Thursday, February 21, 2013

Some more winter

('Snow angel' on a nearby frozen pond)

Recovery from the flu has been slow for me. I still feel quite lacking in energy. Last week I started back on regular activities, exercise class and choir practice twice a week. That on top of regular dog walks was quite exhausting. The last choir practice I attended I had to stop about half way through, sometime in the middle I stopped being able to read the music (just looked like a a whole lot of polka dots and lines to my stunned brain) and my voice quickly followed. I stayed, hoping somehow what we were practicing would sink in on some level. This week is reading week at the university so that affects everything around here, both the exercise class and choir practice are on hiatus and I am relieved.

(Hapi sleeping through the blizzard)

Winter continues, another blizzard last weekend. Not a huge amount of additional snow, but lots of blowing snow and ice and power outages. I was surprised the other day to find out that most of the town lost power for 10 hours or more. My power remained! I later talked to a neighbour who used to work at the post office and he said that he thought our street was on the same grid as the university and that's why we didn't lose power. Apparently the university has better power service.

(The Gaspereau River in winter)

Today Hapi and I went up the Gaspereau River. At the head of the trail a wood stick about 4 feet long was leaning against a tree, I picked it up as I had forgotten to bring my walking stick. I am glad I did.

The regular trail very quickly petered out, there's a section near the start where you have to wade through the Gaspereau and that section was such a mess of open water, ice slabs and snow hiding the breaks between that I didn't want to risk it. Hapi had no problem with it though. I backtracked a bit and found a trail of footsteps heading up the steep bank around that section. The bank is very steep and in normal weather I would not have attempted it but the snow was crisp and icy and the footsteps provided toeholds along the slope. With the help of my wooden walking stick and the icy toeholds, I headed up the bank.

At a certain point there was a brook flowing down that I had to cross, Hapi headed straight down that brook and suddenly a large bird wing appeared in front of her. She stopped, nose to beak with a hawk sitting on the edge of the brook half way down the slope. The hawk didn't move, other than to open its wing in front of Hapi, I guess to make itself look a little larger. I thought it must be injured or sick, it did not attempt to fly or even walk away. I called Hapi away and the hawk folded its wing and watched me. The slope was too steep for me to attempt to reach it, I felt sorry for the bird.

The footsteps now headed downwards and I reached the regular trail on the other side of the impassable section. I tried to walk back to see the hawk from below, however I did break through the ice and snow in one place into the river, not far enough to cover my boot though. I could see the hawk sitting there, it did not turn to look at me or Hapi, just sat motionless by the brook facing away from us. It did not look well.

(Hapi by the river)

We continued on and it was very pretty there, the snow and ice made it look quite different and the trail was very faint, not a lot of people come there in the wintertime. After about half an hour more I turned to head back, I was quite exhausted. Hapi immediately disappeared. When I walk up the river she stays close by I think because she doesn't want to lose track of me, but when I turn around to head back she knows where I am and where I am going so she no longer feels the need to keep an eye on me. So for most of the walk back I didn't see or hear her, I didn't know if she was ahead of or behind me. Sometimes I'd catch a glimpse of her through the trees out on the ice covering the river, she trots along oblivious of the danger, hunting for critters to chase or capture.

When we got back to where the hawk was, it was gone. I hope it was able to fly away.

I left the wooden stick by the tree at the trailhead for the next person, it was handy to have it, especially on the steep detour where we saw the hawk.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Came down with the 'flu some time last weekend. Knew I was pushing my luck, I had something going on every evening for four nights in a row and I was not sleeping all that well in between, so by Sunday evening I knew I was in for it. Managed to get out for a dog walk on Monday afternoon, but not again until Thursday. Monday and Tuesday I had a fever although all I felt was bone-snapping cold. By Wednesday morning the fever had broken and I was relieved at getting off relatively lightly, but apparently that wasn't really the case.

Getting out for a dog walk is possible, but it is pretty much the extent of my energy for the day. As long as I don't move I feel fine, but the second I try to do anything the complete lack of energy kicks in and I am done.

I have been reading a lot. And I knit a cap. Made some soup, ate some soup.

Hired the girl next door to walk Hapi. Then I called an ad in the local paper for a dogwalker and tried her out too. I think I'll stick with the girl next door. At least she has experience with a large dog that can be aggressive toward other dogs, their family dog is not unlike mine.

My book discussion group is doing February by Lisa Moore this month, I completed that book and also read The Ocean Ranger by Susan Dodd. It all brings back terrible memories. Dodd notes that it has taken 30 years for people to finally be able to write and talk about that, three books came out in fairly quick succession dealing with the subject, Moore's and Dodd's books and also Rig by Mike Heffernan.

I have been all over the map with my own emotional reaction to discussing this book. I was fully prepared to dislike Moore's take on the story, but I am softening my stance. I thought Dodd's analysis was extremely good, I liked the way she mixed the personal (her brother was on the Ranger) with the analytical. I had a hard time relating to Moore's disjointed story, it seemed pointless to me, dismoored. Although that may have been the point. But some of the widow Helen's imaginings of what happened struck home.

There were three Nova Scotians on the Ocean Ranger that night, one of them a friend of mine. I said good bye to him only a few days before, as he was leaving for his two week shift on the rig. His wife was my best friend at school, I spent all that next day sitting with her while she waited for a phone call that never came.

I remember drowning dreams for months afterward. Waking in the middle of the night holding my breath, wondering when I could breathe again. Looking up at nothing but black water.

I also remember helpless rage and horror. The character Helen feels none of that, she retreats into herself and her grief. I can understand that, but it wasn't universal.

But in the end you had no choice but to get on with life. I talked to a friend about the Moore book, she said she couldn't read it. Not that one not any book. Too soon, too hurtful. I can relate to that too.

The other thing I have been reading is Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time fantasy cycle. There are 14 books in the cycle and I have just completed the first.

I had been reading The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin ("Game of Thrones") and finished reading book 5 quite a while ago. Apparently there will be seven books in the series and book 6 has yet to come out. I had been quite into it but by book 5 I was having a hard time keeping track of all the characters and complications, and frankly almost relieved that book 6 was a ways off.

Some reviewers like to refer to Martin as the American Tolkien, however a short while ago I read somewhere that really Robert Jordan had prior claim to that epithet. Never having heard of him I looked him up and found out about the Wheel of Time series which was already completed. I thought it would be interesting to compare and also nice to know that the entire series was already in place. Unfortunately Mr. Jordan died before he could complete it but he left sufficient notes and outlines for his widow to select a suitable author to complete the series.

So far so good. I have the Wheel of Time on my Kindle and it promises to provide many hours of good fantasy reading. Good stuff when you are sick.

While home sick there was a great storm with raging winds and high temperatures that melted all the snow. Now we are back to freezing again, but this time with no snow cover. Although the weatherman says that will all change tomorrow.

Now I'm off to eat more soup.