Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Chance Meeting

Like any true Winnipegger, I love a deal. So, when Safeway advertised a 3 day special on their large bricks of cheese last weekend, I headed over to get one.

Now, these aren't just any bricks - they are all random weight but are all marked at the same price. A savvy shopper will rummage through the whole lot to find the heaviest one for an even better deal. "Supposedly" these are all approx 700-720 grams but many are under that weight. If you are lucky, you will sometimes find ones that are even more - hence the best deal!

I gathered most of the items on my grocery list then headed for the cheese. As I walked up, a blond woman in a red jacket was crouched down, sorting through the aged cheddar. I said: "I assume you are also looking for the largest piece?" She said she was and wished me luck as she walked away.

I set my basket down, laid my white cane across the top of it, pulled out my pocket magnifier and started looking through my preference of medium cheddar. The woman returned a minute or so later and said there was also a display case at the end of the aisle with more of the bricks and she had found a larger one there. I thanked her and continued looking.

As I'd find a heavy package, I'd tentatively set it in my basket then continue the search for a larger one. When I did find larger, I'd switch out the lighter one from my basket.

Now, given my limited vision, it can take me a few minutes to sort through even a couple dozen bricks or so. I'd just found a rather large one - 828g! (WOOT WOOT!) - when a male voice to my left said "excuse me..."

I looked up and realized he was holding a brick of cheese. He said a woman had suggested he could probably find a larger piece than he had. I moved my basket so he could also look and said that there were definitely heavier ones if you looked and what was the point of buying any package without getting the heaviest - especially on sale? He agreed.

Since I was about to return the second largest piece I'd found to the dairy case, I offered it to him. He asked if I was sure I didn't want it. I assured him that no, I'd found one slightly larger so he was welcome to it if he wanted it. He said thanks. I also told him about the additional display case if he wanted to check it out as well.

As I began to restack all the pieces I'd moved in my search, I assumed that he would just keep shopping - but he didn't.

He asked about my vision. I explained that with my monocular, I could see a route number a couple bus lengths away or enough to know when the light across the street was green and it was safe enough to cross. With my pocket magnifier, I could read prices on most shelf labels and I also had reading glasses for other things. I added that I had no depth perception or peripheral vision.

Being asked about my vision isn't that uncommon and I always try to reply in terms that people can relate to.

What surprised me ... no, make that shocked me, about this exchange was what he said next.

I don't recall the exact phrasing, but it was along the lines of: "So with your limited vision and a face like mine, you'd be the perfect woman for me."

Now anyone who knows me, knows that I am rarely at a loss for words, but I was momentarily speechless.

WHOA! Did he just say that? Was he trying to be funny or was he actually flirting with me?

I couldn't be sure.

Even though he was only standing a few feet from me, I couldn't see his face well enough to tell any real characteristics. To the best of my sight and recollection he was white, clean shaven, dark hair and wore no glasses. He wore a dark jacket - either charcoal or black - and dark pants. He was average height and build from what I could tell. I have no idea how old he was, but sensed that he may have been younger than me.

Let me be frank here. Guys do NOT flirt with me! Most barely give me the time of day let alone engage in conversation or make a flirtatious remark. I'm no beauty by any stretch, yet here was this guy... being polite and friendly...

Was he nuts or sincere?

Though it was only a few seconds, my brain - unfortunately - slipped into self protective mode before I could fully process all of this. With a polite chuckle, I said "Oh, I don't know about that!" I think he smiled, then said thanks for the cheese, wished me a good day and walked past me towards the end of the aisle.

Oh crap, why did I say that!?!? Why didn't I say something like, "Well, maybe we should at least get to know each other before you make a final decision?"

I wanted to call out after him, but I couldn't speak. I didn't want to make the guy uncomfortable if he was self conscious about his appearance or embarrass both of us if it had all been a joke...

So, I watched him walk away.

I'd like to believe he was flirting, but I don't know who he was, his name or anything more about him. I have no idea whether we'd have hit it off or not. 

I may never know if it was a joke or if he was sincere.

Where's the time machine when you really need it? I want a do over!

Taking a chance isn't always easy - especially if we don't consider our outer packaging to be that attractive. I've lived it and been hurt by rejection. It isn't fun but sometimes, there are people who are sincere - who really do want to get to know who is on the inside of the so called flawed packaging. They are the true souls worth having in our lives. We have to learn to give those souls room to find us and carefully let them into our world and allow ourselves to be a part of theirs.

I don't know if you will ever read this but, if you were the guy who spoke to me in the cheese section of the Osborne Village Safeway on Friday, April, 19 at about 9:30AM - I'm sorry I wasn't more open. Our conversation was brief - maybe a couple of minutes, but I was intrigued. I sincerely hope that our paths cross again. Since you have the advantage of sight, I hope you'll say hello.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

It Should Be Spring By Now ... Shouldn't it?

Well, I don't know what the weather has been like in your area, but here in Winnipeg, it is still more like Winterpeg despite being April 14! 

The snow was starting to melt - slowly. Then, our beloved Mother Nature decided that things were looking rather drab so dropped fresh covers of white stuff (aka snow) on us. Not once mind you, but this unwelcome addition occurred at several times last weekend. Friday night, Saturday, and on Sunday!

This was my view last Sunday afternoon: 

Over the Easter weekend, I watched part of a Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes Marathon on Teletoon Retro. Among the cartoons shown, was the 1961 classic "The Abominable Snow Rabbit". In it, Bugs and Daffy are supposedly burrowing their way to warmer weather in Palm Springs and inadvertently make a wrong turn and end up in the chilly Himalaya's! The usual hilariously looney hijink's ensue as they meet up with the Abominable Snowman who has always wanted a pet rabbit....

Anyways, given our unending winter it could well have been chilly Manitoba that Bugs and Daffy landed in! All they wanted - like many of us - was escape to a warmer environment!

But no, it seems we have entered our own version of the winter that never ends!

Unlike the Abominable Snowman chasing after Bugs to a warmer climate, we can't lead Mother Nature's wintery wrath away from us so we can thaw out.

And, despite the date on the calendar, there is a possibility of some more of the unwanted white stuff over the next day or two!

I've tried to be nice about it, but winter has overstayed it's welcome.

Sorry snow lovers but it is time to pack up the winter toys and unite in an effort to thwart the continued efforts of winter to hang around!

This sentiment for our never ending winter was recently posted on the CBC Radio Noon Facebook page: 

A bit extreme, perhaps but the desire to be rid of our wintery trappings is very real!

Despite advances in meteorology, this techie solution doesn't seem to be working either:

So what are we to do?

Too bad we can't set up a giant magnifying glass to melt the stuff! How about a series of blow torches? No, that might cause more problems with unexpected fires. Although there certainly would be lots of snow to melt and put out the fires with.

Okay, so we stick with the normal melting patterns. GRRR!

Oh well, a slow melt is definitely what is best given the risk for flooding.

However, at this point farmers are also starting to get concerned about how much snow is still to melt on their fields. The snow has to melt and the ground be dry enough to actually work before they can begin seeding. Most crops need to be in by late May to ensure a reasonable growing season before temps drop in the fall. That may be over a month from now, but it takes time to melt all that snow and favourable weather conditions to be able to seed. If they don't get a decent growing season then there will be production shortages for both human and livestock consumption. That would result in higher prices overall - which won't make anybody happy!

I know we have to let nature take its course and melt at whatever speed it decides to but the vast majority of us are getting a bit impatient here.

Some are trying to be optimistic by pointing out that at least we don't have mosquito's and that the AC isn't running! True, but we are still running our furnaces thanks to the cool temps! Heck, this past Monday night, we had an overnight low of -20C! Throw in a windchill and it felt more like -27C outside! This is April NOT January!!!!

I heard a solitary Canada Goose honking as it flew over in the pre-dawn hours a little over a week ago. Though I don't pretend to understand the goose language, I strongly suspect that the incessant honking could be interpreted as "What the....? The flock sent me ahead to check out the landscape and all I see is ice and snow! Are you freaking kidding me? Mother Nature is off her meds again!"

More geese have reportedly been spotted in the area since that morning - as well as a few other migratory birds, but they sure aren't happy about what they have come home to!

The slow melt is also wreaking havoc with road conditions. The streets are mostly dry, but any moisture that flows onto streets from curbside snow piles creates mini lakes that thaws in the day and freezes at night. The drainage systems to catch that melting snow also tend to freeze and thaw with the current weather, resulting in ice jams and massive puddles. These are prime sources for creating pot holes. They are expensive to repair and even more expensive should your vehicle hit a pot hole!!

This slow melt thing is also making mobility harder for those of us who don't have the agility of a mountain goat! Whether you use a cane, a walker, a scooter or are visually impaired such as I am, winter mobility is a challenge. We dread having to go out in those first few days after a snowfall. The spring melt means rutted skating rinks on sidewalks and being sprayed by the mini lakes along the curbs that cars seem to love to speed through.

The city does a semi decent job clearing sidewalks - but it really does depend on where you live. Residential sidewalks aren't plowed nearly as often or as well as those on main thoroughfares or designated snow routes. There are many seniors and people with mobility issues who have felt like prisoners in their homes the past few months. The city's web site is still reporting "difficult" conditions for persons with mobility issues.
I reside along a designated snow route, however thanks to the snowbanks on either side of the fairly decently plowed sidewalks, the melting often creates rivers of slush, frozen ruts and/or skating rinks.

Though I own a decent pair of ice grips that can be slipped onto my boots, these are not suitable for indoor use. In other words, I either leave them at home or remove them before entering some businesses so as not to damage their flooring. The grips are a very snug fit to the footwear - so they do not slip off easily. Trying to put them on or remove them while wearing full winter garb can be even more of a challenge.
So you can risk life and limb on ice covered sidewalks or walk on the streets - close to the curb and facing traffic whenever possible. Neither option is much fun but that, unfortunately, is the choice when you live in Winterpeg.

Personally I miss being able to get out and truly enjoy the somewhat milder temperatures - even though they are still several degrees below the seasonal norm of +10C. We won't be seeing temps that high for at least another week!

I know that spring will eventually arrive and all too soon we will most likely be griping about the heat and the mosquito's but at this point, I think most of us would be quite happy with some seasonable temperatures and noticeable decreases in the white stuff on the ground.

SO, Mother Nature, we'd really appreciate some cooperation here. What do you say we call a truce for now and you move the wintery princess routine to the southern hemisphere until, hmm - say late November or early December?

Yeah, yeah, I know you'll handle it your way. I just had to ask though!