Monday, June 29, 2009

Call Me Old-Fashioned

In one or two ways, but only in one or two ways I'll have you know, I am a old-fashioned kind of guy. For example: when Cuppa and I go out walking, I must always be closest to the curb. This makes for fancy footwork as we cross streets and change directions, but I can't stop myself. Me on the inside simply feels all wrong. There's one local street which only has a sidewalk on one side, but that side keeps changing, so we are forever crossing over the road and doing our odd little dance.

It's all my mother's fault. I remember once walking with her in Montreal when I was still in elementary school. My favourite teacher and her beau approached, and horror of horrors, wasn't he walking on the inside? We said a polite hello, but Mom certainly had more to say to me as we walked away. In point of fact, she was scandalized, for in her world, and now mine, men always took the curb (or kerb) side.

Despite what I said above, it's not my mother's fault; I was just saying that. It's really Sir Walter Raleigh's fault, for it was supposedly he who lay his coat over a muddy puddle for a lady to walk upon in order not to soil her pretty shoes. It may have been Queen Elizabeth I, or it may not have been anybody at all but only the stuff of myth and legend. Who's to say?

Despite what I said above, it's not really Sir Wally's fault either (I keep doing that). It was the fault of the times, for according to the Trivia-Library: "In 16th-century England, the habit of emptying chamber pots out of upper-story windows into the gutter made a city stroll so hazardous that gentlemen gallantly took the side nearest the curb when walking with their ladies." Although this seems against modern logic because it would seem to put men further from the hurled refuse and the women closer to it, there's probably some truth to it because I have found it in more than one reference. We've seen pictures of old English houses partly jutting out over the street, so the inside may really have been more sheltered and safer for the ladies.

Personally, I would bet that this bit of etiquette became firmly entrenched in Victorian times when more people lived in cities and the streets were pretty dirty places, clogged with horses and their leavings. Being partially shielded from the excrement was probably one of the few perks of being female in that very paternalistic society. Dear old Mom, came along shortly after Queen Victoria expired, but the sensibilities of that time still lingered — and street cleanliness was still not exactly up to modern standards — not by a horse's patootie it wasn't.

Whatever the historical truth, I haven't had the dubious pleasure of having to protect my lady from either flying chamber pot excrement or splashing horse manure, but I still take the outside, for I simply must. It's been ingrained. If you think that makes me an old-fashioned kind of guy, so be it, but let me remind you that I'm not exactly sending this message to you by carrier pigeon or smoke signal.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Foto Friday

We have tons of rather late Fathers Day photos today, but since I've missed a few Foto Fridays, perhaps I might be forgiven?

Actually, I begin with a few photos from the day before Fathers Day. Sorry, I can't help myself. We had been playing in her back yard. You can see bits and pieces of her new swing set in the background.

Now for Fathers Day itself. It began with a trip to Timmie's and taking our coffee and breakfast sandwich to the park.

But, of course, the real action was at the kids' house later in the day, beginning with a quick hug on arrival. I love Nikki Dee's enthusiastic greetings.

But most of the day was spent outdoors. Where else would you want to be on the first day of a Canadian summer? Nikki Dee loves her new swing.

Of course, there were gifts. Nikki Dee was in her modern art mode when she composed this card which speaks of tension and resolution in an atmosphere of love and respect within an imperfect world.

Accessories for the garden, either to walk on or display in some other way: the butterfly and ladybug are appropriate as they are totems (of a sort) of each of my two daughters.

The best gifts are those freely given. Fortunately, there were lots of hugs and snuggles on offer.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Grandfather Goose

I know I'm really a gander, but nobody really uses the proper term. Besides, there was a famous film called Father Goose starring Cary Grant, no less, and if it's okay with the mighty and omniscient Hollywood ...

To the point: the diligent warding of the Canada Goose always impresses me. It seems that they are always on the job — ever watchful. (Aside: we were recently informed that mother goose can't even fly when the goslings are young. Must be true. Who would make it up?)

I often feel like Grandfather Goose as I shadow The Bonnie Wee One in potentially hazardous situations ... of which there are many. Like at the local park where we took her for the first time, especially when she wandered towards and into the river.

She had a grand time: loved the waterplay so much that her teeth were chattering.

Fortunately, she also loves the swing and was content to warm up for quite awhile.

Zach is a little young but managed to enjoy himself in his own way.

And didn't the clever fellow actually roll over for the first time that night? Apparently, Nikki Dee was so tired after her busy day that she fell asleep in her own swing at home.

BTW: only six months until Christmas.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Once More

Last year around this time (actually earlier because they're both fading now) I posted two blogs. One about Dad's Forget-Me-Nots (seen above) and one about Audrey's Chives (seen below). Decades ago, about 500 miles away they were both transplanted to our garden, my Dad's flowers by his very own hands. Now, they continue to cling to life at two separate houses far, far away from where they began life. And they still remind me of Dad and Audrey who have since left us. Actually, the chives aren't clinging but thriving. However, Dad's flowers are annuals that must reseed, and they are down to three plants, two at Thesha's place and only one at ours. I tried to take care of the seeds last year, but nothing that I nurtured grew. Fortunately, a few fell into nooks and crannies, like in the rocks above, and we have the plants for one more year at least.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fiddlin and Steppin

Both stepdancing and fiddling have a large place in traditional Ottawa Valley culture. Previously, I've mentioned and shown clips of both. but we had never attended the Pakenham Fiddle and Stepdance Competition before. So we remedied that this past weekend.

All ages came from all around the province for the event. It must be nice, especially for the younger set, to get together with peers of similar interest and talent. Let's face it, this is a subculture that exists way under the radar of popular culture, so it must be helpful for the kids to know they're not alone, particularly those who come from an urban area such as Toronto.

In any event, a grand time was had by all. At the conclusion, around 11:30 Saturday night, the fiddlers and stepdancers who remained in the hall congregated on stage for an impromptu performance. The fiddlers are lost in the background, but the following short clip shows the stepdancers doing their thing. I'm glad we stayed for the finale. It always amazes me how both fiddlers and stepdancers can put on such a show without any preparation.

Monday, June 22, 2009

We Have Brain ... er ... Cramps

A somewhat funny incident yesterday: after the Fathers Day ritual at Thesha's, we went up the street to help celebrate the birthday of Nikki Dee's best friend. As time went on, we could see that the kid was getting rather tired, so Cuppa suggested to me that we take her home and give her a bath and put her to bed. I was a bit surprised because we usually batten down the hatches before she arrives to run helter skelter all over the house creating all sorts of mayhem. But I was up for it if Cuppa was because we had recently mentioned that it was just about time for another sleepover.

As we ushered a somewhat reluctant and upset Nikki Dee (upset to be leaving the festivities) down the street, I cajoled her with the promise of a ride in the car. However, Cuppa was wondering what I was on about. You see, she had meant that we would be taking the kid to her home not our home. In the event Nikki Dee got a little ride, made all the more soothing by the playing of her Raffi CD. After the ride, we were back to where we began and she got to sleep in her own bed in her own house.

An even funnier recent incident: I was diligently looking for my pj's one night. They weren't in the usual spot, so I checked the other most likely places — to no avail. Somewhat perplexedly I repeated the cycle, for surely I had simply missed them. After a while, I happened to look down to notice that the colour of my T-shirt was what I normally wore for bed. Yup, I was already wearing my pj's. I had forgotten that I had already put them on. Scary eh?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Shout Out ...

... to my SIL on Fathers Day.

I know it's odd to come at a Fathers Day post by praising your son or SIL, but I think it's fitting today. While refraining from losing character by becoming overly maudlin and sentimental, I do want to pay tribute to this b man. I almost stumbled there and called him boy because he is compared to me, but he is The Man to his kids.

He is a good Daddy, a very good Daddy. He spends time with his little ones, and they adore him. When he recently had a little found money come to him, he did not run out and buy boy toys but spent it all on an expensive fence (remember the pics?) so his kids could play securely. With the little that was left, he then purchased a pretty grand playset and then spent many uncomplaining hours putting the thing together.

Not only is he a great dad but he's a pretty fair SIL too. However, in that role he is and forever will be known as The Boy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bugs, Campfires and Bread

What with two lots of company, babysitting and illnesses, it's been a hectic and draining few weeks here in Anvilcloudia. So, it was that both Cuppa and I luxuriated in the quietude of a slow-paced Monday. The only real item on the agenda was for me to attend a jam session on Monday evening, something that is hardly a chore. However, at the event, fatigue caught up with me, and I found my brain beginning to shut down less than halfway through the session. Cuppa has an expression: "It feels likes someone has pulled the plug and I'm circling the drain," and for almost the first time that expression seemed aptly descriptive of my Monday evening letdown.

However, on the way home I found solace in the knowledge that Tuesday should have been another fairly relaxing day as should the next few after it. Alas, I came home to the news that Althegal was very anxious to get to the cottage on the next day and would really like to meet us there. Of course, since get-togethers are few with our west coast daughter, we knew we'd make the effort.

Come Tuesday morning the p[lot thickened when Thesha called letting us know that Zach was sick and wondering if we could we babysit Nikki Dee during Zach's medical appointment. Shortly after, we heard further news from Althegal. They would be getting to the cottage around three o'clock and would need us to supply the key. Meanwhile, Cuppa also had a hair appointment, so we couldn't leave until about three, but we promised to get there as soon as we could. After all ...

... which of you, if his son makes a request for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he makes a request for a fish, will give him a snake?(Mathew 7:9-10, Bible in Basic English)

So, off we went on a three-hour drive into the Canadian hinterland to offer our hapless white but succulent bodies to both the black flies and the mosquitoes. In less than twenty-four hours we fellowshipped with the girls around the table, in the sunporch, and by the campfire, before tiredly journeying the three hours back home with much less blood flowing in our veins. However, we felt good in the knowledge that we had made the effort to be there for our kid and also to support the insect population of the forest with aour blood. Yes, we were leaving many happy and sated bugs behind. I felt sure that I could glimpse them in the rearview mirror waving contentedly and languidly on their blood-induced high as we pulled away.

But more importantly than donating our blood, we also gave our daughter bread rather than a stone, and isn't that what parents are supposed to do?

Following: a few photos around the campfire. Bug jackets are prevalent in some, and some are taken by holding a flashlight in one hand and the camera in the other. The perpetrator of the event, Althegal, is the subject of the first photo and manages to get into most of them. The little fellow, bug-jacketed from almost head to toe, in the last photo is her nephew by marriage.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Peripatetic Toddler

This child is a roamer, and we have found that it's best to not try to confine her too much because she knows what interests her and is too young to understand why she can't investigate.

Her peripatetic tendencies continued this past week when we all went to the mill for a picnic lunch and stroll in the woods.

Her wandering commenced even during lunch, and we took turns trying to steer her back to the family fold. This time, it was Mom's turn (below).

The harness comes in quite handy with her. She still gets around but is more susceptible to a little bit of guidance (below). "Yes, you can climb onto the bench. No, you can't climb over the back."

She is quite the tease, and is laughing at Amma's attempt to haul her back in after managing to scamper across the bridge.

I resumed the reigns for a walk in the woods, but when she decides that something in the path is worthy of her attention, she just flops down, and I wait.

The path meanders alongside the river, and this distressed her greatly because when she see's water, she wants to get at it — right away if not sooner. Although the bank was too steep for the most part, mercifully, we eventually found a way down. She was not at all reluctant to get right in — shoes and all.

Even so, I thought it better to remove her shoes because I didn't feel much like swimming downstream to retrieve them should the current sweep them off her feet. (If currents can sweep, that is.)

Later, it was the aunties' turn to direct her path, so to speak. She's not really sticking her tongue out, just working it as both she and her Buppa are prone to do.

Of course, she's always gadding about. The very next day at home, she donned her purse, Amma's sandals and announced, "Outside." So, outside it was.

For some reason though, it became Buppa's responsibility to carry the purse for a while.

Occasionally, the peripatetic toddler stops for a brief respite.

And that is good.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Moi the Canvas

In the past she's painted my head for Christmas because it makes such a large empty canvas, but I guess that was no longer enough for her. So she thought she'd have a go a dying my beard this time. Just the small gray patch below my lip. Everyone else, meaning Cuppa and Thesha, were being daring after all, and I wasn't about to play Mr Partypoopingchicken.

It coulda been worse.

And after a shower, it became quite faint.

Cuppa's two patches are much bigger and are sticking rather well, but I'll leave it for her to post. Meanwhile, here is the culprit-painter.

Does it all make sense now?

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I guess if all my frustrations in life remain as small as this one, I'll have it made in the shade, but really now.

I finally find a place that will sharpen lawnmower blades and ante up the rather exorbitant $16+ (but it's okay because that includes tax — Ha!). On the second mowing after this super duper sharpening job (I must admit that they did a good job), didn't I run over that blankety-blank raised water valve in the front yard, the one that I've been able to steer around for the past two years after learning slowly, very slowly, in our first two years here?

And then, if that isn't enough, didn't I run over the part of a rusty hanger that the guys so thoughtfully left behind after planting that new tree out back? And then, didn't I run over a second piece of hanger?

Guess who needs to have his lawnmower blade sharpened?

Guess who' absolutely refuses to do it until he buries that valve better? Or has a brain transplant?

Friday, June 12, 2009


She is kind enough to share my piece of Daddy's birthday cake with me.

I take her home from a visit and stand to leave. To prevent this, she closes the front door and leads me by the hand to the back yard.

We are at the park for a family picnic. She runs to me, hugs my leg, and says the magic words, "I love you." She doesn't know what they mean, but they touch me deeply.

She is the one whom I name like I have named no other. I name her honey, darling, sweetheart: words which are not, were not in my vocabulary. I don't know why; they just weren't.

I have loved and love them all, Cuppa, the children and their spouses, and they know this, but it seems that she somehow touches me in a place that is specially and uniquely hers and makes me different in some way.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Posting on the Fly

We're managing to keep busy, but here are a few more pics from the weekend for those who check for these sorts of updates.

Monday, June 08, 2009

We Have Company

The A Team is visiting from the Left Coast for a few days, so you probably won't hear from me very much except to post pictures. Fortunately, for me if not for you, I have a bunch at hand, especially of Nikki Dee who was exceedingly cute at Daddy's birthday party on the weekend. Zach had his share of cute moments too.