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
July 31, 2022 · 7:29 am
I used to pride myself on my punctuality. It wasn’t like I was in some sort of contest or anything, but to me, punctuality meant respect for other people and their valuable time.
That being the case, I always did my very best to leave early enough to arrive on time.
My goal was always to arrive early, but not too early either and rob myself of precious minutes from my time-starved existence.
With years of experience, commuting by car and by bus, I became pretty skillful at predicting how much extra time to allow, when factoring in bad weather, construction and traffic congestion on any given day. As a result, I often enjoyed that sweet spot of arriving about five minutes early for most appointments.
The fact that my early-but-not-too-early arrivals were pretty consistent was a great source of pride. It got to a point that I considered it my superpower.
Needless to say, on those rare occasions when Murphy’s Law (or weather, or construction, or traffic accidents) played against me and I showed up late for something, I was beyond apologetic that my superpower had failed me.
But then three life events happened that have totally messed up my superpower: the pandemic, moving to the country and retirement. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Humour, stories
Tagged as appointments, construction, early, late, patterns, predicting, punctual, punctuality, respect, stress, time, traffic, weather
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
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
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
December 2, 2018 · 11:20 am
1. Travel offers a change of pace from the daily routine.
2. Travel can be a temporary escape.
3. Travel can be an opportunity to disconnect for a while.
4. Travel can be an opportunity to knock things off our bucket list.
5. Travel offers an opportunity to see random things we wouldn’t normally see at home.
6. Travel offers an opportunity to experience landmarks we have only read about or have only seen on television or in movies.
7. Travel offers an opportunity to admire natural and man-made wonders.
8. Travel offers an opportunity to admire the endless beauty of our planet.
9. Travel offers an opportunity to try different foods and beverages.
10. Travel can be an opportunity to experience music we wouldn’t normally hear at home.
11. Travel can be an opportunity to experience games and sports we wouldn’t normally see at home, or to experience a favourite sport in a different setting.
12. Travel offers an opportunity to enjoy life without having to cook, clean or run household errands for a few days.
13. Travel offers an opportunity to experience and appreciate different traditions and customs.
14. Travel offers an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Continue reading →
Filed under Inspiring, Lists, Travel
Tagged as air, appreciation, connect, connection, culture, domestic, enjoyment, experiences, geography, globe, history, human, humanity, humans, international, joy, nature, opportunities, people, serendipity, sunshine, travel, traveling, travelling, understanding, vacation, weather, world
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
September 16, 2018 · 7:57 am
With Halloween just around the corner, two questions that seems to be increasingly on our minds are “How many Halloween treats will we need?” and “Is it too early to buy?”
When I was growing up, I don’t recall there being much debate. The number seemed generally stable from year to year. When the neighbourhood’s teens felt they were getting too old to be trick or treating, younger kids were replacing them. And if I remember correctly, 60 to 70 kids seemed to be the norm for many years. When it came to Halloween, it was suburban stability.
Also, back then, Halloween candy didn’t grace our store shelves until after the “Back-to-school” season was over… when kids were back at school. I don’t recall any retail shenanigans of having Halloween candy on the shelves a couple of weeks into the summer break.
In the couple of weeks leading up to Halloween, Mom would buy 60-70 treats. On Halloween night, most (if not all) of the treats would be distributed. The end.
But that hasn’t been the case recently. Continue reading →
Filed under Humour, Misc blogs
Tagged as algorithm, calculations, candy, costume, decision, diet, factors, fall, guess, Halloween, how many, math, mathematics, October, retail, shopping, traditional, traditions, treats, trick or treat, weather
April 22, 2018 · 8:52 am
I admire those people who say they are going for a “quick run”.
They are those phenomenal runners who stack up personal best after personal best, while barely breaking out in a sweat, who can simultaneously update their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds with professional-grade photos of wildlife, beautiful scenery and gorgeous skies.
They can carry on a conversation without ever being out of breath. And they look so graceful, from the beginning to the end of the run, like gazelles out for a joyful dash through the savannahs.
They inspire me! I love them and I am incredibly jealous of them.
Meanwhile you can find me at the back of the pack, fiddling with something or other, or holding a part of my anatomy that’s complaining, wondering why a 3 kilometer run takes me an hour… or two.
Here they are, my top 10 reasons why going for a quick run is impossible (for me). Continue reading →
Filed under Running
Tagged as earphone, exercises, fitness, food, gels, headphone, hydration, listicle, music, planning, playlist, playlists, preparation, quick run, routine, run, runner, running, stretching, water, weather, workout