Monday, 26 March 2012

We have a winner.....

The snowbank is no more. Here is the little that was left yesterday morning (with dog for scale, not because he is an attention seeking muppet):

And now the space is bare. It survived remarkably well considering the temperatures last week, we rocked up to 27.4 on Wednesday according to the Ottawa Citizen. Craziness, apparently 9 weather records were broken, all I know was that I got to get back on the bike, spin on the front porch and even got rosy cheeks in the sunshine. lovely.

And this morning? It's -4. Yep, that's a 31.4 degree drop. Winter coats and thrummed mittens back on for the dog walk this morning, but crikey it's beautiful out there:

So, I am casting on my knitted vegetable, sat with the sun shining in the window. Steve (Paul's brother) won the competition, commiserations to those of you who had been banking on receiving knitted can always commission some!

And while I'm here, a very Happy Birthday to my wonderful (cheeky sausage of a) Dad, and my fab brother-in-law Tim. Hope the sun is shining where you are too. X

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Snowbank update....

It is still there, but diminished dramatically over the last three sunny days. This is the view this morning:

More gone during the day, but will definitely be some left tomorrow morning, and the temperatures are dropping now so I have no idea how long we have left!

Not much else to report, work, and play, and spinning......oh and a lovely lady who came up to me while waiting for a traffic light to change this afternoon, and shared her umbrella with me. Thank you lovely lady. X

(Oh, and I have been reminded that I stole the idea from another local-knitting-blogger, who I've never met....but you can find her here.)

Monday, 19 March 2012

Sharing the wealth....competition time!

I went for a beautiful walk in the mist this morning. Not quite as idyllic as it sounds, as I ate the most enormous breakfast beforehand (it was a 10 sneezer!), and didn't exactly feel light on my feet, but the fog added a mysterious air to the city centre which even in my stodgy state I could appreciate:

Anyway, on the home stretch, the sun began peeking through, and now that I'm home and buoyed by yet more coffee, I thought it was about time I re-introduced a competitive edge to this blog. No, Guess the duck is not back (thats a Wednesday competition, pay attention!).....its time for...... When Ever Will Amy's Snow Bank Disappear? (W.E.W.A.S.B.D  - catchy isn't it?!).(*)

This is the snowbank outside our back door, photographed at 11:30 this morning (March 19th). All you need to do to enter, is guess the date on which, when I head out with the dog for the morning walk, the snowbank is no more.

Some possibly handy hints for those of you not residing in Ottawa:

  • As the observant among you will notice, we have the hammocks out on the back porch already. We are in the midst of a heatwave, with temperatures in the 20s predicted for most of this week.
  • Despite this, experts are suggesting that the ski season on the other side of the river may last into April.
  • Erm........snow is unpredictable! There may yet be more coming. If this happens, then I'm still counting it as the same snowbank. 

And the prize? I was lucky enough to receive a fab new knitting book in the post this week (thank you Lucy!), so have a wealth of new patterns for knitted vegetables at my fingertips. You could be the lucky recipient of a woolen artichoke, or perhaps you'd like a plush radish to snuggle up to? The winner can select from the available vegetables, and I will hand-make them a special cuddly veg of their very own. you can even decide if you'd like it realistic, or with a face and features like the munch bunch.

So, leave a comment, either on this post or on facebook, with three bits of info:
1) The date on which you think the snow will be no more.
2) Your chosen vegetable from the following selection: Peas in pod, parsnip, cauliflower, sweetcorn, leek, artichoke, pumpkin, beetroot, courgette, pepper, mushroom, asparagus, celery, carrot, chilli pepper, butternut squash, aubergine, cucumber, radish or a plum tomato.
3) Face or featureless?

Good luck! Closing date for entries is Saturday 24th March. Dates are first come first serve, so if someone has already chosen April 1st and you want it, tough!

(*) I have stolen this idea of another blog I read. Someone ran a very similar competition last year, but I can't find it now, if someone lets me know who it is, I''ll give them the credit they deserve! Thanks.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

31 was not too shabby....

I spend far too much time thinking, I'm sure I'm not alone in this. I think about what has been, what will come, and what I should be doing right now, instead of thinking these thoughts. This (again, for others as well as myself) is especially true round significant dates, and so today I find myself pondering the last year.

The photo above may suggest it has not been a good year. I took this last week, after I had got ridiculously lost on the way back to base from a birding excursion. I am 31 (at least for a couple more hours), and I still have no real sense of direction. Clearly from the photo, I also have still not mastered taking self-timer shots!

This photo does not represent glumness though. I got lost after spending two very happy hours wandering round a park, under palm trees and along boardwalks, searching for elusive birdies, and jumping out of my skin every time a lizard ran up a tree. It took me a long time to realize how happy being outside makes me, and I still need a shove to get off the sofa every now and again. But the ever expanding collection of sports equipment in our dining room, and the ridiculous shades of intersecting tanlines on my feet are testament to my successes in the ongoing battle with laziness.

On finishing my excursion, and on the realization that I had left my GPS in the back of my friend's car, I didn't panic (too much) despite my mind choosing to go completely blank. I couldn't even remember which way we'd turned to enter the park, and now I was alone in the industrial area of Tampa (all the best birding spots seem to be in the smelliest places!).

But I knew I'd be OK, because I'm happy talking to strangers. My Mum and Dad frequently remind me how quickly I would know everyone on the campsites when we went on our caravanning holidays. And everyone there would know my name, birthday and favourite colour too (it was green then, and still is). The kindness of strangers down South is something I've heard tell of many a time. But my hero of the day Kenny proved it to be more than a myth. Meeting a frazzled Brit, laden with binoculars, cameras and a reddening face may not be something Kenny chooses to remember. But for me, he was 6ft4 of sewage-engineer hero, complete with a fine collection of gold teeth which glistened almost as much as the twinkle in his friendly eyes. He set me going in the right direction, and grabbed me a couple of bottles of iced water from  the magic silver box on the back of his truck (I thought people kept guns in them!).

Obviously I made it back safe and sound, despite a good couple of hours hiking along the highway. Rather than heading straight for a shower (which lord knows I needed), I wandered into the small local airport near the Yacht club we were staying at, and inquired about a lesson in a Cessna the next day. Sun stroke is a dangerous thing!

What is the point of this rambling self indulgent monologue? Not a lot. But I spend far too much time thinking about my many faults, its something many of us spend a lot of time doing. And I suppose it can be healthy to reflect on our errors, if we bother to learn from them. But today I'm making an effort to spend at least five minutes thinking about my strengths. Yes I am clumsy, have no sense of direction, am far too introspective, have a tendency to talk rubbish (at length!), and am prone to being incredibly self-centred. But I am also optimistic, far more active than in my twenties, friendly and impulsive. And some days I really enjoy being me.

31 has been a good good year. I've spent time with loved ones both here and back in the UK. The idea of 'best friends' may be a little dated now that I'm not at school anymore, but I am lucky enough to live with one of mine, and talk to another two so regularly I'm amazed they haven't started screening calls yet (don't get any ideas Mum and Dad!). I have two fabulous sisters, niece, nephew and extended family, who make such an effort to make me feel loved and involved despite the miles I have put between us.
I left some brilliant friends when I left England, and despite those miles, have happily managed to stay in touch with many. I've also made some fantastic friends here, through knitting, neighbours, my job (more knitting!), volunteering and even some of Paul's colleagues. I'm never lonely, which is something I would wish for everyone.

Agh, bananas, this is getting sappier by the sentence. So perhaps I had better stop.Thank you to those of you who I know and love, and who have helped made 31 one of the best years for me yet. Hope you didn't find this ramble too vomitous, it is meant sincerely, and its the thought that counts after all! X