It’s Spring And There is Water

Friday, March 11

Secret Shopper

Attila has come up with a plan. He calls it the Secret Shopper Plan.

What got him thinking about the need for a plan, was the disparity in how he is treated as a male in some retail environments, and how I am treated as a female in those same retail environments. We have had upsetting instances where the male staff at a retail store where we have been doing business are very friendly to Attila, and respectful, but when I go alone to the same store I am met with a less than pleasing standard of service. This frustrates Attila, because he has no way of knowing that this will happen. Because he is being treated so well there is little indication that anyone else would be treated in a less satisfactory way.

So, to solve this problem, Attila has proposed that I do the initial contact with potential retail establishments, when we are trying to purchase an item. That way we know immediately if there is going to be a gender issue, so we can avoid establishments that have a difficult time with female customers.

We will begin this Secret Shopper approach with the purchase of a new roof vent for Iris.

Iris Has A Leak

Iris has a leak. We thought the window might be leaking. I went in to check Iris this morning, as it was raining hard. I noticed a stream of water running under the dining table towards the corner where we discovered the leak. As I stood there examining the situation, a few large drops of water landed on my head. I looked up to find the roof vent leaking, quite a bit, through the screw hole. I gathered together my toolbox, measuring tape, some rags, some plastic tubs, and pen and paper.

I used the rags to clean up the water running across the floor. I placed the tubs under the numerous drips, after removing the vent frame which was full of water. I measured the roof vent and wrote down the particulars. The roof vent is 14 x 14 inches, a standard size.

After putting away all the tools, and closing Iris up again, still dripping, I set about finding a new roof vent. I called the place where I purchased the butyl tape, they had no roof vents in stock, and weren’t expecting anything on the shelves until next week. I called an RV store in a different nearby city, and they had one in stock for $44.95. If this keeps us dry it is worth every penny.

So sometime soon I will be visiting the RV store to buy a roof vent. If they treat me well, we will go back for more parts as we need them going forward with Iris. If they don’t treat me well, there are other retailers to do business with.

Now we know why the Iris came with a large tarp! The tarp is now covering Iris.

The Flooded Driveway

While Attila slept on Thursday, I was very busy. I had dealt with the leaks in Iris’ roof vent. It was still raining. I stepped out of Iris and into a huge puddle of water. Half of our driveway was covered with water.

When the town repaved the road, they graded it so that all the water running down the road pours into our driveway, which is below the grade of the road. When it rains our driveway is flooded.

I rummaged around in the garage, which is full to the rafters with “stuff”, until I found a shovel. I splashed my way to the end of the driveway, shovel in hand. I have wonderfully warm winter rubber boots, so splashing around in water is not a problem.

At the lower edge at the end of the driveway, where the water landed as it poured across, I began to dig. The ground was frozen, so it was a bit of a struggle. I dug a three foot long hole, about two inches deep, at the edge of the concrete, it filled with water immediately, but the water could not drain.

Chopping through the snow, and icy earth, I dug a four foot long trench angled toward the road and the deep ditch beside it, where the water could drain away. It took me quite a while, but at last the water began to flow from my newly dug hole toward the ditch.

That didn’t quite resolve the problem, I needed to block the rest of the water that flowed past the hole and down the driveway. So I began to make a pile on the driveway with the earth I had just removed to dig my hole and trench, creating a barrier that protruded a foot into the driveway. That did it. The pile of mud blocked the water from flowing down the driveway, and diverted the water into my hole and trench.

It was quite a mess, and still is. Mounds of mud line the end of the driveway and the trench. Landscaping will be needed.

Digging the Trenches Here is my rectangular hole and trench to the ditch. The ground was frozen solid, but turned to mud after I hacked it out.

Attila and I are discussing how to add a short concrete berm to replace my pile of mud, to divert the water away from the driveway and into my newly dug hole.

Within an hour the puddles of water in the driveway were gone. Mission accomplished.

I was so preoccupied with playing in the mud that I didn’t really notice how hard it was raining. I was soaked.

That was easy to solve. Into the nice warm house I went, out of the cold wet clothes, and into warm dry clothes. I finished the project by sitting down to a hot cup of tea at the kitchen table, happy and satisfied with my day’s work.

Saturday, March 12

Attila was listed for mandated overtime for Friday night, it was listed on Wednesday. I had wanted to visit my Mom, I miss her so much, and haven’t seen her since she before she began her treatments. The overtime meant the visit was a no-go. Then ten minutes before the end of Attila’s shift on Thursday morning, he was told that the overtime was cancelled. Oh boy!

No time to plan, I just wanted to get in the car and drive! But Attila needed to sleep after working all night, so he turned in for about four hours. We were ready to leave by 1:30 p.m.

Who knew! The traffic jam began on one side of Toronto, which we had to drive through to the other side. Hours later we thought we had managed to get through the worst of it, but we were wrong, it was bumper to bumper, stop and go, all the way to the exit ramp to my sister’s house. The fastest speed we obtained was on the off ramp coming off the highway at the end of trip. We arrived in town at 6:45 p.m., grabbed a quick bite at McDonalds, and headed over to see Mom.

We had a good long visit, and I loved it. Mom is doing so well with her recovery, not pushing herself too far, but just far enough, and bit by bit she is regaining her strength. Her vitality, well I doubt she ever lost that! It was so great to see Mom, I had been worried about her for months, always assured by her messages and those from my sisters. But I needed to see her with my own eyes, I needed to hug her.

My sister-the-middle-girl, with whom Mom lives, has been assuming evening and nighttime home care duties for the duration. I am sister-the-oldest. It has been a labour of love for sister-in-the-middle. My sister-the-youngest, who lives within walking distance of my Mom, took a week off work to stay with Mom through some of the worst of it, and several days off work to accompany Mom to appointments, to push for the care Mom felt she needed. My nieces took time off work and school to assist with daytime home care, and accompany Mom to her appointments, and my brother-in-law was available to check on Mom when everyone else was at work, and to drive Mom and my nieces to the appointments when the weather was severe and the roads were bad. They whole bunch of them were one impressive team of support, so that Mom was able to remain home, loved and comfortable, while she dealt with the treatments. I don’t think people fare as well in hospital, loving home care is much preferable, and I think it helped tremendously in Mom’s endurance and recovery.

We stayed the night, and had a nice breakfast with Sis and Brother-In-Law. They gave us a tour of new-to-them Airstream trailer which is being restored to it’s glory by Brother-In-Law. It is going to be beautiful! After visiting a few hours more with Mom, she looked tired, so we hugged goodbye and headed home.

The trip home took only three hours, the traffic was light. It was a beautiful day for a drive.

Sunday, March 13

I tried to upload this entry last night. I changed the password to the server account recently, and have lost the bit of paper where I wrote down the new password. This meant a call to customer support, who responded this morning, and it is resolved. So here is today’s entry as well!

One of the stops we made on Friday’s journey to visit my Mom, was a visit along the way at an RV shop, where I purchased a new RV Roof Vent. We have all the parts we need now, so when we feel ready, we can tackle the job. The tarp will remain securely in place, to protect Iris from further leaks. I am going to put a small dehumidifier in her today and run it for awhile to give the drying out process a boost.

The purchase at the RV shop was our first experiment with the Secret Shopper Plan. It was interesting. I had called the establishment on Thursday, and been given a price. When I walked in alone to the parts department, the fellow was on the telephone, talking aggressively to someone. Then he asked if he could help me, neutral tone, no problem there. I said I was looking for an RV Roof Vent, he told me they had them in stock and quoted a price $15 higher than the price quoted over the phone yesterday. I told him I had been quoted the lower price, only yesterday. He went to the storeroom and came back with two boxes containing RV Roof Vents, and told me that the price I had been quoted was wrong, but he would give it to me for quoted price since it was their mistake. He proceeded to remove the price stickers from both boxes, which was the lower price I had been quoted. The next individual who purchases an RV Roof Vent Fan from him will be paying the higher price, even though it is last years stock.

It was an acceptable experience. I would prefer a more relaxed and friendlier type of interaction, so we will keep trying other RV parts departments until I am totally comfortable.

We have Grackles. They were born in a hole in our roof facia and have returned home to the nest to start a new family. Attila had blocked the hole, but they are determined to get in. Also using the hole were wasps. Last week Attila filled the hole with foam insulation. This will be effective in keeping out the wasps, but the Grackles are incensed. There are often three or four of them attacking the foam insulation, claiming what they perceive as their territory. Their sense of entitlement and determination will not gain them entry; we are equally endowed with a sense of entitlement and determination to enjoy our home. Today Attila will cover the insulation with wood, so that the Grackles do not destroy it.

There is no snow left on our property! This is so wonderful. For the last 11 years at the country house, March was full-blown winter weather, with no real signs that spring might arrive until well into April. We may get another snow storm here, but it will be an outlier, and of very short duration. March is actually a month of transition from winter to spring at Mist Cottage.

There was a lot of food preparation going on today. Croutons for salads were made, a raspberry crumble and homemade bread for Attila’s lunches this coming week.

I have projects galore to work on, none of which entail a deadline, which means they are the best kind of projects.

The highlight of my day, what really delighted me, was hanging my laundry to dry across the clothesline on the back porch!

Now I had better get this entry posted before another day passes me by.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 6:00 PM EST Thursday 10 March 2016
Condition: Mist
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Visibility: 4 km
Temperature: 5.9°C
Dewpoint: 5.2°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: N 16 km/h


“I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.”
Duke Ellington

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Maggie, so many positives on all fronts, but most especially with your Mom.

Congratulations on your driveway adventure. It sounds as if you are getting physically stronger now that you’re not so limited by weather. Keep up the good work.

Finally, have fun with the Grackles. They can be a real challenge.


Sounds like you got stuck in March Break traffic heading north. Glad to hear your mom is doing so much better. I always beg off dealing with auto and repair shops if I can and let DH handle them. I’ve had too many run-ins with being treated poorly by staff at those kinds of male-dominated businesses.

Joan Lansberry

I’m so glad your mother is doing well! Happy Spring to you, and all of your family!

Bex Crowell

Projects without a deadline – MY favorite kind, as well.

Attila is one lucky guy having Maggie-the-Wonder-Woman for his wife. Is there a job you can’t solve? I don’t think so. It takes not only physical strength to do a lot of your jobs, but the highly tuned mental intelligence to figure out the problem and then the solution! Bravo to you.

So glad your Mom has come through the other side of her therapy/treatments. Love is a powerful healer and she appears to have that in spades.

I have to laugh about the ditch you dug in the frozen ground. If that had happened here, and I had suggested your solution to Paul, he would have immediately said “You CAN’T do it because the ground is frozen!!” and then waited til the spring thaw. He uses that excuse a lot… “it can’t be done” and after almost 30 years of living with that attitude, I just accept it now and move on. But it has driven me nuts in the past. If I could do the job, I would. Oh well. Happy (almost) spring!

TopsyTurvy (Teri)

We have hit a few places where DH and I will not tolerate my being talked down to or ignored by male service providers: 1) when buying a car for me; 2) my being treated as a know-nothing by any kind of medical provider. In at least those situations (there may be others I haven’t thought of) if I’m not treated as a fully competent participant then we go somewhere else.

Had to smile at the song you listed. Can’t say I ever trusted my cape but as a child I fully trusted what I knew of my own abilities. We lived across the street from a large park and high school and I was given full run of it by the time I was in first grade. I slid down and shinnied up 10 ft pipes, jumped down into 12 ft stairwells, and gloried in climbing almost to the top of 30-70 ft holly and pine trees, with nary a scratch.

I still feel that way, I can trust in my abilities to take on situations – and most of my life that has served me well, with the only truly rough spots being when I’ve had to find a way to deal with damaged personalities who think nothing of harming others to get what they want. Fortunately, there have only been a few of those in my life that I couldn’t easily walk away from.


Your grackles reminded me of a t-shirt a friend just posted on FB. It has a grackle with the words “Grackles got no boss.”