Saturday, February 18, 2017

Blizzard fatigue

Sorry, no photos today. For some reason I have an aversion to photographing huge accumulations of snow. I have a mountain in my front yard that blocks the view, if we get some nice sunny weather I am going sledding on it.

It's been a long exhausting week, three blizzards in 6 days, one of which set snowfall records in some places. People who were here for White Juan in February 2004 say it doesn't top that, but I think the three blizzards (starting Thursday night, Sunday night and Wednesday night) in 6 days probably does. Environment Canada says there is 77cm of snow on the ground now in Kentville, but they got less snow during the big storm (36cm) than Wolfville (54cm), so I think we probably have more on the ground now. My snowplough guy came 4 times to clear my driveway, he ran out of space on my property to shove the snow so then he started piling it across the street in front of another house he ploughs for. Somewhere under the 250cm of hard packed snow is a sidewalk, don't think that will be getting cleared anytime soon! No one uses the sidewalk on my street in wintertime anyway, too steep and slippery. There's not a lot of car traffic so people just walk in the road, people living on busier nearby streets come to my street to walk down the hill on the road because their sidewalks are just as bad but the car traffic heavier.

In addition to heavy snowfall there have been high winds, these blizzards are called Nor'easters and they don't mess around. They are storms that come up the east coast and then hit a cold front north of us and curl around and wallop us from behind with high winds and heavy snow, ice pellets or rain, depending on location. Halifax and the South Shore usually get snow followed by rain, turning that city into a disaster of snow drifts, ice and thick slush. In Cape Breton they get les suetes: really strong southeast winds.

In the winter of 2015, two years ago, we had an unrelenting series of Nor'easters that left us in the same spot we are in now and delayed spring by over a month. There was still snow on the ground in May which is unusual, it's usually all gone by early April. It started in February and didn't quit until mid-April, the snow kept accumulating because there were never any thaws to melt it. So now we are looking at these storms and all the snow piled everywhere and wondering if we're in for another winter like that. But the good news is that we have a week of relatively warm weather ahead of us, even the possibility of rain showers. It will put a bit of a dint in the accumulation but even better it is a good sign that this winter won't be a repeat of 2015 when there was no thawing at all.

Before the last blizzard I started getting chest tightness and dizziness while shovelling. I managed to get things more or less tidied up before quitting, but after the third storm the chest tightness and dizziness returned when I tried to dig out my car, so I stopped. A few friends that I told this too freaked out and told me to go to Emerge immediately. I resisted. Someone accused me of being in denial. I was sure that was not it, if anything I'm more of a hypochondriac than a denier. I recalled my last time going to Emerge for what appeared to be a heart problem and how it turned out to be for nothing, plus I ended up with complications due to a botched angiogram (nicked my femoral artery). Yesterday I remembered that I had blogged about that whole episode (scattered through February and March 2010 if you want to look it up yourself) so I went back and read the relevant posts. Among other things I read the final diagnosis for that episode and realized that it was the same thing this time. I looked it up on the internet just to be sure and it is. Something called LPR or "silent reflux," a form of acid reflux without the classic heartburn sensations that mimics a heart attack almost exactly. Among the warning signs is coughing and hoarseness, which I have had lately but considered minor and irrelevant. So it turns out that there is a good reason to keep a blog: medical records!

My snow plough guy has 4 kids under 7, they all came down with stomach flu at once. Then he and his wife got it and his mother-in-law too because they were staying with her while their house was being renovated. And on top of that he was busy around the clock with ploughing snow for a week. He's almost a zombie now. I didn't know how I was going to get my car dug out with the chest issue but he brought along a neighbour to dig out my car. I have students living next door to me, one of them had offered last year to do anything I wanted by way of help and I would have asked him to do it except I didn't know his phone number and there was no path into his house that didn't involve floundering through 100cm drifts. He reminded me of his promise when I met him on the street yesterday, almost offended that I hadn't called him. I must get his phone number.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Snow, and a little bit of ice time


In the midst of a blizzard right now, completely snowed in. I can see the road (just barely), and I think it is drivable (just barely), but the snow in the driveway is well over a foot deep and it's supposed to keep coming down for another 24 hours or so with high winds the whole time. Hapi is sleeping outside, it's quiet and just the right temperature for her.

I've been skating and skiing this past week, although I think the ice rink is obliterated now. A big snow storm on Friday, one today (Monday), and another one due on Thursday; the ice rink snow shovelers are not going to have an easy time of it. Too bad, fun while it lasted though. The photo above was taken by another woman (Sue) skating at the time, that's me slightly behind a third woman (Sarah).

The skiing is another story. I went out with a friend yesterday and the conditions were perfect but my skis were not. Even with a special coating to slow them down, they are too fast and out of control for me. I even went to the store where I bought them and they tested them and determined that they are the wrong skis for me. I tried several pairs that they had in stock that looked like they might work for me (shorter and wider) but they weren't perfect and the guy (Frank) advised me to come back when their Ski Tech Bill was in to test further. Frank was on his last day before taking 3 months parental leave and was very excited about the prospect of 3 months with his two little ones (premature 3-month-old and a 13-month-old: what a handful!). He and his wife got 2 years parental leave (2 one-years back-to-back); she's taking the lion's share but he gets a few months.

Anyway, while waiting to see the Ski Tech Bill I went out one more time with the old skis and while it was better than the first time when there was not much snow on the ground, it was still pretty out of control. I fell several times again. My friend Patti tried to help me up the second time and it was quite funny. I was already quite tired (we'd been out the night before celebrating our boss's birthday) and it was on a slope and the snow was soft and deep so I was trying to get up from a position where my head was lower than my feet. It would have been easier if I could have gotten the skis off but I had no leverage to release the bindings. Not to mention also being tangled in a low bush.

It certainly didn't help that we were laughing so hard at the ridiculousness of the situation.

The last time I fell was right by the road as we were returning to my car. Patti was skiing down the ditch by the side of the road and I went to follow her but slipped and fell. I did manage to get the skis off this time but the snow in the ditch was over two feet deep and I immediately sank in over my knees. I was almost literally trying to swim out of that ditch onto the shoulder of the road. I had parked at a church across the road and several people came out of the church to watch me.

Great, an audience!

The day before I took Hapi to the Kentville ravine, a popular dog walking spot. It's an old-growth hemlock forest with a brook running through it. Often inaccessible in the winter because the only trail in is on a steep slope and gets pretty icy after a few people and their dogs have used it. But after a fresh snow it's good.

This is looking down from the entrance trail into the ravine.

This gives an idea of the tree size in the ravine, Hapi for scale. Snowshoers had been through an hour or so before me so the trail was packed down enough to walk on without snowshoes.

Sometimes she just stops to listen to the silence.

I just looked out the window again, can't see the road anymore. Complete whiteout. The province is closed until further notice.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Winter sports I have survived


One of my sons gave me a year's subscription to the New Yorker for Christmas, the first issue arrived this week. I'm not sure I want to be reading about what is happening south of the border this coming year but hopefully there will be lots of other stuff to read in the magazine.

Came in from X-country skiing quite exhausted. I'm a terrible skier with unsuitable skis (too fast), but stupidly determined to master them. Sorry, no photos. Too busy trying not to fall (fell three times) and then struggling to get back up again. And of course I was out with a very good skier who had to keep doubling back to see what had happened to me. It was definitely a workout for me but not so much for her.

On the other hand I went skating on a pond yesterday, that was great. Haven't skated in a few years and I'm only marginally better at it than I am at skiing, but it was good. Hapi went with me, she kept pace with me trotting along in the snow beside the ice until it got boring and she went off into the woods to look for more interesting things.


Somebody cleared an oval skating path and a hockey rink inside the oval. I think this must be the first time anyone has done that, I've never seen anyone skating on this pond, although people tell me it has been done before.

Parts of the ice were very smooth, others a little bumpy. The hockey rink was freshly cleared and I tried skating on it, but the ice made these horrible noises like it was about to break up and I did not feel safe in the middle of the pond. I was told that it was perfectly safe, the noise was just the ice freezing after being exposed to the cold air after the insulating snow was removed.


Falling on ice is harder than falling on snow, but somehow more manageable (I didn't fall). At least I don't have to deal with big sticks attached to my feet. We were only out on the ice for less than an hour, when I got home and was taking off the clothes and emptying the pockets I realized I had lost my driver's licence. It was in the same pocket as my cell phone, and I took the cell out several times to take photos. One of those times the licence must have fallen out. So I had to go back to the pond and look for the licence. A little white card somewhere in the snow. Amazingly I did find it without too much effort! I backtracked to the places I had stopped to take photos and it was at the second spot I checked, just sitting there on top of the snow.


Got the warp on the loom and started weaving. I don't know if you can see the pattern in this picture, but it is called Goose Eyes. I also cut up the previous warp (see this post for a photo) into three pieces (three tea towels), and pinned the hems ready for sewing. Any day now I'll finish them...