On this page:
  • Things to tweak or try this winter
  • Canadian winter tips
  • Making the most of Standard Time as the days grow shorter
  • Winter
  • Fall down intentionally
  • Fleece blankets and seasons

Things to tweak or try this winter

Single digit temperatures have returned to the weather forecasts for Toronto, and people are starting to suit up in scarves. I even saw people wearing gloves. Winter is coming. Eventually. It’s not here yet, but I might as well get ready for it!

I’ve been accumulating quite a collection of winter tips and experiences. Last winter worked out pretty well. What will I try this year?

2014-09-12 Things to tweak or try this winter

2014-09-12 Things to tweak or try this winter

  • More consistent exercise
  • Growing plants indoors: the new Hacklab has a skylight, and I might be able to use the tiny window ledge in our bedroom too
  • Less consulting and more writing
  • Proper sewing: I’m going to get the hang of this eventually! It’s a good skill to have. I can work on finally finishing those box cushion covers.
  • Flashcards, learning: Japanese, Cantonese, Latin; development (maybe build Android apps?)
  • Lots of cooking and fresh meals
  • More vacuuming and tidying up, since I’ll be home
  • Hacklab, maybe twice or thrice a week?
  • More organized reading: book notes, sketches, blog posts
  • Regular sleep
  • New drawing workflow: index cards, sketchbook?

I think it’s time to get a new coat and a pair of winter boots. Oh well! I didn’t find anything I liked in last year’s end-of-season sales, so I guess I should probably reconcile myself to paying full price or close to it.

I liked last year’s idea of thinking in terms of longer nights, since I do tend to divide my activities into day (work, writing) and night (relaxing, drawing). Maybe I’ll play with that some more.

Hey, maybe the Canadian citizenship grant includes cold tolerance. Always wondered why W- and J- think ice cream season is all year long!

Canadian winter tips

Coming back to cold weather was not particularly fun, but I’m learning to deal with it. I’ve got the thermals, the sweaters, the jackets, the scarves… There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to figure out how to cope with winter. =) Anyway, here are some tips for people who are new to Canada or other cold places:

2014-01-06 Canadian winter tips

Canadian winter tips

If you like this, you might like my 2009 blog post with some more notes on what makes winter better.

Other winter notes: My insulated winter boots have sprung a leak. I still have a pair of leather boots and a pair of rubber boots (in bright red!), so I think I’ll make it through this winter. I shopped around for a replacement pair this weekend and didn’t find anything I liked, despite the sales. I was thinking about whether I should get a pair for when these boots wear out, but I’ll probably move away from wearing insulated boots and move towards thick socks and hiking shoes or regular boots instead. It’s also a good time to see if I can repair the boots I have. Oh well!

Making the most of Standard Time as the days grow shorter

The transition from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time is always a little shocking. Suddenly the sunlight’s gone by 5 PM. It always used to make me feel a little colder, a little odder. This year, I’m playing around with some mindset shifts that might do for Standard Time what renaming “winter” to “baking season” did in terms of my happiness. =)

(Click on the images for a larger version.)

2013-11-05 Standard Time - Winter Time

Since my consulting engagement has flexible hours, I can arrange my schedule so that I commute during off-peak hours, and I work from home three days of the week anyway. Sunlight is important to me, so I go for a quick walk at lunch. This means that on the days that I work on-site, I’m not too tired when I get home in the evenings, and on the days I work at home, I have time to go to the library or run other small errands.

That frees up the evening for writing, drawing, learning, coding, and all the other things that fill my discretionary time. Having a long evening means I can break it into several chunks of useful, focused work, while still taking care of chores. It feels pretty relaxed – almost freeing! Maybe this will become something that will help me look forward to shorter days.

2013-11-04 Revising my mornings

Mornings are worth playing around with, too. I thought about shifting more of my waking hours to the morning because it often comes up in productivity advice, but I like being able to sleep in a little. That said, I also like lining things up so that I can gain momentum in the morning, and the bright sunshine is nice to enjoy.

This mindset shift looks promising. It breaks down yet another one of those barriers to making the most of life year-round. How do you deal with shorter days? Any tips?

Winter

This winter feels a lot milder and happier than the others I’ve been through.

A large part of that comes from being able to work at home. I like being able to opt out of snowstorms.

Fleece bathrobes, fleece sheets, fuzzy socks, fuzzy slippers, gloves, handwarmers, apple pie, warm milk… Things might not give you happiness, but they can certainly help.

Cats and their quest for warmth.

Cooking, baking, preserving, sewing, writing, drawing — hobbies for those indoor days.

Love.

So maybe it wasn’t seasonal affective disorder after all, just the need to adapt.

Fall down intentionally

image

We had circled the ice twice. Hadn’t fallen yet, just wobbled about in the way beginners do.

Mel stopped. She flopped down. “Might as well get it over with,” she said.

Sounded like a great idea, so I did.

Skating got a lot easier after that.

Fall down intentionally. Get your fear out, then go.

Fleece blankets and seasons

image

W- and I bought another set of microfleece sheets. They’re much cheaper than an electric blanket or heated mattress pad, and they’re significantly toastier than cotton sheets. We’re planning to keep the house at around 16C – or even cooler, if we can manage it, so the extra warmth will help. It’ll be hard to get out of bed in the morning, but the bathrobe I leave on my night-table may help. Wool socks, scarves, and thermal underwear will take the edge off the cold. I’m even looking forward to trying out the handwarmer that W- got for me.

Living in Toronto gives me three big challenges: being halfway around the world from family and old friends, making sure my paperwork is in order, and dealing with winter. Video calls, new friendships, and trips home take care of the first challenge. I’m about to finish my permanent residency process, so that’ll take care of the second challenge. As for the third challenge, it’s been said that there’s no such thing as terrible weather, only wrong clothes.

Why not just move back to the Philippines? W- shares custody of J- with his ex-wife, so he needs to be in Toronto. Having gone through the hassle of uprooting myself, I’d rather not make others go through the ordeal, either.

Now that I’ve accepted winter as inevitable, I can face it on my own terms and look for ways to stay happy (or be even happier!).

It’s hard to believe that I’m getting ready for my fifth winter in Canada. My fifth! And yet each year makes winter better and better. In 2005, I filled my wardrobe with winter coats from Goodwill. In 2006, a family friend gave me some great coats, and I spent winter time with Toronto friends. 2007 was my first winter with W- and J-, filled with tobogganing and hot chocolate. Last year, I discovered the joys of winter hiking, warm cats, and home-made clothes. This year, I’m looking forward to toasty blankets, lots of baking, and splashes of color in the clothes I’ll make.

The seasons change with or without me, so it’s up to me to adapt.