The Winter Tree

It’s been a long 6 months since I took this picture of our Tree.

An unusually clear day in our Summer of Smoke

The heat, and the smoke, and my ‘chitis, lingered long into Autumn.

But the leaves did eventually start to turn

Winter’s first chill put a halo of frost around the fallen leaves.

Brrrr, that’s brisk

Then, this being the Fraser Valley, it rained, and rained, and rained.

After the summer we had I wasn’t about to complain

We put up some Christmas decorations …

If you look close you can see real fairies with their wee lanterns lighting up the glitter. 🙂

… and had ourselves a merry little (white) Christmas.

My little cellphone even managed to capture the white stuff as it fell

Coco the Community Cat came to visit and admire the view.

Of course I’m not going to look into that strange thing you’re shoving in my face. It could steal my soul … and then you’d be sorry!

Two days later the snow turned to ice. 5 cm (2″) on the first day!

I probably shouldn’t’ve budded this early

Trees bowed and broke under the weight. Power lines were knocked out. We knew it was coming, there’d been enough warnings from the weather bureau. Our 72 hour emergency plan stood us in good stead, but we were stretched to the limit at the end. Now we have a 144 hour (6 day) emergency supply of fuels, (gasoline, kerosene, propane) and storage and purification capacity for 120 liters (31 gallons) of water.

The staccato sounds of falling trees snapped through the crystal air without cease.

Bending under the weight

What was beautiful and soft turned into dangerous and beautiful.

The sun came out and we sent out to see what we could see

A neighbour’s maple trees became a curtain of ice

Ice everywhere, over everything

A wire fence became an instant icicle factory

Down by the lake Grandmother Willow had succumbed to the weight on her ancient branches

The hedge across the way became a frozen waterfall

We sat in our little house, snug and warm, and read, and passed the time disconnected from the rest of the world, but at peace with it as well.

The next morning we pulled up the blinds on our study window and saw what had become of our Winter Tree

Two major branches, gone. Frozen to the ground, waiting for the thaw

Coco came to commiserate

As did a deer, who must’ve come across the lake after it froze

In spite of all the damage across our island and indeed the entire region, we held no animosity, perhaps a little sorrow, but in the face of such a beautiful blue sky, it didn’t last.

Winter on Widder Island

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The Gas Lift Chronicles – Part 2

Part 1 … HERE

Due to a strange and inexplicable inability to work at my desk sitting in a chair that engaged in way to much familiarity with the warp and weft of my study carpet, I ordered a gas lift from Amazon.ca. It was here in three days.

THREE DAYS!!!

And then … 

… a week ago this finally arrived …

At least it’s the right shape and size this time

Firmly ensconced on my readjusted chair I wasn’t in any hurry to open the box so it sat on the shelf, all forlorn and abandoned.

I took pity on and attacked it with box-opening tools … and voila!

A gas lift!

Now I have a spare. One can never have too many gas lifts.

I suppose

P.S. If anyone wants to do the math, my first contact with the manufacturer of my chair was on 18th October.

P.P.S. on the other hand, if I ever want to build myself a chair I now have two of the main ingredients.

Unanswerable Question Of The Day

Why didn’t Harry Potter use magic to fix his eyesight?

I got into bed the other night with a pot of tea, a book, and my glasses, ready to settle in for a couple of hours of indulgence. The book was printed with a smaller font than the average bear, so rather than squinting, up I got and toddled off to the study to rummage for a stronger pair of glasses.

Once I was all snug again I looked at the page without my glasses and saw nothing but a blur.

I’m so used to looking through glasses these days that it was a bit of a shock. I’m sure it was only a few years ago when my eyesight was perfect.

I reflected, with a sort of enigmatic melancholy, on the passage of time and how I would if I could, and without a moment’s hesitation use magic to fix my eyesight.

And so I wondered … why didn’t Harry Potter use magic to fix his eyesight?

Not having immediate access to JK Rowling, I put the thought away, poured myself a cup of tea (after I put my glasses on) and got on with my book.

Turns out the question is answerable via the ‘magic’ of the interwebz, a reddit thread, and ‘beatskin’ who posted this six years ago …

When a fan asked J.K. Rowling why Harry Potter wears glasses, Rowling answered: “Because I had glasses all though my childhood and I was sick and tired of the person in the books who wore the glasses was always the brainy one and it really irritated me and I wanted to read about a hero wearing glasses. It also has a symbolic function, Harry is the eyes onto the books in the sense that is always Harry’s point of view, so there was also that, you know, facet of him wearing glasses”.

There you have it.

My glasses all have wire or black plastic rims. I would rock a pair like these!

The Gas-Lift Chronicles – Part 1

This is what a gas lift looks like.

It’s the doohickey that is used to adjust an office chair to a comfortable height.

About 2 months ago the one on my chair started to lose its get-up-and-go. Every so often I’d experience this sinking feeling and after a quick check of my emotional state I realized it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with my chair … so, I ignored it, until it became an almost daily experience.

Even though my chair is a few years old, it still has a few good years left so I decided to just replace the gas lift. They’re not difficult to install, the tricky part is removing the old one, but I’d done it before, I could do it again.

I checked the manufacturers website and although they listed several replacement parts I couldn’t find any information about the gas lift.

I emailed them directly. The very next day I received an email back apologizing for the lack of information and they offered to send a gas lift to me, gratis.

I was impressed. This is my kind of customer service, I thought. A problem is brought to their attention and the resolve it. No fuss, no bother, I thought.

The ‘10-12 business days’ waiting period passed, and no UPS truck graced my stoop with a package, so I waited a few more business days, (we are a bit out of the way here on Widder Island) and then emailed the very nice person at customer service …

… who wrote back that it looked like, ‘the package was lost during shipping,’ and they would make sure the package was shipped the very next day.

-oOo-

Today, 6 ‘business’ days later a UPS truck deposits a cardboard box on my stoop.

I open it.

I close it.

I open it again.

This is called a ‘butterfly seat plate’

I burst into raucous laughter, and valiantly try to approach my keyboard to contact that friendly neighbourhood customer service person, but I keep bursting into further gales of laughter.

I take myself outside to rake the leaves that had fallen from the Summer Tree, and three bins of leaves later I feel I have enough self-control to approach my keyboard and inform Customer Service of this latest chapter in our saga.

As my chair slowly sinks to footstool height, I await a reply.

Last of the Summer Harvest

It’s chilly here on Widder Island.

Samhain is over and the Dead have returned to the Otherworlds.

The wee hobgoblins and ghouls who knocked on our door for treats are recovering from their indulgences and are nowhere to be found on the wild and windy streets of our neighbourhood.

The red and brown leaves from the Summertree are carpeting the yard, stark on the shaved lawn that received its last mow of the season the day before.

Remember the tomatoes I mentioned in my ‘Shed’ post?

They were actually part of an experimental planting loosely based on a ‘Maiden/Mother/Crone’ (or ‘three sisters) concept. We planted the tomatoes with corn and scarlet runner beans.

Rampant Abundance

A matter of timing, and smoke for their prime growing season, left the corn and beans coming in all puny … but the tomatoes did wonderfully.

Our back yard is bordered by the most magnificent line of cedar trees, but unfortunately it’s the south side of the block and the sun can’t budge the shadows from early October on. Our lovely greenery soon looked like this …

As the season turn, turn, turns

Although the plants were still bravely flowering and fruiting, we bit the bullet last weekend and did the deed. Rain was forecast and once the autumn rains really set in out ‘gardens’ turn to mud.

Setting up the patio for winter

For a summer that had very little else going for it, being able to snack on these tasty little nibblets made all the difference … halved tomatoes with cilantro, basil, and parsley, all from our garden. 

Don’t you just want to eat it all up!

 

A Bee in the Washing Machine of Life

Today I’ve been reorganizing my bedroom. This is a direct result of having more storage in our shiny new shedIt is a prerequisite of such activities that sheets, blankets, and any other soft furnishings not nailed down, must be washed.

… including the covers from my hot water bottles

The only thing I am willing to admit I miss about summer is sun dried washing. Unfortunately, by this time of year our backyard is shrouded in tree-shade until about 3pm where the sun dips under the fir trees and has a moment of brilliance, until it swiftly sinks behind the hills on the far side of Widder Lake

As a counterpoint to the ‘bench-by-the-lake-in-summer’ picture I posted at the top of my last post, here’s the same bench, a few winter’s ago, all snug in the snow, with the ‘blocking-the-clothes-drying-sun’ hills in the background

With my arms overflowing with bedclothes and other sundries, I negotiated the narrow trail that was all that was left of the hallway after the stuff to be relocated to the shed had vacated my room but wasn’t quite out the back door yet.

I plonked the load down on top of the dryer, got the water running into the washing machine next to it, and measured out the soap to get the whole operation underway, when I saw a forlorn little critter clinging to the side of the drum, probably freaking out at the sudden crashing waterfall threatening to obliterate it.

A friend of mine back in Oz, on certain occasions when she was feeling down, would say she felt like a lost sock in the washing machine of life. Referring, of course, to the single sock that inevitably shows up when you take a load of washing out of the machine, and that you can never, ever again, find the other one.

I suspect the wee beastie felt somewhat the same way as I gently nudged her into the shallow plastic container reserved for removing spiders from study windows and shower recesses, and carried her out into the soft autumn sunshine, hoping the warmth might revive her.

‘Dear Hive Queen. All hail, O Mighty Honey Provider. I think I am in a different dimension.’

I watched as her little head sank lower and the pulse in her abdomen slowed and slowed, and slowed. Her wings were all folded in on themselves.

I wondered if she had flown her last mission.

There was nothing I could do. Her fate was beyond me.

I checked on her now and then over the next little while. She hadn’t moved.

I came out one last time before we closed the back door against the evening chill and …

… Bee-gone! 🙂

I wished her well and hoped she had many more adventures before the Great Washing Machine of Life finally claimed her for its own.

Did You Hear The One About The Two Lesbians Who Wanted To Build A Shed?

At the beginning of Summer, before the heat and the smoke and the ‘chitis, Mrs Widds and I decided we needed a little extra space for our treasures. We’re a pair of country gals at heart and have accumulated a country farmhouse, a large country farmhouse, worth of tools, equipment, stuff that we use seasonally, etc. This in itself isn’t a problem but we have a very little wooden shed and a very little two-bedroom cottage to store it all in. (the views here on Widder Lake are wonderful, but you can’t store stuff in a view)

A bench with a Widder Lake view

The solution to our dilemma was to get another shed.

Our local Lowes (hardware warehouse store) had sheds on sale, so we bought one.

It arrived like this …

Not quite what we had in mind

To be fair, we knew we’d have to put it up ourselves, but we were a couple of handy-dykes who had all the right tools for the job. How hard could it be?

The essentials – nuts, bolts, tea, a good book, a potplant …

After the tea was drunk, we got down to business.

Step 1 – study instruction manual carefully

That instruction manual was the most concise one I have ever read. I was shocked. Had to have a restorative cuppa tea to steady my nerves!

At last we were ready to take the shed pieces out of the box!

Mrs Widds knew which bit went where. I blinked, a lot

All good things start at the bottom …

If it’s all square from the beginning it’s square all the way up, theoretically

Then we huffed and puffed and figured out how to match the right panels, and connect the end-y bits to other end-y bits.

Corners!!! … If you look closely at the bottom right and left corners of this photo you’ll see several small tomato plants. This was the beginning of our summer veggie garden.

In a previous life I used to be an architectural drafter. The detail in the diagrams in the manual were the stuff dreams are made of.

The brass screws didn’t look half bad either

Walls!!!

We walked inside and gazed in awe at how much space there was. We could almost imagine it full of … stuff.

All the walls!!!

And that’s as far as we got before the Summer of the Year of WTF-uckery set its teeth into us.

But let us not dwell on the past for it is forgotten. (and if it ever comes back I shall blow it to smithereens!!! … but I’m not holding a grudge)

No cranky feelings here!

Some months later …

The gable ends. Check out the tomatoes. Grown a bit haven’t they?

Roof beams

It got a tad warm attaching the roof sheeting in 34° heat

It got a tad warm attaching the roof sheeting in 34° heat

We have roof!!!

All that remained was to install the doors and to move the entire structure back a meter into it’s final resting place … which surprisingly, wasn’t as awkward as moving the unopened box of shed bits when we began.

There! Isn’t she a thing of beauty?

So, in response to the question I posed in the title of this post – we did it. 🙂