Friday, January 13, 2017

January's Rhythm

Since returning home from our month on the west coast, we have been experiencing cold January weather. It took us a couple of days to unpack and to recover from our sometimes scary two-day drive along icy highways and over snowy mountains. Our two pets travelling with us in the truck (our dog and cat) were very well behaved. I think they didn't want to get left behind anywhere!

The past week, the temperatures have ranged from -15 to -28 degrees Celsius, although today it finally was a bit warmer (high of -7). Although we had a great holiday, it feels good to be home.

Despite the cold weather, we have managed to be pretty active outdoors most days. Rob has shovelled snow. We have gone cross-country skiing three times around a local golf course, where there is a nice five kilometre loop. We also have been out for some walks. Yesterday, Kate (dog) and I tramped more than 5 km. over hill and dale in the river valley park that we can access just two blocks from our home. It was hard work walking through the windblown snow, especially seeing as I had to break trail much of the way. We came across a herd of 17 deer sheltering in the coulee. Kate must have been as tired as me because she didn't even attempt to chase them (not that she would have had any chance of catching up to them). It was quite spectacular to watch two large bucks that we surprised bound up the hillside right in front of us.

The big outdoor highlight of the week happened today. We drove to the nearest ski hill and skied for the afternoon. It was a brilliant sunny day, although about -12 degrees and windy. It feels great to be on skis again after last year's enforced absence. I have skied all my life, and recently I have taken up telemark skiing. It is a lot of fun to learn something new. We took it easy today, as neither of us really has our ski legs yet. This is only our second time skiing this year.

We have been out to a movie (Rogue One) and out to dinner to two of our favourite ethnic restaurants. I have worked on writing the first draft of my novel a bit more, and it's now up to more than 47,000 words. I've also done some baking -- just what we need after all those Christmas treats! I have spent some time at my office. We also have spent lots of lazy time on the couch in front of the fire.

I did one new thing that I am feeling quite excited about. A few years ago, our city built a new community arts building. It has studios for visual arts, pottery, sculpture, and woodworking, as well as music and dance studios, an art gallery, and a multipurpose room for performances. Yesterday evening, I went down to the arts building and met up with some new friends there who are also painters. A member of the staff, a lovely young man named Andrew, gave me an orientation to the 2D studio, and showed me how to sign in. Now that I have registered, I can drop in and use the studio anytime. The building is open from 9 am to 10 pm, and for $5, the daily drop in fee, I can stay as along as I want. Or I can purchase a monthly or annual membership at a reasonable rate. I stayed the whole evening, and began work on a new painting. Although I have room in my home where I can paint, I like being part of a studio where I can interact with other painters. I made a mental note to myself that if I were retired, this would be the kind of thing that I would have the time to do as often as I wished.

The new year also has brought creative inspiration to Rob. He has begun to work on designing the next pair of speakers that he is planning to build. All in all, I would have to say that we are off to a good start in this happy new year.


  1. One way of dealing with the cold is to embrace it. I remember snow shoeing and cross country skiing as a way to make the most of the cold winter. There are good chemicals that are released in the brain when we exercise, hence it makes us feel good.

    The community arts building sounds wonderful. A way to connect with other artists and a space that is conducive to the expression of your artistic talent.

  2. Carole, I grew up in a place with cold, snowy winters, and I enjoy outdoor winter sports. I have noticed, though, that as I have grown older, I have less tolerance for cold weather. When I was a young person, my cut-off temperature at which I would decide that it was too cold to go skiing was -25 degrees. However, yesterday's temperature of -12 degrees was more than cold enough for me! Mind you, with wind chill it was probably about -22. The place where I live now has a great climate. It generally has mild winters (the recent cold snap is not typical), and temperate summers. It is one of the sunniest places in Canada. Yet it has a good ski hill within driving distance for day trips. And a community arts building!

  3. Love the community arts building that you can attend! I am not an artist at all - but if I was going to do something like paint, I like the community aspect of being with other artists. That picture is so beautiful - the blues, so blue! You are braver than me for going out in the cold though! I'm sure good equipment would make it easier to brave the temperatures. Glad you get to enjoy the sunshine. We have many gray days - but it is supposed to be above freezing here all next week. For mid-January, we'll take it!

  4. Glad to hear that you have had a great start to the New Year, Jude. Your Community Arts Studio sounds like a great place....definitely another plus for retirement (shameless plug here, I know)!

  5. Vicki, over the years and in the different communities where I have lived, I have sought out community artists' groups and writing groups. However, with my crazy work schedule, I have never had much time to devote to these interests. They have been squeezed in around the edge. The community arts building here is amazing!

  6. Haha, Donna, you are very convincing. The idea of retirement looks better every day!

  7. It's not fair- here we get cold, miserable days - maybe a shower or two but you get to ski and to ski on real snow with beautiful mountains, sunshine, the works. I need to work on my envy and resentment!

  8. John, I know how lucky I am. Skiing is my happy place, and I plan to keep doing it as long as the knees hold up. These days, I mostly stick to the cruisers rather than the more dramatic runs.

  9. You sure have been busy since you arrived back home! What is telemark skiing, Jude? I have never heard of that. When I read about you going for a walk in the snow with Kate, I had to think about last winter, when we were house sitting with a big dog and a small one in New England. Being new to small dogs (we always had and sat big ones until then), we didn't think twice when going for a hike in the snow. Poor little dog kept collecting snow along his legs, which turned into massive snow balls and made him walk VERY funny after a while. When we were done laughing (I know, we can be terrible at times), we decided to turn back and go home, to de-thaw him in warm water...

  10. Liesbet, that is so funny that you had to thaw out the little dog in warm water! I can picture it. I am glad we have a mid-size dog who loves the snow.

    Telemark skiing is also known as free-heel skiing. Just as it sounds, free-heel bindings allow the heels to lift, similar to cross-country skiing. However, telemark equipment is much more sturdy than X-C ski equipment, and it is meant for downhill slopes. Rather than doing parallel turns, you turn by making deep knee bends and stepping down the hill. It is quite fun, and certainly provides a great physical workout!


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