It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Spring is

Coming! Really! (Even though today it’s -11C with a windchill of -24. Blurgh.) But I have hard evidence! Look!

Two weeks ago:

This week:

See the difference? Two-metre snowbanks of clean, puffy snow, vs less than one metre of gritty snowbanks … and clear sidewalks!!

It’s coming, it’s coming!

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Canada, Ottawa, outings | , | Leave a comment

Why I Love Spring

I think the absolute best thing about living in a place that has seasons is the delight that comes with the changes. Spring is particularly wonderful, leaving the constraints of winter behind and moving into sunshine, colours, and warmth.

And dandelions.

May 16, 2012 Posted by | Canada, outings | , , | 2 Comments

When life hands you lemons…

I am a master at this. It’s been very rainy this week. Very, very rainy.

We could grouse about being stuck in the house. I could rant about being confined with five children who haven’t gotten to burn off some steam for days, and why does that mean I’M about to blow???

I could do all that, but no! Inside time? Three days in a row? Just means more time for CRAFTS! And since the theme for this month is (SURPRISE!) spring, why not turn all that rain into a theme craft?

First, the clouds. (HA! The clouds ARE my silver lining! Ironic, no??) Materials needed: cotton balls, duct tape (or any wide tape), grey tempera paint, paintbrushes (or toothbrushes, or foam dabbers).

Take a cotton ball, and puuuull it apart. This is a REALLY FUN activity! In fact, it could have been the whole craft, right there. It takes LOTS of concentration, and just about the right amount of fine motor control to challenge my tots without frustrating them to death.

Emily works on a cotton ball:

While the children are streeeetching cotton balls, the grown-up is taking a few strips of tape and attaching them to each other to make a cloud-shaped mat of tape. Sticky side UP, of course.

Then the children can stick the cotton balls to the tape:

When your tape is covered in poofy cotton, you have a cloud!! Only this is a happy, puffy white cloud. It is not a RAIN cloud, is it? Let’s look out the window. Are those clouds nice and white? No? What colour are they?

That’s right, they’re GREY. (If you don’t have any grey paint, you get to mix your own. Mini-lesson #2: white + black = grey! Cool, huh?)

And then you dab the grey paint onto the cotton balls. No, there are no pictures of this part. It required a certain amount of monitoring/help, and I forgot the camera. You’ll have to imagine this bit.

This might help:

It was only with the fourth cloud that I realized that they look more realistic if they’re not rectangular… Use an odd number of strips of tape (I used five), make the middle strip the longest, the adjacent ones a bit shorter, and the last two on the outside the shortest yet, and your blob will be more sterotypically cloud-shaped, and not look like a puffy grey box…

There you go! That was our craft today! Next installment: RAIN.

April 8, 2010 Posted by | crafts, Emily | , , | 3 Comments

Getting my groove back

I am so out of the park groove, it’s sad. Truly sad.

Even though it’s been the mildest winter I can recall, ever, in my whole life — and you know, that’s not such an insignificant number of winters — it’s still been a long time since fall. A long time since near-daily trips to the park. A long time to get out of practice.

Take this morning. Where a few short looooong, dark, chilly months ago, it would have taken me a mere 40 minutes to get us out the door and into the stroller, today…

Well, let’s see. There is a certain degree of autonomy this spring which was lacking last fall. Some of the children can get into their own shoes and jackets. So that’s good.

The stroller was ready in the drive, with, given the cloudy skies, the rainshield in place. The bag of sand toys had been unearthed from its winter storage in the back porch, and sat on the kitchen floor.

I had those kids dressed, out the door, and into the stroller in TWENTY MINUTES.

Impressive, no?


We get to the park and discover…

the sand toys are still in their bag on the kitchen floor…

I have only one spare diaper in the stroller, and no wipes…

Because I forgot to pack the ‘outing backpack’.

I DID remember the box of tissues,

but I forgot the water bottles.

Since my cell phone, which doubles as a timepiece, is defunct at the moment, I’ve taken to carrying a watch…

only not this morning.

So I had NO IDEA what time it was. (Where was everyone else? Dunno. Frightened off by the grey skies, I guess, but the forecast was for less than a mm of rain. Pfft.)

So I had NO IDEA what time it was… which, because we have to be home when the kindergarten bus drops Emily, I need to know… and so we ended up leaving the park much earlier than we would otherwise…

which ended up being a good thing, since I’d also forgotten the snack.


Oh, well. We got out, we romped for a bit, we came home. We didn’t get as long as we might have, but we did spend enough time to carry home the three cups of sand they dumped out on my front hall carpet…

because I forgot to empty their shoes while still at the park.

Normally I sit them all on a bench, and go down the row, not just emptying their shoes, but also peeling off their socks and beating them (the socks, relax) against the side of the bench to remove the ton of sand also in the socks. And then I put the socks and the shoes back on. Oh, and I also empty out the cuffs of any folded-up pants while I’m at it, and sometimes even check pockets, depending on placement of pockets.

(If this seems cumbersome to you, you’ve obviously never had the accumulated grit from five toddlers strewn around your home. That’s a LOT of grit. Strewn on floors, abrading furniture, turning sheets to sandpaper… it’s worse than glitter, more destructive, and not nearly as pretty.)

Only I didn’t do any of that today, so I’ll be sweeping and dusting and shaking sand out of sheets for the next day and a half. Sigh…

It’s lovely to get out every day. It’ll be even lovelier when I get my shit together groove back.

April 7, 2010 Posted by | outings, the dark side | , , , | 6 Comments

Pastoral bliss




May 15, 2009 Posted by | Ottawa, outings | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Denying reality is too a coping mechanism!

It’s snowing.

If this were January, I’d be thrilled with today’s weather. It’s above freezing (by one whopping degree but above, nonetheless), and the snow that is falling is more accurately some sort of slushy glop. Not quite rain, but not exactly snow, either.

Spitballs from heaven.

Still, in January, this would be unbelievably mild weather. Warm enough for rain boots and heavy sweaters under rain coats! Amazing! “Let’s go out and play, kids! It’s a BEAUTIFUL day!!!”

But it is not January. Nor February. Nor even March. It is [expletive deleted] April, and, even though I KNOW I have yet to experience a spring in Ottawa that did not involve at least one snowfall sometime in the first two weeks of April…

I am SICK of it.

And I’m not going out in it. Not, not, not. You can’t make me. I’m not even looking out the damned window if I don’t have to. You can’t make me do that, either. And judging from the looks of this…


I won’t be looking out for the rest of the week. BooooOoOOoo…

April 6, 2009 Posted by | Canada, Ottawa, the dark side | , , , | 7 Comments

Happy Groundhog Day!

wiartonSo, let me get this straight… The groundhog pops his head out of his burrow, and if he sees his shadow, we have six more weeks of winter? Or is that if he doesn’t see his shadow? I can never remember.

Probably because it’s a moot point. Six weeks from February 2 is March 17. This is Ottawa. Will it be winter or spring on March seventeenth?


Who even needs to ask?

So. If he sees (or doesn’t see) his shadow, we have six more weeks of winter. And what if he doesn’t see his shadow? Obviously, I am woefully lacking my cultural folk knowledge. Woefully.

Thankfully the Internet — Wikipedia in specific — Knows All. Here’s the straight dope on the prognosticating rodent:

Groundhog Day is an annual holiday celebrated on February 2 in the United States and Canada on which if a groundhog emerges from its burrow and fails to see its shadow because the weather is cloudy, winter will soon end. If on the other hand, it is sunny and the groundhog sees its shadow, the groundhog will supposedly retreat into its burrow, and winter will continue for six more weeks.


If he sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter, and if he doesn’t see it, winter will end SOONER???

Well. No wonder I can’t keep it straight. The year that spring arrives to Ottawa before March 17 is the year I will be dancing in the streets, celebrating this unexpected upside to global warming.

Sooner than six weeks.

Pfft, I say, again.

I have my own personal First Day of Spring. I actually write it on the calendar. My first day of spring is April 15, because by April 15 I know that the snow will be gone, finally, finally gone, and that there will be no further freak snowfalls until at least October. There are currently 72 days until spring here in Ottawa, folks. Seventy-two days before we can breathe a sigh of relief, put the damned snow shovels in the shed and pack the salt away for another year. Before we can truly enoy the sunshine and start planning the gardens.

You think that’s late? (Not you, Tammy. I know you’re laughing down your fur-trimmed sleeve at the softie southerner whining about her April springtime.) But for those of you south of sixty, who think April 15 is a tad late to rely on spring? You think I’m exaggerating?

I wish.

My own personal first day of spring used to be April 10. Until that year we had 10 cm of snow on the 12th. So there.

SO. Happy Groundhog Day everyone, the most pointless date on the Canadian calendar.

February 2, 2009 Posted by | Canada, commemoration, Ottawa | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Think hot, think tropical, think ANYTHINGBUTMOREOFTHIS!

We had a Major Winter Storm last night. Possibly our seventh of the season. The city ran through its snow removal budget before Christmas. Lord only knows how we’re paying for this…

It just keeps coming down. Inches upon centimetres upon ice upon sleet upon snow. The snow fell steadily all yesterday afternoon. The sleet fell last night. The freezing rain around dawn, followed by snow for the bulk of the day. The sun has come out now, late afternoon, as have all my neighbours, armed with shovels.

Cars sit in the street. Nowhere for them to go until the driver clears the driveway. There is no street to speak of, only two parallel tire-ruts, six inches deep in the snow. Snow which is levelled flat by the underbelly of the passing cars between the ruts, and mounded even higher to each side.

I rather like this stage of the storm, when the neighbours all come out armed with shovels and do battle with the mounds. There is much camaraderie. People holler encouragement. Neighbours band together to shove a car into a drive. A man crosses the road with a bucket of sand; another helps a neighbour put chains on his tires (illegal on highways, but all right for getting into your drive). Laughter rolls, tangible as exhaled breath in the icy air. The snow, the sheer depth of the stuff, muffles sound. It’s a calmer, quieter, kind, more congenial city which digs its way out.

But still. Enough with the snow already! (“It’s MARCH!” we say to each other, as if THAT means anything in Ottawa. We all know better, yet somehow, it seems an injustice, an impropriety, to be suffering so in March.)

With this the view out your front door — that mound is four feet high and obscures two-thirds of the sidewalk — you can see why Sheri’s “Let’s Pretend It’s NOT Winter” meme is so very appealing. Which is why I’m doing it, Right Now.

1. If you could go anywhere in the world RIGHT NOW, where would you go?

Tahiti. Tahiti has always been my fantasy escape destination. Who knows if the reality would live up to the dream? (Who cares, given how slight is the possibility I will ever get there?) Tahiti. I’d rather be in Tahiti.

2. What’s your favourite tropical drink?

A crushed-ice lime margarita. Slushies for grownups.

3. What’s your favourite (non-winter) activity?

Walking. I do that all year round, obviously, but I enjoy it in the summer. In summer, it’s recreation; in winter, merely transportation.

4. What’s your favourite article of summer clothing?

My red wrap-around dress.

5. What’s your favourite food cooked on the BBQ?

Grilled vegetables, especially red pepper, eggplant, and garlic. Yummmm…

6. You’re on the beach…what do you have on your feet?

NOTHING. I want the heat, I want the sand between my toes.

7. Canoe, motor boat or white water raft? (Or write your own)


8. Do you prefer to swim in a pool, a lake or the ocean?

Ocean. With a sandy, not rocky or seaweedy, bottom.

9. Favourite flavour of ice cream?

I’m not huge on ice cream. Probably President’s Choice Fudge Crackle.

10. What do you look forward to most about summer in general?

Not having cold feet. Long walks. Evenings relaxing on the porch. Early morning reading on the porch.

UPDATE: Forecast for the weekend: 20 – 30 more cm, with a possibility, if the storm settles rather than passing through, of 40 – 50.

Tahiti. Someone take me to Tahiti. NOW.

March 6, 2008 Posted by | Canada, memes and quizzes, Ottawa | , , , | 7 Comments