“It’s pretty, but that’s about it.” The First Real Snow Fall- Blogmas #10

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It snowed today, December 9, 2017, the first December snow fall of the year. Just earlier today, I was reading Jenny Lawson’s post “Strange New Weather Patterns” and lamenting that here on the East Coast of Canada, we had not seen our first real snow fall, the kind that sticks to the ground. It makes me think of “Frosty the Snowman” and the first few lines of the TV special, “I suppose it all started with the snow. You see, it was a very special kind of snow. A snow that made the happy happier, and the giddy even giddier. A snow that’d make a homecoming homier, and natural enemies, friends, natural. For it was the first snow of the season.” Around 4 pm today, we got our first snow of the season. It is now twenty minutes to 9pm and it has not stopped. And even though, here in the Maritimes, snow is a regular occurrence during the winter months, it is still magical nonetheless. And after reading Jenny’s post, I saw the fresh snow with fresh eyes and happy memories of childhood flooded back. Trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue, making snow angels, and snow forts and after hours of playing in the snow, going into my warm, cozy house to a cup of hot chocolate served by my mother.

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The snow makes the street look like a scene out of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Inspired, I decided to go for a winter walk around the city of Saint John, New Brunswick where I am staying for the time being. As I walked, I took in the scenery around me, taking in its magic with each breath like meditation. Suddenly it hit me why I love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life so much. When the world is blanketed in white snow, it is like the black and white snowy scenes on the night that George Bailey is visited by Clarence, the angel trying to get his wings.

Walking in the snow in December with Christmas approaching fast means the added beauty of the Christmas lights shining in the snow. One of the first houses I passed were the Griswolds 2.0.

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Our local Griswold family.

Not only is their house completely covered with lights from top to bottom, they also have a speaker blaring Christmas carols as you walk by. And in the snow, what would usually be pretty tacky, suddenly becomes moment of wondrous beauty. With carols singing in my head, I continued toward the Harbour Walk Trail along the waterfront of Saint John. If you haven’t been to Saint John in a while, or ever at all, the Harbour Walk Trail is an amazing set of paths that run from the Reversing Falls to Uptown Saint John. That’s right, Saint John has an “Uptown” not a downtown. I have no explanation for you.

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Christmas lights are more magical when there is snow falling.

As I walked down in the direction of Uptown, I saw a display of Christmas lights arranged into the form of a giant tree. With no snow, it’s nice. But suddenly, with the flakes of snow surrounding it, it was the most fabulous thing my eyes had ever had the privilege of seeing. I kept walking, down into the bowels of the park toward the Reversing Falls. Instead of raining trees, like Jenny Lawson saw, I saw a raining overpass with a small pond forming below.

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Giant puddle forming under the overpass.

Snowplows going by on the overpass pushing snow over its edges were not any help to the situation. I looped up around into the North End of the city and I finally came upon an intersection with a church. I don’t even know what denomination the church is, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not sure why, but I think old churches are among the most beautiful structures created by humankind. And this church, amid the falling snow, did not disappoint. Even though a McDonald’s is right across the corner, our fast food addiction could still not dim the joy brought from the view of the church.

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I love old churches.

By the time I started back toward “home,” I was soaked from head to toe with sticky snow. (This snow is perfect Frosty the Snowman snow, and if enough falls tonight and stays around tomorrow, I may just make a snowman too.) It’s funny how at the beginning of my short journey in the snow, it was full of excitement and wonder and how quickly that changes when the cold and wet sets in. Instead of breathing in each moment, feeling the joy of being alive, I couldn’t wait to get the hell home to enjoy a cup of tea and my warm PJs. As my mood shifted, I walked past a group of people hanging out at the Curling Rink and heard a lady say what most Maritimers say about the first snow, “It’s pretty, but that’s about it.”

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Me, at the end of my walk.

I am now all cozy in my bed with my laptop and my hubby, listening to the sound of sirens on their way to the nearby hospital, non-stop. It seems the magic of the snow mesmerizes us every year and we forget how to drive in the snow. Tonight I will be lulled asleep by memories of my mystic walk in the snow and the blaring sirens taking stupid unprepared drivers to the hospital.

I hope nobody died.

 

Be like Jesus, the Grinch and Scrooge this Christmas: A Trip to the Thrift Shop- Blogmas #2

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After my first Blogmas post yesterday, I was racking my brain of what Christmas related thing I would write about today. And as I was showering, which is when many of my greatest thoughts occur, I had an epiphany. Not THE Epiphany. (You’ll have to wait until January 6, 2018 for that.) I was thinking how awful it is for those you who don’t have Lost and Never-Found Basements like me (re: Hoarders: The Secrets that Hide Beneath &  TRASH OR TREASURE in the Lost and Never-Found Basement- Enter my contest today!), where you can dig up old Christmas decorations and give your home that tacky, yet homey, look. My heart was aching for those of you who aren’t as privileged as me to have a basement stuffed with hidden treasures and lots of junk. I thought about those of you who maybe had all your belongings taken away by the Repo people, or maybe your house caught fire, or maybe you were an orphan and you never had any ornaments with history to them.

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This is my ass (Treasure found in Lost & Never-Found Basement.)

So… I got in my car and took my ass down to the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

One of my passions is going to the Thrift Store. For anyone unfamiliar with a Thrift Store, basically it is a place where people take things that they consider junk and then the Thrift Store sells to other people who consider the junk to be treasures. The wonderful thing about the Salvation Army Thrift Store is that most of the money raised goes to help the needy. Jesus was a big supporter of the needy, so shopping at the Thrift Stores makes you a little like Jesus. I say a little because you’re not divine. Well, I’m assuming you’re not. (Sorry, Jesus, if you’re reading this.) The Salvation Army Thrift store I went to is the Lansdowne location in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.

The first awesome thing I noticed was a sign on the door. It is the kind of sign cheapies like me (and Scrooge) LOVE!

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50% off already cheap stuff!!! I peed in my pants just a little!

Then I went around the store to show off just a few of the amazing bargains. You can decorate your whole home for Christmas at the Thrift Shop. And you can get awesome Christmas gifts too! I know you may be thinking, I can’t give second-hand things as gifts for Christmas. Trust me, you couldn’t be MORE wrong. For one thing, whatever gifts you buy for people will probably end up in the Thrift Shop anyway, so why are you wasting all that money on the gifts? Also, there are quality items to be found at the Thrift Shop if you just take the time to look for them.

 

 

 

Just look at the wonderful decorations I found at my local Salvation Army Thrift Shop:

 

Some of these items are older ones; some of them can be bought brand-new in stores today. All of them are cheap! But the savings don’t stop there.

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Socks & gift-bags!
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Christmas mugs- why spend an arm and a leg on holiday mugs? They make great gifts too.
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A Tealight Candle Set in its original box? I smell a Christmas present!

 

Got people who like to cook on your Christmas list? I always find great cookware at the Thrift Shop. I take it home, clean them up (if needed)- and it’s good as new. As long as you wrap these items up in tissue paper and put them in a fancy box, no one will even be the wiser that you actually bought their gift at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. They’ll think instead that you overspent! (And then the item will likely end up back at the Thrift Store anyway as I already pointed out… )

 

These are just a few of the really amazing finds I had a the Thrift Store today in just 10 minutes! I didn’t even cover the clothes, toys, books, and more.

Not only does the Thrift Store save you money, help those in need, but shopping at the Thrift Shop makes you green like the Grinch. These items would end up in a landfill somewhere if they weren’t being dropped off at the store. Your heart will grow 10 times the size just thinking about how much smaller your local landfill is getting due to your Thrift Store shopping efforts. So again, I ask you, why buy something new that’s going to just end up in the Thrift Shop, when you can buy something that was already there? And if it does happen that the person you bought the gift for actually likes the thing, well, WIN, WIN!

So this Christmas, may I suggest you make like Jesus, the Grinch and Scrooge: help those in need, our planet AND save yourself some money? Do your shopping at a Thrift Shop! They’re AWESOME!!!

 

Americans: Join the Beaver Nation

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Since I’ve recently joined the Twitter-sphere, I’ve been reading a lot of tweets. A lot. The vast majority are tweets by Donald Trump or complaining about Donald Trump. You may be wondering why I’m following Donald Trump as a person who also complains and dislikes him. Well, I’m happy to solve that mystery for you. You see, when I started my Twitter account it automatically sets up a list of suggestions of people to follow. There was at least one hundred of them. I started scrolling through the list, and then I just said, F this, and clicked on the option to follow them all. Donald Trump just happened to be on that list. When his first tweet popped up, I thought about unfollowing him, but then I thought about all of the stupid shit he says. So I just kept following him as a form of sick, self-inflicted, torture/entertainment for myself. It’s kind of like how some people like to watch horror movies or read Stephen King novels. You know you’re going to be scared out of your wits but it’s also going to be a wild ride. The only sad part about Trump’s presidency is that unlike a movie or a book which lasts for a few hours or the duration of your reading pace, this ride is going to last 4-8 years. Hopefully, only 4. But the damage will reverberate for many years after his term(s).

As a Canadian, I’m sitting in my comfy, warm apartment in the North, watching the car wreck that is the Donald Trump presidency and reading the tweets by Americans who are now living in a massive Trump hotel being managed by incompetency, much like his Trump Tower in Toronto:

November 2012: “Glass falls from Trump Tower during construction

March 2012: “The swanky new Trump Tower is already falling apart

October 2015: “Cracked window on Trump tower closes nearby streets

November 2015: “Trending: Trump Hotel and Tower No. 1 ranking overlooks falling glass

March 2015: “Pane of glass fell from Trump Tower due to mechanical failure

September 2016: “Falling glass shut down Bay St. for second day in a row

May 2017: “Glass falls from Trump Tower after swing stage crashes into window

There are many more news articles about the crappy Trump Tower in Toronto and its shattering windows, but I don’t want to use up my entire post on copying and pasting links to articles. The Toronto Trump tower was built in 2009 and has been a shit show ever since. And now Trump is trying to sell it and have his name removed from the Tower. I’ve come to the conclusion based on this and his other ventures: Trump University, Trump Steak Knives, Trump Magazine, to name a few, that everything Trump puts his name on is poop.

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Trump is making America poopy.

I know there are many open-minded, highly educated, skilled, and anti-Trump Americans who are unhappy in Trump’s America. So I want to invite all of you to the second-greatest country on Earth (arguably). We’re literally on top of you. Look up, way up and you’ll see us. Canada. 10 provinces, 3 territories. Much easier to remember than 50 states. Bring your education and skills to the true North, strong and free. Help make Canada the greatest country on Earth. Come to Canada and become American-Canadians.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. That’s going to be tough. I can’t just up and leave my home country and make a new start in Canada. Plus it’s cold up there. Well, not so much. We’re just across the border from New England, large cities such as Detroit and Buffalo. Our climates are pretty similar to the Northern United States. In fact, today (November 26) in my small Maritime town, the temperature is 33 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s above the freezing mark. In Boston, it’s 37 F today. It’s not much of a difference. You will have to get used to Celsius, but that’s what phone apps are for.

Also, your money is worth so much more here. You can sell your expensive home in the USA and buy a waterfront property. Where in America can you buy a home like the one pictured here? This house overlooks a river and costs only $479,900.00 Canadian which using today’s exchange rate equates to $374,521.02 US. I challenge you to find a house as nice as the one in the inset below with a view of the water in the United States. (If you’re interested in seeing more of this beautiful waterfront home, please check out Kijiji.

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This house has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a beautiful view of the Saint John River

There are tons of beautiful, cheap houses in Canada as long as you’re not moving to Greater Toronto or Vancouver. Other than that, prices are reasonable. You can live the high life here! So I say to all you Americans who hate Trump, sell your homes, liquidate your assets into cash, use your passport to get into Canada and make like the Draft Dodgers during the Vietnam War. Cross the border and just stay. Really, you’ll blend in. There’s not much difference between Americans and Canadians other than the fact that Canadians have the Queen of England as our head of State* and that we’re really, really polite. And if you sneak in, you don’t even have to pledge allegiance to the Queen. Take all your money, sneak on up, buy a home and stay awhile. In Canada, we welcome all walks of life! Even Americans!**

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The Queen is too busy doing stuff in England to come over to Canada just to sign bills into law.

*The monarch of England is officially Canada’s Head of State, but it’s a ceremonial role only. All she does is sign bills into law. But the Queen of England is pretty busy doing Queen-type stuff in England, like signing their bills, waving, and chilling in her palace(s) so she has a representative called the “Governor-General” in Canada who signs the bills for her. The prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is only the prime minister because he is the leader of the party with the majority of seats in Parliament (like your House of Representatives.) He is not elected directly by the people and if his party, the Liberals, collectively decided he was a douche-bag, they’d just choose another person as their leader, and she would be the prime minister. But don’t worry, Americans, you don’t really need to know this. Most Canadians don’t know this either.

**Don’t be offended here. I’m just joking around. I’m sorry. Really, really sorry.***

***Yes, Canadians actually do apologize a lot. If you move here, you’ll have to get used to that. Sorry.

All images have been borrowed from Wikipedia.org. Thanks Wiki!

It’s Christmas Time in Saint John, NB; A Time for Parades & ADHD

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With Remembrance Day & Veteran’s Day, or whatever day in November you call it in your respective countries (if you even have such a day?) over, the Christmas season is now upon us (for those of us who partake.) Of course, the stores were bringing out the Christmas doodads even before Halloween was upon us. So even if Christmas is not a holiday you celebrate in my neck of the woods, your participation is forced upon you. Here, all of the stores will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. In Canada, we celebrate Boxing Day, which growing up, I always thought was a day set aside for literally boxing up the presents received at Christmas and boxing up all the decorations. What I later learned is that it is actually a tradition brought over to Canada by British colonists and that it was a day off for servants of the wealthy Brits since the servants had to work on Christmas. (So basically all the wealthy Brits were Scrooges; the movie versions of A Christmas Carol got it all wrong.) In any case, with the advent of Christmas, most communities in Canada have a parade to officially kick off the season.

Growing up, I had never been to a Christmas parade. I told my husband that, and he was shocked. We watched them on TV, but we never actually attended. For two reasons, I believe: one was my father and the other was my mother. My dad would never take us because he’d have to find parking and it would be crowded. We rarely went to any parades or fireworks or any other thing of that sort because of my dad and parking and crowds. Also, probably because he’d be too far away from the Home Bowl. And if we were so lucky to attend an event that involved parking and crowds, we never got to stay for the whole event, because my father would rush us out early to “beat the crowd.” He also hates traffic. My mother, who usually would be into going to such events, was never arsed to go to the Christmas parade, I think, because she hate, hate, hates the cold. And in Canada, if you haven’t heard, it can get pretty cold.

Last night, I attended the third Christmas parade I have ever attended in my life. The first one, I went to with my mom a few years ago in the small town my husband and I moved to (it was a mild evening) and the second one, I went to last year with my husband in the same small town. Small town parades are just that: SMALL. But I’d never been to one, so I was pretty stoked about both of them. I was excited last night to attend the 65th annual Saint John Santa Claus Parade. Saint John, New Brunswick is a small city, but it is, after all a city.

On the way to the parade, I decided to check my phone for messages. You see I was texting with the Blog Broad, and earlier in the day, I had offered to take her dog, Lucy, for a walk. Here is how our conversation went yesterday afternoon before the parade.

Me:  You up for me stopping by and dognapping Lucy? I think I’ll take her for a walk on the Harbour trail. 1:53 pm

Blog Broad: Sure 🙂 2:00 pm

Blog Broad: When are you coming by? Probably gotta lay down in a bit. 2:24 pm

Blog Broad: I really gotta lay down… feeling poopy. 2:54 pm

Blog Broad: Sorry Buddy… just miserable. I’ll msg you when I get up..:) 3:17 pm

Me: I’m sorry. I got impatient and put up outside lights. 4:32 pm

The Christmas parade or Santa Claus parade, or whatever you want to call it, started at 6:00 pm on the other side of town. C (my husband) and I took down the camping chairs and were viewing the parade at its ending point. I insisted we go early to get good seats. I wanted to be there at 6:00 pm but C said we should wait until 7:00 pm. We compromised and set up our chairs around 6:40 pm. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. I did what I always do when there is nothing to stimulate my mind. I checked my phone. The Blog Broad had sent me another message…it was a screen shot of the first two lines of our original conversation and the times. I offered to dog sit at 1:53 pm. She replied, “Sure” at 2:00 pm. Her comment was: “This is how I know for a fact you have ADHD. 7 mins lol you got bored in 7 minutes lmfao” with an emoji smiley guy laughing his fucking ass off.

So…I’m laughing at myself, because she’s right. Who gets impatient waiting for a response in 7 minutes??? ME! That’s who. Then the parade starts.

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The first float was for the Food Bank and C and I felt horrible, because we didn’t know they’d be collecting donations of food. (Especially since we have plenty- do food banks take expired food?)

Around 6:50 pm, the first float finally came. At long last. Those 10 minutes of waiting felt like an eternity.  And then… nothing.

At 7:11 pm, I said to C, “If another float doesn’t come down here by 7:15 pm, let’s just leave.” I waited for what felt like eons. Looked at my phone for the time. Still 7:11 pm. Ugh!

Finally, at 7:15, the rest of the parade catches up. We stayed for about 8 floats in total and left super early. Not because it wasn’t good, or even that I was bored. Rather, we left because I wanted to: it was crowded; I didn’t want us to be stuck in traffic; but mostly, we left because I was totally fucking FROZEN!!!

Here are some pictures and videos of what I did see of the parade:

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Another collector truck for the Food Bank.
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Snow man in a truck. Buy a Chev. (I wouldn’t, but that’s just me.)

I know it’s a bit early, but the Christmas decorations have been for sale since August, so maybe it’s late… to all of my readers & followers, I wish you a Happy Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Milad un Nabi, and a Merry Christmas. Let’s just say HAPPY HOLIDAYS! That way if I missed you, then everyone is covered.

Peace!

OH

 


Playing with PNES

By Ocean Hayward

Anxiety. ADHD. PNES. Okay, you’re probably all well versed on the first two, but the last acronym is probably not as familiar. About a year and a half ago, I was officially diagnosed with Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES). I always like to joke that, yes, it is an acronym that if stated phonetically would sound an awful lot like penis. Pee-Nes. Just my luck. I don’t typically share my PNES with most people. I used to because the seizures were so frequent that I was afraid I’d have one in front of people. I’d rather them know up front why I’m shaking and trembling like a person during DTs so I don’t alarm anyone.

I started having seizures about 8 years ago. They aren’t fall down, unconscious on the floor-type seizures. They are tremors, twitches and jerking motions that I have no control over. They can last for a few seconds, to a few minutes, to a few hours. It all depends where my state/ level of anxiety is. During the attacks, my blood pressure elevates as well. My seizures are my body’s way of dealing with extremely high stress situations. I’m not sure why it reacts with seizures. Maybe it’s because I tend to be a quiet person, especially when it comes to how I feel. I try to avoid conflict as much as possible and when faced with the anxiety of having to confront someone, that tends to set off the seizures quite a bit.

Certain situations are much more stressful than others. A big one for me is crowds. I hate crowds. Over the summer, my husband and I were walking along the Saint John waterfront and it was “Saint John Idol” night. You know, like American Idol? But with Saint Johnners singing instead. For whatever reason, the whole “Idol” show concept is still surprisingly popular in Saint John, even though in every other place in the world the craze has fizzled out.  It seemed that everyone in Uptown (That’s right, every other city/town has a “downtown” but Saint John has an “Uptown,”) and surrounding areas had amassed into this tiny closed-off-to-vehicles street. Some idiot (because it should be called Saint John Idiot/ American Idiot, in my opinion) was up there singing their heart out and I was stuck with my husband trying to walk on this street through the crowd of both people standing still and watching the Idiot and people also just trying to use the street as a through-way to another part of town (like my husband and I). I started to feel the panic because of all the people around me. My husband was behind me and he could see my body jerking, shaking and trembling as I tried to keep my calm. If I’d been asked to rate my level of panic, it would have been a 10+.

Suddenly, I couldn’t stand it anymore; I needed to be out of that crowd and quickly. You know how they say to stay calm in emergency situations, like if you’re in a crowded building that’s on fire? I was that person who panics and pushes through and stomps on people and kills them. That was me. I was pushing people out of my way in a mad dash to get the hell away from all the fucking people! I don’t remember much about it other than my feeling of panic, but I’m sure I pissed a lot of people off. Although perhaps my panicked voice saying to my husband, “I have to get out of here” made them sympathetic. All I know is my husband grabbed me suddenly by my waist and pushed me into a pub, and out of the crowd. I was still seizuring, but I was out of the source of my anxiety. In about 2 hours, it was as if it had never happened. But it did.

The worst thing about having PNES is I never know when something is going to happen that will spin me into a frenzied state of nervous energy. It’s unpredictable. Some people with PNES can never hold a job. I am determined, however, to beat PNES. (To improve the humor in the piece, read PNES phonetically in the last two sentences.) Where was I? Oh, yes, I will beat PNES. Er… I will overcome PNES. I have strategies. I use self-talk to calm myself down. I try not to take on too many things at once. I try to make sure I take time to take care of myself. I take drugs. Lots of prescription drugs. And I try to always find the humor in life, even in my PNES. The most important thing I’ve learned on my journey with PNES is that I have to put myself first, and keep myself healthy. I’m no good to anyone else if I’m not good to myself first. And on that note, I’m going to go play with my PNES.