Category Archives: Winter

Happy Happy!

Sooooo, as you might have guessed from the title, this is a happy entry!  I just got back from a great long weekend in the DC-area.  Now, why was I there?  So see my excellent friends L & S get married!  L is a Foreign Service Officer and was posted in Ciudad Juarez with me and she met S while living there and one thing led to another and now they’ve gotten hitched before heading off to Morocco for L’s second post.

Since the wedding was actually about an hour outside of DC and I wanted to do a bunch of shopping while I was down there, including getting some liquids, I decided to drive instead of fly.  It’s about 10 hours of driving to get from Ottawa to DC, which is doable in one day.  However, Mother Nature decided to make the drive down a bit of a challenge.  First, Ottawa was forecast to get 5-8 inches of snow on Friday, the day I left.  So, I left at 0-dark-thirty to try to avoid it.  I succeeded in avoiding the snow, but managed to drive through about an hour of freezing rain.  By the time I crossed the border in to New York, my car was covered in ice.  Not only was it covered in ice, but when I stopped to get gas in the car there, the gas nozzle was covered in ice.  Have I mentioned that this is in APRIL?  Yes?  Ok, then.

After Ogdensburg, it changed to regular rain and rained on my for another 3-4 hours.  Then it cleared up for a bit, but I wasn’t in the clear yet.  In Pennsylvania, I ran in to bad fog, where I could only see about 100-200 feet in front of me.  That obviously slowed me down a bit.

Finally, it cleared up and I made the rest of the drive to Maryland.  When I finally got to the hotel, I stepped outside and just basked in the glorious 78F sunshine for a few minutes.  It felt sooooo good to stand outside in the nice, warm sun.

The wedding on Saturday was wonderful!  It was outside at a nice vineyard and the weather was beautiful.  The ceremony really reflected L & S and was super fun.  The reception at the vineyard was also really nice.  The company was especially wonderful.  I saw several other friends from Ciudad Juarez and it was wonderful to be reunited with them for a bit.  My time in Juarez was definitely tough, but I’m really lucky to have come away with some really good friends from my time there and spending time with them made me realize just how much I miss them.  There was much laughing, much fun, and even some dancing.   And, of course, L & S got married. 🙂

On Sunday, I ran a bunch of errands, returning things I’d ordered online, buying new things, and so on.  I got a lot done and then finally checked in to my hotel closer to DC.  I also met up with some of the same and some different Ciudad Juarez friends for a nice dinner.  Again, it was really fun to hang out with them for a few hours before we all had to go our separate ways.  Several of them are wrapping up language training before heading out to their second posts.  One was on R&R from her second post and I’d driven down from Canada.  While we used to see each other every day, we’ll now see each other less and less and will almost certainly never all serve at the same post again.  So, it was nice to be able to get together before everyone heads off to their new posts.

On Monday, I ran more errands, and finally finished stocking up on all the stuff I was after.  Between shopping in Ottawa and in New York, I can find almost everything I want, but there are a few things like Shiner Bock beer* and whatnot that I can’t find.  So, now I have all the peach salsa, pepper jelly, frozen enchiladas, and so on!  Nom, nom, nom.

Finally, I drove home today.  The drive home was much less eventful than the drive down.  It was smooth sailing.  There was some rain, but not too much and it didn’t slow me down too much.  The Diplokitten was happy to see me and all the frozen stuff I got actually fit in my freezer here.

Tomorrow, I go back to work and will have to hit the ground running since this is a busy time.  Also, on top of the busy-ness, I now have to do an Employee Evaluation Report (EER) because I found out last Wednesday evening that I got TENURED!  Tenure in the Foreign Service is sort of like academic tenure.  It’s a decision to keep you around and it means that it’ll be harder to fire you. Mwahahaha! 😉  Kidding.  Still, it’s an important step and nice to have out of the way.

So, that’s been my last week or so.  A very happy one for a lot of reasons. 🙂

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Filed under Canada, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Ottawa, Spring, Travel, Vacation, Washington DC, Weddings, Winter

Spring?

Even the Canadians I talk to have said that this was a cold and snowy winter this year.  However, I may be getting ahead of myself, but I think that Spring is starting to sneak up on Ottawa.  It hasn’t been below 0F in a couple of weeks, it’s actually gotten above freezing for several days in a row, the snow is slowly melting, and to top it all off, I saw a squirrel on my way to work last week.  So, it looks like spring is starting to arrive in Ottawa, though I’m sure it’ll be awhile before I’m running around in flip flops.   Still, it’s nice to see the weather improving a bit and to not have to put on quite as many layers each time I want to leave the house.

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Filed under Canada, Ottawa, Spring, Winter

Take that, ice!

I went ice skating yesterday.  The rink we were on was not artificially cooled and it was about 38F so the ice was what some people call “soft,” which it definitely was not as I later found out through my own testing.

There I was, just skating around, minding my own business, when the ice tried to eat my right skate and swallowed the blade whole.  I retaliated by hitting the ice as hard as I could with both hands and my left knee.  I showed that ice.  It didn’t try to eat my skate the rest of the time I was skating around.

Unfortunately, my left knee wasn’t too happy about my decision to show the ice who was boss and has decided to hurt and turn some interesting colors.  However, I stand by my decision that it was right to retaliate against the ice.  After all, gravity was on my side and you can’t let the ice go around thinking it can just try to gobble up whole skates.

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Filed under Canada, Ottawa, Snow, Winter

Ottawinter

I’m in the middle of my first Ottawinter and I’m muddling through.  I won’t go as far as to say that I’m enjoying it, but I’m definitely managing ok.  I’ve got the snow boots, the long underwear, the ear warmers, the toque (toboggan to those of us from south of the border, eh), the mittens (even the mittens have layers!), and so on.  So, I waddle around in all my layers and look like the Michelin Man. The good news is that everyone else looks like him, too, so I blend in. I’ve even gone ice skating without falling down.  I hope to make it to the Rideau Canal next week and give that a try.

I’m not going to lie though.  I miss my flip flops.  I think they miss me, too.  I can hear them calling from my closet.  “Wear us! Wear us! It’s warm enough.”  Little do they know, though, that it is not warm enough.  Not by a long shot and I’m rather attached to my toes and don’t want to lose any of them to frost bite. So, since The Weather Channel’s 10-day forecast doesn’t show any temperatures above freezing, I don’t think I’ll be wearing them any time soon.

On the up side, I can tell that the days are getting longer.  It’s no longer completely dark when I leave the office after work which is nice.  I can tell that we’re slowly moving toward spring, even if there’s still awhile to go.

So, I’m making it through my first Canadian winter, but I still think I prefer Texas winters, where it’s 75F in February.  Someone remind me of that this fall when I’m bidding on my next post.

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Filed under Bidding, Canada, Ottawa, Winter

Frozen

It got up to 57F today in CDJ and things finally seem to have thawed.  We had highs in the upper 20s or low 30s and lows from 0 to 15F the past few nights which caused a lot of problems in CDJ and El Paso.  Buildings and the electrical system here are not built to handle that kind of cold, so there were rolling blackouts and many of my coworkers lost power and/or water for all or part of the past three days.

I hadn’t paid attention to it before, but it seems to be pretty standard construction here to put the hot water heater in the garage or an outside closet in most houses, so many people experienced some sort of freezing in their hot water heater and I heard that a couple of my coworkers’ water heaters actually burst.  Others had pipes burst in or outside of their houses.  Some of my coworkers attempted to go to El Paso to stay in a hotel because the heat or water wasn’t working in their houses and ended up stuck in line at the bridge to cross into El Paso after Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) lost power.

Fortunately, my house weathered the cold pretty well.  I didn’t lose power while I was home and had water all through the event, though the pressure did get pretty weak.  Things seem to have thawed and I haven’t noticed any ominous dripping or other signs of problems.  My heater did stop working sometime overnight from Thursday to Friday, but very fortunately for me, the consulate’s maintenance team was able to fix it on Friday and it’s been working well since! 🙂  It shouldn’t get too much below freezing for the next week, so hopefully we’re out of the woods for this kind of freezing weather.  I’m ready for summer!

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Filed under Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Winter

Nieve!

It snowed in Ciudad Juarez last night!  I tried to take some pictures of the snow but they didn’t turn out that well since it was dark.  And yes, I checked and made sure that it was snow and not some other type of white powder that might be more common here than snow. 😉

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Filed under Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Snow, Winter