Wednesday, December 31, 2008


On a New Year's Eve quite unlike any other in my memory, I sit and read while those in my world sleep: Cuppa because she's sick, and Thesha because she's pregnantly tired. Rocky the cat has actually made it to this point of watching the New Year in with me. I thought he'd head to bed as he usually does by now, but I just had to shove the purring critter from my lap to write this tiny entry.

And so, I have spent the evening reading, finishing one Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery and starting another — thanks to Lorna in Wonderland for the suggestion. I have hoisted a quiet and modest Bailey's (or two) and have felt a bit lonely at times (with all due respect to Rocky), but it's been differently okay.

So, Happy New Year or HNY for short out there across Canada, the USA, the UK, The Netherlands, South Korea, and Australia. I think that covers it, but if not HNY to you too.

Dad's Last Christmas

As the Yuletide season winds down and begins to fade into memory, I think of another memory from another Christmas: Christmas Past but not too far past — just ten years past.

My dad was in the hospital and not doing well, but Cuppa was determined to bring him home for Christmas. It was also my wish to have him home, just for the afternoon, but my mother was against the idea, so I didn't quite know what to do. Partly, she was afraid of him kicking up a great fuss about going back into the hospital in the evening. And it would also be difficult to have him home, even for a short time, for he couldn't walk anymore, not on his own steam. He could bear some weight but for either mental or physical reasons (I'm still not sure which), he couldn't seem to support himself or at least he couldn't ambulate. Nevertheless, Cuppa's will prevailed, and I'm glad it did, for due to the whole strange scenario (which I'm not going to go into here and now) of how he ended up in the hospital in the first place, I was in a state of perplexed ditherdness in those days.

In short, we got him home, and it went quite well. He had a bit of turkey, plucked up a bit of his old-time humour, even in his demented sate, and I felt a lot better about doing this little thing for him whether he was terribly cognizant or not. I think he enjoyed himself in his own way even though he would have forgotten about it almost immediately.

That was his last Christmas. He slipped very quickly after that day, and a few weeks later he mercifully left both us and his misery behind.

Christmas 1998
Dad's Last Two Photos

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Piggybacking on the Past

Christmas 2008: at my Daughter's House

Christmas 1973: at my Mother's House (previously posted Feb '08)

Thesha and Dad

Plus ├ža change, plus c'est pareil.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Two Christmas Joys

Don't get me wrong, I take pleasure in all of my family. I am a guy with a small circle of friends and family, so everyone in my circle is important to me. But Nikki Dee has become a bright light in my life, both at Christmas and beyond. In the first photo, she is colouring in her new book with her new crayons on the floor as the family opens their gifts. The second photo was taken later in the day when I caught her in mid-bounce on the couch (which is something that she is not supposed to do).

Then there is my Cuppa, my companion of almost forty years who perpetually radiates joy and causes me to be a better person. I think these photos say a lot.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Kids at Christmas

Many blogs are featuring Christmas photos, and why not? For most of us blogs are multi-functional; they exist not only to air one's thoughts and recollections but serve a keep-in-touch function for family and real-life friends. I also find that I like to see photos of how others live and celebrate life, so I suppose that some others may share similar feelings.

These five photos feature Thesha, Theboy and Nikki Dee (yes, I am compelled to go back to using the Dee — plain Nikki didn't work for me — the child's name begs a Dee). In the first two photos she looks at the Christmas card that she magically printed and remarkably gave to Mom; it features a photo of herself. Naturally.

As you saw from yesterday's photos, Nikki Dee has a ton of fun with Daddy. The first photo is at the dinner table ... er ... high chair, and the second speaks for itself.

Finally: an across the table photo of Thesha that for whatever reason I decided to process as a b&w.

I am thinking that there will be one more post of this type, perhaps two. You are forewarned; depending on your inclination, stay tuned or head for the hills.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hats of Christmas

The piece de resistance. A very warm hat for a very bald head in a very cold place. It made me giddy with glee.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Foto Friday

It's time to be lazy here in Anvilcloudia. The A Team departed yesterday (and due to weather delays took over fourteen hours to fly what should be fly-able in about 6). After driving them to the airport, Cuppa and I headed back over to the kids' to have supper with them and Nikki (I think I will start leaving off the Dee; it has merit and reason for being attached, but I'm lazy it's not necessary for the blog). After two major meals for six, there were slim pickings, but we managed to scrape enough off the bird for one more modest meal for four. The turkey and trimmings were extra delicious this year for some reason, and therefore were almost inhaled by the gang.

It is Boxing Day here in Canada, and a restful day down south, so I won't go to great lengths here, but I would like to post just a couple of snapshots on Foto Friday.

The first shows (not all that clearly) some of the cookies that Puff (or DIL or D3 ... whichever ... I use different names at different times) decorated. Although it's not the best photo (a little fuzzy), I think you can get an idea of the detail that she is able to scrunch onto a tiny cookie. She did dozens upon dozens of these: family theme, underwater theme, space theme, hello kitty theme, Christmuka (Christmas + Hanukkah)and so on. She's amazing.

Nikki coped with the Christmas invasion extremely well. She has tons of fun with Daddy. As you can see, she likes it rough and wild. Her mother was like that but not her sister (Althegal) who preferred to be handled gently.

A Thesha family photo, including CeeBee ... sort of.

Mother and daughter.

Mother and daughters: Althgegal middle and Puff of cookie fame right.

Oh, there are so many, but I have to stop now. It was a long and late night.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Today is our Christmas Day here in Anvilcloudia, so the timing of this card is quite appropriate. Because the A Team will be flying tomorrow, we move everything up a day. We do everything that we'd normally do to celebrate the event, just a day earlier. Last night was our Christmas Eve, for example.

About a month ago, we dressed Nikki Dee for Christmas photos, but it was an exercise in near futility as she squirmed, roamed and refused to look at the camera except for brief and fleeting instants. Since getting a photo of the three of use was too hopeless even to contemplate, I collaged three separate photos together, actually four photos if you include the background. It's not perfect, but it will have to do.

A Christmas card from us to you: I made the clickable version larger than usual should you wish to look more closely.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

With Our Chickadees

In the previous post got me reminiscing even more, I included one photo of a chickadee. Cuppa had made a string of popcorn and berries to attract the birds. Mostly though, they went crazy for the peanut butter which we smeared on the same tree. It got to the point where the chickadees would land on the jar almost as soon as I left the house with it. In short, we had an exhilarating time, and I'd like to show you some of the pictures that I posted then. There were even more, but I think these will suffice for now.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Past

Because I have been otherwise occupied lately, I haven't posted very much, but I thought I would like to see what I have posted around Christmastime in past years.

Above: from my first blogging Christmas in 2004 and actually posted on Christmas Day of that year. Cuppa had made strings of popcorn and berries for the birds when we were at the cottage. That brought the chickadees, and we enjoyed many close encounters in the subsequent days and weeks.

Below: in the subsequent year, 2005, I posted a Christmas Card. It was one that I had made previously and had on my website.

Above: Thesha, Cuppa and AC are all decked out in red as they collaborate on Christmas breakfast in 2006.

Below: photos from December 2007: a very snowy month. The first was taken from the back door, and I am shovelling by the front door in the second. The final photo is from the road at the front of Riverwood (the cottage).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Foto Friday

Just one photo for Foto Friday ... of unowho.

She had a great day yesterday, except for one small thing. I picked her up, and her shirt was soaked. You see, her latest cute little trick is to take a mouthful from her cup and then let it dribble down her shirt. Don't you think that's just darlingly clever?

And that's what led to me putting this hockey shirt on her. It's an Ottawa Senators' sweater — our local professional hockey team. Although Montreal Canadiens' blood runs deep in both SIL's and my blood, the Sens are next in line. Besides, a CH sweater doesn't seem to be available — a great oversight that. Pity.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Checking In

About a week ago, I was surprised at how often I had been posting because even when I've been a frequent poster, I have seldom been a daily poster. However, for a while there, I was on quite a run of posting on almost every day. But as of today it's been a week since I last updated this blog of mine. Things do get busy around this time of year. Don't they?

So, I'm basically just dropping by for a quick hello, for I've not really anything to say. I know that there are hordes of you who will opine that I never do [have anything to say]; nevertheless ...

I'll try to get back here in a few days, but I'll leave you with a picture of Nikkie Dee (up top) for now; the little narcissist loves to ham it up in the mirror. Any mirror will do, but the bathroom one give here a full, clear view, so it's particularly popular with her.

The A Team has been in Ontario since Monday and will wend their way here late Thursday night, and they'll stay until Christmas. Yay! For those who are newish or don't remember, here's a photo. What a couple of crazy kids!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Productive Snow Day

Due to the weather and a hard night with Nikki Dee, Thesha booked the day off. Good Neighbour (from last year) also showed up to clear the driveway, thus freeing me to enjoy a productive day. To wit: my Christmas letter hath been authored, and it and the cards and a photo are sealed in envelopes and waiting to be mailed. Phew!

By The Spoonful

Recently, Nikki Dee has been spending quality time with two of Mom's wooden cooking spoons. Initially, she used them to play the drums (aka pots and pans). However, she is beginning to widen their use. She even took them to her high chair the other day. No wonder she has a silly look on her face.

One generally doesn't wish to poke oneself in one's own eye, but hey if it's with her special wooden spoon, I guess it's okay.

Next day, didn't she put her [Arrowroot] cookie on her spoon and attempt to eat it from there. I find it interesting how well a twenty-month old kid can generalize. These are so different from her little spoons, but she's figured out that a spoon is a spoon is a spoon despite its size and material.

Finally, yesterday, she insisted on eating her scrambled eggs with one of her wonderful spoons. You can see her little kiddie spoon beside the dish, but she wanted nothing to do with it on that day. She actually didn't do too badly with the big spoon. In fact I was amazed to see her manage to get the whole thing (not the handle) into her mouth.

BTW that metal spoon has her mother's name engraved on it. She used it lo these many years as did her sister. That was also Thesha's Bunnykins dish.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Apparently, Cuppa and I have caught the virus from SILly. Since he switched jobs this year, there have been a few occasions when I had to wake him up when I arrived at Nikki Dee's in the morning. At which time he has loudly addresses me as the second person of the trinity. I tell him that my initials are AC, that Anvilcloud doesn't begin with a J, and that it would sufficient if he were to refer to me as Your Holiness.

So, he has contracted Sleepingingitis and seems to have passed it on to us, for Cuppa and I did the very same thing on Monday morn. Since SILly was out of town, we were to arrive at Nikki Dee's earlier than usual so that Thesha could get to work in time. However, when Cuppa reset the time on the alarm on Sunday night, she forgot to actually turn the alarm back on (having turned it off for the weekend). Therefore, we did sleep in, and, therefore, Thesha was late for work. In fact, if she hadn't called to find out where the heck we were, we might sill be sleeping.

And that brings to mind, another bout of Sleepinginitis that occurred when I was a young teacher still in my twenties. The VP called one morning to ask if I was coming into work that day. Say what? Oh dear, class was just staring, and I was still in bed. It happened again the next week but never again after that. I didn't get in trouble, but if it had occurred once more, I'm sure I would have. I had been teaching for about four years at the time and hadn't succumbed to Sleepinginitis previously, so I guess I was given the benefit of the doubt.

The reason that it happened at all was an alarm mixup. Up until then, Cuppa had been the alarm monitor, but since I was the one who had to get up and at it in the morning, it seemed logical for me to begin setting the alarm on my side of the bed. Except that it wasn't yet an ingrained habit. And I forgot. Twice. But just twice in all those years.

Twice was quite enough, thank you.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Me and the Thurb

This past week, I was reminded of this story by James Thurber: The Night the Bed Fell On Father. Actually, I was just reminded of the title, as I couldn't recall anyhting about the story, which if you decide to read it, you will find that he holds it to be non-fiction. I won't dispute his claim, but I do note in passing that any good story teller has long since mastered the art of embellishment. Anyway, if you want to read his humourous account, you have the link.

By now, the shrewd among you have already figued the gist of this anecdote. Yes, I rolled over in bed the other night, and it collapsed under me. (He said unhumourously.)

It was the guest room bed which we recently traded for. It was not a good trade. Previously, we had two single beds side by side to form one gigantic and fairly comfortable kingsized bed. However, when the opportunity arose to exchange it for a moderately sized double bed, it seemed like the thing to do. However, it turns out not to be a great mattress (to put it mildly), and now we know that the frame is a little suspect too, for it has no cross pieces. So when the railing that the mattress sits on shifted a little, the dadgum thing fell onto the floor .... WITH ME IN IT!!

It wasn't terribly difficult to put it back together except that I am not a tool sort of guy. Therefore, the only wrench that I could find to fit was a big adjustable one, and I couldn't find the room between the frame and the floor to maneuver it. Eventually, we solved that problem; I lifted the bed high enough off the floor for Cuppa to crawl under there and tighten the bolts.

No damage done of course, and it's something to talk about in a blog post after all. Life is full of opportunities, eh? There was another benefit to be reaped as well because I also printed it off and read it to Cuppa. We haven't had material for our bedtime reading lately, so for one night we did.

BTW, Thurber writes better than I do. Hint, hint.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Lighting It Up

I won't go on long about it because I posted something about Light Up The Night last year and because Cuppa will be posting more about the event sometime within the next few days.

I had forgotten how it ends though — with a fireworks display while The Messiah (the song, not the actual divine being) is piped over the speakers. It's quite thrilling really: goosebump time. Here is a photo (actually two combined) of some of the fireworks taken by a little point and shoot camera (so don't expect anything too wonderful).

Folks come out of the woodwork for this event on mainstreet, Almonte. It's a great little tradition for early December. Various local performers do their thing and, of course, there are puppets to entertain the crowd. (I say of course because Almonte hosts a puppet festival every summer that draws people from far and wide.)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Foto Friday

Hmmm ... what shall we post on this Foto Friday? Just for a change, why don't we start with Nikki Dee? Mom recently got her some Baby Einstein cards; each has a picture on the front with the identifying English word, and there also are translations on the back of the card.

Nikki Dee's room looks onto a wooded area. For some odd reason, this little piece of land is owned by the township and hasn't been developed. However, the town owns the land on three sides, and that land is all developed. Meanwhile she has a bit of a country view in the city (or town). I imagine that she'll see snow for most of the next three or four months, and it will look quite pretty after fresh snowfalls.

Speaking of snow, the town seems to be making a better effort at ploughing the sidewalks this year. This is both good and bad, I suppose. It's good to make the effort, but since the roads are given priority, they may not gets to the sidewalks until people have put away their shovels for several days. Consequently, they may have reason to get a titch grouchy when they come home to something like this at the end of the driveway ...

Not only that, but have a look at how one driver ripped up this sod as well.

Have a good weekend.