Oh, my goodness, what a day!
Also, I owe my daughter a new tent.
Today was the day we were planning on having an outdoor family gathering to celebrate 3 birthdays and an anniversary. I’d been keeping a close eye on the weather radar, and aside from one bit of rain that sidled past us early in the day, it looked like the main system was going to miss most of the province completely. An Alberta Clipper was making its way across the prairies, and we were getting all sorts of warnings for thunderstorms, frost, rain, and even possible snow. None of that was going to reach us, though.
The only thing for us to watch out for was the wind.
In the morning, things were looking well enough that I started putting the walls on my daughter’s market tent that we had set up near the fire pit, over the picnic table. It was windy enough that we thought the fire might be an issue, but the tent seemed fine.
I had ordered Chinese food, which my brother picked up on his way over. It was around the time we were expecting him to arrive that we decided to start the fire. We wanted to get some good coals built up in case anyone wanted to roast some wienies later, plus the wind made it a bit on the cool side, and a fire would help keep us warm.
I must say, it was a bit surreal to be at the fire pit and have a car suddenly pull up to us! 😀 I rather like having a yard big enough that not only could my brother drive right up to the fire pit, but when he moved his car later, he had room to turn around.
It was at about that time that the gusts started picking up.
At that point, my brother started trying to tie the corners of the tent to nearby trees.
Then one side collapsed completely.
The tent has sides that close up like an accordion. That means there are a couple of hubs, with 4 pieces of metal affixed to them, on each side. One of those hubs gave out.
No, not the plastic piece in the middle. All 4 aluminum supports it held, snapped.
Once we realized there was no way it was going back up, it took 4 of us to take the sides off, shorten the legs and fold the tent into itself – with a picnic table in the way – while increasing gusts of winds tried to tear everything out of our hands.
And my daughters had just got the fire going, too! That promptly turned into a mini fire tornado. So that got put out right away.
Then we went to plan…
Plan B was to use the sun room and old kitchen, but we figured my mom would rather be at the dining table. Once we got all the supplies in (the only thing we hadn’t taken out yet was the food!), we opened up the table to fit everyone and started setting up there.
My sister arrived with my mother just in time for that!
As for the family gathering itself, it was … good, but very draining! My mother was in fine form, which we do expect, but my goodness, it just sucks the energy out from everyone. Once she was sitting at the table, and we were all doing various things to set up food and drink, she kept making demands and asking where this, that or the other thing was, and if she couldn’t see someone (never mind that her back was to the kitchen, which meant if she couldn’t see us, it was because we were there and busy), she kept asking where that person was, because only that person could do whatever it was she wanted. Including people who were already doing the things she wanted them to do!
Still, we did eventually get it all settled. Though we got a “dinner for 6” and there was 7 of us, there was more than enough for everyone – plus my brother got a bit extra, just in case, my sister brought some tomatoes, cucumbers and onions from her garden and made a salad, plus we’d made a fruit salad. My mother had brought a sausage, because she was afraid there wouldn’t be enough to eat. She also brought her own box of tissues; apparently, she thought we wouldn’t have any. My sister told me she once brought soap when visiting her place. Just ordinary hand soap. Because she didn’t think my sister would have soap?? Anyhow. We had so much food, we forgot about the sausage (which she insisted we keep), and settled in for coffee and tea. After getting her tea, my mother started asking for something to go with it. I’d already asked her if she wanted milk or sugar, and she’d said no. So what was she looking for?
Something to eat, with the tea. Like crackers or cookies or something. !!!
So I broke out the cake I’d picked up. I figured we would take some time to digest first, since we were all so full, but nope! My mother had to have something with her tea! 😀
It wasn’t until they were getting ready to leave that my mother remembered she’d brought a bottle of wine. My brother and sister, who were both going to drive soon, couldn’t have any. She started saying that “just a little” was okay, and when everyone politely declined, she suggested my husband have some (he’d already had to move away from the table, due to pain, but was still nearby). At that point, we were all, NO! He *can’t* have alcohol, because of the medications he’s on. Just a little will be okay? No. None. No alcohol for him. Since she was the only one who would be drinking any, she decided it wasn’t worth cracking open the bottle and took it home. 😀
Overall, it was a pretty good visit. There was only one incident where my mother lost it and started shouting (over the ceiling fan, of all things), but we were able to calm her down. She had some confusion when my brother said he would like to drive her home, and she couldn’t seem to understand that, as far as driving goes, it made no difference if he or my sister drove her. They both had to go through her town, first. As he took her stuff to his vehicle (she took some of the crab apples we picked. 🙂 ), I followed out and discovered some branches had come down in the yard. My mother followed and asked for my dad’s walker, so my brother was kind enough to pick up the biggest one while I got the walker for her. The winds were still really high, and small branches were falling everywhere. As I came back from the sun room with the walker, I found my mother had taken the broom we keep by the main entry, and was sweeping the concrete in front of the door. She’d already made numerous passive aggressive digs at me for things like not clearing the table fast enough for her, or whatever other perceived failure in my housekeeping she found (like not dusting the ceiling fan before they arrived), but to start sweeping the front, in the middle of a wind storm, while branches were still falling down… that was a bit much, even for her!
Then she decided she wanted to walk around the yard and look at my garden – specifically, the area where the old wood pile used to be, that I now have beets, carrots and parsley growing. She’d missed that area, the last time she was here. When she saw the parsley, she asked for some to take home, which I was happy to do. We have much more than we need. 🙂 She tried walking around more of the yard, but with the winds, she turned around rather quickly!
There was only one last confused round of shouting as everyone was getting ready to leave. It turned out my mother had cards for all of us, but none of us knew this, so when my sister started to leave while my mother was in the bathroom (going through the cupboards and drawers, with the water running to try and hide the noises), she almost started panicking! But it all got done, and they were all able to head out at the same time. After locking the gate, I picked up a few more larger branches that had come down. This evening, I’m going to have to be more thorough in doing my rounds, to see what else has come down.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am SO glad we got those trees cut away from the roof and the power lines!
Ah, as much as the winds have been an issue for us, at least we didn’t lose power. I just got off the phone with my brother, and the power there had been off for about 3 hours. Thankfully, he has an inverter and can hook his truck up to provide power to the house. The power came on while we were talking on the phone, so that’s a relief for them. They’re quite a bit further south than we are, so they tend to get the weather systems that miss us entirely!
Meanwhile, I’ve had some kitten therapy to recharge, and had better go do my rounds while it’s still light out!