Monthly Archives: February 2016

Ouch

Ouch!

Ouch

Nothing like talking a long walk off a short pier. Hubby dearest went out to view the stars off the dock unaware the dock was closed for repairs. The dock owners assumed everyone had been informed and since they were planning on being back to finish the repairs very early in the morning, they didn’t physically block the dock off. Also because of the repairs the lights were not working. Dick walked along looking up at the stars, and abruptly dropped about eight feet into a foot and a half of cold water over an oyster bed. Amazingly enough, he was basically unhurt except for a lot of superficial cuts and bruises.He couldn’t find his glasses in the dark and he was bleeding from his head and hands. He had about 50 small superficial head cuts. Head cuts really bleed and so by the time he got back to shore, one side of his head was covered with blood and it was running down his jacket front. He was also shaking from cold and shock. Jack was just getting ready to go to bed and so the sight of Dick walking in the door nearly gave him a heart attack. Jack called me to come.

After a warm bath and check, we decided he didn’t need to go to the hospital. By some miracle all the cuts were superficial. I cleaned one cut below his lip and found a tiny bit of oyster shell and a splinter of wood that had to be removed. The rest of the cuts were not dirty. We go to wild places a lot. Our doctor sends us to these wild places with a prescription for antibiotics which we fill before leaving and strict instructions for when to use them. We decided, given how oyster shells are notorious for causing infections, that this was one of those times. I used steri-strips to close a nasty wound that might have needed stitches on one finger. I also used steri-strips to tightly close the wound below his lip where it gaped but I left a small portion open to drain in the region where I had picked out the foreign bodies. I figured that area would need to drain and it did for a full 48 hours.

Two days later, Hubby Dearest is up and about and doing fine. He has a very nasty bruise under his armpit extending well down his arm. His knee got good banging and swelled up horribly but that knee is troublesome and arthritic anyway so we gave it the ice/anti-inflammatory treatment. The bump on his head is going down. The swelling on his lip is going away. All the assorted bumps bruises and cuts are healing very nicely with no sign of infection.

We got lucky, very lucky. The tide was not quite all the way out and the foot and a half of water probably cushioned his fall. Catching his arm on the exposed centre beam probably broke the fall into two stages, reducing the impact even if it bruised him. I keep thinking of might-have-beens. He had been out at a meeting and just returned. Our host thought he had gone back to our trailer and I thought he was still out. I probably would have gone to bed in another hour or so and not noticed he was gone until I woke up hours later. No one knew he was out on the dock, so if he had been knocked unconscious he would have drowned or died of hypothermia before we noticed. He could have broken bones or gotten cut up enough to need a surgical repair. Sharks and alligators are a rare but certainly not unheard of sight around the dock. The only permanent damage that occurred is that we discovered his almost new jeans have a great big rip in them. That’s a pretty cheap price to pay all things considered.

The people who were working on the dock were absolutely horrified. They apologized multiple times. One young man came over and got into the cold water (now higher because the tide was coming in) in the dark with a flashlight and he retrieved Dick’s glasses for him, apologizing all the time. Amazingly enough, the glasses weren’t even scratched.

All is well that ends well. I suspect the folks involved in the dock repair will never again make the mistake of assuming everyone knows and not blocking access. We certainly saw lots of caution tape and wooden barriers all over as they continue their work. The other thing we discovered is I should probably have a tetanus booster when we get back. Mine is overdue. It pays to keep that up. You never know when a oyster bed might be your landing place.

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We get through our second major tornado outbreak.

I am a weather fanatic. I freely admit. I have been as long as I can remember. Tornado and severe thunderstorms are kind of my ultimate weather fear and thrill. So last night was one fantastic terrifying experience.

Early in the day NOAA released one of their charts with a big red bull’s eye and our winter parking spot was on the boundary of the red zone. The last time we saw one of those was back on May 2011 when we spent 6 hours in a tornado shelter in Lexington Kentucky. That was the same day Joplin got flattened. We were on alert. We went out for dinner and our waitress told us that school was being cancelled the next day due to the forecast. That was pretty shocking. Schools closed due to a possible tornado event? The locals were worried and one absolute rule we have with severe weather is if the locals worry then you should worry too. As we were getting ready to retire for the night we checked the NOAA site and found that Pensacola was under a tornado warning. There was also a report about a tornado having hit an RV park. It is a horrible eery awful sensation to look at the red on the map and know people may be dying at that moment.

We decided we would prepare for the worst. We checked out the nearby study building with a washroom, concrete walls and  reinforced roof designed to withstand hurricanes we had previously chosen as our safest place. We covered windows that might be problematic with cushions and got the shower stall ready complete with mattresses and quilts to put over our heads. I really really really missed my nice sturdy basement shelter back home.

We couldn’t sleep so we both decided to stay up and work while watching the radar. Time and again we saw severe storm warnings with red tornado warnings popping up. The weather people always sound alarmed but this was alarmed and grave, meaning bad. At about 4:00am I saw a large storm heading our way from the ocean. I told hubby dearest we would have to move to our sheltering spot soon. He began preps for trouble. About five minutes later the severe thunderstorm warning went up and we headed to the bathroom. Normally a severe thunderstorm warning by itself is not enough to send us to shelter but there had been many examples of these severe cells sending down tornados with almost no warning I could see on the radar and it just seemed better to not take a chance.

The storm cell took about fifteen minute to pass over and two more came right behind it. Each one brought lots of lightning and pouring rain but thunder was distant and muffled. We had one spell of horizontal rain that lasted about two minutes but no other danger signs. We never actually moved into the bathroom although we were right beside it. As the storm cells moved on shore there was an obvious weakening and  the radar showed no rotation and we felt it was fine to simply be near safety.

By about 5:00am it was pretty much over. The storm system had passed us by with no damage. The ground was wet when we went back to our trailer and finally went to sleep. I mumbled about how we had really wasted our time worrying about the tornado and staying up. Hubby dearest strongly disagreed. This time nothing came our way. If we get careless or complacent next time might not be so lucky.

Today we learned a long track EF3 hit Pensacola destroying almost 100 homes. Another tornado destroyed an RV campground in the town of Convent, in southern Louisiana and killed two people and injured 31 people. It was a strong graphic reminder of how RVs are not a good place to be in tornado weather.Tonight I am heading to bed grateful for a tornado free night to catch up on my sleep.

I hope the folks hit by this tornado outbreak all make a full recovery of home and health. My condolences to the family who lost loved ones. That could have been us.

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Associated Press picture of the Convent RV Park in Louisiana after it was hit by a tornado.

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Valentine’s Day Parade

SAM_7075Oh what fun! No one can put on a parade and have a local party like small town America! I do love these happy festivals. The whole town turned out. Everyone who does anything of any sort in the community shows up for the parade. There’s a lot of things for the kids to do. There are stalls selling neat and fun overpriced items. The Tupperware ladies are out showing off their wares. The Scented Candles Ladies have their stalls. There are a dozen different tables dedicated to weight loss schemes that are assured to work if you hand over your money. In this festival there were also several fund raising bake sales and book sales so a bargain was possible.

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The cement girl was for sale. The live one was the granddaughter of the lady who makes the lawn ornaments and so not for sale.

This year there was also politics. It is an election year and so there was a stall for the Democrats and one for the Republicans. Three sheriffs and a judge were also in the running. Trump had his own stall too although the man himself was too busy in South Carolina to make an appearance. I love to listen into American politics as a visiting Canadian.

 

“If Trump gets in I’m moving to Canada!” one woman at the Democratic table proudly told me as if disliking Trump would mean I would immediately agree with and welcome her simply because we Canadians are so much more sensible. Instead I asked her if she had $500,000 in cash to set up a small business or a trade we needed in the cold north, like welding or truck driving. When she said no, she was an artist, but she was a great respecter of Canadian values, I told her she likely wouldn’t be accepted. As usual, she was deeply shocked to learn that Canada was apparently not ready to embrace her simply because she knew what the right kind of values were to be holding. Admittedly Canada has taken in Americans (draft dodgers and gays) as refugees fleeing political oppression in the past. Maybe that’s where they get that idea.

The folks at the Trump table were more interesting if just because they were a lot more emphatic. Each one of them had a tale to tell about how government had ruined them, cheated them, or over taxed them. They are angry folks, fed up with the lies of politicians and ready to vote for anyone (even Trump) who is not one of the establishment they feel has been ripping them off and lying to them. They talked about how the deficit was out of control, how political correctness was killing what America was supposed to be about, how the values on which the nation was founded are being threatened, how terrorists and criminals get more respect than hard working Americans, and how no one is taking away their guns. I know someone from up north is going to ask me about their white hoods so I will also note there were a lot more Blacks and Hispanics milling about at the Trump table than any other table so it is not about race. When the Trump supporters marched past the parade podium and were announced to the crowd, the crowd went crazy with their cheers and applause. The cheering was louder than even the cheering for Mrs. Senior Wakulla Country (who was Black) and Miss Wakulla and her princesses (who were mostly White). Not one Trump supporter asked me about moving to Canada although they all wanted to hear about how we manage our health care.

American politics are bewildering to me. My husband, being American, got right into it with great enthusiasm. I hope they let him back into Canada when we get to the border. If Crawfordville, Florida, is any measure, a lot of Democrats will be trying to emigrate to Canada next winter.

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And last was the food. Local sausages (which I did not eat since I don’t eat pork), and french fries and deep fried pickles and mounds of collard greens and corn dogs (which I also don’t eat), and trays of deep fried mullet and corn on the cob. I reluctantly bypassed the deep fried everything. I am determined to head north without the extra poundage I usually bring after a winter in the south. I looked about for the mini-doughnut truck, ever present at all Canadian festivals I have ever attended, so I could at least enjoy the heavenly smell. There wasn’t one of those. Americans just don’t do doughnuts the way Canadians do. That is likely just as well. I found some hotcakes to eat and with the new consciousness of calories that seems to be everywhere in the USA today, the calorie count was included in the information about the hotcakes and so I didn’t have seconds. I know I can’t resist seconds when it comes to mini doughnuts. I had no idea how many carb and calories were in a classic fluffy pancake! I don’t want to know how many are in mini doughnuts.

We left the Valentine’s Day Parade and Fair feeling energized and entertained, happy to be privileged to share this fun with the locals. God Bless the USA!

 

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Woofstock!

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Sometimes we get involved in the zaniest things. Today we attended Apalachicola’s Woofstock. Each year the local Humane Society has a fundraising parade during Mardi Gras and it is endlessly popular. This year’s theme was Woodstock. Dogs, peoples and vehicles were to be decked out in 1960s style costumes. The price to enter as a”walker” was $5 with all proceeds going to the Humane Society in Apalachicola. Over 1000 people attended the day and there were multiple ways to donate including buying a donated doggy costume, buying stuff at the bake sale, buying hot dogs and paying to walk or ride in the parade, cash donations and purchase of Mardi Gras beads.

The whole town turned out including the fire department.

Fred and Trusty had an great fun. There was a woman selling donated doggy costumes and there wasn’t a lot of choice so Fred and Trusty got to go as a ketchup and mustard hot dogs. Everyone thought they were adorable. They had a lot of pictures taken. Both dogs seemed to think the whole thing was a total blast. There were a lot of noses and butts to sniff and plenty of attention to be earned. Trusty especially enjoyed strutting her stuff once she figured it all out.

After the parade all the Woofstockers retired to assorted dog friendly venues all about the town for refreshments and more pics. Fred photobombed one post parade picture and almost made off with a cupcake and some smoked tuna dip. We brought the dogs home and they went right to sleep. Maybe not so much fun as a day on the beach, but certainly worth the trip. And all for such a great cause!

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Garden Plans and Other Winter Dreams

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Oh winter, when things are cold, the ground is frozen and one can only dream of summer. (I am spending my winter in Florida so I really can’t complain too much!) And I am dreaming! Oh how I am dreaming. Since my garden last summer was such a great success and produced so much lovely food I am full of dreams of this year’s harvest. Things never come out as perfectly as the retouched garden pictures in the seed catalogues. I don’t care. I enjoy dreaming over them anyway. I made many notes for my failures and successes of last year and my plans are in full swing.  The Canadian dollar has dropped to .69 on the American with the result being all foods in our grocery stores that are imported have skyrocketed in price. And so my Canadian dollar invested in garden seed has the potential to produce food worth a lot more if it comes from the garden making a pay off even more likely.

I purchased a small greenhouse and a plant starting light. If I get even half the plants I normally buy at the nursery that investment will have paid for itself this first year. I have tried starting things from seeds before but they always got spindly and sickly and never amounted to any size worth the fuss. Maybe with lights and a mini greenhouse they will this time.

Last year I had some weed issues. We had a fellow come in with a big tractor at the beginning of the year and he did a fine job working the garden up. I could have used a second tilling before planting but I was too impatient. The garden is only as good as the soil so this year I have done two things. First I made a great big note to till twice before planting anything. I also bought myself a small tiller. I will have the man with the great big one come in to do the first till and then I will my small tiller to do a second tilling as I plant and I will have the new tiller to do the rows in between as well. That should make my life easier and the weeds less trouble.

Worms got my turnip crop last year so this year I will be putting them in a different location, sprinkling the area with diatomaceous earth after each rainfall and picking a lot earlier. I will also try the trick of planting some marigolds in among the turnips. Hopefully I won’t have maggots this year.

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I have on my list saskatoons and strawberries. Getting fruit to grow in our climate is problematic but these grow wild in our area and we love eating them. So it should be possible to have two cultivars that give big abundant fruit planted. We won’t get much this year but the future looks bright. I may have to destroy some of the bushes the previous owner planted that do nothing but look pretty before I can find room but I will. I’ll take a tree/plant that gives me something to eat over one that looks pretty anytime. I may make an exception for marigolds if they keep the root maggots away.

Last year I got sloppy about labelling rows and ended up with rows I knew were beets, turnips and kale but I couldn’t tell which was which. We ate a lot of really great green salad from when I was thinning the plants but this year rows will be properly marked. Plus I am adding some cooking greens that can be preserved in addition to spinach, collard and mustard. If I succeed I will have a little of the south in the north this summer.

Some other notes were to grow cucumbers on tomato cages like my neighbour did with hers to make picking easier, plant smaller amounts but more varieties of herbs and plant more varieties of beans. I have always had bad luck with peas but I think I will try them this year as well. If anyone has a foolproof way to avoid having them turn white and fungus filled peas, I am all ears.

My garden seed list is now at almost $250 the largest part of the seed expense being Saskatoon and strawberry plants, seed potatoes, and other larger “stuff”. Last year I kept careful track of my seed and plant costs and the garden more than paid for itself. In fact, I still have one last lonely container of frozen tomato sauce and some beet/horseradish spread. It makes me wince to think of hitting the send button on that order but spring will come, a gardener’s hope springs eternal, and the winter does end. Those cans of tomatoes look like I preserved the sunshine and warmth of summer.

I would love to hear if anyone else is planning their summer garden and what they are planning.

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Many otherwise intelligent people believe only a few hundred polar bears remain

Worrying about what we should be worrying about.

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The other day, I got a call from an international journalist who admitted he’d done no research into the polar bear issue but believed, based on media reports he’d heard, that there must only be about 100-200 bears remaining in the Arctic. I know he’s not alone.

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This journalist was utterly astonished to learn that the IUCN Red List assessment in 2015 put the polar bear population total at 20,000-31,000 bears and demanded proof that this was true.

Here is a summary of the Red List report, with references and links to the report:

The 2015 IUCN Red List assessment update for polar bears(published 18 November 2015) states that the global polar bear population is 20,000 – 31,000 (25,500), that the current trend is ‘unknown’ and that there is only a 70% chance that polar bear numbers will decline by 30% in 35 years (with virtually zero chance that…

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