Sunday, March 23rd and apart from the sunshine you wouldn’t know it’s Spring

I know that I tend to gripe about the cold.  I can’t help it.  Despite having lived my entire life in places where winter is the longest season, I just can’t get over it.

Friday was the first official day of Spring, and the forecast for next week?  Expect January-like temperatures.  The projected high for Tuesday is supposed to be a balmy -18 degrees Celsius.  Yay.  Can hardly wait.

I’ve been keeping my bedroom window open at night in the misguided belief that it’s NOT THAT COLD, and THE FRESH AIR WILL DO US GOOD.  What I got for my troubles was a sore throat and a sinus cold.  Yay, Again.

We had a good lot of snow this winter and last week most of it melted.  Creating lovely, goopy, slimy mud pits everywhere.  The street I live on in my idyllic little rural community are not paved.  They are gravelled.  But, I was happy that the snow was gone out of my driveway, and that at least I could see the gravel again.  But, then, the local idiots decided that tearing up and down our side street and four-wheel driving through the muck in their Mazda hatch-back and sore-excuse for a sports-truck would be fun.  They made a grand mess of the road and the boulevard.

Yet another sign that Spring has arrived.  And, here’s another. . .

The husband took matters into his own hands and went after one of them.  Talked to a dad of one of the boys and told him the police would be called next time it happened.  Barricades went up the next day.  Hope the two are related.  The traffic has been a lot more sedate since, however.

Now things are frozen again.  I guess we’ll see what happens when Spring decides to stick around.

I can’t wait for Spring to really arrive.  I’m thinking it might be for real somewhere around Easter.  Until then I’ve got Pinterest.

 

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In response to Sethsnap’s Your Story photo/writing prompt: Keep Out

Keep OUt

by Kathy Larson

Who was it
first uttered those
words? Keep out.
Keep.
Out.
Keepoutkeepoutkeepout
keepoutkeepoutkkepout.
They’re not nice.
No way
how you say them,
how you dress them up.
They’re loneliness
like a bare-branched-tree-lined
lane in winter.  with a
sign crucified lopsided
neat black letters on
hunter yellow:  KEEP OUT!
It catches the eye, draws you on,
draws you in, begs your attention.
Keep Out?
Who was it first
uttered those words?  What
was it they needed
they craved, they suffered
so much for
they couldn’t connect,
couldn’t say
couldn’t tell
they were
left
only with:
Keep out.

 

All Rights Reserved
No copying without permission of the author.

It’s melting, it’s melting. . .!

We have a sort of pergola over our front entrance and in winter snow gets get up there on the beams.  It can be kind of treacherous walking underneath if the snow decides to follow gravity’s rule — more than once I’ve got a bunch of snow plopped on me.  Generally, we try and knock it down, but Tim thought it would be ‘fun’ to let it be.

With the warmer temps the past few days the snow has been melting and it’s created these fascinating sculptures up there above our heads, so I decided to take a few pictures.

Hope you enjoy them.

A post-Christmas post

So, here it is December 28th.  Christmas came and went in a flurry of activity.  It was one of the happiest Christmases I’ve enjoyed.  Everyone was relaxed and into the spirit — Tim and I have days of down-time following ‘the big day’ and that has been a wonderful bonus.

I really don’t have too much to say about Christmas itself, other than what I’ve stated above — it seems the older I get the less important gifts have become — it’s more about spending time with people you love and taking the gift of those times away with you.  Don’t get me wrong, gifts do still play a part, but I worry less about how much I’m buying and concentrate more on how happy what I’m giving will make the recipient.  So, if it’s one or two meaningful things as compared to a truckload of stuff that will be forgotten the moment it’s opened, that’s the way I’ve gone.

One of my favorite memories of these holidays will be the night the kids came over for our Griswold Family Christmas night.  We watched Nat’l Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (a tradition) put out snack and finger food and just sat around eating and laughing and watching the kids (who really didn’t sit still for much of the movie).  Ethan decided that the Dickens’ Village display in the kitchen was far more interesting than the Griswold’s and their problems.

I found him rearranging everything and driving his flourescent green and purple HotWheels cars through the tiny plastic-cobblestone streets.   It was delightful.  He gave me  a big smile when I asked him what he was doing and said:  “This needs go here, Gramma”  as he picked up some tiny people and shoved them into the entrance of the church.  When he was finished there were lamp posts dangling off the edge of the shelf and groups of little porcelain people huddled together as if in fear of some unseen, monstrous danger, but everything was intact.  He toddled off to the next thing to catch his attention — a candy cane — which I am still wiping traces of off various surfaces around my house.

All in all, this Christmas break has been just the break I needed.

Wishing all a season of joy and happiness for the coming New Year.

I hate winter, but. . .

. . .it does make for some pretty pictures.  Here are a few more of snow taken around my front yard.

Images of winter 2012

Here’s a collection of pictures from our winter so far.  It’s been a true winter this year — it began early and it ain’t lettin’ up for nothin’!  Hope you enjoy them.

Sunday evening, Dec. 2, 2012 — It’s comin’ on Christmas

Like Joni sang:  “It’s comin’ on Christmas; they’re choppin’ down trees. . .”

The 2011 Larson Family Christmas tree

The 2011 Larson Family Christmas tree

We went out this morning to cut down the Larson family Christmas tree.  Gunlor Pines has been providing us with our tree for over 20 years.  And so it was with hot chocolate, blankets and many layers of winter clothes that we headed off kind of early this morning with visions of the perfect tree leading us on.

Alas, we got to Gunlor only to find out it was closed.  And then, double alas, we found out it had been sold!  My daughter-in-law managed to contact the former owners who kindly told her that the place was closed on Sundays, but we could call and make an appointment for the next weekend.  (Saturday only.)  While we were there another vehicle pulled up — that made 3 of us wanting trees.  So, Jenn contacted the new owners, but they weren’t interested in coming to open up.

I’m thinking their little tree farm venture isn’t going to last too long. Ah, but I digress.

The kids did an internet search and found out there is another tree farm about 2 hours south of Edmonton.  They considered going, but it was getting late.  Tim and I had tickets for the Vinyl Cafe Christmas show, so there was no way we could go.  We had sadly accepted the reality that there would be no freshly cut nine-footer this year.  (In truth, I wasn’t all that sad.  And while I’m talking truth I have to admit that I’d much rather have a multi-coloured pre-lit artificial tree that is only about 7 ft tall.  It would make my life much easier.)

And so it has been decided that next weekend it’s Gunlor on Saturday, or the new place on Sunday.  Whichever it is I probably won’t be going.  We’ve got family coming for the weekend so I’ve got cooking and entertaining to take care of.  However it plays out come next weekend we’ll have our tree.  I’ll play Joni Mitchell while we bring it in the house and then I’ll put on It’s a Wonderful Life while I shred my fingertips as I string the lights.

Though I wish I had a fake tree I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I do love the smell of a real tree, and, that once it’s up and decorated it truly is a special thing and something that helps get me in the Christmas spirit.  It takes me back to trees past and all the memories hung upon countless branches.

Every year I go to the fancy greenhouses and take in all the beautiful Christmas displays with the designer trees in all their fashionable colours.  There are blue trees, copper trees, pink trees, red trees and silver trees.  Black trees, gold trees, sparkly trees.  And, yes, even green trees.  Besides all the colours there are different shapes and sizes.  Two-footers through to 12 foot giants.  Fat, full branched ones and skinny, one-sided trees.  Trees that will fit in corners and trees that hang upside down.  (I don’t like the upside down trees, they look so odd!)

I always aspire to change my tree decorating habits; I envisage a glittering masterpiece of red and gold, feathers and velvet streamers.  Something worthy of gracing the pages of Martha Stewart Living or House & Home.  But, in the end I turn away from those glimmering decorations and turn to my boxes of treasured ornaments, the ones I’ve spent my lifetime collecting.  They’re what really makes me smile.  And as I hang each shiny bauble, each hand-crafted paper ornament that my son made, or each ornament collected on holiday I’m reminded that our tree is history of us.

When my grandkids come over I love to point out this one or that one and tell them a little story about how it came to be.  I’ve started adding the ones they make now and try not to think to far ahead into the future when perhaps I’ll be adding ornaments from great-grandchildren.

In the end, I suppose, it doesn’t matter whether the tree is real or fake.  What matters is what you make of it.

Monday, near the end of November

It’s hard to believe, but this month is nearly at an end.  December is a mere 5 days away.

December.

Christmas.

The longest night of the year.

The beginning of the depths of winter.

It has been an exceptionally rough Fall this year.  For me, anyway.  I’ve had what I think is more than my fair share of trials and tribulations.  That may sound like whining, but I’m being honest when I say it’s been a helluva long haul.  And it ain’t over yet.

Oh, no.  There’s still plenty coming my way.  Only now, I’ve managed to gain a modicum of perspective and I think I’ll manage to get myself through without too much trouble.  (That’s my fervent hope, anyway.)

I’ve had help from those nearest and dearest who have listened, talked, calmed and helped me see that it isn’t as bleak as I sometimes paint, and when I’ve felt that I’ve painted myself into a corner they’ve been there with the rags and the thinner to help show me the way out.  I truly am blessed.

Sometimes, it’s easy to lose your perspective.  Easy to give into the dark thoughts and fears that wait for the times when you’re feeling weak and vulnerable.  But, with perseverance and love and kindness, eventually you’ll see that all the good, joyful, wonderful bits that make life bearable are still there and that they can overcome your fears and insecurities.

I don’t know why, really, it was so hard for me this year.  Usually, I’m pretty tough.  I can take just about anything and bounce back ready to fight.  But this time around. . .

. . .I don’t know.  The fight seemed to go out of me.  I’m tired of fighting, I guess.  And that confused the hell out of me.  Because if I’m not ready to fight, then what am I to do?

I know what I want to do — and that is simply just to be.  I want to relax in the evenings and bake cookies if I feel like it.  I want to go out for leisurely strolls in the cold winter evenings, even though I hate the cold.

I want to curl up on the couch and read.  Pick up the crochet book and the yarn I bought.  I want to rearrange my bedroom.  I want to wander over and see what my grandkids are up to and then wander back home and have a hot cup of tea and go to bed.

But right now I’m not capable of any of that.  Right now I’m simply rallying.  Rallying my defences — physical, mental and emotional.  And that is taking a lot out of me.  Slowly, slowly I’m beginning to feel strong again, a little bit of the fight in me is showing through again.  It won’t, I don’t think, ever come fully back.  And that, I believe, is because I won’t let it.

It’s time for me to take care of me.  There’s only so much of yourself that you can give away before something inside you gives way.  It’s been a tough lesson, one I would have thought I was too old to learn.

Apparently I was wrong.

I’m hoping that my mind is a little clearer a little more free again and that one of these days I’ll start writing something besides these angsty, self-analysis posts.  Until then, thanks to everyone who has continued to check in on my meagre and sporadic offerings.

The glass half full — with cranberries!

Blizzard #2

A week went by.  We thawed.  We had plus 9’s.

Now we have a ton of snow again and minus 9’s.

Is nothing in this god-forsaken land ever ‘normal’?

Yesterday we got hit by another blizzard.  Terrible road conditions.  Over 200 accidents (that’s mostly due to yahoo’s who refuse to drive to the conditions, but that’s another rant), some highways closed, travellers told they could not proceed if they didn’t have snow tires.  Hotels were happy.

Really.

I get home and my driveway is full of snow again.  This time, though, I’m not shovelling it.  Tim can.  Sounds mean, but hear me out.  EVERY time there is a big snowfall, the man is never around.  I get to do all the shovelling.  This time, I knew he’d be home shortly after me (and I had a meeting across town, anyway, which I chose to walk to) so I figured:  let him do it this time.

I get home.  He shovelled around my car.

Really.

Winter.  It brings out the best in some of us.

I hate it.

Tuesday morning

We had a big snowfall last week — an early blizzard, actually.  And it appeared the snow was here to stay.

However, over the last couple of days the temps have soared — yesterday we reached plus 9.  So, we’ve got all this melting snow causing the roads and streets to be quite treacherous to walk on.

Heather and I ventured out yesterday morning and again today.  Yesterday was a trial; today was better.

As I walked home from her house down the crunchy, icy street in the dark it occurred to me that it wasn’t that the conditions were so much improved over yesterday as it was that I had got accustomed to walking on the ice and slippery snow.  I had gotten my ice-legs back.

Ice-legs, I thought.  Would that be like sea-legs?  And, yes, I suppose it would be.

Here on our in-bound prairie ocean we have to learn a different way of walking come winter time.  It gets forgotten in the halcyon days of summer and golden gleaming of fall, when we can walk with all confidence and sure-footedness of the flat-land creatures we are.  But, let there come a deep snow-fall followed by a chinook to melt that snow and turn it into a rutted, frozen coating of slippery muck and soon enough we re-discover that unique way of walking that makes us look like drunken penguins.

It’s a head down, eyes scanning the surface before us, teeny tiny steps on stilted legs, arms held slightly out to our sides with backs either ram-rod straight or hunched over at the shoulders kind of stance.  And this is how we make our way through winter.  Shoulders drawn up against the cold, living in constant fear that your foot is going to betray you as you place it gingerly down, hoping, hoping, hoping that the ice has enough of a frosting of snow or grit to give your step purchase.

It’s a precarious way to tread through 5 months of  a year, but, you get used to it.

Gotta love those ice-legs!

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