Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Greetings

I’d like to say that Christmas snuck up on us this year, but it didn’t. It seemed to come right out of the blue, crashing into our lives with the realization that, “Holy crap!” it was just around the corner. It’s not that we didn’t have plenty of warning as the snow has been falling here pretty steadily since the first week of December, and  we’ve had some very cold days. We also got our outdoor decorations up earlier than usual, but still none of it seemed real until the big day was less than a week away. We’re in the swing of it now though with the missus baking cookies, me baking tourtières (French Canadian-style meat pies – a Christmas staple in this part of the country), and favourite Christmas tunes are playing on the stereo.

All of which makes me think about just how damned lucky we are.

Some friends will have an empty seat at the table previously occupied by a loved one who left us this past year. Neighbours who are experiencing hard times will be looking sadly at trees with little under them for their children. Still others will be totally alone for reasons varying from work obligations to personal misfortune. Some we can help by giving, others by inviting them into our homes. And for others we can but try to lift their spirits by wishing them Christmas greetings from the bottom of our hearts.

And if there is any ‘magic’ in Christmas it isn’t Santa (although he’s pretty cool), it’s what happens when we rise above the hurly-burly of our own seasonal celebrations to give and share with friends, family, and even strangers who often want nothing more than to be able to wish a Merry Christmas in return.

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May all the joys of the season be with you and yours.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The colour of winter

Even if you’ve never experienced it personally, you’re familiar with all the typical negative adjectives describing winter – drab, dreary, monochrome, white, cold, freezing, dark, grey. The list, like the supposed number of Inuit words for snow, seems endless.
Except for all the lights during the Christmas season, colourful is rarely heard in a winter context hence Martha’s (Wisconsinland) challenge to find and share some winter colour.
I’m still cleaning up here after 2012’s devastating wind storm (links here, and here) which involves a lot of burning. For obvious reasons the dry summer months are not ideal, but when the ground is covered in snow the fire hazard is virtually non-existent and I can make hay, so to speak.
So for the past couple of weeks this has been the colour of my winter, with an added bonus of heat to warm those chilly hands and feet!
Fall colours

Monday, December 16, 2013

Winter wheels

We’d had quite a bit of snow over the past week so today it was time to get out the winter wheels (aka ‘Big Joe’ of Shake, Rattle and Roll fame) and have some fun.
Big Joe is about 25 years old - I picked him up used in the early 90’s - so he’s no spring chicken. But he’s very reliable. I tend to abuse him somewhat, leaving him outside year round and generally ignoring basic maintenance, but fill him with fresh gas, hit the starter, and he’s up and running! I only wish all my mechanical equipment was so reliable.
But that does remind me: it’s been about 5 years since I changed the oil so I must make a point of doing that soon. And a tune-up wouldn’t hurt either – at least a fresh plug. Later.
I bundled up against the cold (about –25C this morning) and headed out. Parked beside the garage and covered with snow he was hunkered down against the elements, but after a quick brush-off Big Joe started right up and we were good to go and play in the snow for a while.
Watch here: http://youtu.be/38uUk51Ue6c

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cold weather gear

Unlike some (many?) of my readers I own very little cold riding gear; actually I have none. My only nod to riding in near-freezing temperatures is to throw on some long johns and an extra sweatshirt under my jacket. I’ll also wear my full face helmet so my visage doesn’t lock up in rigor and I end up at my destination looking like a bald Joan Rivers with too much head and too little skin.
So when I saw Sports Experts advertising a store-closing sale I thought I’d see if I could augment my cold weather gear with a new pair of Helly Hansen’s (or similar) thermal underwear at a reasonable price (i.e. cheap, big spender that I am). longjohnsThe young salesgirl’s reaction when I asked to be directed to their long underwear rack was akin to me having asked her to explain the over-arching theory of nuclear thermodynamics in 5 minutes or less.
In hindsight I should have had a picture with me, but with a bit of pantomime and a very lengthy description the penny finally dropped. “Oh, like, you mean ‘base layers’?”
I stood corrected. The ubiquitous underwear, trollies, gotches (or gotchees), drawers, skivvies, or Reginalds are now ‘base layers’. And the marketing wallahs, once again, have managed to upscale their product in order to be able to charge outrageous sums for what really amounts to a flimsy bit of polyester. 
And yes, I am now the proud owner of a new pair of base layers. Wait, is it a pair still? Or is it just a base layer? This is so confusing.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

An honest review

Don’t you wish all motorcycle reviews were as funny, informative, and totally refreshing as this one?