Thursday, July 30, 2009

Local Weather and Signs

(The Ottawa Citizen)

It's official. Ottawa's July precipitation has broken all records with 234.2 mm (> 9") which is about 10 mm over the previous record. Two winters past we only missed record snowfall by a very small margin, so we're certainly experiencing unusual wetness in general. Also, there are areas with flooded basements. Supposedly the system can handle anything except what is termed a hundred year storm (defined as between 90 -98 mm falling within a 24 hour period). Statistically, there's only a one percent chance of such a storm occurring; therefore, it should only happen once every hundred years. Somebody forgot to explain that the the atmosphere because there have been three such storms in the past 14 years. So, this is the third flooding of basements for some, and, apparently, the finances still haven't settled from the 2002 flood.

I have seen two signs (or photos of signs) recently that I am posting below. The first, I took at the local nursery; it made me feel good for some reason.

The next was in the newspaper. It amuses me to some degree although many might find it tasteless and unworthy of AC. It's of a sign at the entry to one of the communities within the city limits of Ottawa. The city left the bottom right square blank (outlined in red), so one wiseacre filled it in quite authentically because it fits in with the rest of the sign really well (in terms of graphic design anyway): so well that there have been inquiries. :) According to the newwspaper report, the sign has been removed and will be redone — with no section left blank.

(The Ottawa Citizen)

Dogging It

Yes, I confess that I've been dogging it a bit lately, for I have been enjoying the occasional hot dog, or to be more grammatical, occasionally enjoying hot dogs.

Two or three years ago, when Thesha asked what I would like for my special Fathers day meal, I chose grilled hot dogs. Of course, this was partly to save them a bit of money but also because I hardly ever get an opportunity to eat indulge in these tubular delights. Cuppa doesn't like them, you see, so we've seldom had them in the house.

Lately though, I've bought a couple of packs and I've been enjoying a hot dog for lunch periodically. I find these President's Choice, Angus Hot Dogs quite yummy. Still, as exotic as the Angus part makes them sound, I do know that they're not exactly health food. Therefore, having satisfied a craving, I'll refrain from adding any more packages to the cart on my next foraging in the meat department.

In the meantime, I have been enjoying my little splurge. The good news is that there's one more that's been beckoning me seductively from its shelf in the fridge . The bad news is that there is only one ... which I know is also good news in a way ...

Guess what's for lunch later today.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hitting the Books

I must admit to finding myself a trifle embarrassed the other night at Lorna's when everybody but me were able to discuss their current reads. In point of fact, I haven't been reading lately and haven't felt like it. Maybe it's the time of year, or maybe it's because my current three books (if I can still call them current after gathering much dust) haven't exactly gripped me.

They're all non-fiction, two about Christianity (the scriptures etc) and one about the Celts. I have read a number of religious books with interest, but the latest two simply haven't grabbed me. Consequently, I haven't been grabbing then either. And for the book about the Celts, there's much good information, but it's done by an academic and not a real writer in my opinion. Page after page reads like a list of names of either people or places or both to me, and there are so many that they all become one meaningless blur. Frankly, for one who simply desires some general knowledge, it's mind numbing stuff.

However, our dear Ginnie had recently recommended The Welsh Girl, and Cuppa found it at the library for me. (In our division of labour, she's evolved into the library finder outer). Due to my ennui, the novel sat here for a few weeks without tempting me, but after being embarrassed the other night, I decided to get on with it. For a brief while, I was put of because who really wants to read a World War II account? But only for a very brief while.

Really, the book just happens to be set in that time period in Wales and is really about character and growth and not about the war: not really although it gives reason to the plot. The guy, Karsten, is a German who is placed in a POW camp in Wales. The girl, Esther, is a sheep farmer's daughter and a barmaid at the local pub. I'll leave it there except to say that Rudolph Hess is in the book as well as his interogator, Rotheram, a German Jew.

It's not exactly a they all live happily ever after tome, but it does work out more or less satisfactorily in the end as they all get on with their lives with a new sense of self.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Photos from Last Week

It's not a bad day weather-wise — temporarily at least. Internally, I am less than 100%. Don't you just hate picking up a summer bug? What a waste!

Although it's neither Foto Friday nor Silent Sunday, I have a plethora of photos to share. Last week, while Daddy convalesced, we spent a lot of time supervising The Bonnie Wee One, even more than usual. So ... on with the show!

We managed to find enough of a break in the clouds for a little pool time. While the weather still wasn't ideal for waterplay, it wasn't as cold as our first venture the week before. She was much less nervous this time around and was so anxious to get in that she didn't allow Buppa ease-in-gently time.

On Saturday morning after her fourth night of sleepovers, I was grilling chicken in my pajamas (me, not the chicken) at breakfast time (you read that right). The grass, mostly clover actually, was wet and high (it's hard to find a long enough dry spell to cut it), but Nikki Dee went out and had a blast. Mostly, she was attracted to the fresh, wet, black earth that I had just laid around our new, little sapling (or maybe it's a big sapling ... or little tree). That resulted in her first entire wardrobe change of the day — the day which had hardly begun.

Before proceeding, let me reassure you that even Canadians do not normally grill chicken at breakfast time. In my defense, it wasn't for breakfast. Rather it was a case of "We've had this chicken thawed in the fridge for several days now and we need to cook it or toss it." So, I did ... cook it.

Moving right along ... here is just one more Nikki Dee photo (I'm weary, so that's all you get no matter how much you clamour for more). It's from one of our little walks. We like to tire her out in the vain hope that she will be a trifle less rambunctious. Hah! Fat chance! She'll probably grow up to claim child abuse over the restraint that we use, but, meanwhile, it makes life much easier.

Oh phooey! One more of her before moving on. She has taken to frequent porting of both an apple and orange. It began with one orange in her grocery store visits. Then, she added an apple, and then she began carrying the two in the house and around the neighbourhood. We attribute her more bizarre proclivities to the French side of the family. Also of note: she says "Ornage." All the letters are there: just in different order.

Come Sunday, the Amma and the Buppa were ready for a rest. We headed up to the local nursery where the daylillies were in full bloom. In an odd turn of events, the sun came out, and we were actually too darn hot out there in the field. So, we headed to the shade garden where I took this photo of my Cuppa.

That's all I've got folks. I'm knackered. have a good day.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Oogley Googley Natalie ...

... where both oogley and googley must be pronounced with three syllables as in Natalie and as in Google with an ee added at the end.

Hold on; I'm not completely mad; let me splain.

Let's begin with Natalie ... as in Natalie McMaster ... the Natalie McMaster ... the most renown Canadian fiddler, Natalie McMaster. yeah, that one. Last night, she performed at a free outdoor concert with the NAC orchestra (our local symphony). As the photo below will show, the crowd was large and we were a long way back. Being a free concert, however, I was fine with that.

I took the photo just before the performance commenced, and in it I have outline a gentleman who was standing (almost in the middle of the photo). Would you believe that he remained standing throughout the whole concert? Fortunately for him, it wasn't a terribly long concert, but my old bones certainly wouldn't have preferred to stand for that long. Maybe this was his uninformed version of a mosh pit. If so, he needs help rather desperately.

To the point then: Natalie was fantastic. I've heard a lot of wonderful fiddlers in the last few years, and I think she has moved to the top of the list. Not only is she a great fiddler, but she has stage presence. She remains standing and constantly dances around the stage. And she's also durn purddy. In addition, some fiddle music is better to my ears than other, and she packs a pretty nice, primarily Cape Breton repertoire. Cape Breton music is Scottish in origin and has maintained it's old roots well, so it's pretty authentic, centuries old stuff.

Even with our little 3x optical zoom (which I admit isn't much), this was as close a shot as I could manage. I've outlined Natalie at the bottom of the stage.

So what about the Googley bit, AC? Cause you're losin me man.

Well, a few weeks ago, an ad for the concert appeared on my sidebar in Google Mail, aka GMail. I seldom notice these ads, but I saw this one. For whatever reason, the concert wasn't publicized too much until just a few days ago, so I may not have known about it otherwise.

But wait ... there's more.

I knew that a fellow local blogger, Lorna from Lorna in Wonderland actually lived across from the venue, so I wrote to ask her about parking in that area. She invited us to use her building's visitors parking and to stop in for a pre-concert visit and snack.

So, you see, Google not only provided me with the information about the event but also with company since we both as do all Blogger bloggers blog on a Google hosted service. While Lorna and I have been blog visiting back and forth for several years, we have never met despite living in the same city and each of us knowing approximately where the other is located.

Now we have been able to personalize our relationship a little, and IMO, the visiting went pretty darn well before, during and after the concert over coffee at her place. I think that's where the warm and fuzzy oogley part comes in, but I confess that I am reaching. Here are Lorna and me just before the concert began.

And here is Cuppa, Lorna, and her husband, Dave, during the concert. Both Dave and Lorna were wonderful hosts. I was fairly confident that this meeting would work well as we have done this type of thing a few times previously. I was right; they're a great and hospitable couple.

Finally, here is Natalie in a YouTube clip. It's long, so you won't want to watch it all, but if you don't know her, it will introduce you to a fine, Canadian treasure.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dedicated ...

... to Barry and Russ

There was an amazing and extremely touching dance on So You Think You Can Dance this week. It was a tribute to and reflection upon a battle with cancer. In this particular case it was breast cancer, but where this miserable disease occursin one's body is surely beside the point.

I can't embed this video, but I can send you to the site where you can view it (just scroll down).

Barry is a wonderful blogger who is waging a courageous battle against cancer and hopefully winning the fight. If you folks haven't read An Explorer's View of Life, you need to amend that right now.

Russ, I have met once, and will likely never meet again. He won't know that I am dedicating this to him, but that doesn't matter. I jammed with him the other day and would never have dreamt from his spirit and demeanour that he was battling cancer. I was only told about his struggle later.

Here's the link to the video once again:

Update: Apparently, I can embed it. I just had to watch it to the end in order to find that option.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Can't Name That Tune

While it hasn't reached ear worm proportions, I have a tune running around in my head this morning. I don't really know or play this tune, but I must have given it a good effort when it was called at the jam last night. I'm not very good with names. In fact, I'm very bad with names. Some of my students used to take this to mean that I didn't know them very well when, in fact, I did. It's just that their names might take a while to surface.

With fiddle tunes, it doesn't exactly help that I can't call on words to assist my recollection because there are no words for the overwhelming majority of tunes, or, if there are, I am not aware of them. Sometimes I'd like to know the name of a tune, like the one that is presently percolating right now, because I'd like to learn it. But when I'm in the presence of those who might know, I can't even hum it because it has gone to be replaced by another. Sigh.

The other day, I was humming a tune and decided that I did know it and that it was Bonaparte's March, but then I thought, "No, no: it's really Marie Jessie Gillis." However, I soon dismissed that notion and went back to Bonaparte before thinking, "Ah, now I know; it's really Foggy Dew." After another few moments, I decided that it really was Meeting of the Waters. The odd thing is that although I more or less play Meeting, it's not one of my tunes: not one that I play or call.

Now that it's gone from my head, I am wondering if it wasn't really Da Slockit Light. I really don't think so and think it was Meeting of the Waters, but there's no way to check now because it's long gone from my head. In fact, I can no longer hum the tune that was playing incessantly when I began this post. It's vanished: maybe to return and maybe not.

Memories and Fears

Although I've taken a few days to post a plethora of photos, my mind is still stuck back in the era of my initial wearing of shorts and the epic colouring of pants.

Times were different then. There wasn't the peer pressure to sport Nike shoes and Gap jeans and stupid baseball hats worn at cock-eyed angles. Still, kids being kids, or at least me being me, there was some internal pressure to fit in. The ridiculous pettiness of wants that caused me some angst then almost mortifies me now. I can remember three incredibly juvenile wishes from that time — the time of young adolescence.

One: at me school, we boys didn't exactly wear uniforms, but we had a strict dress code that included ties and dress shirts. If I recall, jackets and/or sweaters were optional, but they were frequently worn. At that time, around 1961, it seemed to me that suit jackets with two vents at the back of suit jackets were de rigeur. Alas, not exactly being a fashion statement (remember the colouring of the suit pants), I was reduced to wearing a single vent jacket. Oh the shame and ignominy!

Two: in Montreal winters, the wearing of snow boots (overshoes) in winter was necessary, especially when one had to walk, as I did, a long distance to school. From boyhood, I had worn boots with a buckle at the top. But some guys were exceedingly cool and wore boots with two zippers at the front. Most wonderfully, they could loosen the zippers and let that front flap down in a kind of cool, jaunty look. What an awesome way to dress! I wanted me a pair like that.

Three: I had a briefcase with handles to transport my homework back and forth. Not that I bothered doing homework much, but I did usually trundle the books about regardless. And it was a way to transport boring and banal lunches too: which I often didn't bother to eat. Anyway ... I perceived the in (although I don't think we used the word back then) type of carrying case to be one without handles: kind of like a big looseleaf binder — very big — big enough to port several books ... and one unappetizing lunch.

That's it: the three items that I wished for. I got two of the them — the boots and the briefcase binder — and I must say that I didn't find them particularly satisfying. The suit jacket: I don't remember if I ever got a dual-vented one or whether they went out of and stayed out of fashion or whether I just didn't care anymore. Regardless, we soon moved to Ontario where school dress was much more casual, and it didn't really matter anymore. Being a year older probably helped too.

There's not much point to these recollections; they just surfaced when I pondered upon that era. It amazes me how dumb I was: how dumb kids of a certain age can be. It makes me afraid because there is peer pressure now: a lot of it, especially for girls. It makes me scared for that precious Nikki Dee of mine: scared to think of the ordeals that she will face. I'm scared enough already. She's a friendly kid who wants to greet and hug every child she sees, and I know she will be hurt and changed because of how kids will and do respond. I want protect her, take her away to the woods where I will homeschool her. I will bring her back when the horror that is adolescence diminishes into adulthood. I don't suppose that her parents will consent to this though. God help this jewel of a young human being!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quite a Juxtaposition

You can find some interesting land use juxtapositions in smaller centres like ours. The house above is big, the lot that it's sitting on constituting almost all of one city block, both back to front as well as side to side. It's close to the centre of town which is appropriate because at one point in time, before modern transit, particularly the automobile, became widely available, the wealthy tended to build their houses close to urban cores.

However in smaller urban places, such as our town, land uses can change remarkably in a very short space. In point of fact the following dwelling, perhaps the poorest, little, old house in town in on the very street that the above mansion backs on to.

This juxtaposition, rich and poor living cheek by jowl, has frequently caught my attention, and I finally thought to snap these photos whilst we were walking past the other day.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Summer That Isn't

The weather around here is just nuts, I tell ya. Nuts! We're running about four degrees cooler than average so far this summer. That's measuring against the average, mind you me, not necessarily one of those torridly hot summers. (And for those of you who don't do celsius, just double it to eight for an approximation of farenheit equivalent.) That's a pretty major difference.

By chance, we caught a meteorologist on the radio this morning (remember radios?), and he said something to the effect that there's a major high pressure centre stuck over the Atlantic. That has brought a cool low into our area, and this low is spinning around like spokes on a wheel. We can see it in the sky. Clouds just keep on coming and coming — white ones, black ones, and ones with a bit of both. Fortunately, there are also blue patches. It's pretty weird.

There's a folk festival in a town that's about a half hour to our west. Yesterday, we set out despite the ominous sky. Just as we were leaving town with doubt filled minds, I said, "Let's keep driving until it starts to rain." Immediately, and for once I'm not exaggerating, drops fell on the windshield, so we turned around.

Today was almost an exact replay. So, we ended up sipping coffee in our local park and taking pictures of the wacky sky. I guess none of those menacing clouds that you see above and below passed directly over our heads because it didn't rain. It was pretty darn chilly though.

Next Saturday evening, we hope to attend another free, outdoor concert in the city. Let's hope the weather has moved on by then.

Silent Sunday

... not quite silent, but I'll stick with this re-usable title.

Perhaps you recall this photo from almost two months ago? I had just laid some rocks around an area that was to become a garden.

Well, this is how it looks now. The petunias have filled in beautifully, hiding the perennials that are just getting a start on life. Believe it or not, there are eighteen perennials in there. Next year, they should dominate with some support from annuals. While I don't think it can look any better, I find perennials more interesting as different plants come into and out of bloom, making the garden take on different appearances as the season unfolds.

Perhaps you noticed the plants that are still in pots in the background? There are three Shasta Daisies and three Lilies. I really thought I was done with planting for this year, but when the local garden centre advertised two gallon pots on sale for half price, I had to take a look — and found Shasta Daisies that look like Chrysanthemums. There were only three left, so I grabbed them while the grabbing was good.

Then I wandered around the place some more and found gorgeous lilies, also on sale. While they're not called Stargazers, they look pretty darn similar, so I bought three of those as well. At worse, they make a wonderful showing for this year; at best, I'll find or make a place to plant them, and they'll bless us for years to come. The lilies are blooming now and look and smell gorgeous.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Snaps

Since I had a lot of photos left over from Foto Friday, I am hereby inaugurating Saturday Snaps.

Celtfest 2009
While Celtfest has extended itself in recent years, the main events are still the Saturday night and Sunday afternoon concerts. Saturday evening begins in the park and switches to The Old Townhall until about midnight. Cuppa snapped the first as we were leaving the park for the hall on Saturday night. The others were taken after and during the rain on Sunday afternoon. The group in the second photo is The Fitzgeralds. What an amazingly talented family. They are four fine stepdancers and fiddlers.

First Time in the Pool
Nikki Dee was a little nervous at first but didn't want to get out no matter how cold she got. Zachary cheered from the sidelines (fourth photo).

The perpetually busy toddler helps Amma and Buppa water the flowers.

Breakfast Time
Mom brought Zach over the other morning, just in time for breakfast. The boy recently started on solid food and really likes it.

Floor Time
After breakfast, Zach enjoyed some floor time. He can roll over now, both ways: front to back, and back to front. He's exceedingly clever.

Two More
Nikki Dee had to climb a fence on a recent walk before hanging almost upside down from a swing at the park.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Foto Friday

I have been very delinquent in all facets of blogging. I can't catch up with the photo backlog completely in one post, but I can make a darn good start.

Whether at the library or at bedtime, we try to read to The Bonnie Wee One. Although it's often an exercise in rapid page turning, one hopes that it does some good.

With this one, you're never sure of what's next. Will she want to ride, push or wander, or all three — at once.

At the Playground
This is one way to get her wiggles out. These photos are from three different parks. She seems to love things with wheels. In the first picture, she took over one shy little fellow's cart and made him cry. Of course, it's not malicious, she simply thinks that every person is a friend and that every toy is there for her. Unfortunately, she will learn that not everyone is her friend. Fortunately, she will learn that not every toy is hers.

She took her first trip in the bicycle trailer that Cuppa and I received for Fathers Day and Mothers Day. She wasn't too happy about the helmet thingie, but once we got going, she quite enjoyed herself. The last photo is simply from a little jaunt that Cuppa and I took without her. We found a nice, paved country road, but then I had to stop and figure out where the heck we were.