Friday, January 24, 2014

#183. To Weather the Weather.

  I believe that as a Canadian, something that has been ingrained into my genetic make-up, is an intensive desire to share my views, to whoever will listen, about the woes I have to face day to day regarding the weather. If you add to that, that I'm also a farmer, I have to make a concious effort to not babble on endlessly about what Mother Nature is choosing to subject me to, and how having to deal with the weather is making it more difficult to do what I do for a living.

  However, there's a small piece of me that relishes bundling up and going out into weather so cold that no one has any business trying to function in. And even though I'll complain about it, there's nothing that makes me feel more Canadian than walking across the yard to begin my chores in -40 degree temperatures, thinking "Ya, I got this!"

  It's a pretty safe bet, that winter in Canada is cold. But if you were going to put all of those eggs into that basket, you would be sadly mistaken.

  Earlier this winter, when I was trying to get my Christmas lights up in the bitter cold, I made the decision to scale back my yard lighting significantly. The thing that was going to save my ass was the spruce tree we have in our yard, that I leave the lights in all year around. It's gotten too tall and thick to have to bother with every year, and because I use clear bulbs in it, it's pretty convenient to just add it to the string when I have my Clark Griswold moment in the yard, plugging the cords together, as angels gather to sing hallelujah.

  The tree was heavy with snow, and looked like a Christmas card.  The bulbs were going to reflect off of all the snow, and it was going to look awesome. I burrowed through the snow to get under the tree without disturbing any branches to make the connections. Turning it all on the next day, even though it was less than usual, would still be magnificent. Because of the snow, and the cold, and the lights twinkling off the snow laden boughs. Except overnight it warmed up, and the wind blew, and when I looked out the window with my morning coffee in hand, the tree didn't have any snow left in it.

  It still looked nice, but I had counted on the weather, and it had let me down.

  Fast forward to today.

  One of the nice things about going on a winter vacation, is to be able to get on a plane and leave behind the cold and the snow, and the dark, that is my winter, for just a little while. Preferably, if it's so cold that the airline has to have a bit of a debate about the safety of taking off in it. That's what is required to get the maximum effect of a reprieve from the icy cold. Yet, while most of the USA, and Canada struggle through what has been a long string of cold snaps this winter, I'm sitting at about 4 degrees above freezing, in an uncharacteristic warm spell. It's certainly not something I'm going to cancel my vacation over, but a little bit of wind chill might have been nice.

  So, the only way to turn this all around is for the warm weather to stick around, until I return, boozed, bronzed and baked by a tropical paradise. To step of the plane, knowing that winters back has been broken, and the remainder of it is going to be a cake walk. It shouldn't be too difficult to achieve, as the long range forecast is looking quite positive.

  I'm pretty sure the weather is going to cooperate,

  ..........but I'm not counting on it.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

#182. or, How was Your Yesterday?

  I want to take a second to apologize to all of my neighbours, who had no internet for pretty much the full day yesterday. That was my fault. Well, not really, but because my yard is the hub for most of the internet signal in our area,  I feel a  bit of responsibility when your ability to update your facebook statuses to the world, ends at my doorstep.

  It was a long day yesterday. I'm not sure when it started, but I woke up to howling winds around 3 in the morning. After losing the argument with myself, as to whether or not I should just try to go back to sleep, I got up, dressed in layers, and headed out to see if everything was alright.

  It wasn't.

  The wind had blown over a section of fence, and I had cattle wandering around the yard. Somewhere during the process of getting them rounded up, the power went out, and didn't return for another 12 hours.

  By the time the sun came up, the wind had blown down the fence in a 2nd pen, and those needed to be rounded up as well. Also, the sun shed light on the reason why there was no power.

That blows!

 Now, I don't want to complain here, because I know there are people out there who still don't have power. Ours was out for around 12 hours, and I think we got a bit of priority because we had live transmission lines laying in the yard. But there's nothing that will make you appreciate electricity more, and in turn, running water, than the prospect of having to trudge into the bush in the winter to take a dump. I'm just saying.

  Also, the winds polished the yard to a solid sheet of ice. So when I woke up this morning with some significant discomfort on my grion-al region, I could only attribute it to having to spend the entire day, yesterday, doing the stiff legged, "I just soiled myself" walk, to keep from falling down.

  And just to be clear, I'm going on memory of the "I just soiled myself" walk. It's been a significant length of time since that's happened, and it had nothing at all to do with the prospect of the having to crap in the woods, that I mentioned earlier.

  So I should thank the linemen who spent the entire day replacing our pole and getting things up and running. When my day was winding down, and they were finishing up, I suspect they would probably be heading off to the next repair. I don't envy them on days like yesterday.

  All in all, I guess I could have had it worse. By the time I got in last night, everything was content. I still have to try to figure out how to replace some fence posts in the frozen ground, to repair the fence, and there's still a yard light to repair, but that's par for the course.

  What's the 1st thing I did, when I got into the house last night?

   .............fired up the computer and checked my facebook. So I'm right there with you.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

#181. or, I'm Pre-tanning

  I've started tanning again this year.

  Some of you know I do this, and yes, I've read the giant poster on the wall of the Health Unit that says 10 minutes of tanning can cause cancer, unrepairable skin damage, as well as the early onset of death. But so can trying to lobotomise yourself with a fork because you're about to go insane from not having seen the sun in two and a half weeks. And the death part might not in fact be accurate, because frankly, I didn't get to the end of the poster because my mind wandered off when I got to the picture of the beach. But there you have it, for better or worse, I'm tanning.

  The first reason I'm doing this, is for vacation camouflage. Because I'm going to look bad enough as it is with my shirt off, when we go to Cuba at the end of the month. Having a little colour before that happens, I'm hoping, will prevent me from being the poster boy for pasty white Canadians, when I'm strutting my topless, man-sexiness, around the pool. And by topless man-sexiness, I of course mean saggy old guy torso.

  The second reason, and more importantly, is I tend to burn quite easily in the tropical sun, or any sun for that matter, aside from any exposed skin on my arms below my t-shirt sleeve level. So inevitably, I end up shedding off layers of skin like a snake. And I have this vision in my head of those crafty Cubans creating an army of Ken-inatractor clones, from my discarded DNA, and scattering them across the countryside to perform menial farm tasks for little or no pay. If the world needs anything, it's less of me rendering in the Cuban sun.

 But any ways, the tanning. When I've tanned in the past, I have always used a stand-up booth. I've had friends tell me how relaxing it is, lounging away your allotted minutes, casually laying on a tanning bed model, but I think I still prefer to be irradiated while standing. However, due to a change of ownership at the place I used to do my tanning, there is no longer a stand up model available to use in our town. For the reasons above,  I decided I would give the lay-down model a go, because I have an open mind to try new things, and  really, there was no other option.

  Now, I've heard of prodigies who sit down at a piano for the first time in their lives, and are able to have grand masterpieces of music flow miraculously from their fingertips. Or how evolution has granted certain desert tribes-people with the ability to run endlessly without tiring, in order to be able to cover the ground required to feed their families. I've always wished that I had some sort of untapped innate ability, hiding just under the surface of who I am, waiting to break free and reveal itself at precisely the right moment.

  Unfortunately, my special hidden talent seems to be that I have the perfect storm of excess flab and back sweat to suction myself to the plastic base of a lay-down tanning bed and make horrific farting noises whenever I try to change my position.

  Every time it happens I imagine that across town, at the Spring Sun Restaurant, a group of people are roused from their Combo #2, by a far off and distant rumble.

  Needless to say, my tanning is anything but relaxing.

   On the plus side, I'm up to about 6 minutes at holding my back off the bed with my heels and shoulders, so I'm assuming there's some core strengthening happening.

   ..........I guess that's better than nothing?

Saturday, January 04, 2014

#180. or, Low Resolution

  As is the case, for some reason, I seem to find myself thinking about things I wish I had done differently over the past year when the numbers on the top of the calender increase by a single digit.

  Last year, when my lovely wife was working in town, or more precisely, last spring, somehow through her work, the woman I love acquired a coupon for 2 free rounds of golf. In another town. Forty-five minutes away. Beside a lake. With a golf cart included. For free.

  She said I should take the boy. Which was, I agreed, a magnificent idea. Because while I in no way claim to have any sort of natural ability when it comes to golf, I have enjoyed myself whenever I've gone. And the boy loves to golf, so it would be a nice thing to get off the farm and do something a bit out of the ordinary with him for a change.

  Plus it was free.

  So we pinned that coupon to the cork board beside the door as a reminder of all of the fun we were going to have.

  And then I went to work. Every day. Because the year before, when I was thinking about things I wished I had done differently over the past year when the numbers on the top of the calender increased by a single digit, I had thought, I'm going to try to apply myself to what I do, to the best of my ability, in an attempt to be an even more productive farmer.

  Every day, when I put on my overalls and laced my boots, I looked at that coupon, and thought, we're going to have a great time golfing, the boy and I.

  Slowly, the summer drifted on and fall came creeping in, as falls tend to do, while we try to cling to days of shorts and t-shirts. And that coupon that had been a reminder of the good times in store for the boy and I, became more of something we now needed to squeeze in, between trying to keep my combine running, and making feed for the cows to last the winter.

  Until it was finally obvious that we were't going to be able to go. So I tried to see if one of his brothers could take the boy, but they were busy too, and when I finally couldn't even give the coupon away any more, it got taken off the cork board, beside the door, and tossed into the trash.

  But, I had been productive, and we filled all of our grain bins, and even some bins we had to borrow from our neighbours to store all of that grain we produced. Then the grain prices started to fall.

  And fall.

  And fall.

  So now, even though we produced good quality grain, in vast quantities, it's worth about half of what we got last year.

  I don't know how to budget for that. I don't know how to sit down and say, "I'm going to work my ass off so I can bring home half the pay." But more importantly, how do I justify the time I took from other things, in order to try to provide more for my family, only to come up short in all aspects?

  I don't know what the answer is,

  .........but I wish I had gone golfing.

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