Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Notes from a Country Mouse.

I just embarrassed myself. Again. All my life I have blocked on names, literally been unable to pull a name out of my head when I needed it. When I was a teacher, I forced the kids to sit in alpha order and I memorized the class lists as the only way to keep track of them by name. Even that didn't always work. And now that I am into my seventies, the problem is much worse. I made a phone call this morning to ask that a message be passed on to three people and I could not come up with the third person's name. Blank. Cringe.

The reason that I had to do this is that the email that I would usually employ is unavailable. We live way out in the sticks and the internet can only reach us via wireless or satellite. We tried satellite and it was slow and unreliable. So we went to wireless as there is a company that is trying to provide it throughout our hilly, wooded and sparsely populated countryside. They are doing this by setting up nodes wherever there is high ground. We host a node as we are relatively high, but to catch the signal they have had to put the node at the top of a tall pine tree, 92 feet from the ground. It is the tallest thing around and so when we have an electrical storm, the 'box' is at high risk. The very poor resolution photo shows the top of the tree inside the red circle and the non climbers on the ground.

On Monday the sky was ominous but no rain was falling. All of a sudden there was a huge bang and a rumble of thunder. The bang signalled the death of both the node and our router – the electrical current having followed the wire from the node and fried its insides. Yesterday morning the crew from our internet arrived in their familiar white truck to repair the node and found that it had been completely blown apart and would have to be replaced. Unfortunately the madman who usually climbs the tree was on holiday and his replacement could not manage the last ten feet needed to take the broken machinery apart because the sway of the top was too much for him. So the white truck rolled away.

This morning there are two white trucks in the yard and the intrepid climber, called back from his vacation, is presently up the tree with the ground crew shouting up numbers to him as he sets the new receiver (or whatever). And the crew boss and my husband are discussing replacing the tree with a tower tucked more or less out of sight.

Although living way out 'in the bush' has many pleasures – bird song, fawns gambolling on the lawn, space, clean air, a sky in which all the stars are visible – it also has drawbacks. I have written here about the telephone wire that did not get fixed, snow blockages of our dirt road, distance to the grocery store, and more. We are very blessed to have good and caring neighbours and the health and strength to look after problems such as snow ourselves. The high speed internet access the node provides us allows me to do banking and shopping and a lot of business at the computer rather than driving half an hour to the nearest small town as I used to do. So we are lucky that our internet provider believes in quick and efficient service to fix the problems rural internet service causes.

When I stay with my daughters in the city the ambulance sirens, noisy university students, bus brakes at 3:00 am, 24 hour lights, traffic, all bug me. But their internet is very rarely unavailable.

Someday increasing age and debility will probably force us to move closer to help and amenities. Back to the sirens and swarms of cars and people. Some day. In the meantime the mad climber seems to have replaced the node and is getting a signal, the shouting on the lawn informs me. Soon the problem will be fixed, the shouting will stop and peace (and maybe the turkey flock) will return. And I will cherish the golden day and the peace while I can. And hope to rely on the 'Reply All' tab in email to help me with names.


  1. I also have a real problem with names, especially once I was half way thru my teaching career. I am pretty good with faces though. Some kids assumed that b/c I didn't know their names very well that I didn't know them, but such was not the case.

    My BIL has a cellular hub. It costs $50/mo and up to 10 people can log in at once. Its bandwidth is not unlimited, but he can use it at the cottage and at work (I guess) to sneak in more personal activity.

  2. Well, m'dear. At least the problem is fixed for now. :)

  3. It's all about the trade-offs, I suppose. You want to live out in the Boondocks to escape from the noise and intrusiveness of Modern Life, but you still want some of its Convenience. There is always a price to pay.

    Now that I'm away from school, I find that my brain has immediately discarded all names associated with it. Everyone is gone. If I happen to cross paths with a former colleague, the chances are very good that I won't be able to call up his/her name at all. It takes a bit of cleverness to cover for it.

  4. Glad the hero guy got it fixed! At least you can get wireless up there though unlike certain of your neighbors ;)
    I'm laughing imagining the first guy swaying around up in the tree and freaking out! Bet that wasn't in his job description when he started!!

  5. We have rural broadband issues at our weekend cottage too. The transmitter is on a neighbour's barn and we lost coverage because the birds pecked the cable out.

  6. enjoy your time in the country as long as you can.