A Roller Coaster Ride

What a topsy-turvy month February has been.

Emotional lows.  Followed by highs.

Snow. Ice. Rain, Fog. Brilliantly blue skies.

Snow
Early morning shadows after a fresh snow

Freezing cold.  Record breaking warmth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Downtown Toronto – OCAD University in the rain and fog

It’s been a roller coaster ride for sure.

The month started with the passing of my father-in-law.  He had been ill for several months, but the end seemed to come suddenly and caught us unprepared.

So the first half of the month was sad … and yet full of fond nostalgic memories.

The drive to-and-from Quebec City for the funeral was terrifying, in some of the worst winter road conditions we’ve seen all year … and yet the time spent with family was priceless. The long stressful hours in the car together were spent in either companionable silence, or quiet conversation – occasionally dissolving into uncontrollable laughter.

… but as always, time marches on and so do our lives.  The second half of the month has been full of life as usual.

statue3
Dinosaurs in the dirty snow of Scarborough. Taken on Valentine’s Day after lunch with Husband

I’ve been busy participating in activities with the Seniors’ group I belong to, and simply trying to embrace winter instead of whining about it.

Skating
Photo Credit to Gisela Curwen.  A kind gentlemen insisted on giving me skating tips.  He couldn’t understand that my primary objective was simply to stay upright.

My skating hasn’t improved at all, but for the most part, I’ve been successful in embracing winter.  There is a lot of beauty to be appreciated in a muted colours of a Canadian winter.

Centennial Park
A walk at Centennial Park in Etobicoke before the heavy rains started.  The rumbling in the distance was not thunder from the approaching storm, but planes taking off from the nearby Pearson International Airport

This month I also had the pleasure of meeting another Toronto-based blogger, Mary from  As I Walk Toronto.  Experiencing a small slice of the city from her perspective was extremely interesting and I’ll be writing more about that in a future blog post.

She introduced me to lovebots, a creation of Toronto artist Matthew Del Degan.  Apparently the city is peppered with these lovebots, and even while Mary was pointing one out to me, it took me a while to actually “see” little creation.  You can read more about them here.

Lovebot
This lovebot was discovered on the front lawn of a downtown church and national shrine.

While walking through the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) with Mary, I discovered this poster and decided it pretty well summed up my feelings about this short month.

It’s been a strange one.

Grateful Dead
Taken at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario)

This post is inspired by The Changing Seasons – a monthly photo feature now hosted by Su Leslie from Zimmerbitch.

 

 

 

 

110 comments

  1. Sorry to hear about your loss. I have a feeling that this is going to be a bad year for funerals. I have numerous friends with parents in their 90s including my own. My Dad is pretty healthy but I can’t say the same for the parents of three of my friends. But you never know. So far the funerals we’ve attended this year already were for people in their 70s and one in his 50s. It’s been a strange winter. As I write this more winter has arrived at our doorstep but at least now we know it will be short lived.

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    • It seems that there are these different stages throughout a typical life and the stage we are in now is saying good-bye to our parents and the people who represented role models in our lives.
      As you mentioned, it is also the beginning of saying good-bye to friends. I’ve already said farewell to far too many 😢

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  2. Enjoyed hearing about the ups and downs of your month, Joanne…though I am sorry to hear of your loss. When we have a loss that big there are so many ups and downs for awhile, but it sounds like you are embracing all of life with the Valentine’s celebration, beautiful photos, and a skating lesson. Cheers–

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    • Thank 💕
      Mourning a life that was long and well-lived isn’t quite as difficult as one that was cut short tragically.
      I always think however that it’s a shame people don’t hear the wonderful things said about them at their funeral – the funny stories, the small details that made a big impression, the difference they made in the lives of their family and friends …
      Every funeral I go to is a reminder to share those thoughts with those I love now, while I can.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So sorry to hear about your Father-in-law, Joanne. I don’t think we are ever prepared enough to lose a loved one, no matter how much warning we have. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

    Thank you for sharing the happier moments as well – the Lovebots are a hoot! I followed your link and read up on them: the motivation for them is wonderful! We can all use a little more kindness and compassion when we share space in a city!

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  4. Joanne I truly thought I had commented on this post. Apologies. I was so sorry to hear of your Father in law’s passing. My heartfelt sympathy to you, Giles and the whole family.
    Good for you to embrace winter. What else can one do? I used to figure skate a great deal. Now when I skate the idea of doing a jump or spin makes my hands sweat. Not everything is like riding a bicycle. 🙂

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    • Thank you for you kind thoughts 💕

      I figure I had whined about winter enough, it was time to embrace it! I was never a skater and it’s pretty scary to put them on and attempt skating at this age. When I go to Seniors’ skating at the rink, I’m so impressed with those who skate well!!
      Next year I hope to add cross country skiing to the winter equation 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry to hear of the loss of your father in law Joanne. It is indeed lovely how it brings the family together though. I love that song Truckin’; thanks for the earworm. Oh btw I bought a Canadian guitar. A Godin Ultra A6. I love it. 🙂

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  6. So sorry your month began with a loss.
    It’s good to see you embracing winter, and even nicer to see you skating.
    I hope February held all the turbulence and March will soften your edges. ❤

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  7. What a perfect quote. From death and life, hot and cold, snow and rain. The weather parallels life it seems. Sending you sympathy for the passing of your father-in-law.

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  8. I’m sorry to hear about your father-in-law. I’m happy that you have wonderful memories. It sounds like you have been having lots of fun with the Senior’s club. You are so adventurous! I LOVE those lovebots! I hope that March brings you lots of joy. 🙂

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  9. Sorry about the passing of your father-in-law. It is good to hear you are embracing winter. I try. Looks like you have been busy!

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  10. Sorry for your loss but glad that the family could come together and comfort each other – sometimes companionable silence says a lot.
    Thank you for the link to Mary’s blog – I will check it out.
    I haven’t spotted any of the bots but I have found something interesting. Like you, I’ve still tried to get out and walk whenever I could and one day down at the Humber Bay park area (and walking east towards the Humber bridge) I came across a whole lot of painted rocks. Many were of Christmas scenes or simply beautiful, bright designs. I have no idea where they came from but a friend and I had a great time trying to find as many as we could – some are out in the open but others are tucked away and you have to search to find them. Some seemed to be just sitting there while others seemed to be fixed in place – they were delightful and really helped to brighten up the day.
    Let’s hope March starts to bring us some Spring like weather. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m sorry for the loss of your father-in-law. But glad you made the hazardous journey safely.
    That’s a great song to put in my head, Joanne — particularly on a Wednesday. “Truckin… like the doodah man…” Fun about the love bots. Hugs!

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  12. May March be merrier Joanne. Many condolences on your father-in-law’s recent death ..
    I’m getting ready to go to a funeral as I write this Wednesday morning. A very elderly lady, in her 90’s, so it was natural and peaceful. But nevertheless always shock and sadness for the family. I’m not sure I could stand up on skates, let alone whizz around. Your photos are lovely ..

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    • Thank you so much. It seems we are going to too many funerals lately. When the person has lived a long, good life it’s a bit easier to bear but still full of memories which are both good and poignant.

      I’m all for a merry March. Bring it on!! 🙂

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    • I wish I could say that snow was extreme for us. The truth is, we had a real winter this year, and because climate change has wrinkled things significantly over the past couple of years, we forget what’s truly normal.
      Looking around at the rest of the world though, I agree that climate is becoming a greater worry for many. Droughts, the severity and frequency of storms, all of it alarming 😕

      Liked by 1 person

  13. The month of love has been a sad one for sure. A friend’s husband passed away yesterday, neighbor diagnosed with C last week, school shooting in my home state, political antics making me nauseous, and that’s just the headliners for the month; little stuff too crazy to mention. I feel your pain, and admire your desire to “just want to stand up” on those damn skates.

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    • Oh Suzanne, your comment reminds me of how much grief there is always going on in the world. Sometimes we get so mired in own that we fail to recognize the bigger, unhappy picture.

      In the end, we all need to embrace the happy moments and find joy where we can 💕

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  14. I am in awe of your adventurous spirit. Your comments about skating put me in mind of skating on McQuarter’s backyard rink when we were young. I’m proud of you!

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  15. You made me think about the shortness of this month…and yet how full it was. I’m inspired to get out and see more in my own town (but I’m still going to wait till spring).

    I’m sorry to hear about your father-in-law; I can relate to the know-it’s-coming but not prepared for the actual moment. I hope you can focus on the positive times and hopefully a life well-lived.

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    • With the spring-like temperatures we’ve been having lately, I’m itching to get outside, although depending on where I’m going, I know enough to wear rubber boots 😉
      Even the places I’ve been to before, have a new interest in a different season. Get out and explore! 🙂

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  16. Life is full of UPs and DOWNs, HIGHs and LOWs. Glad you managed to stay upright on those skates.

    It’s a long strange trip, indeed. Condolences on your FIL’s passing.

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  17. I’m sorry for your loss– and at such a bleak time of year. Condolences.

    I like those lovebots and I NEED one in my backyard.

    The truckin’ quote is one of my favorite. I contemplated using it as my blog theme quote, but went with a Wodehouse quote instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had never heard this Grateful Dead quote before and I must say, I rather like it a lot. It sums things up quite nicely 🙂

      I too love these lovebots. The first one Mary showed me was actually just a sticker on a light pole. This brick one is perfect though – especially after I went online and read about their intended meaning – that we go through life in a somewhat robotic mode and we need to be reminded of our shared humanity. What’s not to love about that?! 💖

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  18. Once again, Joanne, I have to send my sympathies to the entire family in the passing of your father-in-law.

    February, even the entire winter, has been very strange here, probably because we’ve had very little snow. It’s been a dry season. I’m only hoping that we don’t get hit with something big in March. As for the Lovebots, those are very cute. I found out only yesterday that my city has poetry inscribed in city sidewalks all around Appleton. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it…unless I was too busy looking up!

    Enjoy the last few days of the month, Joanne, but stay upright! 😉

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    • Thanks Mary. I appreciate all the kind thoughts.

      I can’t believe I’m actually going to say that I’m looking forward to March. I hope it’s a mild one.
      We must have received all the snow you didn’t get! This unexpected ‘heat’ wave has done a great job of melting almost all of it, but we’re expecting another storm tomorrow night. Winter isn’t finished with us yet!!

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  19. We have heard similar reports from family and friends in the U.S. Warmer than usual, colder than usual, unexpected change in temperatures. Climate change and global warming wreak havoc in all sorts of ways.

    Wow you even try iceskating! I’m impressed! I can barely walk on ice in winter, never mind try to skate!

    Heartfelt condolences for your loss Joanne. Always difficult to lose a loved one, especially unexpectedly.

    Peta

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    • Thank you Peta. The outpouring of kind wishes from everyone has been very touching.

      Weather weirdness seems to be the new norm now. We apparently go back to winter with a new snow storm expected tomorrow night. Oh well, this spring-like weather was nice while it lasted.

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  20. I sometimes wonder if we are not given so many things to distract us from something unpleasant. I am sorry about your father-in-law, Joanne. The lovebots–how cute are they! I’ve never heard of them before, but I am a fan. I really hope March treats you so much better than February.

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  21. I am very sorry for your loss. Funerals are a strange phenomenon because it involves sincere grieving as well as great memories and the opportunity to see family and friends. It is nice that you are busy embracing winter activities because it keeps you busy and moving forward towards the wedding. 🙂

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    • I have to agree about funerals. Unfortunately, I’ve had reason to attend a growing number of funerals over the past couple of years and I have noticed that it is much different when it’s an older person who has lived a good life.
      It truly does become a celebration of life.

      My father-in-law had a long life, lived well within the parameters he was given, and a family who loved him.
      Although it is a time of grieving, it is also a time of family coming together, telling stories and reconnecting over shared history. This is priceless 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  22. No matter how “prepared” for the death of a loved one, it hits so hard when it comes to pass. Some relief, maybe, that they are no longer suffering, but the loss and finality can be overpowering. I love the Lovebot – who doesn’t need more of those in and around our gardens?

    I’ll send you some California warmth if you’ll send us some rain… deal?

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    • Oh, if only we could share the bounty of our weather with each other! In the meantime, I’m thoroughly enjoying this wave of spring-like weather for as long as it lasts.

      It’s true about the difference between being mentally prepared for losing a loved one and dealing with the emotional reality when it happens 😢

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    • As much as I’d like to believe that spring is around the corner, I know the reality is that we still have at least another month of winter like weather to deal with. This is why I dislike March so much. Winter overstays her welcome 😉

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  23. Good for you for embracing these new experiences, Joanne. Your posts are always so inspiring.
    I too am sorry to hear about your father-in-law and about the drive to Quebec. Bad weather drives are brutal at any time, but in times of grief they can feel especially harrowing.
    Here’s to spring starting very, very soon. While I too was actually fine with much of this winter’s weather, the recent sun has given me a taste of impending spring and a strong desire to leave winter behind.

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    • Thanks Karen. No sane person would have voluntarily ventured out on a long distance drive in the conditions we had at the beginning of the month. It was harrowing and I hope to never have to do that again!

      I admit the past week has been balm for the soul. It’s been wonderful to go outside to walk or simply run errands without 500 layers of clothing.
      Sadly, I was looking at my hydrangeas yesterday and it appears all the buds have been killed from the extreme cold. Sigh. I guess there will be no glorious flower display like I had last summer.

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  24. I’m sorry for your loss and lows, and happy for your highs and skating and especially hearing that you’ve met Mary and she showed you the lovebots. Just a few more days and March marches in…

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  25. Look at you on skates! Bravo! Although you do look somewhat alarmed, I applaud your bravery. I agree with you about the beauty of winter. I love the toned down palette. I find it restful – as long as I don’t have to be out when its -25.

    I’m sorry about your father-in-law. Its never easy to lose a parent, expected or not. I wish you a happy March, Joanne and the discovery of more love bots. What a wonderful creative endeavour for an artist.

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    • It is good for us, right?, to do things that scares us? Skating scares me … although that part appears to be obvious 😉

      I’m loving those lovebots and now that I know they exist, I’m going to keep my eyes open for them!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Hi, Joanne – I am so sorry to hear about your father-in-law. I am glad that you got to and from Quebec safely and had the chance to share great memories with family.
    Spring is just around the corner….isn’t it?

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    • I sure hope spring comes early this year – in spite of what that stupid groundhog says 😉
      We’ve had a taste of spring for the past week and I want it to stay!!

      I do love Quebec and I enjoy going there, but I hope the next time it will be for a happy occasion.

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  27. Hi Joanne….the one good thing about February is that it is short. 🙂 Sorry to hear about your father-in-law but love that you were able to share stories and laugh together. Love the Lovebots. In fact, I’ve been inspired…how fun to create and pass along the message of loving each other and our neighbors in sculpture-form…I don’t know about Canada, but here in the US, boy, oh boy, do we need some Lovebots. Here’s something else I don’t know about Canada…I thought everyone young and old could ice skate… 🙂

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    • hahahaha! I would appear to be one of those exceptions! I never learned to skate – quite frankly I never had any inclination to learn … but now that I’m much older and should know better, NOW I want to skate. Go figure! 😉

      Sadly I agree with you about needing a whole lot more love in the world. The news out of the US makes me shake my head every day 😕

      If you’re looking for more inspiration to spread love around and you are on instagram, maybe you might be interested in Inspiration Rocks.
      This is a Toronto-based artist who paints inspirational messages on rocks and leaves them in local parks, on trails, etc throughout the city. I learned about her when I found one of her rocks while out cycling one day.
      https://www.instagram.com/inspiration.rocks/
      The rock I found said ‘In a world of Cheerios, be a Fruit Loop’ 🙂

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  28. Again, my thoughts are with you Jo during this sad time. Glad you made the horrible journey to Quebec safely. I love the sight of you on the ice – you are so adventurous, embracing winter and all she throws at you – and I do like the snow photos with the blue sky. That kind of snow is so much nicer than our wet stuff. Wishing you a much gentler and smoother March.

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  29. So sorry to hear about your father-in-law. Your post probably reflects how many of us feel in the winter – you try to embrace it, then it gets warm and you have thoughts of spring, then it snows. Mother Nature issues weather like a yo-yo. I’m impressed with your Senior group – getting older is a whole lot more active and fun than when our parents were our age. Here’s hoping for some Spring weather to come your way so you can get back out on that trail. xo

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    • My hiking partner returns from Portugal today – just in time for the weather to change and a snow storm forecasted for tomorrow. Sheesh!

      I agree about this Seniors’ group. They are very inspiring, and a LOT of fun 🙂

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  30. I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your father-in-law, Joanne. I’m glad you made it safely to the funeral and used that time to appreciate a life well lived as well as those still around to hug. It certainly does seem like a roller-coaster month for you on all fronts. I’m wishing you a wonderful and timely spring and much fun ahead… like a wedding. 🙂

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    • Yes, my F-I-L had a good healthy life. I think that’s why it hit my husband so hard. We get sucked into thinking it will continue indefinitely … and of course it never does 😕
      … but yes, SO MUCH to look forward to this year 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Sounds like you’ve been through some ups and downs this month. I like the lovebots. To me they symbolize how ordinary and even mechanical strangers can sometimes seem. Yet we never know what they might be doing to make life better for all of us.

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  32. February is the month we all have to struggle with. Winter is not quite over. People get the blues. Yet, there are people like you who know how to make the best of it. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  33. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss Joanne. I had no idea the distance from Toronto to Quebec City was so far (typical “small islander” thinking), so I understand how doing that in terrible weather must have added to the stress of the situation. I’m glad your family made the trip together!
    You continue to inspire me with your willingness and ability to embrace the world and make fun happen (while I’ve been lying about, wilting in the humidity). Both skating and wall-climbing are well outside my comfort zone, though I think I’d love a snowy art walkabout.
    Thanks for sharing your February. I hope March brings sunshine and good times.

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    • Thanks Su. Yes, the distances in Canada can be overwhelming. Since neither my husband and I are native Torontonians, we are no strangers to 8+ hour drives. I’m just not a fan of them in winter conditions.

      Nor I am not a fan of heat and humidity. I understand how you feel. Soon enough, we will be melting in the humidity too and I’ll be trying to motivate myself to leave the air conditioning.

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  34. Thanks for your post. I can relate to the ups and downs. Your words describe perfectly for how life feels for me sometimes: “Snow. Ice. Rain, Fog. Brilliantly blue skies.” All of that. Yes.

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  35. Hi Joanne,
    Again, sorry for you and your family’s loss. Love the way you are embracing winter – it does make the time go more quickly when you are able to get out and enjoy the good parts of the cold – I find it so, anyways.
    That being said, I am very happy to have returned home to a much milder version of what’s left of this season!

    Deb

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  36. So sorry to hear about your father in law’s passing. I don’t think we are ever prepared, even when we think we are. We’re having a winner that doesn’t want to let go here in Oregon. It’s frigid out and in! If it’s not snow, it’s rain that is keeping us bundled up!

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    • So true – the death of a loved one always hit hard emotionally even when you think you’re prepared.

      I hope winter lets go for you soon. We’ve been so lucky the past week or more – I’d like to believe spring is now here, but I know better :/

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Ah, “Truckin’ ” one of my most favorite songs. This winter has been a strange trip. Sorry about the loss of your father-in-law and the drive you had to endure. I do embrace winter, but I don’t like traveling in nasty conditions.

    I always enjoy the pictures of Toronto. I haven’t been in over 15 years, but I’ve always enjoyed visiting the city.

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  38. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw you “embracing” winter on ice. You go, girl! Show winter what you are made off. 🙂 The weather was crazy here as well. We went from snow to record-breaking warmth in two days. Now it seems winter is over but I think there might be more to come, as usual, when we don’t expect it.

    Losing a family member is hard. Heartfelt thoughts go out to you in this time of sorrow.

    Like

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