Tag Archive: winter


Winter in Halifax

One might say my last term at Dal was a bit of a disaster. In fact that IS how I described it to people at first; as usual though, a little more perspective shows that everything worked out exactly the way it was supposed to. Here’s how it happened.

I came into the term already feeling a little unsettled: the work term didn’t clarify whether this was the right field for me, it was hard to connect with a whole new group of younger classmates, and most of my peeps from my previous terms were out of town on their second work term. Also a shoulder injury prevented me from swimming, and winter isn’t the time to go running or biking in Halifax, so I wasn’t getting any of the exercise that usually keeps me sane. I worked really hard to stay ahead of deadlines, and managed to stay afloat pretty well until about mid-way through the term. In fact I really loved my Design project, and other people seemed to think quite highly of it too, but at a certain point it stalled. There were some key issues that needed addressing, and as I tried to make adjustments to the design to accommodate new features, nothing worked, and it felt like the whole project was disintegrating in front of me. This went on for about a month, during which time I didn’t realize just how tightly I had braided my own sense of self worth with the success of this project, and it was literally making me crazy.

Most of the negative thoughts I was having were running in the background, but a day came when they became loud, persistent, and very dangerous. Having lost family to suicide, and having worked with people who were suicidal, I finally recognized that I was in real trouble. The myopia that comes during these moments meant that I could only see two options: death, or leaving the program. I chose the latter, and those terrifying thoughts fell quiet.

My school was really supportive throughout this, and together we worked out a less drastic plan: to finish some courses, and return next year to complete the others. I am determined to finish this degree. In the meantime I will work, save money, practice some of the skills that I felt weak on in school, and most importantly, do some counselling to address the roots of that negative thinking.

Had all this not happened, I would now be finished the degree, and looking for work in a very slow market, with those thoughts still lurking below my conscious awareness. I feel really fortunate to be given the chance to slow things down, learn something really important about myself, and be better prepared to move forward when I do graduate. One way or another, everything works out.

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Easy winter

Yeah, school’s been keeping me away from the blog, but there’s another reason I haven’t written anything about sleeping in the cold yet… I was waiting for a night that felt like a real accomplishment, a real Canadian winter night spent in a van. But global warming seems to be working in my favour: -16 is about the coldest it got for me. There were two nights that it got down to -19, but one was the night I was locked out (see last entry), and the other I was up all night at school finishing a project.

All in all I was pretty comfortable this winter, and the key to it all was my beautiful, sweet, dear hot water bottle. Instead of trying to heat up the bed with my body, I’d boil water at school before I left, and toss it in bed about foot level. By the time I got home it’d be nice and toasty (in one spot at least). Many, many thanks to Shirley for that idea.

I only had one vandwelling adventure, when my usual spot at Horseshoe Island got buried in snow and I had to find a new one that wasn’t in the way of the snow plows. I backed the car onto a quiet little corner off the road near the yacht club, and got stuck halfway with two feet of compacted snow under the van. After about 45 minutes of digging it all out and tramping down the snow behind, I was able to back all the way in. I used that spot for the next two or three weeks, it was lovely. Sometimes it even had internet!

This photo was last week… I always leave the front windows open a crack for fresh air, and on that night there was a fine dusty snow getting blown all around… by morning it was winter wonderland in the front seat!

It can still be pretty chilly (yesterday morning when I woke up it was -7 inside the van), but most nights are fine, and last night marked the lifting of the ban on overnight street parking, so in my world, winter is officially over. Wahoo!!

Beach House

Beautiful big dump of snow today, yayyyyy!!! But this means I have to shovel my driveway. No really, I have a driveway now. With the overnight parking ban there are only a few places I can go at night, but one of those places is so utterly perfect that I’ve decided to make it my permanent winter home. It’s a little boat launch with a few parking spots right on the water, private and quiet, and as far as I can tell it’s totally legal to park there overnight. I share it with a squadron of ducks, and every so often I hear them squawking at each other. They sound exactly like Daffy Duck, it cracks me up. Anyway my one concern about this place is that there’s a bit of a slope to the entrance that could be tough to navigate when it’s icy, so the other day I bought a snow shovel and some de-icer. So I can take care of the driveway leading to my new waterfront property, ba ha!