Monday, 19 February 2018

A Break From Frost, Snow, And Ice

Our spring is still quite far away, but our winter has been mostly mild and "open" (meaning not much snow, or snow that disappears quickly). With all my talking about ice and snow and frost lately, you could be forgiven for thinking we've been snowed in since December. That is not the case.

The lack of snow does make for a rather barren landscape, though. Most of nature is looking either gray or brown these days. Evergreen trees such as spruces, pines, and rhododendrons are still green, but on one of my walks this week I took a closer look around our yard and found a few other green things, too.




Moss like green velvet in the cracks of our brick walkway



More moss, of a different kind - more feathery - although it's hard to tell from an overhead shot




Can you see the hardy little dandelion leaves right in the middle of this picture? I know, I know - we should have cleaned those old leaves away. But then maybe the dandelion wouldn't have had enough shelter to stay green under the snow and freezing rain we've had this winter. Laziness benefits other living things sometimes.



Brown, not green, but intriguing:  a vine has sent out its tendrils to cling to the vinyl siding of our house. Who'd think something so dainty would be strong enough to stand up to four months of ice, snow, and wind?



Yellow, not green, but bright is bright - I'll take it:  lichens on the concrete of our verandah



Back to green (ish):  Ignore the spruce branches to the right - those are from our Christmas tree, laid over a tender plant to help protect it from the weather. This picture is all about the plant in the middle of the shot. It came from a summer planter we were given a couple of years ago. The planter was advertised as being good for a southern exposure where it would get direct sun and lots of heat. It had several kinds of succulent and cactus types of plants in it. That fall I noticed that several sprigs of this plant had escaped the pot and were doing well in the garden. Two years later, it's gotten much larger and is still thriving. What does a desert-like plant think it's doing, looking so healthy in mid-winter??? Imposter!!


We won't see any green tree buds or green grass until well into April, but the lack of snow has opened my eyes to the green that exists even when snow covers the ground (or should be doing so).

For all of you who have had more than your share of snow this winter, rest assured that we usually share your pain. Spring is coming! Only 30 more days until the equinox! I hope you stay warm and cozy.

For the rest of you, who are labouring under heatwave after heatwave in the southern hemisphere, Fall is coming! Only 30 more days until the equinox! I hope you get some cooler weather soon.

And to help take everyone's mind off the weather:



Duct-taped pavement:  this is what we get to look forward to AFTER Winter has frozen, heaved, and cracked our roads!! Not really; our roads always look worse than this, and duct tape is not an option :)


Happy Week, friends!

Friday, 16 February 2018

More Cold Stuff

Thank you for helping me out with words to describe the ice in my last post. I ended up following a few Google trails to learn more about ice and frost (see here and here) but after trying to read sentences like "The patterns in window frost form a fractal with a fractal dimension greater than one but less than two. This is a consequence of the nucleation process being constrained to unfold in two dimensions, unlike a snowflake which is shaped by a similar process but forms in three dimensions and has a fractal dimension greater than two" mostly what I learned was that I am easily overwhelmed by too much technical information and names and cannot remember any of it long enough to actually write a post on it.

But I did snag a couple of pictures that I liked, which I'll share here:

Hoarfrost crystals (from http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/frost/frost.htm)




Hard rime on a tree (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_rime)


Soft rime (called soft because it is more fragile than hard rime) (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_rime)


Then there's this, which pretty much blew my mind:

Electron microscope image of Rime ice on both ends of a "capped column" snowflake (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_rime)

THAT IS A SNOWFLAKE, PEOPLE. CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE IT??

It looks like some kind of heavy duty metal machinery to me.

That's as far as I got into the realm of snow, and I may never go further, as I must now spend an undetermined amount of time recovering from researching ice and frost.

I think some elephant jokes might help my recovery.  And they might amuse you, too.

***
Q.  What does Tarzan say when he sees a herd of elephants in the distance?
A.  "Look! A herd of elephants in the distance!"

Q.  What does Tarzan say when he sees a herd of elephants with sunglasses?
A.  Nothing. He doesn't recognize them.

Q.  What does Tarzan say when he sees a herd of giraffes in the distance?
A.  "Ha ha! You fooled me once with those disguises, but not this time!"

Q.  What is the difference between an elephant and a plum?
A.  An elephant is grey.

Q.  What does Jane say when she sees a herd of elephants in the distance?
A.  "Look! A herd of plums in the distance!" (Jane is colour-blind)

***
These jokes borrowed, with thanks, from http://homepage.eircom.net/~cronews/elep/elep.html
If you want more, just follow that link.

***

Hope you have a good weekend, people!

One final snow-related thought:








Monday, 12 February 2018

Icy Lace

I've been trying to get out walking again, but lately the air always seems to be filled with either snow, rain, or freezing rain, none of which are very much fun to go out into. On Sunday alone, we had freezing rain, rain, freezing rain, and rain, in that order. I had to go to the pharmacy for my mother during the second round of freezing rain, and it took ten minutes to scrape the ice from my car windows when I set out. In the few minutes I was in the store, the car iced up again. And again while I was taking the items into my mother's house. It's especially interesting to scrape vigorously at one's car windows while standing on an icy lane or parking lot. But -- free exercise!! It's all about perspective, my friends.

Getting back to the topic of walking, during one of the mid-afternoon "rain" cycles I decided to venture out. It wasn't bad until near the end of my walk, when the temperature had dropped just enough that the wet pavement had started to freeze, and then I had to mince home like a waddling duck to make sure I didn't end up on either my anterior or my posterior, or maybe even worse than either of those, doing the splits.

Along the way, I took a few pictures. The moisture on the ground and at the edges of the puddles was starting to freeze as the temperature dropped, and it made for some lovely, fragile lace-like formations on the ground.

 










I can't find the right words to describe how sheer and delicate the ice in the last shot was. It was thinner than paper-thin or razor-thin, and I couldn't find any synonym for "extremely extremely thin" online. Does anyone have the word I'm looking for??

I only wish the extremely extremely thin ice showed up better in the photo. Ah, the limitations of a point-and-shoot camera!

I hope you all have a good week, free from doing "the splits" or "the splats" or any other kind of unplanned athletics :) 



Friday, 9 February 2018

This Week

It's been a mish-mash of a week here. So here's a mish mash of a post to fill you in.

Have you seen the news about the discovery of extensive ancient Mayan ruins in the jungles of Guatamala? (If not, you can read about it here.)  This appeals to the latent archeologist in me, but it also makes me glad I didn't follow that career - the jungle is probably even worse than the desert in terms of working environment. I'm glad there are people who pursue this line of work even under such adverse conditions. Our world's knowledge base and understanding of our history is much richer for finding lost sites like these.

Also in the news (although it was a few weeks ago, so maybe it should be called "olds"), a research team in Australia has released a paper about raptors intentionally spreading fire in order to flush out prey, something that the team says has been known by indigeneous peoples for more than 40,000 years (so maybe it should actually be called "ancients"?) For the full story, click here.

And in a warmer, fuzzier story from Australia, go here for a YouTube clip from The Kangaroo Sanctuary. If it doesn't melt your heart, check to see that you still have one. If you live nearby, you can even book a sunset tour, meet their kangaroo family and (swoon) HOLD A BABY KANGAROO. Now I have three things that I would do if I were a traveller and won the lottery (two things that unfortunately will never happen, but that doesn't keep me from making a list): (1) visit the giant redwoods in California, (2) visit the tabletop mountains in Newfoundland, and (3) HOLD A BABY KANGAROO.

Closer to (my) home, I am about to be driven batty by a neighbour's dog that barks constantly. About two years ago I undertook to check out this barking dog in case it was a reportable case of animal neglect or cruelty. From my clandestine observations it seemed that the only issue was that the dog liked to bark. And it has probably been driving its owner batty, too. But in the winter I am always thinking that pets (even barky ones) are too cold and my brain can't shut out the sound.

Add to that the fact that one of our cats has become extremely needy, and my head feels like it may explode any day now. Our kitty is only nine but before we got her she had been hit by a car and had a serious leg injury. It has occurred to me more than once that she may have had a brain injury as well. She has always been an extreme meower, as I've mentioned before (here). But the last couple of years, and ramping up the last six months or so, her ability to find her food dish or to realize that there is food in her dish is not a sure thing. Sometimes I have to bring her to her food, or put her dish right under her nose. Her eyesight is fine. Her hearing is fine. She just seems confused. And the resulting meowing is making my eye twitch. That's not true. My eye is twitching because I've been reading too much and sleeping too little, but the meowing is not helping. At least she can still find the litter box, thank goodness.


No, I would never do that!


Speaking of reading too much, I've been having a hard time finding a good book from our collection bought at the second hand sale in the fall. I've started three since the first of January which I've had to give up on partway through. And I've read another three that were only so-so. Is this what comes of my greediness in buying so many? The year before, we had such good luck with our finds. I'm hoping this was just a string of unfortunate picks and that I've now read or dumped all the duds and gotten them out of the way.


And hopefully good to read, too, kitty!




Lately we've been EXTRA lucky here because we are getting both the frozen AND the non-frozen forms of water falling from the sky! Yes, that is sarcasm, the lowest form of humour! Constant temperature swings and the possibility of breaking a hip on the ice or drowning in the puddles will do that to a person!




Good news - we're over our technical difficulties. Our computer problems have been fixed by our son, the computer whiz. Somehow a setting got changed and the wrong DNS (domain name system) was being used whenever we tried to access the internet. We aren't sure how this happened, but it had a clear starting point and when our son changed it back to the original settings it had a clear ending point too. So I've been catching up on a month's worth of internet surfing and, you know what, that might have something to do with my eye twitching too.








 Over and out, people! Hope you have a good weekend.



All funnies gratefully borrowed from icanhas.cheezburger.com


Monday, 5 February 2018

Things I Didn't Do, And The One Big Thing I Did

My friend Chicken commented on my last post that I was self-aware to realize at a young age what work did and did not suit my introverted personality. While that was a very kind way to describe what was really just self-preservation on my part, her comment did make me pause and think about the careers I considered entering before ending up where I am.

I mentioned a few of them in that post - nurse, teacher, and secretary, the triad of jobs most likely to be filled by women in those days.

Many of the girls in my high school became nurses, and they all seemed to know they were born to do so. I, on the other hand, had a real aversion to being around sick people because I didn't like being sick myself and there are a whole list of sicknesses that are highly contagious. And there was the hat thing. Back then nurses wore those little caps held in place with hairpins, and I knew there was no way one of those was going to stay on my slippery hair for more than two minutes without the use of glue or nails. All in all, nursing wasn't given serious consideration.

The thought of teaching gave me longer pause. My mother was a teacher, I grew up knowing teachers as neighbour and family friends, and when I was little I went through a period of teaching my dolls and stuffed animals. I'm pretty sure a lot of kids do that. It doesn't mean they all become teachers, or that they should. I wasn't one of those kids who was good at helping my classmates if they were having problems. I could explain it once, and if they didn't get it, I was happy to explain it again, but only in the same way all over again. Coming at a problem in a variety of ways is not my strong suit. I understand it one way and you get the explanation one way. No, teaching was not a good choice.

For a few years I thought about becoming an archeologist. Stories about Pompeii, and the pyramids with their hidden treasures, and excavations of all kinds --  these were things I found fascinating. Unfortunately, I wasn't really keen on working outside, I truly don't like getting dirty, and I don't do well in the heat (I pictured myself working in the desert) . . . so I reluctantly struck that career path off my list.

For awhile I considered becoming a librarian. I liked books, I liked the library because BOOKS, I liked sorting and bringing order to things (including books), and I loved the thought of stamping things with the little date stamp and ink pad. Obvious choice, right? Wrong. Turns out librarians do a lot more than sort, arrange, and stamp. You have to know how to research stuff and help people, at a minimum. (Fellow blogger and librarian Steve could elaborate on this.) Researching stuff and helping people did not sound like fun to me. I feel I am making you think I don't like people, which isn't true; it is just that I knew spending eight hours a day interacting with people was something I would find draining, and I would not be happy in my job. (Footnote: I did get to play check-out lady when our kids were in elementary school, because parents could volunteer to help the real librarian with simple duties. And sometimes I get to use stamps and an ink pad at my current job. Dreams CAN come true.)

Studying to be an Administrative Assistant (what you call a secretary who takes three years of university instead of a one year high school commercial course) was the suggestion of my older brother's friend who barely knew me. With no alternative ideas in mind I decided to give it a try, although it turned out to be only a brief stop on the way to a business degree, as my Friday post described.

One of my business courses was a management course, and while writing a paper on the topic of Human Resources, I thought about becoming an HR person in a big business. Here is all I know about Human Resources: you hire people and you fire people. You are working with people, lots of people, all the time. That is your JOB. I actually thought I could do this, until I realized I didn't know the first thing about people. I was only eighteen years old and a true country bumpkin when the possibility of being an HR person flitted - mercifully briefly - through my naive little head. There are a whole lot of people out there who don't know how lucky they are that I didn't pursue this career, because I would have been in a position to impact their careers and that would not have been good.

There was also that brief period of time when I considered switching from business to home economics - either nutrition or sewing - but there was a lot of science involved in nutrition, and science and me never really clicked, and while I liked to sew, I didn't want to do it every working day of my life. (I hear you saying "Fussy, fussy, fussy!" because even my older self is tempted to say it to my younger self, but it would be pointless without a time travel machine at this stage of the game, wouldn't it?)

The thing I really wanted to be - always - was a full-time mom. For me this was not just a biological role, something to do in addition to a career. It was the coveted job, the one I dreamed of from the time I was old enough to hold and tenderly care for my dollies. I felt capable and confident when I pictured raising kids, even though I was the baby of my family and had only a minimum of babysitting experience. I didn't feel capable and confident in any other role I could think of. I guess you could say raising a family was my calling. It was only because I hadn't yet met the person I could picture having a family with that I kept struggling to find a job I might need to work at for the rest of my life.

The irony, and maybe the true test of parenthood as the right job for me, is that as a mom I have dealt successfully with sickness, finding different ways to teach the same concept, being outdoors when I'd rather not, getting dirty while working, dealing with the heat (and the cold) while doing my job, helping with research and finding books, advising on careers, interacting with my kids' friends and their parents and teachers and healthcare givers and a multitude of other people . . . and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I think being a stay-at-home mother is somewhat of an archaic notion these days, and to be honest it was already seen that way when I became one, but for me it was the right choice, and I was fortunate to be in a position to do it. It was also the right choice to get training so that when the time came I could go back to work. In other words, I wouldn't change a thing. 

Question of the day:  How did you choose your life's work? Or did it choose you?


"Mom? Mom? Are you awake, Mom? Mo-o-o-om?" One of the more dubious pleasures of parenthood. But look how cute that little one is! Babies suck us in with their cuteness. By the time the cuteness wears off, we are bonded with them so strongly it makes Crazy Glue seem like water.