Tag Archives: weather

The truth is…

22 Jan

Image

Seeing as I am Canadian I sometimes feel pressed to say that I like winter.  In truth: I hate it.  It makes me feel like less of a Canadian but I can’t hide it anymore.  As I type this post I am sitting in sunny Hawaii soaking in vitamin D and feeling fabulous.  I just received an email from my mother saying that a foot of snow is expected this evening and that today the local plough shed burnt down along with 3 ploughs.  Isn’t that bad timing?  I clearly remember being a kid and on the days that it was storming we would wait by the radio to hear if school had been cancelled or at the very minimum that our bus was going to be late.  This is the time in my life when my hatred for winter began…

I grew up in a community called Maryvale (the department of highways moved the sign once and for 2 years we lived in North Grant)  and where my parents house is we call it Hell’s Gates (original I know).  There is a weird combination of a small mountain, a 200 acre open field across the road and some kind of wind tunnel.  From November until March our entire life was controlled by the weather.  I remember waking up and thinking the bloody Apocalypse happened – our windows would be covered in snow, the car was buried in snow and wind howled like crazy.  Whatever plans I had that morning were at the very least delayed or even cancelled.  We would need to wait for someone to come and clear our driveway out and that could take hours.  After a few storms snowbanks would pile up higher than the roofline of our house.  So after waiting 2 hours, pulling on snow attire, warming the car up, and clearing the car off we would attempt to get out of the driveway (this was a whole other challenge).  My Mom would throw her aside her conservative ways – she would turn into Mario Andretti in an attempt to get out.  The end of the driveway was usually a total whiteout in both directions.  Someone would have to get out of the car and stand in a place where they wouldn’t get hit in order to see if any cars were coming.  The wind would be blowing so strong that this already hateful event was made worse. So, Mom would hammer the gas down, we would fishtail out of the driveway and spin down the road.  We would think Old Man Winter had lost his mind, however, when we got a mile over the road all would be relatively peaceful.  I can’t tell you how many people went off the road in the front of our house – we always had knocks at the door from forlorn travelers stuck in the ditch.  There was a few years when the military actually came in with some sort of a machine that blew the snow so high/far I think it ended up at the North Pole. The Department of Highways for many years put a snow fence across the road in an attempt to block some of the blowing snow. Waiting for the school bus was a brutal cruelty – it would get so windy and wild that my brothers (probably begrudgingly) had to hold my hands so that I wouldn’t blow away into the great white abyss.  Seeing that big orange school bus pull up was the most amazing feeling. We got so much snow at our house that we would jump off the roof of the house into drifts.  I think David lost his boots on one plunge and they weren’t recovered until the spring.  When we were kids we had so much fun outside – playing in the snow, jumping off the house, cross country skiing, but that was when I didn’t know what day of the week it was, I didn’t have to run errands, I didn’t cook my own food, I didn’t have to clean, I didn’t have to work – i didn’t have anything to do other than play. Now, all winter brings me is shoveling, a dog full of snowballs and cold hands and feet. 

Fashion is a big part of winter that is a challenge for me as well – salt stains make my blood boil, when I put on a pair of pantyhose/tights I nearly have an allergic reaction, my head is too big for most fashionable hats and I detest how pasty my poor legs become due to not seeing sunlight for 5 months.

The good bits of being a Canadian exceed my strong feelings about winter and thus I have not given up my citizenship, but I think we need to add another province to Canada (one that is sunny all year round) – let’s trade in our worst province for Turks and Caicos.  I would volunteer to be the first resident. 

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I climbed a mountain and I looked around… part 1

8 Oct

The climax of the story is that I made it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, 5800m. The lead up and aftermath makes for much of the story.

I arrived in Tanzania after traveling for over 24 hours! After getting my Visa I made my way to customs and immigration where the female agent looked at me and said “Oh you shine as bright as a star – beautiful. Welcome to Tanzania!!” I don’t know about you, but this was a very different customs experience than home. Normally they make you feel like you are bringing a body in your luggage and have cocaine shoved up your bum. It was as easy as that! I said good-bye to my seat-mate John and wished him the best of luck at shooting an African buffalo. I walked out to little guy with a big smile and a sign with my name on it. He brought me to a bus with a few other people on it and we peeled out of the parking lot. We arrived at a hotel different than the one I was expecting – they told me my hotel was overbooked and they would bring me to the original one in the morning. Oh, and that I would have a roommate for the night. I made my way to a common area where a little Japanese guy was near to hyperventilating. I noticed that his hand was bandaged up and that he had a lot of dry blood on his hands. I asked him if he was okay – he explained (in very broken English) to me that he had fallen on the street and ripped his hand up and in order to see the doctor he had to use all of the schillings he had and now he didn’t have any cash left as Japanese Yen isn’t accepted in Tanzania. I then acted as a meditator between him, hotel staff, a cook and a German. English, Swahili, German and Japanese. He told me I made him feel much better. I went cross eyed to my room and slept for 12 hours. I woke up to roosters, goats, motorcycles, singing and traffic sounds outside my window. Someone came and picked me up around lunchtime and we made our way to Springlands Hotel. The next morning we departed for Kilimanjaro. I learned about “African Time” – we were told we would depart at 8:30, I think we left around 10:30. We are so schedule based that it took a few days to let go of the need to be “on time” – what the hell does time matter when you are waiting to climb a 5800m mountain? So off we go all jammed into a bus shared with porters who let’s just say don’t wear deodorant. We drove 4 hours to the Kenyan side of the mountain. Conveniently there was a terrorist attack in Nairobi the day of my arrival. I kept thinking about my dear mother who was nervous about my trip in the first place turning on the TV only to see the news cover the story of violence in Kenya. To her the “Kenyan side of the mountain” was near to that mall and so she didn’t sleep all week.
We arrive at the entrance to the park. For 15 of us to go up the mountain we needed 50 support people! At the entrance the porters take all of our luggage, supplies, tents, food and bring it to a weigh station. It was quite the scene but somehow or another they get everything sorted, weighed and divided up among the porters to be carried up the mountain. This is where I really started to respect these people. Each porter carries 50 pounds on their head/back up the mountain for $5 a day. I could write about the people for hours and hours, but for the purpose of this post I will focus on the funny bits of the climb. Due to congestion at the weigh station the porters didn’t get to the campsite before us, so we found ourselves in the dark in the middle of the woods waiting for them to arrive. One by one they made their way to the site, but it was already pitch black, freezing and we were starved! Within an hour they whipped up for us this amazing African stew of sorts. I climbed into my tent and what happened for the rest of the week happened. I couldn’t sleep. For the following reasons: I wasn’t tired due to jetlag, my tent seemed to always be on a downward angle so I found myself sliding down my pad, it was freezing in and out of my tent and I was convinced I could hear wildlife outside of my tent. Over the course of the week I read 3 books, made new playlists and did a lot of thinking. You can’t possibly imagine the thoughts and scenarios that went through my head.
The next day was pretty status quo – 5 hours of hiking. So now I’ve been on the mountain for 2 days and up until now I’ve been whizzing in the bushes and no number two’s have hit yet. We got the next site. The “bathroom” was a tent that had in the middle of it a bucket with a toilet seat on the top. I wasn’t strategic in that I didn’t stand by the tent when it was being set up. By the time I made it there I went inside, flipped open the top and was shocked to see the bucket was full to the top with other peoples “stuff”. It sunk my battle ship. I couldn’t do it. I started to gag, my eyes watered and I got shivers. I quickly made my way out of the “bathroom”, put on my headlamp and made my way into the bushes. It must have been a combination of travel, altitude, change in food, but I think bowel movements (or lack thereof) was the number one topic of conversation. We cheered when Darren announced he had his first, we gave a standing ovation when Tristin finally “went”, high five’s were given as each person made it happen. I, however, didn’t get any high fives. For an otherwise “regular” girl, going 1,2,3,4 days without pooping is problematic. As I mentioned I had a lot of time to think about things in my tent… this continued until day number 5. I was coming back down the mountain with one of our guides Robert. We had a lot of hours together so we were doing a lot of talking when all of the sudden it hit me. It kind of felt like the same amount of force that the tidal bore comes into the Shubenacadie River. I started to sweat and clench my butt cheeks as I thought I was going to shit my pants. At this stage I am above the clouds so there are no trees or bushes anywhere. I said to Robert “Ummmm, Robert I really need to pee, can you walk ahead a little bit?” He did so. I took refuge behind a boulder. Behind that boulder a very dramatic scene occurred. It was a very low moment in my life.

Part 2 will come soon…

Mt Kili Top

A walk in the park…

29 May

Zoe

I religiously and faithfully walk my dog 2, sometimes 3 and even 4 times a day regardless of the wind, rain, snow, fog or sun.  I moved 2 months ago and I now live beside the largest park in Halifax which for a dog owner is amazing. Millie and I hit Point Pleasant around 7 every morning and we typically see the same people.  We exchange good mornings with other dogs/owners/walkers/runners/bikers.  Of course there are your typical aloof standard poodle owners (not Eli and Amanda), angry runners and those who classify themselves as “not being morning people”, but generally it is a ‘pleasant’ time at Point Pleasant. We usually see the same people in the morning; the evening isn’t as predictable as there is more time in the evening.  Sometimes we go at 5, sometimes 6, sometimes 7.  You get the picture.  Point Pleasant is one of the only parks in the city which allows dogs to be off leash – the areas are clearly marked, so if you do not want to be around dogs off leash you can easily do so. Obviously it attracts a lot of dogs.

I have noticed that when the “summer” arrives suddenly dogs and people who’ve been hibernating for the past 6 months come out of the wood work.  Yesterday was a beautiful day in Halifax.  After my dress came down from my ears (see earlier entry to understand) I made plans with my friend Stephanie to go for a walk in Point Pleasant after work.  Stephanie has a Miniature Schnauzer named Zoe.  Zoe has the disposition of a bunny rabbit – quiet, gentle, kind of timid.  A real sweetie – the pic at the top is Zoe.  So, we were having an enjoyable walk chatting about recipes, boyfriends, summer plans, etc.  Zoe ran ahead over the crest of a hill when all of the sudden we heard this women screaming “get the F*ck away from me dog. Get out of here or I will kick you in the head.” If a police officer asked me to recant what I saw I would say: a greasy woman weighing about 110 pounds wearing jogging pants.  A man holding a small child was sitting on the ground. He appeared to be just as afraid of her as we were.” Once she saw us she screamed “Get your dog away from me or I will kick it all the way to f-ing Dartmouth.”  She said the full F word. This leads me to believe that she must have been from Dartmouth as I, being from Halifax, would say “I will kick your dog to the Dingle” or perhaps “all the way to Citadel Hill”.  Stephanie, appalled by the attack of this vicious non-canine creature  said “I am sorry I am a stranger, why are you talking to me this way, dogs are allowed off leash here?”  She said “I will talk to you whatever f’n way I want to talk to you.  Your dog isn’t allowed here”.  The hilarity of the situation was she was sitting at the base of a large sign which states “Off-leash By Law..”  She might have been from Dartmouth and couldn’t read? I can’t be sure.  Now, I am not good with confrontation especially with a raving lunatic who looked like she might hang out with Rob Ford.  I said “You have a child with you – a great example you are setting.”  How very prolific of me.  I am sure she will change her parenting skills as a result of it. She kept screaming and we walked away. 

Here is what I don’t understand.  Why would a woman (who acts more like an animal than any animal in the park) who hates dogs  make the effort to drive from Dartmouth to the only park in downtown Halifax where dogs can run off leash, smoke cigarettes and sit right where dogs run?  Now, I realize as an owner you are meant to be in control of your dog, but off leash indicates that the risk of a dog approaching you is higher. To me that is like saying “I hate children so I like to go and park myself at a playground and scream obscenities at any kid who comes near me.”  Or “I hate the pools, but I like to go and scream at people when I get splashed.”

I don’t know who that woman was or why she was so nasty,but I do know that her attitude was far more offensive than Zoe running over to say hello.

*** The Dartmouth comments are just to add to the story. I like Dartmouth no matter what most people say 😉

In case you get hit by a bus…

28 May

Wind Dress

We have all heard the saying “make sure you wear clean underwear in case you get hit by a bus, right?  Well today I didn’t get hit by a bus, but I had an incident with a bus and it does involve underwear. 

Halifax is a windy city.  Barrington Street in particular is a bloody wind tunnel.  If you ever want your hair to remain looking gorgeous I would advise you to not walk down Barrington Street.  If ever you want to wear a dress and not have it blown up, I would advise you to not walk down Barrington Street.

I just moved offices and I needed a few frames, so I planned to run down to Des Serres on (yes) Barrington Street.  Today is one of the first nice days we’ve had in Halifax in what seems like weeks, so I of course pulled on a super cute dress which happens to have a full bottom (not form fitting – not a good dress to wear in wind).  In addition, the Halifax Mooseheads won the Memorial Cup so there was a big celebration downtown.  You get the picture – the streets are full.  I take my oh so adorable dog Millie to work with me and she loves getting out of the office, however, on our way to Des Serres we pass by a street where she went to a groomer about 2 years ago. They say elephants have good memories, well this little Westie remembers every incident that has ever happened to her.  She pulls hard in the opposite direction when we walk within 2 blocks of the groomer (which isn’t even there anymore). So today the streets were full, Millie was pulling, I had a big purse on my shoulder and of course it is windy.  On the way down to Des Serres I was able to use my one free arm to hold down my dress.  After making my purchase I came out the door and stepped out onto Barrington.  Right away my dress started to blow up – I caught it with my kind of free hand.  I arranged my bag, purse, and stressed out Westie as best I could and held one arm close in an effort to hold my dress down.  All went well for about 100 paces when I hit the corner of Spring Garden and Barrington.  A bus came along and created an abnormally large gust of wind from behind me.  That is when the entire back of my dress flipped up and didn’t come down.  Under my dress I had on a pair of big ugly Spanx type underwear which ALWAYS ride up my butt. I couldn’t get it back down due to the purse, large bag and pulling dog.  Seeing as it is so nice out today a lot of people are eating outside on Spring Garden. 3 guys who were munching on Bud The Spud fries saw a lot more than the Memorial Cup on their lunch hour.  I had on great shoes, a cute dress, have my hair done in a nice bun and none of that matters to those men because all they saw was a chick with big ugly underwear on with her dress up to her ears. Shit.