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Friendly Fire

Guest blog by Thomas Virany
We were watching CNN at about five p. m. on Thursday, when we heard a loud boom and everything went off. TV, stove, furnace, etc. Oh, well, that happens here sometimes.

But the power didn’t come back on, and I went to see what happened. A friendly Hydro guy came to our house and told me that there would be no power for awhile. How long, oh, maybe two or three hours. Pas de problèmes, as they say here.

He also told me not to go into the backyard, because a hydro pole had fallen and dragged all the wires down. And some more may fall. He asked me to turn off the main switch to prevent damage when the power came back on.

As the house was getting cold, I made a fire in our non-polluting stove we had bought to match our home-made furniture in 2006 instead of a fireplace. We ate what we had, some left-over spareribs, potato chips, fruit, etc. We boiled water on the stove for tea and sat by the fire, as an old (84 and 87) retired couple should.

Meantime, the ground floor and some upstairs bedrooms were warming up nicely. The two-three hours turned into all night. I kept feeding the stove wood. Even after going to bed, I got more wood from outside every two-three hours.  In the morning, still no power but the house was warm.

mar1-blackout3.jpgWe got into our 2003 Prius hybrid car and went out for a wonderful breakfast. We called our children on our ipads and told them, then went home. No power, but a wonderful warm house and I continued adding wood. Lots. We again went out, this time for lunch and more talk with our children on Skype and Facetime.

Back home, we removed the grate off the top and roasted some chestnuts in the stove’s steel pan. Still no electricity, but lots of hydro trucks. School next door closed.

Just about suppertime, the electricity came back on
and we went back to our normal life. TV, cooking, telephone,
etc. Other than some expense of money, we got through
the day conveniently, thanks to the stove and car.

Mar.2018blackout2We felt independent of the government; only deprived of some usual
services for awhile. Pas de problèmes.

Happy Reading by Flashlight & Fire from Cozybookbasics!

How did you cope with a blackout? Please leave a comment; we’d love to hear about it.

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We’ve just returned from a first visit as house guests at a beautiful friend’s circa-1923 lodge and garden in Gulfport, Florida. These few bits of advice helped us wise up and fit in fast:
1. For a few dollars, you can buy a pair of aqua shoes to wear in the water. They protect your feet from the sharp edges of broken shells, for example.
2. Sunny Florida is also often windy. It’s good to have a hat that ties underneath the chin, especially for boating. The Gulfport marina was celebrating its Funday, so we were invited on a private yacht cruise with hot dogs and iced tea afterwards. I learned this tip the hard way; my mauve hat with the wide brim is now bobbing up and down on its way back to China.
3. The way to swim in the ocean waves is to proceed sideways, parallel to the shore. It is much more exhausting if you try to let the tide push or carry you. Try it and you will be amazed!
4. Keep your eyes open for manatees bathing below the surface in a quiet stream while you are kayaking, pelicans fly overhead and an egret watches from shore.
5. Florida wild life often shares the same inner premises as people in a way not seen or tolerated in northern cities. A possum nonchalantly passed through the semi-open patio of a trattoria as we ate appetizers. The black non poisonous snake lurking around the mansion court’s garbage bin is regarded as a valuable guardian who keeps the rodent and beetle population down.

6. The northerner who moves in with cans of pesticide is looked at askance as someone needing to be educated. It is important to keep the delicate natural world in balance. Wasps and bees don’t just sting, they are also pollinators, some of them super and endangered. “If you don’t bother it, it won’t bother you,” is the motto to
follow.

7. Little gheckos, something like lizards, are everywhere so learn to love them! Fortunately they are cute, charm a lot of people and eat annoying small insects. It’s upsetting if they die from pesticides aimed at other targets.
We thoroughly enjoyed our first extended visit to Florida and look forward to returning some day soon.

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