Editorial – January/February/March 2022

Today, December 14, 2021,  as I write this, we are a mere 11 days away from Christmas and 17 days away from a brand new year.  It’s a few days  after a windstorm similar to one we had in April of 2011, but, fortunately, without the same consequences of downed trees and a long power outage.  Our  electricity was only off briefly – and in the daylight, giving us a chance to arrange the dozens of candles we keep on hand.  My husband Peter and I secured what we could outside, moved vehicles away from precariously swaying trees and pretty much “battened down the hatches.” Our power was restored before it got dark, for which we were extremely grateful, but I have to say I was a little embarrassed at how poorly prepared we were after over 27 years of living in the country. 

The first thing that goes through my mind when we lose our electricity is, “Did I save all the work I just finished on the computer?”… especially when it’s deadline, which it was.  The next thought concerns water.  We should always, always, have water set aside because if you depend on a well, no electricity means no pump, and no pump means no running water. (You can ponder those implications.) Then, if it’s winter, I wonder how cold the house is going to get and if our pipes will freeze… and then I’m always hit with the realization that we really are  far too reliant on electricity and should always be prepared for when we don’t have it.  A little late, but I’ll put that down as a new year’s resolution, and one I’ll keep. (I must confess one of my biggest fears is lack of fresh coffee in the morning… perish the thought!) 

2021 has been an unpredictable year, full of those seasons in our lives that consist of peaks and valleys.  Suffice it to say that both family and friends have made us acutely aware of how precious life is, and how we should never take it for granted,  or waste a minute of it.  Blessed with a little granddaughter, Sarah,  who is growing faster than we could ever have imagined, we’re catching a glimpse of  the world through her beautiful eyes, and it’s a magical place. I hope it stays that way for a long, long time for her and that when it does change, as it inevitably will, she’ll have  become a resilient and compassionate person who will take it all in stride and maybe change a thing or two for the better along the  way.  (Don’t I just sound like a grandmother? Right?)  It’s been fun looking for gifts for Christmas in actual shops, and I think I have inadvertently started a collection of the small, colourful Swanky Swigs for her. Maybe one day she’ll be able to sell her collection  (if it becomes one) and make a bit of money. ( Back in the day, when the internet  was just gaining momentum, I made a small fortune on those mid-century glasses.  They paid for a trip or two to Florida!) I’m glad both her parents appreciate  antique, vintage and nostalgic items.  We tend to collect, too, and this, of course, means that it’s difficult to achieve that “minimalist” look in our homes, but as the expression goes – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  And I don’t think that’s the look we want anyway.  The things we gather  say a lot about who we are.  (ie: you might guess that we really like birds, books and cats in this house, where they tend toward cats and VWs, to mention a couple favourites.)

I guess this is a really good place to tell you a story that might  serve as a reminder that we all have to be diligent in  protecting ourselves and our homes from a very real danger that we can be unaware of.  Recently,  I was part of an upsetting incident that had a rather miraculous outcome.

We walk our old dog, Chevy,  twice every day, rain or shine, snow or grass, wind or calm…  we just always have for 11 years,  and one morning about a month or so ago I was doing just that.  We have neighbours with a little Shar Pei who does  not like Chevy and is oblivious to the fact that he’s at least twice as big as she is. Her  family  has her on a leash when we happen to meet outside on occasion, and we always chuckle at how fearless she is. Well, this morning, as we passed their house,  I heard some yelling from their front door and realized their dog had gotten out and was making a beeline for Chevy.  It was chaos for what seemed like forever – I was trying to pull away our big dog who was on his leash, from a growling, snapping, moving-like-lightning little dog, who was  not.  It seemed like her “dad” had disappeared and my brief thought was that he was likely trying to get some shoes on.  After what seemed like forever, he came running from the front door, followed by his wife, and young son –  although I hardly noticed them at the time… I was still in between two dogs and was busy shouting at the Shar Pei to get away. At that point our neighbour came over quickly and grabbed his dog, but while he was doing that, from my viewpoint I saw his wife fall onto the driveway and I  called to her (amidst the commotion) to see if she was okay.  Her husband hadn’t seen this… he was facing me, but then turned, and in alarm, ran back to his wife. This, of course, released the dog, so we were back to more chaos and now the son was trying hard to help.  His mom had been helped up by his step-dad, who  returned to retrieve their dog… and just as he got back to the dog, his wife, once again, went crashing to the ground. We were  all horrified  and he got back to her in a split second – the dog was released again, but this time the son was able to grab her  and he sat with his arms around her neck. The poor  kid was just sobbing while his step-dad tended to his mom, making her sit still while he called 911 on his cell phone.   I (still in panic mode) asked if she was okay… she sure didn’t look like she was, but she answered, and (sweet soul that she is) asked if Chevy was alright.  I hadn’t had a chance to check him out.  

Chevy and I quickly headed right home, and as soon as we got into the door, I asked Peter to drive me back over to our neighbour’s house and when we arrived, she was still sitting on the driveway with her husband, waiting for an ambulance. Thankfully, she was conscious, but she needed medical attention. We expressed our concern  and asked them to keep us informed when they had a chance, and then drove back home.  It was extremely upsetting and we were terribly concerned.

Later that day, after waiting anxiously for news, our neighbour came by to explain what had happened.  They had recently installed a new wood burning stove and had been using it, not knowing that something wasn’t right.  Their carbon monoxide detector had indicated there was a problem, but it wasn’t working quite correctly so they hadn’t reacted to the warning.  He had woken up with a terrible headache and taken some pain killers that had  helped and was getting ready to put the dog out and then  head off to work. His wife and son had also complained of feeling ill, with terrible headaches, but no one put the pieces of the puzzle together. When the ambulance arrived and the paramedics asked what had happened, one of them went into the house with a carbon monoxide tester…  only to find that the levels of it in the house  were incredibly high and they were all suffering from poisoning by the lethal gas. Wow. It was a terrifyingly close call.

If that little Shar Pei hadn’t bolted out the front door that morning, and her owner had driven off to work, probably noticing that his headache was subsiding significantly, his wife and stepson just might have headed back to bed, feeling extremely  unwell…  and that could have resulted in a very tragic ending.

Our neighbours are all fine now … she had some serious bruising on her face and was treated in the hospital for that and the critical levels of poisoning.  The woodburning stove has been fixed. They (and ourselves!)  have purchased new detectors that are well-designed,  impossilbe to ignore and indicate clearly what the CM levels are . 

Our neighbours are all fine now … she had some serious bruising on her face and was treated in the hospital for that and the critical levels of poisoning.  The woodburning stove has been fixed. They (and ourselves!)  have purchased new detectors that are well-designed,  impossilbe to ignore and indicate clearly what the CM levels are . 

Please take care of yourselves… make sure all your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly – what a perfect gift they could be if you’re still looking for one.  

Best wishes for a SAFE, healthy, happy 2022!  Thanks for reading, see you next time, and, as always, God bless.  Take good care.

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