Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Remember When ...

... I could simply go to bed when I so chose. Now, it's a production that takes time.


I took this picture once I organized myself for bed on Christmas Eve when we slept over at the kids' place. My camera was near at hand, and I couldn't resist.

Starting on the far left are two types of sleeping pills — melatonin and a prescription. I find that with both (and both are fairly mild), I can often obtain a decent nights sleep — but not that night, of course.

Then, there comes my iPod, which gives me something to do in the event that sleep eludes. It was well used that night. In front of it are my hearing aids.

Next, comes both hand lotion and lip balm. It was a dry night, and they both got used.

Don't forget the hanky and two types of eye ointment. I use the stuff in the tube when I go to bed and use the drops during the night if needed because they are much easier to administer in the dark. My eyes get horribly dry at night to the point where I sometimes think that the lids may stick to the eyeball.

On the far right are two kinds of cough drops: one more for the throat and one for the cough. These are not a constant in my life, but when I do come down with something or other, my throat is usually the first part of my body to be hit. And I was under attack over Christmas.

Finally, at the front is my trusty magnetic flashlight, which can be awfully handy when I'm searching for one necessity or other in the dark.

At home, these items are spread here and there, but when they are assembled together like this, they highlight how pathetic I really am.

It was a long night, made longer by the fact that I was determined to stay in bed so that the kids could wake us in the morning proclaiming that Santa had been. When Danica bounded in, it was like being released from prison, I tell ya.

At home and after several more bad nights, I am almost delirious to report that I slept for about ten hours last night. I don't think I have slept that long in more than a decade. I did have my usual restless period from about 3 - 4. Sometimes, it forces me to get up, but last night I was able to stay the course and get back to sleep.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It Was A White Christmas

My goodness! The solstice brought our first heavy snowfall, and it was heavy in terms of both volume and stickiness. Days later, it was still clinging to polls and trees and still is to some extent. We've since had another fairly major fall, but these photos are all taken after the first one and before Christmas.

It's been difficult to get out and around. In eight winters, I have never witnessed the town's streets being in such horrendous shape. Driving around town is like driving on an unmaintained sideroad — maybe worse because it's not only very bumpy but also icy. Yesterday, I was driving slowly due to the conditions, but even then, there was so much ice underneath that I was barely able to stop at an intersection. The car just kept going thru, and the brakes only fully deployed about a foot from a cab that was stopped in the intersection. Scarey stuff.

Therefore, I haven't gone far to take pictures, and even then, I've had limited access due to snowbanks. But here are some shots that I did take and like. For this set, you might want to click on the first and view them larger as this is the end of my commentary.







Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Christmas is here or at least the Eve is here, so I present a few photos from our place to you. I begin with this very short clip of our Christmas carousel. I uploaded this thru Blogger rather than YouTube, and I don't think I'll do that again, as I don't see options for viewing it larger. Oh well.

video

Here's a picture of the carousel that you can actually see.



We don't have a fireplace, but Sue runs our fake fireplace during this season and even thru much of winter. In front are some of her collection of Christmas books. I replaced our plain wall with digital Christmas wallpaper.


When we moved to this smaller place eight Christmases past, we did not bring our tree with us. We purchased this small pre-lit one that we can put up or take down within minutes. We are not exactly lacking of Christmas decorations, so this small tree suits us well.


We have two fake candles that look pretty doggone real. I bought this red one for Sue last Christmas, and we have since added a white one for all seasons.


Finally, here is a Santa from Shauna's workplace. I did a bit of photoshopping and added the background lights are from our tree.


I wish you a Merry Christmas wherever you may be.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cup of Christmas Tea


Even though Sue loves her tea, we don't often get the pretty cups out. I mean to say, "The woman wants big mugs full of tea, not tiny cups." However, the cups do make for a pretty display.

I am reminded of Tom Hegg's poem, "A Cup of Christmas Tea." The poem has been turned into a book, which I, somehow, managed to miss reading until a few years ago, despite the fact that it has been in Sue's collection for a long time now.

When I did get around to reading this schmaltzy piece, I couldn't staunch the tears. When I thought to look it up again this year, my eyes moistened once again.

The poem is about a man, whose aunt invited for Christmas tea. He hasn't seen her in a long time, but is somewhat reluctant to visit because she suffered a stroke in the past year. He thinks he would prefer to remember her the way she was. Of course, he does go, and it was the right choice.

In this video, Heggs reads the poem. It's about 7 minutes long, but I think you will like it if you are not already familiar with this piece. You can also read the poem as he recites it.


Click here if you would like to read the whole piece in your own time. I would paste it here, but I am not sure if that is ethical.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Snow Storm

We have experienced a major storm over the past day and a half — almost a record 40+cm (getting near 1.5ft). It was still falling lightly this morning, but I decided to try for a few photos. I bundled up, and at a windchill of -15°C/5°F, I wasn't cold. However, the wind was blowing fiercely and driving the snow into my eyes, so I turned back pretty quickly.

It was still pretty dark and bleak, and that is reflected in the pictures.

Neighbour was already out shovelling her driveway and her neighbour's (double shared drive).

Snow hung on the branches, but I didn't go far enough to get good pictures.

This is one reason why I don't want a dog — the necessity of walking the critter at all hours in all weather.

The road is snow-covered and quite icy also.

The storm resulted in the third cancellation of school buses in two weeks yesterday, so we've had much time with Daniloohoo lately. The kids is a force of nature, so it may take us awhile to recover.

I wanted to take some pictures of out tv corner with Christmas books and the faux fireplace crackling, but someone soon inserted herself into the action.

I was using a tripod and a slow shutter speed, so this became a unique photo.

Interesting distortion from a wide angle lens. I could correct this in post, but I like it as it is.

Friday, December 21, 2012

More Videos of You Guessed It

Yesterday felt like Christmas Eve around here. First, we attended Danica's school's Christmas concert, and then we prepared a dinner for Mom's birthday.

Now, you all know that I am modest and hate to brag, but Danica was one of three students chosen to read at the concert. This is a JK to Grade 3 school, so I think her being chosen while still in Kindergarten is quite remarkable. Naturally, I claim that she takes after her grandfather. Yeah, sure.




After the concert, we brought her home to help prepare for Mom's birthday dinner, after which she decided to read Polar Express to us. She persisted and read the whole book without prompting, This is a little snippet which was brought to a premature conclusion by Daddy spilling coke.


While I am posting videos, I may as well include a clip of her Kindergarten class singing and wishing us Mele Kalikimaka. Her class represented Hawaii as the school commemorated Christmas around the world. After a parade of nations through the auditorium, each class did a little presentation in their own classroom.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mostly Danica Videos

Some video from last Saturday for some family members. Danica's two dance classes plus a fiddler at the Kintail Country Christmas. Danica makes an appearance or two in the fiddle video.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Dance Session

Although Danica dances for us most mornings before boarding the bus, we only see her in an official display twice a year. One viewing occurs at the year-end in May at a big performance. The other occurs just before Christmas when the parents and grandparents are invited into the studio to observe a somewhat normal session. Yeah sure.

Otherwise, we are not permitted a peek, so it's nice to get this wee glimpse. Since she is enrolled in two classes, we got two viewings. The first class was Highland and the second Jazz and Tap although you can't tell from these pictures which is which. I took some video footage, and maybe I'll do something with it at some point.

The proof is in the photos. Danica was a tad excited about the opportunity to show off. But just a mere tad, mind you.


This was just about my first photo of the day as she pranced by our seats. The picture
does not lie. She was higher than a kite.

Dancers must warm up and stretch before performing.

They were dancing to Santa Claus in Coming to Town and were at the "naughty or nice, bad or good" part.

About to do a solo run in Jazz/Tap. Although she is normally a bit of a wallflower, she overcame her reluctance.

And there she goes ... with gusto.
We are still trying to figure out where this kid came from and are having absolutely no success. She's like nobody any of us have seen or known before.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

So Sad






I am almost certain that I posted this photo last summer, but I post again today because I am thinking of the grandparents of the Newtown tragedy. I am really thinking about everyone and sick at heart about the whole thing, but being a grandparent, I am especially grieving for those who won't see their grandchildren ever again. It's so sad.

In this picture Sue and Dancia were playing a game something like pattycakes at the park this summer. It was a good day.I would be devastated if such good days had come to an untimely and awful end yesterday. Otherwise, words fail.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Muffin Recipe

When Sue injured her hand a month or two ago, I decided to help out by making the muffins, which she would typically bake a few times per week. Now that her hand is somewhat better, we take turns although I seem to be taking more turns. This is partly because I often arise hours earlier than she, so I feel that I might as well to something constructive with my time.

This is her recipe that I share. I will strip her instructions to me down to the basic recipe, but, just for a slightly befume, there are notes on what bowls and implements to use.

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Wet bowl: In the larger bowl, mix 1 cup of oatmeal with 1 cup of plain yoghurt. Set aside.
  3. Dry bowl: Add 1 cup of loosely levelled flour. Add and mix rounded ¼ cup of bran.
  4. Dry bowl: Add 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder. Mix well and set aside.
  5. Wet bowl: Add and mix thoroughly in order: 1/4 cup oil, 1 egg,  1/2 cup brown sugar (packed). 
  6. Combine 2 bowls dry to wet. Mix but don't over-mix.
  7. Sprinkle and mix in 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup of blueberries (or dried cranberries or raisins).
  8. Distribute mix to 1 dozen muffin cups, about two large spoonfuls each.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes.
  10. Remove muffins from baking tin and set on rack to cool, covered with a cloth.


The two bowls combined with walnuts and blueberries added

Ready for the oven

Done

Ready to eat: one with blueberry jam, one with just butter

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snowday

Actually, it was an ice day, and Danica was off school. Ice pretty well shuts things down, and I swear I shovel more ice than snow in this area. Pity.

After snow early on last night, we experienced freezing rain in the wee hours. So, there was cleaning up to be done today. Of course, by the time we got out there, it was raining wet, but we worked to clear the drive regardless.

JJ was mostly in a sliding mood, but Danica did her best.

JJ was also helping by this point.
We were rewarded with hot chocolate and cookies when we were done.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

A Curious Life

Yes, it's a wonderful life at this time of year, but it is also a very curious life. Here's how curious it can be.

Ruth is a blogger who lives in the Kitchener-Waterloo area west of Toronto. We have followed each others blogs for years.

She is currently visiting her daughter who lives in Ottawa.

I also follow Ruth on Facebook. Yesterday, she posted that she had walked a nature trail and was visited by chickadees.

Today, I dropped Sue off for a few hours in a place somewhat near this trail.

Since I had a few hours to kill, I purchased some seed and headed off to the trail, The Jack Pine Trail is located in Ottawa's very large greenbelt.

Did you get that? A blogger from Kitchener wrote about something near me on Facebook. I happened to be near that area today, so I visited it too.

Yes Virginia, it is a Curious Life.

I was visited almost instantly by Chickadees, even before I was prepared. They startled me. Sometimes, I walked along with seed in my outstretched hand, and I was visited by both chickadees and nuthatches as I walked. I had a grand time. Fortunately, it was not bitterly cold today, and I was able to be barehanded although my little digits were pretty cold by the end.


And here are the pictures, some with my hat as a prop and seed holder. too bad I couldn't take pictures of me with the birds, but that's life. Sometimes, they even landed right on my camera. What fun we had!








Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Battiness on Both Sides


I agree with the message on this float, seen at our Santa parade this year.

That declaration might surprise readers in light of my anti-religionist stance proclaimed in a recent post, but it's how I feel. The simple fact is that the Christmas story, whatever you think of its veracity, is part of the general culture of the western world. Putting up a Christian display at Christmas time or greeting somebody with a "Merry Christmas" really should not be offensive to those of other faiths or even those of no faith in my opinion. It's time for a certain brand of atheists like those in Santa Monica, California, who managed to get nativity displays banished, to get off their high horses and stop playing Grinch and start playing Santa. Really, give it a rest and quit being so uptight.

That being said and having taken my swipe at some atheists, I wish to direct your attention to the kind of thing that drives be absolutely batty about religion.

According to this article, the Bristol University Christian Union has decided in its infinite lack of wisdom to prohibit women from speaking or teaching at their meetings. On a university campus of all places. Oh sorry, apparently those flighty females will be permitted to speak as long as it is along with their husbands. How appreciative women everywhere should be of such tolerance.

So here we have a Christian society in the supposedly enlightened 21st century, making a regressive, social decision based on an ancient manuscript. It would be one thing, I suppose, if the manuscript was clear, but it's not. Even I have read enough to know that Paul's famous command in 1 Corinthians for women to keep silent was not made in the body of the text but only in the margins. Beyond that, it seems that most scholars believe that it was later added by a scribe and was not part of Paul's original text: not even in the margins. Really, this should be common knowledge and should inform decisions.

It drives me crazy, I tell ya. I was once an ardent evangelical and know that such doctrine is not exactly core Christianity.



Having vented just a tad, in the spirit of the season, I present a picture of Sue guiding Danica's hand to light the first of the Advent candles.


Saturday, December 01, 2012

She Needed Cheering

Danica needed a little cheering after school the other day after some girl decided to exclude her for whatever reason. The poor thing sobbed her little heart out in the car after we picked her up. It's so sad when children are mean to other children, especially when it's to someone who doesn't have a mean bone in her body. And this is just kindergarten. Oh my.

Anyway, Sue had the idea to do something a little special for supper. We lit candles and dimmed the lights, and I made a little photo booklet for her to take to school. (photos below)

On another note, so to speak, Jim Nabors should be proud, for she and JJ demand his version of Go Tell it on the Mountain multiple times whenever they are in our car. I'm not sure when he recorded the song, but whenever it was, I am willing to bet that he didn't expect little kids to be enthralled with it in 2012. (Link later after the photos.)