Saturday, June 30, 2012

Last Day on the School Bus

Well ... that year went quickly. It seems as though we were just putting her on the bus for her first day of school, and lo it was time for the last ride.

It charms me how she takes my hand on most mornings for out walk to the bus stop.
We turned to give Grandma a wave.

On most mornings, JJ has felt it to be his duty to accompany us to the bus stop.

Are the days of weird, forced camera smiles over? What a delightful smile!

She's always happy to get on the bus and usually has a few gems to pass on to the bus driver.

I didn't quite capture it, but on most mornings I get a smile and a wave as the bus pulls off.
I know I have never said it before, but I love this kid!! So now you know.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In the Hackberry Grove

On Sunday, Cuppa and I were thwarted in our attempt to take a picnic lunch to the park by an antique car display which completely took over the whole place, at least to the point where there was absolutely no parking to be had. We thought of another spot that might suit: a grove of hackberry trees about a mile downstream from our usual spot. It's a small grove, but we had the place to ourselves and enjoyed our sandwich and time of contemplation.

It was shady in the grove, but we found a clearing that overlooked the river and settled in for a relaxing hour or two. Hackberry trees are not terribly common north of Lake Erie, and this is perhaps the largest stand in the Ottawa Valley region. It is speculated that Native Canadians planted these trees for their medicinal berries at points where they might have to stop and portage.

The river in this section is shallow with rapids and falls and is unnavigable. Even the geese can wade.

I spied a Great Blue Heron standing on a rock outcropping in the river. Apparently, he was moulting and looked quite dishevelled. Someday, I will get a good photo of a heron in prime condition although this guy does have character.

This American Red Squirrel was cavorting around the grove. These red squirrels are almost as small as chipmunks, so we were uncertain which it was for awhile although I don't recall seeing chipmunks climb. It's just that I have never seen a Tamiasciurus hudsonicus in an urban area. We always just see black/gray squirrels, the reds only usually inhabiting forested areas. These reds are smaller and quicker than their larger cousins, and this guy was bold enough to begin climbing aboard my foot. I wasn't too comfortable with that so I shooed (get it?) him away.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A JJ Feast

A collection of various pictures of JJ from the last month or so from the oldest (you can tell by the jacket) to the most recent. My faves are the very last one of him looking so pensive at the poolside during a swimming lesson and the third last which catches his reflection as he lies on the dock looking into the water. You may note that three of the photos involve him climbing to some degree or other. In this, he is not like his grandfather. In fact, the lucky boy is not much like his grandfather in any way that I can think of.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Odd Situation

I had a slightly strange experience the other day. It bothers me a little, so let me tell you about it. It's not dramatic, but it unsettled me a little.

I took JJ to the playground early in the afternoon. There was some sort of daycare group presnt, perhaps 18 kids aged 4 and 5 and four supervisors although one wasn't present for the whole time.

JJ went onto the equipment while I unfurled my camp chair, preparing for a quiet and pleasant read in the shade while he used up some of his energy. It was not to be.

Immediately, I was beset by five children, nice little children, who were fascinated with me and almost on top of me. They were curious, asking me all sorts of questions, particularly about my grandson and my hearing aids.

So, here's a stranger in the park, and, apparently, all of the supervisors seemingly quite satisfied that their charges were all within touching distance. Indeed, some of the children were not to shy to touch the stranger. Said adults weren't even bothering to maintain a strict vigil, for it seemed to me that they were scarcely looking in my direction.

I guess I should take it as a compliment that I seem like an innocuous and kindly grandfather, which is exactly what I am, but I am still bothered by the fact that they didn't have the children keep a safe distance from me. Actually, they should have done this for both our sakes because someone should be able to go to the park for a quiet time without being harassed by hordes of children. It's not that I really minded the company, but the situation just didn't sit quite right with me.

JJ also seemed to be a bit spooked because he soon left the equipment and curled up silently on my lap and stared at the ground without interacting with the other children. Perhaps he was establishing prior claim to his grandfather. I don't know.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Riverside and Fathers Day

With neither Cuppa nor Anvilcloud feeling especially perky lately but still wanting to get out a bit, we have found ourselves sitting in the park munching sandwiches on a number of occasions lately. All we have to do is drive the short distance, haul our chairs into the shade and sit a spell. Since the weather has been almost perfect, that's what we have been doing.

Our view is represented by the three pictures below. The first looks upriver, the second downriver, and the third across the river. In the third, you also see a pontoon boat. There are quite a few used locally as well as on the two, old canal systems in Eastern Ontario: the Trent and the Rideau. They aren't speedboats but, being flat-bottomed, are relatively comfortable for families to putt around in.

Here is Cuppa enjoying the view sitting on one of our roll-up camp chairs with her feet resting on our little cooler. Naturally, I am usually found at her side, but I moved my stuff out of the way for the sake of the photo.

We spent some time at the park on Fathers Day before taking in the grandkids' swimming lessons and then being treated to a bbq at their place.

The boy isn't totally comfortable in the water yet, but he's off to a good start. You can see a smile on her face at she kicks those feet.

While waiting for supper. she played on Daddy's Playbook as he looked on intently whilst munching a small bowl of chips.

Just who was this person taking up space on Fathers Day?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Danica Dances at her Recital

Danica performed in her second annual dance recital last weekend, and what a difference a year made. A year ago, she had only started dance class a few months prior to the recital, and although she was as cute as can be, she didn't have the routine down pat.

This year she was the prima ballerina, if you will, of her little group, coming out first and giving lots of direction to the others about what to do. She loves to dance and is happy as a clam being up on stage. No, she's not shy.

You do the best you can with photos when you're sitting in the audience of a darkened auditorium and the pictures are taken at difficult settings. Nevertheless, these are a few that I came up with and there are more in the slideshow below. There are also two video clips at the end. It's all for the record, folks, and only family is expected to sit through all of this. :)

Below, she cheers enthusiastically during the finalé.

A slideshow with a bunch more photos.

A video of the dance. You will see that Danica was the only one of the young group who seemed to know what she was doing.

A video of the final ceremonial proceedings cutting away from post and centering on Danica's closeups as well as that of her prime babysitter who was also mentioned for an award. On her second late night, she was pretty tired at this point and not as ecstatic as the previous night which Cuppa and I attended.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Morning Photos

As the world turns and as the stomach churns, my body and I have been slipping into a new phase, one of which I'm not always totally appreciative. I speak of my new found early to bed early to rise proclivity. I find myself fading by 10:30 these days, but going to bed that early means that I am waking, literally, with the birds — anywhere from 5:00 to 6:00 as a rule. The other morning, I was found heaving myself out of bed at 4:30. Sometimes, I try to get back to sleep, and sometimes it works. Sometimes, I just give up and get up. This puts me the position where I am dead tried by 10:00 or so the next night. I may try to stay up and read in my easy chair but tend to find myself succumbing to the gentle arms of Morpheus.

I'm not exactly complaining because I do tend to be getting 6 to 7 hours of decent sleep, and that hasn't always been the case in what passes for my little life.

In the event, I made the decision to try to use that time better by trying to get out to take pictures. We are told that dawn and dusk are the golden hours for photographic light, so I thought I might as well give it a whirl. Following are a few images from my first two early morning shoots. For all I know, my sleeping habits may change, and the will be the only two early shoots since, traditionally, I have not been a morning kind of guy. We shall see.

My first stop, below, was to catch the sunrise over a misty field near us. The mist picked up the rays very nicely. (Note: if you click on one photo, you can it in a somewhat larger view and then easily proceed onto the others from there. The first one in particular is best viewed large, and this link leads to an even larger version on my Flickr site.)

Then it was off to photograph our train station (above and below). By getting there early, there were no cars in the way, and by using my wide angle lens, I was able to get behind the distracting signage, poles and wires out front. The track was pulled up in 1990 but the station still gets used by other local groups.

On the second morning I drove around town, not quite knowing where I would end up. As it happens I ended up spotting an old barn on the edge of town. It's so close to the town-township boundary that I'm not sure which side of the line it is on. The first shot sets the scene while the second is a closeup of the barn.

Is it bedtime yet?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I Am So Done With Mumbling

When I got my new hearing aids two years ago, Cuppa claims that she went deaf.

Because I started mumbling.

I was hearing myself so much that I felt like I was shouting if I was just talking at something resembling a normal volume. I couldn't figure it out because no other hearing aids, this being my fourth pair, affected me like this. I figured there was something about the new generation of hearing aids because the pair that I tried and discarded before I settled on this one had a similar effect on me.

I recently went back for a hearing test and told the audiologist of my experience. She made an adjustment.

Guess what? Cuppa is no longer deaf. Apparently, I am not mumbling anymore although I can't tell the difference. I keep asking her if she can hear me and if I am still mumbling, and the answers are, "Yes" and "No."

The audiologist said I was getting a barrel effect that was giving me a false perception of how loud I was sounding to myself. Now, I feel as though I am speaking at the same level as before or even softer, but I must be hearing myself correctly because I am now, apparently, talking at normal volume.

I am quite happy with this development. Cuppa is also.

Too bad I didn't know that the problem could could have been remedied so easily two years ago. Sigh.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Hello Jenny

I can't imagine that too many people would be able to make the connection between the photo, which I took at Wheelers Maple Pancake House and Sugar Camp and my title, "Hello Jenny." You'd have had to be watching television back in the fifties in order to know, and even then you very well might not make the connection.

I am referring to a program called Lassie. Aside from the gorgeous and extremely intelligent collie, the show featured a boy named Jeff who lived on a farm with his mother and grandfather. Their link to the rest of their community was Jenny, who was the operator on the other end of the phone.  
Note: when Jeff got too old, they re-invented the show with another cast, including a boy called Timmy. To me, however, it was never the real "Lassie" show.
Actually, I forgot that the operator's name was Jenny and was thinking, Millie, but since everything about everything is on this interwebby thingie, a search yielded the correct name within seconds. It actually came up in the first two hits without me even having to open the sites although, of course, I did click.

The search also led me to an ancient Lassie episode on YouTube called Party Line, in which the telephone and the operator figure prominently. In fact the program ends with a birthday party for Jenny, who had been feeling neglected and unappreciated until then.
Note: the whole Party Line episode can be viewed in the three YouTube clips embedded below.
Jenny was played by Florence Lake. Her telephone operator role in Lassie was her biggest, but she also appeared on one episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show as Lou Grant's date (more on Wikipedia). You can also find more about the Lassie TV show on Wikipedia.

All that minutiae aside, how do you like the photo? :)

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Of Talents and Paths

This morning, both Cuppa and I were each in a wee bit of a dither but for different reasons.

My iPod earbuds were hopelessly caught and tangled in the slots of my chair-side table, and I was rather flummoxed over the situation.

Meanwhile, after doing some banking, Cuppa wanted to clear the cache on her computer but couldn't figure out how to do it, even after I demonstrated the steps on my machine.

So, we switched tasks. She took care of the earbud mess, and I took care of flushing the cache. Both of us accomplished our switched tasks in no time flat. In a minute or so, we were both done rather than each of us dithering on our own for an interminable and frustrating duration.

It turns out that it's pretty well true that we little people are good at what we're good at and not so good at what we're not so good at. I have said it more bluntly: we're all smart how we're smart, and we're all stupid how we're stupid. I suppose the trick is to to recognize this little truism and to be comfortable in our strengths without getting overly disconcerted by our weaknesses.

This is yet another reason why I am happy to live in the times in which I live. I didn't have to follow in my father's footsteps or the the path prescribed to me by the caste into which I was born, but I was able to find a life path that suited me.

I am particularly glad that I didn't have to follow in my grandfather's vocation, for he was a bricklayer who worked on skyscrapers, including The Empire State Building. Me? I get queasy and wobbly just a few rungs up a ladder.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Mind Tricks

I bought Cuppa a carton of wine yesterday. Yes, a carton as opposed to a bottle. I'm cheap, so sue me. I was on my way to the kids house at the time, so I put it in their fridge. And left it there. Apparently.

The thing is that I have, or I should say had, a pretty doggone clear memory of taking it out of their fridge to bring home to my beloved. I even thought that I had put it in the car. But when we couldn't find it today, sure enough, we eventually tracked it down to where I had left it -- back in the fridge.

I have recently had other pretty vivid memories that have turned out to be bogus. Like the time just a few months past when I vowed not to get caught on bank charges one more time by forgetting to transfer money to my chequing account before writing cheques. I vowed so hard that I was absolutely sure that I had done just that ... until the day that the bank docked me another whopping amount for NSF

Last autumn I wrote an email to a friend. I have a pretty clear memory of doing so. Except he never got it. I couldn't find it on my computer either. At the time I blamed cyberspace for swallowing it up. Now that I have been given proof of my rather pathetic proclivity to remember things that have never occurred, I am pretty sure that I never did write that email. I likely thought about it, even to the point where I probably composed it in my head, but I now sincerely doubt that I every really sat down and typed it out,

In the past I have done the same with another friend -- twice -- and this led, at least in part, to a fractured relationship. Now I realize that I probably didn't write those either. I hang my head.

There must be a lesson about memory here, aside from my dunderheadedness that is. I wonder how often  people hold grudges based on a memory of an incident which didn't really happen in the way that their minds tell them. We little people tend to be pretty blinkin positive that somebody said or did something bad to us and therefore wronged us, but in point of fact it may be our memories that are just plain inaccurate.

I also wonder how many innocent people have been convicted to prison terms or even worse based on the memories of well-meaning witnesses that were false or at least inaccurate? Of course, no one knows the answer to that, but the notion does give one pause for thought.

Of course, maybe I am the only person to whom such a false memory has ever occurred. There is that possibility. But I really don't think I am that unusual and weird. My family might, but I don't.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Not One to Duck

Despite what the picture indicates my son-in-law is certainly not one to duck what needs to be done.

A friend who is not well, needs to move herself and her stuff back to Alberta, but she is too unwell to do so herself. So, Eric has volunteered to take three days off work and in order to spend three days to drive her across Canada. This is a mere, trifling distance of 3378km/2100miles, which Google indicates should take 44 hours of driving.

Unless something unforeseen occurs, he and his lead foot will make in fewer hours than that, but it is still a monumental trip. I know this because Cuppa and I drove this drive once upon a time. We took our sweet time driving out, but we did make it home in three long days.

Kudos to Eric for doing this for a friend and to Sha for actually suggesting that he do it in the first place. They are amazing people willing to do for others.

He should be on his way as you read this. Be safe Eric.