Ta-da; ta-da ta-da ta-da

Fifty days.

That’s how long it’s been since we were hit by Hurricane Fiona. Even in the calm(er) light of day, the devastation is appalling. In some places we lost ten metres of shoreline, sand dunes eroded by the storm surge. Trees still litter the countryside, although the roads and ditches have been cleared so that the plows will be able to get through, once the snow comes.

A friend was over from Calgary, a long-arranged visit, so we went out for a drive to the recently re-opened north shore. Shattered fishermen’s cottages and a disintegrated wharf.

Disaster tourism at its best.

Everybody has their power back now, although for some people the outage lasted for twenty-two days. The roar of chainsaws echoes late into the evening; piles of blocked-up logs and brush line roadways, waiting for pick-up.

We all watch the sky and pay morbid attention to the weather forecasts. We all know of trees that are half down, hung-up in the branches of a neighbour, simply waiting for another strong wind. This past week the grocery shelves emptied as the remnants of Post-tropical Cyclone Nicole approached. Last time we had three days worth of emergency supplies, now we aim for three weeks. Yesterday we had a lot of rain, about 50 mm, and some wind in the 80 kms/hour range.

Nothing in comparison to Fiona, really. It’s just that we’re all nervous, gun-shy at what might come next. And we share out thoughts. It is common not only to enter into a lengthy conversation with the cashier at the checkout, but also to have the next couple of people in line join in.

The Maritimes are known for their friendly communities, their sociable neighbours. Too friendly or sociable for some, perhaps, but that’s what you get when you leave the big city. Riffing on the ‘lessons learned’ by newcomers to the Island surprised at being asked all sorts of personal questions related to lifestyle, family, health, and income, Patrick Ledwell [a well-known writer, musician, singer, and stand-up comic; you have to multi-task to make it here] puts it this way: “PEI stands for ‘Privacy Ends Immediately’.”

Recently, all conversations have been about “the next nor-easter” and the damage it may cause. People have also been shaking their heads at the amount of money that the provincial government has been pouring into relief programs. “Must be an election coming,” they say.

This ability to focus on the negative, the ‘what-ifs’ and the ‘I supposes’, gives a certain dour shimmer to the atmosphere. Perhaps that’s why I feel at home here, it’s very similar to the pubs and villages of Yorkshire. As Monty Python so eloquently phrased it, people seem happy “chewing on life’s gristle,” and “I told you so” is the final arbiter for any argument.

I think it’s time to think positively for a change. It’s only six weeks until the celebrations of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and the joy they will bring. Although, as I overheard while in line at the store, waiting for the cashier to finish her conversation with the woman in front of me: “Is that carols they’re playing already? Well, it is after Remembrance Day I suppose. Nearly Christmas, can you believe it? They still haven’t moved the trees from our street. And it was twenty degrees again yesterday. I mean, I like the weather but it’s kind of scary, all that global warming stuff. And gas went up eight cents again yesterday, how are folks going to get to work? Or heat their houses, furnace oil is up over two bucks a litre now?”

Let’s follow Eric Idle’s example and “always look on the bright side of life, ta-da; ta-da ta-da ta-da” … oh, sorry, now you’re going to be humming that tune all day! It really is a classic earworm I’m afraid. Do you remember the film? Life of Brian. Brilliant, wasn’t it? Ta-da; ta-da ta-da ta-da.

I have three shining suns on my bright side. First, I’m delighted my third novel is now out! Missing is available from Amazon (print and e-copies) as well as Kobo, and our local bookstore here in Charlottetown. Here’s a quick link to the Amazon site:

https://www.amazon.ca/Missing-Rashford-J-T-Goddard-ebook/dp/B0BLRHDHBL

I’m also going to be signing (and selling) copies at the two Artisan Christmas Markets being held at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market on Sundays 11th and 18th December, so if anyone is going to be around, please drop by! “What’s it about?” you wonder? Well … as it says on the back cover:

Disillusioned and disgruntled, Gavin Rashford is trying to take early retirement from the police. He agrees to undertake one last task; to give a conference presentation about FILTER, the Focused Indigenous Language Training for Emergency Responders program introduced when Alsama separated from Canada.

He does not anticipate the social interactions associated with a small university in a small town: music, missing persons, money laundering, murder …

A quiet retirement can be so hard to find.

Missing

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. And yes, the fourth one is on its way, and will hopefully be out in the spring. Meanwhile, I’ve also written a short story, officially called a ‘novelette’, which will be published in early December. Piracy is a just a bit of holiday fun, a quick read while you’re taking a break between the roast and the mince pies. I’ll send out a note when this new story is available.

On a wet evening in eastern Prince Edward Island, two hundred well-dressed people scurry through the rain to board a wooden tall ship. A replica of Neo Victoria, the flagship of Magellan, the three-masted carrack has been brought to PEI to host a gala dinner and fund-raiser. The guests chatter and mingle, while a woman with a mysterious past displays an array of valuable jewelry. A group who misunderstood the invitation to be for a fancy dress party arrive dressed as pirates. Nobody expects what happens next.

Piracy

I am also working on a new website. This has been a bit of a challenge (Hah!) for a Luddite such as me, but it has filled my evenings in-between storm clear-up and watching Leeds United flail about. I hope to have the new website up and running by mid-December and will post links once they are available. Admiring comments will be gratefully received.

Ta-da; ta-da ta-da ta-da.

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