Friday, August 31, 2012

Our Penultimate Day of Summer with Both Kids

Danica heads back to school on Tuesday, so we tried to do more than just hang around the house on our last two days with her — Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, we took them back to the Mill of Kintail. We had thought to walk in the woods, but the kids spent most of their time playing on the equipment, particularly the bars mostly intended for older kids and adults who are working on their fitness.

In this first shot they stand on part of the apparatus of the former mill.
The cloister is in the background.

The next three pictures show them playing on the exercise bars. I alternated between least monochrome and colour.

This was certainly my fave of the day. While I have chosen to post the sepia version, it looks good in colour too.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Time with Danica

I had Danica to myself for a few hours while JJ was at daycare and Amma was otherwise engaged. For a few days, the kid had been pestering to visit the "jungle jym" (that I used to call monkey bars) in a nearby school playground. So, that was our first stop.

Note: In an effort to show restraint these are but a few of the photos that I snapped in those few hours. I guess I didn't show much restraint in the taking of pictures, just in the showing of them.

My heart is in my mouth when she (and he) goes into the climbing mode. But, I mostly bear it in silence.

I speak up at this point: "This is as far as you go upside down."

This activity is much easier on my nerves.
From there we were off to a walk in the wooded park across the river. She had requested to return there last winter, but we didn't get around to it until now, as summer begins to wane. Better late than never.

The very first thing she did was to plunge into the grass and head for the tree. After she fell once, I instructed her to turn around because I didn't know what it was like in there. She is quite the adventurer, I'm afraid.
We found the tree where I had taken some pictures around this time last year, and she was happy to pose for me. There was a time when she was not at all interested in posing for pictures, so this is a change that pleases me.

Near the end of our woodsy walk, she found another little tree to swing on and pose at.

After that we headed to the chip truck, where for once, I didn't take pictures. We were just going to get fries, but since this kindergarten kid can read (she can pretty well read any sign she sees) and saw that pogos (hot dogs somehow battered and on a stick) were on the menu, she chose to order that and share my fries. I told her that she would have to wait until October or thereabouts to forestall requests to go back soon. I explained as best I could to a five-year-old that such treats were not terribly healthy or good for us.

We don't get too many one-on-one times, so this was a nice outing for me. It was especially nice when driving home she said: "You know what Buppa? You are the best Buppa ever, ever, ever." That did my heart good, and of course, I repeated the same thing back to her. Well, I didn't call her Buppa exactly, but I think you know what I mean.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Learning to Pole Slide

The other day at the park was a first for both children as they figured out how to slide down a pole. They probably could have done this sooner, but I was too nervous. They were fine, but I was nervous.

Danica talks and directs through this whole almost two-minute video.

JJ can do it too, but he needs help getting his shorter legs to the pole. I can't very well hold the camera while helping him, but Sue took a series of pictures that I have strung together into a sort of movie. This one is only 3 soundless seconds long.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Buppa Gets His Ruffles Brushed

Danica saw a video of herself taking a brush to my hair ... er, scalp ... when she was very little and thought a re-enactment was in order. So, Buppa got his ruffles brushed. Yes, she called the stubble on my neck, ruffles. It's in the short video clip at the end.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Young Explorers

Danica has always been an outgoing child. This is the case both in the normal sense — socially — and in the way she moves. She forever looks outward and that's where she heads. When she was young, we frequently resorted to a harness to reign her in, and even now, she tends to head off while grandparents and little brother try desperately to keep up.

I now have a whistle system. When I do my big whistle, they are to stop. It works well for Jonathan, but in Danica's case I must also put my hand up and give the stop sign. Sometimes, it works.

In the past few days, we have found ourselves near patches of tall grass, and of course she barrelled right in.

But then poor Jonathan headed in after her and ended up getting himself a wee bit overwhelmed to the point where I soon heard his plaintive plea: "Buppa! Help!"

Of course, I refused. That was two days ago, and we haven't seen him since then. ;)  No seriously, I took pity on the boy and came to his rescue.

The very next day Danica waded into yet another patch of grass, this one even taller. JJ was careful to stay on the edges. :)  (I thought Blogger did winkies and smilies now?)

So Dani had to do all of the exploring on her own ...which she didn't mind at all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Can Still Skip Stones

We are back on the daycare job after three weeks off, and I'm having a great time. It's only been two days back, but we've packed a lot into them and had a good time — at least I have — tiring as always but rewarding too. Danica will be back to school in two weeks, so we need to make the best of the summer that remains.

What form, Buppa! You haven't lost your touch. Even if Buppa does say so himself.  :)

She tries hard. (Good action shot, Amma)

We stand back because we're never sure where that thing is going.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Visit to the War Museum

We are still on vacation from our kid duties, but the rainy weather has hindered our gadding-about-ed-ness. So, a last minute decision took us into Ottawa to do something indoor-ish — to visit the war museum.

It opened in its present form a few years ago, but it wasn't until now that we made the time and effort to visit.

The first hall commemorated the War of 1812. This is a special display because it is the bi-centenary. Please forgive the low and bad light in all of these photos.

Ready to enter the War of 1812

What I realized in a nutshell is that three of the four sides in the war could legitimately claim at least a partial victory: the Americans, the British and the Canadians. The fourth, the Native Peoples, were the big losers.

The Americans won in the sense that they were able to re-assert their independence from England. The British won because they were able to maintain their colony while still being able to concentrate on their more important dispute with France. The Canadians won because they were able repel all American attempts at invasion. The Americans had thought to increase their territory and fully expected Canadians to embrace them, but that did not happen.

The Native Peoples under the leadership of Tecumseh threw their lot in with the more amenable British, but at the end of the conflict the Americans kept their nation intact and were ready to expand westward with little regard for the welfare of the Aboriginals.

Sue, being the kindhearted person that she is, decided to come to the assistance of this
poor soldier, who has been on duty for 200 years,
by helping him hold his rifle.
Somehow we got turned around and headed into the post WWII display next. Canada has essentially been a peacekeeping nation, and our first endeavour (I think) was in Cyprus. Sue sat at this model of a Cypriot cafe and was able to listen to actual recorded messages of soldiers calling home.

Mockup of Cypriot cafe

Next and still working backwards through time, we visited the WWII display.

This is Der Fuher's limo with a huge mural of Nazi soldiers in the background at one of his rallies. This gave me the shudders to think how one lunatic was able to exert his influence and power over a whole nation.
I was amazed at the size of this torpedo from a German U-Boat. These U-Bootes penetrated quite a way into the St Lawrence River. You can perhaps tell from the map at the back right.

There was a section of the conflict in Italy, which I found quite poignant because Sue's dad was a soldier in that theatre. He was a tank driver. Here Sue poses by a tank of that vintage.

Her Dad drove a tank, perhaps similar to this one. Maybe even this one for all we know.
Rationing of food was a wartime reality as shown by the notice in this grocery store.

I was able to recognize some of the canned goods from my boyhood days.
Well, I didn't seem to take any WWI pictures, but I do remember one poignant story. A group of injured soldiers were being driven to the treatment centre, and this one young lad had them sing a rousing rendition of It's a Long Way to Tipperary to keep their spirits up. By morning he was dead. So sad. It tears me up even now.

On our way out, we passed a mural in honour of the women and children who were left behind during and even after the war. I thought it fitting to have a modern woman pose with these stalwart persons.


And that was one day of our little summer vacation. We have so much for which to be thankful, but it saddens me to think of what our forebears had to endure.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Day on Sturgeon Lake

We're back somewhat earlier than anticipated, so here's a report of one day's adventure. We visited my BIL, Larry, and his wife Marianne who took us out on their new pontoon craft. They dock on the Trent Canal System, specifically on Sturgeon Lake. So far they have stayed close to home, but it is possible to navigate the locks south to Lake Ontario or north to Lake Huron.

Our day on the lake was pleasantly cloudy after the heat and drought which we have been experiencing in this region. In fact, it even rained during our outing. Up we went to Bobcaygeon where we docked and enjoyed a picnic lunch. The gals then went shopping and I meandered around town while Larry stayed on board with his reading and their three dogs.

We barely made it back to the boat before the rain came down, but it didn't last very long. Then, Larry piloted us to Fenelon Falls before we turned back to the marina, home and supper.

All in all, we enjoyed a very pleasant day.

A view from the boat before we launched from the marina. I was glad that the box on the left was spelled Sanctuary and not Sanktuary. One little letter makes a big difference, don't you agree?

The ladies caught up on the latest news as we cruised northeast on Sturgeon Lake.

Larry happily kept us on course while Oliver sniffed the breeze.
We docked at Bobcaygeon, and Sue disembarked to go shopping with Marianne.
I strolled around town for awhile. This building and sign caught my eye.

I took this photo of a cottage on a little island almost in the Bobcaygeon harbour as we departed.
The clouds were interesting all day, but I took this photo after the rain.
Another pontoon vessel heads into another town, our second destination, Fenelon Falls. This craft was a rental with a built in cabin area. Such rentals are fairly popular on both the Trent and Rideau systems.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Celtfest 2012

I am still on vacay but decided that I should pre-post this. It's been a month since Celtfest, and I've neglected to put up any pics. Usually, I get down to it almost right away but decided to wait until everything was ready this time around -- photos Flickr-ed, videos edited and uploaded etc.

The newest version of Photoshop solves a problem for me because it enables basic video editing right inside the program. It does a reasonable job for basic editing and works pretty much the way that photos work in Photoshop, so I don't have to learn a new program. Generally, all I want to do my my clips is to splice them together (as I did on some recent videos of the kids in the pool) or add some titles with some fades as I did in most of the following clips. Nothing too fancy.

 However, lets begin with one static photo which shows the headline group of the two-day event, The Elders. This was the group that performed at our very first Celtfest six years ago. I was pleased as punch to know they were returning as they have been my favourite Celtfest act.

The Elders from left to right: Stven Phillips, Brent Hoad, Ian Byrne.

The above photo is also in this following Flickr slideshow of all of the photos that I chose to keep from Celtfest. Of course, this is a basic, non-music, non-special effects slideshow. You can click the symbol to the bottom right to see the larger, pop-out version (recommended). Also, you may click here to go through the set one at a time at your own pace.

Now, for some videos that I mentioned up top. This first is one of the amateur ensembles that can be found in the local area, Les Mots Dits d'Anglais, which means something like Words Said in English. The reason for the odd name is that it is mostly a group of English musicians fiddling in the French Canadian style. I think they are probably the best of the local amateur groups, but all of the groups have their own charm. It's a long clip, but you can get the flavour by playing it for a short time (as is the case with all of the clips) if you wish before you move on to your busy lives.

Julie Fitzgerald is a master fiddler, but she shows off her step dancing in this clip. Ottawa Valley style step dancing is quite enthusiastic and energetic. If you are not familiar with this style, have a look at part of the video.

This clip features the fiddler, Brent Hoad, of The Elders; he is having himself quite a fine fiddle. Fun stuff.

The Elders perform the title track of their latest CD, Wanderin' Life & Times.

Often, the kids will dance near the front, just below the stage, but on Sunday afternoon, near the end of the weekend, The Elders invited them to dance onstage. I didn't catch much, but it was fun and, as you will see, brought the parental cameras out en masse.

And so, Celtfest ended for another year. This was my seventh consecutive Celtfest after moving to this area. It's a hilite that we look forward to every year.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Golden Hour on Silver Lake

We have been on holidays since last Friday although we are not heading off to the cottage until tomorrow. Mostly so far, we have been attending to those little chores and appointments that pile up. Today will be a day to compile whatever we think we need for our time away. There's much stuff to collect from here and there and pile at the door before we endeavour the Herculean task of trying to pack it all in the vehicle tomorrow. Ah well, we usually manage.

On Saturday, however, we did enjoy an early mini break. We drove about an hour west and parked our car, our chairs and ourselves on a little peninsula on the shores of Silver Lake. We enjoyed a modest picnic lunch and some reading. I was really waiting for the golden hour, the hour around sunset when the light becomes wonderful if we're lucky and good pictures can be taken. While we did not enjoy the most beautiful sunset ever, the general light did become really lovely after the harsh and bright light of the preceding hours.

I took these first two photos about 30-40 minutes before sunset. I rushed the golden hour just a bit but was getting too anxious to hold off any longer.

For much of our waiting time we sat by the water on the other side of this knoll looking at the picturesque farm across water. You can barely see it in this view, but we'll come back to it later.

There were a few fishers on the lake during our hours there, but this guy stayed the course longer than most.

A little later, I took these next two pictures.

The sun lights up the rock and trees.

This might be my favourite photo of the day as I pointed my camera away from the setting sun to a point of land to the east. It's a simple picture, but the blues of the water really please my eye.

We come to the time where the sun was beginning to sink below the horizon but still peeking out and casting pretty wonderful light.

The fisher is still out there as the sun dips halfway below the horizon.

The sun is just about gone, and three loons come out to play in the golden light. I know this photo looks phony and photoshopped, but this is the way it really was, at least according to my camera.
As the sun was almost disappearing, I decided to take another photo of the farm on the little peninsula to the west.

I took this final shot after the sun had gone down but was still casting light over the western horizon.

The sun is gone but the light remains for awhile. I took a lot of photos that I didn't keep. For this one, I remembered the rule to keep something in the foreground of a landscape photo. I got low for this shot, and I think it paid off.

That's about it folks, the Golden Hour on Silver Lake. Today we scramble to get ready and tomorrow we head to cottage country. We'll see you in a few weeks.