Category Archives: Commentary

The Big Chilly

Right now I am living deep inside a real big chilly. It’s something like -42 C or whatever. When it’s that cold, does it matter any more? I don’t even check. It’s -40, yada yada.

Up until recently, it’s been fairly easy to live with.

But … there’s always something.

First, my truck wouldn’t start. It was plugged in, but despite heat shots and trickle chargers and a couple of boosts, it protested and said no, I’m not starting. Now leave me alone or put me in a warm garage!

There I was, my whatis sticking up in the wind chill factor while I fussed over an exposed engine, checking oil and fumbling around trying to determine if the the block heater was still working as I invented a totally new dialect composed entirely of vulgarities.

Then my bathtub drain froze.

Yup. My bathtub drain.

I was standing in the tub shower, soaping up and enjoying the warmth when I realised that the water was up to my ankles. It wasn’t a clog, because the day before, the water was draining normally.

But now? There’s no movement at all, not even a trickle.

I have a bathtub full of used water and an open drain. It just sits there, staring stupidly at me while I think about flamethrowers and other incendiary devices.

Then my house door wouldn’t lock. It was too cold for the tumblers to engage. I almost got down on my knees and begged. Really? You aren’t going to lock? Just hang on a sec, I have to go throw a minor tantrum. Waaahh! 🤣

And let’s not forget the head cold. Its onset blended seamlessly with the arrival of several days of major meetings that I had to attend, a tissue box under one arm and a Vicks inhaler lodged, unnoticed, in a nostril.

Of course, all of this happened while my M is away. (Is there a message in that?)

But, an update.

It got warmer. Right now, it’s about -12 C.

I got my truck towed. It got its wish and is in warm garage awaiting a new block heater.

I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of my bathtub draining. It turns out that all I had to do was wait. Scared the crap out of me though – there I was, creeping into the bathroom with my phone in one hand and a fly swatter in the other. If it had been an intruder, what was I going to do with the fly swatter??? (Oh look, there’s a mutant mosquito in the bathroom – hand me the swatter please.)

I got my hair dryer, pointed it at my door lock and warmed up all the parts.

That worked.

My cold is almost gone. So is a lot of the other cold.

Things are looking up, especially the temperature. (Okay, I’ll stop with the cheesy comments.)

So how has this “polar vortex” (doesn’t that sound like the name of a disaster movie? Polar Vortex, starring Jennifer Aniston and Tom Cruise. Watch if you dare. Because you may never go outside again. 《Sound of loud chattering teeth.》) been treating you??? Among other places, it has hit the west coast of the continent pretty hard.

Cold Weather

This is what -36°C looks like …

… at the southern end of Great Slave Lake in Northwest Territories. In Fahrenheit, that’s -33.

Very sharp and sunny, but my, is it chilly!

Somehow, the air looks cold.

I usually walk to work, but today I needed to take my vehicle; it was slow to start even though it had been plugged in.

I let it run, but the doors protested at being opened (skreeeech) and the tires felt square as I pressed the gas and started moving forward (they had frozen a bit).

I feel like that too when I have to do something I don’t want to do. I’m slow to start and I don’t want to move. My tires are frozen.

Sometimes, you’re just cold and need to get going.

Sometimes, you need to listen to your warmer, more blanket-buried self.

Flying Anyone?

I found this airplane stuck to a pole …

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It’s one of the types I learned to fly, back when I was in my salad days.

It made me a bit sad to see it there, poised as if in flight but stuck, permanently roosted and rooted to the ground, a facsimile of its former self. Not a good place for an airplane to be.

People can be stuck too. They look like they’re going somewhere but they’re not. Straining forward but frozen, seeing but sightless.

Airplanes are meant to fly.

So are we all.

Happy New Year, everyone. Good wishes for 2019. 🙂

Remembrance Day

30 Days of Gratitude- Day 11 30 Days of Gratitude- Day 11 (Photo credit: aussiegall)

I first published this post on November 11, 2013 and then again in 2015. As a tribute to my family’s veterans and all those many, many others, here it is again. Thank you for your service. We will remember.

In Canada, today is Remembrance Day. Today, we remember those who have given their lives to preserve the greater good, those who gave us what we have today.

Both my parents were veterans of World War II. My dad escaped from Dunkirk and later, in 1944, helped to liberate France and the Netherlands. He went all the way to Hamburg, Germany, before being sent back to England and to my mother.

My mother served in the British army as a radar operator during the London blitz. Her father, a World War I veteran, was a “spotter” who alerted higher command that enemy planes were coming across the channel.

One day, a fighter saw him and killed him.

Three of her brothers served in the army, one of whom was captured. He spent four years in a prisoner of war camp and was finally liberated in 1945. According to my mother, he was completely changed and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for the rest of his life.

Another brother died during his service to the navy, and a third in France. A sister-in-law died in a bombing raid.

My parents worked hard while escaping attacks and facing every kind of rationing imaginable, to say nothing of the constant fear of death. This left them with an enduring determination that their kids would never face the same fears, privation, or responsibility. There had been no guarantees that they would be successful with the task they were given.

But they were successful. And we enjoy the benefits of that success today, a success written in blood.

In Canada, the following excerpt from For the Fallen is recited at Remembrance Day services around the country. Here, this recitation is known as The Act of Remembrance.

For the Fallen ~ Laurence Binyon

They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old:

age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

Yes.

Crossing the Mighty Mackenzie River

The Mackenzie River is the largest river system in Canada and the second largest in North America.

It is so big that in places it looks like an ocean or huge lake. It even has a vanishing point.

Driving across the bridge that spans the Mackenzie going south from Yellowknife doesn’t capture that effect. However, this photo from July almost does. Not quite.

Aren’t these blues amazing?

Greetings from the fabulous lakes and waterways of the Northwest Territories.

More Yellowknife

This photo shows a recent overcast day at a small lake just outside of Yellowknife. To me, the landscape is iconically northern-looking with much evidence of the Canadian Shield covered by short trees. Clear ice is also forming on this pond. Probably enough to walk on, but I wouldn’t take the chance yet.

And, one more shot of Yellowknife at night. I love the rising crescent moon and the distant clouds.

I felt very contemplative while watching this changing view.