Monday, August 03, 2015

The Kids Visit the Cemetery

We left Sarnia for the Ottawa Valley 10 years ago, so my parents grave had not been visited for a long time. Shauna took the kids back to Sarnia for a little vacation time last week, and Danica, being the sweetheart that she is, wanted to visit the grave site, and so they did.

It's a pleasant site, and I am pleased to see it again and pleased to know that Danica wanted to visit ... and JJ and Mom too of course, but I understand that Danica was the primary driver on this occasion.

I wrote a post all those years ago after my last visit, a few days before we departed for this area, way across province. I titled it, They Were Enough.

We are entering the final countdown before Monday's big move. Fortunately, we have lately been treated to a number of farewell dinners, rather a good thing considering the dearth of edibles in the fridge and our incredible disinclination of having anything that might be considered remotely intimate to do with the stove. I had put a visit to the cemetery on my mental todo list and finally got around to paying my respects this morning.

I'm have not been an avid visitor of cemeteries since I deem that nobody is really there. In fact, my dad's remains have rested there for six and a half years, and I have not really visited. I did take mum there for a quick visit once so that she could reassure herself that those responsible had dutifully added the year of dad's death on the flat and tasteful headstone. She was not a terribly trusting soul, my mother wasn't. Me? I am perhaps too trusting, too willing to assume that all will work out. It turns out, of course, that it usually does, so I was not surprised to find that mum's death date had been duly added, probably two years ago, shortly after she died.

Although I have confessed to not being an avid visitor, I must now admit to spending a very pleasant time at the graveside today. It was a wonderful summer morning; gentle cooling breezes caressed me in the shade. I sat on the grass and let my mind wander. Preferring to enjoy the quietude, I didn't try too very hard to stir up memories but let my mind wander wherever it would.

Memories that did pass across my mind were just that, memories from a long time ago: mostly from over forty years ago when I was young and my parents were much younger than I am now. I remembered walking with the folks one day and my mother bemoaning the fact that she was about to turn forty. Dad reminded her of the old saw that life begins at forty. I also remembered my mum and I once laughing hysterically at my hearing-impaired father when he responded incredulously to some comment or other that he has misheard: "You want me to weed the carpet?" Why this next memory came unbidden to my mind I don't know, but for a while we went to a very small church that was short on talent. My mother once tried to sing a solo, and her voice cracked on the high notes, but she did okay. And I remembered dad preaching a sermon from Philemon when the pastor was on holidays, and I had been proud to realize that he was quite a good preacher.

Then I thought how the wheel of time ever turns. About twenty years ago mom and dad moved here to be nearer family in their declining years. Now, I am the one moving to be nearer my kids. I am not going there to die but to live, but, of course, death comes ever closer, and one can't help but think about it. I don't think it's gruesome or macabre to ponder my death; it's just the wheel turning, always grinding relentlessly onward.

I sat there on the ground in the shade of the trees for quite some time. It was pleasant, so pleasant that I wondered about changing my own plans. I have thought to have a tree planted over my remains in some unmarked spot, but now I wonder. Perhaps I should give my kids the opportunity of visiting such a peaceful spot, a place where they can think and, perhaps, remember. We are not there, where we are buried, but it marks a spot where there is nothing for the visitor to do but rest and remember, and that is not such a bad thing. But in the end, I'll probably still opt for for an isolated unmarked site and ask for tree to be planted over me. It pleases me to think that some of my remains might be absorbed into a mighty oak or a shady maple or a staunch jack pine.

Soon enough, it was time to leave, time to say goodbye, a sort of goodbye anyway although my memories go with me and will endure for as long as I endure. Someday, that's all I shall be, a shadow in someone else's memories, and then those memories too shall fade, and I shall finally fade with them. Perhaps that is as immortal as we shall ever be. I couldn't help but think that today, that this one brief and flickering candle that we call life is all that we have to live and that we might as well live it fully, whatever that means to each person. I am not dogmatic about this, and I am not being theological in this respect; it was simply an impression that I had.

Soon, too soon, the best part of an hour had flown by, and it was time to depart. I patted the headstone and spoke out loud. I told mum and dad or the ground or the air around them that they had done a fine job, that they had done their best and that their best was enough.

That's not so bad is it: to do your best and for you best to be enough?

Saturday, August 01, 2015

An Accidental Blue Moon

With this photo, I join the throngs posting Blue Moon photos, except I didn't mean to. Really.

When I went out early that morning, it was with the hope of catching a sunrise. Well then it was just as well that I serendipitously espied the blue moon between the trees, next to this barn off the Beckwith Trail because the sunrise, or what I saw of it from my vantage point, was not zackly to die for. This ↓ was about my best shot, and well, it's okay ... barely ... (These kinds of photos always seem to show up darker here on blogger. I should maybe see if I could adjust for that.)

Anyway, here are some things that I have learned about blue moons.

  1. The expression was first used the way we usually use it now: to note that an event is extremely rare. It wasn't an astrological thang.
  2. It then got some sort of complicated designation which nobody understood.
  3. To some, it is probably still technically when a fourth full moon occurs in a three month period.
  4. However, to the great unwashed masses such as mine own self, it had come to refer to a second full month within one calendar month.
I muse that I shall never again see a blue moon where I saw this one, for there are only 7 in 19 years, and the chances that I would walk by this location, camera in hand, when the moon happens to be in that exact location, are extremely remote.

I did take a few other shots that morning, which I like better than the one above.

I squeezed the aperture to get the burst effect ↑. I don't love it, but it's fun to get that effect every now and then.

I caught some backlight on grasses ↓. Backlight is great for portraits and flowers etc.

Meanwhile, here is a short video about blue moons from people who know what they are talking about — as opposed to this lowly and humble blogger. Sorry that I can't embed it, but the smart people who made the video are being not-so-smart about letting others embed it.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Kingston Town

On Sunday, we drove to Kingston to visit extended family. While we had a very fine visit, I am posting some other pictures.

We purposefully arrived early with the intent of strolling about the harbour area. But it was very busy down there when we drove by, and it was extremely hot to boot.

So, we continued to drive along the waterfront and passed many a green area. Finally, we found both shade and a parking spot for a picnic lunch followed by a stroll before our scheduled meetup. It was pretty pleasant sitting in the shade with the breezes blowing off the water.

These are some pictures from that area. The first is the smokestack of the General Hospital. It's an impressive stack, but I was born in this hospital although we never lived in Kingston.

Following are some waterfront pics. Sue is in two of them, and that's me in the final one among the sculpture.

At the end of the day, when we were about to leave on our two hour trip home, there was a bit of a sunset opposite our hosts' place. It seemed to be a fitting end to a rather fine day.

Apparently the water we are seeing in the foreground is the St Lawrence River, but back around that point of land, it is Lake Ontario.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Market Faces

Last Saturday at the market, I tried a few quick portraits. With my f2.8, 70-200 lens the unfortunate backgrounds were generally minimized, and the results weren't bad all things considered. No, they're not sitting portraits with all sorts of lighting, but they work for me.

George was my favourite of the group. I processed him in a gritty way
to emphasize his well worn and well earned features.
This smile is a winner!
This beginner violinist was reading his music intently while playing.
This is the lady who makes those delicious tea biscuits. She wasn't totally into
the photographic thing, but she did her best to cooperate with my request.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Daytrip to the Rideau Rural Ramble Garden Centre

When I recently saw on Facebook that the Rideau Woodland Ramble (LINK to the article) garden centre was "named Canadian Garden Centre Destination of the Year by The Canadian Garden Council," I put it on my list of things to do on our semi vacation.

From CP, the easiest route is to drive to Dwyer Hill Road and follow it through Burritts Rapids until you get to the garden centre on your right a few minutes later.

We happened through Burritts Rapids just as they were cranking the bridge to allow a boat to pass under. This seems to happen only about 5X a day according to the guy doing the cranking, so we lucked out. But we didn't completely luck out because when I tried to click the camera, I discovered that I was sans memory card. Blast!

I did have my old old Digital Rebel with its kit lens and tiny LCD screen (don't ask why) which I hauled out once we got to the garden centre. Although I used the camera, purchased in 2003, for 8 years and thought it was fine, after 4 years of using a newer camera with a good LCD screen, it was like using a toy. Ah well.

So anyway ... here is a photo I found on the web of the swing bridge. To swing it, a guy sticks a shaft in a crank and walks around in a circle. It's impressive how easy one person can open a big bridge. Good old fashioned engineering.

Once we arrived at the Rideau Rural Ramble, I was quite impressed and took some pictures with my toy camera.

The Entrance. No admission fee btw.
Pretty lady sitting outside hut with paintings inside
The grounds were imperssive with extensive gardens, including woodland paths,
which we avoided for the most part having no insect repellent.

In addition to the gardens and plant sales areas, there were plenty of sculptures and artwork placed about.

A lovely pond
Benches here and there

All in all, it was a lovely spot. The day was really heating up, more than we had thought when we set out, so we didn't linger too long, but it is a nice destination and not too far a trip. We had intended to have a nice lunch in Merrickville, but we decided to head to our cool home for the remainder of the day.

It's a daytrip that I would like to do again, with a sidetrip to Merrickville, on a cooler day.

The Rideau Rural Ramble website:

Friday, July 24, 2015

To Market, To Market

For some reason, we tend to forget about our local Farmers Market, but we've been doing better this year. Somewhat amazingly, I have managed to get down there for three consecutive weeks. I don't usually manage that in a whole summer.

I am a little shy about taking photos in venues like this, but I am doing a little better these days.

One thing that has drawn me back are this ladies delicious scones, which I think she calls tea biscuits. Whatever you call them, they are quite excellent. We bought a half dozen when we had company, and they rather raved about them. I have tried and enjoyed both the lemon-blueberry and the orange-cranberry. Sue has also had the ginger and quite likes them. ↓

There are many colourful things to photograph. Here are a few. Produce comes and goes: the strawberries weren't there on our most recent visit.

Not all of the colour was of produce. These pillow covers were rather striking.

And sometimes I like things not in colour. The whiteness of the onions led me to processing this in bland and white.

And that's that for now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Stewart Park

County tourist guides count Stewart Park in Perth as one of the Seven Wonders of Lanark County. I think everyone who lives in the area drops by from time to time, but we had never been there in the evening.

It is a very pretty park, with some nice rock outcrops around the Tay River, and there is a very picturesque bridge. But once again, I wouldn't rate it too much more highly than our own Riverside Park.

Anyway, on our way home from Murphys Point, we decided to drop by and wander about. In theory it was the time of day for best light, but in practise, the sun was mostly behind the trees already.

However, as is my wont, I took my prescribed number of snaps, and here they are.

Above: someone owns a fine house in a prime location with a wonderful garden on the edge of the park.

Below: a look back toward Code's Mill, near where we parked.

Sue on the stone steps by the garden. ↓

Above: a look at the picturesque footbridge and the building beyond.

Below: an impressive old mansion bordering the park.

We didn't go very far into the park because they were setting up a number of tents in preparation for the weekends music festival. We have never attended the festival because we are at pains to figure out how and where we would park and how we would then haul chairs etc to the venue. We had an experience last summer or even the summer before when we drove to Perth with the kids to picnic in the park. We could not find a parking spot, so we headed back to Carleton Place and went to a fine local park.