a minor mishap

We had a little excitement in my house yesterday.

It was snowing lightly when I went off to work, not bad at all, but about 10-15 cm was predicted to fall over a 24 hour period. My partner headed off to a town just west of Ottawa to meet up with a friend to do some work on a charity project. The project is a story for another time. He planned to come back in the early afternoon, to attend a university class he's auditing, and then we had plans to go to the theatre with friends.

My first hint of trouble was on my drive home, which took me an hour and a half for what is normally a 20 minute drive, even in rush hour traffic. There was already at least 15 cm of snow on the ground, and blowing around, and it wasn't easy getting in the driveway. As well, the path up to the house was drifted across, well over my ankles, and the steps were almost invisible.

I knew something had gone wrong when I saw his course books still by the door, but thought he might have gone straight there if he'd been caught in traffic. About an hour later, he called. "I spun out on black ice & spent 3 hours in a snowbank! Guess I need to carry my cell-phone?" At least he was unhurt, but had only just made it to a phone location, still far in the west end of the city. CAA wasn't being helpful, either. For some reason, they seemed unable to locate his car. So, in the end, he abandoned the car for the night & caught a cab home. We didn't go to the theatre.

By this morning, at least another 10 cm of snow had fallen, and of course the ploughs had been by our street leaving a small mountain at the end of the driveway, so it took longer than usual to get going.

Funny thing, the OPP didn't have any trouble finding the car last night! They had it towed to allow the snow ploughs to widen that part of the roadway, to the tune of $300. Ouch! We did some shuffling today to pick it up. Luckily his car is undamaged, but what a nuisance it all was.

I'm personally looking forward to spring.


musing on books

The queue of books by my bed is getting bigger again. It's not quite the leaning tower of death I had a few years ago, and I've got most of them on a chair that's far enough away from my pillow not to crush my head if they fall, but between the books I've bought over the past few months and the ones I keep getting out of the library it comes to quite a stack.

I have this distressing habit of not being able to pass a bookstore without going in and usually buying something. You could call me a bookaholic, & I have no intention of entering rehab, either. If this is a vice, it hurts nothing but my bank account.

Another part of the problem is my habit of surfing our library's web catalogue, where we can order as many books on reserve as we like, and have them delivered to our local branch. It's a wonderful system, but it can get out of hand. My tendency is to search out every book on a topic I get interested in, and either order it or put it on a wish list for later. I keep thinking I'll run out of "enthusiasms", but there always seems to be a new one around the corner.

Right now, I've got several topics on the go, including travel guides to northern Florida, consulting handbooks, a couple of mystery series whose authors I came across recently (Alan Gordon's Fools Guild series is one), and songbooks from the 60's and 70's.

It's not too hard to understand this grouping. I'm retiring soon, thus the consulting handbooks since I'm starting up a small consulting business. Soon after I retire we're taking a short trip to Florida, partly to escape some of the winter weather I've been grousing about. The songbooks are to get more material to work on with my voice coach (I take singing lessons for fun), and the novels are pure relaxation. I also like to alternate fiction and non-fiction, more or less, so that I have something to learn & something to read before I turn out the light.

I can't speak highly enough of our local public library system. We have access to books from across our entire region, both urban & rural libraries participate. They have DVDs and music CDs as well. We are very well served.

However, I still have that queue waiting for me to make my way through it. I'm sure I will, eventually. Probably a good thing I'm retiring!


and so, it begins

Along with a great many others, I listened to Obama's inaugural speech today. He's definitely got a way with words.

Am I cynical for doubting that the euphoria will last very long? Am I naive for hoping that it will last long enough to restore stolen rights to citizens of the USA? Can Obama really succeed in overthrowing the corporate-military machine? Does he really want to?

And what about the gang of thugs in the outgoing regime? Is there anyone in the world who will prosecute Dubya, Cheney, Rummy & the rest for war crimes? If not, what good can international institutions ever do?

These are only a few of the questions that rose in my mind while I listened to the latest chapter in the ongoing Obama saga. Or perhaps that should be the expanding myth...

We'll have to stay tuned to see what transpires.


more about the weather

When in doubt, talk about the weather. So, I will.

That cold snap was really tough on a lot of people here in Ottawa, with the transit strike several weeks old and many still trying to walk or bicycle to work in spite of the snow and ice.

How bad was it? Wind chill of -39C feel cold enough for you? How about...so cold my garage door froze, with my car inside? It sounds like a pretty lame excuse not to go in to work, but since I had a few days vacation left to use up before I retire next month, I figured it was worth it to use one of them!

It turns out that was a good decision. There were a couple of hundred collisions on the frozen roads that day.

Trust your instincts. Not the weather.


in the deep freeze

My poor New Zealand fern, the one in my icon, would be shriveling up in the Arctic blast we've been suffering under the past 2 days. Minus 30 degrees centigrade is cold in anyone's books.

It's really only worth remarking on because it's been several years since we had a real January cold snap. We used to get a couple of weeks a year in the deep freeze, any time from late December to early February. Not lately. A clear sign of climate disruptions, I think.

We hadn't even had much snow in recent years, up to last year when we had several large snowfalls and over the winter accumulated several feet. It's a lot better for the shrubs and perennials when that happens. We've had a great deal of winter-kill on them lately because of insufficient snow cover to insulate them properly.

This year we're getting both cold and snow. Were the 10-15 years of milder winters just a blip? One would be tempted to think so, if it was possible to ignore the summer melt in the Arctic Ocean. I have a feeling there are a number of polar bears that would argue the question.

Meanwhile, it looks like there might be some movement in the lengthy transit strike, and the prediction is for increasing temperatures and more snow.

Ah, the joys of winter in Canada.


free thoughts & free thinkers

I'm enjoying the quotes that pop up in my sidebar. All too many of the random quote generators have mystical themes, or a limited list of (mostly male) dead writers. This lot seem to be a bit more eclectic.

Reading a lot of writings on secular humanism these days. Very refreshing.

I don't intend to proselytize my atheistic views in this blog, but no doubt the subject will arise from time to time.

Why is it so many espouse free speech, but so few practise free thought?


feeling slightly creative

I've made some small changes to the layout, mainly updating links. Had the urge to consolidate some of my frequent go-to sites so that I can use this as a homepage for a while. The idea being that if I come here every day I might actually get in the habit of posting. Who knows, I might even attract some readers! Not that I'm actively seeking that, this being more of a soliloquy than a polemic. You just never know, though.

This is my last day of freedom for a while. Seven more weeks in the salt mines, then my time will be my own. More or less.

There are several thousand recent photos waiting to be edited. Once I've done a few, I'll post here, or at least post links. About time there were some visual elements in this blog!


winter days & music to survive them with

Funny thing about winter, even with the short days, it feels so much better when the sun is shining. Or when music is playing...a segue into the topic at hand, what's on my current playlist.

I've been listening a lot to the Thompson family of late, that would be Linda, Teddy & Richard. I've always loved Richard's "Dimming of the Day" (as sung by Linda), among other songs, and was thrilled to see him when he came to the Ottawa Folk Festival a couple of years ago. Now, having discovered Linda's solo albums, and (via his Leonard Cohen interpretations) Teddy & his work, I wish they'd appear at our local festival too!

Check out the following for more:

You can find some good stuff on YouTube under each name, as well.

It can sure brighten up a winter day!