November & December 2011

Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada

Christmas In Ottawa (edited)

Click here for larger view As planned, we drove to Ottawa yesterday for the Christmas gathering of Sandra's family, hosted by Margie and John. Not as planned, we encountered too much snow for comfort.
    Originally, the forecast had called for nothing but flurries. Then that was increased to a snowfall of around one to two inches, which is about what we had on the drive into the city. That made the drive interesting, but not overly nerve wracking. Then that was supposed to be it for snow and it was for a while, but it came back and came back with a vengeance. By the time we left for home around 8:30pm it was snowing heavily and the freeway out of Ottawa was solid with cars backed up behind a line of snowplows that were plowing the four lanes of the westbound highway in one pass, which was good for getting snow off the road efficiently, but not so good for making much speed. The worst thing about it was the windshield wipers eventually iced up with packed snow and we had to leave the highway to clean them before we lost visibility completely and then had to get back on the highway. Fortunately, once we left Ottawa behind, we also left the falling snow behind. The road was still covered with snow but we had no more trouble with visibility. It was not a fun drive and took two hours to make the normally one-hour 45 mile (75 km) drive. O the joys of Canadian winter driving.
    Anyway, all the travel woes aside, we had a great time at Margie's, where we were fed a veritable feast of a turkey dinner and, of course, the entire event centered around great-nephew Jack, who raked in a carload of presents.
    Pictured above, L to R, are Becky, holding Jack, Nick, Danica, Margie, John, Betty, Sandra, and yours truly. Not in attendance and greatly missed was Garth, who understandably opted to spend Christmas with his family in the Toronto area.
    Click on the photo for a larger view, click here for one processed to print at 5 x 7 inches.

(Edit) And thanks to photographer Sandra, click here to see what I was doing this morning (after getting back from going out at sunrise to shoot some snowscapes, of course). This is our new litttle electric snowblower getting its second use. It does a decent job and while using it still works up a sweat, it's much less stressful than shoveling this stuff. You can't tell from this shot because I was just getting started on this pass, but it can blow snow from this point almost out to the sidewalk.

Merry Christmas To All

Click here for larger view Let me first wish a Merry Christmas to all who read this today.
    As I said in my report on 18 December, there was quite a bit of doubt as to whether we'd have a white Christmas or not this year, but I'm happy to report that we are, just barely but there's enough to cover the ground as can be seen in the photo on the left which was taken yesterday and it's been too cold since then for it to have melted.
    In fact, we had an additional dusting of snow overnight and today's forecast is calling for 0.8 to 1.6 inches (2 to 4 cm) more snow to fall, so it will be even whiter. The bad thing about that is we have to drive to Ottawa today since Margie and John are hosting the family Christmas gathering, so I'd be just as happy if it didn't snow, but I'm sure we'll manage.
    Yesterday was such a beautiful day, as you can tell from the photo above, we decided to get out and enjoy seeing the sun, which we've seen precious little of lately, so we did another of our drives into the Canadian Shield, this time going south of Westport on Road 10, one of the most scenic stretches of highway in this region. The road above is along a shortcut to Road 10.
    For my latest photos, click here.

Welcome To Winter

Click here for larger view Winter officially started here in the wee hours this morning at 12:30am. I view this as one of those good news–bad news situations. Bad because it means really cold weather is coming; good because the days will now start to get longer. Daylight today will be one second longer than yesterday.
    My daughter Michelle gave me a rare treat Tuesday evening when she took her (well, Eric's actually) iPad to a family Christmas gathering. My son Ian and his family (wife Tracy and five kids, two of whom I've never met) were there and thanks to Apple Computer's FaceTime technology, I was able to video chat with Ian, Tracy, and a whack of grandchildren, finally getting to see Ian's twins, being held in the photo.
    Also thanks to Michelle and her iPad, I was able to see part of her church's Christmas pageant that her kids were participating in and if all goes well, I might be able to see Faith's piano recital tomorrow. If I can't be there in person, these new technologies are the next best thing.
    Michelle also took a photo of Ian's family for me, something I've been wanting for quite a while. She even managed to do the near impossible and got everyone with their eyes open and with pleasant expressions. She even got all six kids in the shot. What? You see only five? Number six is there in Tracy's baby factory.
    For my latest photos, click here.

An Eventful Day Yesterday

Click here for larger view Yesterday was the day Sandra and I took our annual Christmas photo, as seen on the left. Click on it for a larger view and click here for one large enough to print. As usual each year, please treat this as my Christmas card to you, so Season's Greetings and Happy Holidays.
    We always try for a different setting to wear our Santa's Helper caps each year and this year Sandra thought it would be good to try and get the reindeer at The Country Christmas Shoppe to pose with us. Having met these animals last year, I had my doubts as to how cooperative they might be for posing, but when the proprietress of the shoppe offered most kindly to take the photo for us and called the reindeer to their fence, things worked out much better than I had hoped. The husband and wife who run the shoppe are two of the nicest folks you'd want to meet.
    Later in the afternoon, we headed east for Oxford Mills where Sandra had located a swiveling, rocking La-Z-Boy recliner for sale by individual. The recliner being a salmon color wasn't ideal, but the price was right. The chair she had been using was causing her back problems, so she'd been looking for something better for quite a while. Of course, all the ones we saw that she liked were too expensive until she found this chair advertised online. So now she's a happy sitter. Click here to see her in her new chair.
    The weather for November and early December was unseasonably warm with only a couple of small snowfalls that didn't stick around long. As you can see in the photo above, there's no snow on the ground and there's some doubt as to whether we'll have a white Christmas or not. Green Christmases up here, while in the minority, are not rare. Statistically one out of six will be green.
    For my latest photos, click here.

An Eventful Day Around Town

Click here for larger view Yesterday was the day for Smiths Falls to hold its annual Santa Claus Parade. So being curious, Sandra and I went downtown at the appointed time to watch the festivities and were impressed with the turnout. The whole length of Beckwith Street between Elmsley and Chambers Streets (six blocks) was lined with people on both sides several people deep. I think everyone in town (population of almost 10,000) who wasn't in the parade itself was lining the street to watch it (photo left).
    Unfortunately, many of the people were smoking and ever since my bout with fungal pneumonia three years ago, cigarette smoke, even second hand and outdoors, has a very adverse affect on my lungs. Fortunately, we eventually found a place (suggested by Sandra) not only free of smoke but with a clear view of the parade.
    The parade was typical for a small town and longer than I expected, but I found the sideline action just as interesting, if not more so, than the parade itself as evidenced by the photos here, here, and here. Happily, the weather cooperated, sprinkling rain before and after the parade but not during, and the weather was mild, as it has been most of the month, so Sandra and I had a wonderful time.
Click here for larger view    Then that evening at 7:30 with Sandra opting to stay home, I drove over to the train station to await the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, due in at 8pm.
On my arrival there was already a good-sized crowd that steadily grew until at the stroke of 8pm the train pulled into the station. By then the crowd was shoulder to shoulder and filled the station platform. Even though I had arrived early enough to get a front-platform spot and hold it, I still had to take advantage of my Canon 60D's swiveling LCD display to shoot with the camera held as high as I could over my head to shoot over the crowd, as seen in the photo on the right.
    It was quite a sight to see the train coming around the distant curve and pull to a stop in front of the station. Last year I didn't feel like dealing with the crowd and took photos before sunrise the next morning when only railway personnel were around, but I had been curious to see what it had been like with the crowd. Now I know. They were a well behaved lot, but as with the parade, the air was polluted with cigarette smoke and this time I had to endure it or lose my choice location on the platform.
The train carries entertainers and when the crowd moved down closer to watch their show I left for home, glad to have seen the event, but probably not again. I really hate being in crowds.
    For a ton of parade photos, click here for Sandra's blog. For my latest photos, click here.

1st Significant Snowfall Of The Winter...

Click here for larger view ...fell overnight, even though it's still autumn for nearly another month. Snow in late November certainly isn't rare up here.
    A week ago we had a dusting of snow pellets (graupel, but as my mother called it - hominy snow). That snow (click here to see it) melted off in an hour or two since the temperature was well above freezing. Last night however, it wasn't and it snowed fairly heavily for quite a while so we ended up with several inches of the heavy wet kind on the ground, the kind that's perfect for snowballs but not for shoveling. I'd guess 5 or 6 inches (13-15 cm) fell, despite the fact the forecast had predicted only 0.8 inches (2 cm). I watched it on weather radar as it approached and it was coming off Lake Ontario, so it was a lake effect snow, which usually goes well south of us as we're an hour and a half drive northeast of the lake.
    Anyway, because this was the most excitement we've had since having dinner at Margie's in Ottawa around two weeks ago, I went out long before dawn while the snow was falling at its heaviest and took some photos around town, such as the one on the left. Click on it for a larger view.
    After Sandra and the sun were up, I got to use my new little electric snowblower for the first time. It did a credible job even though it didn't much like that heavy wet kind of snow. The blower is rated for only 6 inches of snow anyway, so I was really pushing it. After tomorrow, the weather is supposed to turn mild until Tuesday, so this snow won't last long.

Happy US Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, so let me wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all who will be observing it. Up here, it's just another day, but I'll be thinking about all my family down there and might even make some phone calls.

21st Anniversary

Click here for larger view Twenty-one years ago on 5 November 1990, Sandra and I were in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA getting married and celebrated the event that evening by dining out at Noteworthy's Cafe.
    This year on November 5th, the day before yesterday, we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary with some fine dining at Calamity Jane's Dining Lounge (photo on the left) in Addison, a little hamlet a half hour south of here that we have noticed on our occasional drives to Brockville. Click here for my photo of the restaurant's exterior.
    We asked the restaruant owner how it had gotten its name and she said it was named by the previous owner for her daughter, who must have been a calamity, and the current owner just kept the name, despite it otherwise having no significance to her and having nothing to do with the legendary Calamity Jane, although they play up the name. The food, service, and ambiance were all excellent and we had a quiet and enjoyable time.
    For our 14th anniversary seven years ago, we visited the little wedding chapel where we were married. Click here to see it. For Sandra's account of our 21st anniversary and more photos, click here.
Click here for larger view    Then yesterday, still being in a festive mood and it being a gorgeous sunny and almost warm day, we decided to go for a drive. Problem was, we've traveled almost every road in the immediate area so we decided to make it a long drive and in studying the map I thought the roads through the Canadian Shield to the small community of Griffith northwest of here looked promising and we weren't disappointed. In fact, we were quite pleasantly surprised by just how scenic the drive was once we were north of Lanark on the road to Calabogie, a ski resort village. We've traveled that road once or twice before, but so long ago we had forgotten just how pretty it was. Click here for a map of our 200 mile (320 km) drive that had us on the road for six hours.
    And as pretty as the road was to Calabogie the roads from there to Griffith (previously untraveled by us) were even prettier, better even than the road to Ompah which we had thought was unbeatable. The photo above shows us parked along the side of the road to take photos. That vista is typical of the Canadian shield with its almost mountainous tree-covered hills, the now exposed roots of once very large mountains.
    For a gallery of photos I took on the drive, click here. For all of my latest photos, click here.


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Updated Friday, January 27, 2012

Copyright 2011 by Gordon L Wolford .
All rights reserved.


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Just want to say 'Hi?'

Didya Know?

The classic television series Lassie, featuring the loyal collie who was loved by all, in the spirit of the Christmas season, Lassie was given as a surprise Christmas present to Tommy, who was delighted to find her sitting under the Christmas tree.

A Spot O' Humor

Christmas is like a day at the office...
you do all the work and the fat man
in the suit gets all the credit.

Parting Thot

When we recall Christmas past, we usually
find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness.

– Bob Hope

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)