Give It A Whirl

My mother’s refrigerator is 17 years old, like most of our appliances. It was a floor model purchased at McKenna’s Furniture in Summerside. Nothing fancy, no ice makers or motherboards. Whirlpool Gold GT19DK. 

A few times over this little insulated box’s life, we have found water inside below the crispers and on some of the shelves.

After some internet searching, and remembering the appliance expert on CBC Maritime Noon talking about a similar situation, it seemed the likely culprit would be crumbs in the defrost drain hose from the freezer. I removed a few screws, pulled out some panels, and used a hair dryer and a scraper to remove ice that had built up and caused the flooding. I was soon rewarded with the satisfying sound of water running down the drain into the pan below the refrigerator as I flushed out the hose with a turkey baster and some hot water.

Frozen drain pan.
A turkey baster is an excellent tool for shooting hot water down the drain.

The tell-tale puddle appeared a month ago, so I went through this defrosting process again. Then it happened a couple of weeks later, and I figured I needed a better solution.

So, I watched lots of videos and read lots of articles. Seems this icing up is a problem for many other people, and Whirlpool has released a fix without saying there is something inherently wrong with the design of their products. You can buy this part for about $20 plus $10 shipping. It’s a piece of metal you clip on the the defrost heater.

Or, you can save the $30 and do as this fellow and many others suggest: wrap one end of some copper wire around the defrost heater and stick the other end down the drain hole. This will hopefully direct enough heat to keep this silly setup from freezing and glaciating (I don’t think that’s a word, but spellcheck is letting it go, so now it’s a word!).

The little piece of wire I saved when the electricians were here last year finally came in handy!
Wire on the defrost heater.
Godspeed, little wire. I hope I never see you again.

It’s been two weeks and all is as it should be in the refrigerator. Fingers crossed.

You Have Lint Where?

November 24 – 30 is National Home Fire Safety Week in Canada. It’s a good time to test and clean your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace any that are more than 10 years old. Fire extinguishers should also be inspected and recharged regularly.

Make an emergency plan and go over it a couple of times a year. One good place to start is Get Prepared from Public Safety Canada. I’m glad to see they now have a guide to help create a plan and kit for people with disabilities/special needs and for caregivers. We have had an emergency plan for a number of years, but my mother’s decreased mobility means I should likely make revisions.

One tip I learned years ago that freaked me at the time was cleaning dryer lint from inside the dryer cabinet. It’s easy to clean out the lint trap that all dryers have, but have you ever been told to vacuum inside the dryer? The first time I did, about 12 years after buying the dryer, it was a horror story!

We rarely use our dryer now, but if you even use yours a few times a year, please find out how to safely get inside your dryer after turning it off at the breaker and clean the darn thing out. Clean the dryer vent and hood, too.

And one more thing: plastic/vinyl duct is not for dryers. It gets brittle and leaks, it melts, it burns. Please replace it with a rigid aluminum metal duct.

Tips and more tips.

It is regrettable that this item is undeliverable.

My mother, Vivian, has always loved writing letters and still writes a couple each week, as well as sending lots of birthday, anniversary and thank you cards. It takes much more effort at age 97 as her fingers don’t always do what she wants them to, but she takes her time and gets the job done.

Here’s a letter she wrote to her friend, Lance Corporal Harold Bulger, who was serving with the Algonquin Regiment of the Canadian Army during the Second World War. “Hally” had worked for her father, Wilbur, before the war, helping with farm chores like making hay and bringing in grain. As hired help were fed their noon meal by their employer in those days (and up into the 60s and 70s in our corner of rural PEI), my mother got to know Harold well. She doesn’t remember why she referred to him as “This Place”, but guesses it must have been something he said often.

The letter is dated September 15, 1944, eight days after my parents were married in Summerside, PEI, while both were serving in the RCAF. My father, Harold Phillips, was stationed in Summerside, and my mother, Vivian Hardy, in Sydney, Nova Scotia. They were both 22, so I’m not sure why my mother thinks she waited so long to get married! Her reference to being “posted back to Canada” is because she was “overseas” during the war, spending 13 months in Torbay, Newfoundland, then under British rule.

Vivian and Harold Phillips, September 1944

Harold Gabriel Bulger was killed in action in Belgium on September 10, 1944, one day after his 26th birthday, so he never got to read this cheerful letter from his old friend. He is buried in Adegem Canadian War Cemetery.

The letter was stamped and written on a few times before finding its way back to my mother on PEI, probably in 1945: 10-9-44 for the date of Harold’s death, Deceased both written in wax pencil and stamped, just to drive the sad point home.

I can’t read all the cancellations, but my guess is the letter travelled Sydney> Europe> Sydney> Ottawa> Conway Station. I suppose there was a general military post office in Ottawa (OTTAWA M.P.O. 318, maybe?) to redirect mail to service members as they moved between postings and back to civilian life. Someone wrote my grandfather’s name – Wilbur – and Conway St., PEI in red pencil, and that was all the address needed to reach its final destination.

Harold Bulger’s parents, Annie and Gabriel, lived in Foxley River, about a mile from my grandfather’s house in Freeland. They had 17 children, 14 girls and 3 boys, who all lived to adulthood (a true miracle in those days). Harold and another brother, Lawrence, both joined the army during the Second World War. Like my parents, and many others who volunteered, this was as much a way to make money to help the family as it was about patriotic duty, and their large family could no doubt have used the financial injection in a community where jobs were scarce.

Lawrence was killed as his unit, the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, were advancing towards Berlin on March 25, 1945, less than two months before Germany’s surrender. Lawrence was 20 and is buried in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands.

Two sons killed within six months, buried far from home. Poor Annie and Gabriel.

Their names are read out at the Ellerslie Legion Remembrance Day service as part of the long list of those from our area who died in the line of duty. Each year I think of this letter when I hear Harold’s name, just a newsy note that would have been long gone if he had received it. I can imagine him reading it while having a smoke and a mug of tea, maybe telling a pal the news from home, then using the paper to light a fire or even roll a cigarette if rolling papers were scarce. Instead, it has become a treasure.

(With enormous thanks to Clinton Morrison, Jr., for his excellent book, Along The North Shore: A Social History of Township 11, P.E.I., 1765-1982, the top source of historical information on our community and past residents. It is known as “The Other Bible” in our home, and many others, as countless discussions and arguments have been resolved by pulling Clint’s book off the shelf.)

Made It

The floating building saga ended late yesterday afternoon. First they pulled the barge by hand:

Tote that barge…

Then they put their boats into action:

Pushmi-pullyu.

And here it is this afternoon, near the top of the creek, where it will spend the winter. Lots of lines off to either side to hold it steady until it freezes in place.

Almost

Heading to the chicken coop this morning to check on the gals, I saw a building coming down Foxley River. I can’t say for certain this is the first building to move on the river, as I think our boathouse came down from Cascumpec on the ice in 1961, but I wasn’t around for that excitement.

There is an oyster warehouse on the other side of the river from us, so I assumed this oyster shed was headed there. Instead, they started to turn up the creek (pronounced crick by me, because that’s what it is!) that runs in front of our house. I started driving a dory and outboard motor on this river when I was about seven or eight, so I know the tides and channels well, and have been stuck just about everywhere there is to be stuck! I was pretty sure where this was headed.

Almost.

The tide was fairly low when they tried to pull/push this little barge through the narrow passage that is pure black mussel mud at the bottom, and it hung up. The owner’s 200 HP Yamaha couldn’t budge it.

They’ll be back this afternoon to try again, though the highest tide today will be around midnight, so we’ll see. They had it anchored off Goff’s Bridge in Foxley Bay last winter, but it got beaten up pretty badly even with five lines on it, so they thought they would try here.

The owner (who knows all my Hardy and Phillips fishing cousins, giving me some credibility by association!) said we can use it for putting on our skates this winter when they get it anchored up the creek. There’s a BBQ and everything in there, so we might just have a few parties on the ice.

The hens want to keep it for a chicken palace!

I’m feeling a bit overtaxed

We get both of PEI’s daily papers, The Guardian and the Journal Pioneer, both now owned by the Saltwire Network. Yesterday I read the Journal first and a headline on the second page, “Province overtaxed by tens of millions in 2018-19”, made me pause for a minute. Did the Province pay too much tax to the Federal government? Was there a miscalculation of rates that meant tax payers overpaid?

The same story was on the front page of The Guardian, but with a different headline: “P.E.I. is awash in cash.”

Yay , we’re rich!! Boo, we’ve been robbed!!

I am not great with numbers, to put it mildly (I’m terrible with numbers, to put it strongly!), but words I get. This is not the same message.

Perhaps Saltwire knows that since we Western folks gave up salt cod and salt pork and all the other salty things that kept our blood pressures high, they need to rile us up right good with tales of government stealing our cash. Maybe I should get back on the salt cod and give up the Saltwire.

iskwē acākosīk is not iskw ackosk

This popped up on Stingray Music station I am listening to, and I was certain someone was now employing cats to do data entry:

“I know I’m out of touch, but this is a band and album?,” thought the old lady who is now me.

DuckDuckGo helped me find this fantastic person, iskwē, who has a new album, acākosīk, coming out in November. Her website helpfully explains that “she has adopted Standard Roman Orthography to write her name.” Seems the line over some of the letters in her name and album title are called a macron, but in Shaw Direct’s system, the macron just works to make the letter under it disappear. Too bad we can’t manage to honour Indigenous artists by at least being able to use their preferred spelling.

Wela’lin, iskwē, for this beautiful song.

Homemade Halloween

When we first moved into our house in 2002, and for a few years after, we were lucky to get 5 or 6 trick or treaters on Halloween, mostly neighbours and cousins. Our 1,000 foot lane is often muddy this time of year, and children in the country have to be driven from house to house, so you go where you are taken!

One Halloween in the mid-2000s, I was doing the morning milking with my friend and neighbour, Jonathan, at his uncle’s dairy farm, and we were comparing notes about how many children we were expecting that night. Jonathan lives less than a kilometre from our house and he was getting 20 and 30 kids a year! His secret wasn’t much of a secret: better treats!

So, we upped our game, and the numbers started to rise. By 2010, we had moved into the double digits, and last year we had 20! I love watching the tiny shy toddlers turning into teenagers taller than me. I beg them to keep coming back even after they can drive!

The most heart warming, and perhaps surprising thing in this world of stranger danger and store-bought everything, is that every child who has been here on this rainy, windy evening has been looking forward to one thing only: my mother’s homemade sugar cookies. She baked and decorated five dozen cookies this year, with two-packs to give out tonight, and the leftovers will go to her church Sunday School this weekend.

Her 97-year-old hands don’t work as well as they once did, and she is never really pleased with the decorating job, but she says a prayer as she works that each child who receives them will live in peace and happiness. Nothing I can buy at a store will ever compare to this, and she will be remembered by children born in this decade long into the late part of this century as that nice lady who made the cookies on Halloween.

Twofers of sugar.