Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Torrential rain; hay bale theft; deer teeth dentures

The Canadian news continues to be really odd.  I have no idea if this is normal, since I didn't pay attention to it for nearly a decade, and before that I just read one local newspaper.  That was before I had internet, so I didn't see anywhere near as much news.  A lot of the Canadian news is boring or sad, but some of it is just plain weird. 

There was a really unusual windstorm (for August) in southern BC, centred on Vancouver and starting on Saturday afternoon.  We just caught the edge of it, but there were high winds, trees whipping, rain and hail pelting down, constant power flickering.  It hadn't rained in months, so the ground was really dry and couldn't absorb all that water.  The trees are brittle from drought and covered in leaves which make them act like sails, so there are a lot of downed trees, causing power outages, blocking streets, and damaging vehicles and houses.

It wasn't a big problem here, but there was flooding elsewhere, and 710,000 people in Vancouver were without power for at least a day.  Some of them are still without power, three days later.  It's not that cold, but they haven't been able to cook, or flush the toilet, or possibly run water at all for three days.  BC Hydro is saying that it's the single largest power outage event in their history.

Hundreds of trees were uprooted during Saturday's windstorm, including this one that lifted a Vancouver sidewalk. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
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Lots of people were posting pics of the damage on Twitter.

One woman in Vancouver was hit by a tree while out walking with her daughter and is in hospital with life-threatening injuries.
At least two people were killed in Washington State. One man was driving when a tree came crashing down on top of his car. A 10-year-old girl was playing outside at a friend's house when she was struck and killed by a fallen tree branch.

Vancouver's Stanley Park was closed to the public. The east side of the park has since been reopened as crews work to clear the remaining trees and debris caused by the storm.

A number of ferry crossings were cancelled or delayed due to rough seas, and the Vancouver SkyTrain was temporarily delayed after a tree fell across the tracks, smashing the front of an oncoming train. (Weather Network)

We got more rain in four days than we have the whole summer and the winds were up to 90km/hr.  While it's slowed down, it's still raining and it's expected to keep raining.  I'm used to it raining only once or twice a year in January, so this much rain and wind and cold weather in August and early September is pretty strange to me.  It was just starting to be warm for a little while, and now it's winter again.  Thanks, Canada.

The hay bale theft and deer teeth dentures stories are under the cut.

Similar to the trend of beehive rustling (which I wrote about a few days ago), I read a report of hay bale theft yesterday.  100 bales of hay were stolen from a field near Kelowna during the day, likely motivated by rising hay prices.

A B.C. farmer was shocked to discover thieves took 100 bales of hay from her farm near Kelowna, B.C., last week.
"It'd definitely be a two-person job," said Sheila Sutton, who lost approximately one-third of her crop at her Ellison farm in what she called a "quite bold and really disheartening" heist.  
The hay was baled around 12:30 p.m. and was stolen some time before 4 p.m., said Sutton.
"It was laying on the field just how it would've been baled by the baler so that when people come around, you just drive in big circles and start throwing it in the back of your truck."
Sutton said most of her neighbours were working at that time, and none saw anything unusual. 
"Nobody really thinks twice about people being out in the field, throwing hay in the back of their truck, because it's not something you hear of being stolen very often.
"There's the feeling that there's going to be quite a shortage now, just due to the amount of people who lost all their hay in Rock Creek," Sutton said.
Kevin Boone, general manager with the B.C. Cattlemen's Association, said the price of hay has doubled over the past year to somewhere between $180 and $225 per tonne.
"When that price goes up and there is a scarcity, it opens the door and the vulnerability of that producer in their product."(CBC August 31 2015)

Thieves stole 100 bales of hay from a field in Ellison, just outside of Kelowna. (Getty Images) 

There was an eccentric hunter and amateur inventor in the Interior of BC in the fifties who made his own dentures out of deer teeth and wood, and apparently wore them.

Francis Wharton smiles in this photo from the Kamloops Sentinel. Yes, those are the deer teeth dentures he's wearing. (Museum of Health Care)
 He was reportedly quite proud of his ingenuity:
Francis Wharton was far from civilization when he found himself needing a pair of dentures.
Never at a loss, Wharton, a resourceful  hunter and inventor, who lived near Little Fort B.C. in the 1950s and 60s, shot a deer and used its teeth to make dentures for himself.
Then turned around and ate the deer ... with its own teeth.
"He made a nice little set of teeth for a full upper denture," said Kathy Karkut, collections manager at the Museum of Health Care in Kingston, which now has Wharton's teeth on display.
"I think he was just an unusual man. He was quite proud of his ingenuity, and he didn't need to go pay for dentures like everybody else."
Wharton's teeth were made of filed down deer's teeth, put into a base of plastic wood and held into place with household cement.
A contemporary magazine article about him reported he used the teeth for at least three years, despite Karkut describing them as "loose" and "dark and dirty." (CBC September 1 2015)
The Museum of Health still has his deer teeth dentures and provided a picture of them:

Francis Wharton's dentures, made from filed-down deer's teeth and plastic wood. They were held in with household cement. (Museum of Health Care)
I don't know how he managed to wear them, because it shouldn't have been remotely possible for him to get them to fit.  Fitting even professional dentures is a long and frequently painful process that takes months of adjusting.

And household cement doesn't seem like something you should be putting in your mouth.  Or like it would come off easily, if you could get it to stick.
Elmer's household cement.  Will bond most household items together, tough and rubbery when dry.

Another question: who pulled the remains of his teeth out?  He doesn't seem like the type to go to a dentist, and it's unlikely that they just fell out.  Did he pull them out himself, or get a buddy to do it?

He was quite a character and had a reputation for eccentricity.  He also had a vendetta against bears:
Wharton, nicknamed "The Backwoods Wizard," was a fairly well-known eccentric in the Interior in those days.

According to a 1960 issue of Guns magazine, Wharton survived a bear attack by scaring the animal off with a shot from his .22-calibre rifle.
The bear still managed to swipe at him with its claws. The experience inspired him to design his own guns and bullets that were massive, handheld cannons to fight off any angry animals he came across.

And fight them off, he did. Guns reported that Wharton, in one case, killed eight bears in "revenge" after one killed his pet ram and, in a bizarre role reversal, ate the bear meat with his deer teeth. (CBC)

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