Bitching Brew

Friday, November 10, 2006

News from the front.

Over fifty days have passed, and I'm still sitting pretty in Toronto. My blog has been drifting toward the wider world recently; I feel it's time to reorient. That could go for my life, not just my blog. I'll explain.

I was dozing on the couch earlier this evening, but I'm at a higher angle now. Once I've posted this, I'll head straight to bed, for sleep has been at a premium for the past month. My hand has been forced; the body doesn't take kindly to sustained negligence. Ironing shall have to wait till the morning... again. I wonder if I've clean socks? The TV thrums with no great passion, too jaded to demand my attention. Even Amanda's focus is elsewhere. Her ritual Thursday TV night is beginning to waste. I adapted speedily to the life we constructed here, since mine was a tabula rasa. Funny then how I find small changes in the new order less easy to adapt to. We moved the cutlery two weeks ago, yet I habitually open the wrong drawer. Thursday is TV night... at least, it used to be.

I am so very settled. How odd. The impetus to risk, to adventure, has ebbed with domestication. The need for a belt to hold my slacks has ebbed too, but of that, the less said the better. For the first month, I threw myself enthusiastically at every opportunity. I needed to. Now, although I don't need to, I ought to. I don't. I still have too few Canadian contacts, and my social circle is a third of that back home. I've worked hard to get even this far, and though I need to press on, I'm resting on my laurels. It's the easy option. Migration is exhausting, and my stance is the norm here, but that doesn't make it right. I need a kick up the arse. It's time, once again, to put myself out there and acquire more friends. Brrr. Is that a cold sweat coming on? Canadians are friendly and quite charming, but they're reserved and lead more insular lives than I'm used to. Socialising is less common, hence making friends is harder.

I'm in employment until the New Year at least. You'll love my occupation. Think of a great adventurer. Got that mental image? Good - now take a negative. I'm a Pension Analyst. Business casual, desk-bound, fired on coffee, and so high in the sky I can see the air traffic. You couldn't buy office space this high in Dublin, because it doesn't exist. The wages aren't nearly as good as you'd imagine, due to the greedy bite of the recruitment agency. Having said that, it pays the bills (just), the environment is relaxed, and the location is fantastic. My particular skyscraper is connected to the underground city, so it's a three minute walk from the subway platform to the lift. The only time I'm exposed to the elements is during the five minute trek from my front door to St. Clair West subway station. Yet working downtown brings the incentive to go outside. The streets are busy (though not to Dublin levels) and full of wonder. I frequently stroll east to St. Lawrence Market to pick up a cheap and quirky lunch. One option there is a little bakery that sells the best bacon sandwiches. The lunchtime amble often brings a good photo-op. Alas, I commonly forget my camera, while yesterday's barrage of visual splendour was ruined by dead batteries. No matter. Time is on my side.

Next Monday, I would have been graduating. My erstwhile classmates will be appending letters to their name, and for the first time, I feel a tinge of regret - for the first time, I'm missing out on something. Worry not; it's a tinge, not an ache. I like my city. Yes - my city. When my voice echoes on Skype, I hear the first subtle flowerings of a Canadian accent. My life has a structure, if not a complete narrative. I have no desire to leave, only to build. Rich and daring travels lie ahead, but this is my base.

Christmas shall be passed on Bruce Peninsula, which juts deep into Lake Superior. If weather permits, I'll be able to take a long boat journey out to Manitoulin Island, the world's largest freshwater island. The New Year and early January may see a trip eastwards. It has been suggested that we choose Montreal to ring in the New Year. If so, I'll be sure to take in Ottawa and Quebec as well. The great tour of the East Coast must wait until the spring, I think. I might get a chance to travel north and camp in Algonquin National Park before mid-December; if not, that'll also have to wait until the spring. The Aurora Borealis are meant to be spectacular up there.

Today was incredibly balmy, reaching a brief height of 16 degrees. The last hurrah of autumn, it seems. Hardcore winter is predicted to roll in from next week onwards. Clicking through various sites in the last several minutes, I noted factoids (that grow in charm as you descend through the list) such as:

In Southern Ontario, the winter season starts in November and finishes around the middle of April.

In one day, residents, especially those in Southern Ontario, may be drenched by cold winter rain then covered with snow because north winds have dropped temperatures to well below freezing.

"Whiteout" is the term used to describe blizzard-like or blowing snow conditions which reduce visibility to a few metres. People standing in a whiteout are unable to see shadows or landmarks and lose all sense of direction, perception and sometimes even balance as the land and the sky seem to blend into one.

Environment Canada's Warnings are quite specific about the type of weather approaching. Please pay attention to them. There are 10 types of Winter Weather Warnings.

Environment Canada also warns of the level of risk of frostbite associated with a wind chill factor. For example, when the wind chill is from ‑28 to ‑39, exposed skin can freeze in 10 to 30 minutes.

Hypothermia results when body temperature falls below 35 C. Symptoms include drowsiness, impaired co-ordination and weakness. It can also be fatal.

Frostbite is the result of skin freezing. It causes swelling, redness, tingling and burning. Skin turns white and waxy as the frostbite progresses. Infection and loss of extremities can result.

Frostnip is a condition where ice crystals form under the skin. Chilblains occur when bare skin is exposed to cold water, or when wet skin cools. The skin itches and swells. Chilblains can lead to gangrene.

For the record, meteorologists are forecasting an especially cold winter in Toronto. Whee!

The crazy thing is that buildings are maintained at a constant temperature in the low twenties. On a cold day, I already feel the phenomenal heat when I walk through the front door, or enter a building downtown. During a cold snap, stepping through a doorway is going to mean a rise of 40-50 degrees Celsius. Whoa. If I don't freeze, I'll fry.

Wondering about the new photo? It's from Halloween. :) Anything else you should know? Oh - I buy bags of milk here. Yes: bags.

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  • Bags . . . please enlighten me.

    By Blogger dpineapple, at Fri Nov 10, 09:25:00 p.m.  

  • Most of the milk you buy in Canada comes in bags, rather than bottles ro cartons. I know, it seems bizarre at first, but it works out cheaper than the alternatives. The bags themselves (about a litre each) come as a four-litre pack. Which is heavy! That costs about five dollars, so it is economical. To serve, the bag is placed in a pitcher, and the top corner cut. Then pour!

    By Blogger Martin, at Fri Nov 17, 04:00:00 a.m.  

  • Well, for the record, the meteorologists who predicted that must be high on something very strong. See my blog post for November 16 and you'll understand why I'm saying that.

    That said, I'm glad to read that you're ajusting well to Canadian life. And coming to Montreal for New Year's Eve is definitely a cool idea.


    By Blogger Sonia, at Fri Nov 17, 07:25:00 p.m.  

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