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Friday, January 28, 2011

Update on the Storm

Well, the storm came and it was declared a snow day - hallelujah! (I mean that MOST reverently.)  Ron and I spent 2 hours outside trying to rescue the GM from the snow drifts that grew faster than we could shovel.  (Keep in mind the 70 kmh wind gusts and pelting snow...good times.)  We were forced to cover the snow blower as best we could and abandon it to mother nature.  It snowed all day and through the night and by morning you could just see the top of the Green Monster, covered in plastic and surrounded by drifts, like a cherry in a whip cream dollop.  The driveway was thigh deep in drifts and we had to call in reinforcements to plow us out.  (Thank you Cory!)  Ron and I waded through the snow, so that one of my co-workers could pick me up and take me to work.  Ron, sweet man that he is, went first to make it easier for me to get through - my own personal snow plow - no rude comments please.  (See the picture in our previous post showing how long the driveway actually is...)

I'm saddened to report that we did have a casualty...our mail's presumably somewhere out in the farmer's field having been murdered by one of the region's industrial size snow plows...we aren't sure whether there was any mail in it or not.

That being said (a favourite phrase of mine, I'm coming to learn), the GM is out of the drift, the car has been up and down the drive and we've refilled the food coffers for yet another week.

On a brighter note, we found out what those fat little birds are...the gaggle that hangs out in the fir trees...apparently they're Hungarian Partridge.  (I don't know if they eat schnitzel or drink beer, but they do waddle like those Eastern European stacking dolls (or Weebles - if you think it a better reference point). 

I mean, they're pretty darn cute and so fat that they fall through the snow crust and have to try and hop out of the dent they make...I keep worrying that one might find a partridge sized crevasse and then where will the little fellow be?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Low-down on the Low-down Temperatures.

I have to say that I've never anticipated weighing in on what temperatures are acceptably cold and what is completely unacceptable, but we've hit a cold snap here in beautiful little PEI and I can't help but consider the finer nuances of the thermometer readings.  Here are my findings so far:

Minus 16C with a wind chill of -21C is acceptable if dressed appropriately.  (The key is having wind breaking articles of clothing.)  Minus 21C with no wind is quite lovely...sure you have to cover up your cheeks every once in a while, but when the sun is shining and you're out and about, you can still enjoy being outside.  Minus 21C with a wind chill of -34 is much less acceptable.  Your eyes water, your skin feels immediately cold and the wind cuts through any quasi-respectable west coast winter clothing.  (I did NOT wear my snow pants today...)  The car is reluctant to start (really...can you blame it?) and the GM just refuses to turn over and fire up.  (What will we do if it snows???)

Long and (not) Winding Road

-21 Degree Fashion...brrrrr.

No Worries About the Cold for these Fat Fellows!

We've been assured by some local folks that January is usually the worst of it and even the Island people are grumbling about the cold - saying that it's not all that usual.  (Thank heavens!)  That being said, the sun is shining and the weather network is predicting an increase in the temperature (all the way up to -16C)!  They're even calling for plus 4 and rain on Thursday - I withhold any judgement as in a few days they'll likely change the forecast.  (I'll take the minus 16 and sunshine any day.) 

Well at least half of the house was warm...the other half dropped down to 10C due to the strong winds and our lack of foresight in keeping the heat going through the night.  (Newbie mistake, not to be repeated.)

A few days later...
We're all warm again and the house is temperate, despite another Nor'easter coming through tomorrow bringing a dump of snow (25cm or so).  Can you say "snow day"?  Not to worry, though, the GM is working on all cylinders and ready to plow.  I wouldn't mind sitting at home, reading a good book and drinking a nice cup of tea.  We'll let you know how we make out.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow Surprising!

We had our very first major snow storm warning.  The front snuck up from Cape Cod (darn you manifest destiny!) and left a frozen deluge (if that's possible) of whiteness.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves (with only minor explanation):

The top of the ridges is about shoulder height

Path to the outbuilding
Now I have to explain a couple of things.  The path down to the shed/out building is on a bit of a slope, which the snow blower isn't all that great on if it has to clear snow, so Ron and I started digging our way from where we park the car (to the left of the 2nd photo) down to the building at the back of our property at 7am.  There were two fairly sizable drifts about 3 and 3.5 feet deep.  Having successfully cleared the way for the GM (Green Monster) Ron proceeded to clear the driveway, that was a 9am - yes, we shovelled for 2 hours.  I left the house at 11am as work was delayed in opening - due to weather, if you can imagine!  I called Ron at 1:30 he'd just taken a lunch break and was heading back out to tackle the last stretch of driveway which was a 50 foot stretch of 3 foot deep drift.  He wrapped up at 4:20.  And we were worried about getting any exercise!

You may wonder why there aren't any pictures of Ron's monumental success.  (Cue the "Rocky" theme.)  I just wasn't prepared to walk all the way down the drive (having done so that morning BEFORE the drifts were cleared) to take'll just have to use your imagination.

All that being said, the snow is perfect for making snowmen, if we only had the energy!  The power kept flickering off and on all night, which is very disruptive for my sleep!  Thank heaven's they're only calling for a few centimetres of snow overnight, so we're feeling quite confident that it won't be an all day event tomorrow, at least if there isn't too much wind.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly & a Mouse

As you can see, I'm not beneath stealing a perfectly good movie title to jazz up my blog. 

First things first: welcome Scott & Linda, new followers of the blog! I want to send out a BIG thank you to Lucinda and Gilles (our fellow BC expats).  Having heard our trials with the mice invasion, Lucy very kindly sent me the cutest little mouse (I call the mouse Mrs. Jingles - ode to the "Green Mile" and her little bell nose), made with her own two hands (Lucinda's - not the mouse's she could hardly create herself):

Lucinda and Gilles headed out East before we did and they have a very nice little blog going about their new life.  Lucy has a great eye so her photos are quite stunning.  Anyway, on with the rest of our blog:

It's always hard for me, going back to work after the Christmas holidays.  Usually there are no long weekends until Easter, so it seems like a long stretch.  Well, here in PEI, there's a February holiday (the 3rd Monday) so I get a bit of a long weekend there, which is great, as Easter is quite late this year.  This is a good thing, as I had a bit of a rough go at work last week as I feel a bit like a wall flower - there but not terribly useful, but a rousing email from Janette ( boss from branch 1) has made it all better.  Thank God for friends, they do help to keep me sane, not that Ron doesn't help, but I always assume he's biased in my favour.  (I guess that segment takes care of the "Ugly" portion of my title.)

The bad consists of a dead battery in the John Deere, so Ron had to manually shovel out the drifts so I could get to work.  I couldn't help, as the snow was blowing like a banshee and I wanted to have a least a bit of make-up left on my face once I got to work & I was in my business attire as well.  (Yes, I'll admit that that's a pretty darn convenient excuse.)

Blue Jay at the front door - Avon rep or no, you decide

Fuzzy pic of a little dove on the back porch.

The fir tree gang aka Partridge Family
The "Good" consists of a recharged battery, another snow fall.  (It's so's hard to describe.)  It's quite warm, hovering around minus one in the day, so it's very pleasant to go for a stroll in the falling snow (at least when the wind is fairly calm.)  We also seem to be "THE" place in the neighbourhood for birds.  We have a little gang of Blue Jays  (I'm sure there's a proper term for a collection of Jays, but I'm too lazy to look it up), some rather beautiful brown doves and of course, the Partridge Family.  (Not to neglect Heathcliffe, of course, but he just isn't a bird - he's more of a dictator - harassing everyone that comes near his nests & or food stashes.)  The Woodpecker (Will Scarlet) has been M.I.A. lately, perhaps the Quail/Partridges have bullied him out.  All those little gems along with a couple of rather breathtaking sunsets thrown in make life pretty good.  Well, there are curtains to be hemmed, a novel to be written and some baking to be done, so I'll leave you with our best wishes, thoughts and a few more photos.  (I wish I had a better camera, the zoom is far from adequate and it has problems focusing on certain things.)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Time for a Blow?

Shame on all of you with the dirty minds!  (You know who you are!)  I'm talking about snow blowing, not bubbles or whale's air holes or dynamite!

We awoke this morning to very Vancouver like drizzle with fairly green lawns and islands of left over late Christmas snow.  Before long the drizzle turned to snow - the type of flakes you see in Christmas cards - that fell gently and beautifully and fell gently and beautifully and fell gently and beautifully...(I think you get the idea.)  It started at around 8:00 in the morning or so and well, heck it was still snowing just after 3:00, but much more lightly.  We tested the ground (using my very scientific chop stick) to see if we felt it was solid enough.  The results were disheartening, but refusing to be intimidated, Ron boldly fired up the Green Monster and headed into the fresh snow.  With a bit of pushing and additional balast (that being me standing on the back) we managed to get the rig up the incline from the shed to the driveway, leaving a swath of innocent lawn in our wake.  Here are the results of Man vs. Nature:

Pass number three.

The thrill of big boy toys.

If only snow blowing were an Olympic sport!

Yes, real action shots...the snow blower seems to be working.  Now, if we have a surprise dump of three or four feet, I'm not entirely sure what we'll do, but Ron is happy for the time being, knowing that we are self-sufficient and that I'll likely get down the drive without killing myself or wrecking the car.  That's the good news, the bad news is that it's still snowing...Ron & the Green Monster might have to make an early morning trek down the drive a couple of times tomorrow...hope we have enough gas. 

PS: To those of you who voted against Ron getting the ride on lawnmower...he sends you a double pfffthhh.  Let's see goats clear 600 feet of snow in 20 minutes!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 - A Whole New Year (excuse the obvious statement)

The first momentous occasion was that we managed to stay up until midnight!  We haven't done that for I don't know how many years, but this year we did it, thanks in part to the Canucks game that we listened to online and a call from my sister.  (She thought she would have to leave us a message.)

This time last year the Olympics were still ramping up, the Olympic Superstore (at the Bay Vancouver) was selling product like crazy and Ron was run ragged from keeping up with the demands of keeping the whole works running smoothly.  What a difference a year makes.  (One really can't help reflecting on the past year when a new one starts...)

Last night we stood at our kitchen window watching a bevy of quail (at least we believe them to be so) foraging around the tree line.  They were plump little birds, intent on their task and we debated how good they might be for dinner, but decided all the cleaning etc wouldn't be worth the trouble, (they were only five of them.) not to mention the fact that we didn't have the first clue as to how to catch them.  (Oh stop gasping in horror, a lot of you would have been thinking the same thing!)

Quail mid-picture near the treeline.  Click to enlarge ;0)

It wasn't the most auspicious start to the new year, as the satellite signal was down and something caused the house to shake like a freight train had gone past.  (On further investigation we discovered a fair load of snow had slid down off the peak onto the back porch roof.  Ron had to go up and shovel a good chunk of it off.)  I rebooted the satellite, so that's now fixed as well.

Ron and I have never been in the habit of making New Years resolutions (a trend we plan to continue), but we do find ourselves wondering what the new year will bring.  Most of you know that I'm writing a book (or should I say WAS writing a book?).  The progress has pretty well stopped completely, but I'm hoping that by mentioning the fact that this will inspire me to take to the keys again and get my poor characters out of the freeze frame they're trapped in.  (Really, that's how I see them...frozen in a literary limbo, just waiting for me to write their next moves.  If I'm really in the flow, the characters start getting ideas of their own and taking me to places I had never intended, which is surprising to me, but now they've taken me to somewhere that I'm having problems getting them out of - yes, I just blamed fictional characters for my writers block.)  Anyhow, enough about me. 

How are all of you?  What are you hoping for in the new year?  My wish for all of you is that you dream the craziest, biggest dreams and find that they come true; that you have at least one moment of knowing how truly wonderful you are and that you experience a profound moment of gratitude that keeps the fire in your heart going.  We are what we expect ourselves to be (that even gave ME pause for thought) so expect good things of and for yourselves and relish the results.  We miss you all.

Happy New Year!