Life According to lights

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Location: Middle of Nowhere, Northern Ontario, Canada

Sunday, July 23

A Green Sky is a bad thing

First, sorry Weltek. I hadn't thought about your "picture" being on top during my entire vacation. Here, have some cheese curds from Quebec and some fries and gravy to go with them. *grin* This story should be long enough to bump it down to the bottom.

Now, onto the news. Our vacation started out simply enough. We had a great weekend and had lots of plans for the week. Until the sky turned green on Monday at 6pm. At 5:45 pm the power went out at the cottage. We were just about to fire up the bbq. I had the potatos, salads and mushrooms ready to go when out went the lights. I went out on the deck and looked across the lake because there was a severe thunderstorm warning. Over the tree tops I saw what looked like smoke. Hmmm. As I looked again, I realized that it wasn't smoke but a mini-twister of water pulled up from the lake. The wind gusts were really picking up and the sky was black and nasty looking. The mini-twister of water scared the bejesus out of me and I ran back into the cottage to tell Dave. He looked outside and the wind was getting extremely strong. He yelled to me to close all the windows in the cottage. Our cottage sits on blocks and has no basement to hide in during scary weather.

Once we managed to get the windows closed we stood by the kitchen windows that look out over the lake and into the screened porch. The sky turned an eerie green and the gusts of wind were unbelieveable. Like I've never seen before in my life. The whole cottage was shaking, although, not quite as much as Holly or I. I watched as the rain drove in horizontally through the screened porch and soaked the inside windows. The lightning was wicked. Five and six strikes at a time. A dead spruce tree beside the cottage broke about seven feet up and hung there swinging back and forth for a few minutes before it finally came crashing down towards the front of the cottage. It landed within a couple feet and that sent me into a panic. You could hear other trees cracking and we have some massive trees very close to the cottage. I immediately began thinking of a safe place to hide. I took Holly and crawled up into the lower bunk bed in the spare room. I knew it was a very sturdy place and thought it was the best spot. Still not feeling completely safe though, I though of putting on my snowmobile helmet just in case.

Dave, trying to keep me calm, turned to humor. He came in the bedroom and said, "Holly, I don't think we're in Temiscaming anymore." It was funny afterwards, but it didn't cheer me up much at the time. Then he completely ruined my happy place by telling me that sitting so close to the panel box might not be such a good idea. He RUINED my happy place!!!

I could tell that he was worried too but trying to keep Holly and I calm. The wind was unreal and hearing trees cracking outside left me waiting for one to come through the roof. It was terrifying. After about 20 minutes of this, the wind began to die down and the rain eased off and finally stopped. We cautiously ventured outside to see what had happened and tried to find batteries to power the old radio we found. The radio didn't comfort me though as they were reporting major damage in North Bay and surrounding areas. This was a HUGE storm. Power was out in all of North Bay, roofs were missing off of businesses and transport trailers had been blown over.

We saw people walking down the road and when we went out to the end of the driveway we found a large tree hanging on the power lines and another tree across the road. After hearing how bad the damage was in North Bay we knew we had to head home and get the generator because power wasn't going to come back in an hour or two. The people walking had moved the tree across the road so we headed out to see if we would be able to get all the way home. I'd heard that the highway was closed because of trees down but we had 4 wheel drive and thought we might be able to make it around them.

The highway into Temiscaming was littered with huge trees. We had to drive around at least 10 of them on the highway and we hadn't even made it to Ontario yet. The actual town of Temiscaming didn't look bad at all so we were hoping that it wasn't going to be too bad. As we crossed into Ontario we found many more trees on the highway and on top of the power lines. Many of the poles were snapped like toothpicks and there were wires hanging everywhere. I was driving because Dave felt like he was getting a migraine. With the wicked barometric pressure change I'm amazed that it never developed into one.

We pulled into our little town and were completely shocked by the carnage there. So many huge trees down. So many power and phone lines down. It looked like a war zone. Thankfully we didn't see any homes damaged. How they weren't I still don't know. There was a line down across the highway and cars were driving under it but the truck couldn't go under it without hitting it. Dave assured me it was safe seeing as there was no power in the lie so we scooted under it. We made it home and found a few trees down, but no damage to our home or garage. We loaded up the generator and packed up the food in the freezer and fridge and headed back to the cottage. At the store we heard a number of stories from people we knew. We filled up the truck with gas - they had a generator going to pump gas - and then made our way back to get set up for the night.

By the time we made it back to the cottage the trees were all removed from the highway. It's amazing how quickly people come together to get things done. There were extension cords running everywhere but we finally had the fridges and freezer running along with a light or two and the tv and satellite dish. I watched the weather network and the local news to hear what was going on. The phone was dead and even the cell phone was showing no signal. At 10pm we finally sat down to eat our steak, potatoes and salad. We went to bed with the generator running right outside our bedroom window. By the time morning came around, I had decided that it was going to have to move if I was going to get any sleep during the next couple days.

Tuesday morning dawned bright and sunny and looking out over the lake it was hard to believe what had happened the night before, except for the trees laying on the lawn. We made breakfast on the deck on the bbq and I went over to check on one of the ladies who lives alone two doors over. It turned out it was her birthday and I told her that Dave had the coffee on and that made her day. We sat on the deck and her and Dave had coffee and we chatted for a while. We told her that we'd bring the generator over to run her freezer and fridge for a while later in the day. After a trip to town to pick up a few things and another run home to pick up a few more things we were back at the cottage. Around 4pm we took the generator in to our friend's house to run their stuff and while we were there their power came back on. We were sitting on their front deck and the hydro trucks were driving down the street so we clapped and gave them a woohoo. They didn't see us and I suggested that the next time maybe we should flash them to get their attention. *grin*

When we arrived back at the cottage we were told by other neighbors that when the power came back on in town the tree beside our driveway had lit up like a Christmas tree and the live wire broke and was sparking in the ditch. They were on their way to call the fire department but as we watched it there were no fires. We hooked up the birthday lady and her neighbor hooked into it too. By 9pm we were hooked up again and I got to catch Rock Star on the late feed.

We made sure the generator was moved away from the bedroom and had a better sleep on Tuesday night. Wednesday we decided to go for a drive and see how the repairs and clean up were going. We'd heard that the highway between North Bay and our house was unbelieveable. As we drove down the highway we began to think it would be at least a week before we had power at home. The phone at home was working so I called and checked on my parents and sister. They were happy to hear that we were okay. We ended up visiting other friends in the next little town and heard their stories about the storm. Everywhere you went people were talking about it and nothing else. The storm covered over 300 kms of straightline damage. No tornadoes but a ton of microbursts that completely flatted huge areas and left others relatively untouched.

We stopped at home and emptied everything out of the fridges and freezer, unplugged them and shut off the main breaker. There had already been a number of fires due to things left on after the power was restored. During the day we made plans to go check on another friend who was out in our old campground during the storm. They rode it out in their truck down at the beach while many trees were falling around their campers. When we got back to the cottage we ran into the hydro crews and about 10 minutes after getting there, the hydro came back on. Just over 48 hours at the cottage. The trip to the campground was unreal. Some areas were flattened and others untouched. We saw campers with trees on top of them, through them and others perfectly fine. As scary as it was in the cottage, I would have shit my pants in the camper.

That night I had a really frightening nightmare. I had to wake Dave up and have him talk to me for half and hour before I could go back to sleep again. I decided that on Thursday we were not going to talk about the storm or go looking at any more damage. We spent a quiet day at the cottage and just relaxed after a couple of really hectic days.

Friday was a nice day too. We went to our friend's house for a bbq and birthday party. It was quiet but a nice change. Yesterday we puttered around the cottage and cleaned up the trees that had fallen. Around 5pm we headed out on the river to fish. Dave caught one keeper so we had it for breakfast this morning. Mmmmm! The best news was that by Saturday night at 7pm the power was back on at home. Such a relief for so many people. We were fortunate. We had a generator and we had the cottage where the power was only out for 48 hours.

So this morning we packed up and prepared to come home after our week of vacation. It certainly wasn't boring. I'm glad we were on holidays when this hit because getting to work would have been a real hassle without water or power.

This storm was a real wakeup call to us all. We get snowstorms and icestorms but this was the first major wind storm ever in our area. I can't even imagine how people handle living in tornado prone areas. *shiver* On Thursday there were storm warnings again and we did have more thunder and lightning but thankfully the wind wasn't anywhere near as bad as Monday. I was extremely nervous just the same. It amazes me how people pull together in times like this. It makes me proud to see how these little towns manage and take care of each other.

Back to work tomorrow morning. I'll never forget this week of vacation. I'll try to post a picture or two sometime this week.

Stay safe everyone.

Thursday, July 13

By Popular Demand!

Weltek, they MADE me do it! *LLMC*

See you all in a week or so!

Wednesday, July 12

Pretty in Pink - Part Six

With Nolay tending bar and personally selecting who would get Totally Naked, and Jimbo getting comfortable, the snorting began. We were once again reduced to fits of laughter and sore ribs. We attempted to call Carey but Jimbo told us that she didn't want to talk to us. Shattered, I poured myself a double Southern Comfort.

I have to say that my ancient old cell phone looked all that much more like a dinasaur compared to the lovely pink phone of Meemo's and Byoffer's picture taking, speaker phone. I had no idea that new cell phones were so talented. Well I did know about the picture thing but I had no idea about the speaker thing. We all talked to Dragonflies and thanked her for the beautiful candles she sent for us. So sorry she didn't make it in person so we could have really thanked her. It was at this point that I realized that all the little gifts I'd picked up at the last minute were safely tucked away on the shelf in the closet at my hotel. Oh well, I guess I'll save them for next time.

Another highlight of the night was getting to talk to Mon again. Wow! Two days in a row. It would have been just too cool if she had been able to surprise us!

We laughed about the Maid of the Fist, we laughed about Jimbo's lack of a slip, we laughed about the snorting, we laughed about laughing like maroonclown, and we just plain laughed.

It may have been because we were tired, it may have been the Cheesehead beer, but I think it was the company. What a crazy, fun bunch of people to spend a weekend with. I'm getting a little nostalgic just thinking about it all.

But all good things must come to an end and when this picture was taken we figured it was time for us to go. As we were getting ready to leave the famous pose was recreated on the bed, first by the girls and then the guys. Like Weltek said, by the time the last picture was snapped I was definately feeling the burn. I'm not nearly as flexible as mr maroonclown. *grin*

After many hugs and goodbyes, we left the sweet suite and the Nolays offered us a ride back to our hotel. Thanks again! It was so nice of them to do that.

We hugged them once more and waved goodbye for the final time and headed to our room with precious memories of an extremely enjoyable weekend. I may be back with more thoughts sometime down the road, but for now, it's lights out.

Pretty Things...Part Five

Bet you thought this was going to be a picture of the cross-dresser huh?


Guess who got new shoes?

Tu Tus and Cross-dressing - Part Four

As people started arriving the real fun began. The Tu Tu Tango Cafe is not a place I'd likely have ever chosen to try if not for this event, but I'm so glad we experienced it. They even had Southern Comfort so lights was a happy camper.

Meemo and family arrived and we finally got to meet his beautiful wife and cutie pie daughter. I wish I had had more time to visit with them like a lot of people. Seana and family showed up for a bit to say hi and bye to us. It was too bad they couldn't stay but it had been a long day and the kidlets were tired.

It was here that I got to have a little chat with Pippy. He's quite the little charmer. I asked him for a hug and he jumped right up into my arms and we chatted while talking to a girl who was painting a picture of a cat, of all things. Pippy told her that he had a cat that went away to another home. The artist told me later that his story struck a chord with her because her cat had just disappears recently and she thought it might be because she hadn't fed it soft food.

The Silverfamily called to say they couldn't find the restaurant so Meemo, Nolay and I all tried a hand at directions. After a couple of calls, they finally joined us and presented us all with lovely chocolate starfish. Thanks Silver!

After dinner there were bananas and tequila. We gathered outside on the sidewalk where we snickered over Jimbo's lovely handbag and took our group shot with the help of a stranger or two.

and a walk to the falls while the gamblers headed to the Casino. We walked down the longest hill ever and finally got to see and feel the mist - the maid of the mist, not fist. *giggle*

The climb back up the hill turned into a stroller race with Byoffer and Nolay (pushing babycq) making the dash for the finish line. We said our good-byes to the Silverfamily and headed to the Casino to meet up with the rest of the group before heading back to the sweet suite to sample Nolay's fine selection of beer. Babycq took a short dip in the fountain and let it be known to Mommy that she wasn't impressed. When the gamblers returned, some a little lighter in the wallet, we said good-bye to cq and headed to the sweet suite.

What a Zoo! - Part Three

Saturday morning we woke up early and showered and got ready for another day of peep meeting. We were meeting at a breakfast buffet place near our hotel at 9am. Dave and I were the first ones there so we picked a corner table on the patio to await the arrival of the rest of the group. Meemo was the first to arrive and shortly after came the Byoffer family along with the Mystics. Babyby munched away on a banana (how appropriate I thought). Soon after the Maroonclowns showed up and that's when the fists started flying. Well not really fists, it was more of a backhanded slap. I don't know what Mystic said to Maroonclown, but I was a little more cautious about what I said to her after seeing her take a swipe at Mystic. *giggle*

The LePews were next and it was so great to finally meet them. After so many years of hanging out with them on OT, it was fun to finally meet them in person. What a beautiful family (even if it wasn't the complete family). Pippy is such a happy little guy and Poppy is just as cute as a little skunk can be. About the time they arrived, my cell phone started ringing. Silvergirl called to say that they wouldn't be joining us for breakfast but wanted to know what the plan was for the day. I told her we'd call her back once we nailed down our plans. Seana and family arrived while Mystic, Dave and I were in the parking lot having a smoke. Seana's son was pretty timid but her daughter came with her to meet all us axe-murderers. The next call was from Kim and Chris to find out what the plan was. They were going to do the wing thing so they said they'd call later when we were done with the zoo.

After breakfast some of us made quick stops back at our hotel rooms to get ready for the day. I had to make a quick run to Shopper's Drug Mart to buy ANOTHER pair of sunglasses and sunscreen. I knew there was something I was forgetting at home. We found Zooz without any problem and called Silvergirl to give her directions. Everyone else was already there when we arrived. And yes, I did say that I'd love to try out the bungee thingy Seana discussed, but I knew that my neck wouldn't love it so much so I passed.

We wandered around the zoo hearing wonderful stories from the Mystics and searching for just one single cat that would come outside of their house. Damn cats. *snicker* We stopped for a cold drink part way around the place and I had to talk a server through making change from a $10 for a $2.65 slushy. After five minutes of counting and recounting and almost giving me back change for a $20, I finally told her to give me $7.00, a five dollar bill and a twoonie. Honestly, it was that bad.

About halfway through, some of the kiddos were getting tired. Well, some of the adults too. *points to self* Dave and I decided to head back to our room and maybe have a swim and and drink before getting ready for dinner. As we were leaving the zoo, Silvergirl called from the parking lot and so we finally met the Silver family in the parking lot. There were hugs and laughs and pictures happening. While we were taking pictures, Kim called to say that they were done their wing and beer tour. I gave them directions to our hotel and they said they'd meet us there. We said goodbye to the Silvers, who said they were going back to their campground for a swim before supper.

When we got back to the hotel we had to park in the back. On the way through the indoor pool/bar/cafe area, we walked right smack dab into a wedding taking place. One of the bartenders was kind enough to take us through the staff area so we didn't have to interupt the nuptuals. When we got to the lobby the Nolays were waiting for us. We headed up to the room to have a drink. It was a blast to have some one on one time with Weltek and Nolay. They're such a fun, cute couple! We all changed for supper and they gave us a lift to the restaurant so we didn't have to call a cab.

We headed for the Fallsview Casino parking area and then Weltek went into the Casino to get her free parking pass (thanks Meemo). Nolay, Dave and I waited beside the big "thing" in the main area. Later when we got home, my sister asked me about it. I must have been to wrapped up in Nolay's conversation to notice it because I had no idea what she was talking about. *snicker* Next on the agenda were Nolay's cigars, you know, the kind that are actually legal in Canada. While the boys were in the little room with all the expensive stuff, Weltek and I browsed the rest of the store. We found the cutest Zippo lighter with a lady bug on it. I soooo wanted to buy it for Buggy, but sadly the weekend had already taken a toll on my mad money.

It was almost 6 so we headed across to the Tu Tu Tango Cafe. Inside we found a beautiful dark-haired young woman with a cute-as-a-button baby. It was cq and baby cq. I've seen pictures of cq before but none of them do her justice like meeting her in person. She's just the sweetest! Sorry if you didn't want that to get out cq!

I've tried twice to post pictures with this entry but blogger isn't cooperating tonight. I finally managed to post these three pics, one at a time which took at least 15 minutes. Damn slow dial up! I'm going to try to finish this up tonight because I'll be leaving for the cottage Friday after work for a week of holidays. Unless I can talk Dave into letting me bring the computer (and then figure out how to get online from a different province) I'll be away for that time.

Monday, July 10

Bits and Pieces from a Friday Night - Part Two

So we were in the sweet suite and guess what topic came up. That's right, we discussed reality tv shows! Imagine that! Weird huh?

The Maroonclowns were so much fun. Dave and mr mclown are both car guys so they had something in common other than being married to weird internet freaks.

I wish we'd had more time. I would have loved to have had more one on one time with each and every one of the people there. So much to talk about and so little time.

Jimbo and Meemo in one of their more animated moments.

Kim was the first to strike "the pose". I have a picture if anyone is interested. *evil grin*

Byoffer's shirt was much funnier once I heard the background story. I'm so out of the loop sometimes. Mrs Byoffer and Babyby had gone back to their hotel. Mrs Byoffer is beautiful (and smart and funny and I think I hate her just a little bit - kidding). Babyby is a sweet and happy little guy.
I think this may have been Nolay's "You guys totally suck" face. Or it may have been the mention of gay penguins. I'm not really sure. *giggle*

So this brings me to the end of Friday night. Around midnight we all said our goodnights with plans to meet Saturday morning at 9am for breakfast. Dave and I headed back to our hotel. We were both starving because we'd missed supper but were too tired to even walk across the street to Wendy's. We fell into bed and were soon asleep.

To be continued...

The Meeting of the Peeps - Part One

Where to start. Everything is such a jumble in my head right now. I guess the best place to start is at the beginning. For me that was Friday afternoon at 3:15 pm when I walked out the door of my office to find Dave waiting for me in a Zoom-Zoom (that's a Mazda 6 in Davespeak). We rented a car for the weekend because our AC doesn't work and I wasn't about to head to Southern Ontario in July without it. It was worth every cent.

Dave bitched and moaned about Zoom-Zoom for the first 200 kms because he really wanted an Impala or a Chrysler 300. Oh well, I didn't really care what kind of car delivered me to Niagara Falls, as long as it went Zoom-Zoom and got me there quickly. Well Zoom-Zoom didn't let us down. We arrived in Niagara Falls around 7:30 pm, well ahead of my ETA. Everyone was meeting at the Fallsview Casino at 8pm so shortly after we stepped into our room I was dialing the phone to Meemo right at 8pm as the rest of the peeps were arriving. I told him we'd be ready in about 45 minutes and would call him then.

We downed a quick drink in our room while unpacking and then headed out to the Fallsview area. Now I used to be a pretty regular visitor to Niagara Falls but it's been a few years since I've been there. Holy smokes! It's changed! After one missed street and one very funny reverse manouvre by Zoom-Zoom in order to make a turn that was missed, we found a place to park. As we walked out of the underground parking the first thing I saw was Coco's Bar and Grill! It had to be a very good omen!

As we walked up the street I called Meemo to find out where we should go to meet them. Like I posted on OT, his next words threw me a little when he asked me what I was wearing. Somehow I never expected to hear those words from him. *giggle* He told me that they were across the street on the outdoor patio at the Hilton. As soon as he said that I looked across the street and there he was! We did the run with the arms outstretched thing and he was a perfect gentleman and asked Dave if it was okay if he hugged his wife. Be very jealous ladies! Next up were Catt and Mystic. I recognized Catt right away (even with both feet firmly planted on the ground) but Mystic threw me a little. Even though she was wearing a shirt with a wolf on it I still couldn't come up with her name for some reason and called her Lone Wolf. *smacks head* I think she forgave me as I was still a little overwhelmed by mearly being in the prescense of more than one OTer.

This was my third peep meet. Nookie will always be my first. Jep being my second, but nothing prepared me for this. Introductions followed and my head was spinning. After hugs and hellos we ordered drinks and sat down and got to talk to Maroonclown and her hubby. I have to admit that I really didn't know much about Maroonclown due to my absence from OT lately but I can tell you that she is a complete doll! Her hubby's not bad either. *wink*

While Babyoffer boogied to the very loud band we finished up our drinks and headed to the sweet suite of Catt and Jimbo where we hoped to see some fireworks. We were met at the door with the bad news that while we could "hear" the fireworks, we couldn't really "see" them. That wasn't a problem though. I didn't come for fireworks, I came to see peeps and see peeps I did.

There were lots of laughs, drinks, a few *snorts* and some gay penguins. I missed the gay penguin story somehow but was filled in at breakfast the next morning.
Seana looked like a very hot housewife and not at all trampy. Catt was very pretty in pink. We were all caught up in Maroonclown's contagious laughter. Mystic's voice is so sultry that I'll never be able to read another of her posts without "hearing" it in my head. Weltek is ten times as funny and sweet in person as she is on the boards and blogland.

The guys were all as handsome as you've all imagined. I hadn't had a lot of interaction with Jimbo or Byoffer prior to meeting them in person but I found them to be as funny and charming as they were handsome. Meemo mentioned that he was a little reserved and while that may be true he certainly looked to be enjoying himself while being a very gracious host.

I'm going to post this now in case blogger decides to have a hissy fit - I'll edit more into this in a bit. It doesn't seem that blogger will let me add any more pics so I'll have to start another post.

Tuesday, July 4

Three more sleeps!

*bounces up and down*

The countdown's on! It's going to be a busy week here but I've got so much to look forward to this weekend! I'm really looking forward to a weekend that doesn't involve manual labor or sleeping in a musty camper.

Seems all we've been doing on weekends lately is work, work, work. The only weekend we took off was two weeks ago when we went fishing and our accomodations were a musty old camper that made me gag when I opened the door, so a nice hotel will be very welcome indeed. We went fishing with friends and caught a boatload of fish (which made me very happy) but the camper they had for us to sleep in hadn't been aired out in about a year. *gag* Mr lights didn't notice it because his sniffer doesn't work very well. Unfortunately, mine works double time.

We just finished a nice three day weekend (four days for mr lights) and while it was nice to be off work, Miss Holly chose Sunday night to have one of her reverse sneezing episodes. Any of you dog owners know what I'm talking about? It's more of a snorting fit and it lasted from 10pm Sunday until this morning when she finally started feeling better. I had to ask me friend to come pick her up today while we were at work because I was worried about leaving her alone. She's okay now! YAY!!! I swear I'm NEVER getting another dog if/when something happens to Holly.

Update on the injured/ill list. No change on the paralysed kid. He's holding his own though. We visited with the Crohn's kid on Sunday. He's doing well. His appointment to determine how successful the surgery was happening today. The blood clot friend is continuing to do well and is now home. She's such an inspiration. It's absolutely amazing how well she's doing after almost losing her. The acid burn friend was at the cottage on Friday night. His burns are healing well and he said it doesn't even hurt much anymore. He was very lucky. He joked that he was just happy that the burn didn't happen any lower. *grin*

I only wish that more of the blog peeps could make it to Niagara this weekend. I'm very excited about meeting the ones who'll be there but it would have been even better with more of you there! *waves to all the Niagara peeps* See you all soon!