Friday, November 26, 2010

Tough Times

Boy this week has been one of the hardest in my life. It started when Davids cat almost died. Smoochie had run outside, jumped onto a large box and off the other side only to land in a barrel of oil that Dave had just drained out of the tugboat. He was completely immersed in the oil and scrabbling like mad to get out. Dave heard the racket , hauled him out of the oil and tried to hose him off. The cat didn't like that at all and got away by running under the workshop and staying there for hours. Finally when he was 90 percent dead from hypothermia( the temperature was around zero, it started to snow later that night!) we were able to push his limp body out with a large stick. I spent the next 5 hours just holding the cat next to my body while wrapping him in warm towels and a hot water bottle to get his body temperature back to normal. I set him down for a moment to do something and he crawled off into an inaccesable corner of the attic where he stayed for 24 hours. Needless to say,I didn't get any sleep as I kept checking on him with a flashlight to see if he was still alive.

He finally came out of hiding the next night and I was able to give him a bath to remove most of the oil. His fur still looks way too shiny and spiky and he could use another bath but didn't want to stress him out anymore at this time. It took three days before he came out and walked around and had anything to eat or drink. He still looks completely shell shocked and spends almost all his time sleeping. Poor guy, I feel so sorry for him, his fur has started falling out and he is so skinny right now, but he does seem to be on the mend, so time will tell how he will recover from all the trauma.

That was the start to a rough week indeed. As I mentioned in my last post, winter hit us with a vengance this year. One of the reasons I moved to Vancouver was the mild winters we are famous for but this year I might as well have been back east. One day we hit minus 22 with the windchill and got all kinds of heavy thick snow. As long as the temperature stays around the plus 5 mark we can keep our homes comfortable with space heaters and the woodstove. Once it gets below zero, it becomes a battle to not freeze to death.

Our average temperature inside the house was probably about 5 degrees at best. I basically put on all the clothes I own and went to bed with four blankets and a feather quilt, a cat tucked under each arm and stayed there for the last few days. Dave on the other hand had to battle the elements and go out each day to take apart all the hoses and bring them in to defrost them in an attempt to get running water going again. He spent hours cutting firewood, shoveling the docks, checking all the boat bilges, shoveling snow off his roof and a meriad of other chores that left him exhausted and frozen. I'm so proud of him for having the moxy to get out there every day and do all of this stuff. I was a total wuss and just hid in my bed and moaned about the cold.

I made one attempt to flee the island on the coldest night and only got four blocks away before my engine overheated and something blew. It's still parked on a side road waiting for next Monday when my mechanic gets back from his holidays. I only pray that its a quick easy fix as I have no money for extensive repairs. Not having a vehicle has put me in a bad spot as I have finally gotten some calls for home massage but can't get all my gear to their house without my van. It's a catch-22, I need money to fix the van, can't earn any without the van , arghhhhh!

Last night was the final straw, the power went out for a few hours and things got really cold with no electricity for the heaters. My cell phone battery was dying, no vehicle to get out of here, no where to go, no money for a hotel room, my plants on the verge of freezing to death. I've never felt so helpless. All I could do was huddle under the covers with the cats and hope we survived the night.

Today we woke up to a balmy plus four and most of the snow melted. Halleluyah! Hoping this trend stays for awhile, so I can get on with things around here. That was a week I don't want to repeat again ever!

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's way to Cold to Kiss

A song for winter, sung to the tune of Sealed With a Kiss

Yes we had to say good bye to the summer,
And now it's come down to this
Minus twelve in November,
Now it's way too cold to kiss
Guess it's going to be a long nasty winter,
I'm huddled in bed writing this
Too cold to get up and start a fire
Don't know how I'll make it through this
The water pipes are frozen
The propane hose is cracked
Ice is on the docks
Not enough wood got stacked
I didn't want to say good bye to the summer,
Knowing the heat I would miss
If I could have left in September,
Then it wouldn't have come to this
Guess it's going to be a long nasty winter,
Promises of lots of ice and snow
If only I was was rich, I could get on a plane and go
to Mexico
Where it's warm enough to kiss
And away from all of this

Bah Humbug, I hate winter and more so with every passing year. There was a few years in my twenties and thirties once I had learned how to ski, where I found a modecum of enjoyment from the sight of fresh snow, but now that I am older, stiffer and poorer that small joy is forever gone. Now it's just a struggle to survive each day. Living on the water makes that job even harder.

It's a constant battle against the elements here. We are limited to one hundred amps of electricity for the whole marina and that has to be shared by everyone. That means there isn't enough electricity for everyone to run a million space heaters
24/7, so alternative sources of heat must be found.

First you have to insulate EVERYTHING! Seal all the windows with plastic, stuff all the cracks with insulation, and hang blankets in all the doorways. Our main source of heat is the woodstove which eats firewood in amazing quantities. We seem to spend a large part of each day chopping wood which then vanishes in a a few short hours and requires setting an alarm to get up in the middle of the night to stoke the fire.

Luckily we live in a climate where it rarely dips below freezing but when it does we are in trouble. All of our water comes to us through garden hoses which freeze solid. The regulators for the propane tanks also freeze meaning no hot water or cook stove. Any dampness on the docks turns to ice making them extremely treacherous to navigate. If the cold snap lasts long enough, the river itself freezes, sending large dangerous chunks of ice sailing down river to crash into us.

Over the last two years, so much sediment has built up under us, that Dave's house sits on the hard at an angle during low tide. With last night's full moon making an extra low tide and the extreme cold, his house was making huge cracking noises which sounded like all the beams were breaking.Thankfully they didn't but the noise was something fearful to experience.

Even with 4 heaters and a fire going for most of the night, when we woke up the temperature in the house was at zero, the water pipes all frozen and this is just November! Our really bad weather typically doesn't start until the end of December.

I wish I was a bear so I could just hibernate until this is all over! Or rich enough to just leave for somewhere tropical for the next four months.