Tips from a Canadian regarding the cold

So I’ve been watching Anderson Cooper and Piers Morgan and having a giggle at all the cold observations. Growing up in Ottawa where -35C windchill isn’t uncommon, here’s a few words for people not used to this:

1. Layer clothing, it’s warmer than big bulky things.
2. Mist does rise from rivers and manholes due to the temperature difference. It’s beautiful. Take pictures at sunrise, catch the hoarfrost on the tree branches, but be careful driving in ice-fog.
3. Very cold snow squeaks underfoot. Things crack mysteriously, like tree branches.
4. Water freezes remarkably quickly including pipes. Keep your taps dripping if your house isn’t insulated. You can also insulate pipes.
5. It doesn’t snow as much when it is very very cold. If it is really sunny, it is colder than when it’s cloudy.
6. Never ever cook or heat with gas or charcoal barbeques indoors. Ever. Carbon monoxide kills.
7. Do not try to stay warm with candles everywhere and for heavens sake don’t put candles or kerosene lamps inside a tent for heat. It’s a huge fire hazard.
8. If you’re cold, keep moving. If you can’t feel your skin you’re in danger of frostbite and hypothermia. Get indoors anywhere until you warm up. Never try to unthaw by running hot water over frozen skin.
9. If it’s too cold for you outside, it’s too cold for your animals. Keep them inside.
10. -42 celcius and -42 farenheit are the same.
11. In Canada cars have block heaters – there are plugs in the front to warm up your battery. Don’t have one of those mysterious plugs? Park the car in the garage or if you can’t, turn it on and run it every few hours. The battery will die and oil gets cold and slow in very cold weather.
12. If you are stranded in snow, make absolutely sure the tailpipe is clear before turning on the car. Like I said in #6, carbon monoxide kills.
13. If you heat with natural gas, and you’ve had a big dump of snow, make sure the gas meter isn’t covered – frozen gas meters can be deadly.
14. Also if you have a big dump of snow, watch out for snow build up and icicles. Weight of snow can collapse roofs, and icicles falling can kill.
15. Don’t let your kids build snow forts out of snow banks and particularly don’t let them play on them where they can slide onto a road.
16. Tree branches near power lines breaking often cause power outages. When possible (not in the middle of the winter in a storm!) have branches trimmed away from power lines if your power company hasn’t. Don’t do it yourself, have a professional do it.
18. Winter driving means going slowly, keeping good distance from the car in front of you, pressing gently (or tapping) the brakes, no jackrabbit acceleration. If you feel you car starting to spin, steer into the spin and keep looking at where you want to go not where the car is, take your foot off the accelerator but don’t brake suddenly. Gain control of the car and then get yourself back in the right spot. And if you’re like me, pull over when you can and stop shaking, lol.
19. And lastly, from a four years old’s (me) experience – don’t be tempted to lick icicles hanging from metal poles. Just don’t, lol.

Cathi’s Comments for December 31, 2013

Oh what a year this has been! If there were to be one image that symbolizes it, it would phoenix rising – the year where from the ashes of a very dark time, my whole world turned around. If you want to read the updates that didn’t make it to this home page, I did put them on my Comments Archives page for the current year. 

Getting back to my year, it started with being interviewed and offered a job in Fredericton – this was a job I applied for before I left the government and because I had done that and it was under a year since I left it was possible to go back with all of my status and everything. It took some negotiation and timing was everything for both the new office and me so at the beginning of June I started working again at the Ottawa location until I sold the house.

Now knowing my horror story of the last couple of years working that led me to taking early retirement in the first place, I guess the first thing most people would think is: have you lost your mind? Well, yeah, but to understand that when I retired I planned to sell the house and move to Fredericton, you could say that fit the plan. The reality was that until I sold the house, my financial problems were still looming heavily over my head. All of my equity was in the house, and how would I move without a place to go to? It would take money and a decent credit rating to do that on my own. I resolved that yes, to fulfill this dream I would go back, but this time keeping in mind that I really am just a number in the grand scheme of things so what is the upmost important thing is never to let my job steal my time and myself again. My plan now that I’m where I want to be is to finish paying off everything, retire on full retirement instead of partial, and do upgrades to the house I’d like to have done so that when I do retire, I won’t have much to think about.

I won’t go into the selling of the old house – that’s in the archives if you want to know what happened – all I can say is I’m happy to be in a lovely bungelow that is the same age as I am and much more easy to take care of. Moving in we put up a fence on the side to keep a promise to the dog and cats; we go on frequent walks with the dog on our little street that ends in a forest and where we see deer wandering around. We also bought a snowblower and are very glad we did, since November we’ve had heaps of snow, twice the regular amount for this area for December.

Beyond the moving, I’ve let go of my dream of finishing my degree for the time being, the reason being that I am so close to the University of New Brunswick that I want to explore what part time courses I can take that is more in keeping with where my mind and heart are leading me. At the moment my creativity is calling strongly so the courses I take next will tie in computer programming and art and probably film. I kind of miss my camera work at Cogeco so the thought of learning script writing, film editing and filming for movies is now percolating in my mind, as is my long time love of animation. So you see, that dream isn’t dead, it’s just evolving.

As for my writing, I submitted one novel to a publisher at the beginning of the year and….crickets are chirping so I might publish that one myself this year. The humorous novel I started in Nanowrimo in 2012 is still being worked on; it may wait until I retire again before I try to publish that one simply because of the topic I’m making fun of :). Nanowrimo 2013 was started and I realized that to do that one takes some research so that was the end of Nano for me this year, and yes, I now have two unfinished books. I did also submit to the CBC essay contest and didn’t win. Laundromat Girl is licking its wounds on my WordPress site. I’ll put a link to it on my essays page eventually. Needless to say, writing is still my number one creative love, one I haven’t slowed down on at all.

If have anything to say about where I am now it’s that I so love Fredericton, I really do. The people, the food, the two markets, the appreciation of the arts and music that exists here, the opportunities for learning and growth and also the fact we’re close to Prince Edward Island and to Nova Scotia which means that there will be many fun day trips next summer.

I usually have something to say about world events but quite frankly the horror and freakshow that was 2013 pretty much leaves me speechless. The passing of Nelson Mandela leaves a hole in the world’s conscience that I can only hope will be filled by someone someday soon. If I have any wish for 2014 it’s that corporate greed and heartless politics see an end or at least the beginning of the end. We as societies must evolve in a way that brings back heart and soul (and by that I do mean soul, not religion) to everything we do. Dare I hope? Time will tell but I sense a trend heading that way.

So that’s where I leave my 2013 end of year message. Go in peace, go in love, and let your light shine.

À la prochaine,

Cathi …..