Toronto Ice Storm 1 (Roozbeh Rokni)

Ice Is Not Nice

The Ice-Is-Not Nice Storm

Okay, I’ll admit that sometimes ice is nice.

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In a drink, or a rink, or a snow-cone, popsicle, ice cream. As an icicle, or a sculpture in a winter festival. On a sprain, on a hot day in any way, shape or form. It’s even beautiful on trees and shrubs and other things, especially when you’re in a warm house or car, looking out.

2013-12-22 21.13.30_2In fact, the beauty of ice-coated limbs and twigs can be breathtaking!

Toronto Ice Storm 3 Roozbeh Rokni

But ice is definitely not nice when it heavily coats power lines and breakable tree branches which land on those power lines and crash through the rooftops of houses and car windows. Or on people, cats, dogs, or bunnies.

1085The power went out the Saturday before Christmas here in Toronto. I thought to myself “not nice!”  The power had flickered around 11:00 p.m., but settled back down again, and I dozed a little in my comfy chair.  I awoke to darkness at 2:15 a.m. (battery clock).  Power off, I groped for the small LED flashlight on my keychain, and headed for the stairs, figuring “I’ll just check on Mickey (my bunny), go to bed, and the power will be back on in the morning.”  Only, of course, it wasn’t….

2013-12-28 12.22.47I called my daughter (phones were okay), and found they, and an awful lot of Ontario were without power too.  Not nice.  We couldn’t get through to Toronto Hydro, the t.v. and computers weren’t working, of course, but we had land line and cell phones. My daughter reminded me that we both have a portable local and short wave radio (for when the power is out….)  – with a light – and which runs on batteries (I have plenty), and after a brief search, voilá!  I was once again connected with the world.  680 news assured me they would keep me up-to-date with the latest news on the storm.  But there were no updates on Scarborough – none at all.

Toronto Ice Storm 1 (Roozbeh Rokni)My son-in-law drove my daughter to my place, to keep me company for the “short duration of the power outage.”  (Yeah, right!)  Being the great guy that he is, he made more than one visit over the next two days, bringing us hot food and drinks from Tim Horton’s and Country Style donuts (a couple of very few places in Scarborough with power), and for our sakes, he stayed in long line-ups, sometimes almost an hour.  Greater love hath no husband / S-I-L!  He’s a keeper.  He stayed with bunny (Cooper) at their apartment, as it was cooling off slower than my house. My car was buried in about three inches of ice – all over, and it was way, way too cold to try to chip it free.

2013-12-23 11.25.15 2They told me their first trip to my house was like running a dangerous gauntlet at every knocked-out traffic light.  Snow and ice-sheeted streets – branches down all over the place, weird and wacky driving from panicked motorists – and in the areas with downed power lines there were no street lights or stop lights. In spite of the weather, traffic was still heavy, intersection crossings (with no police to direct drivers) were nightmarish.  It was a severe storm, people!

2013-12-28 12.23.03 2That’s when it hit home hard that ice was NOT nice.  Although power was out province-wide, there were pockets where people weren’t affected at all — even here in Toronto.  Since they weren’t talking on the news about Scarborough outages, we assumed (correctly) that we were probably hit the worst, and would be the last to have power restored (also correct). I recall a Provincial government spokesperson telling us that  Mississauga (pop. 713,443) was quickly having their power restored from 500,000 to 50,000, to 5,000 then 500 – but there was still no word about Scarborough (pop. 625,698) and whether even one person had their power restored… I think the same spokesperson told the radio interviewer that if people couldn’t get through to the Hydro by phone, (believe me, they couldn’t) they could turn on their computers and visit their website.  (Whaaa???) I also really enjoyed hearing the Toronto Hydro spokesperson assuring us that he could positively state they couldn’t positively state when the emergency would be over.  (Duh!)

2013-12-23 09.22.05Day two we found candles – big ones, small ones, slender ones, fat ones and stubs.  We also found matches, even if it took ten to get one that would strike. But in a weird, shadowy way, it was kind of beautiful, in the candlelight, assisted by the portable radio light.  We even felt a teeny bit of warmth.  Teeny.  We took turns (in our bundled up bodies) holding Mickey, all wrapped up in a cuddly soft towel, and he seemed to enjoy it immensely.

2013-12-23 09.24.16Because there was no wind (thank goodness) the house temperature just dropped degree by degree, not all at once.  Our wonderful next-door neighbour ran a big generator from his truck and offered to split a line for us, to provide us with some basic power.  I was thinking “small heater, toaster oven and fridge.”  We thanked him and figured we’d be okay until morning, when he said he’d come and set us up.

In the middle of the night, my daughter heard the generator go out (lack of sound woke her up) and in the morning we found out from our neighbour that thieves had taken the generator.  He went out and bought another ($1500), because he was temporarily housing other people at his place, with lots of kids.  Unfortunately, this generator wouldn’t be able to provide power for my house.  I have no words to express my contempt for the thieves who stole this (or any) generator.  To make matters worse, by that time, we had been told to expect the power to be out until the Saturday after Christmas.  Those thieves knew that generator was a lifeline for others – but they just didn’t care.

Members of our family in Peterborough phoned to find out if we were okay, and on learning our situation, insisted we pack up immediately (with both bunnies) and head for the north country.  Which we did.  Which was wonderful.  Which was one of the best, most memorable Christmases we’ve ever spent.  Although we found out from our neighbour that power on our street had been restored on Thursday, we decided to accept  the generous invitation from our hosts to stay until the weekend, which we did.

2013-12-27 14.07.09Later, in checking with other family members, I found one of my nephews not only had the power off for several days, but had a water pipe burst in a radiator, in their 113-year old beautiful house, and one of the downed tree limbs took out a side mirror on their car.  They spent a lovely Christmas day with another nephew and family (also without power) by cooking their delicious turkey on the BBQ.

Friends north and south of us had no power outage at all.  I even got one email back from friends who reminded me that they were “down south”, toasty-warm on a Panama Canal Cruise…. “you silly girl….”.

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And now we might be heading back into more and more ice storms to come?  Will we have to learn to build igloos? (I know, I know – a lot of people south of the border think we already live in them…)

igloo-village2-600x374We’re a little more prepared than a lot of our neighbours to the south, say I, smugly.  We’re the hardy ones who have been doing winter for a long, long time.  We know how to drive on winter roads, use snow and ice for pleasure – ice sculptures, ice skating, skiing, snowmobiling, snowboarding, skidooing, making snow angels, snowmen, and growing Christmas Trees.  And, bottom line, Santa Claus lives at our North Pole.

PALETAART – so much beauty in the world…..

After the many nasty run-ins we’ve had with our recent “Ice-Is-Not-Nice” ice storm, I think we might all enjoy looking at ice from a different, more artistic point-of-view!

Since 2006 there’s been a wonderful annual event held in Toronto called the Bloor-Yorkville IceFest.  2014 finds Toronto continuing the tradition and hopefully you will be able to attend the Ninth Annual Icefest on either Saturday February 22nd or Sunday February 23rd.  Better yet, come for the whole weekend and enjoy all of the festivities and celebrate winter in the city!  This years sculpting theme is “Heat Wave”. The location is Yorkville Park in the Bloor/Yorkville area (Bellair St. & Cumberland) and the time is from 12 noon until 5 pm both days.

I’ve selected some beautiful sculptures from previous years (below) to give you a taste of what’s to come in the upcoming Bloor-Yorkville IceFest!

Bloor-Yorkville IceFest 2014 for web

This link will take you to the the 2013 IceFest site for a feel of what you will see if you attend this year…  Bloor-Yorkville IceFest

The 2014 Bloor-Yorkville IceFest will feature an array of spectacular ice sculpture displays, events and demonstrations for the public to enjoy. See the magic of ice come to life as artists put the finishing touches on this amazing winter scene, crafted from an astounding 20,000 lbs. of ice.

image-5-mainCome marvel at this year’s “Heat Wave” ice display, bringing the tropics to Toronto! Ice sculptures will range from palm trees, tropical flowers, and parrots, to a sail boat, schools of tropical fish, a sea turtle, or maybe even a tiki bar!

image-5-main-1The 2014 14th Annual Sassafraz Ice Carving Competition starts Saturday at noon.  Visitors can watch, and are invited to cast their vote for the People’s Choice Sculpture, to be announced at 5:15 p.m. Saturday.

image2-mainThe Festival will also include ice carving demonstrations throughout the neighbourhood and street closure both days on Cumberland Street and Bellair Street. There will be a live DJ on the street with music provided by “Bellosound.”image14-mainFebruary is Heart Month and the Bloor-Yorkville BIA supports the Heart and Stroke Foundation during IceFest. For a donation of $2, visitors can sample tasty “Maple Syrup Taffy” from 1 pm – 4 pm each day. “Iced Kiddie Cubes” with a collectible toy inside will be distributed at 2 pm each day for a $2 donation.

image7-mainThis is an all ages, family friendly, FREE event, all you have to bring is warm clothes, a hearty winter spirit, and maybe a camera to capture the moments in ice forever!image5-mainFor more information you can contact the Bloor-Yorkville BIA Director of Marketing, Rick Kaczmarek – Phone: (416) 928-3553 ext. 24, Fax: (416) 928-2034 or email: marketing@bloor-yorkville.com

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POETRY CORNER

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Cold 

Trees were draped in silver lace;
Air was brittle, fine snow-crackled.
The sky had donned a hazy face —
…..And the cold crept in.

The room was warmed by firelight’s glow;
The shadows danced, and sounds were muted.
The golden lamps were all turned low —
…..Then the cold swept in.

Her face was calm and manner proud;
Her eyes unblinking, smile unmoving;
But where her heart was wrapt in shroud —
…..The cold slept in.

Perhaps on balmy springtime day,
When flowers bloom, when memories sweeten,
Her icy crypt will no more say —
…..Where cold wept in.

© E Joyce Finn/Collie

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SOME MUSIC FROM ICELAND

Björk

BjörkBjörk Guðmundsdóttir: born 21 November 1965, known as Björk, is an Icelandic singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. Her first public appearance was on Icelandic Radio One in 1976. Her first solo album was released in 1977 (when she was 12 years old.)  Her musical style is eclectic and she has achieved recognition in alternative rock, jazz, electronic dance music, classical, and avant-garde.  Before her solo career Björk was a member of a number of Icelandic bands, most notably The Sugarcubes. Three of Björk’s 1990s singles charted in the UK Top 10.  Her record label, “One Little Indian”, reported that by 2003, she had sold more than 15 million albums worldwide.  Awards:  four BRIT Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, one MOJO Award, three UK Music Video Awards, and (2010) the Polar Music Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in recognition of her “deeply personal music and lyrics, her precise arrangements and her unique voice.”  She has been nominated for 14 Grammy Awards (and two for art direction on her album sleeves, done by others), one Academy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards. She won the Best Actress Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in Dancer in the Dark. Ranked twenty-ninth in VH1’s “The 100 Greatest Women in Music”, eighth in MTV’s “22 Greatest Voices in Music“, and sixtieth in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Singers of All Time“.

Here’s “It’s Oh So Quiet” from her 1995 album “Post” on YouTube page BjörkTV:

Sigur Rós

Sigur RósSigur Rós is an Icelandic post-rock band with melodic, classical, and minimalist aesthetic elements. Sigur Rós was formed in 1994 in Reykjavík by singer and guitarist Jón Þór Birgisson, bassist Georg Hólm and drummer Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson.  Sigur Rós is known for its ethereal sound, frontman Jón’s falsetto vocals, and the use of bowed guitar. The band is named after Jón’s sister Sigurrós Elin.  International acclaim came with 1999’s Ágætis byrjun (“A Good Beginning”). The album’s reputation spread by word of mouth over the following two years. Soon critics worldwide hailed it as one of the great albums of all time, and the band was playing support to established acts such as Radiohead. To date they have completed seven studio albums, one remix album, three extended plays, one soundtrack album, fourteen singles, nine music videos and two video albums.  Their music has been featured in both film and television and they continue to record and tour extensively.

Here’s their song “Hoppipolla (Jumping In Puddles)” from their 2005 album “Takk…” along with a beautiful BBC Planet Earth video collage posted by Masroor on YouTube:

Agent Fresco

Agent FrescoAgent Fresco are an Icelandic band, combining the pop, alternative, art and math-rock genres. The band consists of Arnór Dan Arnarson – Vocals, Þórarinn Guðnason – Guitar / Piano, Vignir Rafn Hilmarsson – Electric Upright Bass / Bass / Synth and Hrafnkell Örn Guðjónsson – Drums.  The band formed in 2008 just weeks prior to competing in the Músíktilraunir (An Icelandic version of Battle of the Bands) which they won. They also won ‘best guitar’, ‘best drumming’ and ‘best bass playing’.  In 2009 Agent Fresco were also named as the best new artists at the Icelandic equivalent of the Grammies – the Íslensku Tónlistarverðlaunin.  Agent Fresco are currently working on their second album.

Here is “Implosions” from their 2011 debut album “A Long Time Listening” form the Agent Fresco YouTube channel:

(with a nod and thanks to Wikipedia for most of the above artist info)

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ICY QUOTES

THE ICE HAVE IT……

– A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.  (Franz Kafka)
– Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness.  (Werner Herzog)
– Eternity is a glorious word, but eternity is ice.  (Degan Stojanovic)
– Europe was a horrible place,  There was nothing on TV.  The food was terrible.  And they don’t even have ice.  Who doesn’t have ice?  (Johnny Ramone)
– Fighter pilots have ice in their veins….. (Buzz Aldrin)
– He who cannot put his thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of dispute. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
– How do you say no when a little kid is asking you for ice cream?  (Jimmie Johnson)
– I always wake up at the crack of ice.  (Joe E. Lewis)
– I was the happiest guy in the world when I was on the ice.  You’re being paid to play a game!  (Bobby Orr)
– Ice burns, and it is hard to the warm-skinned to distinguish one sensation, fire, from the other, frost.  (A. S. Byatt)
– Ice contains no future, just the past, sealed away.  As if they’re alive, everything in the world is sealed up inside, clear and distinct.  Ice can preserve all kinds of things that way – cleanly, clearly.  That’s the essence of ice, the role it plays.  (H. Murakami)
– Ice is fascinating to me. Ice is the one thing in our world that went from an agricultural product to being manufactured.  (Alton Brown)
– If I offer you a glass of water, and bring back a cup of ice, I’m trying to teach you patience.  And also that sometimes you get ice with no water, and later you’ll get water with no ice.  Ah, but that’s life, no?   (Jarod Kintz)
– In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.  (Ralph W. Emerson)
– It’s a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you into hot water.  (Franklin P Jones)
– Life is only a flicker of melted ice.  (Dejan Stojanovic)
– Like fragile ice anger passes away in time.  (Ovid)
– Like there’s actually a need for Greenland.  You can get ice at 7-Eleven.  (S. Kluger)
– One of the reasons there are so many terms for conditions of ice is that the mariners observing it were often trapped in it, and had nothing to do except look at it.  (Alec Wilkinson)
– Sea ice conditions have remained stable in Antarctica generally.  (Ian Allison)
– She had never known that ice could take on so many shades of blue:  sharp lines of indigo like the deepest sea, aquamarine shadows, even the glint of blue-green where the sun struck just so.  (Malindo Lo)
– Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.  (Robert Frost)
– The ice was here, the ice was there, The ice was all around;  It cracked and growled, and roared and howled, Like noises in a swound!  (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
– The only drink I like ice in is water, because you can’t water down water.  (Jarod Kintz)
– The sound of the blades on the ice in the morning is like smelling fresh coffee.  (Tara Lipinski)
– There’s nothing pretty about ice.  Ice grows nothing.  But we’ve got this in our minds that we’ve got to make everything cold.  (Don Young)
– They say blood is thicker than water, but I say ice can be more solid than blood, when times get cold.  (Anthony Liccione)
– Thou art all ice.  Thy kindness freezes.  (William Shakespeare)
– Three feet of ice does not result from one day of cold weather.  (Chinese proverb)
– We were the only pulsating creatures in a dead world of ice.  (Frederick A. Cook)
– When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and only then, have you grown old.  (Samuel Ullman)
– You are ice and fire the touch of you burns my hands like snow.  (Amy Lowell)

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PAWS FOR AWHILE……

(Eavesdropped on some bunny conversations during the ongoing ice storm……..

2013-10-28 11.47.21_2Cooper:  “Would this be a good time to try out my new sled?”  P1030115   Mickey:  “I think it’s a better time to hunker in my bunker…”

2014-01-02 04.02.09_2Mickey:  “Or hide behind it…. whatever…”P1000238Cooper:  “Mickey…. are you in there?”

P1030088Mickey:  “I’m right here, Cooper.  What’s up?”

2013-12-26-17-30-52_4aCooper:  “Let’s just relax together and read the papers.”
Mickey:  “Whatever….  But stay ready to run….and hide”

Signing off ….. ej

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