Thursday, June 27, 2019

The rain and the ramifications of aging


The downpour last Friday was pretty significant, lots of flooding and washouts. 72 mm, which is a lot in one day around here. Damage to roads, flooded basements, so on and so forth. I heard that Main Street filled right up and overflowed the sidewalks onto adjacent lawns. But my basement stayed dry! All the work done two winters ago paid off. Of course the sump pump was very busy for a couple of days after that.

I just got email from a dear friend out west, she has been very sporadic about replying to my emails. She said there was a reason for that, the last couple of years have been awful for her. And now she knows why, she just got a diagnosis of Parkinson's. Apparently before any of the physical symptoms show up there is depression and anxiety. I remember that the last time I visited her (two years ago) she did seem uncommonly anxious, but I attributed it to recent events in her life. Which it may very well have been, but exacerbated by this other thing. We have a mutual friend who was diagnosed with Parkinson's around about the time I left BC, on subsequent visits I have watched his deterioration and the effect on his partner. Not good.

I was shocked by my friend's email and I was just headed out the door to a meeting. For the first half of the meeting I was kind of out of it. I did eventually get into things, but it was always there in my mind. Still is I guess.

My brother's birthday yesterday, I called to wish him Happy Birthday. We chatted about a bunch of things and he told me about our other brother's call, how other brother was quite upbeat about treatments for his liver cancer. I pointed out to my birthday brother that that may very well be, but other brother's prognosis is little more than a year without treatment, and a few months more than that with treatment. Birthday brother said he did not know that. Birthday brother is very busy right now and I said I hoped he could get everything done this year because next year we may be needing to travel out west …if not sooner.

The meeting I attended this week was a Green Party thing. First campaign meeting for the newly nominated Green Party candidate in my riding. Potluck and strategizing, very exciting. I met a very dynamic young woman in the committee I joined who kind of left all of us older folks gaping. Amazing energy and activism. WWW take note, she's headed your way, going to Memorial for first year university studying the ocean. Molly. We are sorry to lose her but she has left behind everything she can think of, all of her connections and history, for our candidate to use. Voting age is 18, which means high school grads, and I guess there's a lot of them wanting some meaningful change.

On another note, I went for an eye exam today. The local optometrist has quite a shop, employs a whole lot of people. I went to him back in the day when it was just him and his receptionist. Anyway, after the exam he sent me to talk to someone about prices for glasses. After a bit of a wait I talked to this woman who laid out all the options, ranging from the "cut rate deal" of $299 (just the lenses, frames extra) up to $869 (lenses only) for the super duper lenses that make you think you are not wearing glasses at all. We discussed coatings and angles and health benefits and she gave me a bunch of pamphlets and I noted down manufacturers' names and prices for turther investigation.

One of the things she told me about was this coating that is supposed to filter out "high energy blue" (or something to that effect). Used to be UV was bad, now it's creeping up the spectrum through blue.

So I went online to find out what the big deal about blue is. Turns out there is a lot of conflicting information. Blue is good/blue is bad. At my age, cataracts are starting, a number of my friends have already had the surgery. Cataracts cause your vision to yellow, blue is filtered out. One study says blue causes insomnia, another says blue cures insomnia. Cataracts protect against macular degeneration (caused by blue!). Cataracts good/cataracts bad.

Another thing I have been researching is lawn mowers. As noted previously, I can't start my gas-powered lawn mower, so I was looking into alternatives. My lawn is broken up with bushes and garden beds, there is a very dry area and a very wet area and a steep slope on one side. Not to mention all the holes that Hapi has dug either as hidey holes for precious bones or as cool nests to sleep in. A corded electric is out of the question, too many twists and turns. Self-propelled sounds nice but it means you can't mow backwards in tight spaces. I looked at a cordless electric (battery powered) and that was promising, but it was 20 pounds heavier than my rinky dink gas mower. It's big and hard to maneuver, but it's quiet and doesn't vibrate and it stores well.

For the life of me I cannot find a mower that is easy to start, light-weight and maneuverable, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I may have to give up on the idea.

In the mean time I am weight lifting in hopes of being able to start my mower before mowing season ends. And I decided not to worry about blue, I soon won't be able to see it anyway.


Friday, June 21, 2019

Weaving done, for now


It's a solid downpour outside, complete with thunder and presumably lightning, and it is supposed to last into the night. Hapi is sleeping in the basement, hopefully oblivious to the thunder.

I finished my weaving project on Wednesday night. I had to go into the city every other day for a week and on the final day I was weaving for eight hours. By the time I got my project off the loom my back was almost completely destroyed.

I was feeding loonies into a parking meter during the day, but it turned out that the meter was broken and I got a parking ticket. Fortunately the "meter maid" (in this case, a guy) was nearby and I managed to explain to him what was happening so he tore up the ticket and gave me free parking for the rest of the day.

The dogsitter that I lined up for the time I was in the city called me on the weekend to say that he was in the hospital and about to be moved to the city for major surgery. So much for dogsitting. His illness is progressing rapidly and I don't know how much longer he will survive, he is dying piecemeal. It's a tragic situation and my own disappointment at suddenly losing my dogsitter pales in comparison.

However, my wonderful mechanic who has kept my vehicles roadworthy over the years at a fraction of what it might cost elsewhere, stepped up and said he'd have no problem staying with Hapi as long as needed. He loves her and Hapi loves him almost as much as she loves me. I think he reminds her of my son, her former owner.

After the marathon weaving session on Wednesday I was a zombie on Thursday. My back felt like I'd broken something and my brain was barely capable of reading a magazine, let alone carrying on a conversation. Today is better though, the brain functions and the back tries to. But I am glad it is raining, it means one more day of staying indoors resting.

I am already thinking about my next weaving project. I have a couple of ideas and can't decide which one to pursue. Today I was reading a book on tapestry weaving and wondering if I should tackle that. But it is a whole different skill set so it's going to depend on whether I am up for something simple or complicated. I am just beginning to feel like I am getting somewhere with textile weaving, I should probably postpone the tapestry weaving for a bit. But it is tempting.

In the meantime I still have to do some finishing work on the current project. There are a few ends to needle-weave in and cutting and hemming and fringe-knotting to be done. It's more tedious than interesting, so it could take a while.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

My weaving project and other stories


The duck that lost her nest and her two bodyguards left the Reservoir for a few days after the nest was destroyed but they are back now. Looks like the threesome are a thing now, tragedy has cemented their relationship. There are lots of fish nests all around the edges of both ponds with fishes guarding them. I'd love to get a photo of a fish guarding its nest but they see me coming and move away from the nest before I can snap a picture.

The parks people lower the water level on one pond in order to put a string of buoys around the beach swimming area, but over the years we dogwalkers have protested this action because it puts the fish nests in jeopardy. Some of us have gone so far as to volunteer to put in the line of buoys ourselves without lowering the water level, but I guess the town is not up for the risk of a bunch of seniors doing the work of paid staff. This year the guy who puts in the buoys did it without lowering the water level so far as to destroy the nests. He's a nice guy with a great sense of humour. We are always complaining to him about town policy with regards to the Reservoir and he passes on our complaints because as he says, it's job security for himself. As long as we complain he has enough work to remediate the park to our specifications for the foreseeable future.

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The warp...
My weaving course ended last Wednesday but none of us completed our projects. Our work has to be off the looms before the 24th because the looms are needed over the summer. Our instructor says this has never happened before and it seems to be the result of the Centre reducing the length of the course from 10 weeks to 8 and each of us having to take evenings off for personal reasons (funeral, wedding, writing competition, etc). So now I have to go into the city every other day for a week in order to finish. Road work season has started and there is now a half hour wait on the highway for that so my commute time is now two hours each way. And, I have to get a dogsitter for Hapi because it is now too warm to leave her in the car while I am in class.

...and the weft
In addition to all that, I had previously committed to doing some volunteer ushering this weekend for a show put on by one of the local high schools. So this is the weekend from hell, non-stop busyness. That's my idea of hell, busyness. By the time my project is finished I am going to be a basket case.

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Last Wednesday I took advantage of having to get a dogsitter by going into the city a little early to stroll the harbourfront boardwalk. The Bluenose II happens to be in town for a couple of days before decamping to Ontario for the summer. That ship is pretty controversial, being a classic example of a hole in the water to pour money into. However it is very beautiful and I feel like I have a personal connection to it because I once met its original builder at his boatyard just outside of Lunenburg, and back in the '80s I took my kids for a cruise around the harbour on it.


Another time I was taking the ferry from Chester to Tancook Island (see story here) and the Bluenose II happened to be in Chester then. Our ferryboat captain, as a joke, pretended to ram the ship. At the last minute he veered off, to the great relief of the Bluenose II crew lined up on deck and all of us passengers on the ferryboat.



Sunday, June 9, 2019

Little Birdies

The lone neighbourhood crow
A couple of weeks ago a male cardinal brought his offspring to my bird feeder and showed the youngster how it works. Since then the youngster has been back several times. He or she is all brown, more brown than a female cardinal, so I don't know if it is a male or female. I was going to take down the feeder but after seeing the juvenile cardinal I decided to leave it in place a little longer. Today the father cardinal was back with the youngster and fed it several seeds from the feeder. Other days I have seen the youngster in my back yard just fooling around.

I also have a new crow visitor. Once it tried to get at my feeder but the bird is just too big. Another time I saw it strutting on the front lawn with all its head feathers fluffed up like a kind of mane. It was very handsome! I think it has claimed my lawn as its territory. There are usually a dozen or so crows that hang out in my neighbourhood but right now there is just one. I think the others are busy raising their young.

I wrote this a while ago when the trees were still bare of leaves. More recently I have returned to the Reservoir after a week away due to Hapi having discovered the duck nest (see previous post). Sadly but not unexpectedly the duck nest is no more, a few broken egg shells are all that remain. A friend recounted her own dog's discovery of the nest when it was still active, and the male "bodyguard" ducks chased her dog away. So I guess they really were bodyguards and not opportunists. But now they are all gone; I feel sad for the duck but it really was a bad place to nest.

Monday, June 3, 2019

My Pet Predator


Last week was the awards ceremony for the writing competition I entered. I was short-listed but did not win which was what I expected. But two other writers from my writing group and a husband (of one of the other writers) and myself headed into the city for the event. We went early enough to go for dinner beforehand and had a great meal at a tiny African restaurant just around the corner from the Art Bar where the ceremony was held. The winners in each category read their entries and then four people who were in a mentorship program read excerpts from their works in progress. One of the writers who came to the city with me is a poet and she was hoping to hear the winning poetry selection, however the winner was a no-show and they did not read that entry. Too bad, I think it would have been interesting.

We had a good time. I left Hapi with friends and unfortunately she howled most of the time that I was away. They were a little taken aback by that, they had never heard her howl. Separation issues I guess.

I took Hapi to the feed mill with me to get some seed potatoes, onion sets and pelletized lime. They let dogs into the store there. There is a feed mill cat who is unafraid of dogs and another customer had their dog as well. I let Hapi wander, I didn't think there was anything she could get into. Boy was I wrong.

One of the girls behind the counter had ordered chicks to raise for meat birds and her order had arrived and was sitting on the floor behind the counter. A big box full of very cute looking chicks. Hapi eventually made her way behind the counter and saw the chicks. She plucked one out of the box. The girl behind the counter was very fast, she got that chick out of Hapi's mouth in a split second. The chick appeared shocked but alive and hopefully not injured. I apologized profusely but she said not to worry, they were just meat birds.

I was a bit of a nervous wreck when I left the feed mill, I thought I'd take Hapi for a walk to calm my nerves. So we went to the Reservoir. There's a duck there with a nest. Apparently this is the second next that duck has tried to sit on, the first nest and its contents were destroyed by dogs. The current one is only slightly better hidden but I knew about it and roughly where it was from one of the other dog owners. On this particular day I found out exactly where the nest was. Hapi found it. She flushed out the duck sitting on the nest and proceeded to investigate its contents. Meanwhile I was running throught the bushes and across a ditch yelling, "No! No! No!"

I managed to get to the nest before Hapi could snatch an egg and I dragged her away. There were 8 eggs in the nest. A couple of male ducks had been patrolling the pond nearby and when the mother duck was chased off her nest squawking in protest, they joined her in the air, also squawking. I used to joke that those ducks were her bodyguards, but I think they are actually opportunists waiting to see if they can impregnate her again if the nest fails. At any rate the whole gang flew away.

I took Hapi home, thoroughly wrecked by the two incidents. What fun to have a predator for a pet! But I dare not go back to the Reservoir now, she knows exactly where the nest is and will continue to seek it out as long as it is there. Not that I think there is any hope that any of those eggs will survive, if the dogs don't get them then the eagles surely will. Not to mention raccoons, skunks or coyotes. But I just don't want Hapi to be the one to do it. So I am having to take her elsewhere for her morning walk.

Two geese hiding their babies on the left, beaver swimming by on the right
Today we went to the Gaspereau Canal. I saw two ducks, two geese, two eagles and a beaver. I saw the geese twice and it turned out that they had four goslings with them. When they saw Hapi and me they herded their charges across the canal and positioned themselves so that I couldn't see the babies.

Beaver lodge, just left of centre (looks like a heap of sticks by the water's edge)
The beavers around here are "bank beavers", they don't build lodges in the middle of a pond but on the banks of rivers. they don't build dams either, which is a good thing because if they tried to dam the canal they would be removed. One day last month the power company lowered the water level in the canal and you could see the whole beaver lodge including its underwater entry point (which wasn't underwater at the time).

Female eagle in tree, probably waiting for the goslings to appear
There are a lot of micro-hydro installations in this province. They are the original dams built back in the day when such things were quite small. The canal goes between two such dams operated by the power company here, my neighbourhood is powered by one of those dams. There is also a fish ladder around one of the dams for the Gaspereaux fish (they are called alewives in Toronto). Fishers along the river catch them with big dipnets every spring on their spawning migration up the river, and they are shipped to Haiti for food. Fishing season on the Gaspereau is a big deal, it just ended this past weekend. The power company is supposed to run their operation in such a way that the fish are not killed but periodically they screw it up and thousands of fish end up dead.