20 Centimetres of Snow

Saturday afternoon hit a temperature low of -18 degrees yet it was supposed to feel like -28 degrees due to wind and humidity. It was all good then since Dan and I were taking our time waking up to the gloomy sky and having our brunch at a placid pace. However, we had a Christmas party that evening which meant that we had to leave our cozy nest. With the extreme cold in Quebec and the inconvenience of staircases in metro stations, I have long ditched heels and fancy shoes. Flats, snickers and boots have been my top picks. Yet for that faithful evening, I wanted to dress up. Vanity overpowered comfort. I headed out with four layers of top (sufficiently warm), a pair of skin toned stockings and a pair of winter boots. We had to walk to a friend’s place for a car ride which was a stone’s throw away. Within thirty seconds, my legs were numb from the cold and a minute later, an uncomfortable sizzling sensation coursed through my almost naked thighs which made me squirm in agony. Fortunately, we managed to reach our destination before my pair of legs was a goner. *exaggeration*

The Christmas party was great fun with the usual gang of people who hung out till late. The dance floor ‘stopped’ at about 230 a.m. The snow storm had probably started while we were feasting like hungry animals. By the time we left the place, we could barely see the roads. As we made our way to the car, beautiful flakes were showered upon us while we used what’s left of us to plow through the snow. In a car pool of four, we drove at a turtle speed of 45km/h as driving visibility was not more than 50m to 80m.

The snow did not take a break for a good whole night and the following day. That resulted in a city covered in white with cars disappearing under the blankets of snow while residents busied themselves with clearing their walkways and balconies.

On my end, I remain fascinated with the snowfall. As a tropical girl, I feel like I am in a fairytale!  As I walked down the streets snapping some photos, some people greeted me with warm smiles before resuming their shoveling. With a little more time at hand, I would definitely love to head up to Mount Royal to do some magic carpeting!

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Signing off with love,

Esther 

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Endless Amazement with Snow

I kind of understand now why some people in Montreal do not like winter. When winter stretches almost six months long, it can be frustrating. We are in March and everyday I wonder if spring is here. Despite my one month escapism to a tropical island, I still look forward to put on a fancy outer layer instead of my same old winter jacket.

Last week we had a snow storm. Snow still amazes me a lot especially when there is whole lot of them; when they cover the roads and eventually the cars along the roads. Hopefully that’s the last snow storm we are having this winter as it needs to makes space for other seasons!

A snow storm in Montreal in mid March.

A snow storm in Montreal in mid March.

A street full of snow.

A street full of snow.

Signing off with love,

Esther

Hey you 2013!

Welcome 2013! May this year be filled with love, comfort, warmth and prosperity!

Dan and I were brainstorming for ideas on what to do for countdown. A rule that I stick with – It has to be different from the last. We thought of organizing an activity with a theme in the day and end off with the countdown at our place. As we tossed through the various ideas, went through various themes like sports, board games etc, nothing seemed to resonate with me until Dan said, “We could also head up to Quebec City.”

That was how we ended up spending two days one night with his brother and his family in Quebec City. We were warmly hosted by the family with two energetic children filling the apartment with their enthusiastic babbles and contagious laughter. My sister-in-law prepared a meal that was thankfully apt for the evening. Spare ribs with rice. Fats + Carbohydrates = Warm. Food is definitely one of the main factors needed to embrace an evening of -10 degrees Celsius. The other essential would be one’s dressing. Last winter, being a noob, I was always raising a white flag and retreating indoors after an hour or two.  I didn’t want to get my ass frozen. Once bitten twice shy. This time round, I layered myself like an onion. For the top, I had a long john as my first warm layer, followed by two long sleeved blouses, one inner jacket and finally a sports winter coat. For the bottom, I had a long john and a snow pants. I have to thank my husband for insisting that I get a snow pants for his wisdom has made its point once again.

At about 10pm, Dan, his brother and I headed out with our homemade ‘Final Countdown’ drink which was specially fabricated by Dan. It was a mix of Canadian whiskey, maple liquor and chamomile tea. Drink in a shot, the alcohol warms you up slowly while leaving a taste of maple sweetness lingering in your mouth. The main event happened at a place called ‘Grand Allée’. Despite the cold and mild snowing, there were already many people gathered at the selected ground. What surprised me more was the sight of people of different ages present to soak in the atmosphere. There were young children all bundled up, chugging along with their parents. There were elderly couples who strolled with ease on a ground so familiar to them. I turned to Dan and exclaimed, “We need to party till we are old like that!”

If you like modern trendy songs, you could camp at the site where the DJ sits high on a raised platform, mixing songs of beats that hype up the scene right away. The guest DJ for that night was DJ Boy George, one of the top 100 DJs in the world in 2012 according to a poll done by DJ Mag. He was ready to make the floor dance! Even though we love trendy songs, we preferred some traditional music for the holidays. We chose to party out at the site which had local Quebec folk music. A life animator in a furry winter hat took the stage with pumped up enthusiasm, “ Vous êtes bons!”. He introduced various local performers who churned the crowd with their live performances with musical instruments like the harmonica and the violin. A group did a tap dance but the music was too loud and we could not really hear the rhythmic movements of the feet. We danced the night away with endless snowflakes descending upon us. When the clock stroke 12, we were presented with a minute of dazzling fireworks.

Fireworks 2013

Fireworks are no rare sight for me though not very common either. Nonetheless, every time I have the chance to witness the beauty of it, I would admire the spectacular sight with awe. Standing amongst thousands of people gazing up into the sky, I thought to myself, ‘how lucky am I to be here today.’ Another day just passed. Another year is here. Honestly, there is no literal difference in 31st December and 1st January. However, we hold the power to make the difference in each and every day of our lives. With conviction, I silently cheered myself in making 2013 yet another wonderful year.

That is how we ended off the evening.

That is how we ended off the evening.

Happy New Year to all!

Signing off with love,

Esther

Cold Invasion

Watching the beautiful snowflakes carpet the area around me, I sniff into my tissue paper wishing I was well. 

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I am living through one of my worst colds. It has been on-going for more than a week now. Fortunately, I decided to do the wise thing and that is to put a stop to my schedule and stayed home for the last 3 days. Out of 24 hours, I was awake for less than 6 hours. The other 18 hours, I was snugged up in bed, floating through both semi consciousness and unconsciousness.

My nose started to give me some trouble the beginning of last week. However, I was still functional hence in my world, life goes on. I continued to go for my classes and my language exchange sessions. I was tired but I did not want to lose time so I carried on with my daily activities. Last Friday, I skipped an evening French class as I was exhausted and could not even find the strength to leave the house. After a good night sleep, I felt better and I thought I should be ok. Unsurprisingly, I went out over the weekend. How can I miss a good friend’s and a cousin’s birthday party right? Wrong. The body started to protest. My near empty vessel pulled through Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, I crashed with a major headache, an unpleasant nose congestion and a horrible toothache.

It was not too long ago that I got a prolonged cough which brought me to the clinic. This time round, going to the doctor shall be the last option on my list. I had to get well on my own. A girl friend suggested a home-made remedy for cold — raw honey + ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Apparently these two elements have the antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties which deal well with the evil cold. While doing my research online with regards to my symptoms and cure, I found out an interesting statement by a writer of the article ‘How to get rid of a cold in 2 easy steps’. He said, “there is no cure for the common cold”.

“All of the remedies sold, at the drugstore or from your health food store, only alleviate the symptoms of a problem that shouldn’t be stopped in the first place!”

Hence the best formula is to let the body heal by itself. And how do we do that? We have to sleep a lot, drink lots of warm fluid and eat well (no heavy and greasy stuff). If I have given more significance to the onset of a cold, maybe I would have been able to avoid it in the first place or take a shorter time to recover. Since the superwoman in me likes to work till the last drop of breath, I need to pay a heftier price for my actions!

On the other end, there is also a good side to it. The process of being sick is painful yet it gives me a good reason to rest and drop everything else off my worry list. It is also a reminder for me to pay attention to the state of my immune system because every time the season changes, I catch some kind of a bug. I would like to enjoy the change in seasons and not cuss through it. Dan says that I got the REAL cold this time round and it is my initiation to be real Quebecoise! As I survive this round, I sure hope that my immune system gets stronger and fends off all those unwelcomed bacteria and viruses.

Hence for those who are feeling a little under the weather due to the change in temperature or other stress-related activities, remember to listen to your body. Do not use up the fuel because then you will need a much longer time to refill the tank and to get the engine started. As for me, I not am done battling with this cold yet. Maybe it is time for a warm glass of water and a hot shower…

Signing off with love,

Esther

Feeling Under the Weather

The Weather is Not the Culprit! >< 

Another of those rare hot sweltering days! Today the temperature hit a high of 30 degrees celcius. For the first time since my arrival in Montreal, the fan has been mobilized. According to the weather forecast, Imagewarm temperatures may be more often that rare in the days to come, or not? Montreal’s weather has been eccentric enough for me to lay off expectations. Hence a piece of advice, always check the weather forecast before you head out otherwise, bring an extra jacket out with you. Better to have more clothes than less.

I have been feeling tired and restless for the last few days. Is this the result of the change in temperature? Family and friends have been falling sick too. How could a nicer weather be detrimental to the health? With the sunshine greeting me every day, shouldn’t I be feeling all excited and energized?

There have been claims that winter causes people to fall sick hence they do not like the season. Initially, I thought the claim is logical because winter is cold which then result in people catching a cold. However, after surviving winter, I do think that people dislike winter for other reasons but the easier option was to just blame the weather. When winter came in November/ December, the air was so fresh. I found the surroundings really clean (aside from the slush which came in the later part of the season) and I was washed away by a sense of tranquility. The truth is, it is easy to feel lazy during winter because in order to go out of the house, you have to mount a few layers of clothes unto yourself. With the majority of the time spent in a heated apartment, one does not get the fresh air that does good to the body. A parallel example can be drawn to people staying in air conditioned offices all the time. They breathe recycled air and once someone gets sick, the rest of the office catches the love too.

ImageSo now spring is here, what happens around me? The city literally comes to life. I start to learn about who are my neighbours are as they emerge from their dwellings. Deciduous trees grow new leaves, flowers blossom and patches of green start covering up the soil land. Our little squirrel friends are also scampering around excitedly.  Unfortunately, not all is perfect. Pollen in the air often results in allergies and respiratory problems. Dust and dirt fill the air as more cars hit the road. Getting all hyped up with the heat, it is also easy to forget to drink up which results in dehydration. That explains the headaches and fatigue that one suffers from.

On my end, I definitely need to hydrate myself more. I probably need to buy more fruits to replenish our body’s vitamin C. We should be responsible for our own health and not blame something that is not within our control. Drink up, sleep well, pop some vitamin pills and avoid staying under the sun for too long! That should keep us in a good state to enjoy the summer!

Signing off with love,

Esther

Nuit Blanche à Montréal 2012

Before I step foot into Montreal, Dan has shared with me how Montreal has lots of festivals happening throughout the year especially summer. Most of these events cost almost nothing to attend. I was skeptical at the beginning because coming from a small and expensive city like Singapore, having entertainment equals to burning a hole in your pocket. However, I am glad that I am proven wrong!

Just last weekend, there was a festival called ‘Nuit Blanche à Montréal’.  This is an all night event which happened on 25th February 2012, Saturday. The event took place over three quartiers and one pôle: the Quartier des Spectacles and Centre-Ville (Downtown), the Quartier Vieux-Montéal (Old Montreal), Quartier Plateau-Mont-Royal and Mile-End and the Pôle Parc Olympique. This is the time where artists, collectors, and citizens are invited to rediscover the city, fostering the expression of art and culture. Not only are the streets lined with visual arts and exhibitions, there was also the showcase of films, theatre and dance.

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Since there were so many activities happening all at once, it was impossible to cover everything in the same night. In the end, we watched an outdoor concert despite the winter cold, walked through the underpass to appreciate the arts on display and finally caught an hour of Fantasia which comprised of the finest short stories mainly by local producers. Dan wanted to visit ‘Le Japon à chaque pas – Déambulatoire’ where they feature Japanese culture but since we were exhausted after the watching the short films, we decided to head home. That definitely gives me more reason to come back to this festival next year!

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Signing off with love,

Esther