Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Day With JJ

Yesterday morning, JJ decided that he needed to serve me [play] food. I don't know why he had this sudden need as he hasn't played with it for quite awhile now.

Anyway, after more than one request, I complied. He was buttering a bagel for me in this ↓ photo. Oh, supposedly that tongue thing is very grampa-like. Of course, I deny this.

Here ↓ is some of the food that I had been served when I took this picture: toast, pizza, chowder, corn, fries and vinegar. The vinegar was not for my fries. No, it was offered first — as a yummy drink if you please.. :)

I can't quite remember the circumstances of this ↓ picture, whether it has to do with food or a later activity — i.e. playing on his Nintendo DS. But I like it.

For sure there was some gaming to be done.

Later, it was time for a bit of TV. He thinks himself quite clever by being able to use the remote to search for his preferred Netflix shows.

Then it was time for more DS'ing, which can sometimes puzzle a little fella.

It's at times like this when he may ask a big fella for help. Big fella tries, but he's not really much help with games.

After I took him back to his house at the end of the day, he wanted me to play Hide N' Seek with him. He's getting much better at the game, both with the hiding and seeking. However, he still has to figure out that sound is also a giveaway.

Oh, and I missed the part where he gets to play on pbskids on my computer. We also had some time outside shovelling snow. He is beginning to grasp the concept that we must throw it off the driveway and not onto it.

I must say that he is at a very cute stage.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bits and Pieces

I received this wood engraving (below) in the mail last week. An artist in New York State used an original picture of mine from last July of Ian Byrne the lead singer of The Elders, which is Celtic band. He asked for my permission to use the photo to make a wood engraving, and I requested that he send me a copy of his work if he could spare one. He will make a number of copies, have them signed by Ian and will sell them at a festival in his town this summer. He will make a charitable donation from each sale, so it's all good.

Winter is moving along, and we begin to think of spring. So, we have purchased our first hyacinth. In an experiment, I took this extreme macro of one very tiny flower. We must purchase another hyacinth soon, but it must be purple. The purple ones are those that smell so beautiful. Pink or white don't. I purchased this while it was still closed. I thought I saw hints of purple, but it came out pink.

We took a little stroll by the river in Almonte last week. As you can see from the ice on the trees and railings (to the right), the spray from the waterfalls freezes quite prettily.

Below is another view of the river from a little farther upriver than the above photo. This was taken from behind the building at the top left in the previous photo. This building is a restaurant/pub called the Barley Mow.

Also from our walk about Almonte, below is the townhall beyond the railway bridge and processed using sepia tones. It's a fine, old building.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


JJ had his first solo sleepover here last night. He's slept over once previously with his sister and, of course, spend much time here during weekdays.

He was as good as gold if I may borrow an ancient and trite phrase.

Danica has had many sleepovers, and, by golly, she keeps us on our toes, but we hardly knew JJ was here much of the time. Last night, he simply went to bed and to sleep at bedtime. We didn't have to lie with him, sing with him, or sleep with him. He slept in until past 7:30 this morning, and then played quietly in bed and room for several hours. He didn't even want breakfast for a long time.

Playing on his Nintendo DS in bed this morning.

Danica is a whole different kettle of fish or ball of wax. She always makes her presence know in a big way, bless her heart.

A wild and crazy girl was ready for Crazy Hair Day at school on Friday.

Love them both but what opposites.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Afternoon Visions

I don't know what's come over me. I never used to be one for an afternoon nap, but there has been a change. Oh, in the past decade or so I'd have a very short nap, and I really do mean short, perhaps once every month or two, but I hardly think that counts. Recently, however, I seem to be drawn to my easy chair almost every day.

When I look back, it seems that this pattern began almost exactly when I turned 65 last September. Perhaps it's a coincidence, or perhaps some sort of switch magically flips around this age.

We have an official rest time after lunch on the days when we have JJ. He is really very good about this. He plays happily and quietly on the guest bed during this quiet hour, usually with his Nintendo DS that used to be mine. It was passed onto him for Christmas the year before last, and he has made good use of it ever since. Except on very rare occasion, he doesn't sleep. But I often do.

I am more of a side sleeper than a back sleeper, but I try to stay on my back for the most part for this afternoon siesta because I don't want to sleep too long or deeply, for if I do sleep deeply, I sometimes find myself a little groggy for a few hours afterward.

I don't sleep heavily and sometimes not at all. Even I do nod off, I tend to jerk back to the surface. Depending on how tired I feel, this pattern can occur any number of times in one session. In addition, strange things occur during my noddings. I call them visions.

Sometimes, a parade of faces will flash before my eyes: one face after another. Stranger yet is the fact that they are faces of people I don't know. My brain, which cannot visualize or create much when awake, simply creates all of these unknown faces, frequently in rapid succession.

Sometimes, and this is occurring more frequently than the face parade lately, I simply see weird occurrences, such as a child flying by on a toy dragon: an all-time favourite vision. I recently saw my daughter-in-law being carried somewhat fireman-style into a lake. She wasn't being held very securely, which caused her head to dip in to the water. Then I both saw and heard Sue calling me so clearly that I woke up, looked to the door and answered. Except she wasn't there.

Of course, these are the highlights. The truth is that I don't remember the majority of my visions, but I am aware that I have had them in my noddings.

Sue also rests during this sacred hour in which we endeavour to reclaim our tenuous grips on sanity, but she does not experience visions. In fact, she thinks I am weird.

She's probably right.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Of Limpers and Gimpers

Alert: this post contains a Downton Abbey Spoiler.

Season three of Downton Abbey has ended for our clan, a few days later than for most others. We have been recording it and watching it on Wednesday evenings with Shauna. Mostly, she has come to the old folks' place, and so it was tonight.

The program was proceeding at a slower pace than usual, but, although I had tried to avert my eyes, it's difficult to avoid coming across some Spoilers in the social media. Therefore, I knew that something major was impending. Ever since Sunday, as soon as I saw that a Facebook post, for example, had something to do with the program, I desperately tried to move on without reading, but I glimpsed something about Matthew one time and something about a death at another time, and ... well ... I'm not as stupid as I look. ;)

I did manage to keep my guess a secret, so, although the ending didn't shock me, it certainly shocked and disappointed both Sue and Shauna.

What I really wanted to share with you, however, is how funny the three of us are after any given episode. As we collectively rise, particularly from the two hour episodes, we sigh, groan and grumble, greatly resembling a trio of Bates (the somewhat crippled servant for the non Downton crowd). You see, all three of us tend to hobble about. As seniors, Sue and I have every right to limp and gimp after a long sit, but poor Sha also totters on bad feet.

You see, around the time of her fortieth birthday a few months past, the girl developed a major case of plantar fasciitis. Oddly enough, that is exactly what happened to me around the same time of life. I am happy to say that after twenty-five years of wearing orthotics, my heel spurs are no worse now than they were then and probably somewhat better. But Shauna seems to have at least as bad a case if not worse. Yes: worse, I think.

Perhaps we three should invest in Bates-like canes.

PS: If you haven't watched Downton Abbey, just what have you been doing with your life?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mississippi Lake

A week ago, after a snowfall and while it was still somewhat mild out, I headed to Mississippi Lake. I was looking for outlooks onto the lake, but I was somewhat disappointed. Most shoreline has been grabbed by the rich, so there are few access points for the great unwashed. I did find one public spot, but with all of the snow, parking would have been difficult there, and it also would have involved a trek thru the snow. I would like to return when the snow is gone, however.

In my travels, I did come to an end-of-the-road situation where car tracks left the road and went out onto to the frozen lake. The first three photos show the view from near the end of the road, each getting closer to the lake.

Then, I walked down to the frozen surface and took this photo of the shoreline.

Finally, I cast my view way out onto the lake where I saw a number of ice fishing huts in the distance. With no trees and with the sun behind me, there is no colour to speak of, but some of you might find the scene to be of interest as it would not be something that you see every day. Me neither. In fact, it kind of surprised me.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Life Goes On

Although it's colder again this weekend, the the weather of the past week has been somewhat nicer. We had a few nice, sunny days above zero followed by a few more mild days that were cloudy. One day, I even remarked that there was a hint of spring in the air, but that was probably wishful thinking more than reality. Still, one hopes that most of the very coldest weather is behind us.

Sue and I went out for breakfast on Valentine's Day, and at a last minute we had the youngers over for a Valentine supper. I made my standby meat loaf, but I also did a new thing by roasting some red potatoes. I just coated them with olive oil and onion soup mix and roasted at 450 for 40, and they turned out quite well. I wonder if this would work for all potatoes?

Here are a few photos from the past two weeks.

We generally read to/with Danica on weekday mornings. Amelia Bedelia is a fave. When Sue saw her resting her hand on mine, she decided to take a picture.

This is actually from the previous week when part of JJ's birthday celebration included a trip to
Tims for donuts. As you can see by his toy, we had already been to Dollarama.

Also from JJ's birthday: he received a Sens (hockey team) had and mitts. So, I decided to photoshop a rink in the background.

It warmed up enough to thaw ice and create deliciously splashy puddles.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine Day

Happy Valentine Day to my blog friends and to family: Sha, Eric, Dani, JJ, Allyson, Alycia, Curtis, Elaine, and Marielle. And especially Sue.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Armchair Travels

It's not been a particularly wonderful winter here in Anvilcloudia. Mostly, it has been cold and/or windy, gray and/or rainy (sometimes with freezing rain). There have been a few nice snowfalls but, generally speaking, the subsequent weather was not very good or at least not for very long, which made enjoying the pretty aftermath a little problematic. So, we've been a bit more housebound than we would like.

However, last week, I lucked into three good novels, the page-turning type that draw you in and carry you right along and away. Without straying from my recliner, I have been to Yorkshire (with a sidetrip to Estonia), Northern Quebec and Washington State.

I was with Inspector Banks in Yorkshire and Estonia, helping to solve a mystery involving illegal immigrants and, of course, a murder. Peter Robinson writes a good mystery involving Inspector Banks and his aide Annie Chabot. He generally seems to follow police procedure more authentically than most mystery writers, and Watching the Dark is no exception. Sidenote: we have recently found a few Inspector Banks episodes on TV, and they seem to be very well done.

Then I accompanied Inspector Gamache to a monastery in Northern Quebec. The mythical monastery was a most interesting setting as was the plot involving Gregorian chants. There were two main layers of mystery: one being the requisite murder, and the second having to do with the chants themselves. I might even be moved to write a separate post on Louise Penny and this Beautiful Mystery. Not sure.

My third getaway to Washington was in the form of a Young Adult fiction by Elizabeth George. I didn't know it was YA when I asked the library to reserve it for me, thinking it might be another Lynley mystery, but I wasn't disappointed in the story. It was about a teenage girl who has some sort of ESP. She hears others' thoughts as fragmented whispers. When she overhears a whisper about a murder, she is forced to flee for safety. It will be a trilogy in the end, but part one, The Edge of Nowhere, came to a satisfactory conclusion for me.

They were all consumed over the course of a few days, so I am somewhat bleary-eyed, but I sure enjoyed my armchair travels. I didn't have to pack and the getting there was not at all tedious or tiring.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snow and Birds

We had a nice break in the weather on the weekend. The storm was over, and the cold let up. We seem to have been housebound rather too much this winter because it had been cold or icy or gray or rain most of the time, so we were anxious to get for a little break. Little did we know that beyond enjoying a pleasant walk, another treat was in store.

We went for a walk through the woods across the river.

We came across some sort of bird feeder. It looked as though it was filled with
snow, but as we lingered, a nuthatch came along to feed on something or other.

Then a chickadee came by.

The two birds were willing to share.

And so it went.

We watched and snapped pictures for perhaps ten minutes.

As we continued out walk, chickadees accompanied us all of the way. Sorry, we didn't bring any treats although there were some seeds left in the car from my pre-Christmas walk in a different woods. That time, I went prepared to visit with the birds, but I wasn't expecting it this time. Somehow, that made it even more fun. Since this park is close, we must return with seeds, and maybe with JJ and Danica too. I wonder if they would like to feed the birds by hand? I think it might freak them out.
After the pleasant weekend we are back to miserable weather — rain and freezing rain. Blech.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

More Birthday Photos

My mind is definitely slipping. I found more pictures of JJ's birthday on my memory card after almost a week. They were actually from birthday party #2. He had the bowling party on Sunday, but we did the little family dinner on Monday, his actual birthday. There were a few more presents to open, and the cake made another appearance for the ceremonial blowing of the candles.

He got a Sens hat and mitts. Both his dad and I are Habs fans, but since we live in Ottawa ...

What a great expression as the cake and candles make their way to the table.

He got a little tent to go over his bed, and sister got to get under it too.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Another Birthday

It's birthday week in Anviland. Today is my daughter-in-law's birthday. The girl is stylish and into pink.

Happy Birthday, Alycia.

Monday, February 04, 2013

The Boy is Four Years Old

It's almost mind-boggling to me that my youngest grandchild is four years old today. To commemorate the event, I put together a collage of JJ at various ages with the two current ones being in the centre. They were taken on "Wild Hair Day" for storytime at the library. The one on the centre-right is after his accessories were removed.

In fact I used that same picture for the front of his homemade birthday card. We usually do homemade cards around here. It's a practice that I somtimes regret starting.

We had his main celebration yesterday, beginning with a party at our tiny town bowling lanes.

We then adjourned home where present were opened and cake was eaten and where funny hats were sometimes worn, even by the cat.

Since today is really his birthday, we'll have another wee celebration at suppertime.

Friday, February 01, 2013


In a dull week of a dull winter, there were some moments to cherish. The first (above) happened after school as we were watching American Idol. Suddenly, the girl was snuggling up to her Buppa. Below, we find something funny before school one morning. If we can pin her down long enough, we will get her to read or to be read to. It's often a bit of both.

In the video below, we share many giggles over our attempts to play pattacake. Clearly, this is not my forte, but what fun we had.