Monday, December 5, 2022

I’m Back!

 I’m Back!

When we had the big snowstorm on November 29, the fibreoptic communications cable that provides Gabriola with its internet and telephone services, broke. The last time this happened was about seven years ago, and it was during the Summer. 

Easily the worst part of the storm that broke the cable, was the death of Jupiter, my neighbour Diane’s horse. Diane had rescued a neglected horse and brought him into excellent shape and health. And she changed from being a biter to a loving affectionate horse. I adored her and visited her often. She leaves behind a weaned filly mule named Spirit. A branch fell from a tree in the storm and hit poor Jupiter in the neck. Diane found her in the morning. She had no idea that anything had happened. I was heartbroken to hear the news.

But the loss of all communication was tough on the whole island. And it’s a rough fix. Divers must retrieve the broken cable ends from the ocean and bring them to the surface where they are repaired on a barge and then a helicopter lifts the repaired cable back onto its towers. This time, it’s Winter and the helicopters are choosy about their flying days.

The broken cable wreaked havoc in paradise. Stores were only able to accept cash or a cheque, the pharmacist gives people their medications, but they cannot update our records or process our payment against people’s insurers. The local gas station cannot pump gas because of some connection to the Internet, and my alarm is pointless. Although its worse to be without the Internet, not having phone service means we cannot advise friends and family as to why we have disappeared from email, blogs, Facebook, etc.

Thank God I had cheques. I haven’t used one in ages, but without them I’d be unable to buy food. Luckily, I have a fair bit of gas in containers in my shed, but if this lasts more than another week, I will have to go to Nanaimo for gas. And because everyone is going to the big island for Internet access, shopping by debit or credit card, and to get gas, the ferries are terribly busy.

On Friday Dec. 2nd, I’d heard such grim news about how long this outage might last, I decided to mail a few friends a note explaining what happened. That brought me relief; having suddenly disappearing twice in the past year due to cardiac crises, I’d been worried about what my friends might be thinking. 

The wonderful thing is, I felt fine living without the Internet and phone. I didn’t miss them at all, knowing that eventually, both would return to working order. I loved not hearing a lot every day from the clinic.  I watched my DVDs; no news, no commercials, and all of them movies I liked.

But it really, really changed my life. I didn’t walk with my dog walking groups because we could not connect to arrange where to meet. One good thing about the storm, though, is that in the brilliant white snow, I discovered that Sheba was peeing a lot of blood. We went to the vet and left a urine sample. I had to walk back to the vet’s because I couldn’t call. And to take my car in for some significant work, I couldn’t call a cab. I had to ask friends and neighbours to drive me back and forth.

And what really stood out, was having to write letters. It was the only way I could communicate with friends in Vancouver, and Steve in LA. I couldn’t access my bank account to pay bills, I couldn’t research anything. But in the end, I didn’t care. I considered myself to be on vacation.

Four days into the situation, I had a party. When I went to get the food, I wondered if anyone would come. Luckily, Jay dropped shortly after I got home with all the food to confirm that I wanted to go ahead. And he contacted all the others on his cell phone to confirm that we were on. I have to say, I am a culinary hit with my gay posse. I’ve wowed them the past few times they’ve come here. It feels good to know that.

I’d made a fabulous lemon meringue tart with tart lemon curd on the bottom not that overly sweet yellow paste that you see in stores. They loved it, and the lettuce wraps and Kao Paht Boo (fried rice with crabmeat). That was my 75th birthday party. 75!

My actual birthday was on Dec. 4th, a Sunday this year. It was a lovely day of leisure and recovery from all the party preparations. Plus, I had delicious leftovers to eat. But the power was out all day. However, Stacy, DI and Bryce came by to wish me a happy birthday and they told me that the power would be out all day because they had helicopters and a huge crew of workers working on a short-term solution to our communications problem.

The government has declared a state of emergency for Gabriola, given that we are living without a means of securing aid in the event of an emergency. We can’t report a fire or a medical emergency. What they are trying to do, it get the phones working and a modest Internet connection. Then, in the next two months, to return us to fiberoptic connection to the Internet. The interim solution is rumored to have us able to get and send email, but not to stream videos.

The worst thing about my birthday, the actual day, was a visit from Shelly. She and Kevin and separating and in the Spring, they plan to sell their house. They’ve been the neighbours who’ve cared for my during my two medical crises here. I really like them, and since the second crisis, I’ve felt a strong sense of love for Kevin. My second crisis was a strange one because I had such brain fog, I couldn’t recognize people or understand them. But as my clarity returned and I realized that Kevin was comforting me, I fell deeply in love with him for being there. I am really going to miss them. But they’ll likely stay on the island and be available—but far less available.

During the blackouts of both days following my birthday, I spent a lot of time with Commissario Brunetti—I’m on the second book of the series (of 30 books).

Sometimes the oddest things can make one happy, like dog urine that is more yellow than red.

This morning, I was up early. I did all my chores and then settled into my big chair by the fire to be with Commissario Brunetti, and the phone rang. I was shocked. I ran faster than I’ve moved in ages to answer, and it was Bruce. I was so, so happy to discover that the phone was working. I was expecting another day like yesterday, without power while work on done on repairs to the cable. We’d heard rumor of a temporary fix, using a non-fiberoptic cable, until a new fiberoptic one can be installed sometime in the future. So, Bruce’s call weas a very welcome surprise.

I’m back!

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