a peek inside the fishbowl

27 Sep, 2018

Let’s talk about that weather, shall we?

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Westboro|Misc. life|Ottawa

Back in May, when the Kitchissippi Times changed to a monthly community news magazine format, I was asked to write a letter from the editor in each issue. I scoffed at the idea a bit at first. I mean really, do MORE people really need be exposed to my random thoughts? As it turns out, it was a solid idea and I’ve been receiving positive feedback ever since. My photo is published there as well, so more people are recognizing me and stopping to chat AND I’m getting more emails from readers. It’s all good!

I know some of you Fishies live here in Ottawa and have heard nothing but Storm News for the past six days, but a bunch of you are scattered around the world and may not know that the Ottawa/Gatineau region experienced six tornadoes last Friday. (!) I didn’t see the point of duplicating my efforts so I’m sharing I wrote in the October issue of KT (which you can read right here, if you like)!

I think it’s safe to say that the summer of 2018 went out with a bang, not a whimper, and that it won’t quickly be forgotten.
I am writing this column, longhand, with a pen and notebook by early morning light. I’ll transcribe this all later, when my family and I move to my in-laws place in Kanata for the day.

The house is silent. The normal “house” sounds – hot water heater, fridge, air exchange, phone ringing and devices buzzing – are totally absent. I have really enjoyed the silence of a power-free weekend. Other than the flurry of activity surrounding some lost branches in our backyard and the hum of a neighbour’s generator, it was blissfully tranquil.

At this point, our home has been without power for 36 hours. The contents of the fridge are warm and I’m afraid to open the freezer, but overall, we fared well. For this, I am grateful.

When the power went out, our candles, flashlights, and emergency radio were within easy reach. We learned that our hot water heater is more efficient than we thought and we were able to have a hot shower 24 hours after the power went out and wash a sinkful of dirty dishes.
According to public health, perishables will only last for about four hours in a non-working fridge, so, like many of you out there, after it was clear the power wasn’t coming on any time soon, we tried to use up whatever food we could. Thankfully we were able to cobble together hot meals on our gas-powered stove and BBQ. (Please don’t ask me about the Costco-sized box of tempura shrimp we ate for lunch on Saturday.)

I learned a few practical lessons during our “tornado weekend”:

  • I thought our landline and analog phones would work during a power outage. They didn’t.
  • Had the water stopped flowing we would have been in big trouble.
  • A better stock of dry goods in the pantry (including chocolate) would have been welcome. There’s only so much peanut butter one can consume.
  • Driver etiquette is never better than when the stoplights are out at four-way intersections. I’ve never made such a smooth left turn on Island Park!

As I said to our daughter with a thought back to the ice storm of 1998, times of crisis bring out the best in people. This is what I saw this weekend. I saw the best people rise to the occasion in Kitchissippi and beyond. A community is only as strong as the people who live there – and that’s what I saw this weekend – a strong community.

Extending a hand when one was needed – this is what living in a community is all about. I saw neighbours helping neighbours, checking in on one another and making sure no one went without hot water, good meals, and a cup of coffee. I saw strangers offering baby formula to families who were caught short, and pancake breakfasts … delivery available! It did my heart good.

A special shout-out to James Thompson on Gainsborough, who shared his household power by way of a number of extension cords snaking across his front lawn. Through a Facebook post, he extended an invitation to anyone who needed power to charge their phones or even “blow dry” their hair, as he put it. It’s times like this that one realizes that dry hair and a hot cup of coffee or tea can be the most precious and valuable things.

Thank you, Kitchissippi. I am so glad to be a part of this wonderful, caring, community.

p.s. Related to this, check out this article about a local business that went above and beyond the call of duty!

1 Response to "Let’s talk about that weather, shall we?"

1 | Claudette

October 1st, 2018 at 7:35 pm


I like your ‘lessons learned’, made me realize that I need to have more water stored here. I mean, I always think, if we get a power outage during winter, which is 5, 6 months out of the year, I’ll have access to water…but really, when you’re in a situation like you described, last thing you want to do is venture outside to go collect your water.

Also, the chocolate tip…Hm. This one is gold! :)

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  • andrea tomkins: It was gorgeous and we had amazing weather. It went by too quickly... as it always does. :)
  • Peter G.: You know you are in a good place when even the dog is smiling. Looks like it was a lovely and likely deserved getaway.
  • Nora B.: So nice to see photos of J&D's beautiful cottage. A wonderful place to get away for a little while from our crazy world!
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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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