We had our first white Christmas in many years. Unfortunately, that white Christmas meant an ice storm that knocked out the power in several thousand homes in Eastern Canada and the U.S. Toronto was hit really hard. I was extremely lucky that my apartment building was spared, but my parents live in Scarborough, the area that was hit the hardest by the storm. My parents were without power from Sunday until the very early hours of Thursday morning. Saying that, they were very fortunate compared to a lot of people.
My dad was able to set up a generator that provided some heat and hot water. It also kept the fridge going. And my mom had a small radio that she was able to run on batteries. I think having this vital contact with the outside world was one thing that kept us all going. I was only there for three of the four blackout days, but I know I was grateful to have some news and music from 96.3. Another important tool was the barbecue. While Mom was able to cook the turkey in my uncle's oven (as he still had electricity), she relied on the barbecue for everything else. She did an AMAZING job under very trying circumstances and is talking about writing a Christmas 2013 ice storm barbecue cookbook. *g* In any case, it was certainly an interesting Christmas. My mom and I both agreed that there was a reason why people used to get up with the sun and go to bed when it set...
Barnaby didn't fare too badly. He was able to watch birds and squirrels
from the window, though that was during the day when there was still light.
If you look closely at Barnaby's coat, you can see what else
he was doing. Those white flakes are fake snow from the Christmas
tree. He mostly lies under it, but sometimes he climbs up it.
Sadly, the birds provided entertainment for everyone. We kept tossing
seeds and bread out the front door because the bird feeder was frozen
and the snow kept covering the seeds that were on the ground. The
sparrows live in a hedge next door, so they kept flying back and forth.
The squirrels had no trouble finding those seeds.
Redtail, Barnaby's favourite squirrel. Redtail came up to the window at one point
and was nose to nose with Barnaby. After seeing Barnaby's fascination with the
squirrels (not to mention the physical resemblance), I became convinced that
Barnaby is actually part squirrel, which explains quite a lot about him, I think.
Barnaby when the birds and squirrels weren't around. I think this might
have been before the invention of the string game. The string game came
about because the little creature on the end of his one toy came off,
so we were only left with a string on a stick. However, Barnaby thought
this was wonderful and instantly fell in love with this new game. Any
other cat would have been bored after about 30 seconds, but Barnaby
couldn't get enough of it. This is how desperate we all became during
the ice storm. The fact that Barnaby still wanted to play with the toy
after the power was restored just supports my theory that he's part squirrel.
My favourite game was seeing how many things I could put on my dad while he was
asleep. I only ever got as far as four. By the way, this was taken at night when
we only had flashlights and candles for light. I took this using a very powerful
flash, which woke Danna up and meant I couldn't place a fifth object on him.
If this seems pathetic then I should point out that it was much more
popular than my sleeve puppets from the first night of my stay, even
though I had a flashlight and two layers of sleeves to work with.
Even though I was naughty, Santa still appeared on Christmas.
This year, smartphones were the second most popular gift after books.
I was very happy to receive a copy of Doctor Who - The Vault:
Treasures From The First 50 Years. Even my sister flipped through
it and she doesn't even like Doctor Who. My dad become so
engrossed in it that I left the book with him. I don't have time to read
it right now - and not just because I've been working my way through
last year's Christmas coffee table book, Roger Moore's Bond on Bond.
An exaggerated look at how bad the ice storm was for the family. I think my mom
is planning to send this picture of my sister to my uncle and aunt in Victoria.
I was actually trying to get a good picture of a neighbour's
ridiculous wooden cross, but I think this photo also gives you
a good indication of what the weather was like. To be honest,
as much as we make fun of this cross, my parents said they missed
seeing it on at night as it would have helped light the street. I suggested
setting it on fire, but we all agreed that the light wouldn't last very long.
The big wooden cross in all of its glory after the power was
restored. The patriarch of the family became a Baptist minister,
okay? And I think he knows damn well that he lives across the
street from a bunch of heathens. I still wish my mom had followed
through with her idea to use a pentacle with red lights as a lawn decoration.
I thought I should take at least one photo of the Christmas
tree lit up (after the power was restored). Mom took great
delight in turning the Christmas tree lights on and off
(not to mention a couple of light switches) because she could.
I think poor Oakley may have also become unhinged because of the ice storm. He not only
allowed me to take this photo of him, but I was able to give him his supper, pet
him a few times and even pick him up. I found all of this sweet but very alarming.
One of the highlights of Christmas was when we saw Toronto Hydro trucks driving down our street around 9:30 pm. I felt bad for laughing when my brother suggested hydro truck earlier in the evening when we were playing "Which vehicle will drive past next?" We had to stop when we started coming up with too many types of vehicles (such as segways and snowmobiles). Anywaaaaaaaay, we weren't sure if they were just surveying the area, but it was definitely a ray of hope. I promised my dad that I would wake him if I noticed that the power had been restored. I'm happy to say that I woke around 2:20 am to see a lamp on.
Unfortunately, there are still many people without power, but I know that a lot of hydro workers sacrificed their Christmases to help us. Some came from as far as Manitoba and the States. I'll always be grateful for their hard work and extreme generosity. I think they've shown everyone what Christmas is truly about.