Thursday, November 30, 2023

Getting a Lifter

With bodily constraints being what they are, Sue has been worried about clearing the snow on the walk by the front door. We have a contractor to plow the driveway, and the town will eventually get to the sidewalk. but the walkway will be up to us.

It's not a long piece to shovel, and I think I could manage around my shoulder issue, but Sue has been apprehensive. Then she saw a little electric shovel on FB. We don't require a big blower, but this little contraption might be sufficient to blow it from our entrance way without having to lift the snow. The snow pile beside out path can become quite high by the end of winter, so it could become quite a strain. 

Then, Shauna found this very model for sale, second hand, in our own little town. It's wasn't terribly expensive, so off we went. We closed the deal within minutes and were soon back with the device. 

We shall have to see if it is what we need, but it looks promising, but it won't be used where it is in this photo — the path to be cleared is behind me, near the front door.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Morning Phone Calls

Well, that was a major morning for me. Due to my poor hearing and the fact that I don't like people (kidding — sorta), I tend to put off phone calls as long as possible. They were mounting up, so yesterday morning, I girded my loins and made three calls. One was to resolve an issue with our property insurance. The second was to call CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) which is enough to cause a fit of the shudders. The third was to call our Honda dealer about a safety recall.

All things considered, the calls went well enough. That I can divert the phone audio directly to my hearing aids helps a lot. The sound is clear and the volume is good, and it is almost like I can interact like a normal person. 

However, I will have to spend at least a week recovering from the ordeal.

Maybe I should curl up in my chair and imbibe some Bailey's Irish Cream. Not being much of a drinker, I haven't done that at Christmas for several years, but my feeble eyes were attracted to a display while purchasing a bottle of wine for Sue. Maybe I should let my hair down and indulge, but I have some trouble locating hair.

Well, that's my short and sweet post for today. The question looms: will he or won't he? About the Bailey's, I mean.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


November is the bleakest month: the colour has gone, and the snow hasn't yet arrived. Well, sometimes it arrives and stays by the end of November, but not usually. One thing that is beginning to happen is ice because most nights are now falling well below freezing. 

For the most part, our Mississippi River in this vicinity doesn't freeze because it runs so fast, but there is am embayment in Appleton where freezing is occurring already. In both of these photos, there is ice until the darker blue near the far trees.

This is the boat launch in Appleton.

At least we were graced with nice blue skies for these photos.

The pond at out local park ↓ is mostly frozen already. The outer, lighter section froze first and the darker section, near the water intake, later. I like the curving line where the two sections of ice meet.

When we walked from the park along the path by the river, we did encounter some ice right by the river bank, but it didn't extend very far into the river. (I decided to process this one in mono, but it was a mistake.)

To continue the ice there, when we made our way back to the car, there were some patches of ice in the grass in the park.

Apart from the ice, I nabbed this photo of Sue. She had just emerged back onto the path after photographing something or other in the bushes to the left.

And she took a photo of me.

Sunny, blue sky days with some clouds really help at this time of year.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Tree Parties from Yesteryears

After posting of this year's tree party yesterday, I found a few scans of older gatherings from our previous residence. Collaboration amongst Sue, Shauna, and me have led us to conclude that the four photos cover three different years, but we'll get to that, shortly.

I have told you here yesterday that the tree-decorating parties began sometime around the mid-80s, but we believe that these photos were from the early 90s. 

In the first image, Shauna appears to be untangling ornament strings from the previous year. This was an annual chore. That's my little father hanging a decoration. Like me now, he mostly sat back and enjoyed watching the others trim the tree, but we made sure that he hung at least one ornament.

We are not sure whether the above photo was earlier or later than the next two, which show the whole gathering, except for me. We believe that both years are from the early 90s.

Our youngest is in the background of both of the next photos. The woman on the right is our friend, Val, who, sadly, did not live to a ripe old age. Sue is in the second photo with her original hair colour. 

My parents are of a roughly similar age to what I am now.
Like me, my father's hair is more dark than gray.

Look at my little father next to Sue, who is not exactly a giant.

As you can see, we were a small gathering then, but we have since then decreased from 7 to 5, which is just as well in a way since Shauna's place is rather on the small side, as is ours. Sue and I don't even put up a tree anymore, apart from a tabletop one in the kitchen. 

After much discussion, focusing on wallpaper, we concluded that this next photo was the most recent of the three years represented in this post. I believe that it was from 1994 or 5, and Sue agrees that it was at least 1992 or later. I was thrown off by my mother's outfit at first, for it is the same as it was in the earlier year, above. In this ↓ photo, Little Mom and Big AC are doing our bit. I did help more with the tree decorating back then, but, like my father before me, am content to be more of an observer now.

I think the saying is "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose:"  the more things change, the more they stay the same. The location and some of the characters have changed, but the family core continues to decorate the tree together.

* After the previous post, I was asked about Boxing Day in Canada. Whatever its old-country origins, here it is a statutory holiday like Christmas. Stores remain closed for the most part, but we don't tend to do anything special — at least our little clan doesn't.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Tree Party 2023

Sue started the tree party tradition sometime around the mid-eighties when we began having Christmas, or at least part of it, at ours. Until then, we had driven the 200 miles from Sarnia to Toronto join, first my parents, and then hers for Christmas.

Early in the eighties (I think ~1983 or 4), my parents moved to Sarnia, and we had Christmas, or at least Christmas Day, at home. Usually on Boxing Day, we would make the trip to Toronto to celebrate with her clan. But before Christmas, come late November or early December, we would have my parents and our friend, Val, over to decorate the tree with us.

These forty or so years later, the tradition continues. Shauna kept it going at her place once we moved here in 2005. Last Friday evening, November 23 2023, we gathered once more.

Between Sue and me, we captured many photos, but, thankfully, Sue coalesced a number of them into collages to spare us some space

Speaking of Sue, let us begin with her comfortably sitting by the faux fire with a glass of wine beside her.

Also beside her are three of my mother's smocked balls — three of the many that she crafted, We choose a few to hang each year, Sue chose the white one, and I the red or one of the reds. I wrote in more detail about mom's smocking least year in Present Via Her Crafting, so I shan't go on, except to point out that that we are hanging the smocked balls in the two bottom photos of this ↓ collage.

Jonathan has traditionally put the topper on the tree.
This year, he didn't require a ladder to do it.

Here ↓ is a close-up of Sue's offering with a bit of mine off the the right.

Work proceeded.

Snuggles were had.

Many moments were captured: more than you see here. Danica kept her hair hidden for the most part because she wasn't happy with it for some reason.

Although I am holding the big camera, above, I soon switched the phone,
which worked better in the dim conditions.

Soon, the 2023 tree sat proudly in her finery.

Sabine was happier once the hubbub subsided. Shauna reports that so far she is being good, content to sit under the tree and to refrain from climbing it, even if she does look impish.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Sue's Photo Art

Sue continues to complete her daily photo prompts with diligence and perseverance. Through affliction, both hers and mine, including her surgery and short hospital stay, she has managed to keep up her posting.

I think she does best at prompts that cause her to grab household items and head to her little studio* in the basement. She will take numerous photos of a set up, tweaking compositions just a little bit. Then, she edits on her iPad Pro.

She appreciates the daily challenge, which sometimes consists of three parts, and strives to get all of the required elements. This is very different from moi, for I just photograph what I feel like photographing and don't wish to adhere to someone else's strictures.

But this is about Sue and not me, and here are some of her latest creations. I will not attempt to repost on what prompts she was fulfilling with each. I will just tell you that I like them all and am impressed with both her creativity and tenacity.

* When I say, studio, it's a table with black cloths hung around it in a small space in a cramped and crammed-full basement.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Looking Across the Street Again

One night after photographing the neighbour's seasonal display, I felt compelled to do it again. We had freezing rain in the early evening, and with my window partially iced, I thought I might capture some interesting effects by shooting through the ice. Let's see if I succeeded.

This ↓ is how the main display looked. Do you like it? I do.

I pointed my camera the garage and to the window above it — the one with the tree. I like that too.

Maybe the other neighbour's tree didn't turn out quite as well, but I find the gentle diffusion around the pinpoints of the lights, interesting.

It was hard to catch with the camera, but from another angle I could tree the shadows of trees when I focused on the ice itself and not on the scene beyond.

However, when I looked out again before I went to bed several hours later, the ice on the window had melted, and, lo and behold, there was snow on the ground. That necessitated one more shot, but you can see the round waterdrops that were splattered here and there on the pane. They show up best in the dark background above the lights.

That was an interesting diversion, and not having to leave the house to get winter photos was a bonus.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Looking Across the Street

Note: My computer is misbehaving; I need a new one. Several comments that I made or started to make last night went into the ether. Windows closed, and I couldn't easily get back to where I was because my Reader program sees the post as being read.


I finally got around to photographing neighbours' Christmas display — photographing it a little better than before anyway. It's tricky to photograph extreme light and dark, but I felt that I should make a better effort, so this time, I used a tripod and my real camera.

I was shooting through the restricted view from and through my upstairs window, so composition opportunities were limited, to say the least.

For this first photo↑ I included the other neighbours' tree (right) — the one where I recently posted of him stringing the lights while standing on the top of a high ladder. Because of my angle, I couldn't get that whole tree in the frame. There were items in front of my window that I would have had to move to  get my tripod in a slightly different position, and that would have included moving Lacey, the cat. So, I decided to make the best of it, but I might try again on another night now that I know that I can get okayish results.

Next, I zoomed into the grander display. It is too bad about the cars in the driveways, but that is the way that it was.

Then, I focused on just the window and indoor tree. We have been told that there are seven trees in the house.

Finally, I concentrated on the yard display. There is a whole lot of stuff in a small space, but it certainly catches the eye, and it makes the neighbours happy to do it.

It would have been better to have snow on the ground, and that may happen soon, but I decided to at least record the scene as it is now.  Maybe I will try to take some photos from street level at a later date.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023


At the last minute last night, we packed up dinner and left it on the porch for Sha and the kids. We had been planning our usual family dinner here, the main course being chicken baked in a hoisin-hickory sauce, and served with rice.

Not long before they were to arrived, Sha informed us that she had been exposed to COVID at work. Although she may very well not have caught it, we all thought it better to be safe than sorry. So, we made their part a takeaway. Sha was out and about already, so she picked it up from our front porch.

Oops, takeaway is showing my predilection for British expressions. We have normally used takeout hereabouts, but I am getting so immersed in Britishisms that they are almost becoming second nature.

Speaking of things British, we are currently watching season 12 of Vera. We've seen it before, but only once and a year ago, so it is pretty well new to us. I have recalled fragments, but after wtching two episodes, it seems completely new to Sue. We are like cats who can't seem to remember that they refused to go outside 3 minutes ago because it was raining. 

Back to COVID, Sha will test regularly, but she didn't want to take a chance of exposing us, especially since we still haven't had the newest booster.

And that is something that we must rectify soon, for we are almost due. We've had the flu vax though.

Monday, November 20, 2023

It's Relative

When Sue came into the den at 7:30 to brew her morning coffee, she asked how I had slept.

My reply: "Alright."

Later, when she learned that I had been up since 4:30, she wondered how I could say that my sleep was okay.

Well, it's all relative, isn't it?

Getting 5+ hours is pretty okay compared to 4- hours. The extra hour, and hopefully a bit more, really does make a difference. 

I think having a cat on your head would help you to understand this.

Then on a subsequent morning, Sue and I, from our separate rooms, both arose at 6. Sue was not best pleased about awaking at such an early-for-her hour. I, on the other hand, was chuffed to be able to sleep-in so long.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Mostly Tamaracks . . . Again

The sun was out on warmish and calm November day, so Johnny and Susie set out for a stroll at Riverside Park, which is not the location of my recent tamarack photos.

Reflections were clear on the calm water, and our phones came out to capture the sights. I have photographed the stand of birches across the river more than once, including in winter, but I don't always capture nice reflections. I deliberately included the branches of a nearby tree to help frame the scene and give it depth.

Then, I noticed the tamaracks in the distance. I guess we don't walk this way very often at this time of year, for I don't recall noticing them before.

Eventually, we came upon them before we turned back.

calm, bright days like this in November are a gift.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Caturday 56: Lacey Supervises and Trains Us

Sue is extra keen on people smiling biggly in photos. Me? Not so much, at least when I am the subject. But she said something funny and made me laugh naturally.

Meanwhile, Lacey seemed to be on Sue's side by making sure that I was cooperative on this occasion. 

We set the above scene for one of Sue's photo prompts. In sickness and in health, she hasn't missed her daily posting all year.

As for Lacey, she has also been retraining me to cater to her hobbitish proclivity, for more often than not, she now requires a second breakfast. This makes it four meals per day in addition to providing her with occasional treats and keeping the kibble dish topped up.

I hasten to add that this does not increase her actual food intake, for I now divide one of those small cans into four portions instead of three.

The extra breakfast is my fault really, but from the moment I awake, which is often the middle of the night, she hangs around hoping for breakfast. She keeps her eye on me for hours before what I consider to be proper breakfast time, so I tend relent and take her down to the kitchen. But if I do feed her early, she feels that she deserves an additional helping in another hour or two

Consequently, I abide by her wishes and feed her that extra dish, but unbeknownst to her, the daily allotment remains the same.

It's one can per day, Lacey. Ces't tout. Point finale.


I wrote that ↑ more than a week ago, but I waited until a Caturday to post it. Now I have a breakfast addition from Thursday morning.

As is her usual custom, Lacey waited by the computer chair for kibble as soon as I awoke at 4:30. Yes, she wants this feeding directly from me even though her bowl is just across the hall.

Two hours later, she was on her pedestal, training her gimlet eye upon me, hoping that I would seen take her downstairs for breakfast. I demurred because I like to keep breakfast for both of until close to 9 o'clock.

An hour-and-a-half later, she had been sitting by a chair for a long time. I relented, and down we went together, both of us hobbling in our arthritic ways.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Mom and Cats at Christmastime

When Shauna got home from work on Wednesday, she was delighted to see that Danica and her beau had set up the Christmas tree. It is one task that Sha can checkoff her list in the busy Christmas season. The tree is pre-lit, and we will be invited to help to hang the ornaments in due course. Gathering the family to trim the tree is our long-standing Christmas tradition. 

Sabine was quick to claim a spot on the tree skirt that my mother made many years past. Mom has been gone for 20 years, but she still has a spot under the Christmas tree, which I think is a wonderful touch.

Trees and cats  remind me once again of the year that Shauna was born in the Christmas season of 1972.  They didn't rush to send mothers and babies home in those days, and of course, moi, the proud new papa, would frequently go to visit them.  I swear, and I am not exaggerating, that every time that I got home, the cats had been busy, and I had to set up the tree again. In later years, we would tie the tree to hooks to prevent a reoccurrence.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

JJ Delivers the Goods

I prefer to do my own grocery shopping, but JJ's first job has him delivering ordered groceries to cars. People order online via an app, and someone delivers the groceries to the car. This practice really took off  in the days of  C19 when many of us lived in a kind of an isolation. I used pickup a lot then but seldom now. However, I JJ seemed keen to deliver an order to us, and of course it pleased me too, so I put an order in.. 

Keeping posting light and just newsy for now, I will report that physio, yesterday, consisted of acupuncture. I was surprised when the therapist asked if I would like to try it. Well, why not, eh. It was a first for me, and since my pain and discomfort are variable, I cannot yet say if it helped or how much.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Lights and Shoulder

Here's a quick and easy picture post for today.

The neighbours' Christmas display from my den with a phone. I hope to get a proper photo at another time, maybe with snow on the ground.

They've had it up for a week already. It seems early for many southerners, but it gets cold quickly as November rolls on, so if we have a nice day, many just want to get to it. Besides, our Thanksgiving is well past, so Christmas is the only event on the horizon.

Their next door neighbour is a little behind, but they were out stringing lights yesterday. It's quite a job. The tree has grown in the almost 20 years since I first saw it lit. I will probably take a photo of the result at some point. I usually do.

So, that's it for now, except to say that I sometimes feel a little restrained sleeping in my chair. I had a tough time getting to sleep last night and was very uncomfortable, so, after awhile, I chanced actually going to bed. It worked for a couple of hours, but I got my shoulder into a tough position and it got pretty sore, and couldn't get comfortable again. I reverted back to the chair and managed to get a few hours of sleep but only a few. I'll be off to physio soon and am hoping that we make some progress.