Tuesday, January 23, 2018


How strange was that? The other night, Sue spotted a light in the backyard (above). We couldn't see it as well as it shows in this picture where you can see the shape of it. All we could see was the light itself. So Sue went out to see what it was. Sure enough, it was a solar light that we hadn't taken in for the winter.

The strange this is that we had missed taking it in because it wasn't even working in that fall. So, when I gathered the good ones, I guess I left this behind and forgot about it.

It has endured cold and was buried under snow and hadn't even worked in the good weather, but in a mid-January night, on it came after lo these many months.

Meanwhile, today will likely be the kids 7th snow day. Once again, we call the days that even if it's an ice day. I say 'likely' because the transportation site is down, so I can' check.

You see, we had freezing rain last night. This is what my window looks like this morning.

And this is what it looks like out back on the other side of the house. No ice on the window, but you can see the reflections from the crust on the snow.

The thing is, that it is getting mild and the ice will soon be melting if it isn't already. Meanwhile though, I am sure that the buses won't be able to do their morning run.

Someone asked if this time has to be made up. Not in my experience. You see, the schools almost never officially close. They are open for kids to go if they can and wish to, and the teachers must still be there. So in one sense it is still an official school day even though few students will actually bother to go, even if they are able such as them living within walking distance.

It makes sense because even if a half class were to show up (which is unlikely), how can the teacher keep on with new material when the other half is missing? So why go at all if you're a kid?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A January Sleepover

It's that time of year when life slows down, and there doesn't seem to be much to post. When it finally dawned on me that I have also been neglecting my blog reading, I posted one comment to the effect that I don't think I have been out of my small town all month. We did go into the outskirts of Ottawa for a movie, but that may have still been in December after Christmas. I forget.

Our daughter is off to Arizona this week on a work-related conference, and with JJ off at an out-of-town hockey tournament, we've had Danica for a sleepover. And that has yielded a few pictures that I can share.

She ended up on my lap and kind of took over the computer.

She made me watch a hockey video many times, I Can Make Your Hands Clap. It's cute and funny, so I have linked it for you. This has some relevance for later in this post.

Grandma braided her hair before we went out.

We headed to the library.

She decided that she wanted to do some searching on ancestry, so we booked a computer.

She spent a full hour just searching around the ancestry site and actually had it email some of her findings to me.

Then it was off to the coffee shop for lunch. Here we are clapping our hands as in the video that I mentioned above.

For some reason, she seems to grab my hat when we are at this place, and she did it this time too.

After we got home, I printed off some off the information she had forwarded from the library. Here she is relating some of the information to a generations picture gallery that I have.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Finally on Snowhoes

I finally did it. I went for a snowshoe walk. Sue thought I was crazy because it was -20C/-5F out, but I knew from other walks that if the sun is shining and it isn't windy that temperature is quite bearable. I mean, you have to dress properly, but if you do that it's fine.

It had taken me about a week to get actually get out once the notion entered my mind. First it was too cold and windy (I am sensible after all), and then there was rain and lack of snow. Truth be told, there still wasn't enough snow for good snowshoeing and plain old walking would have been fine, but I did it anyway because it works different muscles.

Of course, I took the phone along, and of course I took some panos.

This pano is more that 180° which makes it very skinny, but it will enlarge somewhat if you click.
You can see where the software had some trouble with blending the sky,
but I find these faults acceptable in a phone pano.

The bridge was my destination on this day. It was part of a railway line which became disused in the 2008 recession. Eventually the old line was sold to the various communities through which it passes and has since been turned into a trail on which you can go a long way. It's multipurpose, and can be also used by snowmobiles.

Now that guardrails are up on the bridge I may return with my real camera sometime. I would have been reluctant to traverse this bridge in winter before the rails were up although I think I have meandered up there once or twice.

This is the Mississippi River of Eastern Ontario and not that other little creek that flows through the USA. 😉  In the photo, downtown (still above) is to the left (more or less west). The building on the far right is the former MacArthur Woolen Mill, which you can see better in the next pano.

The mill is on an island of sorts. You can begin to see the tributary channel going off to the right around mid-frame. The fencing in the foreground is where they are going to build an outlook, which I assume will either be a higher stand or something that will extend out over the river.

Of course, I also took a photo looking the other way toward uptown.

The mist on the far left is from the falls/rapids near downtown, which is really why the town is here — water power for mills. Sue accompanied me on the walk, not because she particularly wanted to go out snowshoeing but because she was worried about me out in the cold. Hopefully, she is now assured that I am fine on my own on such a low-risk trail.

It was nice to get out. We kept it short, maybe 20 minutes which included time for those photos. It's not the same as snowshoeing right from the cottage door and through the woods, but it is something. And something seems to be becoming my theme.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


I am trying to learn, trying to adjust my expectations.

Last week our falls prevention exercise class, which is very very moderate, was an eye opener for me. Things which used to be easy peasy weren't anymore. Like those quad stretches where you stand on one foot, grab your opposite ankle, and pull your foot up towards your bum. Ouch!

But it helped me realize that something is better than nothing. While I wasn't exactly working out according to my old definition, I was doing something positive. Doing something is better than sitting. Right?

I've had some hand weights for quite awhile now, but I've never been too committed. I would start at 10 lbs per hand and work my way up to 15 lbs doing three sets of 12 reps. I even got close to buying heavier weights a few times. But then, I'd get out of the routine, and I would only get back to the weights a few months later and more or less have to start all over again.

But more that a year ago, I pretty much gave up for good. My left elbow started to protest bicep curls, and my shoulders didn't much appreciate the strain on them on some of the other exercises. Discouraged, I stopped.

Today however, my pectoral muscles are sore because, after that very long layoff, I descended down to the dungeon (basement) to pick them up and do a little something because now I know that something is better than nothing.

I did just 1 set of up to 12 reps with only 10 lbs, the bare minimum. I couldn't even do 12 reps of bicep curls with my left elbow being what it is, but I managed 6 and kept going with my right arm.

Something is better than nothing.

I am really trying to learn that, even though I am not very quick on the uptake.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Playing the Odds

There was a interesting juxtaposition of information that came my way this morning. No sooner had I read one of my blog friends who doesn't bother with flu shots, that an article about flu shots appeared on my desktop. Synchronicity is a delightful thing sometimes.

For a very brief summary (the whole article is linked above, and oh heck here again), there are H1, H2 and H3 years (also known as A, B and C). This is an H3 or C year, and H3 is the most difficult strain to control, so that the vaccine only gives us 33% protection.

 I trust that I don't have to explain that 33% as greatly preferable to 0%.

It may just be that the 33% will work in my case. For example: I was exposed to TB as a kid and have tested positive all of my life, and this always raised the concern of people when the test was administered (as it was up until the early 80s in my case). But somehow, although I was exposed, I didn't contract TB, at least not in a meaningful way, and I am very grateful for this.

So perhaps a flu vaccine will help my body resist if I am exposed. It seems like both common and scientific sense to me. You can't rely on personal anecdotes such as A had the shot but still got the flu, but B didn't get the shot and didn't get the flu. It proves nothing.

Meanwhile, for the H1/A and H2/B seasons the efficacy of the shots rises to 67% and 54% respectively. The sensible path is very clear to me.

The lesson as I see it is to follow the best information available in life. Science isn't infallible, but it is self-correcting and gives us the best information possible. Consider weather forecasts, for example: they are not always perfect, but they're pretty darn good and reliable most of the time. If they predict an ice storm, I take sensible precautions. If the storm does not eventuate, I do not vow to never listen to another forecast.

One way to look at it is this: over three years let us accept that the chances of the vax working is 67%+54%+33%. The average for those three years for preventing the flu is over 50%, and that works for me, especially when the shot costs me nothing. I don't mean "nothing" in primarily monetary terms although it is that but also nothing in terms of time, the shot only taking a few minutes of my precious time in a whole year. It's also nothing in terms of side effects. I experience none.

I'll will accept those good odds that also come at no cost.

(Just a note that this post resulted from me thinking about two disparate readings this morning and is not intended as a slam against the person who wrote the anti-vax post, which was actually more about practicing good hygiene, with which I concur.)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Whither Winter Weather

One of the first things that I learned when we started to examine global warming in my World Issues class about thrifty years ago, was that more extreme and unexpected events may occur. We would still get hot spells and cold snaps and other sorts of weather, but it might become more unpredictable and even catastrophic.

It seems to have some to pass, the past year being the wettest ever — a 1 in 3000 year event according to the graphic below.

Today, we shatter the record for the warmest January 12th ever, the previous warmest being just 5 years ago. In addition, it's the 5th warmest January day ever.

From Monday I posted JJ in my little snow fort.

Last night, we had so much rain that this is what it looks like from my window this morning. Gone. Down to the ground, but you can see the outline.

It was so mild with so much rain that the only snow that remains is that which had been accumulated from clearing the driveway and sidewalk. Snow that had just fallen and not been piled up is all gone.

I cannot remember such a prodigious melt in such a short period. Not that that means much as I cannot remember what ...

Now what was I saying? I forget.

Oh ... just to keep you informed, we are to expect flash freezing and snow come mid-afternoon.

Meanwhile, the kids on on their 5th buses cancelled day, the 3rd this week.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thaws, Falls and Even More Socks

It's January Thaw time: happens every year it seems, and I don't love it. Oh, I for sure don't mind some milder temperatures, especially after that long and sever cold spell, but when it goes above freezing and rains too and everything gets all slushy and dirty .... Well, I'm just not a fan.

I was rather shocked earlier today. Sue and I began a Falls Prevention exercise class. It was pretty mild stuff, but I didn't find it easy at all. I once would have scoffed at such an easy routine and not all that long ago either, but my goodness, what a rude awakening as both joints and muscles complained vigourously.

I wasn't going to enroll in the class because I don't feel very fearful about falling, and at just 70, I'd be younger than the others. But then again pride goeth before a fall, so ...  😄

After class, when I returned home to change out of my exercise gear, including my socks and with recent posts in mind, I had to take the following picture.

Four pairs? Really AC? Four pairs?! Yes, but just temporarily as I had just taken one pair off and would put another on, so there would only be three lying there.  But still, four is a lot. Yes I agree, but there's a simple explanation. Really. Trust me.

The pair on the far left is good, outdoor material: smart wool, really warm, but short. Even though they are normal, short socks, I often wear them outdoors because some of the long ones fall down, which is irritating. I don't mind pulling them up in the house, but I don't want to be pulling up my socks outside, and I hate them falling down.

The white ones second from the left are my sport socks for the exercise class. Generally, they are all that I wear in summer, but I don't usually have reason to wear them in winter.

The third pair are the new mohair ones that I just blogged about. Since I already had a long pair out (the next ones in line) I usually wouldn't have two long ones out, but I wanted to try them. And yes, joy of joys, they will stay up outside. I guess they're keepers.

Finally, a sort of long pair that for some reason aren't as long as my other long socks and hence fall down more than most. I don't like this pair at all, but they aren't worn down, so they are still somewhat suitable for knocking about the domicile.

By the way. I usually have one other pair on the go too: another long pair just for wearing in bed.

As I said in the title, Even More Socks, but I'm rather sure that I am done with the sock thing now.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

At Thrice the Price

Surely, you remember the sock post. I mean, how could you forget? Memorable it was ... well to me anyway.

I wrote about why I needed long socks and about the problem of them shedding their substance wherever I trod.

With regard to that (I could just type WRTT, but then I'd have to explain it), Joanne commented: "You do need a new brand. If your socks shed they are knit from reprocessed wool; old wool clothes ground up and respun. All the short fibers fall out. Look for virgin merino. They will last for years."

Now this is all well and good, but I had no idea where to get such creations.

Meanwhile, I just binned another pair yesterday that had worn through on the soles. As I asked previously, how could they not [wear out] when they are forever leaving bits of themselves wherever I tread?

That [trashing a pair] wasn't so terrible because they were last winter's socks, so I knew they were living on borrowed time anyway. But then my toe wore through on a this-year pair.

Now part of this is likely my fault. Perhaps I let my toenails get too long, like that time that I inadvertently stabbed Sue's leg with my toe in bed one night and caused bleeding. But still ... I do not commonly put my toes through any socks, even one's which I've worn for years.

Alright John, you're losing the thread of your yarn (or so, ahem, to speak), so get back to spinning this woolly narrative, boy.

Here's what I am getting to in my own good time. Sue saw from an online ad that a local shop had long, quality socks in stock.

They're mohair, supposedly warm, although they are not terribly thick (but that's okay because folks tell me that I'm a little thick), and they are expensive. They are three times more expensive that one type that I currently own. The other type I am not sure of their durability yet, but they are almost twice as expensive as those.

Still if they last four times longer, I willing to foot the bill as it were.

Monday, January 08, 2018

First day Back to School NOT

After their three-week break the kids went back to school today. Except they didn't. Because we had another snow day.

This is the third time the buses have been cancelled and the second time the kids have spent the day with us.

It was warm enough, hovering around 0C/32F, to go sledding, and we had been planning on doing just that, but life intervened by giving Sue a most copious nosebleed that went on and on and on.

Danica was quite marvellous, sitting with her and taking extensive notes on what was happening and when. What a trooper!

Poor JJ was traumatized. He's a very sensitive young fella and it upset him for quite a while to think that all was not well with his grandmother, but he came around in time.

Eventually, we three were able to go out and shovel snow.

When I thought we were done, Jonathan wanted me to dig out a fort as I have done in other years. So I did.

Then he had some fun jumping off the snowbank.

We went in and played a couple of games of Sorry before getting back to phone games and such.

Maybe we'll get that elusive sledding in yet.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

More Cold and More Hockey

More cold and more hockey. As I write this early Sunday morn, it's -30C/-20F out there. And it has been windy too, which has made it a little unbearable.

In my previous post, I declared that I was going to go snowshoeing. My intentions were good. Honest. But when I went out to start the car and load the snowshoes, I quickly thought better of my plan because it was so windy and bitter.

As a result, there has been much indoor time, and that has included watching the six-part series of Love, Lies and Records on Acorn featuring Agatha Raisin's Ashley Jensen among others "in this critically acclaimed Acorn TV Original drama about the personal and professional lives of employees at the Leeds Register Office. Working at the Register is no ordinary job--every day, the team is faced with life's greatest milestones: birth, marriage, and death."

I call this sort of show a light drama: too serious to be a comedy but not serious enough that you don't realize that it's a bit of a farce when you are watching. Very fun to watch, though, as long as you keep those constraints in mind. This is a series where characters and situations can get a little over-the-top, and you have to ride with that to enjoy fully. As I did.

I didn't mean to digress into that little review. What I meant to write and will now do so, is that the only time I have been out in the past couple of days was yesterday to watch JJ play hockey. Now then, small-town arenas aren't exactly toasty, but I have to say that it was quite acceptable in there considering how freakin cold it was outside.

I took the camera. I know that doesn't surprise you, but I don't always take it to his games. Anyway, I concentrated more on JJ than the general play this time and managed a few acceptable shots. Action photos through that thick and highly marked glass (with a camera that is not top of the line) will never be top drawer, and while that annoys and discourages me sometimes, I try to do my best.

Here they are.


Gotta catch up

Smack that sucker

I'll head him off at the pass

Friday, January 05, 2018

A This and That Listy Sorta Post

We have two very cold days coming up — as opposed to normal cold days. Actually, if they bring sun, I will like them better than cloudy but not quite so cold. Yes, I think very cold and sunny beats normal cold and cloudy, especially if cloudy comes with wind.

I have been thinking of getting the snowshoes out. We only shoe at the cottage, but maybe we should do some here. Sue will have coffee with her lady friends this morning. Maybe I'll try them out then. I can no longer shoe for long when I first begin, but if I do a little here, maybe I'll be able to go longer when we do get to the cottage ... if we do get there this winter.

We are missing the big storm from the east coast. It's just cold.

The doc has doubled my sleeping pill dosage lately, and while I am getting some better nights, I was still up by 4:30 this morning. That is after going to bed sometime after 11 last night.

JJ has a game in town tomorrow afternoon, so we will likely go. There's nothing like sitting in a cold arena on a cold day. Actually, at our home arena, there is some heat from over the stands. Not all arenas where he plays have this luxury.

His game on Sunday is out of town at 7:30 in the morning. No, we won't be in attendance.

We watched the Netflix serial, Manhunt Unabomber over the past few days. It was quite interesting and enjoyable although the story seemed embellished in places and there was some obvious [to me] character stereotyping. I looked up Kaczynski online, and he still seems to be alive in prison at the age of 75.

There was a death on our highway this week. A young man got reckless in icy conditions, and apparently tried to pass on a two lane highway. There's too much passing on that highway. When I drive it, I speed somewhat deliberately (but not excessively) to try to be safer. I know that sounds odd, but I figure if I can reduce the dangerous passing of cars behind me ... But it doesn't work as well as I'd like because they still line up behind me and pass when think they can.

If people were to do the math, they might not be in such an all-fired-up hurry. It takes an hour to drive 60 mils at 60 mph. What do you save by going 70? I got up too early, and I'm too stupid to do the math properly any more, but I figure it's something like 8 minutes. How worth the risk is it to ride on bumpers and then pass on a two lane highway in poor conditions to possibly save 8 minutes? And you won't really save that much, will you? Because you'll wind up behind someone else doing 60, and it take you awhile to pass again.

Not that I always follow my own logic when I'm driving and come up behind a slowpoke, but I think I do, at least, consider the road conditions.

I wish that they would double that highway into 4 lanes, but it's a long, rural one, and construction would be costly and would impede traffic for years while being constructed.

I originally mistyped "constructed" above. Why can computers do auto correct like phones and tablets? Sure they alert you with the red, squiggly underlines, but they don't auto correct. Maybe it would be more of a nuisance though. I do wonder, however, why we can't have the option.

I read a novel this week: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins who wrote the more famous The Girl on the Train, which was also a successful movie. I have neither read the book nor seen the film, but I would not be averse to doing so.

Into the Water  is a mystery of sorts but not a typical detective-solving mystery and more about the people affected by a drowning: actually a pair of recent drownings in a location where there have been various drownings of women in the past. Anyway, the mystery more or less solves itself from the actions of the characters.

It's 8 o'clock. Sue is still abed. She goes to bed, sometimes hours before me and sleeps sometimes hours after me. At one time, we slept similar hours, but in later years we have gone in opposite directions. She wishes that she could be less tired and sleep less; I wish that I could be less tired and sleep more. It is what it is.

I leave with something that one doesn't generally share online, but it leads to a question. We bought some toilet paper this week [sic] because it was on sale and we knew our supply was getting low. So, it was stacked on top of the rolls at the bottom of the cupboard.

And here's the question. We came to this house 12 years ago. Are the rolls on the bottom of the stack now 12 years old?

I will leave you with that burning question.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Danica Does Photos and Videos

We had the kids for the day yesterday. I helped her make a little collage in Photoshop, just blending two layers together. She inserted the photos, resized them, and made a mask to blend the two together. Then she added the text and printed the photo. We resized it for to show here and to send to her parents.

Later in the day, she grabbed my iPhone and from pictures that I had on there, she made this video. I don't know how she figured it out. It certainly wasn't with my help because I don't know how. She's a smart cookie that one.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Hockey Tournament

During the holidays, JJ and his team played in a tournament. This one was put on by the local folk, so he didn't have to travel, which made it good for us too. There were 6 teams, 2 of them from Carleton Place.

Both Carleton Place teams were undefeated in their 2 preliminary games. The first for our guys was a 7-2 early morning game against Almonte. I got to see most of the game, but I didn't bring the camera along.

I did bring the camera for the noon game against Perth. Our boys won by a score of 2-0 in a really well played game. It was close and intense, and I thought it was the best game of the day. This shot is of the team's best player attempting to score.

They advanced to the Championship game to play the CP Novice B2 team, our team being Novice B1. I don't think the 1 or 2 make any difference as they are two pretty equal teams.

In this game, the B2 team defeated JJ's team in another lose game which ended 5-4.

I don't get too many action shots of Jonathan as he plays back on defence. So he is usually at some distance from the camera or has his back to me. But here are a few from that game.

Monday, January 01, 2018

New Years Eve

It was a quiet New Years Eve here, and I was quite pleased about that.

We have been re-watching the Harry Potter movies which we originally watched so long ago that it all seems new. It's been fun. We watched one in the afternoon and another with and after dinner.

Dinner was Butter Chicken, which turned out very well, and it's not a difficult meal to make either.

Earlier in the day, I drove to our Riverside Park to take some more iphone panos, which I have recently come to really enjoy. But whether the park is more open than our neighbourhood, or there was just more wind, or I wasn't on the move as much, I really felt the chill. However, the next 3 days are predicted to be a more normal cold before we have 3 more days of deeper cold.

I don't know why, the town won't plow the path through the park in winter, but the skiers had thankfully created a bit of a path.

Another shot below, somewhat similar to the one above but closer to the river and showing footprints.

The river is more frozen than I recall seeing in 13 winters, but you can see above (barely) that there is still a free centre channel. That channel will get wider to the right (east) as the water really flows fast through the heart of town. To the left (west) where the river broadens out, eventually into a lake, it is completely frozen. So I wandered over that way to take a shot. My shadow is about dead centre. The protruding rock walls to the right are boat launch in summer. Vehicles can back right down to the river'sedge to get their craft in and out of the water.

Today will also be quiet except for a little open house drop-in for a short while this afternoon. Tomorrow, we will have the kids. It's the only day of the hols for which we have been tasked with childcare. Since it will be warmer, we hope to get them out to the little, local hill for a bit of sledding.