Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It's My Sweat ...

... and I'll Complain if I Want To, Complain if I Want To ... la la la

Well yes, it was another rather hot day here in The Capital. And while Methatiam is no doubt correct (in yesterday's comments) about it being hotter in Phoenix than here, let me tell you that I'm not calling our home and native land The Great White North today. In this humidity, you can't move without sweating. If you don't believe me, ask me if I really had two showers today. Oh yes, I certainly did. And the day's not over!

Shower #1 came after our bike ride. We went in the morning to avoid some of the heat, and I'm sure it helped, but we certainly broke a sweat as they say. Although I'm not sure if it really counts if you break a sweat simply by scratching your elbow or something of the like.

Not being terribly clever, I deduced that after showering, I should do some yardwork. Right AC, not clever at all. Hence, Shower #2.

This evening, we thought that it was getting cooler, so we shut off the AC (the other AC) and opened the windows. We shouldn't have. No really. For I am nigh unto dripping again, just from the exertion of moving my fingers, you see.

I know that it will get hotter, and I shan't keep nattering on about it. Promise. But it's still May, and I reserve the right to harangue the world, which is pretty well what I am doing right now, when temperatures go into the nineties before June. I mean, it's another three weeks until it's officially summer. Good grief Charlie Brown.

Back to Arizona photos. I am switching from Canyon de Chelly to Monument Valley for the time being. It was our mostest favouritest part of the trip, so I will no doubt have more photos from here than anywhere — before I'm done if not already.

The first photo shows The Totem, The Dancers and the Mother and Child. If you go to this version you can see notes as to what's what right on the photo.

Cuppa took the next two as is quite obvious in the first. In case you miss it here is the clue: look for who is holding the camera to her eyes. I also thought you'd like the old sign in the last photo. I wonder just how old it is?


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Just Checking In


Well yes, it has been a while between posts. Has it not? Visitors and tasks have been keeping me busy. One ongoing task is to keep plugging away at our Arizona photos. I seldom post or print a photo that isn't touched up in some way, so it all takes time. Most frequently, the touching up has to do with brightness and minor sharpening — at least if the photo is halfway decent to begin with. One thing that I am doing better with most photos at picture-taking-time seems to be composition; very few of the Arizona photos have been cropped in any way.

These two are both from Canyon de Chelly and rather speak for themselves. In the second, below, Cuppa gazes up with the guide and Aussie Glen. One thing that I do like about most of the Arizona photos, apart from rocks and scenery, of course, is the sky. It is quite clear, blue and wonderful in most of the pictures.

Meanwhile, let me tell you that it's hotter in Ontario today than it ever was in Arizona. Oh, not necessarily in temperature, but it will get close to 90°F today, and with the load of humidity that we get it will feel about ten degrees warmer. That's the official line, but compared to Arizona heat, I think the difference is greater than that. But that's just me.

In any event, we have shut the house and put on the air conditioning for the first time this year. While we'd really like to put this off until June, it can't be helped. The forecasts tell us that after some rain and thunderstorms, temperatures will revert to more seasonal norms by the ends of the week.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006


... to my Arizona blogging friends

After a thoroughly miserable weekend — in terms of weather, at least — it turned warm and sunny today. A combination of the Arizona trip and the weather has reduced our cycling dramtically lately. In fact, it's been more than a month since we last hit the saddles, and we are approximately 450 km behind last year's efforts.

Whatever! it was almost 70°F today, and we couldn't resist. Whilst I was still working on computer things this morning, Cuppa informed me that she had packed a lunch and was ready to ride. So, that's what we did, and the pictures show the view where we ate, at a dam by the Mississippi, about seven km downstream of here.

As I contemplated our surroundings, I thought that I would like to share some of our local scenery with all of you but especially my Arizona friends. I so appreciated your landscapes, and I hope that you like seeing our abundant water and trees and greenery.

I believe that Cuppa is in the throws of posting a few more pics on Brown Betty Brew.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Getting With It

After posting At Loose Ends earlier today, I have managed to get with it a bit set my hand to a few things, including working a bit of some Arizona photos. These are from our Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona. It was quite remarkable where that jeep went — and scary at times to. We went places where I didn't think motorized vehicles could possibly go. That's Cuppa way up there in the last pic.

At Loose Ends

Well, it's over. The May long weekend has come and gone. Queen Victoria has been feted yet again.

Company came and went. We did the usual things — some touring of local towns and the National (Art) Gallery. We had lunches out and lunches in and snacks aplenty wherever we went and whenever we could.

Too bad about the weather though. It was and remains simply awful: cold, windy, and rainy. The weekend which is the traditional gardening weekend in these environs was anything but this year, not that we would have anyway, but I'm sure that others were rather denied their much anticipated digging in the soil.

And so, I have read (but not commented on) your blog this morning. But now I sit. I am at loose ends, at sixes and sevens as they say. I need to do (much) more work on my Arizona pictures, but I don't really feel like it. I am in the middle of a decent book, but not right now thank you. I need to get back to my exercises after a month-long hiatus, and I probably will — later — but not just now. I could blog, but I don't feel up to it, so I won't. Hah!

I guess that it's often like this after the event. You have a good time on the mountaintop, and then you awake in the valley of reality the next day. It's okay in the valley; valleys are very fine places. Trees grow in valleys; streams flow; and, the soil is fertile. And you can look up and see the peaks all around you and begin to ponder which one you should climb next.

As I gaze upward, I begin to tie some of the loose ends together.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Code and The Church

Just last night, we and the kids went to the movies: to see Mission Impossible. It was truly remarkable what the protagonist and his little band of agents could accomplish: such as plan and execute sophisticated operations within incredibly short periods of time. My goodness: in no time flat, they were able to cross time zones and a ocean, devise a plan to surreptitiously obtain a secret somethingorother from one of the most secure sites in the world, fly through the air with the greatest of ease, and escape all of the intelligence agents in China.

It almost revolutionized my view of the world. Super humans exist, and god does look like Tom Cruise.

You must think me terribly silly. "My goodness AC, get ahold of yourself boy; it's just a movie. It's make-believe — by definition! Don't you see?"

Well, yes, as a matter of fact I do see. That's what we've always known movies to be: make-believe, escapism, fantasy — not truth, although it might be argued that there is a genre that causes us to examine reality in some way. But not Mission Impossible! Not Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not Back to the Future. Not ... well, I'm sure that you take my point.

So why, I wonder, the angst and vexation over The Da Vinci Code?

Does The Church seriously believe that all us sheep (or are we goats rather? :) will be gullibly led off the straight and narrow so very easily? Really now: do they credulously posit that a lifetime of belief could be so easily undone: in a theater while watching an adventure thriller of approximately two hours duration?

I read the book (opinion succinctly expressed here) and didn't find it to be nearly as wonderful as the proclamations. Frankly, I expect even less of the film. In point of fact, I expect it to be almost as atrocious as Mission Impossible. But I will go and see it and hope for the best.

Whatever my state of faith, I expect it to be unaltered by The Da Vinci Code. I'm not sure why The Church and the faithful have so little faith in their convictions and beliefs. My goodness, they seem to be ready to launch the next crusade to defend the Rock of Ages, whom I expect will remain stalwart and uncrumbling when the credits roll on this silly, little flick.

The omniscient They say, "Pick your battles. Make sure that the hill is worth defending." I ask whether this a hill worth dying on? I think not. Surely there are more important battles to be fought, more significant hills that might be worth dying upon.

I have posted these highly intelligent thoughts (hey! it's the best I can do!) just in case you have been waiting with bated breath to know what the AC might think. Thank you very much.


37 Years

Not too very long ago, I watched Oprah and Dr Robin Smith counsel a couple regarding their impending marriage. The couple was in their thirties; the bride-to-be was experiencing some little doubts and reservations. Oprah was adamant that you always listen to that little voice. Smith believes that you shouldn't get married until you could show up in truth. I probably recall and summarize dimly and inadequately, but that is more or less the sum and substance as I remember it.

I admire both ladies, their intelligence and perspicacity. Robin is amazing, and Oprah is ... well, she's Oprah, and I would be foolish to argue against either. Of course, you should listen to your inner voice; of course, you should show up to the marriage as a truthful, genuine, and engaged person. To some extent, however, I couldn't help but feel that both ladies were running their agendas. Oprah exults about never being married, and it was my sense that she wished that for others. Dr Smith appeared to have had a less than satisfactory marriage and may have been projecting her experiences onto this couple. Perhaps not: they are both much more intelligent than I. Besides that, I have my own filters that are too often wrong.

It's not all about character, I suppose, but character is very important in my little opinion. You can be young, not fully formed, but if you have character and integrity, you can make it work. Not that I'd advise youth to rush into the holy state ... I'm just saying that it's possible. It's possible, even against the odds.

Cuppa and I celebrated our 37th anniversary yesterday. Good grief. Obviously, we married young, and, just as obviously, we made a go of it. It wasn't a struggle against all odds either. In fact, it has been a rather smooth voyage, not one over choppy waters, not one that tempest-tossed us mercilessly in squally seas.

Yes, I think that character, commitment, integrity, and sincerity are pretty darn important, and I rather think that Oprah and Dr Robin would agree. We're probably not even saying anything really different, maybe just emphasizing different sides of the same coin of truth.

The old couple enjoying a mountaintop experience in Sedona, Arizona.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Forty-years ago, give or take, my friend Ron called to enthuse over his latest and greatest coup. He had scored (as we are wont to say nowadays) two tickets to a hockey game at Maple Leaf Gardens: not just any hockey game, but one between those arch rivals — the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. We had already attended a few games together at the Gardens — in standing room way at the top and way at the back — but we eagerly anticipated enjoying a game from these well-situated seats.

Previously, we had paid a few bucks for the privilege of standing during a hockey game. We'd get there early, queue up with anticipation, and race up the stairs just as soon as they threw open the gates. We were young then and could do that: run up long flights of stairs and then stand for hours. I don't think we even got puffed or tired. We'd stand and cheer the heroic warriors without care or pain for as long as the game endured.

But these tickets were special, they were seats, very good seats, in the blue section. They cost us $5 each, that's $10 for the pair for the math-challenged amongst you. As I said, I believe that the game was between Montreal and Toronto and I also believe that when the ice chips had settled the score was 5-5. Perhaps Ron has a different recollection, but the years have put distance between us, and he pretty well eschews fellowship with the likes of me anymore. It's rather disappointing really but irrelevant to subject of this blog — although you can probably discern a modicum of hurt and resentment on my part.

Fast forward to almost to almost two weeks ago when the kids picked us up at the airport upon our return to The Great White North (which is actually pretty darn green in May). They told us about the playoff game that they had just attended between the Ottawa Senators and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Sens had hung on in a thrilling finish to win the match and advance to the next round. Then, "If we can some tickets for another game, would you guys be interested?"

That question almost seems rhetorical, n'est ce pas? Am I not a red-blooded Canucklehead? Is Ottawa not my home town? Is Billy Graham not saved? Is GWB not a humanitarian, a visionary leader, and a statesman? Okay, okay, would you grant me the first three points?

And so, we went. We broke bread (or forked macaroni) together at mid-afternoon on Saturday afternoon and headed off to the arena. The Boy, pleased with the offer of my camera, eagerly and gratefully commandeered it and proceeded to snap a gazillion pictures or about 450, whichever number is bigger. He has posted the one above on Flickr, so I grabbed it to help decorate this post.

In the event, we had a grand time. It turned out that we were seated in the last row of the arena, the one just before standing room, but due to modern engineering genius, we didn't feel far away from the ice and were able to see the whole sheet clearly. The Boy had a ball playing with the camera, while Butterfly, Cuppa and I cheered lustily and mightily — to no avail as it turned out.

But I must say that we had a blast. The game was tremendously exciting, even if the home team lost a heartbreaker in overtime.

Times change. I was in a modern arena and not venerable and staid Maple Leaf Gardens. I cheered for a team that wasn't in existence then and against another of similar history, or lack thereof. There is much more show and hoopla now. Back then, we went and watched and cheered somehwat restrainedly. It was quite wonderful actually, but it's a hyped entertainment package now — maybe too much so. Back then, Ron and I paid $10 for a pair of good seats. On Saturday, Cuppa and I paid $110 for two discounted seats in the nosebleed section. Even standing room cost $50 per person — I know because I found a discarded ticket.

Yup, things change more rapidly than I, for, as I was adjusting to the price, I was reminded by Dear Daughter that a hundred bucks is pretty cheap for a night out. That sounds like the type of thing that I would have told my own parents not all that long ago, and I'm sure I did.

And so it appears that I have become my parents and my daughter has become me.

It's been more than a week since I posted. After writing three blogs shortly after we arrived home, I became a little caught up with the minutia of life. And when I was able to cobble together a few bits of spare time, I tended to find myself working on holiday photos. I have uploaded many of them to Flickr, but have now split the pics into several groups. If you are interested you can go to my main page and access the Arizona Sets on the left side of the page.

I'm pretty darn sure that I will blog more about the trip, but I'm not sure when because the ToDo list remains rather formidable.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Desert Botanical Gardens

The Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix in the early evening were the highlight of the first day of our Arizona Holiday.

After rising before five o'clock Eastern time, we landed in Phoenix around 4:30pm Eastern or 1:30pm Pacific. We hadn't eaten much all day long. We had thought that we would have been able to supplement our six-o'clock bagel with the promised breakfast on the Ottawa-Toronto flight. In the event, said breakfast consisted of a thimble-size portion of juice and naught else. I don't have a particular problem with that, but the reservations had specified that breakfast would be available.

Of course, there was no time to secure sustenance in the Toronto airport where we shuttled and walked approximately ninety-nine and a half mile, got scanned yet again, and cleared customs. Food was offered on the Phoenix flight, but it wasn't very attractive to either of us, so we declined the purchase.

So it was that we didn't have breakfast until eleven hours after our morning bagel. Yes, it was breakfast at IHOP. We don't have IHOPs in Canada, but we found that they served decent food at a decent price, and we ate there several times.

After breakfast, we were ready to begin the tour. The Frommers travel guide that I had purchased recommended a the Botanical Gardens at sunset; we did it and quite enjoyed the visit. Cacti of all sorts and shapes abounded: quite a treat for northerners who had seen nary a one until then. (If all Frommers guides were as helpful as this one, I recommend them unhesitatingly.)

As you can see in the first photo below, the lowering sun cast most wonderful colours, and the birds were very busy getting ready for the night. Birdsong filled the warm air as they flitted in and out of their nests in the cacti (second photo). As we were leaving, I was able to capture what is arguably my best trip photo (last one below). We thoroughly enjoyed this visit.

I've changed the Flickr photos in the sidebar to the Arizona set, so if you're ever in the mood for more, you can click here or on any of the pictures. If you do click a photo, you will then be redirected to a larger version that particular picture, but you then can access the whole set if you look to the right of the photo. (I should find a way to make it easier for you, and I probably will.)

I also wouldn't be surprised if more photos appear on Cuppa's blog in the near future. In fact, I would be surprised if she didn't publish more.



Friday, May 05, 2006

Technical Glitches

Sometimes, life makes me scratch my head a little bit. Lately, I have experienced a series of rather odd technical glitches. None has been catastrophic, and all are in hand, but some have been rather perplexing, and, taken as a series, it seems rather puzzling.

The train wreck commenced last Wednesday at the Grand Canyon. We entered the park from the less-used, eastern entrance, and spent quite some time at the Watchtower (photo above). After taking a plethora of photos and then enjoying a picnic lunch at the rim (photo below), we set off for the second overlook where a million little bugs (non-biting, thank goodness) swarmed us and set us scurrying to the next stop. Where my camera stopped working.

Oh yes, remember the new camera bag and the new 2 gig memory card? I was all set to take a lot of photos and and had already enjoyed a fine start. Then it stopped working. Right at the grand Canyon. Could the timing have been any worse? A little fiddling soon revealed that it wasn't the camera but the lens. My telephoto lens still worked, but the normal lens wouldn't focus. Effectively, my picture-taking was kaput, for telephoto lenses, while very useful in the right place, are not usually what one requires for scenery, especially when one is cheek-by-jowl with the grand Grand Canyon.

Needless to say, this put quite a damper on my spirits. Oh, I tried not to let it get me down, but it did. I couldn't help it. To shorten this part of the account, let me jump to the next day. I took it into a camera store in Sedona where they were quite interested in tracking the problem. Eventually, they stuck my lens into a new camera, and it worked. They put it back into my camera, and it worked. It still works. No one can explain this, but I was so pleased to have my camera back that I didn't care.

Glitch 2 was quite explicable. It was my fault — a brain cramp. After filling a memory card and then deleting some pictures, Cuppa asked me to check how much space was available. I did — not much. I hit OK ... and deleted 150 pictures. I had thought that I was saying, "OK, I'm Done," but I was really saying, "OK, go ahead and erase." Sick feeling ensues. Fortunately, I had enough presence of mind to put the card away until we got home. I would take it into a camera store and beg for assistance or find a program to restore erased files. I did the latter, and was able to retrieve all but about ten of the photos. Phew! Catastrophe averted.

Glitch 3: you may also remember me saying that I could store photos on my iPod if necessary. Because Cuppa was filling up flash memory cards at a rapid rate, as Cuppa and only Cuppa can, and I was fearful of her running out of cards, I dumped one of her cards onto the iPod. Fortunately, I forgot to clear it. In this case, my memory lapse worked for the best because my iPod stopped functioning on the very next day. That's right, folks. It wouldn't turn on, wouldn't recharge. Nothing. At least I had left the memory card intact, and the pictures weren't gone. The next day, however, I decided to try the iPod again, and it worked. Go figure.

Glitch 4 was not really a holiday glitch, but seems totally connected to this weird, all-within-a-week, sequence. The first thing my computer did when I got home and turned it on was to update my Browser: Firefox. I have gone through this updating process, without hitch, many times. But not this time. No, this time, all my Bookmarks (Favorites) were wiped out. Every last one. All of the feeds to your blogs too. It's not entirely convenient but not catastrophic either. I have your addresses in my blogroll or can find the newer ones form comments, so the feeds can be rebuilt. Favorites can be re-found as the need arises.

I am rather stunned that so many technical glitches occurred in such a short time span. The blame for two — the erased memory card and the lost Bookmarks — can be laid solely on my own sorrowfully sagging shoulders, but I have no explanation for either the camera or the iPod. How and why would devices stop working and then then start again?

Odd indeed!


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Be It Ever So Humble

Yes, it's true, you lucky little bloggers. The Mighty and Redoubtable Cloud is back: the windy AC blowing hot, not cold, air your way. I guess that makes him a rather faulty old AC. Eh?

This is actually our second day home, and, truth be told, I'm not altogether certain that I am up to writing even a scrap of coherent thought, as the first paragraph makes readily apparent. But when has that ever stopped me, I ask you?

You see, in addition to the normal travel-weariness that has settled deep within the core of my being, I am still suffering from a small bout of what I shall affectionately term Montezuma's Revenge. No, we didn't go to Mexico, and, therefore, I didn't drink the water, but I did do something that in retrospect turns out to be rather reckless. Mind you, I had considered the possible ramifications aforehand but had rejected the conclusion because, through the years, my stomach has been known to gladly assimilate just about whatever I durst shove into it.

Notwithstanding, on the eve prior to a long plane trip home, and I do mean long in terms of tedium at least, I really should have exercised a modicum of discretion. Really.

But, no, discretion proves not to be my forte, and I chose to eat Mexican food. After all, when in Arizona ... eat Mexican?

Apparently so because that is what bloggers Methatiam and Chelsea enthusiastically and charitably invited us to do whilst in Phine Phoenix. And, of course, heedless of the possible consequences, we happily and equally enthusiastically consented. In the event, we enjoyed a rather grand evening at the something or other del Cantino. We broke bread together, or fajitas rather, and chatted amiably for several hours. Most pleasant indeed.

Until the next morning, that is. Bright bloggers such as you require not the blow by blow (ahem) details. You can fill in the blanks. And I had to be in a plane for almost five hours! And I wasn't in an aisle seat! And the seats were prodigiously uncomfortable to begin with. It's true. Of the four planes that we were privileged to fly on this trip, this was the most uncomfortable, which is really saying rather a lot unless one happens to have accumulated enough filthy lucre to fly Executive Class (s'cuse me guv). If the gods had to inflict such a miserable conveyance upon us why could it not have been on one of the short one-hour hops between Toronto and Ottawa? I know not.

Whatever! Almost seventy-two hours after that meal, I am still not completely recovered. I thought I was. I really did, but then I had lunch today ...

Oh, I confess that I hyperbolize just a tad for the benefit of the narrative. It hasn't been quite as bad as I let on. And it was well worth it. We did have a great trip. Touring Arizona and seeing the sites was magnificently marvellous. What incredible geography — even beyond the Grand Canyon. Of course you know that I will tell you more in days to come. (No, you don't need to yawn already!) And in addition to meeting Methatiam and Chelsea in Phine Phoenix, we were also able to get together with Paul and Julie (of Wondering!) in Fine Flagstaff. Bloggers are nice people, but I think you already knew that. (We spent such little time in Phoenix that we unable to meet with Oshee. Next time for sure.)

But John Payne was right you know?

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble there's no place like home!

We're back in verdant Ontario with its plentiful freshwater (it's raining right now) and our cozy little domicile and our wonderful kids who picked us up at the airport at midnight and that charming feline who is helping me compose this by spilling his furry little carcass somewhat beyond the smidgen of his allotted space beside the computer.

The first pic is of Methatiam and Chelsea and the second of Paul and Julie.