April 2011

Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada

April Showers...

Click here for larger view ...and high winds with gusts near hurricane-force are what we had in southern Ontario yesterday. The photo shows the only effect we had here from the high wind, but trees and power poles and lines were blown down in Ottawa which took out power for thousands of people and injured several of them. This was part of the same weather system that wreaked such havoc in the southern US, so we were fortunate it was no worse here than it was.
    But yesterday was only one day of rain that we've had lately out of many such days. As you can see in the photo, the grass is now green again from all the rain and I will soon have to mow it.
    Today is again overcast, but no rain here as there was also no rain in London, England for today's wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, although rain had been in the forecast for them. I'm not much of a royalist, but I do have enough interest in the British royal family to have watched the wedding. It was even more interesting since Sandra and I visited London eleven years ago so many of the scenes shown on TV are personally familiar to us, having visited them.

Happy Easter Weekend

Click here for larger view Our Easter weekend got off to an early start when Margie and family had us over for Easter dinner yesterday. This date was chosen to accommodate everyone's holiday weekend schedules. Betty and all the DeJongs, including Jack, were there. Garth, unfortunately, stayed behind in Toronto, so Betty flew in alone.
    As always, it was a sumptuous feast, cooked mostly by John since Margie had to work until midafternoon.
    Jack, the center of attention once he arrived, was showered with gifts, even though it wasn't Christmas, and the hit of the event is pictured here on the left – an outfit for Jack with a graphic of a dump truck on it titled "Little Dumper" which his parents thought was accurately descriptive of their son, who will now be known as the Little Dumper. In the photo are the proud parents, Nick and Becky, as well as Jack who by that time was exhausted by all of the excitement.
    The photo was taken with the Fuji F550 EXR, my new pocket compact superzoom camera and was taken handheld with indoor ambient light coming from one window and an overhead dining room light, no flash, 1/50s, f4.3, and ISO 1250. Pretty amazing image quality from such a small camera (hence a correspondingly small sensor with their inherent lower light sensitivity).
Click here for larger view    Sandra and I have no further plans for the weekend, but today we did take off on another exploratory tour of Ontario's nearby Land o' Lakes region, this time seeing the little community of Maberly and then driving on to Fall River Road, a road I've seen from Highway 7 countless times but never took it before today.
    The name has always sounded intriguing to me though and the road did indeed live up to that, being quite scenic in places and home to the most 'zigzag' split-rail fencing I've ever seen anywhere. The photo above right shows a laneway to a log house that's lined on both sides with it and this is just one small scene along the road and is only a tiny fraction of this fencing we saw. This photo was also taken with the F550, as were all that I shot on the drive even though I had the other cameras with me. I was trying to get more familiar with the F550 and it also records the GPS location of each shot, so I can find the place later when the light is more to my liking.
    Also while we were in that area, we drove along Rock Lake Road where someone we know has a place. The gate was closed so we weren't tempted to drop in on him, but we did see a bit of interesting wildlife there, such as a quail, a kingfisher, and a fisher (the animal). None of which we were able to get a good shot of, but Sandra did get some shots of a great blue heron that flew off before I could get out of the car with my bird camera and on our return to Smiths Falls, Sandra also spotted two swans in Smiths Falls' Swale and those we were both able to photograph.
    Click here for a map of the 133 km (83 mile) tour. For Sandra's photo essays of the weekend so far, click here and here. For my latest photos, click here.

We Tai One On

Click here for larger view Gee, I've really been remiss in updating this page. No excuse. Just haven't been in the mood.
    Anyway, the big news since my last report is that on Saturday, April 2, Sandra and I attended a local Tai Chi open house and on the following Monday signed up for a four month course to get the physical and mental benefits of Tai Chi's low impact exercises. When you watch people doing those exercises they look easy, but we're finding that doing them yourself is another matter entirely. How long we stick with it beyond our initial four months remains to be seen.
    Then on Thursday, April 7, we drove into Ottawa where I bought yet another camera! This is the pocket camera I've long awaited...a superzoom travel compact with RAW format. It is the Fujifilm F550 EXR and has 16 megapixels, 15X optical zoom (24-360mm equivalent), image stabilization, the traditional manual controls serious photographers love, GPS, and a myriad additional features. It is very similar to the Panasonic Lumix ZS7 I bought only last summer, but basically has the aforementioned RAW format and better image quality. The ZS7 (now given to Sandra), while having the manual controls just didn't deliver enough image quality or the processing flexibility one gets from RAW format to make me happy, while the Fuji F550 does...most of the time
Click here for larger view    Unfortunately, the F550 is not perfect, so I can't recommend it. When shooting bright point source lights, such as streetlights in night photography or direct photos of the sun it has gross flaring around the light source, as can be seen here. At first I was going to return the camera, but it has so many other outstanding qualities I've decided to keep it and just live with that one shortcoming. My main reason for wanting this class of camera is not to replace my DSLRs, but as a convenience camera when I don't feel like lugging around the big heavy ones and the situations in which I'm most likely to be using it won't be ones where the flaring will be a problem.
    Otherwise, last weekend we had a warm spell so we got some outdoor spring things done, like putting out the swing, cleaning up the garage, and washing the car. Unfortunately, the beautiful weather didn't last and it's turned chilly again and it rained all day yesterday and today there is even mention of flurries this afternoon (sigh), but at least all the winter's snow and ice are gone.
    The photo above left of the loon was taken on April 8 along the Rideau Canal during sunset at Kilmarnock, a small community ten minutes east of here and Sandra's and my favorite sunset location.
    For Sandra's latest photo essay, click here. For my latest photos, click here.


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Updated Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Copyright © 2011 by Gordon L Wolford .
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John Wayne acted in 138
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Oscar for True Grit (1969).

Henry Fonda appeared in
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A Spot O' Humor

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Parting Thot

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Cast of Characters

For those reading this page who might
not be familiar with the people in
my life, these are who I often refer to
without noting who they are
(in alphabetical order)...

Becky - Nick's wife
Betty - Sandra's older sister
Caden - Grandson
Carol - my younger sister
Danica - Margie's daughter
Eric - Son-in-law
Faith - Granddaughter
Garth - Betty's husband
Grace - Granddaughter
Ian - my son
Iris - Granddaughter
Jack - Great-nephew
John - Margie's husband
Lily - Granddaughter
Luke - Grandson
Margie - Sandra's younger sister
Michelle - my daughter
Miss Pinky - our GPS navigator
Nick - Margie's son
Oren - Grandson
Rick - Carol's husband
Sandra - my most wonderful wife*
Tracy - Daughter-in-law
Violet - Granddaughter

*(a.k.a. 'Grammy' to some)