Wind, wine and Wednesday

December 9, 2009

We are settling into the first real snowstorm of the season, the kind where the wind blows snow but somehow, between the pressing blasts, it’s not as frigid as when the air is dry.  Bob and I were eating at the Cellar when the snow began to get blown with urgency.  the walk home took twice as long as usual–it’s only about two long blocks–but the underfoot was squeaky and, as long as you didn’t get too bold, easy for staying upright.

One thing I really appreciate about snow squalls at midweek is that it is somehow easier to get folks interested in finishing out the workweek than it is when the snow flies–as it did so frequently last year, on a Sunday or Monday. And I do have a vested interest, as I’m the night watchman who gets to call things to a halt if it gets out of control before seven in the morning. Not a job I ever considered, but it came with the rest of my duties-as-assigned here.

So, tomorrow, I’ll rise hoping the wind has settled. At least in HRM.  I hear it snowed in Berkeley yesterday.  Not my watch.  Not my problem.

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Winter again

December 8, 2009

Sunday’s downgraded storm blew out before noon but overnight we got another light dusting of truly white snow. The weather stayed cold enough yesterday that the dusting remained in places that retained shade throughout the day, and still looked white by streetlight as I walked home.

The branches of the elm tree right outside my study window are no longer bare, but now laced with frozen snowflakes, not heaped, no danger of breaking even the smallest twigs.

Pedestrians have changed their outer layers from nylon and corduroy to wool and and puffy. I still wear my corduroy “between season” jacket, just piling layers underneath it.  Some invisible hand stays me from hauling out my duffle coat, although I’ve willingly put on boots when the ground is slushy.

Winter, in my mind, isn’t a dead zone, but a long nap, sometimes needed and sometimes simply making the world logy with too much rest and not enough action. On  a personal level, I think this one will be long–but at least, so far, it isn’t an inundation in need of managing.

Seasonal nexus

December 6, 2009

The storm headed up North America’s east coast–which a friend of mine in the US notes as disappearing once it hits the Canadian border–developed into a dump of sleet that continues this morning.  It seems to be falling grey, not even waiting to turn that shade after traffic slooshes through it. And that means I am back on “weather watch duty” for HRM’s libraries.

Yesterday was the linking opposite number of end of fall.  A walk in Point Pleasant was an exercise in ruddy browns and dry air that wasn’t quite cold.

And yesterday was the one clear day, when I was home during daylight, that I could finally show off what has come to mass late this week, streetwise:

Looking north on South Park, midblock between Fenwick and South

Happy something-days

December 4, 2009

In a last ditch–but ultimately successful–effort, we breeched Thornbloom‘s this evening.  It’s a mild night, weatherwise, with only 3 more Fridays to The Day and the crowds were horrendous.  The geegaws on sale are horrendouser: Bob was particularly terrified of the blown glass french fy “cup” while the bejeweled pig made my skin crawl.

The shoppers around us all seemed thrilled to death, so our reluctance won’t dent the local economy. But who exactly is snapping up all those black glass balls and glitter-glazed penguins?

The advancement of microtechnology seems to have allowed tree ornaments to become even stranger than the pickle I saw years ago when “creative creations” were limited to molds. Beyond potatoes and swine, tonight there were pastry trays under glass–and literally hanging by a thread–and lip balms made to resemble miniature bonbons. Who thinks of this stuff?

So what were we after with such desperation that we entered this realm of fantasmagorical? Penguins (minus glitter). Mission accomplished.  But not without a sidecar of cultural edification.

Truth but no pictures

December 3, 2009

When I got home in the dark last evening, something about the front of my house looked amiss.  I had already scrambled past the digging in the block to the north, noticed the number of explosion blankets piled at the hospital parking lot drive, and the enormous heap of guck that had been thrown up there during the day’s work.  Fencing had been moved all about so I had to rejig my path across the intersection.

And then it hit me:  my block was open to traffic, which was–sort of–flowing both ways.  The sort of was due to the fact that there weren’t actual outlets on either end of the block.  Apparently folks who had their cars in drives or garages were simply out doing the equivalent of post-construction cruising.

I couldn’t get a picture because the night was black.  And this morning it was raining so hard when I took off for the day that I couldn’t even get a good look at what today could bring in the way of street completion.

But there will be a picture later, perhaps sooner, showing indeed we have got what so many urban dwellers have: a street in front of our house.

The last clear day of the year…?

November 29, 2009

So I took a walk….

A bout of irony

November 28, 2009

When it comes to food, I tend to live clean and easy.  That doesn’t mean that food poisoning never becomes a reality in my oh so charmed gustatory life. And it usually occurs with a healthy dose of irony on the side. Several years ago, it hit–and quite hard–as I was watching a live performance of Sweeney Todd–and no I had not been sampling the meat pies. This time, it was in the wee hours of the morning after American Thanksgiving–which I celebrated without the sometimes-iffy turkey.

So, I am now thankful to have recovered….

SINning on Thanksgiving

November 26, 2009

My brief entertainment of taking off from work for the American Thanksgiving holiday ground to a halt with the arrival of this week’s notice from the road crew: today our water is to be turned off–all day.  And, oh by the way, best to turn off the hot water heater, too, lest it be sucked full of sludge when the water works under the street are tinkered with during this stage.

Instead of a day off, then, I decided to take on another federal bureaucracy by renewing my SIN card in light of now possessing a permanent residency card.  I had been told–with strange excitement on one bureaucrat’s part–that my new residency card will mean that my new SIN card will start with a whole different digit!

Canadian federal offices are so very unlike American ones that it is a kind of Alice’s rabbit hole experience to enter any of them.  Today, a beautifully mild Thursday (it is not a holiday here), brought many people out to wander the streets of downtown Dartmouth just before noon.  The elevator to the 5th floor of the building where the closest Service Canada office is housed was packed (The building also houses many medical offices). Service Canada, however, was virtually empty–two young men worked on self-service computers and the receptionist smiled at me from behnid her desk that was at least 25 feet away across a shiney, empty floor.

She checked me in–by name–and asked me–politely–to have a seat “for a minute.” Less than that minute had passed before I was rounded up–also sweetly–by the case worker who took me to ehr private office space and worked her way through a form that might have had as many as four lines in it.  She then produced my new number, smailed and wished me a good day.

A grand total of 15 minutes had elapsed–walk to and from the building included–when I got back to my desk, new SIN at the ready.

So, who cares that the house has no water, the office has been hit by someone with drill, my Facebook page has been hacked and all my American friends are eating pumpkin pie while here it’s butter tarts on offer?  I have a new-digit SIN.

Courtesy

November 25, 2009

One of the things I really appreciate about Nova Scotia is the extensive and thorough courtesy the drivers show for pedestrians.  It never ceases to amaze me!  This evening was dark (at 4), foggy and rainy.  I approached intersections downtown with due caution.  And in each and every (of 9) cases, drivers ground to a halt, flashed their lights and made sure that I got the right of way.

This is curious behaviour for a pedestrian who has lived with the oblivious in Los Angeles and the threatening in New England.  Drivers who notice pedestrians? And give them way? It’s like a fairy tale!

Measure for measure

November 24, 2009

The deluge against we which we were warned this afternoon never arrived with force, jsut a piddling spit here and there making boots seem silly and even questioning umbrellas.  The prediction had been for 50 mm–and the question became “why is rain measured in millimetres while snow is measured in centimeters?”

Clearly, 50 sounds more dramatic than 5, but 50 anything of snow would paralyze us all in concept alone even before we hit the stuff.

I made the mistake of quoting the forecast verbatim to an American friend, who was none pleased at having to go find a conversion table to inches. Funny how we can imagine amounts best in the measurement system we first learned: I can never visualize a Canadian football field, for instance–going to metres from yards makes it too expansive to fit into a single “screen” for my internal eye.

Food here, however, seems to receive universally odd measure, with overall sizes offered in metric and portions in English (you buy a kilo of potatoes but each one weighs so many ounces). That should make the brain either flexible or schizoid.