Friday, November 19, 2021


 It's a Thursday in the dreariest month of the year; November. Me and him (November) have had our issues since the beginning of time. It looked like this was going to be another one of those years where events were going to support my position on this matter. 

On reflection (I gave this all of 3 minutes of thought), maybe my real problem is the lack of control I have over my life during things that inevitably happen during this notorious eleventh month. 

November 2021, in particular, has been a challenge. Based on the information I received when I toured my new condo in August, and the follow up email I received in September, I was to move into my condo in mid-November. So we made plans with that target in mind; 

1. getting most of my mom's things moved to a storage facility in Sardis for when HER new place will be ready in the Spring.  

2. The balance of her things (her bed, favorite chairs, her TV with the remote and PVR she's comfortable with, her kitchen table, her desk etc) as well as my things were going to moved to my condo. (She's going to live at my place for the next 3 - 4 months.) We're setting it up so she's comfortable. She'll have the master suite and I'll stay in the guest room. 

This was all to happen in mid-November.

And then. 

At the start of the month, I got an email advising me that due to lack of labor and difficulty in getting materials, my completion date has been moved to December. (!) Possibly as late as Dec 23. 

So Plan B is for my mom and I to move to the lake for a month (from Nov 23 - Dec 23) ... we'll need to move our things into storage in Langley and take only a few necessary items to Cultus with us. To this end, I spend the first two weekends in November at the lake preparing my bedroom for my mom, and getting my things moved into one of the kids' rooms.  I bring a load of things with me each time, and get things ready for my mom who hasn't spent any time there in about 20 years. 

I pay the deposit on a storage pod, change the move date with our movers, talk to the lawyer and banker and sell my mom's furniture one piece at a time on Marketplace. Have you ever done this? It's an experience. Life sucking, and life giving, in equal measure.

Last Friday (November 12) I took another load to the lake, and got another email. My completion date was moved to November 29. So we're on to Plan C. I cancel the storage pod, and rebook the movers for Dec 1. (I am still waiting to hear if I can use the elevator on Dec 1.) I talked to the lawyer, the banker, the realtors, the property management company, trying to confirm this new date with everyone. Not everyone has gotten back to me. I? Am so very tired of this whole project already.

I drove back to Surrey on Saturday, loaded up another 8 boxes, took mom to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner, picked up a few groceries (milk, 6 eggs, 2 bananas, orange juice, broccoli, carrots, dishwasher soap) took her back home, grabbed some leftover samosas and soup from the fridge, then drove back up to the lake, stopping for gas along the way on a WET, DARK, CRAPPY night. I didn't bother unpacking Mitzi, I just grabbed my clothes bag, the groceries and my laptop satchel then plopped myself down in front of the TV to watch another 27 episodes of ER. (I have developed a crush on Dr. Greene and John Carter. (But that's neither here nor there.)

On Sunday afternoon I got a message from Sherry; it was an advisory alert announcing the Cultus Lake Road was closed. If it wasn't for her message I would've never known. 

The rain kept falling all night. Falling LOUDLY. Like stupidly, keep-me-up-all-night-loud. By 2:30 am, I gave up on the idea of sleep and glued myself to my twitter feed, reading all the tweets posted by folks stranded on Hwy 7 between two mudslides. At 6 am on Monday I called the plumber to let him know the road was closed, there was no way he'd get to my end of the lake. (I'll have to deal with the leaky faucet, drippy toilet and kitchen sink water filters another time. Maybe in 2027.) 

Once it got light outside on Monday morning, I took a peek at the lake. It had inched it's way right up to the weeping willow tree. And as the day wore on, it kept on creeping across the lawn and up to the neighbour's back patio. 

By noon I realized my lake road was likely going to be closed for a day or so, so I mentally prepared for a change in plans. But then. 

Then Drew sent me pics of Hwy 1 between Chilliwack and Abbotsford and said, "North Parallel is completely under water. I'm on my way home before I get trapped at work". Julie and Daryl, who'd just made it across the border, back into Canada sent me photos of the same area. 

And sure enough, within hours, the freeway was underwater, and stories of massive land/rock/mud slides on all three highways out of Hope were filling up my twitter feed. I attempted to work, but got only the bare minimum done. Decided I'd call it a vacation day on my timesheet. 

Tuesday was more of the same. Images and stories of people stranded, families apart, truckers unable to move, roads closed, highways damaged. I sat on the couch with my laptop on my lap, feeling the weight of a dark cloud getting heavier on my shoulders with every tweet or post I read. By nightfall the mayor of Abby made an announcement about the Barrowtown Pump Station, using the word 'catastrophic'  that made me want to puke hurl vomit throw up . Apparently we were to anticipate a breakdown which would cause the swollen Fraser River to dump itself into the already flooded Sumas Prairie, making the area a lake. (Which it used to be, before 1920 when it was pumped out.) 

Evacuation notices were given to everyone in Yarrow and Sumas Prairie. I could hardly breathe. It happened so fast and it was so lethal. Those farmers were scrambling to save their live stock, other farmers were helping them, people with jetskis were teaching cows how to surf, folks with boats were giving other cows rides to higher grounds, while others were scrambling to buy enough groceries for a 40 day flood. Merritt and Princeton were flooded, and everyone had been evacuated. Our highway system was unstable so no one was going anywhere. Vancouver was cut off from the rest of Canada. Chilliwack was an island. Freeways into and out of town were closed. 

I just sat at the cabin, paralyzed with emotions I didn't know what to do with. I was safe. And dry. I had food, clean drinking water, the concern of so many friends, and ER. My attempt to do any meaningful work was limited, so I called it what it was and took another vacation day. 

When did I become such a whimp? 

Why was I so lethargic?


So I turned off my phone and listened to some sermons. I'm posting the links here because they are filled with SUCH GOOD WORDS and I highly recommend listening to them even if you're not a lump of a bump sitting on the couch like a decorative pillow or potato:

I picked up my Read The Bible In One Year to read the November 16 section:

The bit from the Old Testament were some words from God:

I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. 

I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak. 

The bit from the New Testament were some words of advice and a blessing:

Keep on loving each other and don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!

Now may the God of Peace equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you every good thing that is pleasing to Him. 

The bit from the Psalms was another blessing: 

May the Lord richly bless both you and your children - May you be blessed by the Lord who made both heaven and earth

I claimed all the promises as if God wrote them specifically for me for this exact day. Then I cleaned the kitchen, swept the floor, did a load of laundry and considered, then decided against, doing my first ever yoga stretch. 

On Wednesday morning I asked my hive for information about getting a helicopter or hiring a light plane to get me over the flooded part of the valley. As per usual, I received helpful, practical, act-upon-able advice. And by the afternoon I had a plan. 

Ohhhh, there's nothing like a plan of action to alter one's outlook on life. I was going to book a (10 minute) flight from Chilliwack airport to Abbotsford airport with Cascadia Air for Saturday morning. I was going to work all day Wednesday with a clear head, I would continue to eat tuna casserole and leftover samosas and take All The Vitamins. I would go for a walkabout to see how things looked on the other side of the walls. I would respond to everyone who has reached out to offer meals, a spare bed, compassion, prayers. And I would not worry about looming moving deadlines or things I couldn't control. 

I kept in touch with my mom, regularly, answering her daily question, "Where is my bed going to go?" reassuring her I Was Fine, and I'd be home in time to look after the move. The family chat with my kids was the highlight of my day; Clint was in Mexico, Max in Vancouver, Drew was housebound in Abby and Dani was able to get to work in Langley every day. Connecting to them, and being the recipient of Drew's careful concern made my heart smile. Maybe my lips too. I don't know. Probably.

The cabin is my happy place. This time of being cabin-bound is a gift. It is quiet, warm, safe, wonderful. All my needs are looked after. I've determined to make the most of my time here, because the petal would be hitting the metal as soon as I get back to Surrey. And who knows when I'll get back up here to enjoy this ol green couch or my king-size bed?

And then Thursday.

In devos' Jon shared this song. It's a Christmas carol, but kinda not really. As I listened to it, it felt more like a worshippy-type song, especially at the end when he sings his guts out:

A lovely, gentle way to start the day. I worked all day and at 5, just as I was finishing up, I got a message from my ex husband's former secretary, (thanks, Kim):

Just read that Lindell Beach is being evacuated, do you have somewhere to go? I have a spare bedroom.

Which, YES, was lovely, but holey shit too. That little message started a frenzied half hour of activity unlike anything this cabin has seen in years, if ever. And my heart rate? Hit potential heart-attack levels. I know these things because of the 1,041 episodes of ER I've watched this month. 

Have you received an evacuation notice? 

This is what it looks like:

The red area is the evacuation zone. I'm located at the top right corner. 

The fine point reads:

  • You must leave the evacuation area immediately.
  • Be ready with 72 hour emergency supply.
  • Close all windows and doors.
  • Shut off gas and electrical appliances.
  • Leave your refrigerators and freezers on.
  • Close gates and latch but do not lock.
  • Gather your family; assist a neighbour or someone else who needs help.
  • Take critical items if they are immediately available (medicine, ID, cash/cards, keys).
  • Take pets in kennels or on leashes.
  • Keep tropical pets in their cages and containers.
  • Do not use more vehicles than you have to.
  • Do not use the telephone unless you need emergency service (text family and friends or post on your social media).

Plus there were a bunch of warnings that my life was in danger. 

The thing on that list that was giving me hives and hot flashes was the thing about turning off the gas. I called my brother, told him the situation, and asked him to walk me through it. 

He was at my mom's, so using her gas meter as a model, he took photos of what I needed to look for, what to do when I found it, and to get a crescent wrench. (He sent me a wrench emoji so I'd know what tool to look for on the off chance I lost my brain and didn't know what one looked like.) While he's sending me directions and images, I'm closing windows, packing up my clothes, my computer, checking the list, grabbing the basket of legal papers, putting my camera into my clothes bag, looking at the kitchen (and realizing that if the house isn't washed away by muddy water, or buried under a landslide, the first person who'll make it back here will be my sister, and there's NO WAY IN HELL SHE'S GOING TO SEE A MESSY KITCHEN, so I quickly wipe the counters, wash the soaking pots n pans, pack up all the garbage, and then I stop. What if this is it? What if we lose it all? What do I grab? What is important?) THIS IS MY FIRST EVACUATION. I don't know what to do. I may be the last person to see this place that is filled to the ceiling with memories. Do I take one last set of photos? How much time do I have? WHERE IS THAT BLASTED WRENCH? I go through all the tool boxes I can find (5 of them) and four of them are brand new, never used socket wrench sets. The regular tools box has everything except a wrench. 

Be brave.

Be brave.

Be brave.

Be brave

And then I remembered reading somewhere (or was this advice that Abby Lockhart gave when she was doing her psych rotation?) that if you bottle it all up, it will eventually come out, way worse. So I decided to be healthy and sob. Wracking heavy breathing ugly crying type tears. While chatting with the almighty. 

"It's times like this that a husband would've come in handy DON'T YOU THINK! What the hell? WHY AM I DOING THIS BY MYSELF? I can't find a wrench. I don't want to be responsible for this cabin not exploding because of a gas leak or whatever. If You can't supply me with a man - SHOW ME WHERE THE &*%# WRENCH IS already. I'm running out of time. My life is in danger. I don't know what to bring with me. This? That? I've just moved 42 photo albums up here - do I pack them all back into my vehicle again? The box of negatives? This box of memories? WHAAAAT? Am I supposed to be learning something in this? What? TELL ME."

My nose is running, I'm putting on rubber boots, a rain jacket, I find the wrench. "Fine. Thank you." But SO MANY BAD WORDS ARE RACING THROUGH MY MIND.

I load everything into Mitzi, lock up the cabin, then with the wrench in one hand, and my phone in the other, in the dark, in the pouring rain, I walk around the cabin looking for the gas meter. 


It's behind that hedge. 

I access it from the bare spot on the right. 

I put the wrench on what I think is the thing I'm supposed to twist counter clock-wise:

(Those of you who've done this before are yelling at the screen.)

Jim texted back, "NO. Not that. Find the part that comes out of the ground. It's probably on the other side. There will be a valve. It looks like this":

(Look how nice and civilized that gas meter looks. In such an easy-to access location.)

In case you forgot, this is what I'm dealing with:

and I can't access the left side of the meter from the opening. I have to poke my entire upper body right into the hedge. And then kneel with one hand holding the wrench and the other holding the phone/flashlight and then turn a lever that hasn't been touched since 1998. 

I couldn't do it. It wouldn't budge an millimeter. Which is surprising considering all the power I have in my 128 year old right hand. 

Told God I was done. I tried. I was leaving Him in charge of keeping it safe from a gas explosion. There are only so many things I can control and during this week I came to accept my list of controllable things is actually pretty short. Besides, while I was face-first into that hedge, with my ass sticking out in the rain, I got a text from Melanie (someone I'd gone to church with, for about ten minutes, a couple hundred years ago):

 "Leave it. Get your butt out of there. You are more important than the cabin. And if you need a pee stop or a break from driving, or some food, let me know. Wipe your eyes, so you can see, take deep breaths, pray, put on some music and go."

So I got into Mitzi and saw I'd received another message, this one from Denise. Our kids went to elementary school together and I don't think I've seen her, or spent time with her since the '90's... 

"Hi Jane! If you need a place to stay, PM me. We have a place at the Cottages. I'll give you the door code and tell you where the key is. You can stay there. Be safe!"

 PEOPLE ARE SO KIND. And good. And wonderful. And what did I do to be the recipient of so much care? By the time I got to the other end of the lake my phone was dinging non-stop; so many friends praying for my safety. "OK, fine. No husband but a hundred friends. I guess that'll do. Thank you."

I was just entering Sardis when I got a phone call from Bev, one of my neighbours at Lindell Beach. "They've lifted our evacuation orders. It's not for our area after all. I'll text you a link to the announcement." 

! ! ! ! ! ! ! 


 I texted Julie to let her know I wouldn't be coming over after all (my sister. She lives in Sardis.) She invited me for a late dinner, regardless. On my way, I found a no-name gas station that had gas. For $1.44 per litre. So I added my vehicle to the line-up and while I waited I plucked my chin, taking advantage of those brilliant bright fluorescent gas station lights. 


And when I walked into Jule's place, any residing tension slipped off my barefeet and onto their spotless floors. 

Hockey game on, Christmas trees up, delicious food smells coming from the kitchen. 

"We're just having left overs," she says as she hands me a plate and pulls dead leaves from my hair, evidence that I really did dive head first into a wet cedar hedge that housed spiders, "Help yourself. It's pork roast, rice and gravy."

Rice and gravy. THESE ARE MY PERSONAL MAGIC WORDS. They automatically chase away all the weather related complaints and restore my hormones to their natural blissful state of sweetness. She also made a salad with her homemade dressing. As we finished, she said, "I guess that'll be the last salad for awhile. I couldn't get any fresh veggies when I was out today." (That sentence sounded like something someone would've said during the 40's while a war was raging around the world. It was sobering.)

I stayed for awhile, called my mom to let her know I was safe, ate all the food they offered and accepted a goody bag containing her beef and barley soup and a mini pumpkin loaf. On my way through Sardis, I stopped at Dairy Queen for a kid-sized plain ice cream cone; it felt like the right way to end my adventure.

I'm back at the lake now. 

I'm safe. I'm dry. I'm trusting the mountain isn't going to come crashing down on me. And while I type this out I'm listening to Christmas carols. This one is keeping me wide awake:


Things to have in an emergency:

  • a relationship with God. You really need someone to talk to who has power and who loves you
  • a headband flashlight. Quit depending on your phone to do EVERYTHING
  • an idea of where the important tools are. Socket wrenches are useless. 
  • a brother who'll walk you through the hard things
  • a sister who'll greet you with your favorite food and a brother-in-law who makes you feel welcome and offers real conversation which has been missing in your life for 5 days
  • a better alert system than relying on the kindness of facebook friends
  • rubber boots
  • rain jacket with pockets deep enough to hold wrenches
  • a clear mind and a calm brain (or not?)
  • friends who'll cheer you on with encouraging text messages 
  • an underlying sense of humor
  • in your car you should have a roll of toilet paper or a glove box full of Tim Horton napkins
  • and bottled water, trail mix (the kind with m&m's), a blanket/sleeping bag/dirty laundry, tweezers to do your personal grooming when you find yourself in good light
  • a vehicle you have confidence in
  • the prayers of many
  • a Kindle and clean underwear
  • the good sense to ask for help when you need it


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. All The People in my life. Good golly miss molly. I've been blessed beyond measure with all the care that's been poured out on me this week. It's like that time I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

2. I don't have cancer anymore.

3. Clint is home from Mexico; all my chicks are back in their Canadian nests.

4. A boss who's very understanding of my need for unplanned vacation days this week. 

5. A not-Dec-23 move in date for my new place.

6. Confidence that I'll get back to Surrey on Saturday.

7. Cell phones

8. Facebook. It coulda saved my life, if in fact, my life had been in real danger.

9. Faith that God is in control and He loves me. 

10. Magic heat bags and microwave ovens.

Stay safe, be nice to each other, wash your hands,

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