The Revealing Spring

It’s starting to maybe look like spring could finally make an appearance up here in southwestern Ontario. We have had a few days of above zero weather and that always leads to one of my favorite things about spring: random items slowly revealed in snowbanks. The other night was my first object seem this year. Someone was unfortunate enough to lose their nice running shoe this winter.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Sky

It’s been a while since I participated in the Weekly Photo Challenge that the Daily Post has every Friday.  This week, however, the topic is Sky and since I just happened to take a bunch of photos of the sky before a thunderstorm yesterday, I thought it was appropriate.

Storm clouds rolling in

Dark and ominous clouds

Those clouds rolled in and then there was one hell of  a storm with all kinds of wind, thunder and lightening.  It was a long time coming as we haven’t had a storm in a couple of weeks and it’s been pretty hot.  After it was over, the sky was a really awesome orange colour over the trees near my apartment building.

Sunset after the storm

Dear Santa….WTF?

Well friends, Christmas has come and gone and tomorrow night is new years.  I gave it a few extra days because of Snowmageddon and all the delayed mail and frantic postal workers trudging through five feet of snow, however, I can deny it no longer.  Santa failed to write me back this year.  I took the time to painstakingly hand write such a lovely letter and I received no return post from the North Pole.  Fail Santa…epic fail.

I checked the mail eagerly every day after work, but alas, the dream was not to be.  My boxspring still droops where it somehow was broken, Mr. Pip cannot open his own cans of food and the boyfriend has no belted sweater to call his own.  I hope that he had time to write all the little kids who wouldn’t understand his lack of dedication to his fans so they can go one more year with that total belief and excitement, but I myself am saddened.  Perhaps next year, friends.

I do plan to try again next year, hopefully not hindered by a freak snow storm and I’ll be sending the letter out well in advance of Christmas.

A Second Snow Day: Beating Cabin Fever

I awoke this morning to much of the same weather as the night before.  The snow was coming down like a white blanket outside my window, the lane way looked like we hadn’t used the snow blower at all the night before and there were people up and down the road in all directions shoveling like their lives depended on it.

I dutifully checked the local college website and informed the boyfriend that his classes were canceled for the day and he could stay in bed.  He mumbled a rather unintelligible yet distinctly celebratory noise, rolled over and went back to sleep.  I then checked my work email, hoping for good news and that I could go back to bed as well.  Unfortunately, there was only an email saying that the office was open and if we felt it was safe enough, we were to head on in.

Wanting to keep everyone informed, I sent a quick note saying the college was closed in case anyone had kids that were attending and went to have a shower and work up the courage to dig myself out of the lane way.  I got dressed, I put my hair up a la ponytail style (that’s right, I’m all about cutting edge fashion) and I said goodbye to the boyfriend.  I then decided to check my email one more time and lo and behold…SNOW DAY!!

It was official, I didn’t have to go to work.  I decided not to go back to bed as I had already showered and was wide awake, so instead, I sat and watched about five episodes of Intervention and did some work from my laptop.  Yes, I’m just that exciting…working from home on a snow day.  However, I also cleaned the house which was the inspiration for the boyfriend’s motivation to put the tree up this afternoon/evening.

So that is what we did to keep ourselves from going insane because we couldn’t leave the house.  We dragged the giant box of Christmas decorations up from the basement, organized everything, got rid of a few things that were ready to go away, and we set to work decorating.

The mishmash of decorations in the lovely storage box that lives in the basement 11 months of the year

The pile of stuff the started accumulating after we went sorting through the storage bin

The boyfriend sorted all the decorations into various categories such as indoor lights (for the tree) outdoor lights (which we are estimating are over 20 years old), run of the mill decorations (shiny, coloured balls, garland, etc..) and sentimental ornaments to name a few.

While he was doing this, I used non-tree decorations and made other areas of the two living rooms look a little spiffier.  I used green and silver garland for the upright lamp posts in either room and they turned out looking rather nice.  I then set to work on jazzing up the lovely new entertainment stand.  I put green, leafy garland on it and we set most of our figurines on the shelves.  I have since noticed that we have a great deal of penguin paraphenalia.  When the boyfriend and I got together, little did the two of us realize that we both really liked penguins and between the two of us, we have a lot of them.

It looks a little cluttered, but I couldn't bare not to put them all out

When I was finished doing that (while at the same time torturing the boyfriend by making him listen to the Glee Christmas album), we started in on testing the strands of lights.  This proved to be difficult because some of them were mine from when I lived on my own and some of them were the boyfriend’s which had been collected over approximately the last 10-15 years.  So in testing them we found that some of the lights didn’t work but the others would come on.  We would simply replace the defective lights and move to the next one.  Some, however, were the ones that if one light didn’t work, the whole strand didn’t work.  After much frustration and swearing on the boyfriend’s part, we decided that we could make due with two working strands of lights as they were kind of long and if we were sparing, we could manage to get the whole tree done with them.  I don’t think we did too bad of a job considering he’d moved on to testing the outdoor lights (and diligently making sure they all worked and no two like colours were side by side) while I tried to string the lights on the tree.

This was problematic for several reasons.  The small amount of light strands, as mentioned above, the fact that I’m just not very good at stringing lights, and lastly, the fact that we have a rather fat Christmas tree and I have rather short little arms that will not reach around this.  The tree itself is in a corner and I could not just walk around it, so I had to get creative and reach behind the tree, throw the lights over the tree and generally stretch my wee little arms to the limit.  This was the end result (only of stringing the lights, this is pre-decoration):

Its kind of sparse in some areas, but overall, not to bad.

During all this rigamaroll, Mr. Peep decided to hide in his usual cautious place; the mat in front of the kitchen sink.  I’ll admit that it’s not the best hiding place, but he actually usually blends in quite well and he likes to sit there when there’s something going on that he’s curious about, but too afraid to get close to while it’s still happening.

He sits on the very furthest side of it and stares into the living room whenver we're moving things around

After this came the final stage of decorating (for now…outside stuff will come later when we can move through the yard).  We put the ornaments on the tree.  I would like to point out that none of our ornaments have any kind of theme or reason to them, they’re just a collection of things we’ve accumulated over the years.  Sometimes we will decide that a few are too ragged and they will get tossed.  This year we parted with a whole bag of strung beads and various other things for donation.  We each have our various sentimental ornaments that were gifts over the year that must go on the tree.

I always tease back and forth with my friend about how her tree must be perfect and matching have a theme and she always just stares in awe at the tacky mismatch and disarray of mine every year.  The year we lived together in an apartment was the best because I was the one that owned the tree and it was spectacularly tacky that year on purpose just for her.  You can see her well decorated and nicely themed tree on her blog here.  I will admit its very lovely, just not my style.  Even the boyfriend looks at our tree now and then and shakes his head.  After it was finished and we had all the supplies put away, Mr. Peep ventured out to check out the scene, immediately placing himself under the Christmas tree and chewing on the branches.

Our Christmas tree 2010

He has already knocked off one decoration...I expect to find more

An Epic Journey Through a Frozen Wasteland (or My Trip Home From Work Today)

As some of you may know, we get a lot of snow where I’m from.  Southwestern Ontario gets dumped on pretty bad in the winter and we’re pretty much used to it.  I remember tonnes of snow days back when I was a kid, but I lived in town, so I’d get to go to school and play in the gym and watch movies all day because the country kids couldn’t make it in on the buses.

As I got older, snow days got further and further apart until, eventually, they really stopped occurring altogether.  No matter how many feet of snow there was outside in the morning, I always just got up, got dressed, dug myself out and headed into work; usually at a whopping 25-35 kilometers an hour down the city streets.  Today was no exception.  I got up, plowed my way through the foot or so of snow on my little side road until I got out the main road and headed on into work.  I was one of the few that bothered.  A great deal of people, mostly out of towners and some that were in town, didn’t make it in at all.  I was there until 11:00 am when the email went around that we were officially to be sent home.

SNOW DAY!!  It was like a nostalgic feeling, throwing me back to the days of being a kid when there was nothing to do but whatever I wanted because I didn’t have to go to school (in this case, work).

When you’re a child, however, you don’t take certain factors into account.  For example, when you’re a kid living in a very small town, bad driving conditions don’t even enter into the thought process.  You’re already outside wallowing in the joy of the snow.  Today, I learned, this is not the case for an adult, which I have sadly become.  Driving conditions are very much an important factor to those of us who drive a car or rely on public transportation to get us places in weather conditions such as this.  I will say I’m impressed with my little car’s ability to get through the snow.  It’s pretty impressive considering there’s not much to my wee hatchback.

So, upon hearing the news that we were set free, I offered to drive a coworker home as far as my place so she could walk (I wasn’t crazy enough to go gallavanting all over hell’s half acre) and we set to work cleaning off my car as it already had about a half a foot of snow on it since 8:45 that morning when I arrived at work.  When that mission was accomplished, we headed out onto the roads at the designated 25-35 km/hour.  This was effective all the way until I turned onto the side road that leads to my house.  Immediately, I was stuck.  We tried pushing, we tried rocking (I definitely tried a lot of swearing) but to no avail.  Us two tiny little people were not big enough to get my car out of it’s predicament.  However, a nice young man was trudging through the snow at that moment and he offered to help us out.  Thanks to him and my coworker doing the pushing and me nudging the gas pedal gently, we got Bob the Car unstuck.  I thanked him profusely (and choose this moment to do so again…thank you, Sir) and my coworker headed off home.

I then got as far as the very end of my own laneway and was once more stuck in the freezing mire of snow.  This wouldn’t have been a problem but I knew that I was blocking the side walk and I was probably going to be buried by a plow at any given time.  So I got out of my car, trudged inside and got the boyfriend who had not bothered to brave the weather and go to school.  We dressed in out warm coats, mittens, and boots and we got out the trusty old (and I do mean old, like…thirty years old) snow shovel and pathetic little bag of road salt and we literally dug Bob the Car out of the snow.  At some points, I was on my hands and knees scooping snow out from under the car because it was packed under there so tight.  I should send a revised list to Santa and add on a new, plastic, ergonomic snow shovel and save my back the pain.  Eventually, we were able to get the car into the driveway and now it sits there, slowly being buried under a barrage of snow squall that isn’t supposed to end until Wednesday (it is now Monday).

I came inside, cracked a beer and sat my butt down on the chair to watch some Netflix and that is where I now sit.  Occasionally I get up to check the height of the snow and I did managed to snap a few pictures of it as well.

Notice the fence and the snow that is halfway up it...that means it's up to about my thighs

My somewhat redneck type neighbours put a mattress and box spring out on the curb a couple of weeks ago and they’re still there, leaning up against either side of the light pole.  They are now half buried in the snow and I’m doubting will end up picked up by the garbage collection again this week.

You can just see them, leaning up on either side of the light post

There were people up and down the street digging themselves out of the mess.  The boyfriend and I have decided to wait until the snow is more likely to be over and then give it a shot, as the snowplow is going to go right by and bury the laneway again anyway.  We have a snowblower, I just don’t know now to start the damn thing.  We will be getting to that later when we feel motivated enough.

My poor neighbour is up to his waist in snow

Some kids down the street were enjoying themselves, however.  They were digging in the massive piles of snow at the side of the road and throwing snowballs at each other.  This took me back as well.  I used to do this with my sister and all the neighbour kids and it was great.

Fun in the snow...definitely more than the adults on the street

These last two pictures were my favourites that I managed to capture.  The first is of a view down the row of houses I live in.  You can see the snow coming down really well and you can also see the various places in which it has accumulated.  The second photograph is just of the top of our fence and the tree behind it with all the snow sitting on top.  When it stops actually coming down, I’ll be heading back outside to get more detailed pictures, but I don’t want to get my new camera wet, so it will have to wait until at least tomorrow.

I really love this picture, it's just so pretty.

The only time trees look pretty in the winter is when there's snow on them

Small Town Halloween

I have very fond memories of Trick or Treating in the little town I grew up in.  It was small (less than 1000 people when I was a kid) and for a really small child, it was great because you felt safe and it was fun and when you got to be older, it was awesome because you could hit almost every house in town and end up with two pillow cases full of candy by the end of the night.  It was great to show up at everyone’s door, have a small chat about this and that, and then head to the next house.  The parents who take their kids out go in groups and chat, dress up and have a great time while monitoring their youngsters.  Everyone is polite and compliment the kids’ costumes and I always felt overall that it was a great place to celebrate Halloween as a child.

When I moved to the city, I tried to become one of those awesome people handing out candy that made my childhood so great.  It never seemed to work out as well.  I have noticed a few things about Halloween in the city (and remember, I did not grow up here at all, and am probably biased).  For one thing, there are WAY less kids trick or treating in the city.  I think the most I have ever had come to the door was about fifteen and I was always left sad at the end of the night because no one came to my house for candy.  I asked around and this is a common occurrence.  At my mother’s house back home, she had 250 + kids come to the door last year.  This is a significant difference.

I also find that the kids are less polite here.  I don’t know why, some of them seem really great and their parents are nice but some of them come to the door in half ass costumes and don’t even say thank you.  After the first time this happened, I adopted a personal rule: If I can make the effort to dress up to hand out the candy, people aren’t getting said candy unless they’re nice and they made a decent effort in dressing up.  Show up at my house dressed as a “rapper” or a “hipster” (basically wearing street clothes) and you get no candy.  These are the rules.

Anyway, on we go to the point of this post (I know, it took a LONG damn time to get here, sorry about that, folks). I was hanging out with some

An awesome little costume, before we covered it up with a winter coat.

friends at work on break when one of them mentioned that her daughter was six years old and had never had a decent Halloween experience because trick or treating in the city kind of sucked.  Everything was far apart, you didn’t get much candy and it just didn’t feel very much like Halloween.  DING!!!  Lightbulb over the head kind of moment.  I immediately spoke up and volunteered to take her and her daughter (and another friend and her daughter, who unfortunately got sick and couldn’t come) back to my hometown and let them trick or treat there.  So Sunday rolled around and I got dressed up as a witch of sorts, all excited and eager to go home again for Halloween and I picked them up, driving the forty or so minutes to my home town.  Her little girl was dressed as Belle from Beauty and the Beast and she looked freaking adorable.

We arrived at my parents’ house and were pleased to find special made candy bags for her little girl and the other one who fell ill (thanks Mom, you rock) and a bowl of assorted candy on the table that said, “Help yourselves”…which we did.  We headed out into the town and I was thrilled to find that her daughter was immediately commenting on how much fun it was and that she was having a great time.  I was having a blast.  It was like flashback central.  I chatted with parents who had their kids out, got candy from my relatives’ houses and admired all the decorations and effort that some people put into making the night that much better for everyone.

Some people had entire scenes built in their front yards complete with fog, lasers, spooky music (or in the case of one house, endless remixes of Michael Jackson’s Thriller), and tonnes of different decorations.

This house had everything: lasers, fog, awesome decorations and endless remixes of Thriller

My awesome cousin, who got into the spirit and painted herself totally green with Acrylic paint.

I loved the atmosphere of everything, but it was definitely freaking cold.  I was silly and didn’t have any mittens or a coat or anything.  Darn the fact that my mother wasn’t home when we left so she could tell me I was being stupid and give me a pair of mittens and a sweater at least.  You’ll notice to the right that my cousin was smarter than me and had a coat and mittens on and still looked awesome.  This is required for Halloween in Canada.  Costumes designed to fit over snowsuits are a way of life up here.  I had forgotten that little tidbit in the 13 or so years since I had gone trick or treating for myself.

I will say that I had a great time and I loved seeing my friends daughter have such a good time and

Perfect, no sugar, no cream...just epic coffee goodness as it was intended to be. I was so warm after that and we were able to trick or treat for another forty minutes.

ask if we could return for trick or treating next year.  However, I must mention the best part of my night.  Actually, there were two.  We stopped at one older woman’s house and she was absolutely sweet as sugar and she gave “Belle” her candy and then looked at me and said, “Aren’t you going to come get your candy too?”  She thought I was a kid!!!  It made my night, I felt way younger than my 27 years of age.  I thanked her and told her that it was alright and I was old enough to buy my own.  The second favourite thing for me that night was stopping at the local volunteer fire department where my father is the chief.  They were handing out candy to the kids and I got my favourite treat of the night: coffee.  Yes, that’s right…I trick or treated for coffee and it was wonderful.