Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Snow day is fun for some...

In this amateur video that I put together on the defunct Jumpcut, you can easily tell for whom it is fun.

Enjoy! Snow is "funner" when there's a soundtrack.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A snowy day

Friday night, we were looking at the sky and saying how white it was. We knew snow was coming soon just like it said in the forecast. True enough, snow fell the next day while I was at our deck fixing the barbeque cover. It came rather early. We usually get snow in this area towards Christmas.

"It's snowing!" I shouted. The first snowfall is often exciting and beautiful. And because we were just about done putting up our Christmas decors, I felt it could not have come at a better time. Although I don't dream of a white Christmas--because it often is anyway--it felt more like Christmas already.

The snowfall continued throughout the night. By morning we woke up to about 6 inches of snow. Lovely!

View from our deck

A white thick blanket of undisturbed snow covered our ledges, the deck floor, the deck table, the bushes at the front, the parking lot, the car... Then it hits you! Yikes! You need to scrape snow off the car and shovel the parking lot, the sidewalk in front of your house... If you are going anywhere--if you really have to--you have to give yourself more time to do these things and to drive slowly. It being Sunday, we had to prepare earlier for church.

Our parking area. Our car, left of the the van, is blanketed in snow.

No one gets more excited about the snow than the kids. Gabriel and Markus immediately started making snowballs and throwing them at each other. I was excited to take pictures and video clips.

At church, we arrived to find people, including our assoiciate pastor, shoveling snow at the parking lot. Some kids were outside playing snowball fights. After the service, we came out and scraped snow from the car again, and skidded out of our parking spot.

It was snowing non-stop. In fact, it was one of the worst November snowstorms here, according to newscasts.

The undulating terrain of our backyard makes for a good winter playground. Gabriel and Markus are the first to bring out the toboggan.

"It looks like Narnia!" Gabriel exclaimed as we drove back to our complex. Yes, indeed. Gabriel and Markus spent the afternoon building snow forts and tobogganing at our backyard. They had snowpants but no winterboots. I forgot I had given their old ones to charity.

I decided to walk to a thriftstore to get them boots and winter stuff. I enjoyed walking while snow was blowing all around me. It was cold and slippery. The 20-minute walk down a mere two blocks was like doing the Stairmaster. I ended up sweating inside my winter jacket even if I was all wet outside, rosy cheeks, red nose and all. The walk back home seemed easier.

In the afternoon, Bud and I walked to the mall to check out the newly opened Future Shop that used to be our neighbour. I checked out Zellers too for more winter stuff. By evening, I was so tired from walking. It was almost like a silly thing to do in a weather like this, but the boys needed to be properly attired for the snow.

Monday, schools were closed. I was unable to go to work, which was okay because people who managed to report for work were sent home anyway. Gabriel and Markus spent the whole day tobogganing outside with more kids. With a backyard like ours, they can have fun without the expense of going to a commercial tobogganing area. Cheap thrill!

UBC was closed too so Gino was home and loving the weather. He even went out for a quick photo op in nothing but shorts and a scarf.

Gino, what are yout thinking?

Mickey had work, and because some areas had no power, people flocked to Church's Chicken, where he works, to eat. "It was so busy," he complained. Mick doesn't enjoy snow. "It would nice if it were warm," he says.

In the afternoon, I decided to clear the car of snow before the snow froze into ice. I decided to shovel the parking spot and the walkway to our house too. Here, we have a bylaw that says residents are responsible for clearing the snow on the sidewalk in front of their homes. I read that if you don't do so by 10 am after a snowfall, you can be fined. I was several hours late. Besides, you don't want people sliding on your front steps. You could be sued.

The bad part of winter is shoveling. It is so exhausting and backbreaking. I had cleared much of the snow on the car and around it when Bud arrived and completed the task. Today, I woke up feeling sick, with a headache and back pains, I decided to call in sick.

Though it's sunny out, which is nice, the temperature is below freezing, -6 I think, and with wind chill, it's probably -16, which is how it really feels. Tomorrow we have another snowfall, not as bad as last Sunday's but still a snowstorm. I am so not used to this. Vancouverites, who gloat about mild winters, are so not used to this.

I should remember to keep a steady flow of water on our taps to keep the water from freezing. Thanks to Ate Ma for the warning. Their pipes are frozen. I should get kitty litter too just in case the car gets stuck in the snow on some parking lot. Oh yes, and I have to find my de-icer for the car keyholes, too, or make my own from rubbing alcohol.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A stormy day

As I was driving to work this morning, I heard on the radio that BC is just 90 mm of rainfall short of breaking its record November rains ever. Some people viewed this as some kind of silver lining (Wow, a new record!) on the dark clouds that have hovered over the province for weeks now, pouring rain like never before – okay, not yet until the record is broken.

Last week, we had a strong rain and wind storm that had never happened here before. That’s what people, including those who have lived here all their lives, said. For my family who’s been here more than 8 years, it was certainly the strongest we had experienced.

Though no match to the Philippines’ strongest typhoons, last week's storm still gave me the jitters. I was at work when the wind descended and knocked out power in many parts of the Lower Mainland including the area where we live. Good thing my boss allowed us to go home a bit earlier.

What normally took me 30 minutes--max--to drive took me 2 hours Wednesday night. Traffic was horrible. Most traffic lights were out which meant that drivers had to follow the four-way-stop procedure. That’s one good thing about traffic here though. Whenever the lights don’t work, drivers take turns at intersections, one vehicle one at a time, depending on who got there first. Might be tricky at times especially when there are 3 lanes in one direction, but you won't see a traffice policeman directing traffic even at the busiest intersection. So even though traffic gets heavily backed up, it is not in knots where everyone is stuck at the center. I like four-way-stops and drivers who respect them.

My right foot and leg hurt from stepping on the brakes for most of the 2 hours on the road. My bladder was swelling. On top of these discomforts, I started to feel sleepy, which hardly happens to me on the wheel no matter how sleep-deprived I am. The slooow traffic and bad weather were lulling me to sleep. Thank God, I made it home safely and was able to pick up Mickey from his workplace as well. I got us some Church’s Chicken for dinner because there was no way I could cook without power. We have no gas range.

When I got home, Bud Wiser was waiting for me before heading out to an appointment. He had lit several little candles including the scented ones and the citronella candle that was meant for outdoors to drive away mosquitoes. The boys were entertaining themselves by playing games on the cellphone.

Mickey was worried about not being able to recharge his phone. “What am I going to do? I can’t charge my phone.” he fretted. “Well, what you have always been doing before you had a phone,” I answered.

Markus tried to pass time by creating shadows on the wall while Gabriel and I guessed what they were. “This is the fastest creature on earth,” Markus hints. “Panther?” I ask. He and Gabriel laugh at the way I said pan-TER, and not pan-thur. “Mom, it's cheetah.” “Waaat eber,” I reply.

I was already relaxing on the couch and falling asleep when the boys started to bug me about going to Tita Ma’s house because their place had power. Outnumbered and outwhined, I gave in and we all drove to Tita Ma’s place, only a block away. Markus brought his homework and Mickey his cellphone for recharging. We were glued to Terminator 3 on TV when Gino called my cell at past 9 pm. Past 10 he called again. His bus still had not come and could I pick him up from Langley? He had come off his part-time work at my office’s call centre. Ugh, I have to drive back to Langley. I hope the traffic is no longer as bad.

I packed the boys in the car, dropped them off (No scaring!) at home and drove off to Langley. I had told Gino to get on the bus if it came and just call me on my cell so I could make a U-turn. Nearing the bus stop where I was to pick him up, I called Gino to let him know I was in the area.

“I’m already on the bus, Mom,” he said. Gino’s bus had come, he had called my cell, but I didn’t hear the buzz. I headed back home, and Gino and I arrived within a minute of each other. Fortunately, traffic on the freeway had cleared.

Power came back past 11 pm, was out again before 8 the next morning after I had washed all the dirty dishes and boiled a big pot of water. We were on a boil-water-advisory because the rains had stirred up the reservoirs. Just as a precautionary measure, we were told. We were advised not to even use tap water to brush our teeth or wash the plates. Too late. I had done all those things before I heard the news. No, wait, I think I forgot all about it because our tap water was not at all turbid unlike in some areas.

Our power and water were back to normal after 2 days. I realized how unprepared we were for these kinds of emergencies. We just assume there will always be power and water and cellphone and Internet. Suddenly, we were helpless.

At least I had spare batteries for the flashlights.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Costume fest

Here are some photos of Gabriel and Markus in their costumes last October 31. As usual, we went to church where kids have lots of fun and candies without having to go door-to-door. This year the theme was Fiesta so many were in Mexican costumes, but you could wear something else. Nothing of the dark sorts though because it was not a Halloween party but rather an alternative costume party that many churches provide the community every year.

Markus wearing a Mexican hat and poncho. Posing like un hombre.

And here's Gabriel prize-winning make-up which he did on himself.

At church, Markus took off his Mexican outfit and put on red face paint. Looks like he ate too much burrito.

They do more acting at home...

And here's a clip of Markus doing one of his funny antics. He himself drew the face on the head. You can hear Gabriel and me giggling in the background.