Traffic x 3

December 31, 2009

Although the traffic signals at the itnersection closest to the house remain in full red blink, other traffic related stories have caught more of my attention:

CBC radio caught up with some kayakers who have taken to riding the surf created by the ferries plying the harbour between Halifax and Dartmouth and, predicatbly a day later, the lcoal paper offers a repeat of the story, in which the Metro Transit folks aren’t too happy.  The kayakers, however, have done a splendid job of video-ing the adventure and supplied it with a soundtrack that wreaks local as well (Joel Plaskett’s “Nowhere with You”).

And McNab’s Island, which I’ve loved to wonder about out there in the harbour, has got a restored trail, so adventuring there, come warm weather, can become a better orderred reality. (In my uninformed imagination, I’ve been tipping it up next to Peddocks Island, in Boston Harbor).

Before then, if all goes well, the traffic lights may be restored in my more immediate neighbourhood…or not.

Back to work for some of us

December 29, 2009

The street’s been put back together for six days now, although the traffic light continues to blink red in both directions and apparently water-soluble paint was used to mark the crosswalks, which disappeared on day four. Because many offices in HRM were closed yesterday as a kind of salute to Boxing Day falling on Saturday (when absolutely everything except Starbucks was closed), maybe it will take the arrival of someone somewhere in the inner workings of traffic control to flip the signal switch.

For my part, I was thrilled that yesterday’s day off conspired to be fair weather as well, so I took a walk to collect some curious sights around downtown.  Here they are.

The pluses and perils of dressing Canadian

December 27, 2009

Across the past three winters I’ve accumulated a few bought-locally garments, mostly when more weight than my California closet offered has been necessary for, if not survival, comfort.  Recently, this has included some basic blue jeans from Old Navy–and I’ve discovered that the Canadian issues come with bilingual labels.  I don’t mean just the size (“G” vs “L”, for instance) but even the corporate tagline of “since 1994” (what a boast!) is mirrored on the waistband lining with “depuis  1994.”

More problematic could have been, had I not found it, the small metal tag on the back shirt tail of the Roots turtleneck.  Since my airport security luck runs thin to begin with, this could have shoved me even further up the blacklist. (The tag is sewn to the exterior, boasts “Roots”, of course, and isn’t nearly as cunning as the usual little beaver Roots slaps on everything).

Can’t find green Chuck Taylors here. But the styles of Josef Seibel slipons imported here are vastly superior to what shows up south of the border. There are, of course, no shortages of boots (rain as well as snow) on offer.  But silly socks come in relatively few options.

And I continue to be amazed at the enormous number of bridal wear shops.  Is it because Niagra Falls is located mostly in Canada?

Boxed in on Boxing Day

December 26, 2009

A few brave businesses are open in town today, unlike yesterday: one can drink coffee between 10 and 6 in a few locations, shop for makeup, or eat sushi.  Other than that, things remain shuttered for Nova Scotia’s double holiday. The weather is almost warm enough to walk outside for an hour without losing the ability to feel one’s face.

An some of the sights are…well, odd.  Here, for one is a boxy house with box-shaped wreaths:

And how terrific was the force of that incident that flung this hubcap into a treetop?

Perhaps it was driven by the striper who couldn’t quite line up the new centre line along South Street:

Midwinter standstill

December 24, 2009

In this part of the world, everything grinds to a halt in late December:  Christmas Eve through Boxing Day, businesses shutter: no restaurants, bars, stores, libraries…even the ferry stands still tomorrow.  Walking home at midafternoon–my own workplace slammed shut at 1 pm–I was slightly puzzled to find the banks still open even though the bars weren’t.

A woman some eyar older than me just wanted info on how to circuvent that puzzle.  She walked up to me as I trotted along Dresden Row and asked if I knew the way to the liquor commission.  For a split second I thought she meant the actual bureaucratic headquarters, and then realized she was after what I would have called a liquor store (except when in Massachusetts when it becomes a package store and even there it stays open until 11 pm on Christmas Eve). I sent her in the correct direction on Clyde.

Because of the calendar this year, the town has rolled up its carpet through Monday.  It’s like being in  a freign country.  Oh wait, I am….or I am the foreigner in this country, more accurately. Anyway, feliz navidad.

No, it doesn’t seem like yesterday

December 21, 2009

Twenty-none weeks to the day the first barricades were erected and the excavators cut into South Park Street, the job seems to have reached a sufficient state of completion that, when I came home from work tonight, the fences were all gone and no big equipment is in evidence.

Yesterday (Sunday!), a crew striped the street, this one as well as South Street, at the intersection), creating a curious bulge in what seems to have originally been a straight bifurcation of the roadway into ongoing and oncoming traffic lanes. By the light of the streetlamps–all the light available at 6 pm in December–I can’t tell if that’s been overhauled.  The traffic signals haven’t been reset but this is Nova Scotia and drivers are politely cautious.

So, Dexter’s “Christmas present,” as the company has been holding out for the past several weeks, seems to be a reality.  Where did that single bale of straw go? I don’t know.  And the brand new, glow-in-the-dark sprayed orange markings between the cemetery and the VG’s parking lot–the kind of marks put down to show equipment operators where to cut a hole in the pavement–make me nervous….

Morning reading time

December 18, 2009

On and off again the past couple weeks, I’ve been eschewing my usual weekday morning stop at the Wired Monk for one at Uncommon Grounds.  I can be coffee-house fickle–especially if the counter folk become too intent on thinking that my order will be the same from day to day (it generally is, but that shouldn’t be relied upon).  Both of these places fill the bill for me really:  good coffee, kind baristas, comfortable seats and music that someone actually selects.

Today I went back to WM and was surprised by a new counter guy.  He was having a bit of a time of it–hadn’t quite found how to raise the blinds (I wasn’t the first customer but the place still looked shuttered ten minutes past opening) or name the muffins (there’s a tendency here to throw every edible thing into muffins, which is not always a good thing, but at WM it usually works out well enough).

The corner where I usually read in a stufed chair was dark and I asked around for the possibility of a lightswitch I couldn’t see.  He couldn’t either, so I adjusted my stuff and myself to the lightest corner of the pod.  And then he brought me light:  in the form of a well-light-studded tree!  Not a fir either, but a ficus.  Best lamp I’ve been offered in years!

The scary drilling and chipping work

December 17, 2009

It’s gotten to be full-on winter–frigid, short days.  And eyt the road work continues, now under spotlights before dawn.  The last couple of days have been rather frightening, as the direction of the labour seems to be to UNDO that which has been done.  Men are working at drilling and chipping and beating at the concrete used to seal one of the giant, upended culverts in front of Holy Cross Cemetery.

It’s been so long that the street’s been closed that when I got into a cab yesterday and announced my destination–along with the specific angle from which it could be most closely approached–the driver threw a waiting fee onto the metre…and I didn’t argue.

Followed home

December 12, 2009

Across the years, I’ve received literally a tonne of packages, often delivered by the same workers for one of a variety of courier companies:  Vince, the UPS guy assigned to the route of the last California library in which I worked, Steve, assigned to the postal route on which I lived 40 years ago.  But in all these years, I’ve never heard of such a delivery person checking out the two and two s/he had put togeher, until yesterday.

These days, about half the review books I receive are delivered to me at my office and the other half to my house.  Or well, maybe that is a third here, a third there, and a third to the post office box I maintain near my home address.  In any event, a FedEx courier rang the bell at home yesterday and Bob answered, signed and took the packet. The delivery lady wasn’t done yet:

“So, is this for the same Francisca who works at the library?”

Since home and library are hardly on the same delivery routes, it leaves me wondering how much privacy is left in our lives. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that I’m the only person with that given name in the Municipality, but still….

The ferry terminals and ferries themselves have all sprouted new signs in the past 10 days. We are “reassured” that we are now being recorded both visually and auditorially for our “safety.”

I walk the line

December 10, 2009

With apologies to Johnny Cash, this is about the “holiday season,” not about the sadness of convicts.  Thanks to a public Tweet from Jessamyn West, I read last week one of the very best explanatory screeds against the North American presumption of Christmas as a pan cultural holiday. This came a week or so after I was handed “poinsettia ordering duty” on the job–admittedly in a Christian country, not the US–and the day before I gathered a bunch of folks into a room to discover they were certain the reason for the confab was a Grinch-y dressing down over creeping “holiday decos.” Librarians elsewhere once dubbed me the “Bah Humbug of the bunch.” (Bunch of what went unsaid).

But yes, I walk the line. In the privacy of my own home, the kid was raised with the tradition of stocking hanging and no tradition of “the Christmas story.” (He’s settling his own hash now, by attending St. Sallie’s every Sunday this Advent). And the other night I came home from a day in the Grinch pit to the sweet man who is the kid’s father and his blasts of Christmas carols setting off a new living room display:

This doesn’t mean that I’ve forgiven one of my favourite coffee shops for its invasive caroling every morning in December and the removal of one of my favourite seats so the betinseled artificial tree can stand in its corner. Harmony in the home is one thing but please give me my open public spaces for a few more days before the descent into “The Season’s” bathos.