What a difference a day makes….and we had sixteen of ’em!

Left paradise on February 17th. Destination: Sal’s mom’s. Metchosin (just outside Victoria). Purpose: help her move from her 2000 sq ft home-of-forty-years into an assisted care facility. She’s 95 in a few weeks. But she is entirely ‘with it’ and it was her choice. So far, so good.

A quick assessment suggested that five days should do the trick. A lot of selecting, some packing, some storage, some cleaning, some paperwork…ready, set, go!

But a minor health issue with good ol’ mom stopped our immediate progress. So we ‘putzed’ around doing some small stuff, some big stuff, removing junk, fixing minor building flaws…etc. Caring for mom. And a few days went by……like the Chinese water torture…..

By day five things were looking up. Even better, mom was up. We all went for a ‘facility’ reconnoitre and ‘sussed the place out’. It was not her first time there but it was her first day in a while and the visit set her back some……moving day postponed for another few days.

So, we continued with the putzing and fixing, cleaning, packing, selecting and the other gazillion distractions from the main move. But day six saw the movers taking the big items, a few bits of furniture, some packed boxes and the various belongings needed to make a shipping container (her apartment) a home. And the snow started to fall as did the temperature. It was getting bloody cold for Victoria.

It was even colder back in paradise. Our neighbours reported snow and below freezing temps for days. “The hill is a sheet of ice. People can’t get out. People can’t even walk up or down it!”

That bad news had a tarnished silver lining……we had a home to stay in with all the mod cons and our own home would have required us to use totes for water and burn copious amounts of wood. Still, by day twelve the original chore was still not complete. There was also mom needing some new-home adjustment time…..

All in all, it took sixteen days to move Sal’s mom into a small, 350 sq ft cell and make it suitable. That included installation of hooks, rearranging furniture, decorating and introductions to the ‘processes’ and ‘expected behaviours’ of living with others. It truly was an adjustment…..for me, especially. Mom was good. I was half traumatized every time we went there (every day).

The above explains the dearth of blog posts these past couple of weeks but, wait! There’s more! The internet and phone were cut off on our fifth day there. But that’s OK. We’re not addicted. Well, hooked, perhaps, but not addicted in an extreme way…mostly…..(I thought I’d go mad). In a way, it was a good thing that there was so much to do because there were no outlets for other interests.

Sal coped by walking the dogs. The three of them would traipse the woods around her mom’s old house most of the time but every day included a short drive to a nearby beach and the three of them would regain their sanity there before coming back. I stayed home and slowly descended into madness.

My ‘fun-with-dogs’ was limited to being the ‘guy with two humongous black and curly dogs’ who went to visit Sal’s mom and went through the main lobby to get to the elevator. Those dogs created an energy not common in an assisted care home and we always attracted a crowd. It was always fun.

We cooked at the old home but half the time did take-out. Firstly, we were always busy and secondly, we were trying to reduce the amount of foodstuffs that would be chucked when it was all over. Our meals were NOT great. Restaurant food sucks now (for us). Single exception: Sabhai Thai in Langford. They were good.

Our return day was, as usual, hectic and stressful. The highway had a multi-car accident just as the snow was at its thickest. We sat on the Malahat waiting for emergency vehicles. Then, after Nanaimo, it started snowing again. Heavy. All that and a vehicle so laden that we bottomed out on every medium bump, the stories of the frozen hill and the prospect of a frozen home to get to tended to dampen out enthusiasm but not our determination.

As it turned out, the snow let up and, by Courtenay, the sun was peeking out. We caught the no-longer reliable ferry on time (whew) and charged up the neighbouring island through the snow on the logging road with full-on sunshine overhead. The hill was not so bad….I crawled down and got to the halfway lot and stopped there.

A beautiful, lovely, home-welcoming boat ride and a couple of hours later and we were in the house. Well, the engine on the boat started to conk out halfway home but we responded appropriately, effected repairs and made it home. Temperature outside was 4C. Temperature inside the house was also 4C. Four hours of robust wood heat and we were at about 16C and that would be our high that night.

The best part? I checked our batteries and they were full to the brim! Sixteen days of cold and a few minor draws (small ghost loads) and they had just soaked up the sun (when it shone) and charged up.

Happiness is a fully charged battery bank.

19 thoughts on “What a difference a day makes….and we had sixteen of ’em!

  1. Nice!
    Back in your peaceful world.

    I spent 2 weeks last July visiting parents in the private Assisted Living Facility they had picked.
    It cost almost $100k per year EACH…
    Step dad was almost gone. Was content and ready to go.
    Mom was chomping at the bit to be anywhere BUT assisted living.
    But her dementia, blindness ruled that out.
    They both lasted about a year.
    The staff were very nice but a locked down ward and a locked lobby door spells “incarcerated” to me.

    I dont think I could ever adjust to that.


    • It was really just 16-days-in-the-life kinda blog. I know that. Real life is not all Orcas and Squirrels (probably not even for Orcas and squirrels!). But assisted living just does not seem to qualify as any kind of life at all….for me, anyway. There were some oldies there that seemed well adjusted and so I am just showing my bias. I do not mean to diss any of them. It is just that it is the antithesis of what I want.
      Irony of ironies: two old gals stopped one day to pet the dogs and chat. Me in my lumberjack shirt looking every day of 75. One smiled a lot and talked me up. It was nice. Then I got a couple of ‘touches’ on the shoulder! That’s a sign-of-interest in my previous years (now it is likely just a sign of dementia) but then I looked a little closer. She was NOT 75!! I pegged her just north of 70. There were people there younger than Sal and I.


      • Funny.
        When I visited my mom’s dementia ward there was one lady who wasn’t a dementia patient.
        We started talking about WHY she chose that ward.
        She liked the security, the 24/7 care and the meals they provided and OPTED for that ward.
        I was gobsmacked.
        I asked how she handled the other patients ( zero memory retention or same stories repeat, repeat repeat)
        She laughed and said, ” I was married for 50 years, I can ignore anything….”


  2. That was a good read. In a couple of weeks we go back after 3 months. We too will appreciate that happiness is a fully charged battery bank. . I am forwarding this issue of your blog to the following, ‘cuz they have time to read and: . 1. One is semi retired from admin national chain of assisted living homes and also is #2↙️ . 2. One couple lived OTG 16 lots from us for 10+- years. . 3. One couple lived exclusively OTG for 40 years and now part time OTG. . 5. Another had 10+- years OTG next to our first place at the Lake.

    Other part time OTGers who I believe may enjoy your blog. . 5. All relied on battery banks. . Steve


    • Yeah, odd isn’t it….I grumbled at waiting for the car accident to clear, I frowned at the snow levels just past Nanaimo, I feared for the damn ferry (can’t seem to find willing workers) and I was pretty beat and generally grouchy by the time we approached Ice hill. A bit later bobbing along in the boat and my spirits lifted. But when we discovered the batteries were Grrrreeeaaat, I literally yelled ‘YES!! and pumped my fist in the air.’


  3. 16 days! Didn’t feel that long, I suppose that may be insensitive of me but just the facts. It was 32 dog walks one long and one short per day, 14 days of wood burning(was a tad cold except for 2), two new pots of left overs with some salmon and cod days and 10 liters of wine. I received propane and gas this morning so good for another 4 months.
    Welcome back!


    • Good to be back and thanks for taking the boat over for us. Huge relief. All day today getting the house back in ship shape. Water system crapped out. Took pump and heater apart…..then I did some thinkin’….I was getting pressure (none at the tap) on the pressure dial so water-to-the-pump was good. Water flowed nicely through the pipes leading to the heater. Connected heater and let it run through and that went well. But everytime I pumped up I heard what sounded like a water hammer. Duh!!! The check valve had given up and the pressure was going back to the tank! Put on a spare and away we go!


  4. A comment on batteries if I may. For years when the 3 Brothers get together we at some point talk batteries, my sister, brothers wives and my ex roll their eyes and mostly find something else to do. I today solved a solar charging problem that I felt effected my battery. My charge controller was set at 13.5 for bulk/absorb with no option to adjust. My 6-125-13 wants 14.5-15.4 volts for that phase(.42xC2/amps available) I knew that it was no enough but lived with it since late summer past. Today we had some sun and I experimented and upped the float voltage to 15 and to my delight the system started working out. I was getting 45 amps in not great sun where previously it would amp down only giving 20(it was thinking battery was full). Mine needs (actually all lead acid do) that high voltage to push the last 20% in. Im ecstatic and felt that telling your blog was better than talking to the girls.


      • I can imagine it also must had an impact on you and Sal. Spending 16 days on grid and with a lot of work an emotional stress added must leave its traces. But then again, you might appreciate your place in heaven even more!
        Must also have been a big change for the dogs (they must have felt restrained the whole day, like you)


        • All true. Emotions, stress, angst, worry, traffic, expense – the whole back-to-the-rat-race experience with family and personal trevails…..but the truest part was appreciating what we have when we got back. Sal and I both repeatedly said things like, “We are so lucky!” “So, so good to be back.” and things like that. Sentiments expressed were to be expected, I guess, but they were sincere and deeply felt. And all that in the midst of a two day ‘rescue’ of the systems…..the water wouldn’t run (fixing valves and blowing air through the lines), Sal’s boat engine faltered and the house was an ice-box at first. Plus there was about 5-700 pounds of stuff to move from the car (even the roof-rack was loaded) to the boat, from the boat to the funicular and from there to the house. It was NOT a test in the way of some of the early challenges we had but it was an exhausting two day exercise to get things back to normal. Sal has taken two 10-hour sleeps and is well on the way to her third one as I write. Biggest JOY! was getting the nice, hot shower back in working order. Second biggest was watching the dogs frolic and play. Third was eating real, non-processed food from our own kitchen and trying to forget the stuff of restaurants. I tend to beat this ‘paradise’ drum a bit too much but that is the truth.


          • did you manage to haul 500-700 pounds in 1 run on the boat? (+ both of you and 2 dogs); If yes, then the boat was a really good choice!


          • Yeah. We took Sal’s Pumpkin (17′) to get home with maybe two hundred pounds of food plus dogs and us on the first day back and then we took the John R (22′) the next day and picked up the other 500 plus pounds (lumber, foam mattress, more food, family heirlooms, tools, etc) plus dogs and us the next day. Both boats have their uses.


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