daily life


Bumper stickers on Volvo Amazon

Bumper stickers on Volvo Amazon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

June has been bursting out all over well in advance of its official start date. Currently, I am enduring week three-ish of a Poplar attack on my sinuses and inner ears that has me close to tears of frustration because all I can do is stop-gap the worst of the symptoms with a mix of OTC/homeopathic remedies that at best make me feel slightly less shitty than doing nothing at all.

Fluff floats like cotton snow moths, clogging window screens and mounding into curiously shaped lawn clouds. There is no escape. Resistance is a half-step up from futile.

But I had higher hopes for June given that spring beat back winter early this year and we haven’t had the monsoon rains like last year,which produced one bumper crop after another of the most vicious mosquitoes I have ever encountered. Normally the buzzing little vampires make the dusk impossible to enjoy but last year’s variety were day-walkers, immune to the effects of sunshine.

I haven’t abandoned all hope for June, but it has gotten off to an inauspicious start.

Allergy induced insomnia kept me awake most of the night (for the second time this week) and so the day began in the hole, so to speak.

Brief gains via a lovely hatha class were erased  in the studio’s parking lot when I inadvertently threw the truck into drive instead of reverse and scratched the crap out of the truck’s front bumper. As if I needed yet another bumper damaging incident on my record. This necessitated a call to my ever patient husband who is currently in the midst of the seemingly without end overtime schedule from the fourteenth level of hell.

I have learned that it is better to let him know about truck damage right away rather than stew myself into an emotional train wreck. It’s silly and most likely it’s based in the perfectionism, which plagues me despite the fact that such a quality is largely incompatible with my personality in general. But I hate making indelible mistakes.

It also reminds me of how my mother backed three different vehicles into the car of the neighbor directly across the street. Dad’s reaction was always the same. Hands on hips, shoulder slump, head hang with a shake. The man had distilled body language disapproval into an art form.

Why is it, I wonder, that when you craft a plan with high hopes, reality feels compelled to check you?

“Don’t get cocky.”

Duly noted.

The day is far from over, and I expect it will right itself at some point. After all, the first Friday of a month has no curse attached to it of which I am aware.


Winter Is Coming

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, known more popularly as Game of Thrones. One of it’s often repeated lines is “Winter is coming.” It’s the family motto of the Stark family, who has ruled in the North forever and a day at as the story begins and it is meant to remind them that the season is more than just cold, snow and ice. Its application is deeper than simply the superficial preparations that are important for survival in the frigid northern terrain. It’s about vigilance, internal fortitude and looking beyound the obvious to see what is really coming.

Late February, even in a mild winter such as the one we are enjoying, is the time when winter feels as though it has always been. Green, leafy and blooming is forgotten as though it never happened last year at all, and in some respects it didn’t thanks to the endless rainy spring that drowned much of June and July.

In our neck of Alberta, “winter is coming” could almost be read “winter is” and be done with it.

Regardless of when the snow falls, at the end of February, we are still a good two and a half months from the outer limits of winter and snow can fall as easily in July and August as it can in January. It requires a special kind of endurance to live with winter hanging over one’s head all the time, taunting and sure of itself.

It snowed over the weekend and again this morning. We haven’t had snow if a while, but even with the oddly warm temperature, snow and ice cling stubbornly to the ground.

No matter how optimistically I begin, the Iowa girl in me misses March’s first promise of spring. As the time approaches for either lion or lamb to enter the building, I begin to feel as though I am living in Martin’s vision of an endless winter without even the promise of dragons or magical swords to subdue it.

 


English: Wind Swept Trees in Winter

Wind swept trees

On the prairie, a shifting wind signals change.  The wilder the wind, the most significant the change and direction counts too. Typically, the biggest change is in temperature, but the wind gusts, bellows and batters regardless of the highs or lows it is carrying.

During the night, the wind picked up and began rattling this old house again. The first indication that Not Winter was about to be booted was a gust that swept the idle snow shovel off the back deck, resulting in an unsettling crash that sent Rob in search of the source. A noise has to be disturbing on an emotional level to rouse him to investigate. Throughout the wee hours, the wind gathered fury. Windows rattled. Timbers creaked.

Sleeping as we do on the upper level imparts the false impression that we are at the mercy of the elements. The wind is especially good at reminding us that no structure is really all that impervious.

Winter and Not Winter (I haven’t decided if it’s Fall who hasn’t left or Spring that wants to come early) have locked horns again. Back in Iowa, this is the time of year when Spring will try to push her way past Winter’s defenses. She may even set up residence for a while, thumb her pretty nose at Winter’s ruddy one, but she never outlasts him. Here, January thaws have not been much in evidence since we moved up from the States. Winter comes. It stays. And Spring loses battle after battle from March til early May when Winter simply can’t cope with the warming of the earth and the persistence of the sun anymore. Even then, Spring is a cool creature, whose idea of the season is decidedly out of character with this Midwestern girl’s recollections of her.

Thus far, there has been little snow and much more ice than northern Canadians are accustomed to encountering. The lack of snow suits me fine. It will snow the first week of May, mark my words, so the longer it holds off, the less depressed I will be about it.  But chilly and ice and damp wet, I can live quite nicely without. All it brings is ripe conditions for disease and allergies. It makes it impossible to wear my most comfy Ugg boats, causes my fingers and toes to ache and too rapidly depletes the washer fluid as I battle the big rigs that clog the main thoroughfares in town.

Twenty something below tonight, they say. It will warm a bit and then plummet even further next week. The extended forecast is a flurry of flakes and bitter temps. This is January though. This is Winter. Not the mild-mannered impostor we’ve been entertaining since before the holiday.

It’s fifty something (and that’s fahrenheit not our celsius) in Iowa today. Which is not unusual. It was nearly that in celsius here over the weekend. And that is odd, but not in a four horsemen kind of way.

I prefer my slice of Alberta dry – for breathing related reasons –  and if it comes with a side of really cold, so be it. With May not as far away as it was in November, I am ready for winter. Probably.


Bare

Image by *¦·sindorella·¦* via Flickr

So let’s all shout “hell yes” and fist pump a bit too.

As of today, Edmonton has reached some kind of snow less record. Not even a flurry. We are a barren island as the white stuff surrounds our little neck of northern Alberta. Better yet, it’s going to warm up to 11 C tomorrow.

If it didn’t snow until the New Year, I’d be just fine with it though Rob might be a little disappointed because the mother of all snowblowers is winging its way to the nearest Sears outlet for us even as I type. He loves him a powerful machine.

But it will snow. Next week flurries threaten and before you know it, the sky will shit white daily and the temps will hover stubbornly around -20 C  take or mostly give. It’s inevitable now that darkness bookends the waking hours, and the road construction crews are popping up everywhere in a frenzy to finish the work they dicked around avoiding all summer long.

I will take the brown bareness for as long as I can get it however. I am beginning to count fall as my second favorite season.

* Here’s the link to today’s NaBloPoMo at BlogHer and another to the Top Canada Mom’s Blog contest, and I hope you’ll take a moment to pop over and vote for me because losing really sucks and if each person who reads this votes (more than once is good), I won’t. Thanks.


Some Inuit believed that the spirits of their ...

Image via Wikipedia

I hadn’t seen the Northern Lights once since moving to Canada four years ago. Scientific explanation for their absence from the night sky centered around the lack of activity on the surface of the sun. Despite looking quite active, the sun’s surface has been cooler in the past few years, fewer flares and no sun spots. This has some sort of dampening effect on the phenomena known as the aurora borealis.

But last night as I was finishing up in the downstairs bathroom, Rob called for me to come upstairs quick.

Northern Lights!

According to him, they were not very impressive last night. He’s seen better and much like my take on the bison in Yellowstone this summer, he’s not that awed because they are a fixture in his life. They have always been.

I was pretty impressed though with my “northern exposure” moment.

The sky here fascinates me generally. The way the clouds stack up so close to the horizon they seem within grasp and the way the sky curves to meet the distant edge of the earth. Sometimes, it’s almost claustrophobic, the sky seems to loom so close.

Northern Lights are mainly a winter phenomena. Their sudden appearance this last week does not bode well for a lengthy fall season, which is a bit depressing given the fact that the last of Edmonton’s snow from this last winter has only just melted away.

But it was awesome to see the lights snake across the dark expanse last night.


Cartoon showing baby representing New Year 190...

Image via Wikipedia

I never really left school. I went from university to teaching, so the calendar year never altered for me. August kicks off the new year in a way that January just never did.

It’s funny really that the year officially rolls over in January yet many people mark the passage of time with the school calendar or the fiscal year, which is July or October usually, depending on your occupation. January 1st is just Christmas’s less interesting sibling.

Back in the day, I would have already been in my classroom and probably completely ready to go by now. I made it a habit to crack the seal on my “office” door the first week of August. I’d spend the mornings cleaning, organizing, decorating and finally planning. I typically outlined the entire year before breaking it down by semester and then grading periods and finally daily lesson plans. I rocked really.

August, therefore, feels like the time to plan. With Dee heading back to school, I have free hours during the day that need direction.

Direction that isn’t laundry or baking or cleaning.

Briefly I toyed with applying for a job at the museum in town. They are looking for a program assistant. It’ teacher work. Organizing and brainstorming. I would totally be in my element. Curriculum. History. Teaching. Some of my favorite things in life. The work is even part-time and mostly flexible, but the bulk is Tuesday and Thursday, and I am already committed to teaching yoga at the community hall in the evenings. The potential for the whole thing to turn into long days in the hellmouth is fair to good.

I’m gearing up to have myself added to the city’s yoga teacher sub list, and I’m going to take a couple of classes to get ready to e-publish a few short works that are a bit too niche for the bigger markets. That’s enough on top of home and family though I struggle still with the stay at home thing. Four years out of the workforce is a freakish feeling for someone who spent nearly 30 years of her life working. And with the economy in free-fall again, I get itchy.

But we don’t need me working part-time for peanuts, which screws us at tax time, and me going back to teaching adds unnecessary stress to our daily lives because the juggling of household chores and kid is no small thing. The pressure to work outside the home rears up though. Not as often as in the first years and usually driven by  something coming up that my working wouldn’t fix anyway.

It’s better that I stick to my original plan, which could pan out more profitably in the longer term with a bit of luck and nose to the keyboard.

Need to put my father’s daughter to bed once and for all and concentrate on the ball in play.


Alfred Hitchcock -

Image by pasma via Flickr

I am starting to feel like the Tippi Hedron character in Hitchcock’s The Birds because every time I go for a solo walk around our little hamlet, I get swooped on by maniac starlings and robins.

And I blame Rob. He shredded a robin last spring with the grill of the little truck. and a few days later, birds began suicide missions against our downstairs windows. I lost track of the number of stiff and reeking of revenge feathery carcasses needing to be disposed of, but the creepiest incident of all was this robin, who perched everywhere, peering into our windows. Every window I glanced out of, there it was. Like the crows on the playground at the Bodega Bay School.

Shortly after, I was targeted for eye plucking every time I took a walk.

At first, I thought “huh, weird”, and then I thought “omg it’s personal” because I was out with Dee, and they ignored her totally, which is good because I haven’t taught her the duck, cover your eyes and run bird attack safety awareness thing yet. I thought, incorrectly it appears, that “stop, drop and roll” might be more useful.

But now I am convinced I am on some avian hit list and when the flocking together feathered ones rise up – I’m going to be one of the first they make a pecked and shredded example of in the coming holocaust: