Archive for January, 2008

Turning 65

January 17, 2008

Here I am. Poised on the very brink of 65. Not like in “miles per hour”, but in “years of age”!

65 has a certain ring to it. Sixty (sexy, silly,) & five (fine, live,). Could it be just that simple? Should I be doing/thinking something special? Maybe I am too old to do something differently. Should I be planning to take up a new hobby (I don’t have any old hobbies), go back to school, learn to make fudge, buy a new rocker? It has a certain “New Year’s eve” quality about it.

I hadn’t planned on doing anything to usher in the new age, except a small, family dinner party, that I will cook, (now there’s an element of control that I could give up), with copious amounts of wine that I received for New Year’s and held onto for this birthday. (I need an excuse to drink now.) DUH?

Should I apologize to anyone? Shape up? Make a new will? Pray more? Sin less?

I guess not.

Thank goodness! Just pass the wine and the chocolate cake.

PS… At 65- I understand that we are allowed to ask ourselves profound questions and answer them shallowly.(even using words that don’t exist).

More on “65” read “A Friendly Warning” posted September 6, 2007 or… read my entire blog which charts my progress from 0 to 65.

…and PS- I am so thoroughly, exquisitely, thrilled and grateful to be here!

Ice Storm 1998

January 12, 2008

icestorm-2.jpgJanuary 6th to January 27, 1998.

Small town, country living is a life style choice, not for all. We live in a Township, only a few hundred feet from the town limits, so we have a well, and a septic system as well as a sump pump in the basement. This only warrants mention in view of this conversation about electricity, or the lack thereof. None of the above function when the power fails. Within 24 hours our basement has 2 inches of water, which we bail and carry upstairs to make the toilet work. The pump for well water doesn’t function either and these days, not many homes have the old hand pumps still connected.

January 6, 1998
Day 1- I was on my usual way to work in Montreal, 45 miles away. The road surfaces were clear, but I didn’t like the look of tree branches clutching on to power lines along the way so I turned around and went home at 9 am. At 1 pm the power went off and we went into “camping mode”- Out came the candles, cards and Coleman stove.

Day 2 – We were concerned about the water rising in the basement, but impressed with our Town and Township who sent volunteers door to door to find out who intended to stay in their homes and offer shelter at the local school and meals at the Legion.
Reality started to set in by night fall when the temperature dropped and the trees were snapping-They were like loud gun shots all night long.
Day 3- We set up the family room, moving in a table and chairs, mattresses, emptied the kitchen cupboards and set up a cooking area in the adjoining back porch, where we could safely cook with the back door open. Fortunately we had a good supply of wood, a big fireplace along with some good survival instincts (and a black cast iron pot). During the night, we were horrified with the sounds outside; tree limbs were sliding to the ground like rotten corpses.
We woke up to devastation in our back yard and all around us, wires down, poles snapped in half.
Days 4, 5 & 6: We worked hard at surviving. Phones went down, we threw out food from the freezer, and went shopping at the local store using matches to light our way down the aisles. We took pictures and washed our hair at our daughter’s house in the town. She had running water, heated on their wood burning stove. Their house was cosy. Our 3 month old Grand daughter was snug.
There was a full moon. The backyard looked like a moonscape, almost daylight shining on the ice covered snow.
Day 7-We are getting outside everyday to break the monotony. Our names are on a list at the town hall to buy one of the generators ordered. Accolades to the Mayors and volunteers for their huge efforts to help out and organize the disaster area. The bank allows a withdrawal of $100. per account. The local stores are accepting cheques and giving credit. Our basement is being pumped out daily by volunteers. People are in good humour. It’s getting colder!
Day 8- The temperature is dropping for the next few days. -16c to-24c This is dangerous. My husband nailed a 9×12 carpet over the archway to the kitchen. 2×4’s on 3 sides ruined the walls but the heat will stay in the room.

The army came to town. They could not believe the devastation. They said our town was the hardest hit and the best organized community that they had seen in the triangle.
Day 9-No generator yet. We were no. 101 on a list-only 70 generators came in. Our phones are working. We are hearing from friends and family, worried about us. We have a small battery radio, keeping in touch with what is going on.
Day 10- -21c Terrible cold closed in at 3 am. We barely slept. The room was cold despite the fireplace going full blast. In our bathroom, our toothbrushes were frozen. Early morning, we went to Champlain, NY. another town suffering ice devastation, and purchased a good generator. The price was right. The US Government is monitoring businesses for price gouging. By 2 pm the generator was running off and on and providing some furnace heat and TV!! We watch the 1st live images on TV since the storm started. It’s beyond belief. We are so thankful that we have a fireplace, survival skills and energy to stay home.
Day 11- We are feeling better- It’s amazing what a little creature comfort can do. A little heat, a little TV.
Day 12- -16 & sunny. We had to turn the furnace off- The carbon monoxide monitor kept beeping. We called the fire department, but it’s o.k., The police did a door to door check of our living conditions. They said they were impressed with our set up, they were evacuating some people to shelters.
Day 13- Happy birthday to me! I had a Birthday Pecan Pie. It’s -7c and feels warmer with a little celebratory wine!
Day 14- I went back to work in Montreal- The 1st time since the storm hit. I could hardly describe our experience to people there. I feel like we are on another planet- Everyone else had power back in 3 days to a week. We are at day 14, with no relief in sight. I’m really too tired to work.
PS: Carl Perkins died today.
Day 15- Back to work again for a few hours. It seems to normalize life a bit.
Day 16- The furnace is working part time on the generator- The inside house temp got up to 15c briefly during the day, so we slept in our own beds. What a treat that was, but ice cold by morning.
Day 17- -21c again! We heard that the power may be on in a few days. My husband is exhausted, he’s feeding the fireplace, and running the generator, part time, which is kept outside during the day. We drag it inside for the night when it’s not running as we heard that some generators have been stolen.
It’s a full time job, cooking meals, and keeping everything sterile, clean and comfortable.
Day 18- -18c How “alike” each day is. We are so dull and ordinary. The US news keeps us entertained: Oprah is in Texas, Bill Clinton is “in heck” again and the Unabomber (Kuzinski) gets life.
Day 19- It’s warmer. We have been obsessed about the temperature for so long! We are almost out of our wood supply. The free wood coming into town is pretty green but appreciated.
Day 20- -7c We called a hotel in Vermont and made reservations for Easter. Now there’s a sign of life!
We are rooting for John Elway and the Broncos in the Super bowl.

Day 21- -20 Deep freeze again, but we see Hydro trucks everywhere. At 8 pm it looks like, yes! It could be… POWER!
Day 22- We woke up to -24c outside. We were in our own beds, warm, relaxed and even took a bath.
Is this heaven?

Back yard devastation.

Happy New Year

January 4, 2008

Christmas was always my favorite time of year. I spent as much as I possibly could without the slightest regret and I showered my friends and family with presents and enjoyed every second of it. Even knowing that it would take until the following year to pay off the bills…no regrets! Fortunately for me, that was a time when we didn’t have credit cards to run up.

New Year’s was also special. Life was full of expectation. Somewhere along the way, I had developed a mantra, “Turn the Page”. Every New Year’s eve was the best time to use it.

“Turn the page”, I would say to myself, after having made a royal mess out of the year, or part of it. Turn the page, forget it, start anew.

There was something about January 1st. It was a big blank page- regardless of my failings, disappointments, regrets, mistakes and catastrophes, I could put it all behind me, start anew. I would resolve to work harder, be a better person, save money, lose weight. I was successful with some more than others… sometimes, but I tackled them all with optimism.

Some New Year’s eves were more memorable than others.

1960- At eighteen years old, a New Year’s party was the most important night of my life. I had the dress; a pretty powder blue brocade and rhinestone jewelery but I just couldn’t find suitable shoes anywhere. Living in the far north, with only few stores, we learned to be resourceful. Just hours before going out, I rummaged in the basement of my parents home, thrilled to find powder blue paint, (the colour of my brother’s room,) and I set about painting my white, summer, very high heeled sandals, and while I was at it, touched up a couple of the rhinestones on the necklace and earrings. I was just dazzling!

1963- Pink chiffon cocktail dress with silver shoes & bag. (Audrey Hepburn-ish)

1968- Purple elephant hipster pants with a purple satin blouse.

1974- A white turban with a real diamond broach on the front with black Palazzo pants.

Ah, life was just wonderful.

Eventually, one of my New Year’s resolutions was “get over yourself!”

I still make New Year’s resolutions with fairly predictable outcomes, and mostly hope that I will be a better person this year. I will be 65 this month. I am still a work in progress.