Sunday, December 31, 2017

We Wish You a Happy New Year

Thank you for humouring me with your visits and comments over this past year.

It is the year where both Sue and I celebrated our 70th birthdays, which, despite sundry aches and pains, is much better than not reaching that point. Despite those aches, we remain relatively healthy and look forward with hope to more of the same.

And we wish health and happiness to you too whether you dwell in Norway, California, Eastern USA, the Midwest, England, India, Cyprus, Canada, or any other place that I have forgotten.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Baby It's Cold Outside

We continue to experience quite a deep freeze hereabouts. As I sit here at 8 AM, it's -22C/-4F. I mean outside, not right in my seat.

The few times that I have been out, I have bundled up and have not really felt the cold. Mind you, my walks are short, maybe 20 minutes, but I have been comfortable enough in my layers. Even walking across parking lots, like going to see The Last Jedi, I have not really felt the chill too deeply.

Speaking of that movie, it was my first experience in a theatre with reclining seats and tons of leg room. What a treat! As for the movie, it was okay with lots of action,  but there's nothing like the original series in my very humble opinion.

Back to my recent wintry strolls, I have been putting my little iphone in my pocket and taking it out for some very quick panos before my fingers freeze. I love this feature, where you can just swipe across your field of view, and boom and photo is made. I posted one a few posts back, but here are a couple more. They are all at or near the park around the corner. In the last one, I went right down to the river where you can see some mist rising in the distance.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Eve

Of course, readers understand that such posts are mainly for my records and family history and that there is no expectation of commenting. Not that most of all of our posts are at least partly like that, but some, like this and perhaps a few to come, are probably more so.

We arrived to their place around 4 PM and had some eats and snacks almost immediately, and there was snuggle time of course. The boy was very snuggly that day.

Throughout the evening, Danica followed Santa on the NORAD tracker. She's just booting it up in this photo.

You already know from a previous post that we drove to see a razzle dazzle house. But what you didn't know is that the boy appropriated my chapeau. Since he looks far better in it that I do, I let him keep it on for the duration of that little trip.

Back home it was jammie time. It has been our tradition since our kids were little to open a gift on Christmas Eve, and it is always pajamas.

I must add this one also on the stairs because it just turned out unexpectedly well with the little compact camera and its little popup flash.

We sang.

Played a game of Sorry.

The cat joined in. He was a constant presence over both the Eve and the Day. I had him for much of the time on the Eve.

And that's pretty much how it went down.

I wasn't going to post this yet, seeing as I have already done a post today, but somehow this published itself when it wasn't yet complete, so I will publish it properly now.

The Weather Outside is Frightful

It's cold out, really cold. We are in a cold snap that will last for more than a week. It will be the longest cold spell of the last few years. But we shall be warm, so all is well.

Those temperatures (below) are all in Celsius, but in Fahrenheit terms, the very highest temperature will be zero, and the nighttime temperatures will be in the minus teens for the most part, dipping as low as -18F.

We don'r expect a ton of snow when it's this cold, but we had plenty leading up to and including Christmas Day.

To leave Sha's place around noon on Christmas, we had to shovel out the path to the car, which was laden with a foot of snow or more. We were just about done shovelling when Sue took this photo from the front door.

Then, when we got home, we had to shovel out our driveway too. About a half hour after we were done, our snow plow guy showed up. Thanks a lot, bud.

That was Christmas. On Boxing Day, yesterday, I went for a morning walk and took this pano of the park around the corner.

Later, I took this from my computer chair. I just swivelled the chair to show you what I see from here -- mainly snow on rooftops.

So, that's the weather update, and I imagine that we will stay indoors for the most part for the next week or so. The plan is for all of us to head into the city tomorrow to catch that Star Wars movie, whatever it's called. JJ has a hockey tournament on Friday and Sue also has a tea to attend that day, but we have no special plan for New Years.

I shall probably post a bit about the Christmas celebrations at some point.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

On Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve we took a little drive to see this house. The display, Sophia's Animated Christmas Lightshow, is named for their daughter, but in honour of their father. It is quite impressive: not just a pile of lights (which is also quite alright by me) but done with a real eye toward aesthetics and in time with music (not included in the video, below).

A little video. I posted it on FB. I hope it embeds properly here. I panned the camera a little too quickly, but besides the fact that my video skills are severely lacking, it was cold, and one didn't want to linger long outside the car.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry Christmas

This year, you get two cards for the price of one. You've seen the photo previously. They are both from that magic sunrise at the cottage. The first was the planned card, and the second was just a last minute brain wave ... or brain cramp. Whatever.

We will cook the turkey today and so some last minute grocery shopping. Late tomorrow afternoon we'll head to the kids for Christmas Eve. We'll sleep over. Well, hopefully some sleep will be involved. We'll do presents on Christmas morning before the kids head to the other house. Then, we will have them here for Christmas dinner on Boxing Day.

I hope you have as good a time as we will.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Party

Now that the birthday is past, we have a few follow-up graphics for y'all.

This is the picture that I put on the front of her card, which was given two days ago in an early celebration.

And the inside.

Partly because Sha had prior work commitments on her actual birthday (Wednesday), we celebrated a bit early (Monday). Although we had planned a dinner in town along with a drive to see a lights display, the weather intervened. There had been light, wet snow all day, and although accumulation wasn't much, the roads became slippery. So, we didn't want to drive the kids into the city to meet Sha, and therefore, had a supper here.

Supper with hugs and birthday pie.

And cards and gifts ... and more hugs.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Happy Birthday to a Competent Woman

My baby girl celebrates her 45th birthday today.

Of course, she's now a woman. A strong woman. A confident and competent woman.

Competent. That word jumped out at me this summer when she drove us to see the MosaiCanada display in Gatineau. Her driving was extremely competent. When roads were unexpectedly closed in this strange-to-us area and I would have been anxious, she competently found her way in and out and around with no apparent stress at all.

To call someone competent almost seems like damning with faint praise as it were, but I think it's a high compliment. I mean to say that one could go on and on with other traits such as intelligent, kind, considerate, loyal, pleasant and so on and so forth, but competent is the descriptor that has struck me lately.

This past year, she became manager of a seniors residence. This was the same residence in which she began her career as a lowly-paid bookkeeper seventeen years ago. In the intervening years her competence was recognized and prized and led to many salary increases and eventually this promotion.

After separating from her husband several years ago, she competently managed to save enough money on her single salary to take the kids on a Disney Caribbean Cruise earlier this month. I find this remarkable.

I didn't know what my child would become 45 years ago, but she has become a competent woman and admirable in many many respects.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

No Bumper Rides for Me

I just read a post that showed a photo of a car pulling kids in little sleds behind it. From what I could see, at least it was offroad, but ...

Long long ago in Montreal, some kids would grab hold of car bumpers and go for a bit of a joyride on snowy streets.

I remember my friend and me giving it a try once. We hung around a stop sign on a snow-covered street, looking for an opportunity to sneak onto the back of a vehicle. But we never managed to actually grab on for a ride.

You know what? I think I held back in my efforts, not actually in my heart of hearts really wanting to chance it. I am guessing that I was 10 - 12 at the time and maybe not completely stupid.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Museum Open House

Our local museum had its Christmas Open House on the weekend, so we dropped in for awhile in support.

This young fellow played seasonal songs on the keyboard the whole time and flashed a smile whenever anyone took a picture.

We enjoyed cider while he played, and now we can all enjoy Sue's seasonal nails. Ho ho ho.

Then Sue was attracted to the crafts table.

Success! The craft lady holds up Sue's finished product.

While crafting, some great light fell upon milady, so I wandered over and took this.

And  ... having nothing to do with the above, except that it was shot on the same day, I present our neighbour shovelling snow while I looked on from the window. Good job, guy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Snow Day 1

It snowed all night and continued throughout much of the day, so they cancelled the buses, and the kids had their first snow day.

They came to ours and kept busy for a few hours. Danica made slime, and JJ worked on one of his books.

Then, they got on their phones to their friends, and made other arrangements for the rest of the day.

In the evening, I went out to shovel a bit of snow, and then took a little walk around the block and snapped a few pictures with my compact camera. And I do mean snapped (as in snapshots) in this case. But I thought some might appreciate the snow and the lights. They were taken at 1/10, 1/20 and 1/6 of a second respectively, so I am surprised that they are as clear as they are.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Just Take Your Medicine

I've been thinking about it off and on for a while now: Is it alright to punch a Nazi?

The topic came up with a friend recently, but we didn't stay with it long: a couple of sound bites, and we moved on. Sometimes, conditions are not right for a protracted dialogue. Then there's the fact that my poor, wee brain is seldom up to much deep reflection of any type.

But I had considered the question somewhat before then and have thought about it somewhat since. Not deep thoughts necessarily (because brain strain is devoutly to be avoided), but I mull it over from time to time.

As in much of my fuzzy thinking, I am somewhat ambivalent. I tend to see both sides of many topics, and when I support one side of an argument, it may seem as though I am taking a firmer stance than I necessarily hold. It may actually be that I would argue for the other side at another time, depending on the stance of the other person at that moment.

It seems as though I am always on the fence. Well not always but often enough..

With regard to the topic at hand — Is it alright to punch a Nazi? — most seem to say: "Of course not. It's just free speech. You don't become violent over someone's free speech."  It's pretty hard to argue with that on the face of it, but I think I want to try a little bit anyway.

For one thing, that word, just, is problematic to me. When you put just in front of something, it automatically tends to reduce it and even trivialize it. But let's let that concern lie for now and maybe come back to it later.

Here's the heart of it. It is ipso facto hate speech to claim to be a Nazi. While hate speech should not necessarily be suppressed, partly because our definitions of hate might vary considerably, this is a special case in my mind. Nazism is ultra racist by definition. Totally racist, ugly racist. You are freely identifying with a ideology that embraced genocide.

You know all about it. Nazis tried to exterminate a whole ethnic group and much more. They slaughtered many millions for just being who they were. Then, they caused perhaps 20 million military deaths in an aggressive armed conflict and possibly 60 to 80 million deaths in all when you factor in the results of war such as famine and disease. Wikipedia 

So, there's no just about it.

See here, if you choose to align yourself with that group, you deserve a punch. You probably deserve much worse than a single punch, for you are, by definition, the worst sort of racist who condones the worst possible sort of treatment of others. If that's not what you mean by identifying as a Nazi, then choose another word. Words matter, and those are the horrific connotations associated with that word.

So no, I don't sympathize with a self-admitted Nazi who gets punched in the face. When you choose the action/belief, you also chose the consequences.

And I may even sympathize with the puncher.

Hold on: I did say may. I would really have to know him or her and their motivations before I could say for sure. What are their principles? Why did they take that action? Is that person a goon spoiling for a fight, or is s/he motivated to stand up in defense of those who could become the ultimate victims of that foul ideology. Goon or justice warrior: just like words, motivation matters.

But I did say, sympathize. And I also said, may.

I did not say, condone.

There's a difference, for I can't say that I condone this sort of aggression. I simply can't think of a realistic case in which I would actually encourage someone to take such an aggressive action. I only said that I can sympathize with the motivation and action, at least a little bit. That's the nuance here. I can be sympathetic towards an action while not necessarily espousing it. It is not the case that I would encourage someone to go out and punch someone in the face — as much as that someone might deserve it.

But whether I would support the punch or not, whether I would espouse punching or not, I sure as heck do say that if you are going to identify with Nazism and all that it represents, then you darn well deserve a punch in the face. It's not just free speech. There's no just about it. So take your medicine.

Just take your medicine.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The True Beginning of Winter

There wasn't much snow, but after picking up Sha and the kids at the airport last night, we sure hit some squalls on the way home. Visibility was low a few times, and the roads were a little slick, but we made it, just a little slower than usual.

Unlike that early snow in November, I think that winter is here to stay now. There is nothing but cold weather in the two-week forecast, and we are told to expect up to 12cm/5" on Tuesday with about 8 more predicted days of snow in those 14 days, albeit not so much as on Tuesday.

Two photos from the windows: one out front and one out back. Not much to shout about, but it's my news for the day. That and we are thrilled that the others are back from their cruise safe and sound.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

A Photo Frenzy

A call two days ago sent me (and Sue) into a photo printing and framing frenzy. While I may be exaggerating a wee bit about the frenzy part, let's just say that we had to get busy.

For about a year now, I have been displaying a few photos at Simon Gold's Hair Salon, where Sue gets her hair done (if you'll pardon the redundancy as it's difficult to know what else one might get done at a hair salon other than hair). In this age of everyone-has-a camera, not many people sell many photos, never mind at a hair salon. But, glory be, I have sold a few.

Well, didn't I get a call on Tuesday informing me that the photo front and centre in the following photo had been sold? It was the largest of the 4 or 5 photos that I display on the premises.

We couldn't let that prominent spot stay bare for long; it's even what the ladies see in the mirror as they undergo their beautification. Fortunately, I had a similar sized frame waiting with eager anticipation for a photo here at home. But all of the other displayed photos were also autumn photos, and since it is now winter here in The Great White North, it was time for a holus-bolus seasonal change.

I had been getting ready to do this anyway but had been set back a few days when I ran low on both paper and ink. And that is why Sunday had found us in Ottawa spending almost $300 on these very items. At least I had already been examining photos and deciding what I might print for a winter showing, so it was just a matter of gathering the materials and doing the work.

So, printing and framing soon transpired along with another trip into the city for another big frame when yet another photo was sold. We had to think pricing, print the appropriate identification tags, frame and package. I print and Sue does both the framing and the packaging of unframed prints, which you can also see on the table in both the preceding and following photo.

I simply don't do that sort of work very well. I'm a bit clumsy and don't have the fine motor dexterity that some have. I would give it the old college try if I absolutely needed to, but I also know that Sue can do this kind of work much more efficiently that I.

The result, or at least one corner of it, is below. (I did leave one autumn photo up, for now anyway.) As soon as it was up, the new main photo was pre-sold, but it gets to stay there for the time being anyway.

Other photos that we've hung here and there, all with a winter theme. All this was essentially put together in about a day and a half ... although there had been preparations in advance (thank goodness).

This has been a very enjoyable and even rewarding experience. I had never done much printing beyond 8x10s and certainly not much framing, so it has been a pleasure to display my work and even make the occasional sale. Beyond the sales, I do get reports of people enjoying and appreciating my photography, and that in itself is affirming, for I have never previously had a proper venue to display my work.

In business terms, with the various expenses of the materials involved, I am definitely in the red. If I make a little bit of money on a sale, it certainly isn't much and just gets put back into purchasing more supplies. But I never expected to make a business out of it and am quite chuffed to have had the exposure and positive feedback that I have experienced.

So, thanks to Simon Gold and also to Sue Gold and Katie at Simon Gold Perfection in Hair for this opportunity and to Sue Rayner for making it possible logistically.

Monday, December 04, 2017


This occurs to me on occasion; I forget to check blogs for a few days. This morning there were almost 40 waiting for me when I clicked into Feedly. I commented briefly on quite a few but felt that I had to bypass others.

How and why does this happen?

Well, for one thing, I had pre-posted a number of entries last week, so they come up automatically, and, therefore, blogging kind of left my mind. It's understandable really since there isn't much room in my mind to begin with.

Also, however, there have been other things on the agenda recently.

On Friday morning, we were forced to arise at 3AM and pick up Shauna and the kids by 4 to get them to the airport by 5 so that they could board by 6. I had a nap or two that day and when awake I was into a Vera mystery by Anne Cleeves (not Anne of Cleeves).

4am Smiles

They flew to Florida and are cruising from there. Their ship is said to be the largest cruise ship in existence. Shauna has posted some photos, and I believe it. I will just post this one photo, which looks likes they are in a big mall.

Looking quite pleased to be there

Saturday came with the necessity of having to go grocery shopping. We had been home for almost a week, and I had been putting it off until I could put it off no longer. Groceries are my chore. Normally, I don't mind it, while Sue really dislikes it. I had been partly putting it off for the arrival of a new month as our November budget had been somewhat overstretched.

Sue was to be a greeter for the Christmas House Tour on Saturday night. It's a fund raiser for the hospital, but she was surprised to see the scads of visitors that dropped by on a Saturday evening. So, I would say that it's a very successful fund raiser at $25 per ticket.

When I dropped her off, the house looked so pretty that I made a mental note to bring my camera with my when it was time to pick her up.

No snow but a nice house to shoot nevertheless

Sunday involved a quick trip into the city to pick up printer ink and paper. Silly me had run short on both just when I need to print some winter photos for a display. Almost $300 later, I feel a lot poorer, but the paper at least will last for the year or near about. We also had lunch at a popular restaurant after having to wait in line for almost a half hour. We vowed to never go again on Sunday in December and, frankly, never to go again on Sunday.

On Sunday evening, I was off to the Bowes Brothers 11th Annual Country Christmas Music Show. It's also a fundraiser for the hospital. The Bowes Brothers are a local family, male quartet. I was the volunteer photographer for the event.

First Performer: Jim Simpson
Burnside Sisters fiddled some find tunes, some with a Celtic flavour

The Burnside Sisters also did a lot of step dancing which the audience loved

The Bowes Brothers with dad accompanying in the background, right