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One of my bee yards is up the drive at left, in snowdrifts behind the forklift

Friday January 10th 2014
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It is now just about midnight on Friday.  I just awoke from a sound sleep in a nice little suite at the Toronto Sandman Airport Hotel.

Looking online just now, I see that, if I had chosen to, I would be in the air at this moment, scheduled to arrive at YSB in a half-hour or so after sitting eight hours in the YYZ airport, hoping.

*   *   *   *   *   *

I got up at 0330 this morning, covered the coal that would not fit the bin against possible snow while I am gone, watered the plants, drove to Calgary, boarded my flight, and made it to YYZ on schedule at 1455 local.

After sitting in the airport waiting area for an hour waiting for my connecting flight, watching Netflix on my phone, I suddenly noticed that my flight scheduled for 1625 was no longer on the board.  A text appeared on my phone, reporting my flight was cancelled and that I was rebooked for a flight just before midnight.  By then it was 1600.

I enquired at the desk.  Apparently the plane that goes from Sudbury to Toronto and back every two hours or so had not been able to leave Sudbury since noon due to freezing rain and the previous YYZ-YSB flight had been cancelled, and now mine was as well.

I asked what the options were if I would rather not sit waiting six more hours on the chance the late flight would go, and was offered a free hotel and meal vouchers, so here I am, happy as can be, looking out on the 401 and the airport from my seventh floor window.

You're never too old to become younger.
 Mae West

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Saturday January 11th 2014
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I have to be at the airport by about 0700 as my new flight boards at 0755.  It is now 0559.  Gotta run.  My shuttle leaves at 0630.

Well, my flight did not board at 0755.  After a delay, we were given a new gate, D42, at the other end of the airport, right where I had gone for breakfast, so I walked back and we sat there for another half-hour, then boarded.

This plane was a Q400, a step up from the little planes we usually ride to the boonies (Sudbury).   After sitting at the gate while the pilot checked reports from YSB, hoping for a weather window for landing there, we pushed off sometime around 0930 or maybe 1000 and taxied out into the fog. 

We sat on the taxiway for a while, then the pilot announced that although Sudbury was now clear, Pearson -- YYZ -- where we were sitting, was now under a  shut down due to fog.  We taxied back to Gate D7. Reportedly, Montreal, 300 miles away, was completely shut down, too, if that was any consolation.

In spite of the backlogs from flight cancellations all week, the plane was far from full.  As always, the passengers on the YYZ -YSB run are a congenial and casual lot and unlike the zombies on long haul flights these days, chat freely.  In spite of the delays and our travel weariness -- all of us had been held up for a long as six days -- everyone was calm and going with the flow.

A passenger across from me was on his phone as we taxied in and when we got up to deplane, said he had rented a car and would I like to drive to Sudbury.  The drive takes about four hours.  I looked at the fog and wondered how the roads would be, but said , Yes".  He said he had also asked the couple sitting behind me and off we went.

My policy is the same as in improv.  Always say yes, and then go from there.  When opportunity knocks, answer the door!

He had reserved a compact car, but somehow we managed to talk that up to an Acura upgrade and off we went.  The drive was uneventful and they dropped me off at the Homewood Suites shortly after three.

Along the way, we learned via text messages that we had been rescheduled and the new flight also was cancelled.  The conversation along the way was quite interesting as the group is a generation younger than me, all with good jobs, and raising kids.  I turned out to be quite fascinating for them, especially when they learned I had been  a commercial beekeeper and of where I go and do and what I jobs have done.

I have never written or submitted a resume, although I have read many and thrown more than a few into the trash.  I did, however, make a list at one time and quite surprised myself.  It all comes of taking "the road less travelled" and as Yogi Berra is quoted to have said, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Mom was glad to see me and her suite is much like the one I had in Toronto last night, but bigger and a little less well thought out. We drove to 1207 where I dug out my van and started it without a problem.

The house is a mess, but the situation is well under control.  The workers were not there, being Saturday.  Being a retired farmer with no sense of time, I forget that people stop work on weekends.

We picked up a few things and took pictures, then went back to the suite.  I had forgotten a box of frozen food in the house, so returned after dropping Mom off and then I went for supper at the Red Rooster.

After that, I returned to the hotel and watched video until midnight, using up and exceeding my allotted cellular data, and went to bed.

When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity;
 when many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.
 Robert Pirsig

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Sunday January 12th 2014
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I slept in while Mom went to church with friends.  I've been exhausted after my travels.  I then spent some time writing and called Bill.  We agreed to meet in the afternoon and go for a walk.

The weather here is gray and right around freezing.  I may need to find some boots.  My shoes are not well suited to slush.

I drove to Bill and Faye's, had a bowl of soup and the three of us went to 1207 to check on the place.  Good thing we did.  We discovered the house was cooler than expected and on examination I found the thermostat was not working.

The workers had removed it from the wall when they stripped the plaster, had broken the cover, and had left it hanging at an angle.  Mercury thermostats must be vertical and level to work.  Moreover, one wire had come loose from its screw terminal and the thermostat was therefore disconnected.  We were just lucky that the weather has been mild.

I repaired it and screwed it to a stud and we left.  After dropping Faye off, Bill and I went to Wal-Mart for our walk.  The outdoors surfaces were slippery and as my friends get older, they are worried about falls.  Bill slipped last winter and dislocated a shoulder.  That is not easily forgotten. 

Our walk was more like an amble as we found lots of distractions.  I bought an OBD2 Code reader to test my ABS problem at home and to check Bill's and my vans here.  I also picked up a wiper blade since the driver side blade is not wiping well.

I dropped Bill off in time to return to Homewood Suites to pick up Mom to go for supper.  We went to the Holiday Inn and were the only people in the restaurant.  It was her turn to pay and she amazed me by tipping 20%.  I detest tipping, and do it reluctantly.  I've come to accept 15%, but think that ridiculous.  Employers should pay their staff.  Nobody tips beekeepers.

Every artist was first an amateur.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Monday January 13th 2014
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We are expecting a slushy, overcast day here in Sudbury.

At home, warm weather, but two more inches of snow and north winds.  The warm weather at home is reassuring, but I have never seen a winter with so much wind from the north -- or so many snowfalls.  I recall more than a few winters when I never had to clear the driveway.  This year I have cleared it ten times or more, and at times it has been impassible.

Looking at my main three (of eight) surveillance cameras (right), all appears to be well.  (At 0700 here, it is still dark at home). 

When outdoor temperatures are near freezing, the furnace does not have to work much and any failure of the electric supply or the heating system is much less likely to do damage.  When the mercury drops below freezing and the skies are overcast, the heating load, fuel consumption, and risks increase.  Any wind increases the stress.  At such times I check more often as detection and response in case of a failure must be more immediate.

My discovery of thermostat problems at Mom's yesterday, added to the previous radiator failure, again illustrates how vulnerable to failure home heating systems are.

  • My friend Aaron, in upper New York State, had his home freeze up while we were away one January. 
  • My heating system has failed a few times over forty years as well.
  • Thousands of homes in Ontario  and Newfoundland were without power for days this January. I am sure many froze up.
  • Failures are not at all unusual. 

Homes are particularly vulnerable to human error or system failure when weather is extreme.  Fortunately for Mom, outdoor temperatures were mild when the workers accidentally left the house unheated when they left work Friday, and that is why we did not discover the problem when we dropped in on Saturday.  We noticed the house was cool, but not cold.  In colder weather, though, serious damage might well have occurred in a matter of hours if no one discovered it in time.

Northern homes are vulnerable and should all have remotely monitored temperature alarms, but few do, and finding the equipment to set one up is not as easy as I would have expected.  That will change soon, though as smart houses become more common.

Another very serious problem is that most heating systems depend on electric power to operate, and the Internet routers most of us use and which would carry the warning message and/or surveillance video are also powered from the same electric mains upon which most furnaces depend.  In case of power failure neither the furnace or alarm would function during the blackout.

Alarm and video electronics can be powered by an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) and both furnaces and electronics can be run using a standby generator, but the first option, UPS, only provides a few hours of power, and the second option, a power generator, requires a fair bit of additional expense and re-wiring.  In most cases, using standby power plants that cost less than $10,000 an attendant must be on-site to start, refuel and turn off the unit.

There are, however, basic battery-operated phone dialers that dial several numbers on the POT (Plain Old Telephone) land lines and deliver a recorded alarm message.  These are unaffected by power failure.  A suitable thermostat never comes with the package though, as most people are more worried about break-ins than freeze-up or flooding and only burglar detection sensors are included in the kits.

I drove to 1207 in the morning and met with the contractors.  They are still ripping out plaster and finding more damage.  The job will be at least a month and Mom is thinking that if she has to be in a hotel, she would like to be in a hotel in Victoria, so we will be flying there next week.

Most of the day was spent on that project, researching direct flights, seniors' residences, and car rentals.

Take away the miseries and you take away some folks' reason for living.
Toni Cade Bambara

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Tuesday January 14th 2014
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I slept until 0830.  Mom woke me up so I would not oversleep.  Too bad, I was having an excellent night's sleep for the second night in a row.

At any rate, we were not sure when they stop serving breakfast in the lobby and she is having friends over this morning, so she was wanting to get things moving.

The friends came and went.  Mid-afternoon, I went o Bill's and we did a little shopping, including a stop at a Fireplace store, then I returned to the Suites for supper.  After, Bill and I went for a hike -- four times around the inside periphery of the nearby Wal-Mart and went back to his place for a visit and a glass of wine.  Barb and Rick were there and we had fun asking Rick's Siri silly questions.

Be charitable before wealth makes thee covetous.
Sir Thomas Browne

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Wednesday January 15th 2014
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This morning, Mom and I are going over to 1207 to talk to the construction people about how to proceed.

*   *   *   *   *

The meeting went well and we decided to meet again tomorrow.  Seeing as the entire east end of the main floor is being stripped to the studs, we are thinking that it may be an opportune time to redesign the area and modernize.

I met with Bill in then afternoon and gave him my old Optimus Black.  It works fine, but the display was damaged a bit by a drop into a barrel of syrup last spring. 

We found that he can get a flex data-only plan from Fido for as little as $10 and going up to , so we installed the SIM card and reset the phone.  I had unlocked it from Koodo previously for use in the US, so the new SIM worked and Bill has a data hotspot. Also, with Fongo installed, he has a phone number that works -- all for $10.  If he uses up to a GB, then $25, and between 1GB and 5GB, the charge is $35.

When he goes to the US next month, he'll get a T-Mobile SIM and carry on down there.

Anyone nit-picking enough to write a letter of correction to an editor doubtless deserves the error that provoked it.
Alvin Toffler

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Thursday January 16th 2014
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Fresh snow was falling again this morning as we drove to 1207 again to  meet with the cleanup crew and the neighbour.  We spent a while there, then had lunch at Gonga's and returned to the hotel.  I had a nap, then did some reading and writing, web surfing for seniors' homes in Victoria, and had supper.

After, we drove to a carpet shop to meet with a man who had been recommended to design changes in the layout.  Seeing as the east end of the house is gutted, we can make changes at little cost over the repairs which are covered by insurance.  We were back at the hotel by 2030 EST

By then it was suppertime in Alberta and the P-S gang were having supper at my place and watering plants, shoveling coal, etc..  Apparently Amos, my cat, was ecstatic to see them.  At this point, I have no clear idea of when I will return home.

At right, we can see it is a bit cramped in the bin. I suggested doing the job from outside, but this was his choice.

Weather is mild in Alberta right now, so the heating demands are slight, but I check the temperature camera often on my phone.

Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are:
precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way.
Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.
Al Franken

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Friday January 17th 2014
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After breakfast, we did some research, emails and the laundry, then Mom went for a perm.  That took a few hours and in the meantime, I went to Bill's to finish setting up the Optimus Black I had given him.  That's the one I dropped into a drum of sugar syrup this spring.  It works OK, but the display is a bit muddied.  He wants it for a mobile hotspot.

He had been using it 0n wi-fi only and when I switched wi-fi off, we had no connection.  We could see five bars of cellular, but had no throughput.  I've seen this before, so we drove back to Fido's store and had them supply the correct APN

I had the same problem at T-Mobile a year back.  They set me with a SIM card, verified the account, and sent me off, but as soon as I was out the door I found I had no connection.  I went back and a second, more knowledgeable staff member set the correct access point name.  I could have Googled it and done it myself, but...

From the hairdressers, Mom and I returned to the hotel, packed some things for 1207 and drove there.  Then we met Mich, the neighbour, for supper at The Apollo, and returned to the Homewood Suites.  Kyla and mark came by for some plants Mom was giving away and that was our day.

I spent a few hours researching seniors' homes again and checking the airport and roads, then went to bed.

Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
Tom Stoppard

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Saturday January 18th 2014
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Today, we drive to YYZ, board flight 191 and fly to Victoria.  I've checked the road reports and the flights and all is "go" at present.  Of course that can change during our four-hour drive and two-hour wait at YYZ.

+   +   +   +   +

Everything went according to plan and we arrived in Victoria just before 2200, picked up our rental car and drove the twenty miles to the Embassy Suites.  The car is a new Mazda 3 with 1034 km on  the clock.  It is a sporty little car, but a but rough compared to my vans.

Mom was exhausted, but made the trip OK.  2200 hours here in  Victoria is 0100 EST, so it has been a long day.  I set my watch for BC time when the plane lifted off and slept enroute, so was not too tired on arrival, but then, I am not 95 like Mom will be in March.

Now I have vans sitting in pay parking lots at two airports, one in Calgary and one in Toronto.  When will I get back to either?  I have no idea.

Cast your fate to the winds
Unknown

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Sunday January 19th 2014
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Here we are.  In Victoria.  Sunday morning.  Mom is tired.  We had breakfast downstairs and she went back to bed.

I'm here sitting looking at the BC parliament buildings from our third floor suite, wondering what comes next.

We has planned to find her more permanent digs for now until the end of March, but I think that will have to wait until tomorrow.  I'd like to cross to Vancouver to attend the Vancouver Boat Show and spend some time on my boat, but that will have to wait too.  At this point, it is apparent that I can't leave her on her own as she has trouble with doors. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  This trip is all her idea, not mine, and I am along to make sure it works out for the best.

We stayed in all morning, resting up, then had lunch downstairs.  After, I went grocery shopping and also went to the car rental office and renegotiated the rate.  I had phoned up and rented for one day at their regular rate, but do not want to pay that rate for the coming week or however long I am here.  I changed to the Internet rate and knocked $80 (~1/3) off the weekly rate I started with.

I had intended to go to Sidney and visit my boat, but ran out of daylight, so returned to suite 313, ate a light supper, and wrote a few letters.  One was about 1207.  The day we left, we could see that the tearing out was complete, so we need to establish the details of the reconstruction before they get too far into the job -- communicating over a great distance.  Should be interesting!

What is food to one, is to others bitter poison.
Lucretius

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