Monday, December 11, 2023


Friday evening. An unusual games night with Shauna and the kids at theirs.. Sitting around talking, waiting for the pizza to arrive.

The doorbell rings. Sue can see the doorway from where she was sitting. She gasps and cries a little. Hmm . . . neither pizza or the deliverer normally cause much emotuon. 

I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I know immediately that, somehow, our other kid, PJ, must be at the door. PJ lives more than 2000 miles (3500k) away in Vancouver, but I just know. The kids encourage me to go to the door, but I have already guessed.

Of course, I do go to the door for greetings and hugs.

Indeed, the surprise was planned and executed very well indeed. I mean to say that our little family has been known to play games when we are together, but we've never had a dedicated game night. It did seem unusual, but we didn't suspect anything,

Of course, the pizza also arrived in the fulness of time, and we did play games, and we did think to grab a few phone photos. Under the conditions, they aren't the best.

On the other hand, they are also the best, if you know what I mean.

It was a short visit from Friday evening to Sunday morning when PJ drove to Toronto to visit friends and to put in a few days of work before flying back to Vancouver.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Twenty Minutes Seems Like a Different Country

Our growing town which lies 20 minutes beyond the western fringes of Ottawa is a pretty white community. And  most of us speak in what we affirm to be proper and unaccented Canadian English. We are pretty sure about our English being the best.

Recently, Sue and I drove into the city to purchase a new computer.

It's only about a 20 minute drive to the western part of Ottawa. After driving through undeveloped land, we are suddenly in the city, and it looks very different.

We pull into a big suburban mall and enter a big, electronics box store. At the door, we are greeted by a very nice, young man who has a very heavy accent. He appears to be from India or at least the Indian subcontinent.

I am looking for a new computer, and he accompanies us to the appropriate section of the huge store. There, a sales person takes over. He is black but speaks with a typical Canadian accent and guides me through the confusing purchase.

After solidifying the order, he takes us to tech support to resolve how they will help us set up the new beast. The lady wears a head covering. She speaks very softly with an accent.

Sue strains to hear and understand her and then relays the messages to hearing-impaired me. I respond, and we manage to communicate in this three-way dialog.

We leave the store and stop at a restaurant where we are served by a black lady.

It is a bit like a different country, not much more than 20 minutes away from our town. Of course, really another part of our multicultural nation. It is still good, ole Canada, and we all get along.

It’s a good place, this Canada.

Saturday, December 09, 2023

The Other Five-Letter Word Game

Everyone knows about Wordle, and many play it daily. We do that and share our results with the family. It's not a competition, but it makes a little link with the others when that might be the only communication of the day.

At our tree party, JJ introduced us to Waffle:

There are six words to be guessed: three across and three down.
Green letters are correct and in the right spots.

Orange letters are correct, but not in the right spot. For example, the S in the first across is part of the word beginning with R and ending with E, but it is in the wrong place. However, the R at the end of the second word across could also be in the word for the third word down.

All tiles will be used, eventually, but the white letters are completely in the wrong place.

If that doesn't make sense, the rules are on the website, and they will become clear once you play a game or two.

Here I am ↓ after making 5 swaps in the above ↑ puzzle. I have figured out  the word, ENTRY, and moved the Q and I to the right spots.

I have missed a few solutions while getting used to the game, but, often, I can solve it with 3 swaps remaining. I'm not great at puzzles, so you will quite possibly do better after a few tries and depending on how seriously you work at it.

In this game, I have solved the puzzle with 4 swaps examining. My record is 5 swaps, and I have accomplished it a few times. Of course, I almost rant out of swaps on the next game that I played.

If you're a Wordle aficionado, you'll probably also like Waffle.

Friday, December 08, 2023

Mortons, Al, and the Hackberry Shed

Sue's uncle was quite artistic and did a lot of wood carving in his day. I'm not sure where most of his work ended up since he did not have a family to pass it along to. He created many masks among other things, but we were unaware of this ↓ carving, which he could have created anytime from 25 to 75 years ago.

Morton was Sue's maiden name, and this piece recently wound its way to her after her nephew, who still bore the name, Morton, died a few years ago.

The question was what to do with it. We have neither the space nor inclination to hang a wood carving  that is more than a meter (or yard) long. Eventually, Sue thought about adding legs and turning it into a low table. When we ran into Al at the pharmacy, she asked him about whether the Men's Shed might  take it on as a project. 

This is Al in the Shed. He was our neighbour for a number of years,
and he is still being quite active in in the community despite
being in his late eighties or even early nineties.

When the little project was completed, we headed over to the shed to pick it up and, of course, take some pictures.

In case are you are wondering, Men's Shed is international in scope after starting in Australia. These local gentlemen, among others, are part of the local Hackberry Men's Shed. There is an unusual stand of hackberry trees in our town, and it seems to be an appropriate name for a group that mostly works on wood projects.

Members don't have to be involved in woodworking, but it probably helps in this particular chapter. I have been told that I could be a part of this group, but I don't think my personality and interests would mesh very well.

There are several Men's Shed chapters, just in our little region. Maybe there is one near you. If not, perhaps you or someone you know might be interested in starting one.

The following description is from the Australian organization's website.

Most men have learned from our culture that they don’t talk about feelings and emotions many do not take an interest in their own health and well-being. Unlike women, most men are reluctant to talk about their emotions and that means that they usually don’t ask for help. Probably because of this, many men are less healthy than women, drink more, take more risks and suffer more from isolation, loneliness and depression.

Relationship breakdown, retrenchment or early retirement from a job, loss of children following divorce, physical or mental illness are just some of the problems that men may find difficult to deal with on their own. Good health is based on many factors including feeling good about yourself, being productive, contributing to your community, connecting with friends and maintaining an active body and mind. Becoming a member of a Men’s Shed provides a safe and busy environment where men can find many of these things in an atmosphere of old-fashioned mateship. And, importantly, there is no pressure.

Men can just come and have a yarn and a cuppa if that is all they’re looking for. Members of Men’s Sheds come from all walks of life – the bond that unites them is that they are men with time on their hands and would like something meaningful to do with that time. A good Men’s Shed has a Management Committee that has developed a safe and happy environment where men are welcome to work on community projects, specific Men’s Shed projects or a project of their choice in their own time and where the only ‘must’ is to observe safe working practices….all in a spirit of mateship. The Men’s Shed movement has now become one of the most powerful tools in addressing health and wellbeing and helping men to once again become valued and productive members of our community.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023


Just in case you were wondering, yes, we did.

🎄 Cheers 🎅


This post was all set to go when Sue created another photo (shown below). She was responding to a theme involving the prompts, vintage and cordial, and I think it is an especially good photo. The glass is vintage pinwheel crystal, and a nice drink can be very cordial, which is also depicted in the photo above with Sue and me sharing a time together.

The Day after the Storm

The day after the first storm, the snow was still sticking to the trees, which is a bit unusual. Trees were covered beautifully all the way into Ottawa, but, of course, we weren't taking pictures. Once we returned home, we headed around the corner to the little park. It is called Anthony Curro Park, whoever he might be, but we always have trouble with remembering the name, and I usually satisfy myself by calling it Arlo Guthrie Park.

Unusual for me, I remembered my big camera. Not so unusual for me, I forgot to insert a memory card. So, it was back to phone photography. I've been doing too much of that lately. I hereby resolve to do better.

The pond is largely frozen now; in the end, only a small section by the intake to the left will remain unfrozen,

The problem for photography in this park is that there is housing in most directions, but these trees were worth capturing anyway.

These and the next one of Sue were a few of mine. I can guarantee that Sue took many more.

It all looks clean and pristine doesn't it? The great irony is that it is dirty travelling weather. The roads are messy, and it splashes up onto the cars. Our windshield wipers get utilized often, and the cars get ridiculously dirty.


Of course, and as you can see above, Sue was also taking pictures, but this ↓ one was quite unexpected — to both of us, I think.

She had been taking a wide, sweeping pano by moving her phone from left to right. Suddenly she got around  to me. Quite unexpectedly to both of us but especially to me, as is perhaps evident from the stunned look on my face. That, my friends, is how I look at most times of most days.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Baptized into Winter

Winter has arrived with a bit of a bang — somewhat literally.

When I looked out the window yesterday morning, I saw that I had a little problem. You can see it if you look to the right of the garage roofline between the road and sidewalk. The street plows had  . . .  um . . . plowed us in. It got a little worse later after the sidewalk plow came by and added to the barrier.

Six days out of seven that wouldn't be a concern because we don't have to punch a clock to get anywhere. But I had a physio appointment at 9am for my torn rotator cuff and guys like me who are having physio for that little problem should not, I repeat not, be shovelling heavy snow. And that snow was heavy.

Sue contacted our driveway guys to see if they could be here by 8:30.

They could, and they arrived. They are very good that way.

When I looked out the window, I saw that the machine had stalled, so I finished getting dressed and went downstairs.

He was gone by the time I opened the garage door , but the job wasn't finished, and there was glass all over the driveaway. Neighbours reported that he had broken his windshield after, apparently, picking up one of the rocks that line our driveway. The rocks have been there for years without a problem, but the operator misjudged a little..

I stood by uselessly while Sue and two neighbour guys cleared the glass, and by the grace of my helpers, I made it to physio on time.

The therapist must have been feeling feisty because she proceeded to dig her vice-like fingers into my delicate shoulder most viciously. They say that this is good for me. Huh.

I survived her ministrations and was almost home when I thought to turn about and get a few provisions.

Silly me left his bags in the car. At the checkout I just dumped them back into the cart to bag at the car. At least it wasn't too cold to bag outside — just a little below freezing without much wind.

On the way home from the store, I stopped for this quick phone pic of the ice and snow clinging to the trees and bushes.

I would say that winter is most definitely here and that it baptized us very well on the first day of its true arrival.


Sue also took advantage of the snow for her daily prompt that was to show where her feet were at noon.