Saturday, November 28, 2009

Of Christmas, Cookies and Cats

As I mentioned yesterday, our Jewish DIL loves to decorate Christmas cookies, but I don't think the world has previously witnessed such dedication and artistry in said cookies. She sat at the kitchen table all afternoon in her pj's and created various thematic groups such as the very traditional Christmas symbols below: tree and snowman.

There is also a Jewish series ...

... and the blended Hanukkah-Christmas series, which apparently offers a brand new festive season called Chistmakuh.

Christmas, however, is family time, which must also be commemorated. Here are Buppa, Amma, Mom and Dad ...

... and the aunties and the children.

But what about Rocky? We couldn't leave him out. Could we? Before I reveal Mr Cat, however, let me tell you that he loves salty snacks, toast, bran muffins ... and cookies. Cuppa covered all Puff's artwork last night before we retired. One, however, was left peeking out from under the wax paper. Of all the dozens of cookies, guess which one was exposed for a feline lick-fest?

Did you guess right?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Early Celebrations

While Cuppa has had the place decorated for almost two weeks now, and we have been beginning to listen to Christmas tunes, our seasonal celebrations kick into a higher gear this weekend. D3 arrived from Vancouver last night, and D2 will arrive within the next hour or so. (The staggered arrivals due to the fact that D3 was already in the city for a conference, and that D2 hasn't been able to travel until today.)

Our very Jewish D3 loves joining us for our Christmas and has been listening to Christmas songs whilst decorating Christmas cookies all afternoon. Cuppa set up the artistic D3 for this activity last year, and she so loved it that she could hardly wait to do it all again. The ultra talented Puff does an amazing job and keeps her own tradition alive by decorating some of the cookies with a Hanukkah theme. Cuppa posted some pics of last year's efforts.

You see, the girls won't be here for Christmas this year, so we're ramping up the festivities early. Tomorrow, we will all take part in the annual Anvilclan trimming of the tree. Music will be playing, and we'll be snacking of the kinds of munchies that we usually enjoy on Christmas Eve. While the turkey and presents will wait until the 25th when we'll hold separate observances (one on the west coast and one here), we have chosen to celebrate as much as we we can this weekend.

And that's the background story for changing my template today.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cat as Teacher and Director

I am quite used to Rocky, the cat, leading me to the kitchen multiple times daily. Except for first thing in the morning when he is on his quest for breakfast — tuna (shudder) — his heart's desire is a dish of cat milk. He meows, twists and turns, imploring me to follow. Which I do — obediently.

Yesterday, however, he led me through to the kitchen toward the back door. I both thought and said,"No way, Buster, you're not going out." But that wasn't his intent, for I was quite baffled when he sidled into the living room with more mewing, twisting, turning and imploring.

Frankly, I was flummoxed. What did the blasted feline want now?

Cuppa speculated that he might want me to sit down, so that he could sit on my lap.

I did. He did. Much contented purring ensued.

Whenever my hand would cease its caressing, I would be reminded of Cat's expectations, by a long-suffering stare: "Hey guy, I'm still here. Let's get with the program." And I do.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Outing for Cuppa ...

... and Multitudinous Cane Sightings for Anvilcloud

After several exceedingly sickly days, the lady felt in need of a short visit with the grands yesterday, so out we went.

We stopped for coffee on the way, and I experienced something that struck me a little odd. One doesn't seem to see many canes these days: at least I don't or don't notice them. The guy in front of me at the coffee shop had a cane, but I didn't think anything of it. Except when I turned around, didn't the guy directly behind me have one too. I made mention to Cuppa when I climbed back in the car that I just found it to be a rather occurrence unique.

Cuppa had a little visit with her grandchildren and was able to see Zach walk on his own for the first time. The little guy was happy to see her and waved merrily: "Hi Amma!"

The girl spent a lot of time listening to Waltz Across Texas, while concurrently watching the graphics and drawing. Talk about multitasking. I still find it remarkable how she often sits quietly for such a long time while listening to music.

It was soon time for Cuppa to come home for a nap, and Buppa went out for a long walk: on which he saw three more people with canes. What was up with the canes yesterday?

Monday, November 23, 2009

He Walks

We're not a family of early walkers. Zach's Mom walked at twelve months: fairly normal but definitely not early. His dad, aunt and his sister all waited until they were in their 14th month. That's not zippy.

However, Zach has begun at 9 1/2 months. The crazy thing is that it appeared that he could have started even earlier. He was certainly strong enough and didn't have any problems standing for long intervals. He didn't quite trust his balance enough to let go though. It all changed on the weekend, and the boy is quite chuffed over himself.

He Walks ...

I marvel at the uniqueness of it all. Given family dynamics, where does this earliness come from? He certainly doesn't seem to be terribly aggressive or rambunctious, and, being almost quiet and studious, his personality doesn't seem to be as out there as his sister. If it were simply a matter of physical strength I concur that he certainly has that, but I imagine that there's more to it. What that something is, I'm not sure. Is it blind chance that he simply happens to discover his legs early, or is there something in the construction of his brain that leads him to do this? I don't know the answer, but I do find it fascinating to observe and speculate.

Below: a few video clips spliced together and my attempt to add a music track.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pull Over, Lady

I don't mind waiting a bit while people gather their thoughts and am not too quick to blow my horn if the person ahead of me doesn't proceed instantly when the light changes because I know it's easy to get lost in one's thoughts. Believe me, I know. So, I stopped and waited while she looked down, engrossed. I might have been able to squeeze around her, but I wasn't all that impatient.

My goodness thought I after a certain amount of time had elapsed, "She must be having real trouble reading her grocery list," so I parked my own cart to the side of the aisle and edged myself around her to check the shelf just beyond.

When I was easing by, however, I was rather shocked to see that she was not checking her list at all. Nope: she was texting!

I took a moment to scan the shelf, failed to find what I was looking for, turned to return to my cart, only to see that she was still at it, remaining statue-like in the centre of the aisle, apparently mesmerized by whatever was on her cell screen. I maneuvered back to my cart, turned it around to head in the other direction and said in surprised tone to the guy who had lined up behind me: "She's texting!"

He smiled, and as I turned to exit the aisle, I saw him trying to edge his cart past the woman — still engrossed in her cell phone.

We have recently enacted laws in the this province covering cell phone use in vehicles. You either have to communicate hands-free or pull of to the side of the road. Whodathunk that we'd need a similar pull-over law for grocery stores?

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Morning Puzzle

Here it is, seven o'clock in the A.M., and I've completed the daily Sudoku in the morning paper. Whoda thunkit: not about completing the puzzle but doing so by 7:00?

I've never been a morning person. Certainly, the normal worker who is nighthawk by nature is forced to stumble out and about in a state of bewilderment at ungodly hours. (Or are they, in point of fact, the godly hours?) But once I retired and was able to fall into my own rhythms, I found myself staying up late and lying in a bit in the morning.

Oh, come on now. I wasn't all that bad; the lying in wasn't until noon, more like 9:00 or perhaps 10:00 in extreme cases. Although the larks among you might look askance at such sleeping in, I submit that the cause was not laziness as the wee hours would frequently find AC doing productive things. I mean to say that we owls never accuse the larks of being slothful when they retire at ridiculously early hours, so why the reverse? I can remember trying to learn the basics of Photoshop or html in those wee hours, for example when all good morning larks would be sound asleep, and it never occurred to me to think them lazy. Quite simply, my mind would frequently be humming along in great form in those after midnight hours, and it seemed wise to take advantage of it.

These days, however, although I endure nights of problematic sleep, I seldom find myself perking in those wee hours. Just last night, for example, I had to shut Dan Brown's latest wild romp through mystically symbolic adventures before midnight as my eyes were glueing beyond comfort. Sometimes, I'm now actually very tired in the evening, which was not the case just a few short years ago.

I can narrow much of the time frame of the change in waking and sleeping habits down to the past two years. When Nikki Dee was new, I would sometimes head over in the middle of the night to rock her and give Mom a few hours of rest. It wasn't all that onerous for me to do that, and the reward was great as I certainly bonded with the little tyke. However, when brother, Zach, came into this world just two years later, it was certainly fortuitous for all of us that he was a much better sleeper because Buppa no longer felt up to middle-of-the-night-rocking-sessions.

Why my switch suddenly flipped after all this time, I know not for sure, but I suspect it has to do with sleep issues. Frankly, the quality of my repose is now frequently not up to snuff, and I often find myself sleeping only on the surface. Whereas, not long ago I would, could and did stay up late, once I got to bed, I tended to sleep fairly well on most nights. Although I still enjoy some good sleeps, for the most part, it is no longer so. My best guess is that, usually, poor sleep on the previous night causes me to be tireder on the ensuing evening ... and so on in a circular pattern that is not altogether pleasing to me.

So, that's why it is noteworthy, to me and no one else, I'm sure (although I'm afflicting you with my ruminations regardless), that I completed a Sudoku by 7:00 AM this morn. It represents quite a sudden alteration in the pattern of my life. Although I find that it's not altogether disagreeable to rise and shine (or rise and puzzle as it were), please pardon this writer if he is not completely delirious with the cause of it all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Odd Structure, Part 2

In response to blogging about The Wall last week, at least one person requested updates, so here is one. Work has begun on the store/office on the left side (above). You can now see a bit of bracing against the wall until the roof is in place, I suspect. In fact, both sides are now braced (see next two photos).

The smarter-than-me Cuppa studied the sign (below) while I was taking this picture (above) and noticed that the shape of the projected roof matches the wall very well — which is a darn good thing, I rather think. It also shows that there will be a series of shops/offices (I suspect mostly the latter). In looking at the pads and the electrical hookups, it appears that there will be about ten places of business in all and that this will be the only firewall. So, perhaps one of the establishments next to the wall requires extra protection because it involves greater risk? Bakery? Restaurant?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Of Carols and Dilemmas

It was less than a week ago that I posted about getting my iPod ready for Christmas music but that I wasn't ready to listen yet. Well, things sure changed quickly. I first gave in during that somewhat sleepless night that I had, and then The Bonnie Wee One took me the rest of the way.

What the picture below shows is Nikki Dee nestling against me. What it doesn't show is that Jingle Bells by BoneyM was being played ... over and over and over again. She began by just listening and dancing solo for quite awhile before migrating to my lap where she stayed for a very, very long time in various positions and contortions. We were playing the song from iTunes over the computer, and she was also fascinated by the visualizations. She can be a going concern, flitting from this activity to that, but it was amazing how long she was content to sit with Bups and listen and watch. And I am only referring to one session right now, not the other two of the same day. I mean to say that I quite like both BoneyM and Jingle Bells, but really now.

But that's not the dilemma I referred to in the title. No, it's more serious than that.

In the previous post, I mentioned how she fussed while we were in the car, not wanting to go home but very keen to go to "Buppa House". That was Thursday, so we brought her home on Friday afternoon, and kept her until Saturday evening. She was absolutely delightful during her stay, but it was difficult to know how to get her home without causing a meltdown. I wouldn't describe these meltdowns as temper tantrums either because the kid is absolutely crushed and breaking her heart over having to leave us. The heartbreak is quite genuine, I'm afraid.

She's clever too. During the day on Saturday, she wouldn't even consider going shopping with Buppa because that would mean getting in the car, and who knows whether Buppa might then take her home. The little blighter knows it's out of her control then.

In the end, we thought it would be easiest if Mom were to pick her up. We were wrong. Nothing is easy, and poor Buppa and Amma were almost crushed to see her in such a woebegone state. We don't know what to do about the heartbreak. It's almost easier on all of us if we don't see her in the first place, but that's not the answer either. It's quite a dilemma, I tell ya.

Friday, November 13, 2009

On the Eleventh Day

Our poor Nikki Dee had quite a tough time for ten days after her swine shot. And when Nikki Dee isn't healthy and happy, the rest of us aren't going to be too jocular because she's an emotional two-year-old, and she's quite free in sharing those emotions. She's been putting Mom and Dad through the wringer. We've tried to be around to help from time to time, but it hasn't been easy for anyone.

We did take her to the playground yesterday, and she really took to grabbing onto this low basketball hoop and then dropping into my arms. We did this again and again and again ... until both her arms and mine were too tried to do it anymore. At least mine were. Old Buppa had had the biscuit.

While we were at the park, she was reasonably well distracted from her plight, but it did take a lot of effort to keep her happy. In one of her games, she would attempt to wander off, and I would have to grab her and haul her back and make it into quite the event. As with the basketball hoop, this little act was repeated over and over. However, perhaps you can tell from the look on her face in the closer shots, that she wasn't quite her usual, happy self. She was trying hard but not quite making it.

We could barely get her home. She'd weep and wail whenever the car got anywhere near her neighbourhood no matter from what direction we approached. She'd whine for more rides and more Beluga (the Raffi song that we play in the car). Eventually, we had to take a very distraught kid back home though.

So, come today, we resolved to have her for a sleepover because she so likes to be with us and to come to "Buppa house." The crazy thing though, on the eleventh day after that shot, she reverted to her normal self and was an absolute delight. So really, we didn't help Mom and Dad out too very much by having her over today as opposed to any of the last ten.

But at least we tried. Here she is in her elf hat — actually the elf hat that mommy picked up for me as a bit of a gag. Nikki Dee is being a bit serious trying to adjust it in this photo, but I assure you that she was enjoying herself immensely.

Weird Synchronicity

This is such flipping weird occurrence of synchronicity, that I can't resist, dropping a short post on you. I was just sorting through some recent bills. On November 11, I did some grocery shopping, and I just noticed that the bill came to $111.11. That's 111.11 on 11/11. I can scarcely fathom that happening. Why I find it delightful, I don't know. Small brain? Easily amused? Both?

In the Bleak Mid Autumn

Although the Christmas/Solstice song says "mid winter," at least we usually have snow around here to brighten the landscape come that time of year. In mid to late autumn, however, not so much. The trees are bare and there is very little Wow Factor, especially on an overcast day as it was when I took these photos whilst on a little stroll. I was looking for good shots, but I gave up and decided to show just what I saw — not much.

It (above) doesn't exactly draw you in, does it? I mean, I'll bet no one is wishing that s/he were there. There's just no Ooh La La as they might say one province to the east of us. Pointing the camera into the woods (below) seemed to make it even worse. Gloomy or what?

So, I zeroed in on some dead organic matter, and used some filters to warm the pictures up a little and came up with these.

Looking for Anything ...

Looking for Anything ...

Can't blame a guy for trying, can you?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our Lonely Tracks

It took us awhile to notice, and of course, Cuppa was the first. It was last spring, and she hadn't noticed hearing any trains lately.

We used to hear them a lot in this community. Pretty well everyone is close enough to the tracks that we could hear the whistles blowing at all hours of the day and night.

Then they stopped.

Shortly after she noticed there was a piece in the local paper about the silence of the tracks. Apparently, the main user was a different company than that which owns the tracks. With the recession causing a decline in traffic, the company with the traffic was able to handle all of their own needs on their own tracks.

And silence descended on our town.

My guess is that the trains are gone for good, and although the whistles could be aggravating at times, they're missed regardless.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An Odd Structure

For fear of prurient voyeurs flocking here and being bitterly disappointed, I wouldn't put it in the title, in fact I won't even put it in the body of the post, but there is a V3ry W3ird E3r3ction just around the corner from our place. After the pad had been poured for some sort of building or other, one might have expected the outer frame to be built. But no, great diligence was paid to building what certainly appears to be an interior wall.

A neighbour told me that it's a firewall between what will become two commercial places, but neither me, myself nor I have ever seen the like of it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sunset Thru Our Window

I happened to walk by our bedroom to my den the other night around sundown, which occurs remarkably early now, and I thought it worth trying to capture that fleeting moment. Such brainwaves do not always work, but this one seemed to. except for a very little cropping, that's pretty well the way it came out of the camera.

Sunset thru the Window

Devilish Details

Most of you would probably agree that it wouldn't be easy for a normal person to mess up (I confess to wishing to use a different and stronger four-letter word than mess) the instructions for cooking oatmeal. So, let me tell you how I did just that this morning.

My recipe calls for 3/4 cup of water, 3/4 cup of apple juice and 2/3 cup of oatmeal along with a pinch of salt and a 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. It's not difficult, is it? However, since it's been awhile since I made it, I was forced to refer to my notes. The thing of it is that I have two columns, one for a serving of 4 and one for a serving of 2. Can you guess the rest? Yes I added the fluid for 4 and the oatmeal for 2.

It's no big deal; I simply tossed and started over rather than endeavour to amend. But it does illustrate a recurring weakness of mine — not being able to focus on the details. It's the way I am, and since the devil is in the details, I often have a devil of a time with supposedly simple tasks. Let me tell you that I don't feel terribly clever when I do something like this, which means that since I frequently do something like this, I seldom feel very clever.

One thing that usually helps me to feel a teensy weensy bit clever on Monday mornings is the one-star Sudoku in the morning paper. I can usually whip through it in no time flat without even resorting to making little notations. However, since I was trying to complete the Sudoku concurrently with (ahem) messing up the porridge, I managed to mess up the puzzle as well. Yesterday morning, I was able to do the five-star puzzle, but this morning, I flubbed the one-star.

So, now I really feel dumb and wonder if it's good or bad that it's Monday. Does this morning presage a bad week, or can it only get better?

Making Ready

SillySIL was kind enough to offer to change our tires this weekend. Although I'd like to think that we won't actually need winter tired for a few weeks yet, it doesn't hurt to be prepared. However, although we don't have a trailer, we, nevertheless, ran in to a few hitches. To wit: his jack wouldn't lift our van high enough to get the wheel of the ground and neither would his neighbour's (the other guy in the photo below). The dog couldn't figure it out either.

Help eventually arrived in the form of the neighbour's friend, but then we faced yet another hitch, for one of our winter tires had a very fine screw nicely embedded into the rubber. So, off AC went to Canadian Tire with his tire in SillySIL's car where he had to wait for a little longer than he would have liked to get it repaired.

However, the car is ready for winter. AC isn't, but Harriet the Chariot is.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Good Girl Jar ...

... Then and Now

A long time ago in a far away place, about thirty-five years ago, give or take, it was potty training time, and Cuppa made a Good Girl Jar for Thesha. It would hold little treats and incentives and served us well for a number of years, and we never threw it out, even moving it across province several years ago.

Now that it's Nikki Dee's turn enter the next phase of maturity, and Cuppa asked me to make a cover for a new jar. Here it is on the left, Thesha's original being on the right.

I made two picture strips, one black-and-white like the original. Cuppa chose the colour version for the jar.

Good Girl Jar Label

Good Girl Jar Label

Saturday, November 07, 2009

And So It Begins

I pretty well refuse to think about Christmas before the beginning of November, but we're here, so I begin — with teensy weensy baby steps only, of course. One doesn't wish to go overboard just yet, after all. With regards to my wish list, it rather behooves me to get on the ball early because my ladies are usually at pains to get me to give them some clues. In the event, I have sent my Christmas list to Thesha and Cuppa. It's a list of two items. What can I say? I don't lack for much.

So, that's one Christmas todo item taken care of, and the other is getting my music in order. Last year, nearer to Christmas than it is now, my iPod lost touch with my iTunes, and I was forced to be without some of my Christmas music. So it was that I spent many hours yesterday, moving many tunes from the lost tunes folder to the normal iTunes folder.

Once that was done, I updated my iPod and discovered that I have almost 300 songs in my Christmas playlist. Good grief. That does represent many years and even a few decades of accumulation, but still ...

Included on the list are 12 versions of Silent Night, 7 of What Child is This?, 5 White Christmases and so on and so forth. Maybe I need to spend another day whittling down the list just a little, eh?

Otherwise, don't become unduly alarmed about me rushing the season. I just want to get the music ready; I don't really wish to play it yet. No, not yet.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Boys of 9J

Recent discussion about introducing some all-boys classes in this province has led to various opinions being advanced. Our premier, Dalton McGuinty, for example, has come out in support, at least in some cases. It is thought that many boys who are lagging behind their brighter sisters could benefit from separation from the fairer sex. I imagine that the supposed benefits are two-fold: (i) they would be less intimidated by being separated from the more verbally advanced females; (ii) and, they could be taught in a way that would cater to their learning styles.

I really don't have much of an opinion on the matter. If the right boys and right teachers were identified and the right training and the right resources made available in the right-size classrooms, it might work out well for some. However, by and large, I rather feel that most boys benefit to some degree by being in mixed groups — and vice versa, I suppose. The trouble is that I listed five rights above, and my experiences in the education system informs me that most criteria are not met when push comes to shove or, more correctly, when dollars come into play. I have seen wonderful plans on paper not implemented correctly because the dollars were not allocated to implement them appropriately.

However, my main purpose in mentioning this topic is to reminisce about my personal experience as a student in an all-boys class. I was fourteen and got stuck in one, quite by accident I presume as I rather doubt that I was seen to be in danger of not progressing in a mixed class.

As I said, I was fourteen and still small. As a kid born towards the end of the school year, I was always one of the youngest anyway, but there seemed to be a number of hold-backs in this group, so the discrepancy was greater than usual. To some extent, I felt like a boy among men although I'm sure that at least half of the class felt the same way. Let's just say that there were some tall kids with deep voices in that group. It didn't help that I entered the class friendless, all of my buddies and acquaintances having ended up on the other side of a school boundary line. I got through the year and don't suppose that my education was stunted to any significant degree. It certainly wasn't ameliorated either, but I don't think that matters much.

We had some very good teachers, some of the best that I ever had. Whether that was by fluke or design, I know not. We also had some that were less than stellar, at least for that particular, very difficult group. One beleaguered math teacher resorted to strapping boys in class, but it didn't help his overall effectiveness much if at all, and my math results were quite atrocious that year. However, Mr Lafon was a great French teacher, and Mr Decarie was a fine history teacher while Mr Hopper did a great job with music. "Play the Bolero sir."

That was my only experience in an all-boys class, and it wasn't particularly positive, but there were a lot of factors at play, so I can't really draw conclusions other than to say that I'm not exactly jumping on the bandwagon.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Positive and Unexpected Customer Service

Since I had to go out around lunch time yesterday, and since I had a yen for a burger, and since Cuppa wasn't home to share crackers and cheese with, I stopped at Harveys for lunch yesterday. It's a Canadian burger chain, maybe just southern Ontario for all I know, but in some ways it's the only option in our town.

We do have a McDonalds inside Walmart here, but inside Walmart is not a real McDonalds in my opinion. Besides, I can only appreciate The Home of the Big Mac a few times a year, so Mickey D's is pretty well out for me for the next little while. We had a very good, independent local burger joint, but it sold, and I am less enthusiastic about the new management. So, until the new A&W opens, it's pretty well down to Harveys or nobody.

Therefore, to Harveys I went, and I must say that it was a very positive experience for a lowly burger joint, and it wasn't because of the food. The owner (I presume) was on the line and happily chatting up us customers. He appeared to be so happy and was so upbeat, that I felt good about being there.

Later, he, and not a min-wage, kid helper cleared my table with more upbeat chatter about the newspaper that I was reading. He bustled off encouraging me to stay as long as I wished and hoping that I had more room to enjoy my reading now that my place was cleared.

The food wasn't anything to write about, but it did satisfy an urge that I won't feel the need to indulge again for a while. However, I certainly appreciated meeting such an ebullient server/owner in a burger joint of all places. People like that are totally opposite to me; maybe that's why I appreciate them so much.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Meet Yaa of Ghana

It was just yesterday, when I informed Cuppa that I had loaned money to a woman in Ghana that she groaned, thinking that senility had prematurely set into my brain. However, when I explained how the micro loans worked at KIVA, she agreed that I remained in my right mind and actually commented that I was doing a good thing.

Many years ago, I used to show a video to my World Issues students featuring several people who were quite skeptical about the worth of foreign aid. They were taken to the Indian subcontinent to view various aid projects. Although they weren't totally thrilled with all they they saw, by and large, they became convinced of the value of assisting others. One of the most convincing cases was the change in lives that they saw from lending women (mostly) small amounts of money — micro loans — that changed their lives. In additions to significantly improving lives, these tiny loans were almost invariably paid back.

So ... when Ginnie posted yesterday about her experiences of helping various people through KIVA, I was moved to lend a very modest amount to Yaa of Ghana, mother of seven who sells baked goods and meat pies in her local market. She requested a loan to help her increase her inventory and improve her business.

How it works is that many of us will each loan Yaa a small amount of money until she has the amount that she needs to meet her requirements. She is due begin paying the money back early next year. At that point, I can recoup my investment or lend it to someone else.

I looked for someone at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, and Yaa seemed to fit. I also preferred to assist a woman because I think that a woman's lot is harder than a man's in the developing world ... and perhaps everywhere. Also, by helping a woman, I feel that I increase my chances of helping a whole family, in this case seven children, and that seems desirable to me.

Repayment of loans is very high, over 95%, but even if the borrower defaults, it is likely that no one lender will lose very much of his or her investment.

What a neat concept to help others to help themselves with very little outlay required on our parts. Most of us can't do a whole lot to make the world a better place, but I figure that every little bit helps. And, what the heck, call me selfish, but I rather enjoy the warm feeling that comes with such a small gesture.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


We arrived at the site of the clinic yester morn before 6 o'clock and sat in the dark for awhile before the full moon began to set toward the west at the same time that the sun was beginning to rise in the east. A little while later, at 8 o'clock, I wandered to the other side of the parking lot to take this picture of the sun beginning to light these two trees.

At that time, after two hours of waiting there were still relatively few people in line, but by an hour later, the line was growing apace, and by the time I had to leave, just past 10 o'clock, it was twice as long as what you see below.

A lot of people were there with there kids, and you might wonder why that might not work for us. Well, it's not because of the baby, Zachary, so much as it is due to the older one, Nikki Dee. While all sorts of children might be content to sit contentedly and amuse themselves with quiet pursuits, I figured that my dear ND would have be running up and down, trying to make friends with everyone and endeavouring to hug various aghast children to pieces.

So, we tried to time her arrival to just before they opened the clinic for the shots. While we weren't totally successful, we were able to eliminate prolonged hours of trying to herd her. She says "Hi" to one and all, and normal children simply don't know what to make of her: for example, this pair at the park yesterday. They were already playing with their Daddy on the contraption that you see below. Well, the girl got up to leave as soon as ND arrived on the scene. The boy stayed for awhile whilst Buppa bounced them both but was quite eager to vacate after a few smothering hugs from ND: hugs which we, sadly, did not catch on camera.

Just to confirm my suspicions, I asked Cuppa how Nikki Dee deported herself in the line in my absence. Just as I thought, she felt it her duty roam all over the place asking who this was and who that was and basically unnerving many quieter children.

She means well, you know, just wants to be everybody's friend and assumes that everyone must feel the same way about her. It hurts her Buppa to realize the lessons that she will have to learn in discovering that this is not so. However, I think this picture that we took at the park yesterday afternoon, after all of the morning's fuss, is very appropriate: as beams of sunshine are illuminating this little angel.

As she would ask, "Do you see that?"

Monday, November 02, 2009

Today at the H1N1 Vaccination Clinic

It's almost 11:00 AM, so the two grands should be getting their shots very soon. I can't say that I'm too sorry to miss the trauma of the needles going in, but I had to leave the lineup, so Thesha could have my parking spot. Otherwise, she would have had to park way way way out on the road and walk the kids, and that would have been problematic.

However, Cuppa and I had our choice of spots when we arrived before six o'clock this morning, but between nine and ten o'clock the lot was jammed and cars were lined up and down the road. It was a big parking lot, but it was still full, and the lineup went all of the way around the lot. The shots are to begin at 11:00, and I expect the parking lot mayhem to actually get worse as cars will be moving in both directions after that.

Some people can be very rude and inconsiderate. One person, a public health nurse, I suspect, managed to block the driveway in front of the door by abandoning her car there, which won't help the congestion at all. As long as it made life convenient for her, I guess. I would probably feel some satisfaction at keying that car. It would have been a deserved outcome for sure.

In the end, the morning went fairly quickly for Cuppa and me, and at least Mom and grands didn't have to lineup forever and then possibly be turned away. Apparently, that's happened quite a bit in this area. At this point, only priority groups are being targetted, but the lists of priority groups are so long, that the turnouts are still huge.

I'm not sure whether I will want repeat the procedure when the vaccination clinics are opened for the rest of us. For the grands, yes; for me, I just don't know. Maybe though: as it meant two rounds of coffee from Tims and on takeout breakfast sandwich. Cuppa always says, "We're making a memory," and it's true that you can make almost any occasion into a pleasant event if you put yourself in the right frame of mind. She's good at helping me to see life in that light, even though it's not always my first inclination — which is to grouse and complain like I did in this space just the other morning.

Nikki Dee's Turn

After featuring Zach yesterday, it's Nikki Dee's turn today. She has just turned two-and-a-half and is an incredibly delightful little girl whom I love to pieces. I know that you wouldn't have guessed, so I thought I'd mention it.

Nikki Dee

Nikki Dee

Nikki Dee

Nikki Dee

Nikki Dee

Update: Some non-portrait photos from a walk in the woods on Sunday.

Babe in the Woods

Babe in the Woods

Babe in the Woods

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Silent Sunday

Some of the many faces of Zachary who is just a few days short of being nine months old. He's incredibly handsome and reminds me a lot of his Buppa. Not! :)

A Grand Time