Hibernate

It’s that time of year where I find myself hunkering down and taking a step back from my busy life. Partly because December is so hectic with gatherings and special events, it’s nice to sit around and expect very little of yourself. It helps that the weather has been a wee bit on the cool side. -51C windchills anyone? The wind has been a tad brisk. Today is the first day we opened the curtains and let the sun in. Why? Normally we keep them shut as an added insulation barrier to the wind that whips out of the north. It is -17C and quite frankly, it feels like spring.

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The view from my home office. 

I read once that how you react to winter is a metaphor for how you react to life. I take it in stride.

Coping with cold does take more effort and thought. For example, I have to plug my car in. Not because it is electric, but because the block heater warms the oil pan and it makes it easier to start. I plug it in when I get home and I also plug it in at work. It adds an extra five minutes each time. Not a huge deal except I am outside struggling with frozen cords praying the end doesn’t snap off like it has before – that is a major hassle if you have never done electrical work before. Things break easily is this type of cold.

Dressing for cold takes thought. I work in a glass building. Sure there is central heat, but it still feels cool. I have a blanket and pashmina at my desk. I wear wool socks, and usually have a base layer, mid-layer and outer layer. When I only have two layers, the blanket comes out for my lap. As I get tired near 3:00 p.m., I find I get cold. Pot of tea and my pashmina help to perk me up. I always wear a scarf and an extra wool scarf for outside. Winter takes effort.

Eating is also a change to the regular. The last thing I want is a salad. Give me hearty soup and crusty bread. Soup for days is my motto. Bread and baked goods make the house smell delicious, warm and welcoming. It is comforting to eat at home when it is cold.

At home, the curtains are drawn and the fireplace is on. Quilts on chairs and sofas to snuggle with in front of the fire while watching tv or reading. The duvet on the beds and long hot showers are the best part. I don’t like going anywhere so I cancel plans and stay home. We have lived through two weeks of this. Now, as a reward the weather is moving up to single negative numbers it will feel like a treat.

Weather in Canada seems to be a competition. The Prairies are better at it than Vancouver, but Newfoundland is better at it than Alberta. When I lived in Yellowknife, NWT, cold and dark was a way of life. Too cold for your car to start but you went to school or work anyway. If you didn’t, you would never get anything done. Same as Edmonton. I missed work once because of a blizzard in 1988. It rained, covered my car in an inch of ice and then it snowed so much it buried my car. It took most of the day to dig my car out. The roads were closed anyway, so there was no way I was getting out of my town to drive into the city. I was late once because my car didn’t start but a new battery helps that from happening again. So this year, that didn’t happen. As a child, I never missed school because schools never closed. It is what it is. Weather is relative. What is hard for us prairie folk is harder for Lower Mainland folk and the thought of surviving winter on the Rock is unfathomable yet here they are, surviving.

Tofino residents were still surfing this week in spite of the fact they walked through the snow to get to the water. I get that. Winter is a metaphor for how you face life. You either hide and complain, or you get out there and enjoy it.

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www.paullevyphoto.com posted on @pacificsufco 

The sun is on its way back to me. It is setting as I leave work now. This makes it feel like spring is coming. It is rejuvenating to see the sun as I warm up my car and unplug my car. Do I hate winter? No. I love the dense sound when it’s cold. The crunch of the snow and event the frosty feeling in my lungs. It makes me feel alive. Cold snaps help me appreciate spring and summer. I am planning my garden and dreaming of my summer vacation. This year I have decided to not plan around anyone. I am taking the vacation I want without accommodating other people. I am spending my one week at a retreat between the Monashee and Cariboo Mountain Ranges and then one week staycation at home hanging out in my beautiful city.

I can’t imagine living somewhere where the four seasons don’t exist. Winter is the perfect time to hibernate, relax and enjoy the cozy warmth of inside and all the great things about home.

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

There has been some serious rainfall here. While other parts of the world are experiencing extreme heat, I pulled on a hoody and warm socks to stay inside. There was a time I would have bare feet from April to October. Not this year. The snow was over my head in winter, and I get wetter walking outside than I do swimming in the summer. I can list a million reasons why this summer bites. However, that isn’t helping my quest to show more gratitude and be more thankful. So the up side is?

      1. Dragonflies are HUGE!
      2. Grass is very green!
      3. The berries are extra juicy!
      4. The air smells fresh!
      5. The clover is gorgeous!
      6. There is lots of water in the river, creeks, bogs, sloes and ponds!
      7. (This is getting REALLY HARD!) Falling asleep to the sound of rain on the roof is soothing!
      8. Saving money on not watering the lawn!
      9. You can play “Pooh Sticks” in the street!
      10. I didn’t have to set up my pool this year (or last year)
      11. You can always find a picnic table for Friday night family picnics
      12. There are NO crowds at Capital X (the fair grounds)
      13. Alex Tagliani got to rest today – The Indy was a rain out
      14. The rain barrel is full.

The rainbows and evening skies have been beautiful and there have been cold weather funnel warnings. As hard as I try to be grateful, would a little more sun hurt? Please?

 

Who is the Coldest Canadian?

Oh Facebook, you are such a tease! Look at you suggesting I enter a contest proclaiming I am the Coldest Canadian so I can win a trip to New Zealand! I would love to win a trip! Not just to New Zealand but I would be happy to win a trip to Calgary! I just like to win. I am competitive that way.

I checked out this contest and it seems simple enough. I just need to video my self proving I am the Coldest Canadian, submit the video and get 500 000 of my closest friends to vote for me! Easy Peasy.

  1. I could sit on the patio at Starbucks drinking a Frap! That’s pretty cold.
  2. I could go for a Polar Bear swim at Lake Wabamum. There is open water near the Coal Plant cooling ponds, that is pretty cold!
  3. I could lay out on my lounge in the back yard in a bikini Athletic Tank Suit reading about polar bears in National Geographic with the thermometer behind me reading -32C
  4. I could shovel the walks in flip flops!

I watched some of the videos that were submitted by fellow Crazy Canucks, I voted for Lauren in Yellowknife. It was -34C with a windchill of -45C. She stripped down to her bikini and froze her patootie off amongst the ice sculptures. I lived in Yellowknife and I don’t care what anyone says, that place if freaking cold! Besides, she lives in YELLOWKNIFE, she deserves a vacation!

I am going to give this some thought. I want to go to New Zealand. What do you suggest?

 

I Wonder What My Doppelganger is doing right now.

It can stop snowing already.  To night was Winter Concert night at the local Junior High School. We live close enough to walk. Did I want to? No. Why you ask? It was snowing with a windchill temperature of -33C. I still haven’t found a winter coat I like, so here is me walking in my light fall jacket and shoes. Was I cold, sure but it is my own fault. However, the snow needs to stop. There is no where else to put it. We passed this car in a driveway. They buried their car in an effort to free up some room to walk. Time for public transit. I’m not going to lie. The Snow and cold are bringing me down. Then I sat for two hours at a Jr. High Band concert. I can tell you are jealous of me. You should be. My day was awesome.

As I sat in the freezing cold gym listening to the musical stylings of 12, 13 & 14 year olds, I was thinking about what my doppelganger must be doing at this very moment.

For those of you who don’t know, a doppelganger is a person who looks just like you, but not your biological twin. In fact, they are unrelated.

I met mine in 1990. I was at a shop in Inverness, Scotland, and she was the grocery  cashier. It was a weird and awkward moment. My traveling companion, who I lovingly refer to as Idiot Stick (long story, and yes it is an appropriate nickname) started giggling uncontrollably and kept looking back at her then at me. He looked like he was watching a tennis match. I stood in front of her and we just stared at each other. We never smiled. We just stared. She had the same dark curly hair as me, blue eyes, and the same red cheeks. We couldn’t speak, words just were not there. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was like gazing into a mirror.

My brother claims we had seen her years before while camping in the UK. If it was the same gal, that would be twice in my lifetime of meeting my doppelganger. I’m sure people go their whole life never meeting theirs, and here I am living in Canada, vacationing in Scotland TWICE and meeting her. That is odd enough to call Leonard Nemoy and give him another episode of In Search Of

So as I sat there, listening to the music, my mind started to wonder…I bet she isn’t as cold as me…I bet she is planning a beach holiday…I bet she is dating George Clooney on the sly…I bet she is visiting Tiffany and Co. in New York this summer…

Inverness Tourist, if you are reading this, email me. I would like to know what you are up to!

So Where’s Your Snow Now?

Last week New York received a pile and a half of snow. It made international news. INTERNATIONAL NEWS! Yes there was a lot. Yes it was “coldish”. Yes it is WINTER.

This last weekend Alberta was hit with a TON OF SNOW. Did it make international news? I don’t think so. Was there a lot of snow? Yes. Was it cold? Yes it IS winter! It is always cold in winter. New York’s snow is nearly gone, it may be all gone, I don’t live there I don’t know for sure. The weather in New York was above freezing, and my scientific knowledge tells me snow melts when the temp is above 32F or 0C. Our snow wont leave until April – if we are lucky.

In New York, I learned on Facebook, that some people couldn’t make it into work, or didn’t even try because of the snow. Here in Edmonton, there is no such thing as a snow day. You have work? Better leave early. You have school? Better leave early. You need to go shopping? Be careful of the parking lot, you may get stuck.

My Offspring have been shoveling along with their Dad and every other citizen of Alberta the past few days. Chatterbox had to stop because she could no longer lift the snow OVER her head to store it on the lawn. I have good news for Chatterbox. The snow stopped and the sun came out! I have bad news for Genetic Offspring, there is more snow coming Thursday. Another 5″-10″ on top of the two feet we already have. Where are we going to put this stuff? The City hasn’t sent snowplows out to residential yet. Our neighbors all pitched in with shoveling the road so the cars wouldn’t get stuck. I think I need to buy a patio heater to melt the snow in my yard.

This is the view from my car window. I am backing out my driveway and looking to see if any cars are in the way. Can you see any?

This is the Snow Fort the Offspring made, the snowbank is nearly 6 feet high.

The view looking east at my neighbors garage – I can’t see it either.

The Sunset at 4:15 today looking out my window. This is why I live here. The amount of sunshine and blue sky is worth it to me.

Stay warm, have that shovel handy and keep your stick on the ice.  🙂

 

That is a Great Costume! What are you?

Children dressed up in Halloween costumes.
Who dresses like this for Halloween?

I use to spend hours flipping through catalogs and patterns looking for adorable Halloween costumes for the Offspring to wear. Some costumes were incredibly cute! I was particularly fond of a ladybug outfit that I had wanted one of my kids to wear, but the sad reality was, Ladybug costumes just aren’t warm enough.

As I write today the current temperature is -2C or 28F. Winter has arrived here in Edmonton and brought a dusting of snow along with it. Typical Halloween Costume criteria for Canadian kids is 1> does it fit OVER a snow suit? 2> is it made of FUR? 3> Are the mittens able to hold on to the bag of candy?

It sounds so complicated here. Last August I was at Walt Disney World, Florida with my family. It was hotter than walking on the sun. The bottom of my flip-flops stuck to the sidewalk because they were melting to the pavement. That isn’t normally a problem here in the Great White North! All the shops were filled with tiny costumes the required bare legs or arms. Sizing meant the ACTUAL size of the child, not snowsuit size. Nothing was made of fur! Buying costumes in the United States was never really an option for us. Simply not warm enough.

When I was a kid, costumes were never that fancy.You either dressed like an Eskimo Inuit or you went digging in your Dad’s closet to dress as a Hobo, and when I say hobo – I mean my dad was not really a Hobo. Sure Mom thought he dressed like one, but his clothes were large enough to fit OVER all my winter gear. It was very warm and it needed to be. We would head out in the DARK, because sunset was 4:00pm. Thanks to Daylight Savings later now, the sunsets after dinner. One thing was always constant, there was snow and lots of it. A colleague and I were talking about the year there was a blizzard for Halloween. It was so cold most kids stayed home. Snow drifts were thigh high and the temperature had to be -25C. We would trudge ( because you can’t just walk in a snow drift) up to the house, people would be so impressed that you braved the cold, they would dump candy by the handfuls into your pillowcase. 10 houses and you had enough candy to last until Christmas!

In the past 10 years, Halloween has been warmer. My Offspring really doesn’t know what it is like to be out in a blizzard for Halloween, but they still wore snowsuits under their Minnie Mouse, or Darth Vader costumes. It looks like this year will be a bit colder in years past. Only one Offspring is braving the cold this year. Obviously I have failed as a Mom raising a true “Canadian” trick or treater. Braving cold is no longer a badge of honor. Kids rather eat food in the pantry then go door to door and beg for it.

I don’t have anyone to take door to door this year. I faked being really happy about it. But the truth of the matter is I am kind of sad. No dressing warm, no walking around in the dark, no laughing with other moms and the outrageous costume ideas. But mostly I will miss visiting one special house down the street from me. They gave candy to the kids but “special” treats for the adults  – and when I say “special” I mean Kahlua. That is what made walking around the neighborhood really fun.

I wonder if I can “borrow” the neighbor’s kids this year?