St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
We decided that our kitten, Liesl, needed a playmate, and the sooner we introduced one to her, the less traumatic it would be for her. There is no shortage of cats on Denman Island, so we checked several cat colonies for suitable kittens. We ended up adopting this little fellow, whom we have named Owen.
He came from a group of more than a dozen cats which, although not technically feral, were not quite domesticated either. Picture a very rustic residence with cats of every shape, size and colour everywhere. Owen had tons of personality and no obvious genetic defects, so now he is ours. (The island population is fairly inbred, so genetic defects are common. The most common here are various tail defects - Manx, bob-tailed, short-tailed and kinked-tail - all of which can have serious health consequences.)
Predictably, Liesl's nose was out of joint for three days. (That's apparently how long it always takes to introduce a new cat.) There was lots of hissing, some growling, and a bit of pouncing, but now they're happily playing together.
Owen is about a month younger than Liesl, and he's quite a bit smaller. She has grown noticeably since we got her: she no longer looks like a kitten but has an adult cat shape. He, on the other hand, has always had to compete with a dozen other cats for food, and was probably under-nourished as a result. Although small, he has much better social skills. Liesl has been an only kitty for a while, whereas Owen has always interacted with other cats, including large adults: he is street-smart. Whenever Liesl would hiss or growl at him, he'd patiently look at her like he was thinking, "What's your problem, girl?"
I'm getting busier now. In addition to the one day a week teaching at the college, I'm also working at the chocolate factory three half-days a week. It's not glamourous work, though lots of people are envious, especially about the snacking-is-allowed policy, but it is a good on-island job.
And, I'm planning on joining the volunteer fire department. I dropped in on their training session this week, signed an application and received a big operations manual to read. My initial job is likely to be chief door-opener. Because we live a one-minute drive from the fire hall, I will likely be the first person to respond to the pager, so it will be up to me to open the doors, turn on the lights, unplug the vehicles from their chargers and get the first-response vehicle started up. Luckily, this is a job that a rookie can handle!
This past weekend was Thanksgiving, one of our favourite holidays. We like it because it is something that everyone can celebrate, no matter what their beliefs. Everyone has something that they can be thankful for, and we think we have rather a lot to be thankful for.
So, we made a big Thanksgiving dinner and invited our MEOW Society friends, Fireweed, Mike and Suzanne. We also invited Sarah and Gordon, a couple that have moved to Denman Island recently, whom we met through our MEOW activities. They have been busy with some major unexpected renovations to their house, and we figured they could use a break. We had a huge vegan meal with our traditional millet loaf and gravy, dressing, brussels sprouts, baked potatoes and squash, cranberry sauce and a couple of salads.
And, of course, pumpkin pie for dessert. The pie disappeared so fast, I was only able to photograph the last piece.
I attended my first "live" fire department practice yesterday. I got issued with my firefighter's gear: the full suit, boots and helmet. I'll have to post a photo of me wearing my helmet soon!
They have a big shipping container out back of the firehall that they use as a burn room, and a bunch of paper garbage left over from the summer pancake breakfast to use as fuel. They lit it up, and we practised the basic fire scene setup, with the trucks, hoses and everything. I and a couple of other rookies hung back and got instructions in how to handle hoses, especially the important task of stowing the hose back on the truck at the end of the exercise.
Apparently, the fire department had a call-out the day before: someone had smoke coming out of their gas cookstove. The homeowner had moved here from rural Alberta where a 45 minute response time was considered normal. She was quite astonished when the DIVFD showed up in 8 minutes! For a bunch of volunteers, it's a pretty professional crew.
By next week, I will be issued with a pager, and then I will be expected to respond to call-outs.
It's been a slow week for news at our house. Lots to do, though. Let's see, Sunday night, vegan potluck dinner; Monday night, Residents' Association meeting; Tuesday night, MEOW Society meeting; Wednesday night, meditation; Thursday night, Fire Department practice. Newcomers actually get warned not to get involved in too much or they'll burn out. Whenever a new resident shows up at a committee meeting, there's a bit of a feeding frenzy: "New blood! What can we talk him or her into doing?" We are involved in enough that we are saying no to further offers of committee or executive positions.
We went to a Fire Department presentation on household fire safety. Surprisingly, there were only eight residents in attendance, only two of them children. In a community that is surrounded by forest and with low water supplies, it is surprising that more people weren't interested. Our friend Fireweed, who organizes the vegan potluck dinners has invited the fire chief to give the same presentation to next month's dinner, where he'll have a captive audience. When the chief mentioned this at the Fire Department meeting on Thursday, he and other firefighters made bratty remarks about eating grass. I'll have to start working on them!
Can you stand another outrageously cute kitty picture? Here are Owen and Liesl together in their bed.
The rainy season started at the beginning of this month. It's not continuously wet, though, and I've been getting the garden cleaned up, the beds dug, and some fall rye planted in them as green manure for next year. I'm also building a new compost container, so we can properly dispose of the remains of this year's garden.
As you can see from comparing the two pictures, in the last 10 days, most of the leaves have fallen from the maples and most other trees. Our alders (at the bottom of the pictures, behind the deck rail) still have their leaves, but I noticed on my biweekly drive up to Campbell River yesterday that the poplars are all bare.
The pattern of the weather is a few days of dry weather, with the sun poking through now and then, interspersed with several days of showers and steady rain. Right now, there is a big low pressure area moving onshore, giving us steady rain. The worst weather here is a south-easter: the wind circulating around the low pressure blows up the Gulf of Georgia, dropping precipitation as it hits the Gulf Islands and the east shore of Vancouver Island.
Our house seems to be fairly sheltered from south-easters, but we haven't had a really strong winter storm yet. The big thing to watch out for in a storm is downed trees. They can come down on roads, of course, but more often, they come down on power lines. We suspect that there is a generator in our near future.
This coming Monday is Hallowe'en. The local custom is that people willing to have kids come to the door begging for candy put a pumpkin or jack-o-lantern at the end of their driveway. No pumpkin: no kids. Much more civilized than turning all the lights out and pretending not to be home!
Although we don't do Hallowe'en, I will have one duty to perform on Monday night. The Fire Department does the annual Hallowe'en fireworks show. It will be my first opportunity to wear my new firefighter's clothes! I'll have to get Wendy to take a picture.
Okay, I admit it, I'm a kid at heart. Isn't it every kid's dream to be a jet pilot, a firefighter, and to work in a chocolate factory?
For those of you who do observe Hallowe'en, here's a spooky card for you, starring Owen and Liesl looking totally deranged.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 20-May-2013