Just made it in from digging out from yet another snow day, we are on day two of a marathon of bad weather. Snow days I like, the shoveling not so much, if you have read any of my recent posts you should know by now that I am not a fan of winter and a big part of that is the shoveling. I am one of those who still has to shovel out, no snowblower for me, it’s two legs and a heartbeat that gets me through it. This winter has been especially bad and it still seems like spring is nowhere in sight. After many weather-related conversations this week, there is a general consensus that this winter season is really wearing on us all but “hey, at least we have storm chips”.
Yeah, they’re a thing, I was at the supermarket the other day and a lady in front me was chatting with the cashier and mentioned she was on the hunt for a bag. Now I need to back up a sec to provide some background on this newest phenomenon called “storm chips”. I live in Newfoundland and we are notorious for bad winter storms, and something else we are notorious for is preparing for one. We take our storm days seriously, there’s booze to be purchased, electronic devices that need charging and of course the “storm chips”, snacks are essential. Social media has added momentum I’ve noticed, to this pre-storm ritual, we now live in a world where something like a #STORMCHIPS hashtag can bring a community together while mother nature drops by to throw up.
It’s true, we have come a long way when it comes to how we spend our snow days. One huge example of that is technology, it allows all of us who have to endure a winter wallop to connect and share how each of us, are surviving our snowy sequester. Snow days are a much needed day off work for some, you don’t have to worry that you didn’t make it in because no one else did either. It’s now a chance to binge-watch some Netflix and make it through that next season, maybe grab some games from the closet to challenge the kids, or curl up with that book you’ve been meaning to read. Some even brave the elements and venture outside for a wintery walk hoping the coffee shop on the corner managed to open, the possibilities are endless.
There was a moment as I peeked outside while the freezing rain tapped against the window that I thought back to my youth. I remember mornings my grandparents chatted while I laid in my bed trying to make out what they were saying, I knew it had to be because of the weather because I couldn’t see out my window-oh boy! As the morning went on my confidence grew, the fact that my grandmother, who was my alarm clock for my entire school career, was still yet to crack my door and give my bed a shake was a high probability of a snow day. No happier feeling than being a kid and being told school was canceled and the day was all mine. My snow days are enjoyed from an adult’s perspective nowadays but my inner child still enjoys the anticipation.
Shoveling is all done and the city is moving again, life is slowly getting back to normal. We received give or take, 60 centimeters of snow these last two days, two snow days in a row which is like seeing a unicorn. The rumor of bad weather hits everyone differently, kids don’t count because we all know how they feel. The palette of colors plastered on the meteorologist’s teleprompter can make some cringe, others take it as a warning to start their supply list right away at the whisper of a few flakes. Snow days aren’t going anywhere and no matter how you feel about spending a day stormbound we have no other choice but to wait it out. Take this free day to catch up on things you may not have enough time for normally like cleaning the house, doing a craft or reading a book (or this blog-shameless plug). Newfoundlanders have existed on this rock in the Atlantic for a very long time, yes we may complain, it’s our culture to always talk about the weather because it’s a big part of who we are. It doesn’t matter the forecast anyway because when it comes to a winter in Newfoundland, one thing’s for sure, there’s snow place like home.
There is no bigger compliment than receiving acknowledgment from fellow writers. The Ink Owl has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award which I am so appreciative of and I hold this nomination in the highest regard-Thanks. Please head on over and check out The Ink Owl to discover his contributions of fiction, fantasy, and real life.
Blogs that I feel deserve the same respect and acknowledgment are listed below, each of these blogs has their own unique blend of content and offer a wide assortment of quality writing.
- Orlando Espinosa – need inspiration and motivation? Here’s your man;
- The Road to There – another great site for empowerment, inspiration and a personal journey to enlightenment;
- Adventure 57 – Well written and visually stunning;
- Mirror & Soul – Life from a mom’s perspective, positive thinking at its best;
- Be Like Water Production – Little of this with some of that in the multimedia world;
- My Five Experts – Need help blogging? Great informative content;
- Altered Nature Gyotaku – Blog with artistic flare;
- Follow Your Arrow – Follow her path and journey to help your own;
- Sparky Jen – Another positive thinker with wisdom to share;
- The Watts – A glimpse into the life of a young family with very informative posts for raising kids;
- The Nostalgia Diaries – A look back in reflection, good for the soul;
- Positive Mindset 2017 – Simply positivity, see for yourself;
- Thoughts and Afterthoughts – Free thinking and beautiful poetry;
- Food Fit Fun – Loads of information on healthy living;
- PalHachi – Nice blog with great use of visual elements.
These are some of the more deserving examples of what my blog community can provide for a world of readers waiting to discover them. Each one of the contributors that I have listed above has written their way into my daily routine and I’m sure once your click on their links for yourself, you will find the same. Great job to you all and I feel each one of you are deserving of the Versatile Blogger Award, keep blogging on.
SEVEN THINGS ABOUT ASH
- I don’t always refer to myself in the third person;
- I love to bike;
- Leave no pun left behind;
- Gym rat;
- Not writing gives me anxiety;
- Was raised by my grandparents;
- Favourite author is Neil Parischa.
I am grateful to The Ink Owl in recognizing me for this award and I’m glad to pay it forward with my thoughts and feelings of some of my fellow writers that share their stories each and every day. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and share pieces of ourselves with the world and for that I commend you. Never stop writing and never not sharing because your audience is waiting.
(I thought I’d share this poem that was taken from a journal of mine, it was written July 26, 2006.)
Forget Me Never
Forget me never;
Forget me not.
Times we loved;
Times we fought.
We walked alone;
We walked together.
Forget me not;
Forget me never.
I’ve been nursing a real bad neck as of late, I have no idea what might have caused it, all I know is that it’s been nagging me for awhile now. It could be the gym, quite possibly from shoveling or maybe it’s the way I slept, something has been causing me to slow turn my head for the past two weeks. I was never one to just tolerate the pain so I have been doing my best to rehab it as much as possible, so far, though, the pain keeps coming back. Over the years I’ve accumulated my share of bumps, bruises, and broken bones but with time I healed and the pain all went away, I always bounced back 100%.
This neck thing does bother me a lot, but I’m still doing everything I normally do, there’s a discomfort but I manage the pain enough to get through it. To aid in my recovery, I’m using the help of the gym, heating lotions, stretching and my doctor has prescribed me some pills too but I only take them when I absolutely need to (not a fan). I have resorted to a more physiotherapy like approach when it comes to my gym workout and I make sure not to overdo it which is important when you are rehabbing any type of injury. Best not to push it and make something worst. If you sit at a desk all week like I do it’s good to take some time during your day to work out your strained muscles, working in front of a monitor can wreak havoc on your posture and can also make an existing injury flare up something fierce. I try to pay attention to how I am sitting to alleviate some discomfort created by slouching or hunching over at my desk which I’m guilty of from time to time. Heat has seemed to provide me with the most relief; I have been using a magic bag and a heat rub to loosen the tight muscles in my neck. When it comes to our bodies, we know ourselves the best and we all respond to treatment differently; some of the things that I have suggested are things that you can try for yourself. I do want to point out that if you are experiencing pain on any level, it’s best to consult a doctor and then with that advice you can start your road to recovery.
Dealing with pain is awful; my stepfather had to live with pain each and every day for about a five year period not long ago. He injured himself on the job and was faced with a future of surgeries, painkillers, and extensive rehab that even then provided no absolute surety that he would get back to his old self. I saw that man who is by far the strongest man I know concede that he was at the mercy of chronic pain and on his darkest day cursed everything and wanted to quit. I earned a lot of respect for people suffering in chronic pain because of the hell my stepdad had to endure during his recovery. Because of his will and the support of the family, he’s completely back to himself today but for awhile there, he was doubtful that he would ever truly be rid of the pain entirely.
Staying healthy is a challenge, we try our best to take care of ourselves but sometimes the unpredictability of life proves that anything can happen. We break and bleed all the time, as far back as our days of bumping into corners and falling off our bikes, we are all too familiar with the feeling of pain. Now that I’m older it’s becoming apparent that I may not fix as easy as I used to, I need to do my part but I also need to accept going to the doctor when something doesn’t feel right. I know people who avoid the hospital at all the time which actually puzzles me, why? Ego? Denial? I can’t answer that question for anyone but myself but I hope my dialog has made you think about how important it is to look after yourself. We have friends and family that love and depend on us so we have to think about them too, they matter and so do you, don’t forget that. My neck got me thinking and this post was just my way of exploring my thought…next time I make a post though I promise it won’t be so much of a Pain in the Ash.
I watched a movie earlier tonight, “Cardboard Boxer”, not bad of a film. It starred Thomas Hayden Church and Terrance Howard, and it focused on the homeless. Watching the main character Thomas Hayden Church fight adversity and survive his way through day to day life on the streets got me thinking. A few nights ago I went for a walk and later wrote about it, I blogged about how cold it was and how much I hated winter. It’s true, I was just “vent writing” and emoting my true frustration with how I felt about the dark days of winter. No question about it, that night was cold, sooo cold, it was bitter and there was snow everywhere I looked. As I walked along my body was in a full contraction from the brisk night air, I couldn’t help but think about how people who live on the streets do it. Imagine having no place to go and having to try to find somewhere warm to sleep every night of your life, not only that you have to feed yourself too.
We witness this all the time, we pass by the usual suspects every day on our lunch breaks that give us their best pitch Monday through Friday to score just a little bit of change. As soon as that interaction of just a quick yes or no is over, you move on with your life. We go back to discussing what plans we have for the weekend or how good our workout was that day, the question of where you were sleeping tonight never entered your thoughts. That night as I walked I thought about it a lot, I was freezing, yes I was wimping out a bit too but I was content knowing I had a warm home to return to. I asked myself what I would do, what would be my gut instinct, could I be capable of the lasting a night like that on the street? Probably not, but it humbled me knowing how fortunate I was and how my problems just don’t seem as important anymore. I look out the window and I see a driveway that needs to be shoveled or I see a hinderance to my morning commute, I can’t appreciate the challenges they must endure each and every day battling mother nature.
The next time you pass by someone who could use some help, do so, give them a chance. Yes, I know, how can you be sure where the money is going? So many questions rush through your mind during that microtransaction, it’s milliseconds, we are quick to judge. We can stand there all day morally debating if we should but we already know the answer to that question. How much do we waste each day on the simplest of pleasures that we enjoy, ask yourself again, can you afford to give? I bet the answer is yes, we just try to find answers for saying no, like we have something to prove. We honestly don’t know where we will find ourselves in life, there are peaks and valleys in every dynamic.
That night made me realize that sometimes I do take life for granted and I do have it good but sometimes I think otherwise. I have a roof over my head, a job that I go to from week to week and a family that love and care for me. Appreciate the fact that you have cable and that the internet exists, a trip to the store takes 5 minutes by car, we got it pretty good. Give of yourself, help out at a soup kitchen, donate your used clothing, do whatever you can because at the end of the day if you give back to the people that need it the most it can slowly become the only change they might need.
I went for a walk last night and boy was it cold, the air was crisp, the snow made crunchy noises under my feet and my face kept seizing up on me, ah winter. Didn’t matter what the temperature was, I determined to get a walk in, it was a beautiful night so I threw on a few layers and took off. I kind of fast walked at first which warmed me a little, then when I passed the point of no return I had no choice but to see it through. As I paced along kicking the scatter chunk of ice I thought, we are nowhere near the end of the winter season and it is really starting to get to me. I’ve lived here on this island for my entire life and you would think by now I would be used to the cold Atlantic Canadian winters but that is by far the polar opposite (pun intended).
Yesterday morning we had 30+ centimeters dumped on us which we all had to wake up to and to add to that, had to do so on Monday morning-gross. Yeah the 5:30 wake-up call from the neighbor’s idling snowblower is always an indication that there was shoveling in my future, it was about to be a “morning”. Feeling robbed already of my weekend I turned over and made a cave with my pillows complete with a tiny hole with a perfect view of the alarm clock. Lying there defeated by mother nature along with a severe case of the Mondays, I started doing the math in my head of the steps between getting out of bed and sitting at my desk. On the verge of facing the harsh reality that I had to move my lazy butt and very close to leaving the sanctuary of bed when all of the sudden, my face started buzzing. It was a call from my co-worker, she was calling to tell me that work had a delayed opening, yes…there is a god. There’s no better feeling than looking outside at winter punching everything in the face and then being told that there’s no work, how old am I again? With the anxiety of white-knuckle traffic and snow drifts lifted off my shoulders I returned to the blanketed abyss because it’s a snow day. Well, it was more like a snow morning but like I said, after losing the weekend and on top of that a Monday morning, I’ll take it. (Ash 1 Winter 0)
Oh yeah, I hate not having sidewalks. (Ash 1 Winter 1)
I was sitting down the other night staring outside my living room window with a drink in my hand and the way it looked outdoors reminded me of what it was like at Christmas time in the small town where I grew up. It was the second time that day that I started to think about home actually, I walked to the store earlier that evening and had the same reminiscent feeling come over me. The snow had just fallen and the street lights had this orange tinge to it, the atmosphere was thought provoking and I began to flashback to another time. As I trudged along I began to think how walking was a huge part of how I celebrated Christmas, one tradition that I really enjoyed was going door to door to have a few drinks and spend time with friends and neighbors. It didn’t matter either what part of the town you lived in for everywhere was within walking distance and there was no need for a drop off or cabs like you have to accommodate for in the big city, nope it was two legs and a heartbeat that got you to where you needed to be.
I had a lot of good ol’ times at Christmas with my friends but one friend in particular was always by my side and that was Willie, he was my best friend and pretty much anything thing that I did, he was always a part of it. Every night during the holidays the phone would ring and it would be Willie wondering if I was ready and if he should leave his house to come down to my grandparents where I lived. I ‘d tell him to get his butt down here and within minutes of hanging up the phone he would come strolling in all decked out in his Christmas best grinning ear to ear in the best of moods, although he knew I was there he always asked anyway – “Is Ash here?”. My grandmother would call out to me and give him the ceremonial “sit down Willie my dear; you’re not a stranger now are ya?” He would then slowly proceed to take a seat at the kitchen table acting like it was his first time he had ever visited; he was always his bashful self when it came to my grandmother. Once I finished getting ready I too also took a seat at kitchen table, “my spot” as it were and all was in now in place. My grandmother, god love her, would already have a pre-purchased six pack stored covertly under her bed for such an occasion, she seemed content when we spent time together and she especially enjoyed the fact that we were there, it was like company for her too. Our nights always started at Nan and Pop’s place and once we felt like moving on my grandmother would make sure we had our hats and mitts (“yes nan we do”) and see us to the door where she would leave us with “stay out of trouble and be careful”.
It took us no time before we were sat at another kitchen table being poured a drink of our choice and being ushered to take off our coats and stay awhile. All the homes were nestled together on the hillside so once we ventured on from one place there would be someone else bellowing from their patios for us to join them; this would go on all night. Yarns were spun and good times were had by all, Christmas spirit was in abundance and no doubt our glasses stay filled the night through. Small town life has a different feel to it; everybody knows who you are and what family you came from and after twenty minute of drilling you with questions regarding your upbringing you could pretty much clue up your family tree in one sitting. There was no traffic in site, the houses had Christmas lights which illuminated the pathways just enough to show us the way. We were always met with a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year by all whom passed by and we would often pick up a strangler or two nowhere near done with their night of festivities, the more the merrier we’d say. There was a sense of belonging no matter where you went, everyone felt like family and would make sure to offer a spare room or the couch if things got a little too fuzzy.
Every year for many years Willie and I would do this and it was a tradition that we kept alive for much of our young adult lives. When I think back today it makes me feel good that I had to the chance to spend some quality moments with someone who was very near and dear to my heart, someone like Willie. Looking back in hind sight and especially now that he has passed on I’m very thankful that I had gotten the chance to be friends with such a wonderful guy who I miss every day.
Willie was also good friends with my uncles as well, so whenever we were together there was a good chance that one if not all my uncles were there too (I had five). Never a dull moment with them around trust me, they would torment us and call us light weights when it came to drinking and every now and again we would get body slammed into a snow bank for no apparent reason at all. There was no point in retaliation either because it only came back worst then the first time around but it was all in good fun and that was the genuine theme when we were all together was to “have fun”. They ‘re all a good bunch of guys who have created beautiful families of their own and I miss hanging out with them like that, it seems like it was a lifetime ago but the memories are just as vivid as if it had happened only yesterday. Stop and think about that someone that you miss spending time with and if they are still reachable and a part of your life then call them up and go spend time with them, it’s the perfect opportunity this time of year to do it.
As Willie and I got older we migrated from just going door to door to visiting the local watering hole, the “Hook N’ Line”, which at the time was owned by my parents so most nights we’d wind up there. A huge congregation of familiar faces filled the room as we escaped a cold winter’s night; it was like walking into Cheers on TV where everyone knew your name. There was always an energized atmosphere about the place with people laughing, carrying on and a game of pool usually took center stage as people young and old alike would try for bragging rights in an impromptu on the spot Christmas tournament. The pub was all decorated, music was festive, the place was packed to its capacity, a prime opportunity to see some of your old friends and catch up. There were some good times that we had back then at that quaint little bar, for the most part it seemed like the whole community was there all coming together to celebrate the holidays by sharing stories and drinks until the wee hours in the morning only to do it all over again the very next evening.
So the other night as I looked outside it was no different than most nights but for some reason it struck me differently, I was gifted with memories of Christmases past, it was nice. I remember those days fondly and in retrospect I’m grateful to have been asked to be a part of so many peoples’ lives in celebrating Christmas in small town Newfoundland. I was welcomed into their homes to share in their joy which I sometimes miss but we all have to move on which may mean leaving home behind to find a life for ourselves somewhere’s else. No matter where that journey takes us we can always look back, we may not be able to recreate the past but the past is a big part of who we are today and how we continue to celebrate the holidays.
It’s true, we all have loved ones that are no longer with us, for me they include some that I have mentioned in this post. It makes me sad yeah, but it also makes me feel good that I have memories that they will always be a part of, that night while I walked to the store or while I looked from my window might have been a gesture from above that they too are missing me. Just take inventory of what makes you happy and use that to celebrate who you still have in your lives, eat good food and share great stories while keeping their spirits alive and those traditions going. If you feel lonely during the holidays maybe it’s an indication that you need to get back in touch with someone or somewhere, the solution may be just as simple as picking up the phone or knocking on that that door and I bet there’s a friendly face waiting on the other side maybe thinking the very same thing. I leave you with a simple thought that whether it’s a kitchen party, a drink with a best friend or a pub full of friendly faces, the only thing that should be on anyone’s mind during Christmas is “who’s got the next round?”