Friday, September 28, 2007

Recent Family Photos

Pity us, for they say that the camera doesn't lie.

Even the poor wee Smudge is blighted by our genetic curse.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ya Gotta Laugh

I don't generally read science fiction, but a friend recently sent me a copy of a favourite book to help me through my convalescence: Callahan's Key by Spider Robinson. I quite enjoyed the humour, including the Dan Quayle quote featured at the beginning of each chapter (the book is set in 1989 when Quayle was relevant). While I, up here in Canada, was basically aware of his reputation, I had no idea that his sayings were so weird and funny. I've posted some of my faves below, and there are more at The Quotations Page and Brainy Quote.

Welcome to President Bush, Mrs. Bush, and my fellow astronauts.

[It's] time for the human race to enter the solar system.

One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.

I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change.

For NASA, space is still a high priority.

Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.

I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn't study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Climbing the Wall

That's my nephew climbing the wall, so to speak. At that same time, Cuppa and I were both climbing metaphorical walls of sorts. We thought we were going crazy. Let me tell you about it.

Two years ago very shortly after moving to this area, Cuppa, Thesha and I headed off on a Autumn Studio Tour. While roaming around the backroads, we stumbled upon a unique and very pretty rock quarry. Well, here's a picture from the blog, Rockin in the Quarry, that I posted back then. It's kind of an interesting find, eh: a pretty, white rock. It's a type of calcium carbonate, if I recall correctly.

So ... just over a month ago, Cuppa's sister and husband came for a visit, and we took them on a bit of a ramble, and, since we were in the general vicinity, we decided to show them the quarry. But darned if we didn't somehow miss it. I think they secretly doubted our mental competence.

We couldn't quite figure out how we had missed the thing. It wasn't small after all, so when we knew they were coming back with their son (our beloved nephew) and friend in tow, we knew that we must redeem ourselves and try again. We studied our maps carefully, deduced where we had erred and headed back. And couldn't find it. We headed along this road and that ... to no avail. However, we had passed the outcrop, the one above where nephew Nux is climbing the rock, and decided to make something of our efforts and stop to collect a few specimens.

While Nux was climbing and Mar was sunning herself and SIL was collecting rocks and BIL was snapping pictures, Cuppa and I continued to stare perplexedly at one another and scratch our rather befuddled noggins. What could we be doing wrong? You see, we had found our way back there once after the initial discovery, so why couldn't we do it again? Were we both suffering from early-onset dementia? A car came by, and I flagged it down to ask its two elderly occupants if they could help. Not really: cause they were lost too doncha know.

I decided to give it one more try and flagged down the next passing car. (The road was pretty isolated, so it was not as if vehicles were going by every second.) There were five younger women in the car, and one of them knew the area, and she was able to splain the situation to us.

They had moved the freakin road!! Well not they as those very people in that car, but the they that we always talk about, the same they who say clever things and the same they upon whom we can sometimes conveniently blame our troubles.

Really!! They really had moved the road. Apparently, it now bypasses the quarry. I assume that the quarry has shut down, and the road was moved as a safety issue, for, unless I find out otherwise, there is now no access at all to the quarry.

I know it's strange to move a road, but we were mighty relieved to find that there was a somewhat plausible solution to the mystery ... before we both checked ourselves into the local ahem ward.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Five Months Old

... her, not me!!

Getting To It

Today, when she turned five months old, I, finally and at long last, composited various of her second month photos. Here are two of the five that I did.

She spent the afternoon here with us being very cute. She's doing fine but quite content to be cute and leave the early sitting up and rolling over to other babies. Cuppa may have taken pictures today, but I'm not sure, and, quite frankly, I'm too pictured out to pursue it. The greatest change from these pictures, aside from size, is that she has put on a ton of baby fat. And here hair, oh her hair: fine, curly and very fly-away. Unless it changes dramatically, she'll suffer a lot of angst over her curly locks, just as her mother did. Everyone else always thought Maw's hair quite wonderful, but, of course, she wanted it straight and manageable, and although it always looked nice, it was anything but straight. However, if memory serves, it was quite manageable compared to the Smudge's hair.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Signs of Times

According to the trees, autumn has arrived in the Ottawa Valley. Just a week ago, it was not so, but this morning, when we took Tim's coffee and bagels to the park where we sat in the car for a spell listening to the CBC, the colouring of the foliage had most definitely begun.
Aside: we were listening to Michael Enright on The Sunday Edition. He was discusisng the plight of custodial granparents with his guests. The upshot is that more and more grandparents are raising their grandchildren with little societal support although it is very expensive to raise kids — more than $160 000 to raise them to adulthood in this era. The way things are, the state gets to save on the large cost of foster parenting and offers almost no compensation to custodial grandparents.
Cuppa and I then took our unfinished coffee cups on a little walk through the park, and the chilliness of autumn was definitely in the air. Although there will be warm days yet, I trust, within a short week or so we have gone from summer attire to long pants and jackets. However, we found a sunny bench by the Canoe Club and enjoyed the autumn-like freshness before returning to the car and home.

An even a surer sign of autumn is that I actually allowed my body to touch Cuppa's in bed last last (no not that way ... she was sleeping). You see, we are a hot couple (no again) and require clear and distinct separation (something akin to church and state) much of the time, but, last night, with temperatures lowering to 4°C/40°F, I actually required a little external body heat and snuggled right up — okay not right up but sort of up.

Although we seldom last that long, we strive to keep the furnace off until the end of October. I wonder how long we'll be able to last this year?

(The park was still mostly green, but, as these two photos show, there were a few spots of significant colour.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Clouseau in the Kitchen

For dinner yesterday, I set myself to making this Tomato Chicken Parmesan recipe. Once again my lack of kitchen experience found me out. You see, I didn't cook at all until a few years ago. In a way, I still don't cook, but I can usually follow recipes. Usually.

But there are times when a lack of careful reading and lack of experience catch me out. This particular brain cramp which I now propose to document has occurred before but not recently, so, sad to say, I hadn't absorbed my lesson.

You see, I don't have it firmly in my head, or didn't until now, how to apply batter (bread crumbs) to the chicken in the Parmesan recipe. So ... I mixed up the bread crumbs with the Parmesan ... and promptly broke an egg right into the mix. I realized my mistake right away and spent the next few minutes cursing trying to extricate said obstinate and recalcitrant egg from the mix. Fortunately, I did manage to get most of it out; unfortunately, a modicum of the bread crumb mix also insisted on exiting the dish.

I had understood that the recipe said to beat the egg, but hadn't realized that I wasn't to dump it right into the mix. So ... I tried again: beat the eggs — and made my next bad — for after beating the eggs, I also dumped them into the mix. Then, with great dedication and zeal, I proceeded to mix said eggs throughly into the bread crumbs.

After which it was time to apply the breading to the chicken. It was only then that the light went on: "You dummy, AC!!" For I knew right away, that I was supposed to have kept the egg and crumbs separate, dip the chicken in the egg, and then dip it into the crumbs. It was written this way in the recipe, but sometimes I have the tendency to not read carefully.

What to do? I broke two more eggs (that made five in total), dipped the chicken in and tried my best to get as much batter to adhere as possible. Actually it worked not too badly, and the meal turned out to be fairly tasty after all of my bumbling.

But now I have to figure out exactly what sauté means. In this case, I was to sauté the chicken for about twenty minutes before baking for the same length of time. I don't think I understand this sauté business because the crumbs got much browner than I would have liked them to.

So tell me ... how hot should should the stove element be in order to sauté?

BTW, despite all of my trials and tribs and Clouseau-like bumbling, this Tomato Chicken Parmesan recipe was actually quite tasty.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oh Fiddle

A year ago this week I posted a blog about my first fiddle lesson.

About six months ago, I stopped taking lessons due to concerns with my fingers. Later, I went to physiotherapy. It helped somewhat.

In May, my physiotherapist thought I should pick up the fiddle again. I did and apart from our June trip to BC and a couple of weeks off for convalescing from my recent surgery have kept at it pretty faithfully since then.

Yesterday, I spent a happy hour with my violin teacher. She gave me some mechanical tips: "Lower the shoulder; drop your bowing arm; take shorter strokes; and, relax." It's easier to say those things than do them, but I'll try hard. She also gave me a lot of tips in playing some of the songs I've been practising: "Cut these notes (ie shorten them); slur these; and, hit the first beat harder in this song."

Maybe she was just being nice, but she didn't tell me that I was wasting my time. The thing is that I have fun with the fiddle, and that's pretty important. At this point, it fills a need or at least a want in some sort of way.

You don't have to be especially good at things to enjoy them, and you shouldn't have so much pride that you don't try things for fear that you won't excel. Heck fire! If most of us only did things we excelled at, few of us would do much at all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Re-Ploughing Old Furrows

... or Re-Plowing if you prefer

Because it had been quite a long since I did any web page coding, and because as a result my limited knowledge had become even more limited, I decided to do something about it. I decided to retake a little online course that I had first wended my way through several years ago. Oh, I could have simply reviewed the already on-hand materials, but I reasoned that having specific lessons (quite possibly upgraded with new information) with specific homework to be completed within a specific period of time would keep me on track. (Am I being specific enough do you think?)

It's true; the course will keep me on track, and I think it's good that I chose to take it ... or retake it, rather.

However ... I am finding, much to my chagrin may I add, that it ain't so much fun to re-plough old furrows. While I thoroughly enjoyed learning these skills in the first place, I am not quite duplicating my merriment in this endeavour to refresh my memory.

I conclude that learning is fun (for me) ... but reviewing ain't.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

More Birthday Pics

Of course, these kinds of blogs are mostly for the benefit of family, but all are welcome to stare in wonder ... or shock and awe.

After meeting the kids and the Smudge at the park we returned the their place for birthday dinner and the requisite cake and gifts.

Birthday Party

Birthday Party

Birthday Party

Birthday Party

Birthday Party

Here's our rendition of the Happy Birthday Song (uploaded directly to Blogger and not YouTube this time). Fell freee to join in.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Birthday Pics

When the afternoon of celtic music proved to be a non-event, we drove back to town, stopped at Tim's, and took coffee to the park. All was not lost, for lo and behold, there were Thesha, Theboy and Smudge.

Birthday in the Park

Birthday in the Park

Birthday in the Park

Birthday in the Park

Birthday in the Park

... stay tuned ... more to follow ...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Closed for Business

I guess you have to expect the unexpected on a holiday weekend, but really now.

Saturday: we go to our favourite, locally owned burger joint. I don't want a burger though; I just want to take some of their delicious fries down to the park to munch on a beautiful afternoon. Sign on the door: Closed for the Weekend.

Sunday: For two years, I have been reading that The Ironworks over in Almonte has Celtic music on the first Sunday afternoon of each month. It is mentioned again this month in the local entertainment paper, so I decide to make an effort. You see it is my birthday, my sixtieth, so I'm looking for something special and different. We get to the door, hear no music and see no evidence of musicians. The hostess/server knows nothing about it, and I turn backs towards home mightily irked. We've been to The Ironworks more than once before, the last time only about a month ago, but I am so so peeved that I will think twice before I drop in again.

Tuesday: the weekend is over. Cuppa has been given medical orders to book some time with a physiotherapist. We drop by. A note on the doors informs us that they are closed today for the opening of school, they'll be open tomorrow. Yay!

What the heck is going on around here?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Humour for Labour Day Weekend

Here's a Labour Weekend chuckle for you. Well, I hope it makes you smile, at least. It's an old, old joke that has to do with a labourer, a Bricklayer. I first came across it a number of decades ago but was recently reminded of it when Dale sent me a version that has been put to music — (as most songs are :). Hearing the song caused me to google for the prose version, and I found it easily here on Aha.

Dear Sir

I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block #3 of the accident reporting form. I put "Poor Planning" as the cause of my accident. You asked for a fuller explanation, and I trust the following details will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six-story building. When I completed my work, I found I had some bricks left over which when weighed later were found to weigh 240 lbs.

Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.

Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 240 lbs of bricks. You will note on the accident reporting form that my weight is 135 lbs.

Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel which was now proceeding downward at an equally impressive speed. This explains the fractured skull, minor abrasions and the broken collarbone, as listed in Section 3, accident reporting form.

Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley which I mentioned in Paragraph 2 of this correspondence. Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of the excruciating pain I was now beginning to experience.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground, and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighed approximately 50 lbs. I refer you again to my weight.

As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, broken tooth and severe lacerations of my legs and lower body.

Here my luck began to change slightly. The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.

I am sorry to report, however, as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to move and watching the empty barrel six stories above me, I again lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope.

For the time being, I've also uploaded the song, by The Corries. I hope the player works for you. Press play to enjoy.