Applications invited …

I’m on the lookout for a new companion.  Must be able to keep up with a high pace of activity, respond well to instruction and be uncomplaining about the food offered and the accommodation provided.  Rather like Dr Who, the ability to traverse several time zones and juggle no end of activities all at the same time would be advantageous.  Clearly they will need to be tolerant to all manner of distractions, show interest in my constant chatter, and share a love of playing 80’s hits on iPlayer …..  In return I offer to devote my attention, tend to their needs, and provide the odd ‘treat’ or two on occasion.  It would be a rewarding position for those keen to show commitment and loyalty ….

I know.  My husband fails the criteria on many levels – but he’s handy to have around.  What about the kids, I hear you ask?  Well, they have a tendency to answer back and complain about doing the slightest bit of exercise over and above their normal activities.  Plus, try getting a teenager to part with their mobile phone for longer than 30 seconds let alone attempt to hold a meaningful conversation which commands more than a mono-syllabic response.  It’s no surprise then that I’m on the lookout for a new 4-legged addition to the family….My cat of 22 years recently departed, and it’s quietly amazing to note that she has known me longer than my husband and my 3 kids.  That’s half my lifetime.

Half a lifetime.  That’s a long time.

She truly lived a double lifetime.  Either I was very lucky, or she managed to maximise all her 9 lives … and then some.  She surprised everyone when she managed to travel without incident from the UK to Western Canada at the age of 18.  She had 2 brothers and outlived both by a long stretch.  Tolerance was certainly one of her virtues – something I can truly relate to also …. Let’s just hope some of her longevity has rubbed off on me too …But the house is quiet without her.  I miss her not being around.  I miss looking after her and sorting her food out.  I miss her sat in the front window, carefully placed to ensure she took full advantage of the sun’s rays whilst still surveying her empire.  She was quite vocal in later life albeit deaf and mostly blind.  She had an innate knack of yowling the minute I would be on a conference call or FaceTime with work colleagues.  In fact, my husband who regularly holds conference calls with colleagues in India has reflected that her presence has been notably missed as she often made more meaningful contributions to discussions than most of the attendees on the call itself …..So, now with permanent residency secured, I’m on the lookout for a canine.  I’ve had a tentative foray into looking at Bernese Mountain Dogs … I know, they’re huge.  They’re my favourite dog, but I’ve had to rule them out on the grounds that whilst they would be adoring, they’re quite reluctant to do much exercise.  They’d be happy to watch me disappear off for a few hours and welcome me back home jubilantly – but both their speed and inclination to do more than 1 mile would see me somewhat frustrated.  It certainly comes to something if I’m more active than a dog …. never thought I’d ever see the day.  Now that’s a change in the last 22 years for you ….So, applications are invited.  I’m keeping a watching brief on new puppies in the Edmonton area, but may just take time over the summer to get used to a much quieter household, plus really decide who the lucky addition to the family is going to be.  I’ll keep you posted …

ūüôā

Saving the world …

Waste disposal … recycling …. never the most eye-catching and engrossing of topics for a blog, I know, but I bet you didn’t know that ¬†by the age of 6 months, the average Canadian has consumed the same amount of resources as¬†the average person in the developing world consumes in a lifetime. ¬†That’s frightening. ¬†The UK fares much better – mind you, when you look at the world rankings for being environmentally conscious, it’s harder to get much worse than poor Canada ….. unless you’re in the USA of course, who sits at the bottom of the league table. ¬†Based on recent events and the USA’s denial of any climate change, it’s easy to understand why ¬†…..My experience of waste disposal in the UK was never great. ¬†Whilst each householder has a rainbow variety of bins to select from in which to put their rubbish, there are strict rules on what to put in each, how often they get collected, and woe betide you if you fill the bin up above the required level. ¬†We’ve often reflected that our regular Sunday activity was a trip to the local tip, waiting in line whilst we slowly made our way to the required bins in which to dispose of anything else that we had in excess of the weekly entitlements. ¬†I’m sure my husband still hankers after these days ….. ūüėČ

Cut to life in Canada. ¬†As a householder, we put our ‘garbage’ out in plastic bags on the front lawn and every week without fail (yes, even in -30 and below), the garbage truck arrives and takes everything away. ¬†There are guidelines on what you should leave out – and most things outside this (like batteries, electrical items, paint, etc), are encouraged to be taken to a local ‘eco station’. ¬†Huge recycling centres where you may be charged depending on the items you wish to dispose.

One of the things I’ve always found quirky over in Canada is that we pay a recycling levy and tax at the point of sale for any bottle of liquid. ¬†Being fairly new to the Canadian way of life, I’ve always thought that this is a great way to incentivise people to recycle – charge them a fee at source, and reward them with some monetary incentive if they then do return the bottles and help the environment. ¬† Never quite understanding how the whole process worked, it was only after a woman started arriving at our garbage pile every week with a car to collect our bottles, just before they would be taken away by the garbage truck – that we started to think there may be something in this. ¬†There were some telltale signs … in 2 years of collecting our bottles she’s managed to upgrade her vehicle and now appears in diamant√© jewellery ……

Anyhow. ¬†Collecting our bottles is only half the tale. ¬†There are ‘bottle depots’ (pronounced ‘dee-poes’) around the city, so as a bit of an experiment, we started to save all our liquid containers with the intent of taking them to one of these localities and seeing how much our ‘waste’ was worth. ¬†After a month and a half – and in our defence, we did have a visitation from a fab friend over from the UK during this time which saw an upsurge in the amount of alcoholic beverages consumed – we decided to take our 8 huge bags brimming with all manner of glass, plastic and cardboard containers to one of these places.

Upon arrival, the smell of stale alcohol and the way your shoes stuck to the floor took me straight back to my Saturday nights out as a student in ¬†Sheffield. ¬†Unaccustomed to such odours, my youngest kid scrunched her face with disgust and turned up her nose declaring, ‘what’s that awful smell’, whilst my husband and I exchanged a knowing glance and reminiscent smile.

The rules are simple. ¬†If it hold less than 1 litre, you get 10 cents, more than 1 litre you get 25 cents per item – irrelevant of whether it’s made of veneered glass or the cheapest piece of cardboard going. You tip all your bottles in a huge bin next to a friendly ‘operative’ with ear plugs, who then sorts and counts out each item. ¬†The noise is deafening as you’ve got another 8 banks of operatives all performing the same task alongside each other. ¬†Frankly, it was embarrassing the sheer volume of cans, bottles and containers we’d amassed and finally after only 10 minutes, we were awarded with the grand total of $18.Not enough to fund our retirement I know. ¬†But upon departure, we concluded as part of our commitment to helping the environment, it was only in the global interest that we should continue to consume such liquidities and make this a regular family venture.

It does fly in the face of both our vehicles – mine is a truck – which manages to deliver an average fuel economy of between 16 – 18 mpg. ¬†Still, we’ve got to start somewhere. ¬†Baby steps as they say ….. ūüôā

So … you want to stay?

Time flies

This year will be an interesting year. ¬†Back in 2014, when we were initially told we were moving to Canada, it was for a 12 month period. ¬†Which extended to 2 years ……. and by the time our temporary work permits arrived, they were for 3 years. ¬†It’s a bit like my husband subtly muting the prospect of his annual bike trip which starts off as being a few days, then moves to a week duration, and by the time everything is committed, he’s absent for a full fortnight – insisting full disclosure was made right at the beginning. ¬†Still, I console myself with¬†the bonus of peace and quiet, and a significant reduction in washing¬†volumes whilst he’s away …….Mountain biking goatBack to the topic in hand. ¬†Would you believe that we’re now 6 months away from our temporary work permits expiring and as you would expect, this triggers some degree of anticipation and consternation as to what will happen next. ¬†The simple answer, and Plan B, is to extend our temporary work permits which we’re reliably informed we can do for the next 2 – 3 years. ¬†Plan A however, is to apply for permanent residency ……ImmigrationIt’s a long path to ‘PR’. ¬†You may remember last year, my blogs on the¬†surreal experience of sitting an English test (click here for a reminder – and probably one of my better blogs for comedic quantity even if I do say so myself). ¬†We also had to apply to have our educational credentials assessed against the Canadian equivalent and duly received confirmation as to the level they equate to over on this side of the pond. ¬†Why bother doing both I hear you ask? ¬†Well, as the ‘pre-enrol’ stage for ‘PR’ in Canada, these two steps are essential pre-requisites before you can apply to be in the ‘pool’ of people who wish to be considered for PR. ¬†To put it very simply, what you achieve in both equates to a set number of points. ¬†These points, along with other factors on your application all comprise to form a total score. ¬†Every 2 weeks or so, there is a ‘draw’ by Canada Immigration Services and those achieving a score at or above wherever the line is drawn, are¬†‘invited’ to apply for PR.CanadaNote the term ‘invited’. ¬†It is by no means an open invitation. ¬†We received our ‘invitation’ to apply for PR at the end of December and have 90 days to compile all the evidence requested before ‘submitting’ our application. ¬†We have to substantiate all our work experience, the employment offer here in Canada, undertake medical assessments – physical, chest x-rays, blood tests …. kids are included and nothing is left to chance; although by the time we’ve finished the entire rigmarole itself is enough to trigger a major ailment of some kind. ¬†There are¬†UK police checks to be obtained, the need to demonstrate financial stability, details of the¬†specific dates and all overseas¬†travel undertaken over the past 10 years ….. let alone the standard type of documents like passports, work permits, birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc etc ….. the list is long. ¬†I often struggle to remember where I was last week let alone have the specific dates and places mapped out for the past 10 years …. but map them out we now have. ¬†To some people, I would imagine this item alone is enough to make them think twice about whether to go through the process of PR in the first place. ¬†A detailed spreadsheet has been commandeered to track everything required, and thank goodness for email and the ability to receive timely replies to requests – as if we were relying on carrier pigeon between Canada and the UK, we’d never achieve it within the deadline.UK background checkOne of the strangely unnerving things we’ve had to undergo¬†are UK police checks. ¬†Whilst neither of us should have cause for concern, just the very fact we need to¬†apply to the police to be checked out evokes¬†nervousness in the first place. ¬†A bit like spotting a police car travelling behind you on the road – the rational part of your brain knows you’ve complied with all the rules, and yet a little part of you can’t help assume a guilty conscience. ¬†We were relieved to receive our UK police certifications declaring us as having ‘no trace’ – which hearteningly¬†means we’ve not been convicted or sentenced, and are under no active investigation. ¬†Reassuring to know. ¬† I can sleep peacefully at night in the knowledge my husband is not currently on the ‘Most Wanted’ list back in the UK …..Immigration CanadaWe’ve also had to obtain validation from previous employers about roles undertaken and lengths of service – to confirm¬†that what we’ve declared as our work experience is legitimate. ¬†Just imagine having to go back through your employment history over 20 years or so, and obtain past employers’ evidence that you did what you said you’ve done. ¬†Some were easier than others. ¬†UK legislation and the Data Protection Act doesn’t help this process as the availability of providing the level of information required is restricted and in some cases, has been removed from computer systems and is no longer accessible. ¬†It makes me wonder how on earth people from other countries manage ….

Anyhow, like a dog with a bone, I have¬†not been deterred and have managed¬†the evidence collation exercise like a military operation. ¬†We’ve finally pressed the ‘submit your PR application’ button and all the information is now in the ether. ¬†There’s a 6 month processing time, and after due consideration by border officials, can well be refused. ¬†So we await to hear news – which should arrive just¬†in time for when our temporary visas expire. ¬†Talk about cutting it fine. ¬†Mind you, there’s always Plan B to fall back on. ¬†I’ll keep you posted ….. ūüôā

 

Google images are to thank for the pics in today’s blog …

There’s a reptile in flight ….

img_9324I think I was a reptile in a past-life.  Usually in a constant state of seeking to nudge up the house thermostat in a bid for a warmer temperature and a place to defrost my hands and feet, I can normally be found nestled under several layers of clothing, with thermal socks and gloves that only a heat-seeking missile would be attracted to.  Ironic then, that I find myself living in a Winter City where temperatures are sub-zero for at least 3 to 4 months of the year.

There’s only two ways to go in such a climate – either embrace the frozen north, or hibernate; only to reappear when the snow has subsided and we start to climb into the positive temperature range around April/May time.  You may be reading this assuming I’m the latter ….. but no.  Despite my cold-blooded tendencies, I do enjoy the winter activities and especially, a spot of skiing – either downhill or cross-country.  Both are readily available in Edmonton, and working in my favour for the cross-country is the fact that Alberta is a prairie-state and literally, as flat as a pancake.  It certainly makes for a less arduous (and by definition, much more fun) way to experience the sport with the avoidance of any hills or steep terrain which would have me hyperventilating with effort and collapsing with sheer exhaustion.  img_0046But I do miss my mountain fix.  It’s one of the scenic aspects I miss most about living in the UK.  That said, Jasper, and the Canadian Rockies are a mere 3.5 hrs drive to the West and are mountainously majestic on a monumental scale.  We’re lucky that we can take a quick trip there for a weekend, get my mountain fix, and attempt the downhill skiing of the Marmot Basin.  With 86 runs, the longest high speed quad-chair in the Canadian Rockies, and views to die for, it’s a spectacular place to ski.  And this past weekend, we did just that.marmot-basinAll the family have their own equipment, and during the past two Winters we’ve lived in Canada, everyone has gradually picked up the skills and technique to get them from the top of a slope, down to the bottom – hopefully, without any mishaps en route.  Even my youngest kid who is now 7, will happily throw herself down the more gradual terrains – which means the whole family can ski together.  My middle kid is the risk-taker, and will seek out every treacherous route in a bid to experience moments of sheer terror with shrieks of hysteria.  Living on the edge is definitely one of her life philosophies ….

Beset with a few challenges including my husband having the navigational prowess of a lemon, my middle kid demonstrating a strong magnetic draw to any dare-devil activity, and my youngest kid being solely focused on remaining upright; I adopt the role of chief navigator and assume responsibility for making sure that whatever chair lift we go up, there’s a route back down that doesn’t require the mastery level of a black diamond.  With the trail-blazing abilities of a bloodhound, I’m relied upon to traverse the various routes down the mountain, identifying a variant path each time from the one before, until we all safely arrive with aching limbs and tired muscles to the awaiting chairlifts at the bottom  – only to be whisked into the heavens such that the cycle can repeat itself yet again.img_9355After a few hours, confidence was high and I decided to inject some novelty, proposing we take a chairlift towards the top of the mountain rather than focusing on the middle and lower terrains.  As we ascended, the views were spectacular and the scenery stunning.  With my attention somewhat distracted, I had failed to notice the need for a rapid exit at the top of the lift as the chairs quickly gained height before flipping around a spindle and returning back to the bottom.  Graciously hesitating at the top to let my kids off first, was my undoing.  I missed the optimum point of departure – and only when the chair started to pick up speed and the ground quickly fell away did I realise a hastier exit was required.  The prosaic lines of the immortal song, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go Now’, reverberated through my head – and a nanosecond split decision saw me adopting an ‘Eddie the Eagle’ approach to descent as I ‘launched’ myself off the chair.goat in flightA ‘Clash’ it certainly was.  Imagining it to be more graciously executed than the reality, I felt I had it perfectly controlled until the landing.  Maybe it was the knees, or even my posture that let me down, but my husband later recounted the moment when he witnessed the ‘splat’ as I hit the ground and arrived unceremoniously in a heap at his skis.  Even the best of us, have our odd moments of misadventure and I’m still chuckling about the incident a week later – whilst nursing a rather large bruise that has managed to feature all the colours of the rainbow.  The bruise has managed to generate enough heat to keep my reptile-like tendencies at bay, retaining warmth in my hands and feet.  I can’t help but think it’s far easier just to notch up the thermostat …. ūüôā

 

Google images supplied the cartoon in today’s blog, the rest have been photogenically captured by ‘goat and kids’

How does it work, again???

how does it workThere was a time when I considered myself technology savvy.  In fact, I always remember my Gran in the 80’s confusing the attributes of a portable telephone handset with the TV remote control.  I’d arrive just in time to watch Coronation Street with her, to be greeted with the familiar comment, ‘you’ll have to look at the TV as it’s not working when I press the remote control again‘.  I’d smile and suggest maybe if she didn’t use the telephone to operate the TV we may be in with a chance ….. she would chuckle.  And repeat the same manoeuvre a few days later.

Grandma phonesAnother of her favourite mistakes was attempting to answer the phone with the TV remote control and wondering why it wouldn’t work.  Even when she remembered to use the telephone handset, she’d often hold it the wrong way up and wonder why everything was so quiet.  I’d be shouting down the line, ‘turn the handset the other way round, Gran‘, after which it would go silent for a few seconds before she’d come back on the line with a much clearer voice saying, ‘oh, that’s so much better‘.  She left us long ago, but the memories still make me chuckle to this day …..

30 years agoOnly 5 years ago, I’d be able to manipulate spreadsheets, construct eye-catching presentations, and merge documents using the latest tools and techniques.  These days, with each new version of Microsoft, I’m chunnering and grumbling when I can’t find the tools as they’ve been put in a more ‘user-friendly’ format.  User-friendly indeed.  I never thought I’d see the day when I’d start insisting they kept things the way they used to be.   It’s the kids that now come to my rescue and with the click of a button, and a look from them that says, ‘that was obvious‘, I certainly feel like technology has overtaken my capabilities.  Sign of the times, I guess.

wifi cartoonEven the oven is getting in on the gig these days.  Back in the UK, I had a traditional gas oven which required your physical presence to turn it on, ensure nothing was blown up during the cooking process, guarantee food wasn’t burnt to a cinder and that it had been physically turned off and the flame extinguished when finished. When we moved to Canada nearly two and a half years ago, the house we bought has a ‘modern’ electric double oven and a variety of switches that I’ve never known how to operate.  Trial and error in the early days saw me working out which switch turned each of the ovens on – and I haven’t deviated from this since.  I also quickly discovered that the term ‘broil’ means ‘grill’ – but there have been several occasions when my husband has attempted to cook a dish and wondered why it was burning on the top as he mistook the ‘broil’ setting for ‘bake’.  Subtle reactions I’ve made like raised eyebrows, deep sighs and constructive comments of, ‘if you cooked more often maybe these mistakes wouldn’t happen‘, have been blissfully disregarded by him – probably in the psychological hope that his chores will become redundant and I’ll assume all further accountability for the use of our kitchen appliances.cartoon on microwaveSo it was only when a good Canadian friend of mine visited for lunch last week and quizzically asked what the various switches and buttons did on my oven, that I had to admit I had absolutely no idea.  There wasn’t an instruction booklet left when we bought the house from the previous owners and (rather like being with my husband), I have stuck solidly to its’ basic capabilities – never once thinking that I’m sure there’s extra functionality that would make my life so much easier staring me straight in the face.

It was only the following morning, that I suddenly thought about my oven again (as you do).  Much like Aladdin’s golden lamp, I couldn’t help but feel that today’s equivalent of technological advances and the wonders of the modern-day ‘world-wide-web’, must hold the answer to my quest.  So with some degree of haste, I scribbled down the model and make, and typed it into a well-known search engine.  Literally seconds later, up popped the instruction manual and the ability to download it online.  I can’t believe it took me 2.5 years for even the idea to occur but like all good things, I get there in the end.  To say it has changed my life would be an understatement.  Whilst I still feel like a technology dinosaur, I now have an oven with tons of additional capabilities which I’ve been busily utilising ever since.

laughing catIt made me wonder how many other things there are that with just a few seconds on the internet and a fresh look at whether I’m using them to their full potential, I could vastly enhance how they’re utilised?  Will the same approach work on my husband, I wonder …….  ūüôā

 

 

Thanks goes to my ability to search on google images in an effective fashion to find pics for today’s blog!

The art of confusion …

mass confusion

I’ve got to admit that one of the really appealing aspects about living in Canada, is that everyone is extremely friendly, always say ‘hello’ and are keen to engage in conversation anytime, anywhere. ¬†In fact, my kids roll their eyes when we’re out shopping as without fail, the shop assistants will always initiate a conversation and as true as night follows day, my kids will be required¬†to step in and translate the odd phrase or word that I’ve uttered which¬†has created a look of complete bewilderment on the other person’s face. ¬†It’s one of my natural abilities …. to create total confusion. ¬†It’s even become a weekly sport that upon entering a ‘Tim Horton’s drive-through’ (other coffee shops are readily available), I’ll place an order through the speaker only to be given something completely different at the pick-up window. ¬†In the words of Forrest Gump, ‘you never know what you’re gonna get’……. and in typical ‘british’ style, I’ll accept it and pretend it’s exactly what I wanted at the very beginning.

box of chocolates

But it’s not just in placing orders that I have an innate ability to create complete confusion and havoc. ¬†I’m from the north of England so will always refer to midday snacks as ‘dinner’ and our¬†evening meal as ‘tea’. ¬†As it is. ¬†This has baffled many Canadian friends who assume we’re having a brew rather than food¬†and are impressed that I sit down with my kids and we all enjoy a hot beverage together in an evening. ¬†I have tried to explain ….breakfast dinner and tea

And following a similar pattern to ‘tea’ being a meal, whilst also the¬†national drink – attempting to explain the concept of ‘pudding’ as a meal course rather than a specific item on a¬†sweet trolley. ¬†Not only that, factor in british food items which are referred to as ‘puddings’ – such as¬†steak pudding, black pudding, yorkshire pudding and syrup pudding;¬†along with¬†their¬†respective traditional accompaniments being chips, bacon, gravy and custard – all of which I strongly advise not getting mixed up. ¬†To the uninformed, it can be a minefield to navigate and upon attempting to explain the various nuances to Canadian friends, I’ve received some strange looks. ¬†Maybe that’s why nobody has ever taken me up on our offer of coming over for evening tea?????surpriseNow, I can talk the hind legs off a donkey and as such, carry on regardless. ¬†After 2 years in Canada, I can distinguish the look of despair and panic on someone’s face who is clearly struggling to¬†understand¬†both my accent let alone the words I’m uttering. ¬†So imagine my utter delight on a recent whistle-stop tour back to the UK where upon arrival at Heathrow Airport we were whisked to the car hire place by a ‘cockney’ bus driver – both of us engaged in conversational banter for a full 15 minutes with complete¬†comprehension of what the other was saying. ¬†It was bliss. ¬†My kids still rolled their eyes in despair and¬†chunnered, ‘she’s off again’, but¬†at least they were redundant in their need to translate on my behalf. ¬†Charming.speaking englishNever was it more apparent than when we were placing a food order in a local English pub. ¬†With each dish ordered, the waitress enquired if we wanted ‘chips’ with that. ¬†And the proper sort too – ‘fries’ for those reading this in another country, not crisps. ¬†Oh yes. ¬†There’s nothing quite like being back home again. ¬†It was short-lived and a welcome brief respite, before returning to the chilly snowy surroundings of western Canada.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are equally phrases and words used over this side of the pond that take some deciphering for us Brits – and even some Americans….¬†a ‘donair’ is a beef pita or wrap; ‘eavestroughs’ are ‘gutters’; ‘garburator’ is a garbage disposal unit; ‘loonie’ is one Canadian dollar whereas a ‘toonie’ is a two Canadian dollar coin; ‘fountain soda’ is a fizzy drink like cola or lemonade; and the phrase, ‘for sure’ is often uttered to mean ‘definitely’ or ‘absolutely’. ¬†One thing I refuse to say upon pain of death is ‘awesome’. ¬†Used in common parlance here to describe almost any situation that is better than moderately okay. ¬†I’m making it my mission to seek out and use as many alternative adjectives which convey the same meaning as something which is extremely impressive, excellent or inspires awe …¬†awesome

Life is full of¬†idiosyncracies, and the world would certainly be a boring place if we didn’t inject a degree of confusion, variation and contrast. ¬†I like to think I can singlehandedly contribute to all 3 …..

ūüôā

 

 

Thanks as ever to google images for the pics in today’s blog …

Life in a freezer

Christmas goatDid you know the best temperature to maintain your home freezer is between -18 and -23C? It certainly comes to something when we’ve been living in temperatures below that for the last few weeks and our home freezer is warmer than it is outside …. how bizarre is that?  We’ve been sat with the freezer door open just to take the chill off!  There again, this is Edmonton – the most northerly city in North America.  It’s to be expected, I guess.

For those wondering what -25 and below feels like, its best described as uncomfortably cold. When it hits below -30, the outside air is so cold that each time you take a breath and breathe in, your chest hurts as your body isn’t able to warm the air up quickly enough before the cold blast of oxygen hits your lungs. Any drops of water quickly turn to solid ice – so much so, that moisture in your nose instantly crisps up, your eyes feel grainy and any skin left exposed to the elements starts to painfully throb. Frostbite is certainly a reality and you need to treat the weather with respect in what you wear, how long you’re outside for, and how many layers you’ve got on in order to maintain your core body temperature. My kids do a lot of swimming, and within the 90 seconds it takes them to get from the entrance of the Recreation Centre and into the car, any strands of hair outside the obligatory woolly hat has instantly frozen on their heads, and their wet mesh bags turn to solid ice and can stand upright without assistance. It’s like a reality scene from the film with the same title …. ‘Frozen’.  As I say …. bizarre.

temperature snoopy

There are some saving graces.  Thank goodness for the ability to remotely start my truck which can be nicely warming up before we reach it in the car park (or the garage come to that) – complete with automatic heated seats and steering wheel (mmmm….. toasty).  Talking of the car, if it’s left outside for long periods then the advice is to plug-in the block heater if the temperature gets below -15 to protect the engine and other components from freezing solid.  I’ve never done this as yet – my mechanical knowledge isn’t that great – I’ve no idea which switch to flip to open the bonnet let alone have the ability to plug-in a ‘block heater’ (a what?)  I know, I know …. a typical female stereotype – but to my credit, at least I can reverse and park with ease …..

Cute_Funny_Animals-05

On a more practical note, there are some basic aspects which require consideration that I felt would be useful to bring to your attention and will be alien to those residing in warmer climes.

Supermarket shopping.  Or even, just a trip to the bakery.  There’s a delicate balance between how long you can leave newly purchased perishable goods in your car and take the opportunity to call in at other retail outlets on the way home, before everything has frozen solid and needs to be defrosted.  Milk, yoghurt, bread ……. On the plus side, the garbage which we store in the garage ready for the refuse collectors to call and collect on a weekly basis, becomes frozen so at least the pungent aroma of rotting food is mitigated significantly …..

hand warmersI don’t mind a bit of a chill, but my survival instincts are tested to the extreme when we dip below -20.  So much so, I’ve purchased mini sachets of hand warmers which when activated, will retain their warmth for upto 6 hrs.  I’ve even expanded my arsenal and to this year’s collection have supplemented these with some toe warmers and even body warmers. Quite frankly I don’t care where they need sticking – I’ll put them anywhere as long as they keep me warm!

It’s all relative.  This week has seen a massive swing and we’ve gone positively tropical for the last few days with a massive swing of 25 degrees – up to 0C.   Boy, does it feel warm and bearable in comparison. Even the local weather network reporting on the daily weather describes it as ‘warm for the next few days’ which made me stifle a chuckle, before we’re due to plummet back into arctic conditions just in time for Christmas Day.  Oh joy!canada nativityThank goodness Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem. I can’t help but feel the Christmas story would’ve been a different affair if Mary and Joseph had found themselves in Edmonton seeking respite.  Just the thought of residing in a stable with the minimum of shelter, sub-zero temperatures, and only a cradle in a manger would have, I strongly suspect, most pregnant women thinking twice.  Not only that, any nearby animals would be scarce on the ground, sensing they’d be used for food, heat and clothing.  The shepherds with their flocks of sheep would be safely nestled in their small-holding (if they had any sense), plus the 3 kings would have been noticeable in their absence, opting to remain in their palaces where it was warm and luxurious.  Oh, how different the Christmas story would have been ….

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Christmas is a time for giving.  For family.  For being thankful, for joy and for peace.  For all its frigid nature, life in a freezer at this time of year certainly injects the feel of Christmas.  There are sparkly lights on the outside of all the houses, Christmas objects in gardens lit up and twinkling, the temperatures so cold that the frost glimmers in the air, and along with the fairly light dusting of snow we’ve had so far, it all serves to create a magic that is hard to replicate.  In the words of that well-known song ….. it’s a wonderful time of the year, with the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you, be of good cheer. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Merry Christmas ‚ĚĄÔłŹūüéĄūüėä

 

Thanks as ever to google images for the majority of pics in today’s festive blog …