Friday, August 29, 2008


Hi There

I woke up at three o'clock this morning and, ufortunately, was unable to get together with Morpheus again. Ergo, Nikki Dee is benefitting by nonstop Elmo's Worlds being paraded before her eyes. She loves Elmo, but I wonder when even she will get bored. So far she's up to almost an hour and a half and is still mesmerized. So, I cope for now. With her limited vocabulary I often wonder why she loves Elmo so much, but, indeed, she does.

Meanwhile, I am thanking the divine for making somebody smart enough to invent personal video recorders, and I'm not suffering from much guilt either. Sometimes, ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.



Monday, August 25, 2008

Outhouse Outtakes

Well, the girls' wedding finally transpired on the weekend, so perhaps life will return to normal. Maybe I'll even get back to posting a little more frequently that every ten days or so. But not yet.

I have a ton of wedding photos on my external hard drive, but that's still in the country with the ladies, so for now I'll just say hello and post a few photos of the Riverwood outhouse.

We do have indoor plumbing at Riverwood, but when hordes descend as they did on the weekend, it's nice for them and for the system to have an alternative. So, my BroIL and SonIL took some time to refurbish the place by redigging the hole that had filled in, and my SisIL redecorated the interior. The third picture below is the view from the door. Have you ever seen such an outhouse?

I trust you are all doing well without me out there in Blogdom. I'll be back again when I can.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cuppa and I Collaborate

... in publishing a photo ... sort of ...

How's everyone doing out there? While I remain on a bit of a Blogger holiday, I am still keeping loose track of you guys through Google Reader and may post on occasion — such as now. One doesn't want to lose touch completely, eh.

I hadn't heard of Schmap until recently, but the site describes itself this way: "Exploring a Schmap Guide is a uniquely interactive experience: maps and guide content are dynamically integrated, allowing intuitive, real-time access to reviews and photo slideshows for places of interest."

The Schmap people wrote me some time ago to tell me that one of my Flickr pictures taken at the Desert Botanical Garden was being considered for their Phoenix Schmap site. Actually while I was the one who posted it on Flickr, I must confess that it was Cuppa who took the photo, which makes sense since that's me who you see staring up in wonder. But since I usually adjust my Flickr pictures even slightly, I'll, being the needy and immodest person that I am, still plump for some of the credit. Nonsense aside, here is the site where the picture is supposed to show up on the slideshow to the right. However, in case the slide changes faster than you can spot it (although it's supposed to stick), here is the photo. The Schmap version is also pretty tiny, so here's a version that is large enough to actually see.

So Very Tall

The Phoenix Botanical Garden was the very first stop on our Arizona trip two years ago. We had the evening to spend in Phoenix before driving to Flagstaff the next day, so we followed Frommer's advice and visited these wonderful gardens near sunset, and that began a very wonderful week seeing the sights of Arizona. Here are a few more snaps from that evening. I'm sure that I posted most right after the trip, but what the heck!

Prickly Arch

Cactus Bird

Sunset Bench

Desert Sunset

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Mama Mia! I'm Taking a Break

It happens from time to time; suddenly, I either run of things to say or the energy with which to say things. What with busy times coming up for about the next three or four weeks, blogging may continue to be a more off than on activity for me. I will attempt to visit you periodically, but I imagine that will also be somewhat less frequent.

Having said all of that, I have learned from past experience that the opportunity and/or mood to write sometimes strikes when I least expect it, and that could happen again. Regardless, I do expect that I will be posting less frequently for these next few weeks.

Before I go and hide in my little corner, however, let me tell you to go see Mama Mia if you haven't done so already. I think it's the type of film that most critics will pan and that most people, at least those of a certain maturity, will love. In our theatre lase night, most were clapping to the beat by the end of the show, and we all applauded when it was over. When was the last time you watched a movie where that happened? People left the cinema barely able to refrain from dancing.

I was thinking about what a bargain movies are. I know they're a lot more expensive than they used to be, but if you choose wisely, you can almost be guaranteed of decent entertainment. For twenty bucks, excluding the optional snacks that we gobbled up last night, Cuppa and I had a great time. Including snacks and more than we usually ingest, our total came to less than forty bucks for two. Compare that figure to the astronomical cost of many a concert or sporting event. Also by way of comparison, just last weekend, Cuppa and I stopped at a cafe for a light supper. Sans desert or drinks of any kind except for one glass of wine for Cuppa, dinner plus tax and gratuity set us back almost sixty bucks — for pretty average fare at that. The cost of even light dining out seems to be going through the roof, and I am having trouble dealing with the after-guilt. However, forty bucks for two hours of great entertainment, including optional and exorbitant snacks, seems to be a bargain by comparison.

Take my fiscal ramblings for what they're worth, but don't miss grabbing the next opportunity to see Mama Mia.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

In view of yesterday's post, it's time for some lightheartedness, so here are a few photos from our walk in the woods at Riverwood on Sunday.

Living Carpet

Above: a soft mossy carpet
Below: Cuppa and Treebeard stroll down Maple Lane



Above: A lighted tree in the forest gloom
Below: Just a pine cone surrounded by dead needles

Cone and Leaves

A few years ago, Cuppa and I seemed able to spend protracted periods up there, but we seem to be limited to quick visits these days. Short or long, it's always good to get back there a refuel the soul.

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Second from Death

Unbeknownst to me at the time, that was almost my last post yesterday — the one about missing undies.

Yesterday morning, Cuppa and I got up early and drove the back roads to Riverwood, a wonderful cottage property belonging to her sister. After stopping at Tim's for an extra large coffee and a breakfast sandwich, we settled in for a relaxing, country drive and arrived at Riverwood three hours later in a fine frame of mind.

After a day of visiting and catching up with family, a walk in the buggy woods, and an excellent dinner we were ready to head home. It was getting dark, so we took the easier, more travelled highway. I hesitate to call it a highway, however, because it's only a two lane road, and the stretch that we were to drive is not very busy.

By the time we navigated our way from the secondary roads onto the highway darkness had settled. Very shortly after getting onto the highway, I saw a car up ahead, lights on approaching in my lane. He was trying to pass three cars when I showed up speeding towards him in the opposite direction. Naturally, I went onto alert but began to breathe easy when I saw him beginning to edge back into his own lane. Except that he didn't. I assume that he couldn't find a space in the midst of the cars he was passing, so in his great wisdom his solution was to straighten up and barrel right towards me.

I was travelling at almost 100 kph (60mph) and he was doing the same, probably faster. We were close to impact and certain death. Instantly, I pulled over onto the shoulder, and we whizzed passed each other.

Talk about a close call: about as close as you can come and live to tell about it. I'd say we were about a second from catastrophe when I pulled onto the gravel shoulder at great speed. If there had been no shoulder, or a sloping one, or a less hard packed one, our trip and our lives would have ended. If he had also attempted to make for the shoulder at the same time as I, we still would have had a fatal crash for there would have been no time for another correction. I cannot fathom why he didn't head for the shoulder, why he chose to drive right at us, but apparently it's good that he didn't, for we didn't crash.

In an instant it was over. I was very calm both during and after. I sort of said to myself, "That was close, but we're here, and life goes on." There was nothing else to do but keep driving and hoping that the other driver had learned a lesson about driving in such a reckless hurry.

Now, I have another day to live, actually not a day, just this moment and then perhaps another and another. It's a gift, a gift to savour. Life always is a gift and not just after a close call, but we all get caught up in our doings and forget that all too frequently. We forget to slow our frenzied minds and simply revel in our breath and the beating of our hearts. Today, I will make an extra effort taste and appreciate the gift of life that I and Cuppa have been given, and I invite you to do the same.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

My Personal Womb Tracker

... and/or Male Pattern Blindness

Let's face it, most men suffer from a genetic weakness, more than one, I'm sure, but let me give my gender the benefit of the doubt for now. My BIL calls the particular and most unfortunate syndrome to which I am referring as Male Pattern Blindness. We all too frequently unable to see what is right in front of our eyes, and pity help us if the object of a search might actually be under something.

A long time ago Roseanne Barr did a stand up routine about men always asking women where such and such might be: "What do they think a womb is, a tracking device?" It applies in our family too as well as just about every other that I know of, so long ago, I began to call Cuppa Womb Tracker whenever I needed to avail myself of that special finding-talent of hers and seemingly of all of the fairer sex.

Somehow, I lost two pairs on underwear several weeks ago. Well, we have bags of clothes going back and forth with us daily to our babysitting gig on the other side of town because, sometimes, we either change or shower or do both over there. It's been so humid here this summer that I invariably return drenched with sweat from my morning walk with Nikki Dee. It's not particularly caused by the heat this relatively cool summer but the humidity. When it hasn't been raining, it's been threatening to downpour, so the humidity has been high almost every day. On most mornings, because the actual air temperature is not terribly high, it seems cool enough when I begin my walk, but, invariably, I am soaked in perspiration by the time the walk is done.

That's one reason why I generally take a change of clothes with me — in case I require a shower after our morning ambulations. And I expected my two missing small clothes to soon appear in the clothes bag as I scrounged about in there. However, after a week and then another, it became apparent that I had a genuine stumper on my hands: the mystery of the missing briefs.

This morning, as I puzzled aloud yet again over this enigma, Cuppa suggested that I check my T-shirt drawer, for I might have mistaken undie cloth for T-shirt cloth if both were in a pile. I then did something that I should have learned never to do by now — offhandedly dismissed my lady's suggestion. I mean to say that I've been putting my briefs in that drawer for donkeys' years now without miscue. In fact, I had just shoved many a freshly laundered pair of Tees in there and seen no small things. Of course, I hadn't been looking; nevertheless ...

Fortunately, I decided to humour her ladyship and at the same time demonstrate to her that I, Moi, couldn't have possibly done such a thing. However, just as I was closing the drawer to inform her that of course I was right for they were not there, uh oh, what did I see? Something just a little different than T-shirt material? "Oh wait a minute dear. Um ... yes, I seem to have found those tricksy little things."

Chalk another one up to Womb Tracker. How do you ladies do that?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

At Last

Gloriosky! With the aid of a little pill, I slept for ten hours last night. It was a fairly good ten hours too, with fewer jaunts than normal to the loo. While I rejoice over the sleep, I am somewhat disappointed that I seem to require the assistance of a pill in order to enjoy some well earned, deep slumber.

I had slept very poorly, more poorly than usual, on the previous two nights. On the first, my mind was in racing state, and I would wake up with tunes careening through my head to the point where I was almost ready to bang my head against the nearest wall. On the next night, my body went into its let's make a fire routine. It happens a lot, but on that night the heat wouldn't quit, and I couldn't find comfort. I had clothes on and off, sheets on and off, and fans on and off — in three different rooms! — but couldn't find the right combination to alleviate my predicament. As a result whatever sleep I did manage to capture was quite fitful. It drives me crazy sometimes. I drive me crazy sometimes.

So, this little grampa was really tired yesterday — really, really tired — and although said little grampa dearly loves The Bonnie Wee One, days with her can be long and tedious. We are usually on the job for ten to twelve hours with much vigilance required and little time available for adult distraction such as reading a book or doing something creative. Although we may be seeming not to work hard at any given moment, it's a demanding and tiring job nonetheless. On top of that, we're not in our own place over there, and although Dee's house may be like a second home, it will always lack the genuine comfort factor of my real home, so it's harder to relax.

I say that by way of explanation rather than complaint, for I adore the kid. But long days after long nights do take their toll. Although I seldom sleep really well, when I have two extraordinarily poor nights in a row, followed by two normal, demanding days in a row, I pay the price. And so, I reach for a little pill.

Although I try not to resort to them frequently, these pills really help — on most nights anyway. I sleep longer and more soundly, but not usually as long or as sound as last night's whopping ten hours. I don't think I've slept that long for five years or more. It was nice, but I sure wish I could manage to have a really good snooze every and again sans artificial assistance.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Foto Friday

A Bit of Local Geography

I know that I've already posted photos of Dee and me down by the river, but we went again. I was more prepared this time; I took off my socks and shoes to keep them dry (look behind me on the dock) and held her more securely between my legs rather than off to the side. It worked much better.

I also wanted to post some more distant shots so you could see more of the general setting: such as the big rocks in the photo below. Admittedly, in this case they've been placed there for aesthetic reasons, but the landscapers probably didn't have to travel very far from home in order to find such specimens. The bedrock is very close to the surface here, so close that it planting a flower can be problematic. Although you may think that I say that in jest, I'm actually not exaggerating by more than a titch because many people who attempt to garden here, bring in soil and raise the flower beds.

Below: Cuppa moved away from us to capture more of the Mississippi River, which is quite wide here. (Relax, it's not the Mighty Mississippi of American fame.) Surprisingly, at least to me, is the fact that because of its fast flow the centre of the river doesn't freeze in winter. It does close to the bank and in the distance beyond the horizon where it widens into a lake. Behind the camera, however, it narrows and gains even more speed, which is at least partly why this town is here: a good location for mills back in the early days.

I have yet to go swimming in this river, but I have a feeling that Dee will get me in there in the years to come. It's not that I have anything against being in the water, and I have been in colder water than this (or as cold), but I simply haven't gotten around to it. After all, water play isn't a big item on the average sixty-year-old's list when you come to think of it.

Note: there are some trailers by the bank in the top left of the photo, but that's temporary because they turn the park into a campground for a country music festival on the first weekend in August, and some campers have been here for a week already. What anticipation!