.

The first noise the little mouse heard turned out to be an owl. The mama mouse said the owl was "singing".

But ...

. . . OWLS EAT MICE. Quite reliably, in fact.

Mama Mouse missed a very important part of educating her son about the dangers around him.

I don't blame her. She only did what the author made her do.

What was the author thinking? What was the publisher thinking?

As much as I loved the illustrations, I did not get this book for my grandsons. I don't want to be the one to cause trauma when they realize Mr. Owl wasn't "singing", he was hunting . . . 😬

Apologies to Charlotte (Mother Owl) and I hope she realizes this post is 99% tongue-in-cheek 😀


Sunday, 14 August 2022

Highlights & Lowlights

It has been a relatively quiet week here.

Due to some crazy time recently with my mom, including this, I did a lot of reading about certain behaviors of dementia patients, and was able to pinpoint what I was doing to contribute to the crazy. Changing my own reactions to my mom's behavior has made the path much smoother. It's not perfect, of course. But I'm learning. (The essence of what I've learned is not to argue or try to use logic, no matter how unfair, untrue, or weird her conversation gets.)

There was another factor contributing to the crazy. Mom had family visiting from another province. She hadn't seen them since the summer before the pandemic started, and although she knew they were coming and was very much looking forward to their visit, when they arrived she did not recognize them and could not work out who they were, no matter how many times we explained it. After a three-day visit they left and she had some quiet time to think, and finally she realized who they were and she was distressed that she had, essentially, missed their visit. Fortunately, the two she most wanted to see were able to return for a day, and she was able to enjoy their second visit.

Remember how I mentioned I had returned to my workplace instead of working from home? When I went in Friday, my boss had a cough and some congestion. He had tested negative for Covid using a rapid test for two days running. On Saturday, however, he emailed staff to say he had tested positive.

So I've been exposed to the dreaded virus. I am a little freaked out, because I have iffy bronchial tubes (technically asthma) and I'm overweight, but I'll just have to wait (with dread) to see if I've caught it. I have had three Covid shots, but the most recent was way back in January. Our province recommends that my age group wait until this fall for the fourth shot.My mom has had a fourth shot, and although her age (92) is not in her favour, she is incredibly healthy, physically speaking. I'll be double-masking when I am around her, and keeping my visits to the briefest time possible. If I develop symptoms, I have a plan for getting her medication to her. I hope we have avoided the virus, or, if not, that our symptoms are mild.

We had a spell of very warm and humid weather which started two weeks ago and lasted for a little over a week. That doesn't sound like long, but I worried the whole time about my mother because prior to that she wouldn't use her air conditioner and seemed not to understand what it was for. When I tried to explain, she would get very upset at me. She somehow figured it out, though, and I mostly stayed away because when I visited her, she would follow me outside when I was leaving, leaving the door wide open and letting all the cool air escape from her house. I'm there every evening anyhow, so I could make sure she was okay at that time. I'm happy that the weather has moderated since then. That week was too stressful for my liking.

That's the highlights and lowlights reel from the Donkey's life recently.

Let's have a few funnies, shall we?


























My wish for you:

May your week be a great one; and if it can't be great, may it at least be good; and if it can't be good, may you at least not be squashed by a polar bear in your own home.

Stay safe, folks.