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
March 6, 2022 · 8:21 am
Have you ever noticed how there are some things that are so important at certain stages of our lives yet much less important in others?
This observation came to me when I unpacked a box marked “winter clothes” and discovered a veritable treasure trove of long underwear.
Given the number and variety of styles and fabrics contained in that box, you’d think I was stocking up for the next ice age or potentially planning to design a wardrobe of superhero costumes.
In the ensuing walk down memory lane, I recalled how “long johns”, as we referred to them, were an essential article of clothing in childhood.
Back in school, on winter days when Ottawa lived up to its title as one of the coldest capitals in the world, they offered an extra layer of protection under my clothing during recess.
On winter weekends, whether my family was outside, skating on the Rideau Canal or enjoying the fresh powder on the nearby ski slopes, long johns under my snow pants were an essential for keeping extra warm. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Humour, stories
Tagged as bus, Canada, climate, clothing, cold, commute, fashion, frosty, garments, layers, outdoors, protection, snow, style, underwear, weather, winter
February 20, 2022 · 8:15 am
Once we settled into our home the country, there has been no shortage of interesting discoveries when it came to the flora and fauna in the neighbourhood.
In winter, I find endless wonder and fascination in checking out the animal tracks in the snow in every corner of our property.
When I do, it turns into a bit of a CSI-style forensic game of “name those tracks”. While we have a number of regular visitors that make the short list of suspects, there are a few that stop by make one or two guest appearances, just to make the game more interesting.
Sometimes, the game is a bit of a throwback to primary school science classes when we learned about the wildlife that roams in this part of the country. I remember countless hours memorizing their unique characteristics, including the tracks that they leave behind.
The bird tracks are easy to pick out, as are those of our squirrels and chipmunks who must be suffering from insomnia this year as they aren’t really showing signs of hibernation. Their tracks are everywhere!
But there is evidence of other small animals that seem to visit us given the size of the tracks. I assume that they must be nocturnal critters, given how a morning stroll often yields new tracks to observe. Continue reading →
March 21, 2021 · 8:56 am
We laugh (and perhaps cry a little) at the irony of spending the time and the money to build a garage, only to NOT be able to use it in the weeks that followed.
This was definitely one of those situations where timing was everything. It’s just that the stars didn’t line up in our favour.
Given the number of homeowners everywhere who actively took to home renovation projects during the pandemic, the competition for building materials was fierce. When the supply chain couldn’t keep up with overall demand, the scheduled delivery dates for our building materials were extended, which staggered the completion of the project. This factor, in itself, did not cause us too much concern. We just chalked it up to our current reality.
But it was the coincidental timing of the completion of the garage with the emergence of spring that became problematic.
The rapidly melting snow (as one typically experiences in March around here) turned the freshly displaced soil and clay around the former construction site into a mud puddle.
We’re not talking a little mud in a few spots, we’re talking an unavoidably massive mud puddle consisting of the gooey, sticky stuff you see in movies that creates that suction effect when you step into it. And if you’re footwear isn’t securely fastened to your foot, it will stay securely fastened to the mud itself.
In theory, this shouldn’t be a big deal given that we are still working from home and only going out for the essentials. But on that first venture out for grocery night, it was an adventure in itself, navigating in and around the mud puddle. Continue reading →
Filed under home, Humour, stories
Tagged as country, ground, home, house, life, living, melting, mess, mud, nature, puddle, renovation, snow, soil, spring, yard
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
November 15, 2020 · 8:57 am
You can imagine my excitement when I got the call from the auto body shop to tell me that my car was ready.
When I went to pick it up, I let out a huge sigh of relief to see my vehicle restored to its original beauty. The body shop did a magnificent job. The car dent I had been living with for six months was finally erased.
What irks me to this day is that I was nowhere near the car when the dent happened, and the person who was responsible never stepped forward to identify themselves by leaving a note (*head shake in disbelief*).
Regular readers know that I am not a “car person” to begin with, and it’s not like I own a luxury car by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just a cute, practical, compact car, which I have grown to love, but it’s my car.
It is sad to think that people do not have more regard for other people’s property or are too afraid of the repercussions to own up to their mistakes (or a combination of both) (*head shake in annoyance*). Continue reading →
Filed under Misc blogs, stories
Tagged as accident, anxiety, car, cars, clearing, collision, conditions, dent, driving, frustration, ice, insurance, police, removal, repair, report, road, snow, stress, time, timing, winter
August 9, 2020 · 10:58 am
One of the biggest ironies about moving to the country has been the surprising shift in the way I look at weather forecasts.
Back when I lived in the city, I was not a fan of rain nor snow. The reason was pretty simple: commuting.
After our work team was relocated a few years ago, I had accepted that taking the car to this new location would always be faster and more efficient than dealing with buses or our emerging light rail system. After being a bus commuter for 35 years, I felt justified in taking that decision and in having done my part for the environment.
I occasionally questioned that wisdom when a major reconstruction project on a major artery kept adding time to my commute, but I still persisted.
But when the highway was narrowed not only from the construction itself but from vehicles breaking down in the construction zone like it was the Bermuda Triangle, my patience started to wear thin every day that lanes would be blocked, adding to the commute time.
But when you incorporate precipitation into the mix, whether rain, snow, or freezing rain, it became impossible to predict just how long it would take to get to work. Let’s just say that I restrained myself from drinking too much coffee just in case I’d be stuck in the car on the highway (between off-ramps) for lengthy periods.
Back then, whenever I looked ahead to a forecast with several successive days of rain, I would already start the week with a bit of a frown.
But now living in the country, in the Covid-19 era, where I have been working from home and haven’t had to commute in almost five months, I have had good time to recuperate from idiot drivers, construction, precipitation and stressful commutes. Continue reading →
Filed under home, Humour
Tagged as agriculture, community, country, drought, food, home, house, rain, rural, snow, water, weather, well
February 24, 2019 · 8:49 am
1 – There is enough grit in your entry hall to fill a sandbox, even when you vacuum it each week.
2 – You would like to have a few words with the groundhog.
3 – You run your fingers through the cat’s litter box, close your eyes, and dream you are on a sandy beach.
4 – You visit your summer clothes at the back of the closet.
5 – You put on sunscreen just to enjoy its aroma.
6 – In the car, you crank up the temperature and turn on the heated seats, just to remember what it was like to feel a little sweaty.
7 – Your default TV channel is the Sunset Channel.
8 – When you go to restaurants, you order drinks with umbrellas, and pretend you are on vacation.
9 – You create more playlists of songs with steel drums.
10 – When you check the weather app, you don’t tap on “weather warnings” anymore. You know that it is just more bad news.
11 – You have Googled “vitamin D dosage” on more than one occasion.
12 – You get frustrated when stores put out the lawn and garden supplies, when you are still looking for winter supplies. Continue reading →
Filed under Humour, Lists
Tagged as clothing, cold, footwear, funny, humor, humour, ice, Lists, observational humour, snow, spring, sun, weather, 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