Saturday, December 28, 2013

Snow, Icicles, and So Long for Now

Winter can be tough for taking pictures. It seems as if it's not freezing cold, it's snowing. And if by chance it happens not to be either of those two, it might be either slushy or precipitating freezing rain. I did amble about in the freezing cold on Christmas Eve Day and managed to find lots of icicles that you can see in three of the first four photos. And a few days after Christmas, it was relatively mild — around -6°C/21°F — we went for a little walk uptown, and I found a few more things to shoot — as in the last three photos.

There is no commentary needed for this lot, but I will say that this will be my last post (I expect) for a few weeks. The plan is to head to the country for New Years and to stay for a week or so afterward. As my longtime blogging friends are aware, I can't post from there, or very seldom unless my BIL shows up with his portable wifi. Even if he does, we're usually too busy visiting to get around to blogging.

I do wish you all a joyous New Years Eve and Day and a fulfilling year all the way until this time next year . . . and beyond. It has been nice keeping up with the old guard and also finding a few new blog buddies in the last few months.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Pics

As you can imagine, the cameras were clicking madly — mine, Sue's and Eric's phone camera. For now, here are a few shots from the day, starting with Christmas Eve.

After games, snacks and a viewing of Polar Express on Christmas Eve, it was bedtime. Due to a great demand for beds, JJ slept on a mattress on Danica's floor. Oddly enough, they both went to sleep like a charm, but poor JJ was up sick in the night. He was not healthy this Christmas. It seems to be becoming a regular tradition with him. The rest of us were well, however, which is much better than last Christmas when viruses ran rampant.

It is against Danica's beliefs to sleep in, but she is quite good about containing herself until "seven-zero-zero" on the clock. At that point she woke everybody up. Both Sue and I were deep in slumber at the time, so it was quite an abrupt awakening to have banshees come screaming into the room and jumping on the bed. The kids were pretty patient waiting for the adults to make coffee, and then the opening of gifts began.

First, we do the stockings. The kids were quite patient while we went around the family circle, taking turns and opening one gift at a time. That process took about 45', after which we headed upstairs for breakfast and more coffee. Sue makes a Wife Saver breakfast every year — sort of french toast in a casserole dish. She puts it together the day before and pops it into the oven on Christmas morning. By the time the stockings are done, breakfast is ready. It's a good way to do it.

During this interlude, I stuck my head out the door just long enough to snap a few photos. Brother! it was cold. Cold, but pretty.

Back downstairs headed the clan for the opening of more gifts. Both Amma and Buppa received tops. Mine was a replica hockey jersey. Number 4 was worn by a boyhood idol, Jean Beliveau, who played 18 seasons from 1953-1971. He captained the Montreal Canadiens for his last 10 years and also won 10 Stanley Cups. His number was retired and hung from the rafters when he left the game. In addition to the sweater, both Eric and I received tickets for the Canadiens' last game of the season, which will be played here in Ottawa in early April.

Sue's top is of the glitzy variety. She wouldn't have it any other way.

Grandmaman (the French way to spell it) scored big time with a new laptop.

The kids fared very well too, their major gifts being tablets. Danica also received a karaoke machine. She tried it out later in the day and amazed us once again with her ability to read and follow along.

I imagine that Sue may also post a bunch of photos at some point and tell a fuller story.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Another Day, Another Snow Storm

They keep coming: the snows, I mean. This one came with a bit of freezing rain. Thankfully, we did not get the brunt of the icy precipitation as some other areas. The power went out near us, but ours stayed on.

When I went out to shovel the walk yesterday, this is how the driveway looked. The snow was up to a foot deep, was the heavy type, and had a crusty layer on top. Ugh. And I don't know how well you can see it in the photo, but we were quite socked in by the pile that the plows deposited at the end of the drive. That would have been a heavy load to move.

But I knew that I didn't have to move it because we hired a contractor to do the work for us again this year. No sooner had I cleared the short walkway than I saw the tractor coming up the street and implored Sue to pass my camera.

It was a sight for sore eyes, and I mean that quite literally.

Last year, just about this time, I experienced lightning bolts in my right eye after a session with the shovel.


When the vitreous gel inside your eye rubs or pulls on the retina, you may see what look like flashing lights or lightning streaks. You may have experienced this same sensation if you have ever been hit in the eye and seen "stars".
The flashes of light can appear off and on for several weeks or months. As we grow older, it is more common to experience flashes. If you notice the sudden appearance of light flashes, you should visit your ophthalmologist immediately because it could mean that the retina has been torn.
 link from Michigan U
My flashes have never gone away, so although I like to shovel (in moderation), we have contracted the job since then. They do our drive after about 4cm/1.5in of snowfall and when the town plows in the driveway. Yesterday, I was thrilled to see the machine lumbering up the road.

It was soon doing the job.

Two passes with the blower and one with the plough, and a job that would have taken me much time and exertion was done.

I walked out into the street and took a few more pics. The first looks back at the driveway; the second up the street.

This one looks across the street at the fire hydrant. Do you see why they attach yellow arms to the hydrants in winter?

Lots of people were out shovelling as was this neighbour. We had a little chat. Being poor on names, I don't even know his, but his wife, Rosie, is she who also minds our grandkids, and we chat often while waiting for the school bus. I decided I liked this b&w rendering the best. He looks happy, and indeed, snow does have the ability to make us feel happy early in winter and especially around Christmas. It is not always so later in the winter, however.

We have always had a white Christmas living here, but it usually isn't this white. One year, it had to snow on Christmas Day to bring us white, but that is pretty darn unusual.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Behold the Snow

I am sitting in my den this morning, sort of between winter storms: one yesterday and one later today. When I say between, I am not so sure as we are getting some freezing rain right now. I was hoping to get out and take some snow pics today ... but not in freezing rain, thank you very much.
Winter began early this year. Yesterdays snowfall was our third significant one, and as I said above, we are expecting another. Of course, there has also been any number of less significant snowfalls.These are a few photos looking out windows and then on a little neighbourhood walk last weekend after another storm.

The view across the street from my den.

Looking through the patio door into the back yard.

Also across the street from our front porch.

Mailboxes. Any housing developments after sometime in the nineties have mail boxes, not home delivery.

Very few people actually use their garages to park their cars. Most use them for storage.

I imagine that one car is being parked for the duration of the winter.

Our property backs on to a fairly busy street.They keep the walking path fairly well cleared though.

Friday, December 20, 2013

School Christmas Concert 2013

The pre-Christmas busyness continues apace. This week saw the kids school Christmas concert. It was the third time around for the old pro, Danica, but it was JJ's first.

This is a JK to grade 3 school, and they must have something like 21 classes. The classes entered in groups of three. One group to the left risers, one to the centre, and one to the right risers.

After about three groups (of three), it was Danica's turn. Her class was on the risers to the left. I shot through and around heads.

Her class was dressed in angelic halos, and Dani played the part well.

A few rounds later, JJ's class came in on the right risers. He soon spotted us and his eyes were on us for much of the time.

I took a few videos as well and joined them into one presentation below. Once again, the clip expands well to full screen.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dancing Danica Videos

In between many photos at Dani's open house, I also took a number of videos of different phases of the class. I joined the clips into 4 videos that I uploaded to YouTube. Each is good at full screen size if you are so inclined.

The first one, mostly at the bar, is the longest at about 2:33.

This second one, looking in the mirror, is the shortest.

They then performed various steps in a line.

In the end they wished us a merry christmas and did their best to curtsy prettily.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Danica's Dance Open House 2013

For the third consecutive year, we ventured out on a December Saturday morning to Open House at Danica's dance class. This year, she is enrolled in two session, ballet and highland. The ballet class came first, and, with only five girls in the class, I took quite a few shots. The highland class, with a dozen more girls and giddy ones at that, was a bit more problematic. So, all of these shots are from the ballet group. I took some video that I will likely post tomorrow.

She was as pleased as punch, beaming with pleasure. Grandma was pleased too.

Meanwhile, JJ was happy to be on the sidelines.

She did some warmup bar stretches on her own before the group activities started.

One the class began, floor stretches were just about the first thing on the agenda.

Then they all went to the bar.

Later, on the other side of the room, Danica was able to admire herself in the mirror. What form!

We saw great positions and steps.

And some fine jumping.

For the record: Here is the 2012 Open House as well as Sue's post from 2011. I can hardly believe that I didn't do one in 2011.