Thursday, 20 December 2007

Hello? Can Anyone See Us in All This SNOW?

Thirty-seven centimetres! According to the Environment Canada this was the most snowfall for a single day since 1938, when the department started keeping records.
And it’s not even officially winter yet. I guess somebody forgot to tell Mother Nature as she let her flurries of unending snow fly all over us in Lanark County.
Can anyone say “My shovel isn’t big enough?”
As a relative newbie to snowy winters, I kept going to the windows and giving my weather update to anyone who would listen (Peter, the dog and cat). My updates were kind of boring, though, when all I could say was “It’s still snowing!” How many of you were giving the same weather reports?
The good news for me is there are just as many of you out there that have never seen this much snow in one day in your life. Finally, I’m not the odd woman out – this is a new one for plenty of us.
Once the wonder of when-is-it-going-to-stop-snowing wore off, the reality hit me, as it probably did everyone else. The reality of “Uh-oh, how are we going to get rid of all this snow so we can get out of the driveway?”
Snow shovels just seemed like teaspoons at the time. We knew we’d be dead or frozen before we were able to get anywhere near our cars or the end of our seemingly endless driveway.
Chip, our chocolate Lab, was very confused when he went out for his constitutionals. The snow is just past his neck, which doesn’t give much turning or running room. Our backyard quickly became a snow labyrinth, with doggie pit-stops at certain points. Chip has not once been outside his personal maze. At least he knows where he’s going now, and we don’t have to worry about a leash for once.
And then there’s Wick. Last winter, Wick enjoyed the snow. Well, as much as a cat can enjoy anything. After Sunday’s snowfall, she’s seemingly terrified of going out and never being seen again. And she’d be right. The snow is deep enough that when she’s in the middle of it, we have no cat. Unless you count the terrified meows of “Where is my house?” coming from her furry throat.
There was even a rabbit that decided to hang out near my office window, where the snow wasn’t as deep. You have to wonder about it all when a burrowing animal is looking for the shallows.
Then one of Lanark County’s best traits came out. Great neighbours with tractors that know they’ll never see us again unless they come dig us out. That’s just what Harvey Drummond did for us, what he does for us every time we’re buried in the snow. He shows up on his tractor and starts moving the snow, often before we’re even aware he’s there.
Harvey is like an angel, just doing what comes naturally in his kindness. He won’t accept any form of payment, takes our heart-felt thank you’s and appreciation with a careless wave as he motors away on his rumbly tractor.
I hope all of you have a Harvey in your life. If not for snow, then for some other task that you didn’t know you needed an angel for. Because that’s what Harvey is. Our own personal snow angel.

How the Internet Ruined My Life

Okay, maybe it didn’t actually ruin my life, but you can count on one thing for sure. Take the Internet away in our household and all moods, relationships, and emotions are a complete free-for-all, none of them good.
Living in the wilds of Lanark County means that high-speed Internet is a pipe dream. No matter how many times we call and tell them we want it, the wait is always 12-18 months. And this is going on three years now. It’s kind of like when you walk into a busy restaurant when you’re starving. The place is crowded with people waiting to be seated, and the wait is always 15 minutes. Always.
Our family has satellite Internet. Not quite as fast as high-speed, but pretty darn close. With Peter being a journalist, me being a Web designer and Blondie being 18 and addicted to MSN and Facebook, the Internet is a necessity in our home. Without it, it’s like a photographer without a camera, or the Earth without oxygen. Yes, it’s that dire in our house without the Internet. I guess you know where this story is going.
Last Friday, with the bad weather, our Internet service took a nosedive. We were certain it was because of the weather, but when blue sky finally kicked the snow away, the Internet still didn’t think it was necessary to return to our house.
Peter immediately reverted to dial-up, the slowest backup plan there can possibly be. Me? I was patient; sure the Internet would miss us and demand to be searched at any minute.
Yeah, that worked.
Friday was day one. I think after the panic of realizing our lifeline was gone, we might have been a little “let’s relax until it comes back on”.
But relaxing is a little difficult to do when you know you have clients counting on you, and when you realize with total certainty that you only communicate through e-mail, a downed Internet connection gets just a little bit scarier.
And then there’s the effect on the family, living in a generally peaceful environment while the Internet is up and running.
Day two, no Internet: Blondie is asking when we might have it back. I am asking Peter when it might be fixed. I am calm; it’s Saturday after all, and that can be considered a day off.
Day three, and we start getting ansty. I mean really – who doesn’t search YouTube or on Sunday afternoon? Without my humour fix, things start getting dire. And it’s not just me.
Members of my family start snapping for no apparent reason. We look at one another with different eyes, all because of that stupid Internet. We blame each other, wondering who it was who sabotaged our happiness by killing the Internet, all the while not realizing that it is this stupid information ‘super-highway’ that we are basing our moods on. Did I mention how sad this all is?
Day FIVE. Yes, FIVE. Now the Internet has been fixed. And it’s amazing, really. We’re like a silly Disney family, with no troubles, all happy with each other, squirrels singing, birds resting on our shoulders. Blondie has the brightest smile I‘ve seen in weeks. All because of that blasted Internet. And again, did I mention how SAD that is?

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Winter Greets Me with Fluff, a Whoops and a Bang

Even though it’s only been five winters for me here in Lanark County, I can now tell you with confidence that I am OVER winter.
The beauty of the first snowfall is always something to behold. When that white blanket of fluff comes and wraps up everything in its cold, cottony looking cocoon, there’s something almost magical about it. The way the snow looks like frosting on the branches as well as the perfect, smooth landscape of the surrounding bush It’s easy to get caught up in the magic and forget that snow means winter, which means a whole new set of footwear.
As Peter bravely leaves during the first day of all that snow, I realized that I had forgotten to return a movie we’d rented. I ran up the stairs to catch him before he went out. Too late, so I stepped out on the porch to see Peter brushing snow off the car.
He saw me and came towards me, while I had the movie waving wildly in my hand as if the gesture alone would relay my message. The problem came when as he came towards me in his safe, winter-treaded boots, I stepped one step outside onto the snowy porch in my slick-bottomed Uggs.
This is where the whoops came in. That whoops that hits you when you realize several things at once: Whoops, I forgot, it’s snowing, whoops the porch hasn’t been shovelled yet, and whoops I have zero traction to try and keep me on my feet. And the biggest whoops was upon me as I fruitlessly tried waving my arms around to keep my balance. Taking another ill-advised step, I sealed my fate, as well as my pain.
And then there was the bang, the bang of my ribs, shoulder and hip smacking down on the snowy stairs, knocking the wind and pride right out of me.
Peter came running to help me. I tried to stand on my own and laugh it off, but it hurt. And it hurt more when I realized I couldn’t stand up, not because of injury, but because of my boots. No traction, no stand. So I had to crawl up the stairs on my hands and knees, Peter right behind me. What view he must’ve had. Humilation much?
Embarrassment fled when I tried to stand and take off my boots. My back screamed at me that it was mad as hell and not taking any more. And then I screamed, wondering who had just whacked me in the back with a sledgehammer and a chainsaw. I couldn't believe there was no blood, no entrails. It hurt that much.
Peter had left. He was running late, and had no clue I had just seemingly disconnected the upper half of my body from my lower half.
Twenty minutes later I managed to make it to my bed. Fifteen minutes after that I’d managed to get my boots off. The pain was absolutely unbelievable and I had no idea what I’d done. All I knew is that I couldn’t support my upper body at all, and there was no way I was old enough to experience this crap.
It’s been three days now and I’m well on the way to recovery. I rested and had Peter do just about everything for three days. I have to admit, it was kind of fun to watch Peter run around like a housewife with her head cut off.
But most of all, even though my back will be fine, I am now, more than ever, convinced that snow and Joyce just don’t mix.
See you again in May, when the snow has grown tired of us.