Tuesday, 24 December 2013

When the boughs break

I was going to do a silent Sunday post but then it became Monday and we were still without power.  I needed to conserve the power on my phone to do important things like text or call people to find out what was going on.

It rained all day Saturday.  Slowly but surely, freezing as it landed.  The snow wasn't melting instead it was getting covered by a thin layer of ice.  I went out and took some pictures.  It's always beautiful when it's freezing rain.  It can be deadly but it is beautiful.

We lost power on Saturday night.  First it flickered and then about thirty minutes later it went out completely.  We could see lightning flash through the dark sky.  I regretted not turning the dishwasher on earlier.  We went to bed not having anything else to do on a dark winter's night.  

By Sunday morning it looked like someone had painted over the landscape.  The trees sparkled with an inch of ice covering each branch.  Christmas lights have nothing on the beauty that is nature.  I kept wanting to step outside to take pictures.  But photos (with my crummy camera)* or words don't really do it justice.

I'd like to say that my children were angels - well behaved in the face of adversity.  The power was still out.  It was cold, they'd been inside too long and were feeling a little under the weather.  They kept fighting and we encouraged them to stay positive: "In an emergency we all work together." and finally, "If you can't play Lego nicely together then you're not allowed to play it at all!"  Instead we snuggled in my bed for warmth and stories.  The little one (he's 3) kept asking why we couldn't use the microwave or the lights or the t.v.  The answer was the same each time.  I'm still not sure he really gets it.

It took 20 minutes (maybe longer) to chisel our way into the car.  Another hour I think to break the ice to create a path from the house to the car.  Those skating lessons are paying off - "bend your knees and march" were the instructions we gave to the children. 

It wasn't until we were on the road that we saw the destruction.  Trees were bowed down to the weight of the ice.  Once majestic and tall. they stood broken.  Some in half.  Some with lost limbs.  Others were completely uprooted across lawns or the roads, power lines brought down with them.  It was cold.  More wind the following night meant more trees fell.  When it all clears up the landscape will be much different.  I saw branches on cars.  I saw ones that missed narrowly missed homes.  We were lucky.

Road block

On Sunday night we slept, the five of us, huddled in one room generating warmth from our bodies.  Outside our room the temperature was at least 10 degrees lower.
They're working on restoring power but it looks like some people might be in the dark for Christmas. The community has come together.  People are huddled up at their neighbours' homes.  Families are getting together earlier than expected.  When things fall apart, people come together.  There is beauty.

This picture was taken on Saturday.  That big tree in the background on the right looks much different now.  I'll post a photo once I can access the ones on my other camera.

I can't end this post without being a little pragmatic.  We are staying warm.  Our house is still without power but it is intact.  We are lucky that we have family around us who do have power.  We spent one night at the house and then last night we bunked at my in-laws.  The children are enjoying the company of their cousins and grandparents.  And I am at work.  I'll go by the house this afternoon to empty out the fridge and freezer.  Life goes on, doesn't it?

Where there is light
I'm not sure I'll get another post in before the New Year so wish you all a very happy, healthy 2014!

*I took all these photos with my iPhone.  I have some on my other point and shoot but can't get them off without the wire thingy which I left at home.

Update: The power came back on this evening and we're going home tomorrow.  The ice has started to crack and it's slowly falling off the trees.  The drive home this afternoon was absolutely lovely - the ice shone in the sun - I now know the inspiration for tinsel.  I took these ones this afternoon.

Check out that tree on the left

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Money Matters

Scene: Daddy and little boy come to pick up mummy from the subway station.

LB: Why does mummy need to work?

Mummy: Because we need money to eat.

LB: Why do you eat money?

On another day, in another part of town, the same mummy has a conversation with another child.  This one, not quite as endearing.

My older daughter is into Rainbow Loom.  She asked for it sometime in September. It is apparently THE thing to have if you're a little girl right now.  A contraption that allows you create all kinds of jewellery using little elastics.  I didn't run out and get it for her.  I said we would think about it.  And after thinking about it I said I would get it for her for Eid.  I've never seen a child look so happy.  I would have prefered she got one of those friendship bracelet kits that use thread - in my mind, thread is a little more environmentally friendly.  I can just imagine landfills filled with these mini neon elastics discovered by scientists of the future who would wonder, "what on earth did people use these for?"  But I digress.  I got it for her.  And she's loved it.  It's a creative outlet for her.  She's been making bracelets and necklaces and teaching her little sister how to make them too.  But now, she needs more elastics.  I got her a couple of refill packs but told her she'd need to save up for more if she wanted.  "But Mummy," she said, "How do I save up?  How do you get money?"

Well I obviously didn't think this through.  So I offered to give her pocket money so that she can save up.  A good skill to have.  But again, not thinking, I offered to pay her a quarter (25 cents) if she gets up every morning and does her morning routine without whinging and on her own.  "That includes making your bed and making sure your bag is packed for school."  She figured out it would take 24 days to earn enough for refills.  Too long apparently.  So I said (again not thinking) that I would give her another quarter for the evening routine.  We made a list of things she has to do after school.  If she does them, she gets a quarter.  So far it's been going great.  In fact I would say the nagging has decreased exponentially.


Except I never wanted to tie money to chores or things you have to do just for being part of the family.

Except that I forgot to talk about the charitable aspect of earning money.  You know - save some, spend some and share some?

I now have to re-evaluate.  Is 50 cents a day too much for 7 years old?  How do I introduce the concept of giving?  How do I ensure that she learns about money but at the same time learn that being part of a family means that you have responsibilities (that aren't necessarily attached to money)?

Agh.  The perils of leaping before thinking.