Friday, September 2, 2011

Teachers and lessons

Not every teacher is human, not ever question answerable.

Some lessons are learned after the teacher has left.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ok, so summer came late this least it came (sort of)

Let me begin by apologizing to everyone I know who reads this in Texas, I know it has been hot (think 1980 hot) if not more, so you may well want to skip this post while I talk about the weather from this summer (think cool and wet).  Why am I talking about the weather?  Well, because it is a time honored tradition on the Island and it has been as unusual as ever based on the reports of my Octogenarian patients.  

Let’s begin with tradition.  If you visit our Fair Island, then one thing you must be aware of is that each conversation must contain some discussion of the currently prevailing meteorologic conditions.  Typically this is phrased in the form of a rhetorical question....

‘Getting enough snow at your place?’
‘Not to dry for you is it?’

The former question being the one you got over the winter, and the later being the question for this sumer.  You see, our winter this year was a little warmer than the previous winters which translated into massive amounts of snow.  The weather has to be warm enough for it to snow, and this year it was.  Additionally, the storms came through in a pattern that was unusual and it made for lots more snow sticking around.

The typical pattern for weather here is to have a storm, a couple of clear days then another storm.  It really does not depend on the season, it is the pattern that seems to prevail year round.  The main difference is that the season will determine the quality of the moisture delivered, not the pattern of the cycle.  In winter, this is snow, in the remainder of the year in rain.

This winter the pattern was windy day, storm day, windy day x 2 storm day, windy day x 2, storm day, windy day x 2 etc from January through mid March.  There were none of the typical clearing days after the storm, just the wind from the departing storm and then from the approaching storm.  As spring approached everyone was hoping for a change, and on schedule it occurred.  The snow turned into rain, but the pattern did not alter.

This made for a very cool, very wet spring.  The spring lobster fishermen had lower than average catches because of the stormy cold waters, and all the farmers were gritting their teeth waiting on the chance to work their fields and plant.  We got a few breaks in late May early June so that the farmers planted (as did gardeners) and then the cycle kicked back into gear and things stayed wet (and cool).  We were wearing sweaters into July as the cool temperatures persisted.  

In conversations with my patients, the weather played an important role.  Everyone was/is worried about the gardens as this is a key staple for storage for winter, and lots of folks had to plant their gardens a second time because of the weather.  Usually by mid July summer has really arrived and the temperatures are getting into the high 80’s (mid 20’s C) and low 90’s (Low 30’s C) throughout the day, but still in the 60-70 degree range at night(15-22 C).  July this year has seen our daytime temps from mid 60’s to low 80s for the daytime highs and the evening temps in the 50’s and 60’s.  This combined with regular rain and cloud cover have made summer seem down right spring like.  

So, what does all this mean in practical terms?  Well, it is after all the weather, and there is not really much that can be done.  It does mean that the growing season is a little funky, and that farmers who are making hay have had a hard time finding the perfect window to cut the hay so it can dry and be baled prior to the next rainy day (our hay farmer usually puts 10,000 bales back yearly and had only done 3,000 by mid July).  Some crops are doing well (if you land is well drained), but the warm weather garden crops (think peppers and tomatoes) are struggling.  For my part, I have a bumper crop of carrots, broccoli, radishes, lettuce, celery, onions, squash, pumpkins, and beans.  My tomato plants are large, but the tomatoes are green, and the peppers may not produce at all (time will tell).

It is as odd as the extreme heat in Texas, and the older patients are all apologizing to me about the lousy weather.  If is funny, but it is a part of life here, and always part of the conversation.  Hoping the weather is favorable where-ever you reside.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sometime you just want to be able to dig out…….

So, this winter on PEI has been a bit or a ‘slam’, and we are having trouble digging our way out.  As most of you (in the US) know, the Northeastern United States has gotten pounded with record snowfalls.  Well, it is not like those storms run out into the ocean once they cruise past northern Maine, they run into Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and then PEI.  So, we have gotten a pretty good dump of snow on a regular basis.  This definitely has an effect on the delivery of healthcare in our little section of the world, that is, it increases the number of snow-days that we all suffer.  In fact, over the last 14 days, the schools have been closed for 5 consecutive days (today included). 

But aren’t you guys ready for snow?  Well, yes.  However, being ready does not mean managing.  The snow has been coming so quickly that the snowplow operators are having trouble clearing the roadways between the storms.  You see, when the snow along the edges of the roads gets built up enough, then they develop into walls, and it is hard to push the snow off the road when there are 4-8 foot walls.  Needless to say, this has caused many of the roads to become one lane roads (if you want a closer look watch the video).

The other issue from the storms is the regular re-arrangement of the snow after it has fallen by the strong winds that come with the storms.  The snow drifts quickly backfill the cleared areas of the roadway and so the plow drivers have to constantly circle round re-clearing the drifts.  This has combined to close the schools for the last five days and I have had more storm days in February than I have had in the preceding two years.  Thankfully, the forecast appears to indicate enough warmth that we should have some melting in the very near future.

Buried in paperwork….Nancy has been working to get our paperwork ready for the Taxman.  The joy of the New Year means that in addition to digging through the snow, it also means digging through the tax prep for the coming year.  Nancy is preparing documentation and intermittently suffering from Traction Alopecia[1] from the numerous separate supporting documents to ensure that our savings accounts do not represent an attempt to cheat the government our of our tax.  That is the US government, not the Canadian government, and they want to make sure we do not hide anything from their eyes.  It requires that we document the balances throughout the year for each account, documenting the highest balance and lowest balance, providing samples of hair saliva for testing (well, maybe that is a little exaggeration).  It is crazy, and as Nancy has mentioned, the BS to Fun ration is getting a bit unbalanced right about now. Thankfully, she continues to dig for all she is worth and hopefully we will see the top of the pile sometime soon.

Well,  at least it is starting to rain today, so maybe we will have a little drop in the snow, and can only hope Nancy will get some similar relief  for her pile soon.

[1] That is pulling her hair out