Image by Gravitywave via Flickr

If it’s not birds, it’s mosquitoes. The near constant rain has resurrected a long dormant type for double teaming duty with the regular bloodsuckers we normally have. The new variety though isn’t nocturnal. It likes sunshine too making it impossible to avoid being bitten.

The Fort’s soccer fields and playgrounds practically pulsate with them. Dee and I have been swarmed twice in the last week and it makes me wonder how people coped back in yore without pesticide deterrents.

By “swarmed” I mean literally covered. Remember those commercials where the guy sticks his arm into an aquarium filled with the little pests and it disappears under the creatures. That kind of swarmed.

I don’t even have to be bitten to itch. For some reason, just contact sets my skin aflame with intense itching that last for about 10 or so minutes after.

And with West Nile and encephalitis being a mosquito carried threat anymore, it’s hard to shrug the plague off as just a summer side-effect to be endured. It also makes me feel a bit guilty leaving Dee to fend at soccer camp this week, slowly eaten by mosquitoes all day.

Summer in Alberta is not as awesome as years past.

The daughter expressed her fervent wish that the groundhog would not see his shadow today.

That’s right, isn’t it. No shadow. Hello Spring. Shadow. Down the groundhog hole for a snuggle in as the Old Man rages on.

I can never keep it straight. Technically, it amounts to about the same length of time, so the fuss eludes me, but if a shadow free peek see brings this miserable winter to a swift end – I am in favor.

Our second thaw commenced overnight as the temps began climbing back to freezing. The last thaw turned the January snowstorms to mush which froze solid when the arctic blast regained its supremacy, creating jagged grooves and ruts on the unplowed streets that even my truck dislikes negotiating.

This new thaw might give the plows an opportunity to complete their shearing of the remaining roads and haul away the few mountains left at the side of streets and in the parking lots.

Normally, it’s the continuing snowfall in April that gets me, but this year, winter overkill has come early.

Life though has taken on a Groundhog’s Day– like aura in a Bill Murray sort of way.

Okay, not that sinister, but my weeks are interchangeable.

And Rob feels it too.

And a holiday? Not on the horizon. Though I watch with a mixture of envy as those I know fly off and return from warmer climates, I am not sure that an “away” vacation is what I need.

A break from routine, certainly. Lazy days where nothing is scheduled and the clock can be blissfully ignored for a while could do, I feel, wonders.

I’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, enjoy the day whether Phil sees his shadow or not. Winter stays until he tires or Spring bulks up enough to kick him along his way. It’s out of our hands, regardless.

The last few days have been scorching and this practically on the heels of my whining about a dud summer. We don’t have air conditioning, central or window box. Even the heat waves we can get are not long enough to warrant the expense of a central system, but as our bedrooms are the dormer attic type, we caved and purchased one of those room units that vent to the outside via the attic. It only cools the upstairs and that’s with doors open, but it makes a difference in the quality of one’s sleep.

I grew up without air conditioning. When I was about fourteen, Dad purchased a unit for the kitchen window that basically cooled the kitchen and living room. The summer I left for university, for reasons I still don’t know, Dad decided to install central air. So while I was sweltering in a dormer attic room of Currier Hall, my siblings were living the life of Reilly with central a/c and another out of character purchase for my father – cable television.

Air conditioning was erratic in my apartment years. Sometimes I had it. Mostly I didn’t. It wasn’t until I was 33 and a first time home owner that I lived in true comfort during the sweaty Iowa summers.

When I moved to Alberta, Rob assured me that “heat”, “humidity” and “summer” were near mutually exclusive. The summer we got married, we had a heat wave of 30C or better for nearly a month and a half. Although the humidity really isn’t taxing on a non-native used to summers when it sometimes equaled the temperature, sleeping in an attic bedroom that never cooled was exhausting. Throw in the whole newlywed thing and we were both wrung out zombies for the first few months.

Last night reminded me of that summer. I was baked to the point of migraine. I woke once in the middle of the night and fleetingly realized that one could probably fry an egg on my stomach – and this was in a room with the a/c running its little motor out.

Today the winds have shifted a bit and there is a slightly cool caress in the breeze, but we are exhausted with the effort of keeping hydrated and staving on spontaneous combustion by whatever means necessary.

Which is to say, no summer at all. Most of the early to mid-part of the 90’s were El Niño years and when we weren’t building arks, we were unpacking winter wear to stay warm. I can remember taking my nieces to the Colfax pool with Cissy and the kids would be blue with cold and insisting that they did indeed need to stay in the water rather than seek out a nice sunny patch pool-side. I was wearing bikini’s then and between my pasty skin (because I was a sun-block fanatic) and the frigid water temps, I often looked quite corpse-like after an afternoon of swimming.

The scientists are ready to declare this an official El Niño summer. Great for those who live in areas where the weather is too hot and too dry but in places where “warm” and “summer” are relative and often mutually exclusive – it totally bites.

It’s rained for days here. The temps will hover close to freezing the next couple of nights. I have already mentioned to Rob the necessity of planning a winter vacation because without a summer to break the unrelenting “not warm” theme this year, winter – which was too long by half last year – will not be do-able this coming season.

As I have mentioned, summer here is extremely short. It really doesn’t get warm – if it’s going to – until July and by mid-August it’s early fall again and the days are noticeably shorter. With such a short season, summer is sacred. Weekends find towns and cities half empty as people head for camp grounds, lake lots and other outdoorish adventures. Canadians are like Europeans when August rolls around – hard to find.

When summer is a no show, it shows. On people’s faces and in their demeanors. It’s a country full of SAD’s. And it’s not pretty.

The temperature is 10C today. I am making soup in the crock pot and writing while Dee drives my mother crazy in the other room. Mom is ready, I think, to get home.

Rob is installing the new dishwasher. There is an upside to rain, tiny but tangible. He would have worked on it regardless because having two extra mouths to feed this last week and a bit has given me more than a little taste for what it must have been like living on the farm back in the day when food prep and clean-up comprised a hefty chunk of the day. If I haven’t been cooking, I have been washing dishes or doing laundry or driving since before Canada Day. Or at least it seems like it.

Be sure to check in tomorrow sometimes for #fridayflash. I have a zombie short that’s not too terrible.

Our upcoming holiday to Iowa has been derailed by Mother Nature‘s abhorrence of controlled waterways. I find it very interesting that after decades of damming and digging and piling and filling in, water still manages to go when and where it pleases in my home state.

During the 500 year flood of 1993, I was living in Des Moines. To this day drenching rain, the kind that wipers on your vehicle can’t keep up with, gives me creepy-crawly feelings of dread. We had day upon weeks of this rain. Between rain and the humidity, the outdoors and summer became distant memories. The whole ordeal reminded me, then and now, of the Bradbury story, All Summer in a Day. It was that kind of relentlessness. Noah weather. Old Testament stuff. Read Full Article

A beautiful day in Josephburg follows hard on the heels of a warm, melty spring day yesterday. There is no mistaking the smell or feel of spring when it begins to arm wrestle with winter. It’s a bit like watching my daughter arm wrestle with my husband however. She hanging with both hands onto his wrist and dangling a few inches off the ground in a futile attempt to subdue him. Spring will not suffer the same loss that Katy did to Rob. Spring always wins out in the end simply because she is patient and persistent. Certainly more-so than we who want wearily for her victory at this point in the winter season. It’s a thrill to see the shingles on the roof and the asphalt of the road reappear for the first time since early December. The constant dripping from the eaves stops and the sun pulls away enough moisten from the roads that one can ease up on the wiper fluid. The wind carries a hint of warmer days and the branches of the trees and bushes seem to know it as they dance, sway or bounce, depending.

The sky looks warmer. And the sun? The sun! It was quarter to six and just dusk the other night when we were leaving dance. Another month and daylight savings returns with its plethora of light to cheer Spring on in her quest for reclamation.

The day began with Katy and breakfast as most weekend mornings do. Sometimes I get up and sometimes it’s Rob. Pour the Fruity Cheerios, get the half-full juice box and rice milk from the fridge, and make sure the TV is on and set to Treehouse. Back to bed then for a bit more shut eye or snuggling or whatever. Around nine there is the long leisurely breakfast – today’s menu was Cream of Wheat and half a Starbucks scone each. Did you know that they are a whopping 470 calories and 23 grams of fat – with or without frosting? Pure evil carb. After there is showering, dressing and readying for errands. Today I went right to the Safeway and groceries and Rob took Katy along with him to Canadian Tire on the left for paint and supplies.

The afternoon was laundry. Painting. And Katy spent time in her winter wonderland that is our front yard, scaling the melting drifts, sliding down on her seal-skin like bum and digging. Oh, the digging.

At the moment, Rob is hard at work on the NYTimes crossword and I am writing while simultaneously making a poor attempt to bake a banana bread. It will be edible, just, but not photo-worthy.

A simple Saturday. Something to savour.