Sunday, June 30, 2013

Of Men and Hats

On Fathers Day, I actually gave a gift to my SIL. It's a pro baseball cap from the Montreal Expos that I've had since 1995. I bought it as a souvenir from a trip to Montreal. After being raised there, we left for the Toronto area in 1962. 1995 was my first time back since the later 60s except for a brief winter trip for my uncle's funeral in 1971.

I found my old houses and schools, and we did a little touring such as the old port,which was unfamiliar to me, and Mount Royal, which was very familiar to me. I was a baseball fan at the time, and we visited Olympic Stadium to see my favourite team, the Expos, play. They won but the franchise was beginning its collapse after they did so well in the previous strike-shortened season. The became the Washington Nationals in 2004.

Anyway, I don't wear ball caps, so, 18 years after purchasing it but not using it, I passed it along to Eric to do with it as he will. It's a fitted cap, but it fits his head too.

There's something about men and hats. Here is a photo from the early days of my grandfather (second row,extreme left) and the rest of the construction crew. Every guy was wearing a cap.

Here's a photo of my other grandfather at work.

How about great grandfathers?

Comme pour moi? Here's a very recent one of me wandering around with my camera catching flies with my open mouth.

And here I am in my new, favourite, cooler weather cap.

As you can see, I am a hat/cap guy but not baseball caps. Everybody wears those, and they don't look good on too many people. Besides, there's nothing distinctive about a generic, ubiquitous ballcap.

Why do men wear caps? In my case, it is at least partly because I ain't got no hair up there. So, the dome gets pretty cold in winter, and the sun really bakes it in summer. I need the protection.

Aside from that, I guess it's the one manly thing that men can do to add something to their appearance. According to societal norms, we can't do much with our hair, even those who have some. And we can't wear makeup to disguise our flaws and general aging. It just isn't done. We can wear hats, however, and often choose to do so.

And ... one final late-breaking photo as it were -- hot off the press.

Friday, June 28, 2013

JJ at the Depot

There is a place called the Country Depot on the road to Almonte. Actually, it has another name now, but it's still the Country Depot to us. In addition to being an agricultural supply depot, they have a nice gift shop as well as a garden centre.

On some days in the summer, if we go at the right time, they have boxes and boxes of chicks awaiting pickup. JJ likes to visit them, but he especially likes to take his turn on the tractors that are lined up out front. He goes up the line, climbing on each one and back down the line repeating the process. The last time that I took him, they had a genuine big tractor, but I didn't have the camera with me that day. It was a special treat, however.

Before we leave the Country Depot, here's one of JJ and Grandma in the garden centre. Just because.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Danica's Last Day in Kindergarten

Danica has finished her second year of school. She's all done with kindergarten and ready for somewhat less play and more structured learning.

As has become a tradition on first and last days, I took pictures at the bus stop, which is just across the street.

First, we walk directly across the street to pick up H and H. I started this in the winter because Mom has a new baby, which she didn't need to drag out every morning.

The kids line up at the bus stop. The others line up in orderly fashion, but Danica and H&H usually drop their school bags and cavort around. But I wanted some line shots, so they were indulgent with the old grampa.

The bus stops in front of Rosie's place, which is a good thing because all of the other kids are hers — sort of. Rosie does daycare from her home, so even a lot of older kids get dropped off when their parents have to leave for work early. Danica's classes have been male-dominated. Strangely enough, when JJ goes next year, there will be more girls than boys. maybe that's a win for both kids ;)

Pictures done, Danica is eager to drop her backpack. Rosie has trained her kids to wait patiently in line. Danica and JJ will also have to learn to do this in the fall as they will be under Rosie's care for part of the time. Besides, it's a bit silly to drop the pack in order to run about for just two minutes.

And ... off she goes. Since she has to don her backpack, she's always near the end of the line.

She put in her day, and soon, we were waiting at the bus stop again.

The bus driver got a hug.

And I got a beautiful smile.

And that was that ... except for a Popsicle before heading home.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fathers Day at Lambs Down

With our last day with JJ to be blogged, I kind of lost track of posting Fathers Day pictures.

After breakfast, we all went to the Lambs Down festival, which took place by the Wool Growers Co-op. Lambs Down is kind of a take-off on the Ottawa football stadium, which is called Landsdowne Park. At least, I presume that's the clever connection that someone intended.

There were pony rides and sheep shearing, which I will save for Sue to post about. While the ladies wandered about, the boys took a gander inside the Wool Growers Co-op. This is what part of it looks like, and that's JJ and Eric wandering back toward the exit.

If you think you see tracks in the photo, you are correct. At one point this building was a railway centre, but it converted a long time ago, and is now the wool grading station for Canada.

After our little tour, the sheep shearing demo took place, and I will relent and post one photo although I don't want to steal Sue's thunder too much.

Later there was a sheep roundup demonstration. Those border collies are so smart. It actually herded them into a little transport van and then back out again.

And especially for the kids: face painting. We lined up a long time, and it was pricey: well done but costly.

Grandma didn't have her face painted, but she looked lovely as always. I need to include her because she had some small role to play in me becoming a father.

Friday, June 21, 2013

JJ's Last Day (Part 2)

Then Come the Treats

After his initiation (so to speak) to kindergarten, Jonathan was give a choice of treat activities. Since it was lunchtime, they all had to do with food. One choice was A&W; another was Tims; and, a third was the Chip Truck.

I think he was a little confused by the chip truck option since we always call chips, fries, so I explained it to him. I also drove by on the way to pick up grandma. That helped him remember being there in the past so that's what he chose.

Well ... that and more. Because he chose to go to Tims afterward for dessert. Good boy, JJ.

We placed our order and waited.

Finally ...

Yum ...

And then we were off to Tims where he showed us proper donut-eating technique. You eat the top first ...

... slowly ... so that Buppa must look on forlornly because he finished his already.

Then you wash it down with chocolate milk.

That's how you celebrate a last day with the Ams and Bups, which is also the first day of the rest of your life.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

JJ's Last day (Part 1)

Beginnings and Endings

Another of life's passages has occurred. After childcaring for four of the past five years, we are more or less done.

Not only that, but after having only JJ for most of the time in the past two years, he spent his last day alone with us today. We will look after both kids for some weeks this summer, but they will be with parents and other sitters more than us.

We're used to seeing Danica go off every day, but it was somewhat sad to contemplate our last few days with the little fella. Especially since he's such a good little fella. Once Danica's school year is done, we'll generally see them both or not at all. JJ will spend his last days in official daycare on Thursday and Friday and will be in the care of a sitter on Monday and Tuesday of next week. Danica will join him at home after Tuesday next week.

Yes, I did experience a few poignant moments this week, but in the end, I feel good about moving on to a new phase. After all, next year we will still get them on and off the school bus several times a week.

That's the Ending referred to in the title.

But there was also a Beginning today, for he went off to his future school for an hour of initiation.

He is pretty shy and withdrawn in new situations, and he was that today, but he joined in the circle as asked and went through how they open the day with a song and a prayer.

He looks somewhat lost and forlorn in the next photo.

They were then introduced to activity centres, and two senior kindergarten boys tried to take him under their wings, but he wasn't feeling the love.

Eventually the nice teacher got him engaged with cardboard blocks

There are extroverts, and this boy was happy to chat with JJ as they sat back down for storytime. It's nice when we introverts can latch onto the other type of human.

After storytime, they had a chance to play in the yard, and by that time he was doing quite well.

As he played I saw the room that will likely be his next year. It is a little drafty at the moment.

Then it was time to line up to go home. They are told that they are lining up properly if thy can see hair in front of their faces. He was doing fairly well by this point.

We weren't yet done our final day with JJ, but that's enough for one blog.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Arboretum

On Friday, we had to go into the city, so we excused ourselves from meeting Danica at the bus after school and did some sightseeing. I have already posted some photos from the Gardens that are part of the Central Experimental Farm, but first we visited the Arboretum which are also part of the Farm. It was not what we expected, but we were pleased and impressed.

I think what we expected was a nursery type of area with rows of various kinds of trees that were all tagged and identified. What we found, however, were beautiful park-like grounds nestling beside Dows Lake, which is part of the Rideau Canal system.

Parking was very limited, so I don't know if the area gets used and appreciated nearly as much as it should.

There are a lot of photos below, so I will keep them small. Of course you know that with these newer templates, you can click one photo, see it larger, and then click to the next in sort of a slideshow. You do know that, right?

There was a swampy, reedy area where, as expected, red wing blackbirds were plentiful. At times like this one could wish for a mighty telephoto lens and tripod, but one makes do.

There were several spots where wild, yellow Irises were growing by the shore of the lake.

Of course, the most beautiful part of the park was ...