Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Oh Poopers! It's That Time Again

I can't put it off any longer. Sadly.

Upon getting up to leave after a pleasant and innocuous consultation with my friendly doctor last month, she advised me that I couldn't get away so easily. And she handed me a little package.

Yes, Virginia: it is time for my annual poop test. Sigh. (Sorry to abuse your moniker once again, Ginny)

I pretty well have it down to a science now, but it wasn't always so. Actually, Sue developed the procedure and has to remind me how best to do it every time that I have to repeat the process ... because I am forgetful.

As I said, we have figured it out, but the first time was somewhat of a trial. I wrote about it soon after I started blogging: many years ago now. Below, is my humourous account. At least it was intended to be funny, and I hope you find it so if it is new to you. (For I think I have reposted it a few times since then.)


Getting My Shit Together 
December 05 2004

When one reaches a certain age, the medical establishment becomes inordinately interested in his bowels. Therefore, after my annual physical examination last week, I was sent home with a Hemoccult Test Kit. What this means in plainspeak, is that, after following various dietary prescriptions and proscriptions over the duration of several days, I am to port three samples of my shit to the medical lab.

I don't know about about you, but I am not predisposed to embrace such a daunting task with hearty enthusiasm. So, it is with some reluctance that I prepared to collect my first specimen last night.

I began to follow instruction one: "Using a ballpoint pen, write your name, age, address, phone number, and your physician [sic] name on the front of the slides in the spaces provided."

Sound easy to you? Me too. Problem one: the whole 'form' is about the size of a matchbook. In fact, the container is built much like a matchbook. You lift the cover, put your samples inside (two dabs from each of three stool collections), and close the cover. That doesn't amount to a huge amount of space in which to pen the vital statistics demanded by the laboratory authorities, not to mention the date and time, which they later appended in instruction two (to follow shortly). Generally, this would barely cause me pause as I have a reasonable facility for writing or printing small characters: to the extent that others frequently remark on this facility of mine as they ask me to pass the magnifying glass.

I do, however, find it difficult to write on glossy, highly-polished surfaces. Even my trusty space pen — the one that will write in space, over butter, underwater, and upside down — all at the same time! — was not up to the task. Neither was any other pen in the house. After much sticktoitiveness, accompanied by much colourful language, I managed to accomplish the task. A lot of blotching occurred, but with a good interpreter or five, they should be able to read my matchbook data.

On to instruction two: "Before bowl movement, fill in sample collection date and time on first slide. Flush toilet and allow it to refill. Let stool fall into clean, dry collection container, before it contacts toilet bowl water." Did you get that? Flush the toilet, and then shit into a dry container — a container, not the toilet! Does this cause you the same puzzlement that it caused me? Why are we to be so fastidious about flushing the toilet when we are not, directly, to use it?

Mercifully for you, I shall cease my narrative at this point. Might I point out, however, that at no point did I find this to be an amusing and fun-filled task? I am beginning to discover that getting old is not for the faint of heart. However, it beats the alternative.

But you know what? Yesterday was still a good day, regardless (read previous blog): a day well worth the living. And let it be said by no one that AC doesn't give a shit, for he most certainly does — for those who ask politely, at least.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

AC and the WC

I hope you all realize that the sign on my last post was pretty well the anti-me, but I think it was kind of funny. I saw it up at The Country Depot along with many others. I have taken to snapping a new sign photo when I drop in there.

In point of fact, ladies are always welcomed in my man cave, sometime with open arms. Very little beer is consumed, and I have been known to enjoy the occasional chick flick.

Not only that, but I swear that I put the seat down. I even put the lid down. In fact, I may actually do that more rigorously that the queen of this lair.

Except at night. Since she goes to bed earlier and makes no potty trips for 10 hours, I have taken to leaving both the seat and lids up during those long hours. It's the thoughtful things to do really, rather than my banging and crashing said appliance umpteen times a night and perhaps taking a chance on waking the lady.

And she very seldom arises early enough to see nothing but pristine lid, so it's all good.

So, there you have it. AC has very good WC manners.

(AC= Anvilcloud // WC = water closet (aka bathroom, washroom, toilet, loo, latrine, facilities etc) )


More importantly, I leave you with a joke about the WC that goes way way back for me. It's a bit of a variation from what I remember but the essence in intact. In the version that I recall, it was the Wesleyan Chapel and not the Wayside Chapel, but it works either way.

The Wayside Chapel

An English schoolteacher, was in Switzerland and looking for a room to rent for when she would begin her teaching there the following fall. She asked the schoolmaster if he would recommend any. He took her to see several rooms, and when everything was settled she returned home to make final preparations for the move. When she arrived home, the thought suddenly occurred to her that she had not seen a Water Closet (toilet) around the place. She immediately wrote a note to the schoolmaster asking him if there was a "W.C." near the room.

The schoolmaster was a poor master of English so he asked the parish priest about the meaning of the letters "W.C." and the only solution they could come up with for the letters was "Wayside Chapel". The schoolmaster then wrote the following note to the English lady seeking a "W.C." with her room.

Dear Madam: 

I take great comfort in informing you that a "W.C." is situated nine miles from the house in the corner of a beautiful grove of pine trees, surrounded by lovely grounds. It is capable of holding 229 people, and it is open on Sundays and Thursdays only. As there are a great many people expected during the summer months, I would suggest that you come early, although there is usually plenty of standing room. This is an unfortunate situation, particularly if you are in the habit of going regularly. You will no doubt be glad to hear that a good many bring their lunch and make a day of it, while others, who can't afford to go by car, arrive just in time. I would especially advise your ladyship to go on Thursdays when there is an organ accompanist. The acoustics are excellent and even the most delicate sounds can be heard everywhere. It may interest you to know that my daughter was married in the "W.C." and it was there that she met her husband. I can remember the rush there was for seats. There were ten people to a seat usually reserved for one, and it was wonderful to see the expression on their faces.

The newest attraction is a bell, donated by a wealthy resident of the district, which rings every time a person enters. A Bazaar is to be held to raise money for plush seats for all, since the people believe it is a long felt want. My wife is rather delicate so she can't go regularly: it is almost a year since she went last. Naturally it pains her not to be able to go more often. I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you, if you wish, where you will be seen by all. For the children there is a special time so that they will not disturb the elders.

Hoping to have been of some service to you, I remain,

Sincerely, The Schoolmaster

Monday, February 24, 2014

I Am Claiming My Divine Rights

Yes sir! We have new rules at this house. Ladies take note.

Sue's reaction to the news.

Dear Sue
Thanks for your permission to post this.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

I Lied

I honestly didn't mean to lie when I wrote that my previous post was the last one about this past weekend. However, just like John Donne, the poet:
When I hast done, I hast not done,
                        For I have more.
Oh alright: I changed "thou's" to "I's" in the first line.

Anyolehow, I have a few more weekend photos to post, and then I truly shall by Donne ... er ... done.

The gals were poring over the map to try to discover the whereabouts of the Rideau Chapel, which housed the Motet: a forty-voice choir, each member singing Renaissance music into his own mic and each having a separate speaker in the presentation. This was the main reason for their visit, just to visit this display.

The chapel is a fantastic reconstruction of a real chapel that was dismantled and moved inside the National Gallery. We hoped to take photos, but such was verboten. However, thanks to Google, I was able to find a photo of the chapel with the Motet set up.

Alrighty, back to my own pictures. Following are two b&w's from the hallowed halls of the National Gallery, or at least the skylight in the case of the first one.

More colour from almost the same spot as the previous b&w.

Brian getting a shot.

The Aulde Dubliner, where we likely would have eaten had we not opted for the Highlander, which is in the left background of this photo. We couldn't go wrong with either choice, but we had eaten here before, so we opted to try something new.

 Now ... I really do think that is all.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Final Weekend Post

Can you take one more day of this? One more day of our weekend? Heck fire; the posts are lasting longer than the weekend.

But this is the final installment. Really. You believe me, don't you?

After spending much time at the Wool Warehouse, we decided to head north toward Almonte. The first stop was the Country Depot where I saw ...

... Canadian Olympic hockey work gloves. Yes Virginia, this is Canada.

There were a few jars of candles but nothing like the whole shelf of pre-Christmas inventory that I posted ... well ... pre-Christmas.

There are always signs at the Country Depot, and I always take some pictures. This one caught my eye. Too bad I didn't get around to posting it on Monday, Family Day an official holiday in Ontario.

Finally, we were on our way into the town of Almonte where I wandered around outside while waiting for my lady to thoroughly inspect the merchandise of another dress shop.

We took pictures of the almost-completely-frozen waterfalls. I should have had my longer lens.

Then it was time to sit for awhile in the Barley Mow, sip a little coffee, and taste a few appetizers. It's a rather nice view. I don't know what Heather is doing, but Brian is studying the menu, and Sue is donning her movie star glasses.

Th th th that's all folks.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Wool Growers Coop

If you are beginning to ascertain that it was a busy weekend with our company, your are correct. Sue had noticed, as only Sue can notice, that there was a great sale on at the Wool Shop Boutique. It's quite a classy clothing shop attached to the rather unrefined Wool growers Coop.

While the ladies availed themselves of the bargains, Brian and I wandered around the wool warehouse with great interest. We were very pleased that it was open, and no one seemed to mind us wandering about with our cameras.

The Coop was once a railway maintenance station, but is now the wool grading station for the whole country — right here in our little town. It was crammed full of bales, more so that on my visit last summer.

The entrance ↑.

Brian taking a photo. ↓

This might be my favourite photo from the weekend: a cat nestled amongst the bales. I am sure that the felines keep themselves well fed on the ubiquitous mice.

I found a desk that I thought was interesting.

There is also an equestrian centre within the structure, selling cowboy boots, among other things.

Finally, before being off to other places, I took this photo of the window and wall outside the equestrian centre. I don't know why windows and walls appeal to me, but they do.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Winterlude Ice Sculptures

We accessed Confederation Park from the canal to see the ice sculptures. We were fortunate to time our visit before the end of Winterlude. While the canal will remain open as long as the weather permits, this was the final weekend of Winterlude.

Before we get to the sculptures, however ... 

... you guessed it — another ↑↑ Beavertails kiosk!!

I was surprised to see a booth from Temple's Sugar Camp ↓↓ because they are located near to us and quite a distance from downtown Ottawa. We usually visit the restaurant once a year, when the maple syrup season goes into high gear in March and April. Taffy on snow, anyone?

Now for the sculptures.

The above sculptures were given prime real estate at the exhibit and were judged in the competition. I didn't track whether any of these were winners — although they sure were in my eyes! The two pink attempts were my first and last and are not the best photos, but I am happy enough with the two blue ones.

In a different area of the park, we found this magnificent piece honouring the war. Perhaps you can't detect the theme in my poor photo, but it is a railway car with soldiers hanging out of the windows saying goodbye to their loved ones.

So ... that was it for our trip into the city to see the art gallery, the canal, and Winterlude, but we did some more traipsing closer to home on the next day. I am sure you await with bated

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On the Rideau Canal

After everyone had their fill of the art gallery, we moseyed over to the Byward Market to replenish our hungry bodies. We chose the Highlander for supper, and we were all pleased. While I opted for the safe burger, I must say that it must have been the best burger that I have ever tasted. Yum!

After a very filling meal, we waddled over to the canal. During January and February, the Rideau Canal (in the Ottawa section) becomes the world's largest skating rink at almost 8km/5mi.

This is our 9th winter in the region and is the first time that we've made it onto the canal. While our skating days are behind us, it was a pleasure just to get on for awhile.

I took this shot ↑ as we were leaving and heading back to the car. I took this one ↓ earlier when we were on the canal. There has been snow that day, so the walking was a bit of a trudge. I saw pictures the next day of plows, three abreast, clearing the surface.

I went on about beavertails in a recent post. We had already passed the permanent fixture in the market area, but I was pleased to find this temporary one right on the canal. We later found another temporary stand in Confederation Park.

I took this final shot looking back toward the parliament buildings in the distance.

From here we went to Confederation Park to view the ice sculptures, but we'll save those photos for another day.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

At the National Gallery in Ottawa

Our company has come and gone and kept us very busy while they were here. Or did we keep them busy? Let's just say that it was a busy weekend.

On Friday, we braved the snow and drove into town to visit the National [Art] Gallery. On our first visit in '95, admission was free. In later years, they began to charge $6 for general admission and another $6 for whatever special exhibit was showing. I was rather dismayed on Friday to see that I had no choice; the admission was $12 and included the special exhibit, whether one wanted to see it or not. We would have passed it up, but that's life.

On top of that, we discovered that they didn't permit photos to be taken inside any of the galleries. This was another change because on our last visit, they were permitted in certain galleries.

However, as Sue and I rested in the awful cafeteria while the more youthful Brian and Heather did a bit more circulating, I did take a few pictures through the cafeteria window. In the centre of the following photo lies the Supreme Court of Canada. Sue was thinking that sun would have made for better photos, but I liked what I saw just fine.

Out of sequence is our return to the gallery at the end of the day. Sue, Heather and Brian preceded me up the walk. We always park at the gallery. It's just a habit that we've gotten into and are familiar with.

These are the spires of Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, just across the street from the art centre. There's something that I love about night shots, even though my camera is not the best at handling them, particularly when I am hand-holding the camera and must resort to really cranking up the ISO. Fortunately, I can reduce some of the resulting "noise" in post production software, but that also makes the photo a little soft. But we do our best.

Trying to leave the parking lot was a little unnerving. My credit card didn't work after the machine swallowed my ticket. Neither did the $20 bill that I offered. Neither did 3 other credit cards in the party. Finally, Heather's $20 bill worked. Phew!

Rest assured; there will be more weekend pictures, but this is a start.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Another Feel Good Olympic Story

We have company coming later toady and staying for the weekend, so here goes a short post that will have to suffice for awhile.

Denny Morrison, who has had a bit of a hard luck story in past Olympics, failed to qualify for the 1000 metre speed skating event. By that, I mean that he didn't qualify in Canada's selection trials prior to the Olympics because he had a fall and, therefore, a poor time.

Gilmore Junio did qualify, even though the 1000 metre race was not his specialty. Before the race, however, in the interests of the team, he ceded his spot to Morrison, who went on to win the silver medal.

Said Junio: “It is an individual sport. And sometimes you’re kind of looking out for No. 1, but for me it was a no-brainer for Denny to be in this distance ... As a country, we want to win.”

We have every right to get upset with Olympic politics and problems, but in the end, the athletes have trained hard for many years, and they deserve their moment, and moments like this are certainly heart-warming.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The True Olympic Spirit

A Russian skier,Anton Gafarov, was trying valiantly to finish the race after a bad fall. He had broken one of his skis but was trying to will it to the finish line. After falling again, a Canadian coach hurried onto the track and gave him his ski to allow Gafarov to finish the race with some dignity.

You can catch it between about 30 to 60 seconds into the video on this page.

Call it payback of sorts because in 2006 a Norwegian coach threw her ski pole to a Canadian skier, Sara Renner, who had lost hers. Sara went on to defeats Norway's own skier, but the Norwegian coach, Bjornar Hakensmoen, thought it was the fair thing to do.

By the by, the Canadian coach is Justin Wadsworth, who was born in the USA. So, I guess four countries were involved in this affair: Canada, Russia, Norway and USA. Pretty neat, eh?

A fuller account of the incident may be read here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Early Olympic Reflections

Are you watching the Olympics? I am keeping an eye on them for sure although I am not exactly glued to the set.

As I begin to write this, not being quite sure what I what to say yet, Canada is tied for the medal lead.

Permit me to feel good about our medal haul because times have sure changed. Canada hosted the summer Olympics in 1976 and the winter Olympics in 1988, but did not win even one gold medal at either. That's never been done before -- not exactly the kind of record one revels in.

Times have changed. We won the most golds at Vancouver in 2010 and have three in these early days.

This is not to brag because it's not as though I have had anything to do with the improvement, but it's sure is better to see my country doing well rather than poorly. It continues to be surprising, as I still almost expect our guys and gals to stumble at every opportunity. The change in performance takes some getting used to.

We are used to seeing stories like this: gold medal hopeful and very deserving skater, Brian Orser, loses to Brian Boitano over a slight misstep, not even really a stumble. The fact that Orser won the world championship over Boitano a month or two later, did not exactly take away the sting. In the same games, Elizabeth Manley outskated Katerina Witt in the free skate but could not make up the difference in points from earlier rounds. C'est la vie, as they say in the province to the east of us.

Both Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko were the best skaters of their times, but neither were able to win at the Olympics. Kurt had 4 world championships and one second place at worlds but his best finish at the O's was 5th. Basically he was just emerging in '88 and simply didn't do well in '92. By '94 it was too late, for he was in decline. Ah well.

Elvis Stojko won three world championships and came second twice, but only scored two silvers at the O's. Basically, he was robbed in '94 (by politically influenced judging -- in my opinion) and was injured in '98, despite still managing to win the silver medal.

I know there's more to the Olympics than skating, but this seems to be what I remember most, perhaps because during those times, figure skating represented our best medal hopes. However, I am pleased for our Canadian athletes and am happy that all sorts of our athletes in other disciplines are doing so well. And not just Canadians either. The skill that I see as snowboarders do flips in the air or as speed skaters go around corners at 45° angles is awe inspiring. No matter where they come from.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

This Post Doesn't Start Out to be about Beavertails

  • The Olympics have begun. Exactly 20 years ago, I watched from the floor after a back attack. I was down there for much of two months.I have not had that kind of back attack since, but I do live with lingering effects. For example: I have not played one game of tennis since. For several years prior, I had played tennis most days during the summer.

  • I just saw a sign at the liquor store, advising me to "Drive Careful". I approve the intent, but it causes the pedant in me to grind my teeth. Careful is an adjective. Adjectives modify nouns. Carefully is an adverb that modifies verbs such as drive.

  • Just don't get me started about the "Eat Local" campaign. (more grinding of my pearly whites)

  • One of my British Flickr contacts recently opined, "Your never ending snow must be tiresome ..." Dya think?! We are up to almost 3 months of continuous snow cover, with at least another month left to go and perhaps as much as 2 months. (my teeth are not disintegrating)
  • Actually, I am not doing too badly, but my present low level of antsyness will soon begin to grow.

  • Ottawa's annual Winterlude Festival has begun. I have never attended, but we have company coming next week, so we will get into the city to do something or other.

  • I have never walked on the world's longest skating rink on the Rideau Canal. Maybe this will be the year. Apparently, one should have a beavertail while on the canal.

Here's a very short clip of skating on the canal for those who are wondering.

  • While skating on it is out of the question it would be nice to walk it . . . and enjoy a beavertail.

  • The beaver is a Canadian symbol. Beaver pelts were once a major export. They made fine hats back in Merry Olde England.
Beaver Hat: The Height of Fashion
  •  Now we just eat their tails.

  • Haha. Fooled ya. It's just kind of fried dough pastry, hand stretched to resemble a beavers tail . . . or so they say.

  • Beavertails can be purchased in various spots, including the Byward Market in downtown Ottawa.

  • They can also be purchased directly on the canal when it is opened for skating, usually sometime in January.

So that's it. I begin by talking about the Olympics, grammar and winter and end up nattering on and on about Beavertails.

Friday, February 07, 2014

JJ's Birthday Part 2

After supper, but before dessert (because who could wait?), it was time to open presents.

He struggled before getting help from Danica and daddy.

Skylanders! Yippee!

What a trophy to take home.

Hmmm .... what could be in this bag from Amma and Buppa?

One thing was a print of the Birthday Collage that I posted two days ago.
He might appreciate this long after Buppa lies a'mouldering.
No doubt, it is the only present that will have much of a lifespan.

All in all, it was a joyful kind of day.

For the second time in one day, JJ gets to blow out a candle, but this was on a real cake with a real 5.

Before heading home, we had a little, after supper visit. Both kids got some lap time with the old Bupster.
At this point, Danica was perusing JJ's new Skylanders book.
Lap times are the best times.
On the next day, we rested. :)

Thursday, February 06, 2014

JJ's Birthday Part 1

It was a day with several celebratory components, beginning with the arrival of the children to our house in the morning. (They take the school bus from our house.)

We began the day with a candle in a granola bar. He likes granola bars.
Danica seems concerned for some reason.

Sue added the 5s to a candle that we had on hand, and I took the traditional "Blowing out the Candle" photo.

Then, we had a rousing game of trivial pursuit. JJ kept switching sides,
depending whether the Amma or Buppa side had more pies.
Our teams are very loose, and everybody helps everybody.

We picked them up for a lunch at Mickey Dees. There were hockey game boards on some of the tables.
Sue rolled up little "pucks" from the napkins, the boy and I had fun.
I can't barely fathom how serious I look playing this funny, little game. :)

At one point, with interest waning, I flicked a "puck" into JJ's mouth.
This was so exciting that Danica was compelled to join the fun.

JJ is digging out the latest "goal" that I landed in his mouth, while Danica eagerly anticipates the thrill.
Maybe the best fun is still the inexpensive, low tech kind.
Then, it was back to school. After the dropoff, Sue and I scurried home to begin preparing the roast for the birthday supper. Phew! Stay tuned.