Our Turn: The Cold Weather is Here.

It is the first day of February, 2019, and I must say, “what a mild winter season it has been so far, for us folks up in the North Coast of British Columbia.” However, this will all end, very soon, as a fidget Arctic System is creeping down on us, fast. The weather prognosticators say, starting tonight, the deep freeze will start, and will last until next weekend. But what really hits home for me, is that I saw temperatures as low as minus 14C on the chart! Right now it is minus 2, snowing, with winds from the North, gusting to 40km/h. A piece of cake, by North Coast standards. But, cold is cold, no matter how you slice it. (I wrote this part while I was on my lunch break)

So, here is where we are at for conditions. It is snowing out, although lightly. There is about 3cm of slush on the ground. It is windy out, with winds coming in from the North. So, add super cold weather to the mix, and all this will freeze. Tonight will be the perfect night to stay at home–this I can predict. So, let me talk about my commute home.

(I am at home now) So, I am driving home. The roads in Terrace near perfect: dry, and void of any snow. Once I got onto the side streets of Thornhill, BC, then is was a different story. When I left the nice and dry road of the highway, and hit the first side street, to my house, I was faced with a nice thick layer of ice on the road. I mean, it was perfect, as the setting Sun’s light reflected from off of it, I have to put on my sunglasses, it was so bright. So, I took the first corner very slowly, at about 20km/h, to make sure I had full control. When I had to stop at the first stop sign, my car’s brakes would not go into ABS Mode (Anti Braking System) and I slid a few metres past the stop sign. So, this had me worried. So I started pumping the brakes at the next top signal. Even the very large SUV, behind me, was having troubles of his own, navigating on the same road.

So the lesson here is that, no matter how good your tires are, driving on pure ice, is still a cautionary tail. You treat the road condition with a huge amount of respect, and HOPE the people driving around are doing the same thing.

 

It is now down to minus 4C, to it is expected to dip below 8C, over night. I am prepared for this. I have an emergency kit, if the power goes out. Plus I have my car, if I need to leave. But, since I have lived here, the whole place seems to be build to handle this type of weather, so I have confidence that all this will be a walk in the park. So, bundle up!

Added Two New House Plants to the Team!

In my ever growing plant world, I acquired two new additions, a Barrel Cactus and a Spider Plant! I know I can look after the Barrel Cactus, which is a no brainer, but I was a little apprehensive on the Spider Plant becuase this guy need lots of regular watering, and the soil must be kept moist. However, I have the LED grow light, and my Air Plant and pointy cactus are doing awesome with it, so why not go for more…

First came the Spider Plant, I bought it over a week ago. To my amazement, the plant loves the grow light, and since I transplanted it into a larger pot, it has taken off. It has grown several new shoots in the last few days, and the foliage, 0ver all, seems to be growing by about 2cm since I got it. I think it is happy. In a few weeks, my macrame pot holder should arrive in the Post, and I will hang it in the living room window, with a LED Grow Light over top of it. We will see if it takes to that environment with lots of growth.

Yesterday, I bought the Barrel Cactus, which it looks more like a Ball, and it seems to be very healthy. I will do a pot transplant sometime soon becuase it has roots coming out the bottom the pot into the foil wrapper. And a warning, its thorns are very sharp. This guy must have very few predators out in the wild.

So, four plants, with three totally different needs. The Air Plant I have had now for over year, and is super easy to care for. The tall Cactus, I have had it for just under a year now, and it is still growing strong, and seems healthy. I have not killed them off, so I must be doing something right. Here is hoping the two new plants have long lives as well. Yay to the green thumb!

Weird, I am Awake.

I just thought I had to share this becuase it is rare that my body is “awake” when I am starting the day at 5:00am. Last night I fell asleep around my usual time, about 9:30pm, and had no troubles diving into full on REM sleep. In fact, I do not even remember any of my dreams. But needless to say, when I awoke, the whole worlds seemed to be up with me.

Starting the day was awesome. There was no one else commuting at the same time. I saw one truck on the highway, and he was going East bound, in Thornhill. When I got into Terrace, BC, across the Skeena River Bridge, there where only the “Walkers,” or homeless people, walking the main street (Lakesle Avenue) on my way to fill my coffee mug with the Black Throat Charmer that is served at 5:00am in town.

Once loaded up with coffee, I haul butt to my work place, on the other side of town, in the area called South Terrace. There ahead of me, the freshly built Cell Tower, shining its bright red beacon, pulsating every second, lighting up the mist around it, and it seem to say, “you work here.” Yes, if you love radiation, over several  thousand Watts of it, then you will be at home here. And the work day started. With out a hitch, snag or hick-up.

Maybe I ate something that made the difference? Perhaps I got just right amount of sleep I needed? Maybe the alignment in Four Dimensional Space and Time was perfect, and caused a well deserved ripple, at a quantum level? Maybe, being over fifty years old, my brain does not care anymore, and all seems relative now. It all does not matter; I feel awesome. I wish somehow that this moment could be bottled up and stored for later days that suck. Oh, wait, they have that already.

We will see how far it takes me.

Mother Nature Would Not Let Us See it!

As Mother Nature’s shroud blanketed the sky above us, the Moon and her glory sank into the Earth’s shadow, and all we could do was to imagine what it is she looked like as her reflective light faded, then reappeared again. The night seemed to become thicker with clouds, and yet the air warmed, an odd combination for the North Coast of British Columbia this time of the year. The winter snow was melting in the Skeena Valley, and there was no rain falling from the sky. Yet, we were unable to whiteness the Lunar Eclipse, but for one 3 minute period, when the clouds parted for one brief moment during the first phase of the eclipse cycle.

So, the short story, we saw nothing of significance, but the pretty lights of Terrace, BC, from up on the Bench of Kalum View Drive. Sadly, as much as I wanted to photograph the Lunar Eclipse, all I got were clouds shots. But the day was not a total loss…

The trip to Lakelse Lake, in the early afternoon, was a nice departure from the usual Sunday drive into town. It had been at least three weeks since we were at the park last, and the first thing we noticed was amount of snow that had fallen there since. Only half the parking lot was cleared of snow, though. The lake did have a layer of ice on it, but nothing close to being safe to walk on it, though some had tied, when it was colder the week before. But it was the setting Sun that made the day. Oh, was the Southern sky awesome to watch over the lake, as the clouds moved in from over the horizon. It was warm out at the lake too, a mere 3C, though Suzette was not dawning her two-piece bikini just yet.

The second stop was Onion Lake. Because this lake is a little higher in altitude, it was a little more frozen over, but not enough that I would try to walk on it. There sure was a lot more snow at the summit than there was in the low lands. Many vehicles get stuck on this stretch of the highway during the winter months.

The drive home was fun too. Yes, I am being sarcastic. Drivers on the Kitimat Highway love to speed, or have that “me first,” attitude while driving on it. And part of the speeding fun, is to pass other motorist going up hills, while you are doing the speed limit. My poor car did get sprayed with small rocks as the SUVs sped by me; but all was good, there was no damage.

Dinner at my home: Pork-Chops with veggies and salad. All of this smothered with Cream of Mushroom Soup. I got a passing grade! Then we watched a movie on Netflix, “IO,” 2019. and then left to seek out a view of the Lunar Eclipse. None of us saw the Lunar Eclipse, except for that very brief moment on the hill over looking Terrace.

The Yearning of the Sun

Actually, when I saw the sunrise last week, it felt as if I saw an old friend again, the Sun, but really, the yearning was for the return of summer. Yes, I had that feeling of needing the good old days of summer back, as I saw the Sun rise. Here in the Skeena Valley, you have the winter position of the Sun, which is just 25 degrees above the horizon, coupled with the mountains that circle around us. This leaves us with a very short day period during the fall and winter months. Seeing the Sun sink below the horizon, as the Earth spins, (this happens around 4:30pm in the afternoon), puts the damper on daily life, when you get home from your work day.

The above image is Miss Egghead enjoying the Sun rise in the mythical Cube Land. The image is a render done in Blender 2.8 Beta.

It is normal to have weeks with overcast sky, and days with rain in the valley. During the colder months, snow is the daily routine, sprinkled with ice, as the sky is cloud filled, with moments of clearing, allowing the Sun sneak through. But it is the darkness that creeps in, making the night life some eighteen hours long, leaving some people with the “Winter Blues.” However, with seeking moments like this day, where the Sun shines, getting out and absorbing its rays, is a natural rite.

Also, one more point: This has been an unusually warm winter, so far. We have missed the full onslaught of the Arctic Vortex, but nonetheless, it is winter. The Earth spins it usual way, and nothing can be done about that. However, there is, with out any doubt, less snow, than normal. The Skeena River is still way below its usual level, and the Coastal Mountains do not look that snow packed, as compared to last year. These are just my opinions, not scientific facts. Though, I have read some articles in the media agreeing with me.

May we see more Sun, and less clouds in the coming weeks, without causing drought conditions like last year.

The Offers Overflow-th

As of today, I have had three, count them, three offers of employment in one week. It seems that my skills and talents are in high demand on the Pacific North Coast. The first offer came last week, in the form of a text message from a contact of mine when I was doing side jobs in Terrace, where they need a law office person in their Claims department. Next came an office/supply management position for a trucking company. And today, a rental company needing a service and office person for their Terrace outlet. Have I accepted?

Let me say, the Skeena valley is seeing an up-swing in economic development, more than likely in the wake of the proposed 40 billion LNG project in Kitimat, BC, then compared to the last few years. Nearly every business, and investors, are ramping up expectations of this possible increase in revenue. Even though not one penny has been spent, the region is poised to offer services that otherwise were nonexistent, or limited, just six months ago. Even the Real Estate Market is rising faster than bread in an oven.

With the cost of living and inflation rising, so to is the need of higher compensation to attract labour in the area. Employers are, by their nature, exists only for the profit, and are often resisting coughing up more revenue for labour. When the cost of living inhibits, and geographical remoteness is added, labour is harder to attract. The game of “give and take” is played. Business cry for cheaper labour when services are lacking talent to fill it, and Labour looks elsewhere where the grass is greener; Free Enterprise is a B*@#! when it works.

As for my decisions: I turned them all down. None of the businesses came even close to my current level of employment compensation. They could not attract me, as their offers’ fell far short of my merits. They will need to put more up front, to fill their needs. If a business cannot grasp this simple concept, then they need to find something else they are more suited to do, or relocate.

The Local Flu Bug Is Still Attacking

It looks like there are more sick people at my work than there were when I was sick a month ago. It sounds like at least five technicians have it now. That is roughly half the co-workers I interact with that are coughing, and complaining about flu like symptoms. I personally thought we were over the hump for this year’s flu season, but looking at these guys, it appears we just might be getting started with the flu season up here on the North Coast.

Their symptoms appear to be a little different from what mine were four weeks ago. I had full on lung goo that caused me to cough every ten seconds, shooting up flem and goo. These guys, they seem to have the sinus infection with fever, without the goo infected lungs. So, for now, I call this a different type of the flu from what I had, but nonetheless, just as nasty.

The flu bugs still roams wild here on the North Coast. Beware, and trust no one!

Flakes into Drops, into Monster Puddles, and it Was Not Pretty!

Let me set the scene for you. It is 5:30am, and I am off to work, driving from Thornhill, BC into Terrace, taking the Old Skeena River Bridge route. I take this route becuase I usually grab a coffee in town before I head into work. I am now crossing the bridge, entering Terrace, going pass the Legion, going onto Lakelse Avenue. I look ahead of me, and notice that I am following a police car. And at the bottom of hill, the car hit a large puddle, causing it to veer left, then he slowed right down, as the water sprayed across both sides of the road. He straighten out, but I thought his car was going to stall out in water. The water spray reached the building, covering the windows and walls with water and ice. He managed to get his car going again, and drove off.

My turn now. I drove right over to the left, into the other lane, to avoid as much of the puddle as I could. I slowed down to 20km/h too. It did not matter, as the puddle was deep on both sides of the road, only covering less of the road in the East bound lane. All I heard was the thunderous roar of the water all around me, as I hit it, and even at my speed, I could see the water shooting across the road on both sides. Then my car slowed right down, and instinctively I pushed on the gas peddle. For a split second, I was worried. My little car suddenly lurched forward, and resumed speed. I looked in my rear view mirrors, to see water still traveling through the air, into the building, the sidewalks, and onto other vehicles that were parked.

No, the fun did not stop there.

After buying my coffee, I drove back onto Lakelse Avenue, heading towards Eby Street, in front of the Terrace City Hall building. I made my left turn, and then switched lanes to eventually make my right turn back onto Highway 16, heading West bound. It was right at the turn off of Eby Street that I hit another monster sizes puddle. This time, my headlights on my car dimmed as the water shot up into the air. I was turning too, so my car lurched to the left side, and I compensated with the steering wheel. I got onto the highway, and this time all I could see is the steam from my exhaust going into the air. 

Everywhere, there were lake size puddles along the roads. It was raining hard too, in the valley. The night before we a snow storm that dumped about 15cm of snow, then it warmed up to plus 2C, and has been raining ever since. But the problem is, all this water has nowhere to go. All the storm drains are plugged with snow, and the ground is still frozen from the week long freeze.

My last hurtle was driving into the parking lot at my work. That was all water, and in some spots, the water was over 30cm deep. The entrance, was another deep spot that all most stalled out my car. I took that corner very slow.

This afternoon, I hopped into my car, started it, and all was good. I checked everything, and nothing seemed broken from the water, so I was happy. The drive home was awesome, as all the lakes on the road were almost gone. There were a few spots with super-sized puddles, but these were a lot smaller than what they were at 5:50am.

So glad the weekend has started!

Powder Snow and Windy Cold Out

It seems we are in the midst of a cold spell here in the Skeena Valley, were it is below freezing. Old Jack Frost has been a little nippy, especially when it comes to scrapping off my car every morning before work. For three days now, it has been below freezing, with some snow, and it looks like we have one more day of it before we bounce right back into the freakishly warm weather again. Rumour has it, by Friday we could be above 6 to 10C, again in Thornhill, BC.

A shot looking at my bedroom window, my Southern view to the world, from inside.

Sure, this pales in comparison to last year’s wintry season, and even to the hardcore Skeena Valley citizen would say this is weird year, but cold is cold, no matter which way you hold it. Instead of 100cm of snow, last year, we are getting 5cm of nice powdery snow this year, and I can say, the wind has not been that bad either. But waking up to minus 5C, still adds that little bitty shock to the old nervous system when your feet touch the hardwood floor for the first time. You sort of let out a little, “yelp.”

So far, it appears that today will be the coldest day for this season. I think it went down to minus 7C last night, and were currently at minus 3C this afternoon. This might be a super short winter season.

Pretty Lights In the Snow: A New Years Day Walk

It was like magic; the pretty lights in the snow along the Terrace Grand Trunk Pathway that stretches beside The Yellow Head Highway 16. I waited for the right time to walk this, to take photos of the LED coloured lights along the path. Of course, it had to be dark out, and not foggy, and above all else, it needed to be a non-work day the next morning. So, New Years day, was the perfect choice. So me and Suz headed down the path, snapping photos as we went.

What was neat about some of the lights, was that they were half buried in the snow–adding for that extra light effect. The above shot was one of my favourites. The other weird thing about shooting LED lights with a digital camera was that you can see the lights fade in and then out again. The light oscillates from bright to dim, and back again.

As for the path, it was icy, so you had to watch your step. At one point, I found it was better to walk off the path, than on it. Of course, I have water proof runners on, which did not help the grip on ice problems I was having.

The weather was even weird too. It was 7C at my place overnight, and tonight, it was hovering around 3C. It was actually raining out when walked the path, and snow was melting at a good rate. The roads were perfect to drive on throughout the Skeena Valley, both in Terrace and in Thornhill, BC.

I sort of screwed up when I took these shots. Normally, I set the ISO to 100, and adjust my shutter speeds accordingly. But this time, I had the ISO to “Auto,” and the camera left the shutter speed a 1/125 per sec., and adjusted the ISO for me. In most cases I hate images with lots of noise from the high ISO values, but I did some good shots from tonight, so I will keep them.

I hope you enjoy the light show. Have a great New Year!