Spring Flood

 

I live on an island! Well actually, I didn’t win a lottery and go out and buy a tropical island. The great spring thaw happened and MADE my house appear to be on an island surrounded by water! Last week, we had two feet of snow on the ground and even more if you add the 3+ feet drifts in some spots. Then the temperatures began to rise above zero celsius (32F) ……… way above normal. And within 2 days, most of the snow has melted! That translates into flooding. Everywhere. Our area has been issued a Flood Warning (ya, no kidding). Snow pack from forests, ice on rivers, and rainfall have combined together to suddenly create flooding in Eastern Canada. It’s not just in my area – many places are under Flood Warnings as rivers, creeks, and lakes overflow their banks. Here, the river ‘bank’ is now 30 feet from my house instead of 200+ feet. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. The weather forecast is for heavy rains for the next few days. We have been warned (again) to brace for further flooding and prepare for the worse.  This is worse than the 2nd Hundred Year Flood in 2008.

April 12, 2014 Backyard Flood

April 12, 2014 Backyard Flood

Yesterday was quite calm and the water looked like glass. By the middle of the day, I could see the still-frozen ice on the river begin to move away from the shoreline. A pair of Mallard Ducks were swimming in backyard and a Great Blue Heron stood guard on top of the dock. My grown kids decided to go canoeing after the long (way too long) winter of frozen river. Thankfully, they didn’t have to walk down to the beach to retrieve the canoe because Taylor dragged it up almost to the house last fall. They only had to use a use a shovel as a paddle to get to the shed down by the water, where the paddles were stored (note to self: bring a paddle up to the garage next fall). Marty and Jeanette paddled down to Private Prop which was a lake in itself. The even watched a beaver playfully swimming on the grass, a.k.a. flooded field. The cement picnic tables were almost under water too. They enjoyed a unique paddle through the surrounding forest where Marty was able to photograph amazing orange ‘fungi’ seemingly ‘growing’ on the ice. Later after supper, Marty and Taylor canoed from the house down through the yard (watch it here) and out to the swamp towards the bridge. They saw several beavers, including the largest beaver Taylor has ever seen. One beaver swam right in front of the canoe so they got a real close encounter.

Taylor and Marty canoeing in our backyard

Taylor and Marty canoeing in our backyard

I waded down to the shed in my rubber boots, choosing the path that I knew was the highest in the yard. I wanted to check my lawn tractor and lawn mowers. Predictably, they were in about 4 inches of water. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my cell phone with me because I didn’t want to ruin it if I fell in the water and got a soaker. So I couldn’t call one of my kids up at the house to come help me. I managed to find the hydraulic lift, which was under water, and crank up the front of the lawn tractor to put something underneath to raise it a couple of inches. However, the mower deck was still under water on one side. Then I turned a couple of buckets upside-down and popped a wheelie with the push mowers and got them up on top and out of the water.
Today it’s much more threatening-looking. We had rain overnight. The wind has changed directions and the water, large ice chunks, and debris are now being blown in our direction right up on to the yard (we’ll see if anything interesting floats in like other peoples docks, which happened once, or even a boat – happened too). I can watch the chunky ice float slowly, almost frame-by-frame, down the river towards the city of Ottawa where it will empty into the Ottawa River which will empty into the St. Lawrence River.

Taylor canoeing up his bike

Taylor canoeing up his bike

Now here’s the kicker: the forecast is for heavy rains, even thunderstorms today and tomorrow. The prediction is that the humidex will make it feel like the high 20sC (80sF) but then on Tuesday, a cold front is slated to move in and it will feel like -10C (14F), yes that’s minus 10 celsius. Bizarre. Gee, I wonder if we’ll be able to skate instead of canoe in our yard this week??

In a few short weeks, it will look like this:

My 'Lake of Shining Waters' , Rideau River

The Sides of my Fridge

The outside of my fridge is an anthology of the life that I’ve lived and the people who’ve lived it with me. The actual surface is barely visible under all the artwork, notes, fridge magnets, and other memorabilia. Almost all three sides are visible ….. and completely covered. To me, it’s a tribute …… recognition of accomplishments or places we’ve visited.

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The front side is reserved for a special tribute to our beloved Chris. Front and centre is one of my favourite pictures of Nellie and Melvin with their Daddy on the beach in New Carlisle, Quebec. Anchoring the bottom of the freezer door are fridge magnets from the many places we’ve visited like Comox Valley, B.C.; Niagara Falls; Vancouver Aquarium; Montreal’s Biodome, Calgary; Tadousssac, Quebec; Pacific Rim National Park, B.C.; Bonaventure’s BioPark; and of course Perce Rock, Gaspesie, Quebec. Every time I go to the fridge, I am reminded of these happy times with my family from coast to coast. In the top corner, I can always find our ‘burn permit number’ magnet when we need to phone it in at the start of an outdoor fire, just to keep the fire department aware of deliberate fires. And beside it is a magnet with Emergency CPR instructions. I hope we don’t ever need that…..

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One side of my fridge has the oldest collection of artwork. There you will find a diagram of DNA and RNA that my oldest son Robin drew for his younger brother Marty about 15 years ago to explain how it all worked. There is also a chemistry Periodic Table which has been in the top left corner of several fridges for many, many years. It’s always handy to have this reference just in case you ever need the symbol for any of the elements ;). A wee note from my grown daughter Kristi, drawn when she was about 5 years old is held by a fridge magnet for our veterinary office. There’s a thank you letter from Marty and Jeanette after I mailed them their tent to British Columbia. And a computer printed picture of my son Taylor wake-boarding on the river. I like the fridge magnet with a picture of the Emerald Ash Borer – this insect is devastating the ash trees around here so it’s handy to have a visual reference in case I see one.  Near the bottom, there’s also a sketch of the relationship between gamma rays, x-rays, microwaves, UV rays, and radio waves and colours that looks like it was drawn by Marty a long time ago.

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The far side of the fridge is the most open and eclectic collection in the entire house. There’s the large Mother’s Day ‘memo’ board made by Melvin when he was 5 years old. And my granddaughter Olivia’s artwork including a googly-eye star and a colourful thanksgiving turkey. More fridge magnets of ‘how safe is the ice?’ or Telehealth phone number. Granddaughter Kalia’s baby and toddler pictures – she’s 10 years old now. Sometimes I have to rearrange things as they get knocked off when someone brushes by.

All in all, I love these moments in time that are displayed on the sides of my fridge.

Enough Winter!!

 

This is what I woke up to this morning……….. again…. -32C (-26F)! This has been going on for weeks …… and weeks and ……… and weeks and, quite frankly, I’m sick of it!

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I realize that winter isn’t officially over for another 2 weeks but it unofficially began halfway through autumn! We’ve had snow storm after winter snow storm since the end of October. Temperatures well below normal have persisted for weeks and weeks. Our normal high should be just above 0 degrees celsius (32F) and overnight lows around -8C (17.6F)  so you can understand my frustration. Yesterday it warmed up to -15C (5F). Big whoopee :(
We did have a few short days of ‘warmer’ weather (a.k.a. zero degrees C/32F) and the snow slid off the solar panels back in January, but we usually have a ‘January thaw’ for a bit longer. I’ve been waiting for a warmer day to clean out my wood cookstove. It has to be just above zero degrees for me to let the stove go out completely to enable me to empty the ash bucket and clean the soot off inside around the oven. Well, that hasn’t happened yet.

cookstove
I’m beginning to believe that I need a winter vacation – not a trip somewhere south where it is warmer (well, okay maybe that would be nice) but just a break from this brutal cold and bringing in firewood every day and a cold car that doesn’t warm up until I’m already in town. I’m grateful that the sun is much stronger now and actually feels warm on your face ……. and that my solar hot water panels are producing plenty of hot water …… and that I still have lots of firewood …… and that my hip/thigh is healing (thanks to my Chiropractor) so I’m not in as much pain when I carry my firewood into the house.
The only one who seems to be enjoying these extremely cold, snowy days is my 14 year old puppy dog Yukon. He can’t wait to get outside every morning to roll in the snow and often lay there in the sun – the colder the better for him.

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There is still 2 feet of snow in my yard with drifts of 4 feet. Unless it melts somewhat, I won’t be able to read the hydro meter on the other side of the house this month because the snow is almost impossible to walk in as it’s up the full length of my legs. Hard crusty, snow.
A couple of years ago at this time, I wrote about how I was tired of winter even though it had been mild with less snow. Is it just ‘cabin fever’? Or is it just the weather (another blog post)?
Yup, I’m ready for spring.

 

 

 

Tribute to Chris

On this day six years ago, Sunday March 2nd, 2008, our beloved Chris passed from this world.  This year, my tribute to Chris is in the form of photos over the years.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so please enjoy:

Our backyard wedding

Our backyard wedding

“I do” – our backyard wedding with friends and family.

vacation

vacation

Holidays at Perce Rock, Gaspe Quebec.

Newborn Nellie

Newborn Nellie

Chris was a gentle, loving soul.

Building the playhouse

Building the playhouse

Chris was able to build or fix anything.

Waterskiing in April

Water skiing in April

He was always happy to fulfill dreams like taking Robin water skiing as soon as the ice melted on the river in April…….. brrrr.

Teaching Melvin to skate

Teaching Melvin to skate

He had tons of patience.  He worked hard to make a skating rink on the river for everyone to enjoy.

Building our Garage

Building our Garage

Chris was always eager to teach the kids to build or renovate.

Playing pool in Garage

Playing pool in Garage

He even finished our garage into a play room for Saturday night hockey, pool, darts, and cards.

Chris and Kristi

Chris and Kristi

Even though he was big and strong, he never dismissed affection.

Collecting shells

Collecting shells

He would spend hours and hours doing the simple things like collecting shells and beach glass on long walks along the beach down home.

Fancy Restaurant

Fancy Restaurant

Always fun

Underwater

Underwater

and playful

"Santa"

“Santa”

and giving.

Grampie with Kalia & Livi

Grampie with Kalia & Livi

And he was proud to be a Grampie.

Chris and Yukon

Chris and Yukon

Chris loved his dog – the only one he ever had.

Chris

Chris

We will always remember Chris

Olympics on Hi-Definition TV

 

I’ve been enjoying watching the Olympics for the past few weeks on television. The experience is magnified by watching them in hi-definition. What is this you ask? It’s brighter, clearer, and easier on my eyes than watching it via regular satellite TV.

Olympic Gold Medal Canadian Men's Hockey Team

Olympic Gold Medal Canadian Men’s Hockey Team

Over a year ago, my son Taylor bought me a new, modern, flat screen LCD television. This 42″ TV has many modern capabilities including a USB port where we can insert a USB stick or hook up a computer and watch movies or TV shows or look at our photos on the big screen. You see, a few years ago, the ‘industry’ changed the way they delivered ‘over-the-air’ television (ie. the old fashion way received via a home antenna) from analog to digital. This was to accomodate the growing cellular network. What this meant was that an older TV (ie non-flat screen) could no longer pick up airwaves with an antenna. Homeowners had to buy a converter box to change the digital signals back to analog if they wanted to watch programs on their old televisions. However, this change also meant that the new TVs could pick up bright, crisp, clear digital hi-definition signals with their antennas.
Well at our house, we switched to satellite TV a dozen years ago and took down our antenna. But last summer, my son Darin created a homemade antenna from a 2 foot piece of 2×4 wood and 8 coat hangers. The intent was to just try it out and see if we could bring in the digital signal to my new television.

Home made antenna

Home made antenna

It works like a charm! We already had the necessary extra pieces of RG6 cable and ‘video A-B switch’ stored away in the garage. For now, I just prop my antenna in front of the window. So when we want to watch TV (ie hockey games) on stations that we can get the digital signal, I just have to switch from A to B, change the channel to whatever station I want to watch, and my TV ‘magically’ changes into bright, beautiful, and crisp digital hi-definition without the expense of paying my satellite provider for a hi-def receiver and programming! Awesome eh!?

Video A-B Switch

Video A-B Switch

Many satellite/cable stations are owned by their providers (ie Shaw) so I can only access some programming via satellite or computer (via their website).
I’m very happy to have the choice with my new home made antenna.

 

 

 

 

Train Trip

 

I love taking the train. Today, I packed my lunch and left my humble abode to take the train to visit my sister Faye. I left a couple of my adult children to keep the ‘home fires burning’ and look after the animals.

Lunch packed and ready to go!

Lunch packed and ready to go!

 

I signed up for Viarail Canada email sale alerts and earlier last month, I received an offer too good to turn down: $25.00 fare each way from Ottawa to Toronto! I couldn’t even drive half that far for 25 bucks! So after making sure my son Darin could drive me to the train station in the city and confirming that my sister would be home (not that I expected her to be away during hockey season!), I booked my return ticket on the train. The usual fare would have been about $170 return so I knew I was getting a real bargain. So for an unbelievable total of $ 67.25, I’m travelling to Hamilton and back. Viarail in Canada always has a sale on: every Tuesday, the unsold seats for the upcoming week are discounted severely (‘Express Deals’). It’s a great deal if you can be flexible with your travel times.

This morning when the train arrived at the station, the conductor called everyone to the business class cars because “there’s lots of room here! Come on!”. So I gladly stepped aboard. The seats are larger in Business class than they are in Economy too and the windows even have curtains on them. New bright, clean seats. Overhead storage compartments. Plugs. Big, tinted windows. What’s not to like? Add free WiFi and I’m golden!

Speeding by snow covered fields

Speeding by snow covered fields

The train is the way to go. It’s ‘carbon friendly’ since it transports more people in a equitable fashion. And I can sit here writing this blog taking the time to look out the window as I type. On a train, you get to see all the out-of-the-way places that no roads lead to: back fields of farms, swamps with dead trees sticking out, parts of a city that you’d never venture to, Canadian Sheild rock cuts that barely fit the train…..
The gently rocking as the train speeds along the tracks almost lulls me to sleep. This particular train that I’m on today is an express train of sorts. It slows down in towns and cities but only makes stops at a few train stations along the way, shaving about 40 minutes off the trip. We passed the Brockville train station and it brought back some memories of the times when my niece Brodie and nephew Curtis used to take the train up to visit us. We’d pick them up in Brockville then take all 7 or 8 kids to Shepard’s Bait and Tackle, right beside the train station. It was a highlight for the kids to buy a few lures and watch the live bait in the large tubs. Mr. Shepard has retired and sadly the store is no longer there……

Brockville Train Station

Brockville Train Station

When I get to Toronto, I’ll purchase a ‘GoTrain’ ticket to complete my destination to Hamilton – I’ll even get the seniors rate this time too! lol. From the efficient and comfortable commuter train, I’ll pass right by some of Toronto’s famous landmarks: The CN Tower, The Air Canada Centre, and the Skydome! I love the train.

Passing the CN Tower and Skydome

Passing the CN Tower and Skydome

Wandering North

 

Today I am compelled to share an amazing video, Wandering North, filmed and edited by someone very near and dear to my heart: my son Marty. It’s about his and Jeanette’s Alaska, U.S.A. and Yukon, Canada road trip last summer. Earlier in 2013, they decided that they wanted to go on this adventure, so they worked hard and saved money, planned the trip, bought a car and finally quit their jobs and gave up their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. They spent months driving north to the Arctic Ocean, hiking in Denali National Park in Alaska, then slowly making their way eastward, exploring further, until they arrived here at home in Ontario. They are true modern day explorers. They have also travelled around India, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, as well as the west coast of North America.
I need to share this with my worldwide blog readers because you may never get the opportunity to see such an incredible place with your own eyes. I commented to Marty about his latest video: “Thank for sharing your adventure and taking me along for the ride……….from small, alpine plants to gigantic, towering mountains……stunted pines and craggy hillsides……..from lakes to valleys to inside glaciers….in blazing sunshine and wicked winds……..seeing wild bison and mountain goats………..cooking on an open fire in the middle of somewhere……….. All from the breathtaking view along the Alaska Highway. Thank you. “

Wandering North http://vimeo.com/85203523
Here are some photos from their northern adventure (for more photos visit here):

Brooks Range from the tundra, Alaska

Brooks Range from the tundra, Alaska 

Dalton Highway, north of Fairbanks, Alaska - 666 kms (444 miles) gravel road to Deadhorse at the Arctic Ocean

Dalton Highway, north of Fairbanks, Alaska – 666 kms (444 miles) gravel road to Deadhorse at the Arctic Ocean

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Harding Ice Field, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Inside a glacier at Harding Ice Field, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

 

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