Friday, January 30, 2009

Foto Friday

Amazingly enough, I actually have some photos for this Foto Friday some of my own, no less. The first was taken on a recent walk with Cuppa along a path which winds near the river at certain points.

A Winter Glimmering

Above: we took Nikki Dee to our local McDonalds, inside the friendly confines of Wal-Mart. You might wonder why we would choose to go to the McD inside WM. Two reasons: (i) it's one place where we can walk on a cold winter's day; (ii) it's the only McDonalds in this town! I had taken her once previously, but she's older now and was, therefore, given a few fries to enjoy. Just her, of course: that's not really my hand snatching another one.

Below: after Wal-Mart and McDonalds, it was off to the library for her first visit. She scrambled here and there and even looked through a book or tow.

On another day we took her out for a winter walk but didn't stray far from the house. She is fascinated with trucks and buses, so much so that we finally had to drag her away from the one above. Or perhaps she just wanted to get at the salty snacks inside (that's my girl!). we'd walk her away from the truck, but she'd soon turn around and head back. She wasn't at all happy with us for doing forcibly removing her, but we had to, and she was soon diverted when we plopped her into the snow (below).

She liked the snow so much that you could say she ate it up (above). Yes, she munched on it for quite some time before coming in very rosy-cheeked (below).

On yet another day, the snow banks were piled quite high, so Grampa was called upon to hoist her up and let her slide down. What the clip doesn't capture is how many times Grampa and his poor, old back had to perform this prodigious lift.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Diversion

This little tv, a bit smaller than my computer monitor, which now sits in my den was a Christmas present that Cuppa was inspired to have the family gift me after finding me watching hockey games on a tiny computer window (perhaps filling ten percent of the screen) several times during autumn. Although it's not often on, I do use it for said purpose (watching games) sometimes, although I'm not sure that I ever manage to sit through a whole game. I have also used the tv several times as a late night alternative to reading or listening to something on my iPod.

I've found some interesting stuff. One night, I watched/heard a lecture on British history centering on the Elizabeth-Mary times. Several nights later, I was transported back in time to the building of China's Great Wall. Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning), I stumbled (metaphorically) on The Choir. A young choir director was endeavouring to start a choir to sing classical songs in a Norfolk school. The intent was to try to to take the choir to a competition in China.

The program chronicled his struggles to get a choir going in that unclassical milieu, to recruit enough male voices to balance the group out, and getting them to put in the necessary hard work to get the group up to snuff. That's where that episode ended and left me hanging. So, I have had to make a note in Google calendar to remind me to tune in next Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) at midnight.

Whoever thought that I'd find such an unusual program so doggone interesting?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On a Day Much Like Today

Kila pegged me to do this meme. The rules: go to your photo folder, target the sixth folder and then the sixth photo in the folder. Describe and discuss. (My words.)

Although I had to go to the sixth folder inside the sixth folder before getting to the sixth photo, I kept with the spirit of the rules ... only to be disappointed ... for I found a rather banal ad humdrum photo of our local area taken at about the same time of year that we are in now, specifically February of 2007.

So, here it is: a picture of our local river from our local park on a very overcast and misty February day. Try as I might, I could do little post-processing to render the photo more interesting.

I know what we had to be doing at the time: sitting in the car, drinking Tim's coffee, and gazing out at the river and beyond. This town exists because of the river, I suppose, from the days when water power drove mills. Now, we are more or less a bedroom community of the nation's capital. Being situated where we are, however, we can enjoy certain advantages such as living outside the city but not in the country but being able to access both city and country fairly easily.

The photo (and today, by the way) looks very northerly. I add today because it looks much the same out as it's also overcast, although it's also snowing today which it doesn't appear to have been doing in the photo. However, Ottawa is only half way between the equator and the pole and, therefore, not as northerly as many imagine. I am reminded to say that because in Kila's tag she mentioned that I live even further north than she. Depending where exactly she is in Wisconsin that may or may not be true, for the northern reaches of that state lie somewhat to the north of Ottawa. I know that always seems weird, but we live in the St Lawrence-Great Lakes area of Canada, the part of the country that juts down below the famous 49th parallel.

So, that's the meme. I'll break it at this point by not specifically tagging six others, but I invite you to pick it up if you are so inclined. Please visit Kila's blog to see the rules in more detail.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Two Cuties

While Nikki Dee may be the cutest baby of the past thirty years anyway, her penchant for not sleeping is not one of her most endearing traits. While the rents do really well getting her down at night (except for the nights when she awakens at two o'clockvto frolic), there's only one person who can be counted on to get her to regularly settle her for a daytime nap. Guess who?

Later: Nikki Dee dragged a chair to the centre of the kitchen in order to keep a close eye on Grandma's doins.

I love these girls. Both of em.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Winter Walking

We live very close to a section of the Trans Canada Trail, which supposedly stretches from sea to shining sea. It's a great idea although it's pretty discontinuous. Around here, for example, your would have to travel for about a half hour by car until you could pick up the next section. Pedestrians and snowmobilers share our section in winter, bicycles replacing snowmobiles in summer.

Although the trail is close to us, we don't get around to using it very often, Sunday being only the second or third time since the winter began. We often turn a little chicken in winter when there's usually no reason to fear the weather. Or should I say we turn turtle and stay inside our warm shells?

This weekend the temperatures have been below negative ten Celsius or in single digits on the Fahrenheit scale. While that is cold enough for almost anybody and more than cold enough for many, the problem that I sometimes have is overdressing. I layered up too much for our Saturday stroll around town, for example; I wore three layers on both top and bottom, and it was too much. So, for yesterday's walk along the trail, I held back just a little and was quite comfortable. I know it seems odd to worry about being too hot when it's so cold out, but, sometimes, I tend to overcompensate. However, we're sensible, for as you can see from the photo below Cuppa is still well-bundled.

Unfortunately, they're building a new access road right beside the trail (which is an old railway bed). They've been building the bed for months now by dumping load after endless load of rocks, and the foundation is just about completed. Once they build a bridge over this little stream (see cranes behind Cuppa), they'll be ready to pave — in the warmer weather, of course.

We haven't managed to use our snowshoes yet this winter. We had planned to get away to the cottage when by back decided to act up, so we stayed home. We won't get away for a while now because we're expecting grandbaby #2 to make his entrance into the world anytime now, an dwe need to be around for support.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Foto Friday

It's Foto Friday, an event for which I had no photo last Friday. I was just about out of luck again this week, when my friend, Doris, happened to send me these two photos that she recently took. Believe it or not, they were taken on Mount Royal, which is right smack dab in the middle of Montreal. Doris is a wonderful photographer whom I have previously featured, and she has posted many of her more recent work online at this address. She has followed these foxes since they were pups and has posted an album, Foxes Forever, which you can find at the above link.

For those who may be interested, here is a list of other posts of mine that have featured Doris's work. The last one includes one of her poems.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Elusive Muffler Receipt

Having just read Jinksy's post about sought-for-items disappearing into the black holes that surely must exist in her house, I am reminded of a common saying in our own domicile.

Long ago, we owned a car that required its second muffler replacement. I'm not sure if it is still this way, but back then the muffler places would offer a free replacement for as long you owned your car. You just had to show them the receipt of the original work. Of course, although Cuppa is a pretty darn good keeper-of-records, we never did find that blasted receipt, which is odd considering the myriads of useless, decades-old receipts that I did stumble across when sorting and discarding old paperwork for our move a few years ago.

But ever since then, when we are having trouble locating something, we are wont to say, "It must be with the muffler receipts."

PS: In later times, I regretfully discovered that the supposed free muffler wasn't all that fantastic a deal since it just included the relatively inexpensive muffler and neither labour nor the very expensive pipes that must invariably be included and attached. Nevertheless, I really would have liked to have hung onto those few extra muffler dollars back then.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Inaugural Image

It's been quite a day! Just in case you missed it, here is a satellite photo of the inauguration that I found on this website.

Apparently, Google now has its own satellite, GeoEye-1, up in orbit, and although it still seems to be in the process of getting up and running, it was able to take this high resolution photo. It's a pretty good image, especially considering that it was taken from 423 miles (681 km) up there while travelling at a speed of 17 000 mph (27359 kph). The detail is pretty darn amazing, eh?

Patience and Blessings Needed

This is a momentous day down in the USA and, by extension, for the rest of the world too. A new president is being sworn into office, but of course this just isn't any new president but an intelligent and articulate African American president with bold ideas. Since the whole election process drags on for so long, the significance is almost already beginning to dull, but it does represent an incredible change for those of us who remember darker times.

I was a teenager who was moved by the racial tensions and marches shown on our television sets in the early sixties. As a Canadian who lived far from the south, the images that I saw seemed like they came from a very far off place. A few years later, in 1967, when Cuppa and I were just getting to know each other, the racial troubles got a little closer to home when her parents found themselves visiting Cuppa's aunt in Detroit during the riots. In the years that followed, Cuppa and I had many opportunities to catch glimpses of the riot's aftermath when we visited the same aunt. Now, it seems not only far in terms of distance but also in terms of time. Yet it both is and isn't, for it's less than fifty years.

Here's a somewhat personal memory that I have from those days. Cuppa and I were sitting in an evening service of an evangelical church in 1969. It was testimony time, and one young man (but slightly older than I) got up and basically chided the church in general for having so little concern for involvement in human rights. He specifically mentioned the freedom marches. Most evangelicals were not so used to political involvement back then (my how times have changed), and it seemed an odd and out of place testimony, even to my ears. The minister must have thought so too because I remember him getting up and trying to smooth the waters by putting certain ideas down to youthful thinking. All I can say in support now is that the minsiter meant well.

Since then, evangelicals have become much more politicized, almost always in favour of the right wing agenda as it turns out, abortion being a huge issue. I'm not here to argue whether such concerns are valid or not, but I will say that I now wish that my church of the time had shown more leadership in the area of race and human rights.

Poor Barack has a very tough row to hoe. Whether it's the previous administrartion's fault or not, and I think some of it is, both America and the world are in quite a pickle, especially when you contrast our present mess afgainst the relative good times and prosperity that we enjoyed eight short years ago. Very poor decisions have been made, perhaps even with good intentions, and the decade has been one of terror, war and economic trouble. But I have hope that all sorts of things will be better and brighter in eight years time, for it would seem (knock on wood) that they could hardly be worse.

Regardless of political leanings, I trust that America and the world will rally behind this man and show a little patience as he tries to lead us upward, out of the muck. It will be difficult, for there is much to overcome, but let's hope that good decisions will begin to made, decisions that will begin to lift us all. God bless America; God bless us all!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

An Observation

A few days ago, I wrote about the Idol the So You Think You Can Dance shows. I was shocked and saddened when Thesha emailed to say that Canadian Idol has actually been cancelled. It had very high ratings, so it hasn't necessarily been shelved permanently, but it has been put on hold for this year at least. Reasons are vague, and I could speculate but won't bother.

However, until I hear otherwise, I will presume that So You Think You Can Dance will proceed, and that makes me think of last year's winners and something that I read in This Is your Brain On Music. It was a difficult book, more about the brain than music, but I slugged through it and understood a little: very little.

One of the ideas that did lodge in my brain, because it's an easy concept to grasp, is the relationship between music and dance. In modern times, we can easily separate the two, or at least we can seem to separate music from dance. We frequently sit in concert halls or living rooms and simply listen, perhaps even with not so much as a tapping of the toes, depending on the type of music. However, experts seem to believe that it was not ever thus.

The Author of This Is Your Brain on Music, Daniel J. Levitin, wrote that back in the mists of time the two were linked or almost always so; music was something to be danced to. He also contended that it was a way for males, particularly, to demonstrate their fitness and virility to the ladies. The guys who could dance best and longest would make a case for being the strongest, and that would enhance their chances of attracting the healthiest and/or most suitable mates.

Levitin seems to have impeccable credentials, so I won't contend with him, especially when I consider the results of both the American and Canadian versions of the show.

First: judging from three seasons of the American version and now one from Canada, males are almost a sure bet to win. Invariably, female viewers are more greatly drawn to the contest and will be the primary voters. I've never seen figures to prove this, but I don't think I have to; I think it's self-evident. In fact, I don't think the female contestants ever stood much of a chance although, by the rules and format, two had to remain until the end.

Second: in both shows, at least this past year (also the first year for Canada), it was the most rugged and macho male who won. At least from my male perspective this is true as the America winner, Joshua, was one very strong guy who could lift his partners high and long.

Also, look at the Canadian champion, Nico, below, and tell me that he doesn't exude machismo.

I don't dispute the results as these two likable guys both caught my eye from the get go, and there was no doubt in my untutored mind that they were both very good. However, I can't help but notice how, in 2008, at least, both shows seemed to support Levitin's contention almost perfectly.

Thank goodness, however, there are many other ways for males to demonstrate themselves fit to be partnered in life in civilized times. Otherwise, my two left feet and I would have lived a very unfulfilled life.

Note: having written this, I don't necessarily recommend that you go out and buy the book, for I found This Is your Brain On Music to be a very difficult book, mostly beyond me. While I realize that I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, I will say that for the most part it's technical and scientific. I loaned it to one friend who was very interested despite my caution, but she soon gave up and returned it to me. At least some background in psychology or neurology might prove helpful.

Note2: this is my understanding of both the book and the show, and I don't claim any expertise in either psychology or dance. So, feel free to disagree ... as if you wouldn't (smile).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dawn Ruminations

The cold snap continues this morning; it's -24°C/-11°F out there. It's just past seven o'clock, and I have been up, more or less, for hours already. While I lay about hoping to fall back asleep, I finished listening to two of Oprah's webcasts from the past week — Bob Greene from Monday and Dr. Oz from Tuesday. I upload them to my iPod and hope to fall asleep as these smart people speak in my ear. Sometimes, it works but not this morning. I guess I woke up around 4:30 AM and finally gave it up at around 6:30 when Dr. Oz was done with me. I turned up the furnace, put on the coffee, made a piece of toast, and headed to the keyboard.

I wasn't amused to discover that we're almost out of coffee cream, however. Should I hope that it lasts through the morning, or should I bundle up and make the short walk to Shoppers when it opens at eight? I really don't want to go out there into the Arctic-like air so early, I tell ya, but Cuppa will surely need her cup of coffee when she awakes. Maybe I'll go down and shake the carton again. Maybe there was more remaining than I thought in my bleariness.

Normally, if I'm to experience sleep problems, it's at the early end of the night, not after several hours of sleep. But sleep is an ongoing issue with me. On most nights I move from easy chair, to guest bed, to our bed: not necessarily in that order. And then I do it again. Last night, my back which has been yippy, as I said yesterday, may have increased my discomfort and, therefore, decreased my rest, but who's to know the cause for sure? I really took it easy yesterday, and the back felt pretty good when I went to bed but not so good after a few hours of being horizontal.

Why is it that at a certain age, we may be more uneasy in a supposedly comfortable bed than in any other location? Perhaps, it's because we assume a postion for much longer. When we're up and at it, I suppose we shift and shuffle much more and manage to alleviate aches and pains before they really have a chance to set in? I hate sounding old because I'm not. I'm in good health except for these minor arthritic irritations that sometimes cause me to feel older than my years.

One of the things that I learned from Dr. Oz tonight was that we are meant to be active and vigorous into our eighth and ninth decades, and I guess I am in many ways. However, having a body that experiences somewhat premature aches, pains and stiffness doesn't actually help me to feel as young as my years.

Now ... to shake the coffee cream carton and hope for the best.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Mystery

There are many mysteries in this life, one of which is my back. It's been spasming slightly for more than a week now — it's been a little kinky (so to speak) but not too bad. So, in the hopes of avoiding a serious episode, I've been trying to be a bit careful without taking too much preventative action if you know what I mean. Now, after all that time, it seems to be worsening and threatening to present me with a full blown attack.

What I want to know is this: why does it have to get bad before it can get better? If I'd had a serious attack back then, I would have expected to be more or less recovered by now. But as it is, I linger in a state of limbo, waiting for my back to make up its mind and go one way or the other. I don't understand why it has to be thus.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Of Idols and Accents

Cuppa and I went back to Phoenix for a few hours tonight ... in a vicarious sort of way. American Idol has begun its eighth season, and it began in Phoenix. Good grief, we've now been hooked for the best part of seven years now. When the dust finally settles in the early summer and the American version grinds to a halt, I suppose, we'll keep the momentum going with Canadian Idol which will just be revving its engines by then.

I know that many disdain these shows because the best doesn't always win and because most winners don't go on to become stars, but that's okay. In the meantime we get to watch real kids struggle for their dreams in a way that I can relate to as opposed to cavorting about in certain contrived reality shows where tribes and fabricated games and the like are the order of the day. While that works fine for millions of viewers who are bound to be much smarter than this poor plod, it hasn't tweaked my interest. We'll stick with the Idol shows, thank you very much, where real kids sing real songs, and real people vote for their favourites with real telephones.

In the last few years, once The A Team introduced us to it, we've also become hooked on So You Think You Can Dance and this year the new So You Think You Can Dance Canada was born. These Dance shows are part of the same family as Idol and work in much the same way. I suppose the difference is in the skill level of the contestants. To be on the Dance shows, the kids have done something that most of us haven't come remotely close to accomplishing: hone their talents through years of lessons and practise. The dancers have a skill level that the general public doesn't while the Idol singers basically do something that almost everybody can do to some degree or other. So, the singers seem more ordinary and less outstanding to us for the most part. Nevertheless, perhaps just because I can relate more, I like the Idol shows just as much as their Dance counterparts.

But none of that is what I had intended to say. I had been meaning to talk about the judges and a difference between the Canadian and American shows in the make-up of the judging panels. It seems to be de rigueur for the Americans to include a British judge on each and every panel, at least so far as I have noticed. The Canadian versions have relied upon homegrown judges, both for Idol and Dance. One wonders why the difference.

Perhaps it is because Americans are further removed from their British roots, for they long ago fought their rebellion and declared their independence. Meanwhile, Canadians maintained much closer ties for a long time. We didn't even have our own flag until 1965 but flew Britain's Union Jack; in fact I saluted it in school when I was a boy. O Canada did not become our official anthem until 1980 if you can believe that: God Save The Queen generally being thought of as our unofficial anthem until then. We didn't even have our own constitution until 1982 for goodness sakes but were nominally still ruled from London. Apparently, although we are thousands of years removed from the Pleistocene Epoch, Canada still moves at a glacial pace in many ways.

Perhaps it is because of these closer ties that we feel less inclined to import British judges to our expert panels. Perhaps because America's ties with The Old Country are stretched thinner, they find the British presence more quaint and exotic. Also, as I was just opining to a British blogger recently, we colonials tend to me mesmerized by those incredible British accents. They sound so polished and so downright upper class. When someone starts speaking with a posh British accent it's all I can do to refrain from bowing and from reaching toward my brow to give my non-existent forelock a tug. I feel like a schoolboy who has mistakenly wandered into seminar comprised of post-graduate doctoral students or a plumber who still in his work clothes finds himself at a cocktail party of aristocrats in evening wear.

Have you noticed that the Brits, those of a certain education at any rate, still tend to speak properly. For example: I couldn't help but notice how Kate Winslett said the word "new" on Oprah the other day. She actually said the "ew" and didn't turn it into "oo." Yes, we now watch the Noos as opposed to the News over here on this side of the pond, and our Prime Ministers and Presidents are pleased as punch to declare that they wanna do this or that.

Somehow, I can't imagine James Gordon Brown, Tony Blair or Margaret Thatcher saying "wanna" or the good Brits putting up with it if they did.

Now does sumbuddy wanna explain to me what this post was about, for I seem to have jumped around a little bit. I guess this little essay must fail the English test for either not having a thesis or not sticking to it. But it's okay ... because I'm just a dumb colonial.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Pasty-Facedness Gene

Although our ten-hour-a-day-five-days-a-week babysitting gig has ended, we're still getting lots of opportunities to see and sit (so to speak) Nikki Dee.

Yesterday, Cuppa kept remarking how pasty she looked, so she bundled her up and sent her outside for as long as the kid might content herself out there — about twenty minutes as it turned out. Nevertheless, she was rosy-cheeked when she re-entered, so mission accomplished.

But this pasty-facedness thing, she comes by honestly.

I can remember one Monday morning, a teacher asking me if I stayed in watching tv all weekend. I didn't though; that was just my general look although it might possibly have been more pronounced than usual on that day. I can't say. And my best friend in high school used to call me Pasty Face AC. Imagine that for a nickname! From my best friend too.

Thesha inherited the tendency to paleness from me to some degree although she has never properly thanked me for such a fine gift. And so it seems that, in turn, she has similarly gifted Nikki Dee, for this most certainly isn't the first time that we've remarked on this same propensity to pasty-facedness.

Ain't heredity grand? Although ND probably won't particularly concur.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Keepsakes from 1972

When I found these two photos in my treasure trove, I was happy because it saved me taking two more photos. For every now and then my glance rests on these two mementos that we still keep from the days of Thesha's birth, and I had been planning to mention them anyway.

The flowers that I purchased for new mom Cuppa were those second from the right (above). That rather feminine vase was the cheap vase that they came in, but it has adorned my bureau top ever since — for thirty-six years now.

Below: I bought my new baby a pink teddy bear, and that has remained with us too although it hasn't received a place of honour. In the photo, from left to right, is Thesha's maternal line: grandfather, grandmother, mother, teddy bear, and great grandfather, who fought at Vimy Ridge in WWI and lived to be 105.

They're just objects (the vase and teddy bear, I mean), but when I notice them, my memory banks flicker on, and I briefly revel in the nostalgia.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Foto Friday

It's becoming more and more redundant to call today Foto Friday because just about every day is photo day here at Raindrops. Yesiree! Photos all day, every day. Step right up and ... well, nevermind.

Since Sare had her baby and Thesha is getting close, I was pleased to stumble on these snapshots of newborn AG from 1978. Among other things, it was a kinder and gentler time. I don't about where you live, but around here, women and babies are generally sent home on the very next day. Contrast that with Cuppa who was in for five to seven days with her two deliveries, and there were no complications, at least of a serious nature. It's not always better now, eh?

Woohoo. Since I pre-posted the above, I found a few of baby Thesha. Equal treatment and all that. FYI, Althegal (above) was born in the late seventies, and Thesha (below) early in the decade.

I almost want to caption the next and final caption as "Poor Kid." because her father looks like a wild hippie. Well, it was 1972 after all.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Finally! The Wedding Album

My posting here became more spasmodic and erratic than usual in December because I became very busy trying to finish the girls' wedding album for Christmas. They were coming home, and I wanted to present them with a more or less completed album. And that's exactly what they received — a more or less completed album. While I'd like to add a few pages here or there, I think I've covered all of the essentials to some degree.

Since then, I've posted the pages to Flickr bit by bit and have now embedded the resulting slideshow below. So, here's the album as it stands presently. For me, it works best to click on it once (on the play button of course) to get it going and then to roll my mouse off until the text and and other distractions go away. Then I use the arrow key to forward through it as it doesn't seem to wish to play automatically. If you keep clicking with the mouse, you'll keep getting those overlay distractions.

I hope you get it to work even if you don't linger for all 34 images. (lol) Also, you may have better luck clicking the link below. The images will certainly be larger that way, and that's all to the good.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Then and Now

I was about thirty years old when we lived in a big, old house. It was a full two storey place with a full, walk-up attic. So it was pretty high at the top and needed painting, but I didn't then and still now don't love ladders. Fortunately, neither did my neighbour, but he was an old hand who knew enough to order scaffolding rather than use a ladder to paint his place. When he was done, I continued to rent the stuff for mine. Although I didn't exactly love the scaffolding either, I could tolerate it ... and could even pretend for the benefit of the camera that I was confident and happy up on the roof, and I was actually doing okay to be honest. On the other side of the house, I even managed to replace the eavestroughing (gutters) all by my little, old self, and for those who know me that's a remarkable feat.

As I contemplate these old pictures, I am struck by the fact that I am a different person in them. I think that as we, or at least I, go through life, we think of ourselves as the same person now as we were then, only modified slightly. However, seeing the scaffolding and me on the roof and also looking pretty darn young in some of the old photos that I've been sorting through, I am now thinking that it's more than that. Perhaps, we're not simply modifications of our former selves but somewhat different beings, the one evolving, or perhaps mutating from the other, of course. I don't know if that's quite what I mean to say or how I mean to say it, but I imagine that you friends understand what I'm driving at.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Another Piggyback

The other day I remembered a certain picture that I would like to use in a blog and asked Cuppa in what album I might find it. She pointed me not towards an album but towards the big box of unlabelled slides. I soon gave it up then but have decided that if I plod bit by bit, I can better organize the box. So, I grabbed a set or two yesterday and looked through them and was hooked enough to stop and scan a pic or two. Since I have recently posted photos of Nikki Dee and Thesha on my shoulders, I was pleasantly surprised to find this one of Althegal or AG.

AG was never fond of the rough and tumble like Thesha and now Nikki Dee. But here at around the age of five, she sits on my shoulders with some sort of strange hat on her head.

Somehow it pleases me to find this particular, long forgotten photo. We were very close during her childhood years.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Into the West

Speaking of my dad, as I was just a few posts ago, I decided to show you this painting of the old guy sitting by our side door on a fine summer afternoon, lost in his reveries as the sun begins to lower in the west.

Cuppa painted it and gave it to me as a gift one year, and it now hangs in my den. It's one she painted towards the end of her back-injury-shortened watercolour painting phase. It's too bad about that injury because she did a number of fine paintings, even though she hadn't been at it long enough to allow her craft to ripen to its fullest.

We scanned most of her work, but this one came to me as a gift and framed, so I just took a quick photo of it the other day. (Actually, one can do quite a bit from a photo of a painting. If I were to process this more, I would crop away the frame and mat and reprint it as something close to a 5x7, and it would reproduce relatively well ... but I'm wandering from my theme.)

I really wanted to say more about Dad, his senility, and me.

About four years before he died, Cuppa and I took a trip to my boyhood stomping grounds in Montreal. I took pictures of my growing-up residences there and showed them to my parents when we got home. Dad had no clue what they were about, and that was probably my first clue of his dementia. I think it was the same year that relatives from Montreal visited, and he asked who the heck they were when they left. Well, you get the point, and I don't need to trot out all of the details. However, I will say that near the end, he was diagnosed and pronounced unfit to attend sessions for Alzheimer patients: sessions designed partly to give their caregivers a break. Being judged not up to snuff for an Alzheimer session is quite telling, don't you think?

And this scares me ... a lot sometimes ... because I know my brain doesn't function as well as it used to. More and more I find myself searching for words and finding it difficult to spit my thoughts out. My ploddingness becomes even more obvious to me when the A Team comes home. Puff tries to teach me how to do a Cryptic Crossword, and I stare stupidly. Oh, if she explains the clues, I might get some of the answers, but unravelling the logic of the clues seems to be beyond my ken. And then we play computer games on the DS or on the Wii, and the girls are miles ahead of me, and ... and it's scary, you know?

I'm just in my early sixties, and I already feel my brain declining, and it worries me. Should I live that long, in twenty years from now will I be like he was then? Scary indeed.

Help me, Rhonda 'cause I don't quite want to fade into the west like that.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Eight Months with Nikki Dee

Yesterday was more difficult than joyous as we said goodbye to our 8+ month babysitting job. Thesha will be home until she delivers and then for the rest of the year. While it will be nice to enjoy lazier mornings and have a little more time for other pursuits, I already miss the munchkin. We'll see her often (very often), but it's still a passage, and passages can bring a lump to the throat and salt water to the eyes.

Inspired by some bloggers who did this for New Years, I have gone through my blogs since April and picked a photo per month.

April: We had a warm spell late in the month and took this photo in the park on our second day of babysitting.

May: In the beginning we took our computers over, but we soon gave it up because She just wanted to play with the machines or us.

June: We took her to the playground. She enjoyed it so much that she never wanted to leave. Consequently, she didn't get there as often as she might have.

July: At the park (as opposed to the playground, above), she'd insist on going to the dock and splashing with her feet. As the water level lowered, this became more problematic. So, if we took her to the park, we had to go the other way from the dock most of the time.

August: Partly due to preoccupation with the wedding, Nikki Dee didn't get too much blog exposure in August. This one didn't get posted at the time, but here she is at the wedding quite thrilled by the bubbles from the machine.

September: It's not like she never got back to the playground again. Here she enjoys a little push in the swings.

October: She tries to pick up a pumpkin at the grocery store.

November: I'm beginning to feel a little better about my blogging as I hunt for photos that I have used. Sometimes, I think all I do is post photos of my Nikki Dee and worry about how bored you must be, but there weren't too many in November, and not as many as I had thought in many months. Here she is on her stool in the bathroom. She had been spending quality time looking in the big mirror. She can hardly pass a mirror by without stopping to stare in fascination.

December: Since you've just seen many Christmas pics, let's go back a little. Do you remember this one: ND eating from a big spoon? She still tries that on sometimes — yesterday for instance.

January 02 2009: Yesterday was our last day on the job, but we took lots of pictures to commemorate the occasion. Here she is grabbing my Christmas hat. The hat went from my head to hers a few times before it was set aside for other fun.

Thanks for memories, Nikki Dee.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Grandnephew

I have a new grandnephew. Sare delivered him a few days ago. Both mother and child are home and doing well. Grampa is pretty darn excited; at last count he had Flickr'ed thirty-six photos. I told him that even I hadn't gone to such lengths. I also told him that I understood and that he would now understand how I have felt for almost two years now.

The feelings that I have for Nikki Dee are strong and precious. She lights me and delights me.

Love is an amazing thing. It's something that we never run out of. In fact, it seems that the more we give, the more we have to give. Loving one person does not diminish the love that we bear someone else, for our hearts grow as needed. Each love is different. We love our spouses differently than our children; our children differently from each other; our parents differently than our grandparents, and so on. And there's always room for one more. Do you hear that CB (the impending grand)?

I was hoping to embed a Slideshow of Grampa's photos, but Flickr is being obstinate. So, just click the link if you want to see a bunch of pictures of a cutie patootie.

Foto Friday

Foto Friday rolled around quickly this week: not that I really need to do this theme today as I have posted many photos lately.

But these are cute ... or perhaps just weird. We play her music through the computer with the screen set to one of those fractal displays. She often watches from my lap in this rather unique upside-down position. Why? I dunno, and she isn't telling ... yet.

Sometimes, we make it even a little more bizarre, not that Old Grampa holds this next position too long at any one time.

Weird enough for ya?

Thursday, January 01, 2009


So ... I'm in Canada on the night of January 01 2009. It's cold out there — -15°C/5°F. And what do I spy out of the corner of my eye every now and then as I curl up under a warm blanket and read my book? A frantic mosquito!!

I hope this is not a portent! If so, it's not a good one.