Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No Goal In Sight

I my later years, I haven't watched a lot of sports on TV. I grew up normally, I think, and watched sports, particularly hockey and football, like other guys. Then, I pretty well stopped. I'd still often try to catch important games at times: hockey playoffs, the Grey Cup or the Super Bowl, but I miss my share of those too. Cuppa and I catch some tennis — Wimbledon, the Canadian and US Opens — and some figure skating, such as the World Championships.

Just this week, however, I decided to watch some of the Soccer World Cup; soccer is what the rest of the world calls football. I guess they call it the beautiful game, and I suppose that it is in many ways, but, from what I've just seen, I don't think that North America is going to embrace it passionately anytime soon. I have watched most of three games and parts of a fourth over the past two days. That's more than five hours of football (one game went into extra time), and I've been rewarded by seeing only two goals scored. Only two measly goals!

Yesterday, the Swiss and Ukrainians couldn't produce one goal between them in two hours of play. Not one goal! They barely had scoring chances. Earlier in the day, I saw Italy defeat Australia by score of 1-0 via a very cheesy penalty kick in the last few seconds. England won by the same score over Ecuador, the day before, on a free kick. No team in the three-plus games that I have watched has scored a goal as a result of clever and talented play-making. Not one goal!

While I admire the skill of these athletes and the passion of the fans, I find myself disappointed in the unfolding of the games themselves. Soccer has tried to make inroads in North America for years, but at this rate, I can't see that it will ever be a huge draw on this continent (except for Mexico, of course). I don't know a lot about the game, but I gather that it's so huge that it would be very hard to bring changes to it. In hockey, one league — the NHL — rules the roost. After a number of years of deterioration, they were able to rejuvenate the game in this past season. Once again, it became a contest of speed and skill as opposed to clutching and grabbing, but in soccer/football, I'm pretty darn sure that it would be extremely difficult to make changes.

Despite my criticisms, I'm sort of hooked and will most likely keep watching to see how the whole event unfolds. It's good to feel some connection with this grand world spectacle after all. Besides, it's almost eleven o'clock and Brazil is about to play. Surely, surely, they will be good for a goal or three. Hope springs eternal, eh?

Saturday, June 24, 2006


The other night I dragged Cuppa to the park to try a photo technique that didn't work out very well. But I did get this photo of her, and I quite like it. The trees seem to have arranged themselves to make her the natural focal point as she gazes toward sun setting beyond the trees on the far side of the Mississippi river.

I was just reading Simply Coll who was observing that her blogging is taking a back seat to the great outdoors these day. It may be more of a winter activity for her, and I think that it's somewhat true for me too. I don't seem to want to write at either length or depth these days, but I do want to keep in touch by writing little blurbs and posting photos until the mood returns. Meanwhile, rest assured that I am following your own musings with bated breath, even when I choose to remain silent.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Find

By golly, we're having a windy week. So far, we've only been out on the bike once: twice if you count doing a few errands around town. However, the one time the weather did provide the for a real ride, we managed to churn as far as Almonte and that did get us to the magical 20mi/30km threshold that I mentioned last week. But for this morning, at least, we rest and accomplish other things: for example, cutting the grass and writing a blog — a little blog but a blog nonetheless.

The other day, we received an email from a friend whose daughter is getting married in a few weeks. She'd been to all of the Ottawa Wal-Marts to buy flowers for the church. Since we live outside of the city, she asked if there one near us that we could check. Well, it's not terribly near, about a half hour away in Smiths Falls, but what the heck — you do go out of your way to help friends, don't you? Besides, that was yet another windy day: not good for riding.

I threw the camera and tripod in the car because I'd heard there were ospreys nesting by a certain bridge near the river. I don't know the town very very and didn't know where the bridge was and wasn't necessarily planning to really, really hunt for the site, but I went prepared anyway. Lo and behold, shortly after pulling out of Wal-Mart, I chanced to glance left. Didn't I see a bridge, and didn't I see a pole with a big nesting box on top in the distance?

We found our way to the nest, and I took a few pictures. Of course, I'll include one, below. It's a little phony because I replaced the sky. It was a cloudy day, and this photo had nothing but cloud in the background, almost white, certainly not appealing. I know that this rendered sky is rather ersatz in appearance, but it still beats the original. Look at the long branch that he's carrying! Note: you might want to click the larger version of this one.

It's not a great photo, but it's my photo, and I feel good about getting the shot regardless.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Good Question

Beware: because whenever someone says, "Good question," as some of you did in response to my Fodder's Day post, you're likely to get a lousy answer. But, you did ask about geocaching, so I'll attempt to tell you although I am a rank (but not an odiferous) novice.

First off, you need a GPS. Does that sound geeky and highfalutin to you? Let me tell you how and why we got our little unit, and let me start by revealing that my Cuppa has no sense of direction. She can sit in a house and neghbourhood that she has lived in for donkey's years (whatever they are, but my mother used to say that) and point to (or try to point to) something familiar, like the corner store. Almost without fail, she will point in the wrong direction.

So it was that when we finally replaced our ancient but wonderful Corolla a few years ago that she nigh unto demanded that we purchase an in-car compass as one of our options. Our in laws had one in their vehicle, and Cuppa's sister, who is almost as directionally challenged, swore by it (I said 'by' not 'at'). For whatever silly reason, Honda couldn't supply one with our model, and we thought to have a third party unit installed. It would cost around $300, but Cuppa would feel better about life.

Then it came to me. Why not buy a GPS that would cost the same amount? A GPS would provide more information than a compass and would have the advantage of being portable. I had become slightly familiar with this technology because the geography department of my high school had purchased several, and we had borrowed one for our trips: out west in 2000 and down east in 2001. But, being a painfully honest soul, I returned it to the department when I retired.

So, that's how we came to own one of these newfangled devices. It's not a fancy one that talks to you, and we pretty well use it as a glorified compass, but it does come with basic map information, and you can purchase and upload more. We have yet to do that but may do so at some point. Cuppa even takes it with us when we bike. It tells us how fast we are going, how far we've gone, our speed at any given moment, elevation, and, of course, direction.

So, what is this Geocaching all about? It's fairly simple. Someone will hide a cache that generally contains a notepad on which the visitor can document his find. It usually has a few trinkets, and you may take one and leave another. It's something to do: a hobby, a challenge. We have done very little of it and have kept it simple, but the great adventurers can go to great lengths — hide their caches in difficult, barely accessible spots.

You can find caches listed at Geocaching - The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site. If I type in my postal code and the radius which interests me, I get a list a caches. For example: there are 14 caches hidden within a five mile radius of our house, and 29 within a ten mile circle.

When you click on a cache listing, you will get the co-ordinates and a brief description. If others have looked, they can log their experience, sometimes giving additional clues. Then, you go out and search. We have looked for three, found one, pretty well given up on another, and need to have another look for the third now that we have figured out which side of the river to look on.

So, how was the answer?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fodder's Day

When he's not thinking about it, that's the way that my French SIL says 'father.' I think it's rather delightful, as is he and as was the day this year. Actually, it was more like two very satisfying days.

In an effort to avoid any possible Sunday crowds, the four of us headed to Wheeler's for brunch on Saturday. In case you don't know, the other three are Cuppa, Butterfly (daughter #1) and her husband, The Boy. Wheeler's is the Maple Sugar Bush and museum that Cuppa and I discovered earlier this year. Of course, I blogged about it a little back then: twice.

In any event, when we were last there, we were quite taken with the place and decided to return. We targetted Fodder's Day as a seemingly propitious time because the Showy Lady's Slipper Orchids open around then in a nearby conservation area called Purdon's. They're wild flowers, and this is possibly the premier site in the province in which to view them.

So, after brunch at Wheeler's and some picture taking (that's me and Butterfly outside the museum, above), we drove over to Purdon's. It's in the swampy woods, so with doused ourselves liberally with insect repellent and headed in. The official viewing celebration for the flowers is next weekend, so we didn't know whether we'd find many flowers open, but there we're plenty.

We walked along the boardwalk, and we all took pictures. Butterfly and The Boy also have Flcikr accounts and are avid posters. Sometimes I envy them their artistic flair. They both capture excellent images that escape my less artistic vision entirely. I used my telephoto lens, partly because many of Lady's Slippers were not terribly close to the boardwalk, and one simply wouldn't consider leaving the walkway and possibly tromping all over these specimens.

You can see the boardwalk the photo below, and you can see the AC, looking up in great surprise after having just taken a photo. When you look at the photo below that one you'll see why — there were three cameras staring at me!

We did a lot more on this fine weekend: wandered through the village of Lanark, saw X-Men (3): The Last Stand, had late night snacks and pizza, did some Geocaching, and had a bbq together. It was a wonderful Fodder's Day gift that they gave me: time. And Ladybug (daughter #2) called from Toronto with her wishes last night and told me that she and Powerpuff would be coming to visit on the Canada day weekend in two week's time. Neat eh?

Two more pictures below: the first of a silly old fellow taking pictures and the second is of the wild orchids themselves.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Check That

In reflecting on comments made to the previous post, I don't suppose that I really meant "goals," for I don't really believe in the modern craze of goal-setting. I rather suppose that I meant that as we do whatever it is that we all do, we naturally set up targets of sorts. Naturally, I said.

For example, when we set ourselves down to write a blog, most of us intend to finish it — usually, but not always, in one session. The intention to complete the blog doesn't negate the pleasure that generally accompanies the act of writing. Or, when we get in the car, I'm sure that most people have some sort of destination in mind most of the time. But, depending on other factors, they remain perfectly able to enjoy the journey.

We all set targets all of the time. We target ourselves to get out of bed by a certain hour so that we can get to work on time so that we can keep our jobs and collect our paychecks at week's end. Although many jobs are less than stimulating, for most it is the job itself that causes discontent not the target of receiving a regular paycheck. And when that target, the paycheck, lands in our hands or bank accounts, do we not feel rather good about it all?

I think that targets are more likely to enhance rather than detract from an activity. It's almost invariably more satisfying for me to get on my bike and pedal with some purpose the ten miles to Appleby by the river than to meander aimlessly about town. And I will feel jolly proud of myself when I add a few more miles and make it all of the way to Almonte (pronounce it without the 'e') and back.

That will add to the sense of accomplishment that I already feel every time that I go out and cycle about the countryside. But I do enjoy the ride too.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Excuses and Goals

The formidable Cuppa and I went cycling again today. At 17 miles, it was the furthest that we had pedalled this year. In fact, we hadn't made it further than that since August 25th of last year, just before our across-province move. Back in Sarnia, our normal distance was 20 miles, but we frequently travelled a little further, and actually traversed slightly more than 50 miles on our very best day last year.

Twenty miles seemed to be a natural route for us back there and then, for ten miles brought us to a turn-around point at the end of a trail where we could grab a coffee in the village and drink it upon the shores of beautiful Lake Huron. While there is a trail here, we generally choose not to follow it because it doesn't really lead anywhere within our comfort distance. So, rather than follow that trail, we follow another, shorter one that mixes with suburban and then county roads. Actually, it's mostly roads and, possibly, three or four total miles of trail riding (round trip).

However, the natural distance to a turn-around point is closer to 5 miles (or a 10 mile round trip). By adding a loop to that trip, we had recently increased our mileage by three or four, and, today, we added yet another loop which amounts to yet another three or four miles.

We're still short of our minimum distance from last year, but, let's face it, we're a year older and, in my case, a year heavier. What with the move and a bad back and settling closer to family, I admit to losing some control over my eating habits over the past few seasons. While I'm not quite back to my rather pondrous, pre-loss weight of January 2004, I am certainly at my heaviest over the past two years. It doesn't please me, but there it is. I like all the wrong foods, and I pile on the poundage very easily. But I know this and have no excuse — except for a glutinous disposition and very weak willpower.

The long and short of it is that we are 450 miles behind our pace of last year on this very same day, June 14, when we pedalled 33 miles (approximately double today's distance). One additional reason, of course, aside from the excuses that I could think of above, was our Arizona trip. What with the planning, the going, and the recovery, we shut down our riding for a whole month!

Just today though, as we begin to get closer to the magical (for us) 20 miles, but as I struggled valiantly over the last few miles, I realized that the distance sure doesn't tell the whole story. The miles here are fraught with slopes and grades, and that makes it much harder (especially on aging knees). My daughter, when she dropped over tonight, opined that we should count a whole mile for every hill that we were forced to negotiate. Wouldn't that beef up the totals nicely?

Still, despite my excuses — being a year older and many pounds heaver and having a more strenuous terrain with which to cope — I do have the goal of hitting that 20 mile mark, and I think that we'll manage it fairly soon. But not tomorrow. After cycling for two consecutive days and line dancing last night, this old poop surely needs a day off.

So, we'll take a break and head into the city where I want to purchase ... another pair of bicycle shorts.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Celtic Jammin'

On Saturday, Cuppa and I headed to Middleville, which, oddly enough, is in the highlands of this county. The county is called Lanark and with places like Perth and Glen Tay, it doesn't take a genius to decipher much of the early background. In fact, we found a pioneer cemetery in Middleville, and many of the tombstones declared that the deceased had been born in Scotland.

The whole Ottawa Valley region is known for fiddling and Celtic music. At least that's true in the rural areas. It's certainly not just Celtic; we hear a lot of country music as well; in fact, on the whole, we hear a lot more of it. But fiddles and guitars and the like kind of fit right into that genre too.

Anyway, the point is that we went to this little community hall to take in a Celtic Jam. There were thirteen musicians and not many more in the audience. They didn't really need an audience; they were just jammin', playing for their own enjoyment. They sat in a circle: a few fiddles, a keyboard, a couple of guitars, and a ukelele. Some of the musicians switched to a flutish instrument periodically: not an orchestral flute, something simpler.

Each musician had a songbook propped in front of him or her, and they simply went around the circle, each person calling out a favourite in turn. I don't know how many times they made it around the circle, but they were still enjoying themselves when we left after three hours.

I love the photo of the young fiddler above. I took quite a few pictures, but the light was low, and most weren't terribly presentable. But they had fun, and we had fun. Two of the veterans are pictured below.

We are so caught up in performance music these days. Maybe that is why I found it so delightful to see and hear these amateurs simply enjoying their own and each other's participation. It did the heart good.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Almonte and The Mill of Kintail

I don't seem to be doing much writing these days. Photos seem to be occupying me more lately, so I thought I'd share a few. The first two were taken at Almonte, a town just north of us, also on the Mississippi River. As you can begin to see, there are waterfalls there, and it was once quite the mill town. And I guess you recognize the model.

The next two photos are taken at a little conservation area, called the Mill of Kintail, just outside of Almonte. It was a mill a long time ago, and later a prominent doctor bought the property. His house is now a delightful little museum.

We visited Kintail the other day because there will be a wedding there on the weekend and we wanted to figure out where we were to go. Now that we've found it, we will go back and explore some of the trails. I think we'll be able to cycle there — and maybe take a picnic lunch. The couple that is to be married are friends of our kids, and we are invited to the reception. They were putting up the tents when we were there. I may post some more photos of this place in the next few days.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Two Unrelated Tidbits

When I blogged over the fuss and furor surrounding The Da Vinci Code not so long ago, I expressed the thought that the movie would be, like the book IMO, not very good. In fact, I went as far as to speculate that it might be "almost as atrocious as Mission Impossible." Well, we went last week ... in a rush ... just before we rushed to the cottage and then rushed back and then rushed around.

Most critics seem to be panning the movie, so I wasn't expecting to like it, but I did. For me, it was a dang sight better than a lot of Hollywood's efforts. Maybe it helped to have read the book. Maybe it would have been hard to follow for others. I don't know, but I thought it was a decent flick, and I'm glad that I went.

In fact, I think I liked it better than the book ... although that isn't necessarily saying a lot.

And yes, I still think that The Church is safe.

Following are excerpts from today's lead editorial in The Toronto Star. It reflects concerns of many Canadians about how we are perceived south of the border. I presume that I am safe to post this much content under the laws of copyright, but I am no expert in the matter. It seems pointless to try to rephrase it all, but perhaps I am simply too lazy. A point of note: part of what I chose to snip was at pains to declare that this was not true of the White House and President Bush who seem to understand and appreciate the situation.

Canada just cannot seem to shake a widely held myth in the United States that it is soft on terrorism and an open "gateway" to be exploited by potential attackers.

Despite the arrest last Friday of 17 Ontario men and youths on terror-related charges, there is still much ill-informed grumbling about Canadian weakness by commentators on U.S. television programs and from several irresponsible, but high-profile, politicians ...

Portraying Canada as a source of danger conveys an utterly false impression of this country's deep commitment to maintaining order and to waging a war on terror.

The arrests and security measures on display last weekend reveal that Canada is prepared to defend its values, institutions and people from those who would do them harm.

This nation's much criticized immigration system is surely no worse, and its border security no more porous, than that of the United States ...

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Very Cumbersome Pointing Device

Just be glad that you have a mouse for your computer-pointing device. I have a cat, and, cats being what they be, he can be durn hard to manipulate at times. And if I don't hold him in exactly the right way, he either bites or scratches my hand.

Okay okay I admit to just having flung a little bull your way about the cat (get it, bull about the cat being a mouse?), but he really has taken to spending a lot of computer time with me. When Cuppa comes into the room, she finds it so amusingly cute the way that he raises his head to look at her: "What are you doing here in the men's den lady?"

You can see the look in the photo below, and you can also see that I really don't have a lot of space for this new-fangled pointing device.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


D2 has recently been staying up at the cottage. She invited us up at the last minute the other day, so we decided to take her up on the offer. We weren't there long, just overnight, but we had a nice visit. It rained much of the time, but that's okay because we wouldn't have got out very much anyway. For whatever reasons, we are having a very buggy spring in these parts, much more so than usual apparently. I have to say apparently because we are newcomers to this area.

So, when we did try to go for a walk at the cottage, we first donned our mosquito gear, which I call our flak jackets.

Thank goodness that we thought to do that because we were swarmed as never before. Even with the netting, I managed to get numerous bites. At one point Cuppa stopped to takes some photos. The one below shows about a dozen on my pant leg, and I'm sure that I had just finished swatting many away.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Not Just Yet

Just when I thought that I might soon get around to posting a real blog, I have been called away for a few days. But ... as you may have gathered by now, I post many more photos on Flickr than I bother you fine folk with. On one of the groups that I post to, this photo was blogged. The blog doesn't say much about the photo, but at least it was chosen. Hey, I'll take my three seconds (no fifteen minutes for me) any way that I can get 'em.

Have a good weekend, eh?

PS: Note that I'm just referred to as Anvilcloud on that blog, yet they still talk about AC. How weird is that?!