Hemmed In – A Soggy Update

The only road from our island to … well to anywhere, really, is now restricted to ‘essential services vehicles’, only … which doesn’t include people who might be trying to get to work/shops/etc except if they’re using public transport … which doesn’t run here on the island. Catch 22 anyone?

Thankfully we, in an abundance of caution, and paying attention to the weather forecasts, did an extra ‘top-up’ run to the shops the day the restriction was announced to start that evening at 8pm.

A teensy-bit more warning would’ve been useful.

The cause is obvious. Of the four main highways out of here, (the Lower Mainland) only one is open for business, intermittently, so ALL the freight that would’ve been transported across a total of ten lanes of various highways, is now rerouted through our town, (one lane of traffic each way) and onto the above-mentioned intermittent lane of highway … which caused a teensy-bit of congestion.

Our ‘top-up’ shop, a trip of half-an-hour, took two hours and two detours.

This video, posted yesterday (24th) gives you an idea of the current state of affairs …

… A lot of the water has receded, but everything, to the right of the highway at the beginning of the video to when the helicopter turns back west, was underwater up until a few days ago.

We’re on our second ‘atmospheric river’, and as I type it’s raining as though someone’s turned a tap on full-bore. Another one is due on Saturday, and a final one (at least for now) is due a few days after that.

Gas (petrol) rationing is still in effect, I don’t see it going away any time soon really.

And finally … cue this YouTube channel with some boots-on-the-ground video of the repairs to one of major washouts on the Coquihalla Highway, one of the afore-mentioned highways that isn’t open for business.

We’re both fine. I have moments when I’m not, but that’s OK, no-one can be fine all the time going through these times, even if she’s not flooded in.

Dodging Bullets

Migraine update – My brain is finally operating completely within my skull and no further galaxies have been busted.

I’ve been trying to finish this post for a few days now, but each time I think I’ve reached the end, another bullet whizzes past my ear, with that characteristic z-zip-p-p sound that a high velocity projectile makes when it doesn’t hit you.

Living through this climate crisis, the one thing you do above all else is dodge bullets.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’ve had a bit of rain here recently. If you do an internet search for ‘Fraser Valley BC flood’, you’ll see what I mean. Also …

Currently all four road and rail routes connecting us to the rest of BC are sporting gaping wounds and are out of commission for the foreseeable future. The only way out is to swim or fly.

I took this next video at the height of the deluge, standing on our front stoop as a river of water burbles its merry way along our footpath. At this point it’s about 10cm deep at one end and 5cm at the other …

Looks pretty doesn’t it, all that water filtering down through the grass/moss lawn.

Another torrent of water ran down the side of the house and ended up here …

But for all that water, (and it just kept on coming for hours, and hours) our little cottage remained high and dry, as are we.

The lake too filled, and filled, and filled, and two days later when the clouds had almost cleared, we pootled down to take a look …

See that pontoon out there? It usually rests on the lakeshore. The old-timers here tell us that the water’s never been this high before.

This is where I shot that video from

This is where I shot that video from

There are fuel and food shortfalls, (not quite ‘shortages’, yet) farmland devastated, farm animals barely rescued in time, or drowned, livelihoods destroyed, towns inundated with floodwaters, and mass evacuations.

The houses on the low-lying areas of our island are under a meter of water.

Thankfully, nothing ‘gushes’ on a lake, so no washouts, or eroding of banks, and the bridge on and off the island is still firmly where it ought to be. In that, we dodged a bullet.

Gasoline is being rationed until the end of the month. (no roads, no deliveries) Because we rotate through two 20L gas cans on a regular basis, and there’s really nowhere to drive to because of all the road closures, that’s another bullet (temporarily) dodged.

Our Province, only just emerging from fifteen months of a Covid-19 State of Emergency, has now declared another one to deal with the scope of this disaster.

From my, admittedly not entirely objective viewpoint at the moment, the last eighteen months seem as though every disaster movie has come home to roost.

I’m not feeling completely doom-y and gloom-y. There is good in the world, and everyday people have been working like Trojans from one end of the current devastation here in the Fraser Valley to the other. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Who knows, once the dust clears, in a handful of decades, these global crises, for those who survive them, might just be the making of us as a species … maybe.

Not What I Planned

I had planned to do an update-y post about how we’re going to spend the next handful of months getting ready for our big Wunder-Lusters Adventure next year …

…but … I have a galaxy-busting migraine …

… so in lieu of, please enjoy this short movie I came across the other day on Omeleto – a YouTube channel that curates shorts form all over the world.

Along with DUST – which is strictly SF&F, it’s one of my ‘go-to’ channels for short movies that never make it to a mainstream release.

Autumn Harvest And A Paper Calculator

The rain stopped just long enough to tempt Mrs Widds and I out into the front yard …

Leaves, weighing almost nothing, sit quite happily above the grass, and moss, and mud

Leaves, weighing almost nothing, sit quite happily above the grass, and moss, and mud

… Yes, ’tis the season…

Cue the garden implements

… look at this little beauty? Isn’t Mother Nature grand?

Moss has taken over our driveway, but it does make a colourful backdrop

Moss has taken over our driveway, but it does make a colourful backdrop

… until all is but a memory. We’ll do one last rake-around when the last leaves have fallen, but that’s it for Autumn, which is just as well because it’s starting to rain again.

The Autumn Tree - all tucked in for Winter

The Autumn Tree – all tucked in for Winter

-oOo-

I may have a practical mind but the complexities of slide rules, abacuses, and other mechanical sorts of calculating machines, prior to the Computer age never captured my interest … (I truly appreciate how ingenious they are though)

… until the other morning, when I opened my daily newsletter from Instructables and came across, Genaille’s Rods! … here’s a hint – you don’t have to know your times tables!

So, of course I had to check the figures with my calculator and yep, it works!

Screenshot - 21879 x 5 =?

Screenshot – 21879 x 5 = ?

I printed out a couple of copies of the pdf (linked in the Instructables tutorial) and will go forth and entertain myself for a while playing with them.

- Why, oh why, didn't they tell me about these when I was in primary school?

– Why, oh why, didn’t they tell me about these when I was in primary school? (Note – I wrote down the wrong number. It should be 49,119 – Thanks for the catch, Tofino. 🙂 )

And Now We Have Bears

There I was minding my own business, doing some cool stuff with my new toy when …

… let’s back the story up a bit shall we?

This winter, for financial reasons, and the fact that we’re still working on the last of the additions to our travel trailer, we decided not to put it in storage.

Part of the whole ‘winterising’ thing we need to do to keep it here is to have some sort of protection between the tires and the ground, or in our case, gravel.

Cue me and my new table saw, cutting this honking great slab of wood we’ve had lying around doing nothing to earn its keep, in two, knocking off the flange, and putting a 45° on each of the ends so the RV can roll easily on and off them.

Farewell flanges

Farewell flanges

I love my table saw

I love my table saw

As I was taking a well-earned tea-break, with feet up and heater on …

You can't tell but the rain was pelting down outside. I felt rather smug and snug

You can’t tell but the rain was pelting down outside. I felt rather smug and snug

… I happened to glance across to the far corner of the garden, where the compost bins are stored.

We have a very simple compost system – fill one bin up with layers of kitchen scraps, garden waste, and poor-ish topsoil which we get from the supplier just up the road – then fill the next bin, and so on. By the time we need the first one empty again, its contents have been fully worm-erated and ready to sit in the open-air compost pile until needed. It’s a dead-easy, no work, system that’s survived the depredations of a mama racoon and her seasonally renewed offspring-ings for … goodness me, how long have we been here now? Almost ten years!

The word had gone around the neighbourhood that a black bear had been seen cavorting among the trees elsewhere on the island.

It’s not a very big island, and the lake surrounding it is rather shallow this time of year, so it wouldn’t’ve taken Madame, or Monsieur, Bruin, too much effort to come a’visiting. What is somewhat surprising is that the land surrounding the lake is well and truly domesticated, with housing developments and farmlands, but I suppose a bear’s gonna do what a bear’s gonna do.

And come a’visiting our Ursine friend certainly did.

No puny plastic garbage bin will stop me!

No puny plastic garbage bin will stop me!

I didn’t think I’d need a sturdier composting storage system, but it seems that now I do.

Autumn Melancholy

Although I’ve been around the interwebs, reading blog posts, etc, my attention hasn’t exactly been focused here.

It’s not that anything specific has happened since we last talked, it’s more like I’ve been grieving. Grieving the world that no longer exists, and not just because of Covid-19, although that has served to hasten things along.

This particular cycle started with my post on getting our Berkey water purification unit. (which by-the-way is absolutely wonderful)

I’m not going to go into the why’s and wherefores’ of the utter debacle of the climate crisis. You’re either on-board with it or you’re not. You’re either consciously taking action to secure the quality of life, and the lives of your Self and those around you, for the next couple of decades, (as much as is possible in any given circumstance) or you’re not. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you would be well aware of where I stand on this.

Mrs Widds and I are upending our familiar life here on Widder Island for this very reason.

Can you imagine? At our age? I certainly would’ve preferred to go forth into the unknown with a few less decades under my belt, but it is what it is.

This summer was a particularly shitty one, and it’s taken me until recently to shake off the effects, both physically and emotionally, all the while knowing that such ‘extremes’, are to be expected now.

Grief about these things is also to be expected, certainly at this time of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere) where endings are starting to occur in order for something new, something unknown, to rise in the Spring.

I’m not altogether good with unknowns. Given my ‘druthers’, I much prefer the known, but I’ve lived through enough sunrises and sunsets to know that staying within the ‘known’, once its ‘used-by’, date has come and gone only leads to stagnation.

And stagnation is much, much worse, (and far more dangerous) than venturing forth into the unknown.

Speaking of which … this was my view out of my study window this afternoon. You can’t really tell, but it’s miserable out there. Lots of wind, lots of rain … and one beautiful tree just going with the flow …

-oOo-

And I can’t use the word ‘melancholy’ in a blog post title without referencing this song in one way or another … take it away, Judy …

Water, Water, Everywhere And …

… not a drop to drink. At least not potable water, and we live on an island, in the middle of a lake!

When we moved here in 2012 the water, straight from a well, tasted divine. Certainly nothing like the city-water we were used to drinking in Vancouver.

In fact, when we drove out here to check out the place before we signed the lease, our prospective landlord at the time, offered us a glass of water, and it was probably one of the main things to convince us to move here.

Not so any more.

We’ve experienced a slow decline in water quality, but the stressors on the water-table this past year have been the final nail in the coffin – metaphorically speaking.

Population pressure: Since the farmers sold off their acreage this little island has been sub-divided, and sub-divided until there are far too many houses for the land to sustain. The older houses have septic sewage systems and the newer ones have pump-out ones.

The small creeks upstream of the lake are surrounded by commercial greenhouses. More and more are being built every day as people are finally starting to realise that food security for decades to come will have to be sourced as locally as possible – a legacy of the collateral damage from the last two years. And no matter how stringent their safety protocols are for their waste water something always gets past the system

This last summer heated up the lake and raised bacteria levels until swimming was a health hazard.

Our well water has been treated with chlorine to combat unsafe levels of bacteria four times, so far. It’s reasonable to expect we’ll be receiving ‘boil-water’ advisories next summer. (if we’re still here)

We don’t drink water straight from the tap anymore.

One of the things we were saving up for to buy next year as part of our preparations to head off for parts north-west of here, (and become the ‘Wunder-Lusters’ we’ve been hoping to be for the last two years) was a Berkey water filtration system.

With a little rearranging of priorities, we had the rather large, for us, sum of money to buy it now instead of next year.

Having a glass of water is a pleasure we cannot take for granted again.

 

‘… Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink …’

From ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 

Today I turn 63

It happens every year about this time, this anniversary of my entering upon this mortal coil.

It occurred me to reverse the numbers, (63) to 36, and find out what was happening in the world when I was at that tender age.

Fasten your seatbelts and come with me down the slippery slope of time, to the year 1994

The Scream, by Edvard Munch is stolen from the National Gallery, in Oslo, Norway. (it happened again in 2004)

The Channel Tunnel, the underground tunnel between England and France opened.

Amazon opens its virtual doors for the first time. (twenty-seven years ago … scary, no?)

‘Forest Gump’, and ‘The Lion King’, win big at the Oscars.

‘Stargate’, the movie that launched a thousand TV series, premiered.

‘Star Trek: Generations’, wherein Jean Luc Picard and James Kirk team up to save the galaxy, also premiered.

Looking over the list of movies on the ‘1996 films’ page, I see a lot of movies that I remember fondly.

Here’s the funny thing though, I’ve never remembered a lot of my personal history. The big things stand out, but dates and events, and people, slip away the further away in time I get from them. This apparently is somewhat unusual. Most people tell me they can remember far more detail about their life’s passage.

So if you are from my past, and you see me walking down a street somewhere in the world and I ignore you, it’s not personal. Just stop and say, “Remember me?”… and regale me with tall tales of the adventures we shared.

Game, Set …

Me: “We’ve been in a relationship for seventeen years, and you still …” (doesn’t matter what. If you’ve been, or are in, a long-term relationship, you know what I mean)

Mrs Widds: “We’re not in a relationship. We’re married!”

… and Match, to Mrs Widds!

 

Annnnd … The Heat Is Back

I had two consecutive days there where I felt somewhat human, alas, it did not last.

I am now reduced to a mere puddle of protoplasm desperately clinging to my beloved portable A/C unit.

And we have a choking smoke pall to deal with as well. This is a significant piece of information because …

… There are two major meteor showers every year. The Leonids which fall, (heh) in November, and the Perseids, which fall, now.

I am enamoured of meteor showers, and have been since a small child. They’re the only extra-terrestrial visitors we can count on. Since we have been living here on Widder Island I have not seen either of these showers once. It rains in the summer (or at least it used to) and snows in the winter. Both types of precipitous events have conspired to deny my will, until this year.

Clear skies were forecast. The waxing moon (what there was of her) would be annoying folks on the other side of the planet. I set up a comfy chair in the front yard, communed with the Summer Tree, and waited for the wee small hours of the night when the shower would be at its most illustrious.

With tea and snacks I ventured forth to bear witness … and couldn’t see a bloody thing.

The smoke from the wildfires had finally arrived, thanks to a dastardly nor’westerly.

I squinted and peered but the only stars I saw were inside my eyelids. Broken in heart and spirit, I turned to go back inside and weep bitter tears into my pillow, when, bright enough to pierce the smoke, a single meteor streaked to its doom across the sky.

Sometimes a single shooting star is all you need

Sometimes a single shooting star is all you need

-oOo-

After the devastating ‘heat dome of 42 degrees’ at the end of June, Mrs Widds and I decided to splurge and buy a couple of ‘mini swamp coolers’ because I was adamant that when the next one hits (and it will – in fact there’s one over the Mediterranean as we speak) we wouldn’t rely exclusively on the portable A/C. Redundancy in all things is our motto.

Sunsets and smoke - not the first, and, most unfortunately, not the last

Sunsets and smoke – not the first, and, most unfortunately, not the last