I have successfully navigated through the succession of three storms that passed through our region over the last 5 days. And although I recorded yet another highest wind speed at the job site (24 mph – 20% higher than previous record), the B.A.T. has come through with no significant damage. Fortunately the last storm, that was slated to have much higher winds, shifted 30km out to sea and spared us from most of its wrath.
It did help to lower the sides closer to the ground, as this provided less opportunity for the wind to catch underneath and billow the tarp up. There is some minor damage where the tarp would rub up against the ends of roof trusses, but nothing that will cause problems going forward. I am extremely impressed with the strength of both the tarp fabric and the ropes.
But with all of the stretching the tarp has gone through during this series of storms, the seams are even more leaky and I had about 8 healthy puddles that needed cleaning up when I arrived today. I also had to attend to several areas that started to pool during the storms and address them with more props to push the tarp up in those areas and drain the water. So it made for a very stressful few days.
But even though the tarp did well, and I had relatively no lasting job site problems from the storm, this last few days have been some of the hardest of my life.
Part way through last Wednesday, as I was preparing the tarp for the storm starting that night, I took a break and was visiting with Ron and Gail (my neighbours). They mentioned they had not seen Blackberry that morning (he comes to their house every morning around 7:30am for cat treats). I also had not seen him that morning which was unusual as it was garbage day and he hates the garbage trucks and is usually in either our basement suite or Ron’s house most of the day.
So, I got out my cat radio collar tracker and started looking for him. There was no signal whatsoever, which again was very unusual. The LoCATor system I use has a range of at least 4 blocks, and the only times I typically get no signal is when the battery on his collar is too week and needs to be changed. So I got in the truck and started driving through the neighbourhood looking for a signal. After a couple of hours, there still was no sign, and as I had a medical appointment that evening and still had to finish up the last of the tarp prep, I had to put off the search for a while and just hope he would come back.
As I was leaving for my appointment, I tried the tracker again and this time picked up a clear and strong signal coming from the rear of my neighbours yard. So I left for my appointment confident that he was close by again and wondered how far he had gone to be ‘out of range’.
When I got back, the signal was still in the same place. So I went to fine tune the location where it was coming from and ended up knocking on a neighbour’s door a few lots down behind our property. She advised she had found his collar on her driveway that morning and taken it to work with her so she could call the numbers on the tag. So, now I was really worried, as even if Blackberry had been in a cat fight, he would have been home by now. And there was no cat hair on her driveway where the collar was found (which there always is when he has had a fight). I spent most of the next three days walking through the neighbourhood calling for him and by Friday graduated to hiking through all of the nearby ravines, gully’s, and forested areas looking for any signs.
In the end, he has disappeared without a trace. I was going to hire a blood hound, but with all of the rain we had, I figured there would be very little chance of there being any scent left. I suspect one of three things happened; he was taken by a cougar (there was one spotted in the neighbourhood during the summer), a coyote (less likely as he would have fought a coyote and there would be lots of hair – he had successfully defended himself from two previous coyote attacks a few years ago), or he was taken by a person who then threw the collar aside fearing it could be tracked.
Now loosing a pet and dear friend is always difficult, and I have gone through the process with 4 of my closest friends before, but those were all at the end of life and I had been given the chance to say goodbye and knew that I was preventing them from suffering any further. This time was so much harder. I could not get it out of my mind that he was hurt somewhere and needed assistance. It was gut wrenching! I just kept thinking of new areas I needed to search and had to stop everything to go search that new spot. By the end of Saturday, I had looked everywhere I could and gave up.
Today was my first day back to the site, but as I spent most of my time with him while we were at the job site, it has been very difficult to be back there knowing he will not be visiting me any more. I am grateful for all the joy he gave me over the 8 years or so he let us be his parents (he had adopted us after spending the first 4 years of his life with another family close by). I will miss the mid day cuddles he would provide when I stopped for lunch and he would come and jump up onto my lap and just purr. I will miss seeing him sit in the shade and keep an eye on me as I would work around the site. He was my daily companion and made the process of building this house a little bit easier every day he was there.
I miss you buddy.