January, February & March 2012

Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada

Max Wolford Arrives

Click here for larger view On Friday, March 23, our ninth grandchild, a boy named Max Rylee Kelly Wolford, was born to Tracy and Ian. Max is their sixth child, joining his two brothers and three sisters. Quite a houseful.
    Weighing in at 9 lbs 7 oz (4.3 kg) and 20 inches (51 cm) long, Max was born at 2:16 PM at Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, and has all the usual parts in all the right places and with none extra. Mother and father also survived the birth.
    I particularly like this photo of Max because it reminds me of when my daughter Michelle (Max's aunt) was a baby and she also sucked her middle two fingers instead of a thumb.
    And this is it for grandchildren, Max'd out (so to speak) at nine. Neither Ian with his six kids nor Michelle with her three kids will be having any more.
    The only other thing of note since my last report is I went out in the wee hours a couple of nights ago, set up the camera on the tripod (something I don't do very often), and took some relatively long exposures of moving water. The shot seen here was a 2 minute exposure. I got rather interested in this kind of photography when I was trying to photograph an aurora earlier in the month. These shots are more interesting when you have some clouds (like here), but moving water also works.
    For my latest photos, click here.

Spring Has Sprung...

Click here for larger view ...but it's masquerading as summer. Spring officially arrived yesterday, which was the spring equinox, but for the week so far our weather has been more like summer than spring and is supposed to continue that way through tomorrow at least. While the jet stream out west has been dipping as far south as southern California, pulling cold Canadian air with it, the jet stream over eastern North America has been arcing northward over Hudson Bay, which is pulling the very warm air up here from the southern US. We haven't just broken high temperature records this week, we've shattered them with daytime reaching 75°F/24°C, which would be typical for summer up here. The previous high temperature record on one day in particular had been 61°F/16°C. Today it's supposed to hit 81°F/25°C, while temperatures at this time of year up here have average highs of 39°F/4°C.
    Anyway, yesterday we drove to Ottawa to run some errands, like drop off paperwork for income tax preparation. While in the city we stopped by a few of the birding locations along the Ottawa River where I got the photo above of a bufflehead duck caught in the act of diving to forage on the river bottom.
    For my latest photos, click here.

A Draining Experience

Click here for larger view One of the major problems we discovered with the house not long after we moved in was its sewer line to the street had a tendency to back up every few months. The first time it happened was traumatizing because it was totally unexpected.
    Fortunately, it only filled the basement toilet and sink with sewage but didn't overflow into the basement itself. Also fortunately, our handyman was able to clear out the line with his heavy duty sewer snake.
    Unfortunately, it backed up again a few months later, but by then we would check after each flush upstairs and then flush downstairs too so if the sewer line again became clogged, the basement toilet would fill with clear water rather than sewage.
    It, of course, happened again, so that time I bought my own little sewer snake and that worked twice, but not the third or fourth times, so we had no choice but to have our handyman repair the sewer line, which he was able to do last Friday from the basement, at least as far out as the driveway, and so far it is working, but we won't know for sure until it's worked without problems for months, so fingers crossed.
    And while he was doing that, he also replumbed and rewired the laundry room. Whoever had worked on those things before had been totally clueless.
    The only thing we've done for fun since my last report was to go for a drive to Mississippi Lake last Sunday. The lake, a wide area along the Canadian Mississippi River, is west of Carleton Place and I saw a road on the map going to the lake that looked interesting and one we had not traveled before, so that's what we did and I got the photo above along it. As is so typical for lakes around here, they are so lined with cottages and trees, there is rarely a clear shot of the water. This was the best we saw.
    For my latest photos, click here.

At Last, I See The Light(s)...Sort Of

Click here for larger view Northern lights, that is. As usual, I woke up this morning in the wee hours, couldn't get back to sleep, so got up.
    First thing I did was check the aurora forecast website because before going to bed it looked possible an aurora might develop and indeed, by the time I got up the forecast looked very promising.
    However, it has looked like that before and I saw nothing, but being forever the optimist I grabbed the camera this morning anyway and took off around 3am, drove the 8 miles (13 km) over to a location that has a clear view of the northern sky and once again was disappointed. Although the sky had looked clear when I left the house, when I got to where I had an unobstructed view of the northern horizon it was obscured by a low bank of clouds that was aglow from the city lights of Ottawa 40 miles (65 km) away.
    Figuring the forecast had suckered me out yet one more time, I started to drive away then thought the bank of clouds being lit up like that might make an interesting photo, especially since a full moon was out and lighting up the landscape, so I set up the camera and tripod, took a variety of shots until I got tired of the cold and returned home.
    There, back at my computer, it wasn't until I opened the photos and brigthened things up that I saw there had indeed been an aurora. As you can see in the photo above, the aurora was mostly obscured by the cloud bank, but still shows above it enough to recognize what it is. To the naked eye it had simply looked like a faint colorless glow much like what shows on the horizon on any clear night. I will have to start paying more attention to this. Tonight another even stronger aurora is in the forecast, but clouds are supposed to move in and might ruin it. We shall see.
    For my latest photos, click here.

March Came In Like A Lion

Click here for larger view Yesterday, after a surprisingly mild February, March came in like a lion because we had a snowstorm that dropped around 5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 cm) of snow on us and tomorrow there are wind warnings, with gusts of up to 55 mph (90 kph) predicted. I was glad to see the snow because winter looks so bleak and ugly without it and a recent warm spell had melted off most of the snow we'd had, but I could do without high wind.
    Anyway, today I went out to take a few more snow photos while we still have snow to photograph and while standing near some boathouses by the Swale, a scenic area of wetlands along the Rideau Canal here in town, I was surprised to hear swans trumpeting and it sounded like they were approaching in flight. At first, I couldn't spot them, white against the bright gray sky (as seen here), then they flew past (photo above), continuing their trumpeting and circling over the Swale. In all, I counted five swans, the most I've ever seen at one time and only the second time I can remember seeing any in flight. It was quite an event for someone that learned to love birds while RVing in their migration flyways during our winters spent in the southern US, but sadly I seldom see any interesting birds in this area of Ontario, especially during winter when about the only obvious birds we see are crows, pigeons, and starlings, so these swans were quite a treat for me.
    And, since my last report, I reached a milestone on February 22 when the number of page views of the photos in my PBase galleries passed 20,000,000. I find that amazing. To view my latest photos, click here.

Over The Hump

Click here for larger view A couple weeks ago, give or take a few days, we passed the typical peak of winter's coldest weather (a.k.a. The Dead of Winter), so in theory we're over the winter hump and slip-sliding toward spring. That's not to say winter is over by any stretch of the imagination – often February is the coldest month (although unlikely to be the case this year if the long range forecast is to be believed) and March the snowiest, but at least winter won't be as long as it has been.
    And as winters go up here, this one has been mild. Actually, it's been a roller coaster weatherwise. We'll have a bitter cold day or two and then things warm up again. Generally those warmer days are a few degrees above or below freezing, so while we've had a fair bit of snow, we've also had a fair bit of melting, rain and freezing rain. It's been a real mixed bag of a winter so far.
    As for news since my last report, there isn't much. The most exciting thing we did was to go for a drive last Sunday into the Canadian Shield to see a back road that looked interesting on the map, Iron Mine Road near Playfairville, a road we hadn't traveled before and it proved to be scenic. The photo above was taken along it. There aren't many barns in the Shield because the terrain is too rocky and hilly for much farming, but when you do find a barn, that terrain makes the scene much more interesting than barns on flat farmland.
    For my latest photos, click here.

January So Far

Click here for larger view To this point, January has been mostly uneventful. The only thing worth noting took place last Thursday when we drove to Ottawa where I had yet another CT scan done of my lungs. At the end of March it will be four years since I came down with Valley Fever-induced pneumonia (a fungal infection caused by Coccidioides immitis, a dimorphic fungus found in the soil and dust of the American southwest desert) and while I have generally felt okay since the medicine got things under control back then, my lungs have never returned to normal. For anyone having respiratory problems or a weakened immune system, I highly recommend avoiding the American southwest desert, especially the Sonoran Desert. Valley Fever is Arizona's best kept secret.
    All that said, I just got the results of the CT scan and it showed no change in my lungs since the last scan was done a couple years ago, so that was very good news that things haven't gotten worse, but neither have they improved, so I guess the way my lungs are now will be their new 'normal', which means I can't take a deep breath without coughing and also cough a lot even without deep breaths.
    Anyway, about all we've otherwise done since my last report is survive the winter by hunkering down, although until the last week or so when a cold spell started, the winter has been mild by eastern Ontario standards. However, the unseasonably mild weather is returning even as I write this, with the forecast high for today expected to reach 48°F (9°C). Hopefully, that will get rid of the ice coating the driveway.
    And, of course, regardless of weather I try to go out daily to shoot at least one photo every day. The one above was shot of the Rideau River yesterday at sunrise. This spot is within easy walking distance from the house. For the rest of my latest photos, click here.

Happy 2012

Click here for larger view Welcome to the year 2012. May it be a happy one for you.
    Neither Sandra nor I stayed up to see it in. After having witnessed so many new years in my 65 years of life and being an early-to-bed kind of person, to me they are no longer worth losing sleep over. I've found the first day of a new year has never been noticeably different than the last day of the previous year and not worth making a fuss over.
    I've also never understood the tradition of making new year resolutions, something I've never done. If I need to make changes, I do it when it's needed, not putting it off to some arbitrary date, which means a person doesn't really want to make the changes in the first place and the resolutions won't end up being permanent.
    Anyway, be all that as it may, here we are in 2012. The most notable things about 2011 from my perspective were the visitors who came up to see us - my daughter Michelle and her family and RVer friends Jim & Dee - and the arrival of great-nephew Jack. Compared with the few previous years which saw Sandra's and my life turned upside down with major changes in lifestyle, 2011 was smooth sailing. Sandra has posted her review of the year, which can be found here, so I won't repeat the details.
    As I write this in the afternoon, it is raining. The weather recently has been mild for this time of year, but we've managed in the last ten days to have gotten enough snow to make things pretty, as can be seen in the photo above which I took earlier today a couple miles north of town from a back road. For the rest of my latest photos, click here.


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Updated Friday, April 6, 2012

Copyright 2011 by Gordon L Wolford .
All rights reserved.


Sandra also posts her own 'blog' (news page), which can be found at this link...
The Not So Nightly News
And is on Facebook.
(I'm probably the only people
left in the world who isn't!)

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Didya Know?

Bamboo is the fastest-growing woody plant
on the Earth, growing as fast as 47.6 inches
(1.2 meters) in a 24-hour period.

"Alphabet" is derived from the first two letters
of the Greek alphabet: alpha and beta.

A Spot O' Humor

Practice safe eating -
always use condiments.

Shotgun wedding -
a case of wife or death.

Parting Thot

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

So is a lot.

– Albert Einstein

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
Max - Grandson
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)