Saturday, 3 June 2023

Fire and Rain

 Hello, people.

If you follow world news, you may already know about the wildfires in Canada.

Alberta has been burning for weeks now. Current status can be found here.

There are also fires in five other provinces and one territory.

One of those provinces is mine. Last week, Nova Scotia became the location of two major fires, one of which is the largest in its history. That fire is located near Shelburne, at the southern tip of the province, and has resulted in the displacement of over 1,000 people. The other is near the heavily populated capital, Halifax, in the centre of the province, where over 16,000 people have had to leave their homes.

Over 200 structures have burned, including more than 150 family homes. Many of the evacuees had to leave immediately because the fire was so close. They had no time to take anything with them.

How stressful that would be. And for those whose homes burned to ash, how stressful that would be also. Even those who were put on alert that they could be evacuated on short notice must be stressed. My son lives on the edge of the evacuation zone, and was one of that group.

Fortunately, no lives have been lost.

And tonight - finally, finally, finally - the rain has started. It's hardly more than a sprinkle so far, but the forecast predicts rain or showers and cool temperatures for the next week.

I've never been so grateful to see a week of rain in the forecast.

And I am beyond grateful for the efforts of the firefighters and other emergency personnel who have worked so hard to save lives, homes, and livelihoods, in some cases doing so while their own homes burned down. Nova Scotian firefighters have been, or soon will be, joined by others from across Canada, from the U.S., Costa Rica, Australia, and New Zealand. I'm so thankful for international help. 

My heart is with those who have lost everything except their lives, those who have had to leave their homes not knowing if they will lose everything or not, and those in areas adjacent to the evacuation zone who have spent the last week in a state of heightened adrenaline in case they had to leave suddenly. I am also so sad for the wildlife which has undoubtedly been killed, maimed, and displaced. 

Even after the current fires are under control, there will be a lot of work to be done to extinguish them. Last fall's hurricane Fiona, which I wrote about here, left so much deadwood from downed trees all across our heavily forested province. It has had eight months to dry out, and, in an unusually dry spring, it has become perfect tinder for fires. 

I know we are far from the only place to suffer wildfires. They are becoming more and more common around the world due to climate change. It's simply extra-sobering when they hit close to home.

And now, for your listening enjoyment, the song you may have thought I was referencing in the title.

Because we need to keep on moving forward, and one way to do so is finding the beauty in life (thank you, my dear friend, Elephant's Child, for that wisdom).

And music is one of the beautiful things in life. Even when it's kind of sad music.

Friday, 12 May 2023

The Wild Things - Part 2

For Part 1, go here.

Thank you for all your comments on the pros and cons of feeding the raccoon. I appreciate your input.

By the time that post was published, I had already made the decision to occasionally put food out along the back edge of my property. I sprinkled it here and there to make the raccoon work for it. He (or she) still came up on my deck from time to time, and if there were any sunflower seeds left from the feeding of the birds, he (or she) got those too.

I'm going to assume he (or she) considers my house and land part of the territory under his (or her) control now, and I'll be making sure I don't wander around outside at night without a flashlight and a stick and making lots of noise. 

There have been other visitors here, too: the ever-present deer, of course, a fat squirrel (possibly now one thin squirrel and a half a dozen babies), a chipmunk, a red-headed woodpecker, pheasants, along with chickadees, finches, sparrows, bluejays, crows, and mourning doves. I'm only surprised I haven't seen any robins; in the past we've always had them by this time of the year. The seeds I'm putting out are only a minor reason for the wildlife I see here. The red-headed woodpecker likes to pound away at a rotting tree trunk for insects. It gives me a headache just to watch all that cranial action. The other birds eat insects in the grass, the deer browse on the bushes and trees, and there are spruce trees nearby that provide cones for the squirrels and chipmunks.

It has been a cool spring here, which I am not complaining about, because I dread the heat. But the temperature has also made it hard to get out and do yard work. I've had deadlines at work, too, which limits my time outside. I really need to get out and at least pick up the deer and raccoon droppings. Not long ago I had workmen here to fix a downspout (a victim of the hurricane in the fall) and I could hear them swearing when they stepped in something. They probably think I have a dog and never clean up after it. 

I now have video of the raccoon gamboling on the deck, and of the chipmunk, who came right up to my bare foot one day. Unfortunately, I can't get them off the phone onto the computer - at least, not without help from my computer guru.

So I'll leave you with this instead:

I think I borrowed this from another blogger, I just can't remember who. If it was you - thank you! 

Have a good week, my friends.


Friday, 5 May 2023

The Best

Canadian songwriter, singer, guitarist and international performer Gordon Lightfoot died last Sunday, May 1.

Other folks have written better tributes to him and his music than I could, but as I read those tributes and recognized almost every title listed, I knew there was one missing, one I had always found unusually captivating.

Stray bits of the tune floated in and out of my head but I couldn't remember enough of it to identify it. Finally I searched online for his complete body of work, and the title jumped out at me.

"Beautiful" is a haunting, lyrical love song which I first heard when I was in senior high school. It faded into the back of my memory as I moved on to university and became interested in other genres of music.

Although my husband always said we met at university (and in fact we did), he didn't enter my consciousness until we met again at my first job after graduation. So I associate other music with him, through our early days together and the many years that followed until his death a little more than two years ago.

Listening to "Beautiful" now, I realize it encapsulates perfectly my feelings for him and for the best of our relationship, and I wish he was here for me to tell him so.


Friday, 28 April 2023

The Wild Things - Part 1

I wrote this nearly a month ago, but never got around to editing it until now. Since then, more has happened. Hopefully it won't take me another month to post Part 2. 

Last fall, I became aware that a couple of tiny grey guests were making themselves at home in an old barbecue on the deck behind our house. The adorable mice - yes, I used the word adorable, and I won't take it back - had made a cozy nest in their rain-proof and predator-proof shelter. Yes, I am aware that rodents reproduce at a rate to make your head spin, but I didn't want to evict them just as winter was setting in, especially as so many urban critters lost their habitat in the hurricane last September, so they were given a reprieve until spring.

Then, like any decent host, I worried about their welfare. What would they eat? I had some sunflower seeds left from feeding the birds and squirrels the previous spring, so I rigged up a covered mice-feeding station on the side shelf of the barbecue. As the days passed, the seeds kept disappearing, so I relaxed, happy that the guests were not going hungry and that the problem of relocation had successfully been postponed for a few months.

Then the vague suspicion entered my mind that more seeds were disappearing than could reasonably be consumed by two wee creatures. Around the same time, I noticed chickadees flying back and forth from the now-sparse treeline at the back of the yard to the deck. They of course had found the guest buffet and were availing themselves.

Last week I realized the rate of seed consumption had taken yet another giant leap, and somebody was leaving footprints all over the buffet, and I switched into high alert for evidence of just who the new guests might be.

I didn't have to wonder for long. Last night as I sat at the kitchen table, which put me within a few feet of the back door, I heard a small but distinct scratching noise on the other side of the door. Already suspecting what I would see, I turned on the outside light and, sure enough, there was a young raccoon, his little human-like hands braced on the door, peering back at me.


I did what anyone would do. I took his picture. And then I simultaneously panicked and googled "what people food is safe for raccoons to eat". 

The answer was, Do not feed raccoons. They will keep coming back and if they want to get in your house they can be very hard to dissuade from doing so.

And then the rest of the answer was that if you MUST feed the raccoons, feed only cat food, dog food, fruits, and eggs. Do not feed chocolate, raisins, or processed grain products.

As if I would give away my chocolate or processed grains! (I wouldn't feel nearly as protective about raisins, so it's good I don't have any.)

Meanwhile the scratching at the door continued. I wanted to go to bed but the internet warning about a raccoon's ability to commit a break-and-enter was bothering me. My Lucy cat's food is located not far from the door and I wondered if the raccoon had a good enough sense of smell to be able to detect it and decide this house was a good one to dig its way into. And although I personally would have another door between the kitchen and my bed, Lucy would not, and in a match between a raccoon and Lucy I would be betting on the raccoon. Sorry, Lucy, but even though I'm nearly as scared of you as I am of a raccoon, you are carrying a few extra pounds and you have asthma and arthritis. You would lose, trust me. Please don't bite me for just telling the truth.

By the time I debated at length with myself about whether to throw cat food from the second-storey window to a far-away corner of the yard, the raccoon had shuffled off. 

In all seriousness, I feel I have to consider the effect of so many trees being lost in the hurricane when I am deciding whether to help out this little fellow. It's not just my trees, it's trees on a lot of urban properties that were uprooted or damaged and cut down and taken away after the hurricane. I know that there was at least one raccoon living near me before the hurricane because I was finding its poo in my back yard all last summer, and I discovered one out on a limb of one of the now-absent trees in our yard, hissing and shaking on the branch as he tried to get turned around without falling off. So this is already raccoon territory and I suspect my failure to feed my guest from time to time won't really make any difference except to relieve one animal's hunger. The internet article I read recommended not feeding regularly, so they don't become dependent or tame, because that can lead to the animal needing to be destroyed if it becomes a pest. 

My inclination is to sprinkle some dry cat food at random places and on random days as far from my house as I can get without endangering my neighbours' yards, until the ground warms up enough that the bugs get active and the vegetation starts to grow again, and then taper off. 

But I welcome your opinions about dealing with wildlife in an urban setting, if you'd like to share them here.

And when I have time to figure out how to get photos onto this new computer, I have pictorial proof of the trash panda to post 😀

Thursday, 23 March 2023

Komputer Kaput

Just letting you know that my computer died two nights ago and that's why there has been a delay in getting your comments released from moderation.

My computer guru is assisting me in getting up and running again, and in the meantime I've gotten a tablet to work on, so I'll still have email and other internet services like Blogger. But this will slow me down a bit, and there won't be any photos or illustrations.

I will answer your comments and visit your blogs as soon as I can. Off to work now 🙂 

Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Close Encounters of the Puzzling Kind

Not long ago, I was in our local Value Village store, which is a second-hand store selling everything you'd ever want. The things are donated by the public to the store, credit given to charitable groups, and then sold back to the public. It's a good system to keep stuff out of the landfill and I love looking around. It's also where I buy nearly all my reading material and clothing.

This particular day I was looking through the ladies' clothing. I heard a young voice behind me say politely, "Excuse me, do you think I'd look good in this?"

I turned to see a boy of about ten or so, holding a scrunched up article of clothing. I couldn't tell what it was, but there wasn't much of it, which made me think it was either a bathing suit or a small top. It was hot pink with a fringe, that much I could see.

I didn't know if he was seriously asking or trying to get a reaction, so I said the first thing that came to mind, hoping it was ambiguous enough not to offend him if he was serious or make me look foolish if he wasn't. What I said was, "Oh yes, excellent" and he looked a bit surprised and turned and left.

A few minutes later, I heard kids laughing, and saw him with two girls of about his age giggling and darting through the aisles. Later still, I saw him staggering around in ladies' high heeled shoes and laughing.

So, my question to you is:

What would you have said if you had been me?

When you saw him again (and again), would that have changed your response if you could go back in time?

Picture something about this colour, but smaller and with long fringes. Scrunched up in someone's hand, so you can't tell what it actually is.

Friday, 10 February 2023

GOW and the Telephone Company

In case that acronym is too obscure even after you've read the post, it stands for Grumpy Old Woman.

I've been trying to set up pre-authorized payment for my mother's telephone bill.

Once upon a time this could be done by sending a blank cheque with "VOID" written across the face of it to the company.

Apparently this can no longer be done. All thier pre-authorized payments are set up using online banking with a debit or credit card.

To arrive at this answer, I had to do the following:

1) I called the customer service line yesterday and spoke to someone who did not understand my question, so eventually I said I would go online to make my enquiry

2) I started a chat session today with, first, a chatbot, then with an employee who did not understand my question, and when asked to connect me with their supervisor, told me THEY WERE the supervisor and it wasn't the telephone company's fault they didn't accept voided cheques to set up PAPs, it was imposed on them by Canadian Payments Association

3) I checked the Canadian Payments Association online, which by the way is actually called Payments Canada and which still allows (as far as I can tell) the use of a voided blank cheque to set up pre-authorized payments

4) I sent an email to Payments Canada to verify suppliers can still accept this method and to ask if they are obligated to use it if the customer asks for it; they will get back to me within five (5) business days

5) I started a second chat session with the telephone company, got the chatbot, got the service rep, got nowhere, asked for their supervisor and was connected with a "case manager" from the "resolution team", who eventually told me that the voided blank cheque method is not accepted by them.

Okay, that's fine. They've made a decision to disallow one method of setting up a payment and I suspect they have that right, just as a company can decide they are not accepting cash or debit cards or credit cards.

But I think there must be a sizeable number of people out there who don't have on-line banking. It's not just the very elderly. It's anyone who doesn't have reliable internet or who just doesn't like technology. That may include quite a few baby boomers, and as we kept getting told, we are a huge freaking cohort at the moment.

I was hoping to make this easier for both my mother and myself, because she tends to lose the bills and end up paying late charges, and because if something happens that she can't or won't sign the cheques as her dementia worsens, I will have to pay them myself.

I am not picking on the telephone company for this one reason only.

I have dealt with them before on various matters and been dissatisfied with their faceless, soul-less approach to the people who pay their salaries, bonuses, and shareholder dividends (i.e., us, their customers). 

I fear I am shouting into the void, though.

I do realize the service reps are not to blame.

It's just so frustrating on the customer end.

Hence the blog post. I feel less like I am shouting into the void😄



How has your week shaken out? Doing any frustrating tasks? Lemme know in the comments if you like. Misery LOVES company, so they say. Hah.

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Mozart . . . Chicken

No, this isn't some kind of new and crazy recipe.

I never expected to be posting again so soon, but I loved this so much I wanted to pass it on.

From blogger bluebird of bitterness and YouTube, here is .....


The man is a genius 😆