Category Archives: Home

So Enjoy Your Life

I made this fish biryani (every Thomasina Miers recipe seems to be golden!) for supper while listening to Enjoy Your Life by Marina more times than might seem appropriate for an old doll like me.

Stoic Week is going well (and Marina is half Greek, after all!), and maybe I’m not Stoic enough to sit back and enjoy my problems, as she suggests, but I’m working on it!

Sit back and enjoy your problems

You don’t always have to solve them

‘Cause your worst days they are over

So enjoy your life

Let The Sun Shine

Yesterday I turned 53. The universe and efficiencyPEI conspired to also make it the day that the cheerful crew from Renewable Lifestyles arrived to start installing our roof-top power plant.

For Greta, and her grandchildren.

The only time this feminist wants to hear “nice rack.”
And a one, and a two..
Kill switch, so no one gets killed.
Clemmie Churchill, naturally solar powered.

Dorian

Just found notes I made while we waited for our power to be restored after Post-Tropical Storm Dorian (PTSD, which is what I had for a bit!). September flew by in a series of post-summer board meetings, keeping me from posting, so I shall post this post-haste!

  1. Power out from Saturday, September 7, 17:10 to Friday, September 13, 20:30.
  2. Internet outages: Saturday, September 7 ,17:10 to Tuesday, September 10 19:15, and Wednesday, September 11 09:00-20:00.
  3. I missed the Internet more than electricity.
  4. Our average electricity costs to this point in 2019 is $3.84/24-hour-day or 16 cents an hour. We ran our generator for a total 30 hours for those six days and we used 40 litres of gasoline, so that works out to .75 litres/hour. At a cost of $1.14/litre, our generator cost was about 85 cents/hour or (if we had run the generator 24 hours a day) $20.40 a day. Electricity is a really great deal!
  5. Plug-in carbon monoxide detectors with replaceable 9v battery backups are cheaper to purchase, but they eat batteries like crazy, so I will replace these units with a type with a 10-year non-replaceable battery.
  6. A chainsaw with a dull chain is almost worse that not having a chainsaw at all.
  7. After 15 years of faithfully putting on chainsaw chaps, even when I’m just doing a quick job, I found out they work incredibly well (see little white cut in photo below).
  8. Rainfall amounts Saturday, September 7 = 76 mm, Sunday, September 8 = 26 mm
  9. Asparagus ferns are the only wind-proof residents of my vegetable garden, even though they look the most fragile. Dahlias and sunflowers collapsed in the first hour of the high winds, even though they look the strongest. Lesson there to be more flexible in challenging conditions.
  10. It’s still very dark outside when all the orange and bright white street lights that have been plonked in the middle of the country are doused.
  11. A landline will not always work, despite the promises. This was a big surprise after hearing the message for years that retaining a landline in addition to a mobile telephone is important in case of emergencies as it will always work.
  12. Landline outage: Sunday, September 8 from approximately 09:30-14:00; Monday, September 9 from at least 05:30-14:30; Tuesday, September 10 from at least 05:00 – 10:45.
  13. Chicken eggs laid during outage = 24 (no electricity necessary!)
  14. Canadian Tire in Summerside sold an emergency order of 70 generators that arrived on the morning of September 9 by noon that day. Centennial Honda only had three chainsaws left on September 10, and were out of many parts. To make a fortune, corner the generator and chainsaw market before storms.
  15. CBC Maritime Noon should always be 2 hours, just like it used to be.
  16. Media people, including power company spokespeople, say “check our website for more information” a lot. It’s a reflex now, and one I don’t usually notice, except when I can’t access the Internet. Internet-connected devices and service are not affordable by everyone, nor can everyone navigate a computer, so they are left behind even when the power is on.
  17. Never seen before: round bale of straw floating down the river, bleach bottle that blew into our yard from somewhere.
  18. Injuries = 0. Trees on house = 0. Trees on power line to house = 1 huge spruce, still very much alive. Trees down in our forest = a lot more than at any other time in my lifetime, possibly because much of our forest grew up after the 1960 forest fire and isn’t that diverse (a lot of white spruce, poplar, and white birch). What looks to us like a big mess is the forest canopy opening up naturally to allow the next generation to thrive.
  19. I thought very little about the current US president, nor anything else, really. The world kept turning, I just worried about feeding my family, getting water, cleaning up the mess in the yard.
The colours of fall.

6 Days, 3 Hours and 30 Minutes Later

Starting at around 7:00 p.m. this evening, a nice crew from Ontario Line Clearing in Coburg cut the huge old spruce tree and branches that came down on our power line on September 7 during post-tropical storm Dorian. By 8:45 p.m., a line crew had our power reconnected. I thought we would be without power for a couple more days, but these hard-working people really came through for us. Thank you. I’m happy to put the generator to bed for a nice long rest.

Never Too Old

Just watched Never Too Old for the second time, a CBC documentary about Olive Bryanton, who studied older women in rural PEI for her PhD thesis. It was a moving viewing experience for me as I have watched my mother and her contemporaries navigate the challenges of growing older in place. Olive is an inspiring person.

As it happens, we had two of the lovely women who were in the documentary here to visit my mother last week, Ruby Cousins and Olive’s aunt, Lois Brown. I was able to ask Ruby if she bought the vehicle she was considering in the documentary (spoiler: she did buy a vehicle, just not that one!). Lois is a veteran of the Second World War, and she and my mother were both members of a “Lady Vets” group that used to meet on PEI. They travelled with author and historian Katherine Dewar, who is collecting stories from women veterans for a book and was following up on an interview she did with my mother last year.

I love many things about this beautiful island, but the way we are all connected to each other is a constant source of delight!

Phillips Brown Cousins Dewar
Vivian Phillips, Lois Brown, Ruby Cousins, Katherine Dewar – August 30, 2019. Rarely does someone leave my mother’s house without a treat; these ladies got a blueberry muffin and a bag of chocolate chip cookies each, and a gumdrop cake to share!

∞-in-1

It used to be called a 5-in-1, and now some upgrade it to a 9-in-1, but the uses for the handy painter’s tool really are infinite. Cleaning a paint roller with it will change your life, I promise.

Yesterday I used mine as a handy edging guide while painting our boathouse, and also to nudge a little green bug away from wet paint.

Oven Timer

We bought new appliances when we built our house in 2002. They were plain white and as simple as I could find.

The simple part has (knock on wood) been a blessing as all are still working, with only one minor repair to our washer and a couple to our refrigerator (I replaced the freezer defrost thermostat myself last year!)

Our Maytag MGS 5770 propane range, though, has been another story. Pilot lights have replaced electric ignitors in modern stoves, which saves fuel and lessens the explosion risk, but they seem to wear out every 3-4 years.

The first couple of times the ignitors gave out I called a company from Charlottetown, which meant waiting until they were in our area. After watching them quickly install the $50 part and charging me nearly double that for the service call, I decided I could order the part and do it myself. As we have two ranges (my mother has an apartment attached to our house), this has been a big saving.

When the controller on our range stopped working in August 2016, I called a new appliance repair technician who had just moved to our area. Before he arrived, I did an internet search about either buying a new controller or getting the faulty one fixed. The price for a new controller wasn’t quite the price of a new range, but putting nearly $1,000 into a then 14-year-old appliance seemed a bit crazy.

Then I found ApplianceTimers.com, who repair mechanical and digital controls for ranges, washers, dryers and dishwashers. In addition to having an informative website, their testimonial section is helpfully organized by US state and Canadian province. There was only one testimonial from PEI at that time, and it was, of course, from someone I knew (I had taught her Sunday School a looooong time ago before I became a heathen), so I could easily confirm that ApplianceTimers.com weren’t going to take my money and run.

I contacted the company to see if they might have a rebuilt controller. They didn’t have one in stock, but said they had good success repairing the type from my range, so I waited to see what the technician would say.

The technician spent three minutes looking at the range and said I would need a new controller (thank you), but added it would be crazy to put that kind of money into an old appliance (hey, didn’t I just say that?!). I asked about getting the controller repaired and he said I would be wasting my money as it only worked 50% of the time.

50% seemed pretty good odds to me, so I carefully removed the controller, labelling the wires REALLY well as I went along, and shipped it off to their Quebec repair centre. They replaced a resistor, and in less than a week I had it back, wires reconnected, and the oven back in service. 

The repair plus shipping and taxes totalled $262.31, an investment I hoped would get me a couple of more years from the range.

I’m happy to report that the range is still working three years later. I have since had the spark module that controls the burners replaced (a repair I watched closely and feel I could now do myself) and I replaced the oven ignitor and the door gasket last year. The display might be a bit dimmer than when the range was new, but that’s ok. I’m pleased to have kept an appliance out of the waste stream and saved some money, too.

97

My mother and I delivered eight dozen sugar cookies that she baked and decorated herself to the vacation bible school group in Tyne Valley today, her 97th birthday. She said it’s not a big deal, but I think it’s kind of a big deal at her age, or any age, really! She wishes she could do as much as she once did, but she still does what she can, and that’s a great lesson for us all.

Everyone needs to feel needed, no matter what age or ability. When my caring responsibilities start to feel heavy, I remember times when I was alone and had no one who needed me, and I know that was much worse. Love and be loved, and make cookies.