Tag Archives: cold

Cold Crusading for Democracy…

No writing done today. Why? I can’t see out of my eyes and my throat feels like bears came in my sleep and dug for beetles there. 

Been in bed all day, reading and watching British TV, while my cat wanders in and out, mewing in a bored sort of way. He’s even gone mad once or twice, just to see if I react. I do. I cough. He remains unimpressed.

I’m winning, though. I can feel those rhino viruses making a dash for the nearest exit. I hope. Time’s a wasting.


(image from Articulate Matter, a charming site with pictures of plasticine squids that seems, alas, to have gone quiet.)

Ogden Nash‘s “Common Cold”, my favourite poem for such moments:

Read by “Tom O’Bedlam, a wonderful name if ever I heard one…and a deep, resonant voice, similar to mine today…


Common Cold
Go hang yourself, you old M.D.!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
I’m not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever’s hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The Führer of the Streptococcracy.

Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne’er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare’s plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh what a derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!



And now, for the island that hates human visitors…

ImageBouvet Island is a volcanic island covered with glacial ice and surrounded by more ice, located about as far away from Norway as you can get. It’s waaay down on the southern side of the world, below the 50th parallel. No one has ever lived there. And yet, Norway owns it. They fought to have it.

And the island has been trying to kick them out ever since.

It didn’t like people earlier, either. Bouvet, the explorer, found it first in 1739, but recorded the wrong coordinates so no one else could find it. James Cook tried to find it, and couldn’t. The next explorers did find it but couldn’t land on it thanks to the glaciers and sharp hillsides. An American explorer pretendedto find it and hunt seals there but since he never mentioned the glacier, people think they maybe weren’t at the same island.

It gets more confusing because there is a secretive second island, Thompson Island, that is there sometimes, but not there other times. The UK, in trying to claim the island, got legally stopped by the question of which island they had actually landed on.


When a convenient rock slide finally allowed landings on the island, people came and built a hut for meteorological study. It washed away. They brought a more sturdy building and set it up. An earthquake happened – 6. something on the Richter scale – and it shook the building loose. It washed away, just as if the island shrugged its shoulders and tossed them off.

Strangely, it has an internet code. .bv What the he..?

Seriously, it’s a nature preserve, with thousands of migratory birds breeding there, and lots more passing through on their way to better vacation spots. Apparently they eat snow lichen. Yummy.


Go home! Stay away! Macaroni Penguins want it that way!



But if you’re human, I suggest you stay away. The island doesn’t like us much.

The gathering gloom

It was lovely waking early today, with an extra hour to laze about before I headed into the last day of training. I finished it without collapsing!!! And now have a certificate suitable for framing for my troubles. Only got into one mild fisticuff, so I’m feeling pretty proud. Soon I’ll be able to inflict my knowledge on others…
But now it’s evening, and the new daylight has all been used up and so have I. November seems November-ish, all of a sudden- dark and gloomy and with winter hovering in the clouds overhead. The wind, so warm til now, thanks to Sandy, has remembered how it is supposed to blow.
The sky looks leaden, almost snow- laden…
On the good side, no more classes for this course, so tomorrow I’ll get to snuggle under the covers, read a little, and get caught up on NaNoWriMo, where I have fallen horribly behind.
And maybe the sun will come back, just for one more day…


Migods, it’s cold out there!

It is COLD outside.  The kind of cold that tastes like you have an icicle between your teeth and are breathing through it.  The kind of cold that dries your eyeballs when the wind blows (“it’s a DRY cold”), chaps your cheeks, makes you wish you’d brought that scarf, too, to wrap around any remaining skin.  It whistles up your pants legs, chews its way through the fabric, insinuates itself through your hat and hair.

It’s the kind of cold that makes me gasp when walking – especially as the wind grabs my face and whips it around. Everyone else is gasping, too, faces screwed up against the wind, no smiles today else teeth freeze.

Ice crystals are creeping up my windows…

Chutney, fluffy hound of great enthusiasm, has been feeling a bit down lately.  His fur is long, and he finds an apartment at temperatures suitable for me a bit warm, wearying. He keeps asking to go out on the balcony to eat snow. I daren’t leave him out there since the wind is howling and might blow his little self away, so I take him out for a walk.

It’s gotta be puppy love. I can barely stand the bitter wind and him, he is jumping in and out of the snowbanks, slurping up the crystalline snow with his tongue, exploding with joy.  He scoops up  piles of snow with his nose, leaps in over his head and pops out, lingers as the wind rearranges his fur in sealike patterns. He snuffles for smells beneath the frost, digs, ignores the wind.  He’s not even wearing his little embarrassing coat or his booties.

Around me, the walking frozen people stop, watch him, and laugh.  Sudden fierce joy is so wonderful to see. They smile at me, lips pale and at risk of cracking.  Then they shuffle on. Chutney doesn’t notice them.  He is having way too much fun.

Brrr….or where is that global warming we keep hearing about?

I just took the fearless doggums out for a walk in the cold and the blowing snow and the ice and the wind chill. Him: 6 lbs of roughly furry dog, barely 3 inches above ground level, wearing a smallish coat that covers some of his body. Me: Boots, winter coat over heavy sweater, tuque, hood, thermogloves. I was cold.  He was overcome with the joy of being outside and able to catch up on all the news sprayed on every pole and dug into every hole, delighted with the highlighting of squirrels (black) against the white, chasing leaves left behind in fall’s bluster. I couldn’t help but admire the guy.  Right now he’s licking the ice off of his tummy fur, happy as any dog can be.

It always baffles me how we Canadians universally complain about temperatures of -5 C with wind chills of -11 C at this time of the year, yet wear shorts and t-shirts when these same temperatures appear in the spring. Maybe there is something to that “blood thickening” thing. Maybe the months of poutine eaten to forestall the cold add an extra layer that warms us. Maybe we are just so damn desperate to get outside by spring we love anything that smacks of fresh air. But every year, it’s the same.

Other winter things that happen every year:

– people forget how to drive in the snow.  Crashes abound. Everyone forgets how to clear snow off their cars.  Crashes abound.

– some group of idiots take their snowmobiles out onto the ice before it is thick enough, crash through and drown.  This is repeated in the spring.

– Everyone gets on their “winter faces” – eyes squinched shut, teeth gritted under sealed-tight lips, face tilted down and shoulders shrugging away the wind. No one smiles. It’s like we’ve all been totally botoxed. Mind you, in the Prairies, if you smile, your teeth crack.  But that’s when it is -40.

– Everyone in Ottawa starts watching the canal reports for opening day, crossing fingers it will be mystically soon while the weather stays balmy – impossible, but we can dream, eh?

– Snow reports become the most important part of the news. The Weather channel ratings climb.

– People start talking about “a dry cold”….when we lived in the Prairies, it was so cold that your breath would crystallize as it left your mouth, falling like diamonds onto the ground below. When it’s -40, the air can’t hold water.  It is always a dry cold then. Snow evaporates. Here in Ontario, we should be so lucky.  We get the damp cold.  The Maritimes get the wringing wet cold. It’s all ever so slightly different on the body.

But slowly, slowly, we start to adapt. So that when spring comes and we’re back to “only -5!”, we fling open our windows and revel in what we now reject.