Thursday 31 January 2008

Snow squalls are done - maybe

A nice, quiet morning. The snow has collected on the deck overnight. My snow angel has disappeared in the blow snow. A soft blanket of snow where the vicious wind ripped the snow off of the deck. The sun is peeping out but I see clouds in the distance. They think we might have more snow squalls today. The cats are fed, the goldfish merrily hunting for more food particles, and I threw some peanuts out for the birds and squirrels.

All is well with the world! Things are peaceful. The snowmobiles cannot go on the lake due to our sudden thaw. The fisher must be hibernating. The wolf has not left paw prints in a few days. It would not come close to our deck, avoiding my footprints in the snow around the dock. We just had a hawk watching the birds and squirrels who scavenge for our bird seed. I did see a hawk the odd time in the summer, but not since. I opened the door to get a better view, having gotten a video through the glass doors and it took off. It amazes me how sensitive they are to a predator. We do not have many around here.

Wednesday 30 January 2008

No Hydro!

My video of Lake Effect Snow
The sunset yesterday was deceiving. We lost our power in the big wind storm. At 6:30 a.m., with wind howling, cats prowling around hoping for breakfast the phone gave several pretend rings and power was off. The generator kicked in immediately and did well to keep us going. My first priority, with double digit, subzero Celsius temperatures, is to get the wood stove going. Mind you, I had to navigate through several cats winding around me feet. Their position was that they haven’t been fed in a week, despite two half-dishes containing dry kibble, and the squeaky wheel... The ritual revolves around dividing up two cans of food in three dishes for three cats. Two sat at my feet meowing, and reminding me of my job.
happy in front of the fire

They all have fur balls and I have to sneak a squirt of medicine in each. Alpha cat, Sady, needs to go out and hunt prey, but I insisted she have some food first. Sady wants out and then Ollie is free to sample from each bowl. Next in the royal lineage, Prince Oliver, who needs to sample from each of the bowls, nudging the oldest and largest cat, Mitzi, out of his way. I think Ollie imagines Sady as the queen, whose well-being must be protected in a throw back to good old fashioned Russian politics, with great risk of poisoning in a coup by the royal pretender.

On the way by I feed two similarly starving goldfish. Their girth belies this fact, but that, too, is their story. Once Mitzi finished eating she likes to hunt them. She sits enraptured at the base of the fish tank. The light highlights their orangey-gold fins. They are fairly large now. Their lengths would span my outstretched thumb to baby finger. She pops up and frantically paws the glass in an effort to capture them. Failure does not dissuade her, she quietly goes off for another bite of food for sustenance.

The next project is to get the wood stove going. My hubby usually makes coffee in the a.m., once the alpha cat/Queen eats, she goes out for a bit (yes, -10 degrees here!), then she goes upstairs and gets him up for the day! I like to start early and can wait until coffee is made.

Eventually, using the one outlet in the kitchen that is run off of the generator, we have coffee, toast, and all is well with the world. The power crews, bless them, repaired the downed line up our road, and we are back on the grid. The wind still howls, but we sit cosy in the warmth of the fire.

Thursday 17 January 2008

the best thing

The best thing about being a parent is when your child becomes a parent! There is no muss or fuss. Unconditional love, with no pressure. Lots of hugs and kisses and no discipline!

In the day and age, technology really changes our interactions. Today I had the pleasure of going on Skype with my granddaughter, or course her parent's were there, too!

I wonder how this changes the nature of families?
We live 450 km away, and travel across this province is difficult in the winter months. This technological invention has really changed our lives. For me, living in a remote area, life is vastly improved. I can access newspapers that are not readily available. I can see videos of those things going on in the world that make life interesting, frustrating, or just plain scary.

The question is, does this bring the world closer together or farther apart?

Technology is a necessity in business. Those who most need to be in touch with the world in underdeveloped countries still cannot access technology.

Many in Ottawa, with a transit strike that has crippled the city, are spending much time in transit. The lucky workers who can work from home do. I don't think that working from home is the be-all and end-all for most. (I used to like that evolution as I drove to work: gradually I removed my 'mom' hat and transformed into teacher.) I am using the Internet and my blogs to flog my book: DyingDignity . And many other do, as well. For those who make the least money (service industry: hourly paid workers) this is not an option.

For workers in industry, whose skills are used to put things together, they are the least served by technology as improvements in industrialization has seen fewer workers managing more bigger, better (?) machines doing more work. Outsourcing, in terms of technology, and the impact on workers is a dangerous practice. (The Art of Outsourcing Information Technology: How Culture and Attitude Affect Client-Vendor Relationships) You MUST read the Wal*Mart Effect for more information. The World Is Flat by Thomas L Friedman, opened up my eyes, too. However, some of his premises only apply to those with money, and access to high-tech. Friedman described 10 'flatteners', brilliant in its premise:open sourcing, outsourcing, offshoring, supply chaining (WalMart), insourcing and in-forming, as well as others.

Growing Up Digital speaks of the changes our children's children face, but it is full of generalizations and inaccuracies. It is one thing to predict the influences of the Interent, another to invent influences that truly do not exist for most families! I wonder how the job losses the media predicts will change Canada in the next year or two. I also wonder how much influence the media has had on the impact of economic crisis with their doom and gloom reporting.

Certainly, print media has lost jobs with The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, laying off employees. (Of course, if you want to read about those - you should visit OTHER media sources!) I have noticed that all of my lapsed magazine subscriptions are coming back to me with cheap deals. Their advertisers are having an influence on this, since they need a certain subscriber base to keep up ad revenues. As a retiree, on pension, I take one day at a time.

Saturday 12 January 2008

Flood alert!

The water is up over our dock. The raft has been floating away, kept near shore only by the thick ice that remains. The water has frozen and thawed, frozen and today there is a layer of water over the ice. Last night I could hear the ice crunching into itself. I sounded like big cracking noises. The dock was bouncing up and down with what feels like a tide going in and out. When the hurricane-like winds were blowing it would force the ice floes into the dock and against the shore. Our front lawn in now flooded.

Our house sits on a rock, on a hill and a small creek flows underneath into the gravel. And still it rains. On our trip from Bracebridge to Port Carling Friday, January 11th, there was a lot of weather. January is known for rain, snow, sleet and hail, but we had it all in 5 minutes on our trip. From Port to Bala, it settled into snow/sleet. It is a good thing, however, as it will keep the citiots away for the weekend. We deserve some peace and quiet.

Today the water has frozen in subzero temperatures. It snows and last night's snow has filled the crevasses we saw as the ice cracked and melted. It will be dangerous for snowmobiles, as the ice has huge fissures. Maybe the snow will fill it enough that we won't lose any more tourists! These are not terrific conditions for those who make their living by those on vacation. I wish them well.

Friday 4 January 2008

Wickedly cold temperatures in abeyance

Another snowy day in Muskoka. The birds and squirrels have nearly cleaned out the feeders. I tend to fill them at dusk, in order for them to feed in the frigid dawn temperatures. By 7:30 a.m. they are well on their way to filling their faces! They must be hungry as they eat the sunflower seeds right on the spot.

The raccoons wisely remain in their winter hibernation. The wolf, who walked across the ice a few days ago, has not left any new tracks. The fisher walked across the lakefront yesterday, but there were slim pickings on our lakeshore.

We have gone from -32 degrees a few days ago, to single-digit minus zero temperatures. With anticipated above zero temperatures, everyone must be careful.

In his Globe & Mail article

"On perilously thin ice and not realizing it"

Reinhart informs us that to be safe a human being needs 8 cm of ice to safely support us. A snow machine needs 10 cm. With the freeze-thawing that we have had appearances are deceiving. As I walked on the ice in our little bay, my feet sunk into the slush. I went back the next day and the slush had frozen, but slush remained on either side.

I recall an experiment when I taught at an outdoor education center in which we measured the temperature of the snow at various depths of snow cover. The snow at ground level remained at zero, while only the snow nearest the top sunk below that temperature.

I feel for the families of those who are losing loved ones to accidents. They are so easily preventable. Check the websites for the snowmobile clubs. They are quite vigilant in checking and reporting on conditions. This is a preventable catastrophe.

Ollie plays it safe under the cottage. He is venturing further afield, following in his big sister's footsteps. She remains vigilant in keeping vermin out from under her cottage. The 3 cats are happy when we feed the critters on the deck. We say we are "turning on the TV" for the cats!

Wednesday 2 January 2008

Wolf Alert

It is glorious out walking in the dusk. I keep an eye out for the wolf who appeared last week. He seemed to be looking for our turkey vultures - the cycle of life ...
You can see its footprint in the snow as it trekked across the lake. I am always stirred by the colours, the shades and shadows, as well as the creatures who continue to survive in the minus double-digit temperatures.

This morning the blue jays were puffed up for warmth. I had filled the feeders last thing the night before - I knew it would be a cold -10 or so and they would be hungry. counted 5 jays negotiating for a spot at the feeder. The squirrels, in that endless hide and seek game, had wee faces covered in snow as they doggy-dug trying to find buried seed or peanuts. They are a hungry lot today and I may give them all a second sympathy feed. The rest of us are on diets, but we don't have to live outdoors. I am glad for no yard duty anymore. Supervising inadequately dressed teens, hell-bent on jockeying for yard position, was no fun. I spend longer outdoors now, but it is my choice and can move around, take photos, and explore nature.