Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Present Via Her Crafting

Some of you asked about the lack of masks for most people at the Christmas Parade. I wondered about what would be the protocol before going, but rightly or wrongly, I figured that the cold would really inhibit the transmission of water droplets. And . . . this is a big one . . . there was not a single active case in our slice of the health unit region.

Now, back to the tree party. No, I am not going rehash the whole thing, but I do want to declare that my dearly departed mother was remembered and did play her usual part in the festivities. (Have you ever heard of festivity being used in the singular?)

Unexpectedly, Shauna produced my mother's little sewing basket which she had covered with smocking. I don't know where she got the cigarette case because no one in our family has ever smoked, but it contained some of her buttons. I have a vague memory of playing with a larger button collection than this when I was quite a wee tyke. 

I purposefully included the afghan, which is a Sue creation. It is one of three candy cane afghans that Sue has crocheted. I thought the juxtaposition of my mother's crafty stuff and Sue's afghan was appropriate.

Then, near the end of the decorating of the tree, out came Mom's smocked Christmas balls.

If I am counting correctly she smocked 17 balls over 17 years. We have another set, for she would do two similar ones every year, one for each of her two granddaughters. 

We all want to be remembered by our children and grandchildren, and I am sure she had this in mind when she did the work. I'd say that her work has been effective.

I don't know if it is obvious, but I did have a bit of a moment looking at and touching them again. My smile wasn't very smiley when Sue prompted me in the second photo. Shauna calls them The Feels.

We're not quite done with my mother's lingering presence at the party, for the last touch was putting the skirt at the bottom of the tree, which Mom made, possibly ~1990.

Some say that in one way of looking at life and death, there can be said to be three deaths. The first is when your heart stops beating. The second is when they put you in the ground. The third occurs when your name is spoken for the last time. Even though Mary has been gone for almost 19 years, she is still around us and is remembered, and we trust that this will continue for a few decades yet – every year when Christmas rolls around, and probably at other times too. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

The Resumption of the Annual Tree Decorating Party

Christmas was different last year. Not only was there no parade, but we didn't have a tree decorating party for almost the first time in decades. The occasion used to occur at our house and included my parents. For the past 16 years, ever since we all moved here, Shauna has had it at her place. Last year, COVID intervened. This year, we were back at Sha's on a Sunday afternoon.

When Sue and I arrived there, Sha and the kids had already erected the tree and strung the lights. We would first  add the ribbon and then hang the decorations.

After JJ and Amma encircled the tree with the ribbon, the rest could wait until Danica got home from work (imagine saying that about a 14-year-old!). In the meantime, some snacking occurred. It interested Emmy who is quite taken with chips. Alas! There were none on JJ's plate when I took this ↓ picture ↓ but she did score very –– minimally of course –– at other times.

Danica got home, and the rest of the decorating began.

The tree was done, but the photographer had missed being in a few photos along the way. Shauna took over the camera.

The lighting was both terrible and beautiful: terrible if one wanted to make technically good photos, but rather wonderful for the joy that abounded.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Holy Crowds Mama

We went to our first Santa Claus Parade in this town, 16 years ago and were mightily impressed by the effort and spirit shown. I mean, it's a town and not a city, but there were lots of floats with lots of kids. There were trucks and tractors and animals walking.

That hasn't changed, but the crowds have. Sixteen years ago, getting there and finding a parking space and a spot from which to view the parade was easy. But, my goodness, we could hardly get there last night for the traffic.

Danica wanted to come, so Sue dropped us off at a spot near the route to save me from a long walk. She thought she might find a parking spot and hike back to us. Alas! She gave up and went home to await our call to pick us up.

This is still a town and not a city, but growth is occurring apace because we are close to decent commuting distance and the four lane highway (two each way) that goes west also becomes a regular two-lane one past us . One day when I drove to Shauna's from a shopping area, I must have passed 5 new subdivisions under construction, and there were a few more that I didn't drive past. When we moved here, we bought about the only townhouse available. Now they are in abundance. 

The increased population, plus people coming out after lockdowns and no parade at all last year, resulted in crowds all along the route, which was even expanded this year to allow for more viewing space. 

Here are two photos from FB, to give some sense of the crowds. I know that it's not the big Toronto or Montreal crowds for their big parades, but it is still remarkable to me, given what the crowds used to be.

Stupidly, I took the wrong lens – my medium telephoto and not my 'normal' lens. But Dani and I were on a street not as wide as this main street, and I was too close to get many photos. Of course, I got some anyway that I hope capture the flavour of a town parade that doesn't have the grand floats of a big city extravaganza.

A fire engine always comes first, after a police car anyway, and the town crier walks behind.

There were animals. Several groups of dogs walked past, and horses of various sizes including a tiny one. But I am showing you regular horses.

There were all sorts of trucks of all sorts of sizes. This was one of the big ones. There were tractors too, but I seem to have deleted any of those. I was tired last night when I uploaded the photos.

The bands weren't grand. Canadian schools don't do marching bands although some communities do. When we lived in the border community of Sarnia, next to Michigan, there would always be more than one snazzy American, high school band, but we are not a border town.

We have had good size, local piper bands in the past, but not this year. There were two little groups like this last evening.

Our schools do have very fine music programs, but they are concert bands and not marching bands. They sit on a float and play for us.

Mostly, floats are of kids going by and waving to us, or not. 

I do not know what cait in the first float means in English. The lady was singing to us, very nicely, may I add, and the music note indicates something musical, but I don't know exactly what. I asked Danica, who is in immersion French but she didn't know. Both kids take some classes en fran├žais and some in English.

After about 45 minutes, Santa came by. He and Mrs Claus came and went quickly, but I did snatch a couple of photos.

And that, dear folk, is a glimpse of a town parade on a very chilly evening in Canada. Indeed, Danica went home and snuggled under the blankets to get herself warmed up.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Fish for Me on Your TG

While so many of you were celebrating Thanksgiving with turkey and, if you were lucky, also with family, we headed into Ottawa (just the western outskirts, so not the real city) for fish & chips. It was our first lunch or dinner inside a restaurant in a very long time. It has probably been a little more than two years since we ate at The Glen with our friends, Bob and Barb. It was time to do it again. Long past time.

It was delicious. The fish came piping hot and was soft and flakey beneath a light but crispy batter. It was, perhaps, the best ever although it is possible that it was extra appreciated after the long hiatus. By the way, the chips/fries were also just about perfect.

I took no pictures, but on the previous evening, I had photographed another of Jonathan's games. I will keep it to just a few photos, just of him this time except for one other that you will see at the end.

We waited for him after the game, and he came out of the dressing room wearing a crown. The team is called the Kings, and he was crowned King of the Game for this one for his good supportive attitude. Here he is, crowned in the centre (not my photo).

Now, for the other picture. I thought was possibly the best photo of the evening because of his gesture, but there was a blank, green wall behind the goalie, so I decided to put a cheering crowd in there. It probably doesn't help a lot, but I had some fun with the experiment.

This evening will feature the town's Santa Claus Parade. It is unique in that they do it in the dark. There may be snow which would be a nice touch, but I am not sure if we will make it to the parade as we may have a bit of a timing issue with picking Danica up after work. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Silly Old People

It isn't Christmas yet, so what were Sue and John up to?

Guess what! They're all empty.

Huh? Why?

Well, Sue put together another fun photo op.

Linda changed her sign again, and off we went.

Despite the fact that the car was full, we didn't have nearly as many boxes (actually mostly bags) as it seems in the two pictures with the sign. But through the magic of Photoshop, I was able to make it look like many more. If you look carefully, you will be able to see that some parcels make 3 or even 4 appearances.

Here's another collage.

We are just 2 silly old people.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

One Chickadee January

Despite not attracting any birds on our recent forays to the woodland, in the past we had a great experience – or more accurately, a series of memorable experiences over a few weeks in January 2005.

We went to the cottage in December 2004 and remained for much of January, with a break at Shauna's over Christmas. Sha lived within a few hours of the cottage while we lived 6 or more hours away.

Wanting to make it a little more festive in the wilderness, Sue festooned a tree with a Christmas garland of popcorn and cranberries. It was upon our return early in January that the bird magic happened.

That was when Sue decided to put apple slices and peanut butter on the branches of the same tree. Or maybe she started this before the break and simply resumed the practice. I can't remember for sure.

We weren't looking for or expecting the close encounters that ensued, and I don't remember exactly the first step. I do think that a nuthatch was the first one to land on Sue's hand. At least I believe that is what happened, and the sequencing of photos from back then seems to indicate that I am correct. 

Here s/he is. This one had an orange breast. Another variety is white. I have attached a photo of one of those at the end of this post.

Although the nuthatch broke the ice, the chickadees were very quick to follow, for it sure seems like the very same apple in Sue's hand. She is in the same place too.

Once they began to visit, they came in droves, or so it seemed. 

Shauna visited for a weekend and was overjoyed to be blessed with visits.

Heather also received the blessing.

Et moi.

It got to the point that if we left the cottage with the peanut butter jar, they would land on the jar almost immediately. I wish I had a picture of that. Not only that, but we would sometimes be followed on our walks around the extensive property of more than 100 acres.

One day I put some peanut butter apple slices on my head, shoulders and both hands. I was hoping for five birds for a photo. It didn't happen although I think there were once three, and there may have been other flittings. Once again, I don't recall for sure.

Here's what we did capture.

Even though the peanut butter was on apple slices, I distinctly remember getting pecked on my bare scalp, and it did smart a bit.

It was such a joyful experience. Too bad it seems all but certain that it is not going to happen here. However, we do cherish these memories, which I love revisiting. It has been quite a long time since I looked at these photos, and I feel warm pleasure all over again.


And here, we have the other kind of nuthatch from the same winter. I can't remember if it landed on our hands. I don't think it did, but it was a long time ago..

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

No Birds and Few Photo Ops

We were back with apples and birdseed on the weekend.

At this spot, two nuthatches were flitting about, but neither landed. Nuthatches can be just as bold and tame as chickadees although they don't come in numbers. Not it my limited experience anyway That was the most colourful tree on the path in the background, so I wanted to include it. I did move back and took another photos that included her extended hand, but I still liked this one better.

I looked around for other things to photograph. I did the alligator sign again, closer-up this time. It's a local joke. There was once a marshy area in town that had a similar sign for many years until the land was built upon. This sign should be forever safe from builders for it is in a designated park. 

I looked around diligently, for I am told that there is always something to photograph. However, that doesn't mean the photo will be very good. It is good to look around and try though. In this case, the birch tree stood out from the background gloom, which I darkened in post, for effect.

Here a rather pathetic fir tree is trying to make a go of it. Poor thing. I guess it could be Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.

I saw very white fungi here and there, including on the edge of the felled log.

There were a few leaves with still some colour here and there, and I thought to show that. But then I decided to convert this to b&w. I rather like it.

And that was it for feeding the birds this week.