Tag Archives: Vancouver Island

Solving The Wrong Problem

I’m a problem-solver by nature — as soon as I’m confronted by an issue, my brain immediately rounds up the metaphorical troops and puts all available energy into finding a solution.  Often this leads to creative solutions or hare-brained inventions, but occasionally I zoom  right past the main issue and solve the wrong problem entirely.

Take this weekend, for example:

We had been invited out to a birthday party, where (as usual) I ate far too much and then topped off my excesses with a couple of delicious beers.

Showing superhuman restraint (if I do say so myself) I managed to behave like a polite adult the whole entire time we were in public.  (Mark a big star on the calendar for Saturday November 24, 2018:  “Diane acted like an adult ALL DAY today!”)

Well, okay, not all day; but most of the day…

Happy and relaxed in the car with Hubby on the way home, I let out a resounding belch and said, “’Scuse me.”

Hubby reacted not at all, neither to the original gross breach of etiquette nor to my subsequent lip service to politeness.

After a couple of beats of silence I turned to him and said, “I guess after belching loudly enough to register on the Richter scale, excusing myself is probably solving the wrong problem, isn’t it?”

He smiled and shrugged.

Thus encouraged, I finished,  “…so next time I won’t bother excusing myself.”

And Hubby just laughed.  (Have I mentioned lately how much I love him?)

And on another note:  Here are some photos that have made me happy lately.  They may not solve any problems, but maybe they’ll make you smile, too.  (Click the photos to see larger versions.)

It’s hard to believe, but one of our azaleas is still blooming! This is “Bloom-a-thon Lavender”, still putting out flowers at the end of November.

The heather is already in bloom, and the pansies haven’t stopped since I put them in last spring.

The last few leaves of the weigela perch like bright butterflies on the tips of the twigs.

We took a trip out to Ucluelet (on the west coast of Vancouver Island) a couple of weeks ago, on a gorgeous calm sunny day.

Even on a calm day, the ocean never rests. This is the Amphitrite lighthouse in Ucluelet. (The person in the middle isn’t actually close to the waves crashing on the rocks – it’s just that the waves are that big.)

It wouldn’t be the West Coast without some gorgeous greens!

Ahhhhh…

May all your problems be easily solved!

Book 14 update:  Despite a busy week, I made it almost to the end of Chapter 34.  All the threads are coming together now!

 

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Evil Seagull Lady

The other day I was down at the ocean (and I’m still thrilled that I can get there in fifteen minutes).  This is my favourite time of year to go to the beach – the days are crisp and the tourists are gone, so it’s only me and the waves and the seagulls.

And the Seagull Lady.

An elderly woman drove up and parked as I was walking down to the water’s edge, but I didn’t pay much attention – I was focused on getting to my favourite sandbar while the sun was turning the waves blue and silver.  I made a beeline for my special spot and stood there smiling, tuning out everything but the gentle hush of the waves and the cries of the seagulls.

Except… there seemed to be more seagull cries than usual.  And they weren’t the normal squawks that seagulls emit while they’re casually flying overhead deciding whether to shit on you.  These were more urgent squeals that were easy to translate:  “Feed me!  Feed me!  Feed me!”

I glanced over to see the Seagull Lady seated on a big driftwood log holding a bread bag and surrounded by gulls.  She tossed handful after handful of bread to the greedy crew, who gobbled it up and screamed for more.

I had several thoughts in quick succession:

  1. “Aw, that nice little old lady must love gulls.  That would make a great photo, with her sitting on that big log backlit by the sun and surrounded by birds.”
  2. “Jeez, I’m glad that’s not my house right next to the parking lot.  Now I know why there are always dozens of squawking gulls and a river of birdshit on their roof.  I bet the homeowners would love to smack that nice little old lady.”
  3. “I wonder if that nice little old lady knows that bread is unhealthy for gulls and she’s not really doing them any favours?”

That’s when my brain took a hard left (as it frequently does) and kickstarted my urge to create stories of mayhem and betrayal.

My next thought was this:

“What if that little old lady actually hates gulls?  What if she’s purposely feeding them bread in the full knowledge that it will make them malnourished and less able to fend for themselves?  OMG, what if that little old lady is actually a twisted psychopath who intentionally inflicts suffering on all living things?  That would make an awesome storyline!”

…And that’s what it’s like to live inside my head.

So the next time you see a woman at the beach gazing across the waves and smiling, don’t assume she’s all zen-and-happy-meditation.  She might be devising evil plots…

*

P.S. I’m travelling, so I’ll catch up with comments later in the day.  “Talk” to you then!  🙂

Book 14 update:  I hit the 50% mark this week, hooray!  This is where the plot gets complicated…

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Keep Calm And Carry On

You know how you get organized at the beginning of each week so you can sail through the upcoming days happy and relaxed because everything is under control?

I hope I’m not the only one laughing helplessly right now.

What’s even funnier is that sometimes I actually delude myself into thinking I truly do have everything under control.  That’s when Fate lets out a derisive laugh and upends my plans with unexpected detours, unavoidable delays, and unmet expectations.

I just try to keep calm and carry on. (And sometimes I lie awake stewing for hours in the middle of the night because everybody knows that helps…)

Anyhow, it’s been one of those weeks.  Nothing bad has happened; but every time I’ve tried to get my shit together, it’s ended up hitting the fan.  So since putting together a coherent post is beyond my ability at the moment, here are the highlights of my week in pictures:

Remember how several months ago I was chuckling about the eccentricities of the locals when I saw a woman leading a goat across the Canadian Tire parking lot?  Well, that’s not the only oddball animal on the loose around here.  Last week I was driving through the middle of nowhere when I saw this:

Two peacocks, just hanging out in the middle of the woods. Go figure.

I’m used to seeing deer by the dozens around here, but peacocks were a new sight for me.  And speaking of deer, these cuties were taking their ease right in the middle of town:

Mom and babies weren’t worried even when I walked up about fifteen feet away.

The rest of Canada is already getting snow (yes, Calgary, I’m looking at you with heartfelt sympathy for yesterday’s sixteen inches – blech!), so we’re starting to feel the pressure to get some last-minute gardening done around here.  I’m making slow progress on our landscaping:

Only a few more tons of rock to move. To give you a sense of scale, the post at the far right is almost 5′ tall.

But around here autumn is just starting, and with gorgeous colours like these, I might reconsider my vendetta against the fall season.  Almost.  Kinda.  Maybe…

This golden gorgeousness is a katsura tree, which smells deliciously (and unbelievably) like caramel in the autumn. The beautiful bark behind it is a giant Douglas fir.

How was your week?

Book 14 update:  I managed to squeak into Chapter 20 this week despite the craziness.  Fingers crossed for a more productive upcoming week…

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Butt Of A Soak… Erm, ‘Joke’

Sometimes the mo(i)st unwelcome surprises in life sneak up from behind.

In arid Calgary where we used to live, rain is infrequent and everything dries fast afterward, so it’s difficult to inadvertently sit on something that will drench your drawers.  But here on Vancouver Island, it rains more, it rains longer, and everything stays wet even though it looks dry.

So when we moved out here, I adjusted my habits accordingly:  I always check outdoor surfaces before sitting down.  But (and it’s a wet butt) the West Coast has sneaky ways to soak my skivvies despite my precautions.

F’rinstance, there’s the rogue wave that caught me unawares while I was crouched in the shallows checking out the contents of a tide pool.  One minute I’m warm and dry and utterly absorbed in watching the little aquatic critters; and the next minute I get butt-slapped by icy ocean water.  (And immediately after that, I squelched rapidly back to my car hoping nobody would notice that I’d apparently peed my pants.)

But I learned that lesson fast; and after nearly two years out here, I was starting to feel pretty complacent about my ability to identify situations that might dampen my derrière.

That mossy log that feels dry to the touch?  Nope.  It’s dry on the surface, but moss holds water like a sponge.  It’s just waiting to humidify my haunches.

That chair placed welcomingly on the deck in the early-morning sunshine?  Nope again.  It’s covered by a thick but virtually invisible layer of dew.

So the other day I found a plastic Adirondack chair out in the sun on a fine afternoon.  It hadn’t rained for a day, but I swiped my hand across the seat just to be certain.  Dry.

I sank into the chair, stretching out my legs and admiring the sweeping mountain view over a vivid green golf course.  Birds sang and fluffy clouds drifted by in the blue sky.  Ahhhh.  Heaven.

I eased back to take advantage of the perfect reclining angle and discovered (butt-first, of course) that plastic Adirondack chairs retain a pool of rainwater in a deep groove right where the back meets the seat.  In this case, my seat.

So there I was, on my way to a birthday party in jeans with a big and highly-visible wet spot on the ass.  With, of course, no time to go home and change.

So the Wet Coast won again; but now I’ve figured out all its tricks – my butt won’t be its joke again!

(I hope…)

Book 14 update:  I made it to the middle of Chapter 19 this week against all odds (it was a very busy week).  Hoping for some quality writing time this week!

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Zucchini Wars

I was driving home a few days ago when I saw it lying sad and alone by the side of the road, gazing up at passersby like an abandoned puppy begging for a home:  a giant zucchini.

I didn’t stop.

One of the charming features of Vancouver Island is the honour-system market stands.  Lots of little farms offer eggs or produce at the end of their lane; and you can pull over, pick up what you want, and leave money according to the prices on their sign.  Free items are left out there with no payment requested or required.

So there was this giant zucchini beside the road.  Colossal:  A couple of feet long and about eight inches in diameter.  I’m guessing its growers spotted it making a play for world domination, recoiled in horror, and extracted the threat from their garden to carry it as far away from their property as they could manage.

Or who knows?  Maybe the zucchini didn’t even belong to that farm.  Maybe it had been dumped there by someone eager to be rid of it; or maybe it was intentionally deposited there as a subtle threat from some enemy.  Instead of a horse’s head in your bed, you get a mega-zucchini at the end of your lane.

Or maybe it got there under its own power.  Judging by the activity in my garden, it’s entirely possible that one mutant monster became sentient and was searching for the ideal spot to disgorge its seeds and begin a zucchini-terrorist cell intent on taking over every square inch of arable land.

Yes, actually, I am hip-deep in zucchini right now; why do you ask?

But I don’t mind.  I like fresh zucchini; and if I can’t eat it immediately I dehydrate it into chips that are compact and easy to store, and yummy all winter long in soups, stews, omelets, and even on homemade pizza.

As you read those words, I’m guessing that at least 50% of you are grimacing.  After extensive research involving alcoholic beverages with several sets of my friends, I have determined that all men (and some women) hate zucchini.

My dad hated zucchini.  My husband hates zucchini.  All my male friends hate zucchini; although actually, ‘hate’ is probably too strong a word.  “Meh” is more accurate.  After all, there’s nothing much to hate about it – as the guys tell me, “It doesn’t taste like anything, so why would you eat it?”

Well, okay, guys:  If you don’t want to eat it, how about racing it?  One of the small towns near us held zucchini races last weekend (the zucchini footage begins at 0:46 in the video).

’Cause why NOT take a huge malevolent vegetable intent on world domination, and give it wheels?  What could possibly go wrong?!?

Zucchini:  Love it or hate it?  Take my very scientific poll!  (You can choose as many answers as you want.)

Book 14 update:  Chapter 12 is well under way, and I’m chuckling while I write Daniel’s dialog – you can always depend on kids to say the things that adults won’t!

Zucchini Poll Update:  New answers now coming in!

Zucchini is:
– Take it or leave it. Choco zuke cake! Yum.
– What will replace cryptocurrency in 2045
– Local produce
– Part of the deep state
– Great battered and fried crispy
– Makes the best chocolate cake!

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Rainbows and Seascapes

I took a mini-vacation last week (three whole days, woohoo!), so you’re getting photos instead of my usual essay.  Here’s a happy beach scene to set the mood:

This paradise is only 15 minutes away from our house.

 

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we experienced the lowest tide we’re likely to see for a while, with water levels actually below the mean sea level.  Hubby and I went exploring and discovered tidal pools teeming with fascinating critters.

This pool was only four or five feet across, but the longer we looked, the more we saw.  The big purple starfishes clinging to the rock were almost invisible in the shadows (gotta love light-adjusting cameras).  There were two larger crabs (below and left of the starfish) and dozens of tiny ones; and there’s actually a brown starfish in there, too.  The barnacles are farther left again, and we got to see one of them extend and retract a spindly spider-like leg from its white shell glued to the rock.

Tidal pool with purple starfish, crabs, barnacles, baby sculpins, and host of other unidentified marine life zipping around.

 

It’s been hot (36C/97F) for the past few days, and I know you tropical folks are chuckling because that would just be a pleasant little cool spell where you live.  But earlier in the week we had some lovely rain, and our house was at the end of a double rainbow:

Time to start digging in the basement – there’s gotta be a pot of gold in there somewhere!

 

And in other news, I finally managed to complete a watercolour painting that didn’t make me want to hurl and/or creep away in shame.  Hooray!  I’ve got a long way to go yet, but at least I feel as though I’m making progress.

It’s no masterpiece, but at least it’s identifiable…

 

And, one more thing:

I’m thinking about making changes to my blogging schedule and/or the length and content of my posts.  The usual 500-word posts take me 4 – 6 hours each week to write and edit.  (I usually edit each one about 25 times.  Yes, I admit I may have slight issues with perfectionism.)  I love interacting with everybody regularly; and I’d like to free up more time to work on Book 14.

So… hmm.  What to do?  Please help me decide by voting in the poll below, and if you have any other suggestions, please drop them in the comments.

Thanks for weighing in!

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Our Excellent Adventure

You know how some people have epic adventures cycling through Peru at nosebleed-inducing altitudes, hanging off mountain peaks, or braving primitive conditions in countries most people have never even heard of?  (Sue Slaght, I’m looking at you.)

That’s not us.  Although I love reading about Sue and Dave’s escapades from the safety and comfort of my armchair, Hubby and I prefer our adventures closer to home and with less potential for personal injury.

You’d think that would make for comfortably predictable trips; but sadly, that’s not the case.  I’ve been marooned on an island, robbed twice, and lost in the wilderness with shotgun-toting locals closing in; and that’s all within the province of British Columbia.  I won’t even get into our hotel disasters involving hookers, cows, rappelling nudists, and sticky dick prints.

Granted, none of the above episodes were as dangerous as they sound.  The island stranding was just a mistimed ferry launch (although I still blame Hubby, since he was the one who drove onto the ferry without me).  The robberies were from our vehicle; so despite the annoyance of losing tools, an expensive camera, and a dozen bottles of wine (that really hurt), there was no personal risk involved.

The lost-in-the-wilderness experience wasn’t overtly life-threatening either, although there were some tense moments:

According to our explorer’s map, there’s a teeny-tiny back road between the Okanagan Valley and Kelowna.  So we tried it.  (And Hubby still blames me for our failure, since I was navigating and we ended up on the wrong mountain.  A good marriage is all about give and take:  Give blame and take credit.)

Anyhow…

We drove… and drove.  The road got steeper and narrower and gradually degenerated from gravel to  largish rocks.  Tall trees crowded us on both sides.

We drove some more.  Slowly; since it seemed like a good idea to keep the wheels attached to the vehicle.

A half-ton roared up behind us and dogged our bumper, so we pulled over in a slightly wider part of the road to let him pass.  He gave us a hostile glare as he went by, and we both swallowed hard at the sight of the shotgun hanging in his back window.

Then we realized that the road was widening at semi-regular intervals, allowing access to clearings displaying strikingly, um… verdant… foliage.  That’s when we abandoned the attempt and retraced our route to the main highway, having no desire to get shot by some nutjob guarding his marijuana plantation.

So you can imagine our trepidation this weekend when we decided to search out Rhododendron Lake, a tiny body of water that boasts a rare stand of wild rhododendrons (R. macrophyllum).  The only access is by private logging road; and you’re only allowed in on the few days when the logging company isn’t blasting.  I was really hoping I’d gotten the navigation right this time.

Fortunately I did.  Despite a rough road that brought back worrisome memories, our trip was free from firearms, explosives, or questionable flora.  The lake was a placid silvery pool, and although we met people coming and going on the short hike, we had the whole lake to ourselves while we were there.  And the rhodos were in full bloom – spectacular!

And best of all, we were home in time for dinner.  Now that’s my kind of adventure!

Rhododendrons growing wild in the woods.

 

It’s hard to believe they’re wild!

 

More rhodos all through the woods.

 

Rhododendron Lake

 

Rhododendron Lake is only about 10 km off the main highway between Parksville and Nanaimo; but it’s a slow drive on a rough road. (Click on map to enlarge.)

P.S. Book 13,  “Once Burned, Twice Spy” has finally made it safely through the release process and is available from all retailers, hooray!  I’ll be starting Book 14 soon, so stay tuned to the Books page for progress reports.  🙂

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Getting Stoned

It’s a standing joke that residents of British Columbia are more or less permanently blissed out on the marijuana that reputedly flourishes here.  But since Hubby and I aren’t into ‘herbal’ remedies, we never guessed that we’d end up getting stoned.

Sadly, it wasn’t as pleasant as we had hoped.  We didn’t realize it would involve actual stones.

I’ve mentioned before that our yard is basically a gravel pit:  The rocks range from the size of a breadbox down to pebbles, and it’s all so tightly interlocked that the only way to “dig” is by scraping the surface with a hoe so the larger rocks can be hooked out and tossed aside.  A shovel won’t travel more than half an inch without stopping dead.

So with that in mind, consider this:  We have a rototiller.

It’s an ancient Honda that we bought second-hand years ago.  The original owner assured us that it was only a few years old, and we didn’t discover that he’d lied through his teeth until we attempted repairs for the first time.

The Honda turned out to be much older than advertised; but other than the difficulty of finding drive belts in a size that’s no longer manufactured, that turned out to be a good thing.  Unlike today’s flimsy machines, this one’s mechanical parts were made to last forever.  It has gotten uglier as superfluous parts rust and/or fall off, but it still works.  Hard.

That tiller has chewed through everything from prairie sod to half-rotted stumps to our current rock collection, aided by the fact that Hubby replaced the worn-out 8 HP engine with a 13 HP model a couple of years ago.  The clutch doesn’t work anymore but it’s still possible to engage and disengage the drive wheels and tines with a lever, so it’s all good.

Or, to be more precise, it’s grossly over-powered and positively lethal in rocky soil.

The first time Hubby attempted to till our newly-created veggie garden last year, he came indoors looking as though he’d received a persuasive visit from Guido and Luigi with their baseball bats.  His shins were black and blue where they weren’t oozing red.  Turns out those heavy-duty tines can unearth rocks larger than softballs and hurl them with such force that they crash right through the protective shroud and into whatever is immediately behind the tiller… AKA the operator’s legs.

Hubby’s a quick learner:  Now he wears knee-high neoprene boots with kneepads and shin guards strapped over top.  I wandered over to the garden a few days ago as he was girding his shins for battle.  He looked up, spotted me about ten feet away, and said, “You’d better stand back.”

When he started tilling, it was like those science-fiction movies where giant malevolent critters attack from below the earth’s surface.  The tiller bucked and kicked and actually took air once or twice while rocks and sticks flew everywhere, accompanied by a deafening clatter.  At one point a rock the size of my head bounced out from behind the machine, but fortunately it was too heavy to fly very far.

So all in all, this ‘getting stoned’ thing has turned out to be a more, um… energetic process than we’d anticipated.

Are we having fun yet…?

The Beast. (That’s our tilled garden in the middleground; with the original “soil” in the background still waiting to be attacked. Or to attack us.)

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It’s A Sport

When we made the decision to move to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, we psyched ourselves up for big changes:  rain and gloom in the winter; exorbitantly priced government-administered auto insurance; and laid-back ‘Island Time’ instead of Calgary’s relentless work-hard-play-hard drive.

And speaking of ‘drive’…

Even before we moved, I had an inkling that driving might be, um… different here.  If I was travelling 110 km/hr in Alberta and a vehicle passed me as though I was standing still, I knew it would be either a white Alberta half-ton (for some reason white Alberta half-tons always speed) or a vehicle with BC plates.  And when we went on a holiday a few years ago in the BC interior, we discovered that if we weren’t driving 30 km/hr over the speed limit we were obstructing traffic.

So, fine.  I moved here believing that BC drivers are speed demons.

But they’re not.  They’re just totally nuts.

BC drivers are oblivious to speed limits.  They may travel at 30 km/hr over the posted limit, but they’re equally likely to dip 30 km/hr under the limit for no apparent reason.  And they don’t choose a speed and drive it consistently.  Oh, hell no; that would be boring.  A vehicle pottering along at 80 km/hr in a 120 zone will probably whoosh past doing 140 only a few minutes later.

And passing is a competitive sport here – a slow-moving vehicle is only a fiendish ruse.  The driver toodles along until I signal a lane change and pull up alongside his vehicle, and then he accelerates to match my speed.  And accelerates.  And accelerates some more, until we’re hurtling along side by side much faster than I wanted to go.

When I capitulate and pull in behind him he immediately slows well below the posted limit, all ready to play again when I make another attempt to pass.

If somebody did that on the prairies, I’d know they were purposely messing with me.  But here, the driver just smiles vacantly through the windshield as though he doesn’t have a clue I’m even there.  Hell, he probably doesn’t.  He’s floating along in a happy cannabis-tinted world of his own making.

It’s a testament to the idiocy out here that I drove Calgary’s Deerfoot Trail this December with a sigh of relief.  The Deerfoot is a freeway that cuts through the middle of the city, varying from six to twelve lanes wide and featuring bumper-to-bumper traffic weaving in and out at 100 km/hr.  And I turned to Hubby and said, “Should I be concerned that I’m finding this a relaxing and pleasantly predictable drive?”

But that doesn’t mean I want to move back to Calgary.  Oh hell NO.  The 800+ bulbs I planted last fall are already poking their noses out of the ground, our heather is in bloom, and our baby rhododendrons have fat promising buds.  Spring is just around the corner here, and for that I’m willing to hone my defensive-driving skills.  Like the rest of the BC drivers, I’ll just consider it a sport.

As long as it doesn’t become a full-contact sport, everything will be fine…

P.S. I’m risking my life and sanity doing a road trip today, so I’ll check in this afternoon.  ‘Talk’ to you then!

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The Four-Letter S-Word

The four-letter S-word:  Snow.  Yep, that’s an expletive around here.

Growing up on the Canadian prairies, snow and bitter winter cold were simple facts of life.  We dressed appropriately and respected the danger; but unless the temperature sank to -40 we carried on.

When I was in my twenties I moved to Calgary, Alberta, and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  There was still cold winter weather, but it was regularly punctuated with chinook thaws where the temperature rose above freezing.

But…

Years ago my dad and step-mom used to spend the winter in Victoria, BC.  I visited them frequently, and it never snowed.

Later, Hubby and I came to central Vancouver Island once or twice a year for ten years or so.  We visited in all the “winter” months, and it never snowed.  (Okay, once we saw about an inch, but it melted the next day.)

So after thirty years in Calgary we decided to move to Vancouver Island where ‘it never snows’.

Yeah, right.  We got suckered.

Last winter was the coldest and snowiest on record.  We had about two feet of snow on our yard, and it stayed for a couple of months.

But, hey, that was an anomaly, right?

*snort*

Guess what happened last week?

Yep, about ten inches of sh-… I mean, snow.

Vancouver Island doesn’t deal well with snow, and often the power goes out when the weather is bad.

Fortunately, we knew this.  We’ve wired our house so we can switch over to generator power if necessary.  And it was necessary:  we lost power four times, for several hours each time.

When I was a teenager, our prairie farm was hit by a three-day-long blizzard.  The power went off the first day and was finally restored five days later.  The roads were impassable.  If we hadn’t been prepared, everything in our house would have frozen, including us.

So last week when the snow came down and the lights went out, my brain flipped into DEFCON 1:  “AWOOGA!  AWOOGA!  EXTREME HAZARD!  ALL HANDS ON DECK!”

I scurried around lighting candles, dragging out my big goose down duvet, and helping Hubby get the generator deployed; all the while knowing that WE WILL DIE IF THE GENERATOR QUITS!  What if we run out of gas?  We don’t have our wood-burning backup furnace installed yet, OMIGOD WE’RE GONNA DIE!

Um, no.

The temperature was barely below freezing.  There was no wind.  And even if the roads had been impassable and we had no heat source at all, our neighbours’ place is less than a quarter-mile away.  If we had actually managed to die, it would have been from sheer stupidity.

So maybe eventually I’ll get over my knee-jerk panic over winter power outages; but that sh-… um, snow… is still sticking around.  And it’s barely November.

We’ve been had.

*

P.S.  To be considered a true Islander I have to complain about the snow, but I’m secretly enjoying the pretty white sparkles.  This is the best of both worlds:  I can enjoy the snowscape in my yard, and if I need a break I can drive ten minutes to the coast where the grass is (usually) green and the ocean waves keep rolling in.  Paradise!  🙂

P.P.S Just because I needed a bit more stress in my life, my web host has gone belly-up, taking all my websites and email addresses with it.  If you’ve tried to email me, I apologize – your email has probably vanished into cyberspace.  I hope to be back in action with a new host by tomorrow.  Watch this space for updates…

Update:  I think (hope) everything’s working again… *fingers crossed*

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