November 20, 2022 · 7:36 am
When I hear the quote from Greek philosopher Epictetus, “it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it that matters,” I admit that the words are sometimes a bitter pill to swallow when my frustration is beginning to swirl.
However, over time, I have discovered the wisdom of those words when I have seen the contrast in my own feelings over a recurring situation, and how those feelings can change depending on any number of contextual factors.
The first snowfall of the season is an excellent example.
As a young boy, that first snowfall was consistently met with joy and excitement as it meant a switch in the games we played outside at recess.
Running after snowflakes and catching them on our tongues to see who could catch the biggest was a favourite (clearly, it didn’t take much to amuse us). Piles of snow would become the focal point of a game of “king or queen of the castle”. And of course we would blow off steam with the occasional snowball fight, just for the fun of it. Continue reading →
Filed under home, Humour, stories
Tagged as bus, Canada, cold, commute, commuting, driving, ice, nature, Ottawa, public transit, snow, stress, weather, winter
January 17, 2021 · 8:33 am
As I sit down to write this piece, all is calm, all is bright. Miss Ivy, the “guardian cat”, is snoring on the wing chair beside me while I sip my morning coffee. Just outside my window is the first major snowfall of this season.
What a great way to spend a weekend snow day. I am very fortunate indeed for this simple pleasure.
I look out my window and think to myself how pretty the winter wonderland is. Then I stop myself and say “Whoa! What happened to that guy who used to ‘hate’ winter?”
The answer is that things have changed quite a bit.
For so many years, I have equated snowfalls with stress, the fear of the unknown, and having to dig deeply for an extra dose patience.
I don’t know why in Ottawa the show must go on, even in inclement weather, but only in rare and very extreme weather conditions was work ever “cancelled”.
It always brings a smile to my face to see news reports from other cities that shut down when they had one or two inches of snow on the ground. “That would never happen here”, I always think to myself as one to two inches on the ground is just an average winter day in Ottawa. But it didn’t mean it was an easy day.
Back when I was taking the city bus to school or to work, a snowy day meant a longer commute time in an overheated bus, while wearing a winter coat, sweating like a pig, wishing I could take another shower by the time I got to my destination. It also meant the crap shoot of whether the bus will be late or if it will show up at all, meaning that extra layers of clothes were needed to stand outside waiting, to protect from the elements.
It also meant the risk of being late for an important commitment, which is excruciating for someone who prides himself on his punctuality. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, home, Humour
Tagged as acceptance, accidents, back pain, bus, Canada, Canadian, commute, drive, driver, freezing rain, ice, inconvenience, nature, Ottawa, patience, shovel, snow, snow day, stress, weather, winter, work
May 19, 2019 · 8:04 am
In February, there were two news items that hit the airwaves that made me feel goose bumps all over:
On February 19, 2019, it was the headline “Netflix to Open Dedicated Production Hub” followed closely on February 28, 2019, with the article “And, action! Filmmaking complex gets go-ahead”.
Regular readers and close friends know that my big plan for retirement is to write. The form of writing I might consider has yet to be determined. But I am convinced that once I have developed a few of my story ideas into outlines and then into drafts, the most appropriate format might become self-evident.
But if I listen to my gut now, something tells me it might be more along the lines of television, plays or movies, more than novels, just given the time I have spent studying television, as opposed to just watching it.
Plus I have always been fascinated by the process of making stories come to life in the television or cinematic medium, to the point of volunteering for my local community television station 20 years ago, and staying with it for 3 years.
Working in a creative medium with other like-minded people was an experience I will always fondly remember. At that point in my life, I didn’t realize the extent to which I was missing a creative component. When I found community TV, things really came together. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Inspiring, TV, Writing
Tagged as dreaming, dreams, enthusiasm, goals, medium, Ottawa, passion, planning, production, retirement, screenplay, screenwriter, television, writer
January 6, 2019 · 8:01 am
It doesn’t seem to matter how much water we drink, having dry lips is a fact of life in winter with our heated cars, heated offices and heated homes, when the humidity outside is non-existent.
Nothing screams winter like a bad case of chapped lips. In Ottawa, where we are typically in sub-zero bone-dry cold air for weeks at a time, keeping an assortment of lip balms within reach is an essential. It only takes one missed application to get lips so dry, you can grate Parmesan on them.
When I don’t take the necessary precautions, there have been times I have looked in the mirror and thought my winter lips bore a striking resemblance to my cat’s scratching post, with unruly pieces sticking out of vertically shredded bits. I don’t feel too bad though because I know I’m not alone.
Over the years I have tried a number of lip balms including some pretty expensive ones, and to my surprise, the one that seems to work best for me is the basic, classic, unflavoured Chap Stick. The challenge is keeping track of those little guys.
I don’t know why, but I can’t have just one Chap Stick and move it to wherever I am. Even if it travels in the same circles as my keys, my wallet and my iPhone, for some reason it keeps escaping. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Humour
Tagged as balm, Chap Stick, chapped, cracked, dry, dry air, dry skin, find, funny, humour, lip, lips, locate, lose, losing, lost, misplace, Ottawa, stories, where, winter
November 17, 2018 · 10:12 am
It was 7:30 a.m. last Friday morning when Ivy the Wonder Cat and I were playing chess on the coffee table or at least Ivy’s version of chess, knocking the chess pieces off the table and meowing with joy.
Then I heard it!
You’d think it was the sound of “a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer” with the speed at which I flew to the window, but no. It was the snow plow… The snow plow I hired to clear my driveway, making its very first visit!
For those who might not be familiar with an Ottawa winter, let’s just put things into perspective. While different sources offer different statistics, I’d say that on average, Ottawa receives about 200 cm (roughly 78 inches) of snow through the fall, winter and spring months.
Of course it doesn’t fall at once. Sometimes it falls as light fluffy flakes, sometimes it comes with ice pellets and sometimes it is wet and heavy. As an added bonus, after the plow (or plough, if you prefer) comes to clear the street, there is always a heavy (and sometimes mountainous) snow bank at the end of the driveway that needs to be cleared as well.
Plus, when you have a winter like 2008 with more than 300 cm of snow, and all of the snowbanks start getting taller than you, where do you put the snow?
For the longest time, I thought that hiring a plowing service might have been frivolous or extravagant, especially since my driveway is barely over one car length. But I had to accept the sad reality that the degenerating disc in my back will continue to degenerate, and that the shoveling is probably not helping it in the long run.
I tried to convince myself that it was good exercise and that it was one of the joys (and responsibilities) of home ownership. But 17 winters later, my positive spin on shoveling is spiraling downward. I’m over it. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Health and Wellness, Humour
Tagged as back, back pain, careful, chiropractic, chiropractor, degenerating, disc, getting older, health, heavy, home, home ownership, maintenance, Ottawa, ploughing, plowing, pride, risks, safety, self-care, service, shovel, snow, snowfall, solution, strain, weather, well-being, wellness, winter
November 13, 2017 · 6:39 am
With the fall season well underway and the official start to winter just on the horizon, I often feel like a squirrel gathering nuts, which is not too far from the truth, actually.
For those who might not be familiar with Ottawa, winter can offer its share of merciless days in terms of bad weather conditions. As a result, roads and driving conditions can get pretty treacherous.
If we hit a weather pattern of several days of heavy snow or freezing rain (or both), I tend to go out only if I really have to. And on those days when I have to go to work, I stick to the essentials: a commute to the office and back, and that’s it. I won’t do errands on the way home.
It’s just a question of safety… well… that and the fear of getting stuck in a parking lot where a plow hasn’t arrived to remove the snow which continues to pile up.
For that reason, I tend to stock up on certain items to ensure I have a decent supply on hand, and to not stress out if my errand schedule goes topsy-turvy when Mother Nature and Old Man Winter get cranky.
Here they are, my top 10 errands in preparation for winter:
10. Flu shot
Getting a flu shot is not so much a weather dependent preparation, it is just a seasonal one for which I feel a need to make time for it, to avoid the flu, avoid the line-ups and maintain good health through the winter season.
9. Snow tires
Local garages are usually run off their feet at this time of year as many drivers book an appointment to have winter tires installed on their vehicles. Given how bad the weather can get, I couldn’t imagine driving without them anymore.
8. Kitty litter Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Christmas, Humour, Lists
Tagged as back ache, Canada, Canadian, chiropractor, Christmas, clothing, coat, dry skin, emergency, errands, flu shot, funny, gloves, hats, holidays, human interest, humor, humour, ice, list, mitts, Ottawa, preparation, preparedness, prevention, shopping malls, shovel, snow, snow tires, sweater, Top 10 list, top 10 lists, weather, winter, winter gear, winter weather, wintry
April 23, 2017 · 8:07 am
In last December’s post, “How Nature Photography Might Get Me to Appreciate Winter”, I wondered if my rediscovery of photography might be able to nudge me out of my usual winter cocoon and spend more time outside.
For those who have never been to Ottawa, let me offer a little bit of context. Yes, we do have an abundance of beautiful winter days that are like a shot out of a Disney movie. However, the Norman Rockwell painting of a perfect suburban Ottawa winter starts fading around the 18th consecutive day of snow, threat of freezing rain, or temperatures so low, even the cat won’t sit by the window and conduct her usual backyard surveillance despite her abundant fur coat. Winters here can be very harsh for long stretches.
When the weather outside is horrible and the sidewalks are covered with snow and ice, it’s not most conducive to a cheerful walk outside at lunch time. When you also factor in a long and slow commute home wondering where the heck the city’s snowplows went and repeatedly mumbling to myself “Why the heck do I pay taxes?” it should come as no surprise if I have to dig deeply to want to spend more time outdoors and risk falling and breaking a hip… the joys of becoming a grumpy old man! (and yes, I know some close friends are now thinking, “what do you mean ‘becoming’?”)
But this winter, I did spend more time outside, thanks to the camera!
While I wouldn’t say it made me a winter lover in one season, nature photography certainly made it more enjoyable by helping me lose track of time while doing something I truly enjoy. I would even go so far as to say this winter didn’t seem to drag on as much as it did in previous years. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Humour, Inspiring, photography
Tagged as amateur, art, artist, beauty, camera, cat, cold, creative, creativity, digital photography, dormant, freezing rain, hobbies, hobby, ice, light, Mother Nature, nature, Ottawa, photo shoot, photography, seasons, shadows, shots, snow, trees, winter
February 12, 2017 · 7:57 am
The freezing rain of a few days prior had turned the entire city into skating rink. Old Man Winter must have been really proud with himself as no outdoor surface was immune.
As the city began to thaw out from the storm, my normally calm drive home was punctuated by a moment of terror, as a sheet of ice had dislodged from the roof of an SUV speeding along at 80 kilometres per hour and flew straight up into the air like a pancake being masterfully flipped by its chef.
The wind carried the SUV roof shaped sheet of ice a little to the north and above my lane of traffic. Gravity then started taking over.
“Oh crap… the sheet of ice is headed this way,” I thought to myself.
I am always impressed by how television and movies are able to depict those moments in life when time stands still and things suddenly go in slow motion. This was one of those moments. As I could see the sheet of ice headed for me and my windshield, so many thoughts flew through my head at lightning speed:
“Oh crap, what do I do now?”
“Crap… this isn’t how I’m supposed to die, is it?”
“No wonder I’m not a fan of winter.”
“This isn’t how I’m supposed to die, is it?”
“I’ve still got a million stories to write. This would be tragic.” Continue reading →
Filed under Humour, Misc blogs
Tagged as accident, automobile, automotive, Canada, car, car care, car window, commuting, driving, funny, hazard, hazardous, humour, ice, ontario, Ottawa, prevention, sheet of ice, snow, weather conditions, windshield, winter, winter car care, winter weather
February 16, 2016 · 7:03 pm
Leave it to Ottawa to be a city of extremes when it comes to weather. As I am writing this, we are digging out from a fresh snowfall of 46 cm (18 inches) of snow in a 15 hour period… and still counting. And this is two days after a weekend that wasn’t just chilly… It wasn’t just cold… It was spine-tingling, bone chillingly frigid at -28 degrees Celsius, but with the wind, was said to feel like -42.
Having grown up in Ottawa, one of the coldest world capitals, I will admit that weather events like these are not much of a shock to the system anymore, but it warms my heart to think of the possibilities of ways that we can joke about it.
This past weekend, it was sooo cold…
– Even teenagers were wearing long pants.
– My chattering teeth destroyed my night guard.
– I vacuum just to warm up.
– My Microsoft Windows are frosted.
– I sweat icicles.
– My long underwear needs long underwear.
– Popsicles aren’t that cool anymore.
– Every birthday cake is an ice cream cake.
– My windows are shivering.
– I have to factor in an extra 10 minutes before any departure, for all the extra layers of clothing.
– Even my prayer plant is rubbing its hands. Continue reading →