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.
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.
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.)
The floating building saga ended late yesterday afternoon. First they pulled the barge by hand:
Then they put their boats into action:
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.