Unnatural Nature

So, tell me again how “It never snows on Vancouver Island”

Just to punish me for my smugness in telling my prairie friends that my spring bulbs were already up, it snowed again last weekend.  About eight inches.  It wasn’t quite what I’d been imagining when I’d heard other women brag, “I got eight inches last night.”

But I’m not going to complain too much about the unnatural weather.  It really is almost spring here – I saw some varied thrushes poking around in the yard last week and I’m hoping they have the inside scoop. I keep telling myself the snow probably won’t stay long; and it’s actually very pretty.

Not only that but it’s warm(ish) outside, so walking through the winter wonderland is a joy.  I snapped some photos that couldn’t capture all the beautiful sparkles, but I tried:

Hoarfrost on top of snow: It looks like sparkly polar bear fur.


More hoarfrost


Snow hanging off our pagewire fence in delicate scallops


Snow-laden cedar

I also enjoy the snow because it reveals the tracks of all the little critters that we don’t get to see very often during daylight hours.  I’ve only seen a rabbit once, but the snow reveals that there are several around… or else one very active one.  There’s also a rat or a very large mouse; or possibly an extremely well-hung squirrel:

I’m guessing “rat”.

But as I was strolling through the woods reading the tales of the footprints, I came upon a trail where a rabbit had crossed the road… and was apparently surprised by the ditch embankment:

Watch that last step – it’s a doozy.

Standing there looking at the skidmark, I started to laugh as this popped into my mind:

Rare And Majestic Nature Scenes

Happy winter!

The Four-Letter S-Word

The four-letter S-word:  Snow.  Yep, that’s an expletive around here.

Growing up on the Canadian prairies, snow and bitter winter cold were simple facts of life.  We dressed appropriately and respected the danger; but unless the temperature sank to -40 we carried on.

When I was in my twenties I moved to Calgary, Alberta, and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  There was still cold winter weather, but it was regularly punctuated with chinook thaws where the temperature rose above freezing.


Years ago my dad and step-mom used to spend the winter in Victoria, BC.  I visited them frequently, and it never snowed.

Later, Hubby and I came to central Vancouver Island once or twice a year for ten years or so.  We visited in all the “winter” months, and it never snowed.  (Okay, once we saw about an inch, but it melted the next day.)

So after thirty years in Calgary we decided to move to Vancouver Island where ‘it never snows’.

Yeah, right.  We got suckered.

Last winter was the coldest and snowiest on record.  We had about two feet of snow on our yard, and it stayed for a couple of months.

But, hey, that was an anomaly, right?


Guess what happened last week?

Yep, about ten inches of sh-… I mean, snow.

Vancouver Island doesn’t deal well with snow, and often the power goes out when the weather is bad.

Fortunately, we knew this.  We’ve wired our house so we can switch over to generator power if necessary.  And it was necessary:  we lost power four times, for several hours each time.

When I was a teenager, our prairie farm was hit by a three-day-long blizzard.  The power went off the first day and was finally restored five days later.  The roads were impassable.  If we hadn’t been prepared, everything in our house would have frozen, including us.

So last week when the snow came down and the lights went out, my brain flipped into DEFCON 1:  “AWOOGA!  AWOOGA!  EXTREME HAZARD!  ALL HANDS ON DECK!”

I scurried around lighting candles, dragging out my big goose down duvet, and helping Hubby get the generator deployed; all the while knowing that WE WILL DIE IF THE GENERATOR QUITS!  What if we run out of gas?  We don’t have our wood-burning backup furnace installed yet, OMIGOD WE’RE GONNA DIE!

Um, no.

The temperature was barely below freezing.  There was no wind.  And even if the roads had been impassable and we had no heat source at all, our neighbours’ place is less than a quarter-mile away.  If we had actually managed to die, it would have been from sheer stupidity.

So maybe eventually I’ll get over my knee-jerk panic over winter power outages; but that sh-… um, snow… is still sticking around.  And it’s barely November.

We’ve been had.


P.S.  To be considered a true Islander I have to complain about the snow, but I’m secretly enjoying the pretty white sparkles.  This is the best of both worlds:  I can enjoy the snowscape in my yard, and if I need a break I can drive ten minutes to the coast where the grass is (usually) green and the ocean waves keep rolling in.  Paradise!  🙂

P.P.S Just because I needed a bit more stress in my life, my web host has gone belly-up, taking all my websites and email addresses with it.  If you’ve tried to email me, I apologize – your email has probably vanished into cyberspace.  I hope to be back in action with a new host by tomorrow.  Watch this space for updates…

Update:  I think (hope) everything’s working again… *fingers crossed*

Snow Fun

For those who weren’t privy to my whining on Facebook this weekend, we just had a foot of snow:

may snow

Eight inches after the first twelve hours. Drinks on the deck are postponed until further notice.

It’s depressing to get snow in May, but it’s not unheard-of here in Calgary.  And I’d rather have it now than in the middle of August… which has also happened:

I built this guy on August 20, 1992.

I built this guy on August 20, 1992.

Aside from griping of epic proportions, Calgarians have more or less ignored the snow and gotten on with life.  After all, we know it’ll probably snow again in a couple of weeks – it’s practically a tradition to get snow on the May long weekend.  But it’s okay, because snowbanks are a great place to keep your beer nice and frosty while you’re camping.

(Yes, we’re Canadian.  We push our lawn chairs into the snowbanks and sit around the campfire drinking cold beer on the long weekend regardless of the weather.)

The funny part is that the snow was preceded by rain, and it was the rain that totally messed people up.  You’d think it had never rained before.  Drivers bumbled through red lights, turned from the wrong lane, inexplicably slowed to a crawl in the middle of the road, and generally made me wish for a crate of Zombie Bullets and a Gatling gun.  I don’t know what it is about rain that makes Calgary drivers so painfully stupid, but my best guess is that IQ points are water-soluble.  Lucky it doesn’t rain very often here.

Someone once said, “Marriage is all about give and take:  Give blame; take credit”, so I blamed Hubby for the snow.

In the first place, he fired up the motorcycle a few weeks ago, which is a sure-fire way to make it snow.  Then he started talking about outdoor archery tournaments, and our fate was sealed.

I did my best to trick the weather into thinking it was okay to warm up:  I left my snow tires on the car and the snow shovels by the back door.  But it wasn’t enough.  Hubby’s bad juju trumped my feeble efforts.

Interestingly, the only time Hubby ever has bad luck with weather is here at home.  When we’re travelling, he’s a good-luck charm.  We often visit Vancouver Island in the middle of winter, and its coastal winter climate dictates rain, rain, and more rain.  But any time we’ve gone, the weather turns nice as soon as we get there.

We even went to Tofino in the middle of December:  prime storm-watching time.  But not for us.  It was raining a bit when we got there in the late afternoon.  The next morning the sun came out, wispy clouds floated across a blue, blue sky, and the rufous hummingbirds came out to dance a ballet on the sunbeams.  It was Disney as far as the eye could see.

“Storm-watching” at Tofino.

“Storm-watching” at Tofino.

And speaking of Disney, yesterday I discovered the true culprit behind our dump of snow.  Apparently the morning of the big snowfall, one of my employees’ little granddaughters stared out at the white-coated world before turning wide eyes up to her mother.

“Mommy!” she exclaimed, “My frost magic must have leaked out while I was sleeping!”

So now I know who’s to blame, but she’s so darn cute I’d feel like an ogre if I did.  And that’s snow fun.

* * *

P.S. If you want to connect on Facebook, the link is over in the right-hand column of the page.  I promise I don’t usually whine… but you’ll be subjected to whatever silliness falls out of my head.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

End Of The World

Well, dang.  I’m still here.  Guess I’ll have to pay those Christmas bills after all.

It’s the official day of the end of the world and so far there’s no big bang or big flush or big pffftttt or whatever.  I’m a little unclear about whether the world was supposed to end last night at the stroke of midnight or tonight at the stroke of midnight, though, so maybe there’s still time.

And anyway, the Mayans weren’t specific about what time zone they were using.  Maybe the end of the world will creep around the globe following the time zones.  Just in case, I’m going to keep an eye on my blogging buddy AquaTom over in the UK.  He’s having an End of the World blog party today, so if he goes dark, I’ll know what’s coming.

You, too, can receive this special advance warning… or just pop over and to say hi.  Tom asked his readers to spread the word, so please consider this your invitation to the End of the World Party:

Come join the End Of The World party over at AquaTom Mansion

Come join the End Of The World party over at AquaTom Mansion

Tom suggested a few writing challenges to bring to the party, namely “The fun side to a bad hair day”, “Dashing through the snow”, and/or “The passing of time”, so here goes:

Bad Hair Day…

For me, a “bad hair day” is virtually indistinguishable from a “good hair day”.  I wash it and let it dry, and it always looks more or less the same.  I’m not sure whether that’s “good” or “bad”, but I’m trying to imagine what a truly “bad hair day” would be like.

I think Medusa must’ve had some seriously bad hair days.  I’ve never tried to wash a snake, but I suspect they wouldn’t be cooperative.  They probably wouldn’t take kindly to curlers, either.  And imagine the disasters on date night.  Even if she could find a guy who was smart enough not to look her in the face and turn to stone, even a simple kiss would be an exercise in frustration:  “No, no!  Bad, bad hair!  Stop biting the nice man!  Wait, come back, honey; they didn’t mean it!”

No wonder she was cranky.

* * *

Dashing Through The Snow…

When I was a teenager, I strapped on my cross-country skis one cold, clear night and dashed out across the pristine whiteness surrounding our farm.  Skiing was easy across the smooth, flat fields.  The moon was full and so brilliant that my shadow undulated along beside me.  The squeak of snow under my skis was the only sound.  It was breathtaking.

It was also stupid.

It was minus 30 degrees Celsius, and even though I’d put on my warm down jacket, I was only wearing blue jeans on my legs.  You may have heard the expression “freezing one’s ass”.  I did.  Along with my thighs.

To this day, if the temperature dips below minus 10, I have to wear ski pants because of the damaged circulation in those areas.  Not quite the delightful experience most people envision when singing “dashing through the snow”.  But…

With The Passing Of Time…

I’ve forgiven my teenage stupidity, and I still enjoy the lovely memory of that bright, silent night.  And hey, at the end of the world, that’s what counts, right?

Happy Apocalypse!

It’s Complicated…

Last week, I couldn’t decide what to eat for lunch until I looked at the weather forecast.  It wasn’t even as simple as needing to know what the current weather conditions were.  No, I needed a forecast.

On the weekend, we had discussed going to a swanky restaurant near our place on Tuesday night.  But on Monday, the weatherman forecasted a nice, warm, sunny Tuesday.  Prime opportunity to put up the Christmas lights when Hubby got home from work.

No, not so he could put up the Christmas lights; so he could hold the ladder while I put up the lights.  I’m taller than he is, and he’s afraid of heights.  I’m okay with heights, but I’m afraid of ladders unless he’s holding them.  We’re a team.

So I decided to cook a pot of stew Tuesday night so we wouldn’t have to run around trying to get the lights up before rushing off to our dinner reservation.  We agreed to go out Wednesday night instead.

But Tuesday’s forecast was wrong.  The temperature dropped steadily, a bone-cutting wind blew in from the east, and snow sifted down.  We lost interest in putting up the lights, but we ate at home and stuck with our plans for Wednesday.

Until evening, when we discovered it was supposed to dump snow overnight.  So we decided to wait and see what Wednesday morning was like before making the final decision on dinner.  Neither of us has any particular fear of driving in the snow; after all, we’re Canadian.  We’d have to confine our outings to ten minutes in August if we were afraid of driving in the snow.

But it’s annoying to fight the idiot drivers, so we tend not to actively seek out snow-driving.

Fast-forward (or, in the case of this blog post, “drag agonizingly toward an obscure but hopefully imminent conclusion”) to Wednesday noon.

I went downstairs for lunch, opened the fridge door, and realized that the only thing worth eating was the leftover stew.  Fine… except that there was enough stew for two.

So if we weren’t going out, it would make more sense for me to make something else and save the leftover stew for supper.  But if we were going out, I could eat the stew for lunch, go out for dinner1, and then eat stew again for Thursday’s lunch.

Only one catch:  It was snowing lightly.  If it was going to dump snow, we’d probably want to stay home.  If it was going to hold off until after supper, we’d probably go.  Time to check the weather forecast.

Heavy snowfall warning.

Guess I’ll make something for lunch…

Phone rings.

Hubby says, “Let’s go out tonight.  It’s going to snow, so the restaurant won’t be too busy.”



1Note:  I grew up in the country.  ‘Breakfast’ was in the morning, ‘dinner’ was at noon, ‘lunch’ was at four o’clock, and ‘supper’ was at six.  Then I got out into the big world and discovered that urbanites referred to the noon meal as ‘lunch’, the six o’clock meal as ‘dinner’, and there was no four o’clock meal!  City dwellers are sick bastards.  So now I usually call ‘dinner’ ‘lunch’, and ‘supper’ ‘supper’, unless I’m going out for ‘dinner’…

Have I confused you yet?  What do you call your meals?  (And why are you trying to slap me?)