Monday, December 31, 2018

Sunday, December 30, 2018

When You Learn Something New

Image result for interrobang

Ya just gotta luv it, or at least I do. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Interrobang: the big image on the left and as follows: .

Every now and then I find that I want pose a question along with an exclamation point. Like maybe this: "Do you really believe the earth is flat?!"

But now I can do this: "Do you really believe the earth is flat‽"

It's a legitimate piece of punctuation that I never knew about — the Interrobang.

You can use it in an html message like Blogger by typing 7#8253; (where you type & instead of 7 by holding down the shift key).

If you want to use an interrobang in Word, temporarily change the font to Wingdings2 and press the tilde ~ key. It's a bit of a pain but not all that onerous for such an exalted result. 😇

There is a way to do it on your phone, so I'll paste a link although I won't be bothered to actually use it: .

This information has made my day, possibly my year.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Trying Again

As I have posted, it was a very fine Christmas here in Anvilcloudia. But there was one disappointment.

On our way to Shauna's for Christmas Eve, we stopped at the neighbourhood boxes to pick up mail. There was a tiny package, which we figured must be the adapter ring for my ring flash.

You remember that, don't you? My ring flash came with 4 adapter rings, but none fit my particular lens. You may also remember that I found one on eBay which had to be sent from China. So this seemed like it would be it.

We left it in the car until we returned home on Christmas Day.

I didn't open it right away but got around to it in the evening.

I now have 5 adapter rings that don't fit my lens.

I am not giving up and have ordered another from China. I think it's from a different source, but even if it's the same one, they can't get it wrong twice, can they? I mean the size is pretty darn clear, is it not?

So that's 62mm, not 55mm, guys. You can do this. Right?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas Morning

We sleep over at their house on Christmas Eve. That seems important to everybody although I don't quite understand why. Anyway, we do. Shauna was to sleep with Danica, but Danica gets excited, so Shauna trundled down to the basement to get some peace. We didn't sleep badly in Sha's bed, but when I got up ~6:20 to unknowwhat, JJ was already in the hall, so that was the end of that.

We open gifts by turns, starting with stockings, and this can take quite awhile. We watch what everyone opens although I immediately forget.

The adults mostly get stuff they need or at least practical items that they can use. My gift to Sue's was sheep-skin lined slippers. We gave Shauna an indoor grill, and I was given two hats.

One of my hats. I like it a lot with ear flaps which are good for a Canadian winter.
.I like the other one better but don't have a photo yet.

A sequence of Sue opening her slippers

Another hit

The kids made out very well, but they're good kids and really appreciate their treats. Danica get many little things, including numerous gift cards for this place or that.

Jonathan loved the team jacket we gave him. Team jackets are a big extra above and beyond the regular hockey fees.

But he was truly blown away by his gift from Mom — tickets to a Twenty One Pilots concert (whoever they are).

JJ reacting to the tickets. He got quite emotional.

And the cat rested happily in the detritus between Shauna and Danica on the small couch.

By noon, they were off to their Dad's for part 2. We soon left for home, and I think we all had naps, or tried to.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

On Christmas Eve

What with recent stove issues plus the fact that our Christmas dinner would have to take place on the Eve and considering that the kids aren't all that enthralled about the traditional turkey feast anyway, we decided to order Chinese.

I had called a week earlier to make sure that our favourite place would be open and delivering. "Oh yes, of course."

But I was still leery, so we dropped by shortly after they opened, just to double-check and pick up a menu, and we were told that there was no delivery and that we might be able to pick up our order in about three hours if we were to order soon.

Apparently, a lot of people order Chinese on Christmas Eve.

Not wanting to have to pick up at some indeterminate hour, we ordered from another popular place. It would still be a long wait, but not quite as long, and yes, they would deliver.

Apparently, a lot of people order Chinese on Christmas Eve.

In the meantime, we played games, mostly a drawing game before the food came.

We also took a few pictures.

Then the food arrived. It was good but probably not as good as our preferred place. We'll know how to organize ourselves better next year should we go this route again.

After dinner, there were more games, the main one being Heads Up: a trivia, speed game in which the guesser holds the phone over their head. A word pops up, and the others shout clues. Many of the words were current pop culture, and Sha and the kids did just fine. Old Buppa had problems with four people shouting different clues all at once. But it was fun: a good way to spend the Eve.

Image may contain: 2 people, indoor
Heads Up

Then it was time for bed. It was a fairly early night for all, considering, but the adults stayed up long enough to get the stockings ready. This was JJ's stocking which could not contain all of the goodies.

The cat curled up beside Danica's stocking, dreaming cat dreams.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve

I wasn't feeling it very much.

It may be that time seems to go so much faster now. Last night. it just seemed that Christmas should be months away, not just two days.

But we paused to watch our two versions of A Christmas Carol (aka Scrooge) last night, and it began to feel a lot more like Christmas.

And then I took my camera out for a few minutes. I didn't go far, just a few doors away in our neighbourhood. And since we live in a townhouse, those few doors are really close-by.

This is most definitely not a destination neighbourhood for the viewing of lights, but some houses lit it up very well indeed. Although we will be staying with the young ones in a different neighbourhood tonight, I'm pretty sure that these houses will be lit the whole night through, and I like that.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Note to Bloggers etc: this year, for the first time ever, I sent out a generic Christmas card/letter via email. I decided to re-post a copy here as wish for blogger contacts and also other friends whom I probably missed in the original email because no one can do absent-minded oversights like I can do absent-minded oversights.


Our card to you, below, comes from an October snowfall in our local park. I (John writing) really like the snow on the red maples that were still in leaf although that colour didn't last much longer.

I suppose the highlight of the year, even though I had nothing to do with it except to drive Sue to Toronto twice in two weeks, was Sue and Heather's donation of a piano to the Glen Gould Foundation. Back in the mists of time, Sue had taken piano lessons from Glen Gould's mother, and her parents purchased Glen's very first (to the best of anyone's knowledge) piano. Glen Gould inscribed the instrument to Sue, and it had been in the family since 1955.

The stars finally aligned to put the piano in its proper place, the Glen Gould Foundation. There was media interest, and Sue and Heather were interviewed on both TV and radio. I won't go into it in detail here, but I did post all about it on my blog here if you are interested to know more.

Other than that unusual event, life pretty well flows along in sameness. I display a few photos in two locations in town: a coffee shop and a hair salon. Both feature various artists, so the venues are not as odd as they might seem at first. On rare occasions I sell one, but otherwise I think of them as my galleries and am happy that some people pause to enjoy them. The seasonal card up above is hanging in both locations in different frames and sizes, without the seasonal wishes of course.

Our town will be celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2019. One endeavour was to produce a past-present calendar. The calendar went on sale in November, each month featuring a photo from the past juxtaposed with similar, current view. I helped with the shooting along with two friend photographers and did the monthly layouts.

In October, we made our typical autumn trip to the in-laws' cottage. Although we were a little late for peak colour, we still saw some fine sights. It's hard to pick just one photo out of many, but here's one of the rapids on Eels Creek near Apsley with a red maple in the background. It just seems so Canadiana to me.

The family is doing well. Shauna is the general manager of a retirement home in Ottawa, and Allyson is working on her second Masters degree at UBC in Vancouver, while still continuing to be employed.

The grandkids, Danica and Jonathan, are doing well in school. We no longer see them on an almost daily basis, but we have them and Shauna for a family dinner once a week. We also have the kids for a week or two in the summer. This year, I really thought it was special to go on bicycle rides with them. The following photo was probably from our first ride in early spring, but there were quite a few more. Riding with the kids was a great joy to their grandparents: generations enjoying the same activity at the same time.

We see a lot of JJ's hockey games. As a very little Easter present, I gave him a action print. You can also see some of my gallery of the kids in my den in the background and how much I dote on them.

And in the interest of equal time, here's one of us, with Danica on her birthday. To mark the occasion, we took her out of school for lunch at the coffee shop .

I trust that all of the photos didn't bog your system down too much, but I just thought that I would make my seasonal greeting a little more newsy this year.

All the best.

John and Sue

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Green or White?

Green or White? We'll know in a few days.

The table below reveals that there have been five Green Christmases in the past 25 years: two since we arrived here in 2005.

2015 was definitely Green; we even took the kids to the park as a bit of a lark.

I'm not sure that I would call 2006 Green, however, as my memory tells me that at least snowed to some degree during the day. But it did fit the definition because there were fewer than 2cm (approx 1in) on the ground at 7AM. I think I recall the rest of the winter becoming very wintry indeed.

I found some proof of Christmas Day snow that year because I took this photo of our backyard on the day after.

Looking through old photos, I was also reminded that the Holiday Train stopped here in 2006. Little did we know that was to be the final year as the local track fell into disuse and was later removed. (I am also very pleased to report that it was the last Christmas sans grandchildren.)

The lighted train would pull into the town and open its doors for a short musical performance and a visit from Santa. It was quite delightful. It still rolls through Canada and even stops at some nearby towns.

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Birthday: A Brief Report

Well, we had the birthday dinner, in which we made a most excellent lasagna. I suppose it's an odd recipe that I got from Dr Phil's diet book about 15 years ago. It calls for the slicing of zucchini strips in place of noodles. You slice them, salt them, and dry them somewhat on paper towels before putting the dish together. So, it's a little labour intensive, but it is quite good. It's been years since I made it, but I'm glad that I did.

I won't report much else, but I will include this photo of the Ceremonial Blowing of the Candles. I am beginning to convert some indoor snapshots with poor lighting into black-and-whites. I think they sometimes look much better this way.

I also converted this very short bit of the singing of the birthday song. (But when you upload a video via Blogger rather than YT, the thumbnail is very small. It does enlarge to full screen, however.)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Happy 46th

Good grief! I have a 46 year old daughter. She's a wonderful person, very capable and doing well in her job and raising her family. She's even nice to her parents. 😉

I put this photo on her card, from her first summer. We were at the cottage with her grandparents. I love this shot with her grandfather, his dog, and Sue.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Refresher for Danica

Danica has done a little skating before but not much and it has been awhile.

With a class event coming up (today), she wanted to get out there ahead of time and get a little instruction from her hockey-playing friend.

You will see that she isn't a natural, but she gives it a good try.

And just a few pre-skate photos for the record.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Sue's Christmas Bell

Starting around mid-November, Sue dons her Christmas bell to sound a joyful note wherever she goes.

It's actually a bear bell that she purchased in the Rockies way back in 2000. The notion out there is to wear it to warn off bears when you're in the wild, but it's probably just a fun souvenir for tourists.

Sue has made excellent use of this souvenir and has brought it out every Christmastime ever since, leaving happiness in her wake. Which is pretty well what she does anyway.

I find it almost unBEARably cute.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Christmas Cookies

Although she no longer bakes her own from scratch, Sue still ices Christmas cookies, many of which are given away. I don't help with this because I am hopeless. But when Sue did a batch on Saturday, she found it very hard on her back. So, she invited the kids over for a session on Sunday.

There were all sorts of options.

She even had some of those special decorating squeezies available.

I did a couple just to join in, and Shauna may have been laughing at my pathetic attempts in this photo.

JJ is in grade 4, and I told him that was when I realized that I have no artistic ability. I wasn't joking, for I remember this quite distinctly. But he did just fine. Whatever our differences, JJ and I invoke our tongues in similar fashion when concentrating.

Of course, Danica gave me a cutest look.

Sue added a few to the collection.

Shauna did the most and the best and kept at it when the rest of us had packed it in.

Eventually and especially with Shauna's sticktoitiveness, the trays were full.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

How to Park

As I begin to be more housebound in winter (and it is winter here, no matter what the calendar says), blog fodder becomes scarcer. As Christmas approaches, even JJ's hockey is winding down with a three-week break although he has some practices scheduled..So, yesterday, when I chose to consider how people park, I decided that something was better than nothing. You are free to disagree.

I went to Cat Lady's Christmas bake sale yesterday. She was doing a good amount of trade in the corridors of local high school, but there was still plenty of space in the parking lot.

It surprised me, however, how many cars had backed into their space so that they could drive straight out when it was time to depart. But I chose to drive straight in and back out.

For me, it makes sense to back out into the bigger space rather than trying to align the car by backing into the smaller parking space. I just don't get that concept although I'm sure there must be occasions when it works best that way.

Maybe if my neck swivelled better, I would feel somewhat differently, but even then, I think backing out into the bigger space would be easier than into the smaller space.

Recently, when I came home in the rain with a load of groceries, I chose to back into our driveway to be nearer the door and managed to drive over the snow-remover's sign in the process. Because I drive an SUV-style vehicle and have that stiff neck to boot, I failed to see that obscure sign.

Mind you, I don't have a backup camera. I had access to one once and managed to get the car into a pretty small space quite handily all by myself. If I had tried that in my own camera-less vehicle, I would have required much outside guidance.

Certainly, in a parking lot, if I can possibly manage to drive into a space that I can drive out of directly, I will do it. In fact, I will go to the outer end of the parking lot in order to do just that. But if such a space eludes me, I do drive in and back out. It's just easier for me.

What is your preference, and if you're a backer-inner and driver-outer, what is your reasoning?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Sue's Prize

Almost two years ago, I posted the following photo and more in this post, The Amazing Sue and the Amazing Afghan.

It was a complicated and involved piece, so I had Sue do a guest blog explaining the process: The Afghan Explained.

If you weren't here then and/or are interested in this sort of work, you are invited to go back to those two links above, particularly the second and read all about it.

That afghan was given to Shauna, but the next year (last winter), Sue decided to crochet another. I meant to post about it at the time but never got around to it. Sue thought that it would make an enjoyable winter project, and it did. Besides, it would be nice for her to have one too. I think a second reason is that possibly someday both grand children could have one.

But come this year, Sue decided to give hers away — to the cat lady.

There is a lady in town who functions as her own personal humane society and rescues all sorts of cats. She has them vetted, inoculated and neutered. The cats who are not suitable to be homed are placed in well tended rural barns and still cared for. But most cats are able to be passed on to forever homes.

Of course, this is at great cost and this year the vet bills came to $65 000.

So, she fundraises. For example, next weekend, she will run a seasonal bake sale in the local high school. But she has also just had her Christmas auction. I donated a framed photo which brought in just a little money. Our friend donated some cartoonish cat paintings, which people loved. They did very well at the auction.

But I guess you know where this is headed. Yes, Sue donated the afghan that she made last year. The cat lady held a raffle and sold 100 tickets for $10 apiece. There were four other prizes to be one, but everyone coveted Sue's afghan, and, unsurprisingly, it was the prize that was claimed by the winner.

Sue's work resulted in the bulk of cat lady raising $1000 for her wonderful work. I think both of these ladies are fantastic.

Meanwhile, Sue is working diligently on the third iteration of the amazing peppermint afghan, and I wonder about its destiny.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Home Tournament

More hockey. It's winter in Canada after all.

JJ's team had their home tournament yesterday, a one day event that had them playing three games. They won two, lost one, and finished in 3rd place. The team that they lost to was really really strong: good size with excellent skaters and stickhandlers.

JJ had a tumble in the first game. I like how the ice/snow kicks up.

The goalie led the celebration after the first win.

The boys were a bit over-powered in the second game with much action around their net.

Goal for the other team

Despite being very busy in that game, the goalie enjoyed a relaxing moment with the puck in the other zone.

Third Game: and a chance to drive the play more. 

When the referee points like that, it's a goal. And the players' stick are raised in celebration. They scored a lot and won handily.

Traditionally, there is a team photo on the ice after winning the final game of a tournament, but there was a bit of a mix-up, so I was asked to take one in the small dressing room. With a long lens it was difficult to get back far enough to get the whole team in. Ironically, it is my own grandson who was cut off on the right.

But I did get this photo of JJ all alone but still in action.