Savvy Characters are NEVER “too stupid to live”

How the heck do you create a character with flaws, and put her in dangerous situations while avoiding this ugly misstep?

  • By learning how to brilliantly navigate dicey situations
  • By discovering how an emergency situation could/should/might unfold
  • By understanding how to be prepared for… read more


Forest fires are threatening a big chunk of our province, and evacuation orders are real.

I’m sharing some of my Emergency Preparedness training with you, in hopes of making things just a bit easier if you’re faced with an evacuation warning–and please feel free to share with others.



  1. If you’re given instructions, follow them.
  2. If ordered to do so, turn off water, gas, and electricity.
  3. Leave immediately, taking all the other residents, including pets, with you, along with your grab-and-go-bag (and your emergency survival kit if possible).
  4. If there is time, leave a note telling others when you left and where you went…. The mailbox is a great place to leave it, or in the fridge. Yes, IN the fridge as it will be relatively safe from floodwater, some fires and some hazardous chemical spills, etc.
  5. Wear clothing and shoes appropriate for the weather conditions.
  6. Lock the house.
  7. Listen to the radio and follow instructions from the local emergency officials.
  8. Do your best to follow the routes specified by the officials. Know that if you deviate, you could end up on a road that is blocked, or in a dangerous area (not one where they’ll think to look for you later).
  9. Call your out of town contact asap to inform them of the situation and where you are going.
  10. Sign up with the emergency registration centre as soon as possible because that will be how some family members and those worried will locate you (if you don’t have an out of town contact) and how you will be accounted for so no search is necessary.



Keep it packed and ready at all times so you’re not running from room to room gathering what you might need.

Critical, must have items for everyone’s Go Bag

  • Water. As many bottles of water as you can carry
  • Water purification tablets
  • Medication. Whatever you and your family must have or might need to survive
  • A copy of any prescriptions you may need to fill if away from home more than a few days
  • Basic pain killers such as Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin etc.
  • EpiPen (if someone in your household suffers from life-threatening allergies)
  • Glasses, and or contact case and solution
  • Spare Keys (house and car)
  • Dental floss (doubles as string and very useful)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste. Brushing one’s teeth has been found to be number one on the list of little things you can do to feel better or refreshed.
  • Hand sanitizer, again, it will make you feel better
  • A lighter, because fire is the ultimate tool, and even waterproof matches are often unreliable
  • Flashlight, batteries, and light sticks
  • Portable radio and batteries
  • Photos of family members and pets
  • Out-of-area contact numbers
  • Emergency phone list
  • List of people to notify if you are injured


  • Description of pertinent medical history/conditions.
  • Copies of important documents
    • Social security, Driver’s License, CareCard
    • Birth certificate., Adoption papers
    • Marriage certificate/Divorce decree
    • Bank information to access accounts manually.
    • Credit card information
    • Insurance
    • Pet vaccination records
  • Cash (coins and small bills) – Assume ATM’s will not be working.
  • Whistle (to call for help if trapped)
  • Pocket knife, scissors, or box cutter
  • Small first aid kit
  • Several pairs of latex gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Toilet paper
  • Pet food to last 3 days

***Packing items inside Ziploc bags not only keeps them clean and dry, but ensures you have some handy re-sealable, waterproof bags in your GB.

Optional but necessary

  • Comfortable shoes/boots
  • Two pairs of socks (more if you have room)
  • Comfortable clothing (sweats, extra underwear)
  • Jacket or sweatshirt (depends on your climate)
  • Comb/brush
  • Lip balm, lotion
  • Soap, washcloth, face towel, shampoo
  • Razor, emery board, nail clippers
  • Sanitary products, tissue,
  • Sunscreen, plastic grocery bags Good book, playing cards, crossword puzzles
  • Work gloves
  • Gloves/mitts and instant hand warmers if cold temps are an issue in your area
  • Blanket
  • Plastic ground sheet
  • Food Snacks – preferably high protein (canned nuts have good storage life, but be aware of allergies)


Be Ready! Have your crates where they can quickly be accessed, have leashes and harnesses etc by the door.

Have an ID tag, complete with pet photo and your contact information clipped to the travel crate. If you have more than one pet, clip them all to one crate and you can sort out who’s in which one later.

Have a Pet Emergency Kit ready to grab and go. It should contain:

  1. Water and a water bowl
  2. Food for a week, and a food dish
  3. A blanket (something that smells like home will help them settle)
  4. A pair of old socks for each crate (they carry their human’s scent and that of their house)
  5. Toys (your pet will need exercise and entertainment)
  6. Leashes (if you have an extra, pack it, someone else may need one)
  7. An extra collar or harness (just in case you come across a lost or stray pet)
  8. Special equipment, provisions or medications
  9. A photo copy of vaccination records
  10. Contact information for the Vet office we use


…are like a secret stash of gold in your emergency kit.

Scenario:   An earthquake hits, the power goes out, some buildings have fallen, there is widespread damage.  You’re at work, your husband is at work, your daughter is at the local university, and your son is at high school.

Will both you and your husband be trying to reach the kids? Will he be phoning you while your daughter is also trying to reach you? Will all of you be waiting for the other to call first? You’re panicking and now you dial 911, but you get a busy signal, or a dial tone. What if the lines are down, the cell tower is out, or the circuits are overloaded? Who you gonna call? NO, NOT the ghost guys!

Instead of jammed circuits and dead cell batteries, you each make one call outside of your area, to Aunt Mary. You tell her where you are, what shelter you’re going to, etc. And Aunt Mary tells each of you where the others are when you check in.

This contact is also incredibly helpful for extended family and friends, because they want to know if you’re okay as well.

Once shelters are set up and the Red Cross is at work, they will do a fabulous job of keeping everyone informed of the status of their kin….but until then, Aunt Mary keeps you all in the loop.

So PLEASE, pick yourself a contact or two or three. Explain their role and provide your contact information.

If you’ve chosen more than one contact, make sure they have each other’s contact information so there are no breakdowns in communication.


Apologies for the rough way this blog is put together, but I felt it more important to get the information out there quickly, and forfeit the pretty formatting.

I sincerely hope none of you has to evacuate, but if you do, I hope I’ve helped you be ready to get out quickly and safely.




Daily Gratitude

Gratitude – for 10 hours of undisturbed sleep, for feeling refreshed when I woke up, for the pretty plants I indulged in at the garden center (lol Walmart), for gazillions of dandelions proudly lining the roadway, for being able to give a smile to a stranger struggling at physio, and for taking a me day without a single accomplishment 😀


Gratitude – for Calvin

Gratitude – for Friday being the perfect culmination of hundreds of hours of work put in by a small group of women determined to socialize a reluctant feral cat.



For discovering his reluctance was due to dental pain and wonky blood sugar.


For sticking to the goal in spite of hisses and punches and blood dripping from the odd finger.


For Rocky 1, and Rocky 2 (the names we gave the elbow-length wildlife gloves) helping us get past a hurdle or two,


For the distraction of food giving us the opportunity to touch him without getting punched.





For the feather sticks that became the “Key to Calvin,” and the standard first approach tool.







For heart pounding moments — of which there were oh so many!  Like the first time I successfully captured him in a blanket, or when I was sure he was about to punch me and instead leaned into my hand to enjoy the rub or scratch, or reaching out to touch him when he was out of his lair.






For the first time he stayed in my lap, even when I uncovered his head and he was free to go.





For the special first moments when he was touching me or accepting my touch and all I could do was say, “I hope someone can get a screen shot of this for me.”  And sure enough, several people would oblige. I am grateful those special moments were captured. (To all who contributed, thank you!)

For being able to finally get him to come out of his lair to play.

For the day I was so excited by an early breakthrough moment, I forgot to take off my scrub booties and wore them home inside my shoes!

For seeing him on camera at night, romping and playing like a kitten.




The weeks and weeks of bunny suits, booties, gloves, and head covers were all worth it. The hours and hours of laundry because everything had to go through the cycle twice are but a distant memory.

Months of staying determined we would get him to exactly where he is today, in a loving home, with people who understand the special needs of a formerly ferocious feral, have paid off.

When I slipped a blanket over him and gently carried him to the travel carrier, I gave him one last hug, and said, “I’m going to open the blanket up, and I want you to go in on your own.”  I let the blanket open, and he calmly walked in, turned around and laid down, snuggled into his favorite little bed. He was calm, ready to get on with his life.

I’ve chatted with his new mom several times since he got home, and he’s doing very well. He left the carrier within a few hours, and has staked out a favorite spot in his safe room. He’s taking all the newness in stride, and he’s blessed to have a human who “gets” it. Knows to give him space, but also understands he needs to feel human touch in order to stay connected.

For those who don’t know Calvin’s story, here’s a brief summary.

First of all, he survived being born in the wild.

He beat the odds and didn’t succumb to parasites, to disease, or predators. But by the age of three, his teeth began to go bad, and he was living with a horrible eye injury. Things were going downhill fast.

Then the best day of his life happened. He finally stepped into the trap set just for him, by, and he was whisked away from his forest colony to become part of the October Fixathon held at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital.

Vets and Techs from Mountain View and other hospitals volunteered to spend an entire Sunday spaying and neutering feral cats and doing whatever else was needed to help with controlling the community cat population. Dr. Sakals (Nano’s surgeon) from Canada West Veterinary Specialists, removed Calvin’s eyeball which had by now ruptured, and he was neutered.

Calvin still needed to return to Mountain View for extensive dental surgery before he’d be fit to release back into his colony, but that had to wait because he tested positive for ringworm. Once that was cleared up and the dental done, he was ready… but showing other symptoms, and was diagnosed with diabetes.

Returning to the wild would be a death sentence, so returning wasn’t an option. He was started on insulin therapy, and socialization was his only hope. So we set to work, and it took six months.

We celebrated even the tiniest of milestones, and cheered each other on. Each with our own style, each with our own level of bravery, we taught Calvin about love and trust. Some of us only did socialization, while others took on the massive task of taking daily blood samples and giving insulin injections, all before he’d decided humans weren’t the enemy!

It’s amazing to look back at where he was, heck, who he was, in October, and then see who he is now.






He is truly blessed, because not only did we all believe in him, but someone else believes in him now, has adopted Calvin, and taken him home, because as she said, he’s family.


Thank you, Calvin, I’m grateful for all you’ve taught me, as well as the laughter, and the great group of strong women you brought into my life.


To learn more about Calvin and other amazing cat rescues, go to

~Because all lives matter~

Daily Gratitude

Gratitude – for good bird watching on my beach walk this morning, for the eagle who was so close it felt like I could reach out and touch him, for the sandpipers calling out from far overhead, and for the duck who bounced a couple of times when he hit the grass–as though he’d forgotten he needed his “gear down” for a landing not on water–pretty sure that muffled quack was a bad word!