December 2012 - January 2013

Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada

Arctic Blast
- Last night the temperature dropped to -17°F (-27°C) and by noon had only 'warmed' up to what can be seen in the photo on the left, -12°F (-25°C). That's bitterly cold, but I've seen it even colder up here in eastern Ontario, but this is the coldest I've seen it for a while. The coldest day last year was January 4 with a low temperature of -11°F (-24°C). That's still pretty frosty, but nothing like it was in 1993 and 1994 when the coldest day of those years dropped to -26°F (-32°C), and I'm sure one of those years the thermometer at the house read -31°F (-35°C), which froze the plumbing that ran through the ceiling of the garage, despite it being insulated. I'll be just as happy if we don't again get that cold and if one can believe the long range forecast, it won't be, at least not this winter.
    On a warmer note, for a while there when I'd go out for my usual sunrise photography drive, I would periodically buy a large black coffee at one of our local Tim Horton's coffee shops, which might not sound like anything worth mentioning, but considering this has been the first time I've been able to drink coffee without it having a negative impact on my lungs it is a noteworthy development for me. Why something like coffee would affect a person's lungs is a mystery to me, but ever since I had Valley Fever-induced pneumonia in 2008, almost anything seemed to affect them. Having had no ill affects after several months of Tim Horton's (perhaps because my daughter prayed for my lungs to heal), my most wonderful wife saw a
single cup coffee maker at Zeller's for the reasonable price of $25, so since I didn't want more than one cup per day I bought it and a can of Tim Horton's ground coffee that cost $6.69 and started to brew my own coffee. A large black coffee at Tim's costs $1.80, total investment in the coffee maker and ground coffee was $31.69, so after only 18 cups the whole thing had paid for itself. I get 50 cups of coffee out of a can, so once the system paid for itself, a cup now costs me only 14 cents. Tim's makes some good money on the coffees they brew there.
    For my latest photos, click here.

Halfway Through
- Since I personally observe winter by its meteorological definition rather than its astronomical definition, for those who do the same we are now halfway through winter!
    This is rather ironic since we are at the end of a January thaw. According to the forecast, the temperature today should again rise above freezing, which has been the case for the last week, two days ago hitting 49°F (9°C), which was warmer than it got in Wickenburg, Arizona, where it reached only 47°F (8°C), but tomorrow things here start to return to normal winter weather.
    Pictured above left is what the back of the house looked like this morning, showing what a week's worth of January Thaw did to our snow cover compared to how it looked before the thaw as can be seen
    All that said, February can be brutally cold and I've seen winters where we got the most snow of the winter in March, so the downhill side of winter can still be a very slippery slope. Considering this and the fact our little electric snowblower damaged itself on the last snowfall, today we purchased a proper gas-powered, self-propelled
Toro snowblower that's still small enough to fit in our little garage. We're just getting too old to shovel that white stuff.
    For my latest photos, click here.

January Thaw

Click here for larger view This week we've been experiencing a January Thaw with nighttime temperatures dipping below freezing, but daytime going above and tomorrow the forecasts are for an almost balmy 5 to 11°C (41 to 52°F) depending on which weather site you look at. So our snow has been melting and we are to have rain today which will wash even more of it away.
    Before all this, the weather report on the Ottawa evening news said there was 76 cm (30 inches) of snow on the ground. Due to drifting, it's hard to tell just how much there was around here, but while shooting photos I've slogged through knee-deep snow on more than one occasion to get the shot.
This is what the back of the house looked like before things had noticeably started to melt (that photo by Sandra).
    With things thawing by day and freezing by night, we now have quite a prodigious crop of icicles around town, an example of that seen in my photo above right. One has to be careful not to walk under these frozen spears. Thay can do serious bodily harm if they fall on you.
    Otherwise, except for having an abscessed tooth pulled and its replacement added to my upper denture plate, going out now and then to shoot some snowscapes, and connecting an external display to Sandra's laptop, things have been too quiet around here to bother talking about. I rarely stay up to see in a new year and this one was no different. In my experience, January 1 is no different than the December 31 that preceded it, so celebrating it is much ado about nothing, especially since retiring and every day is a holiday anyway.

    For my latest photos, click here.

Second Major Snow In A Week

Click here for larger view Yesterday, we awoke to at least 6 inches (15 cm) of new snow on the ground and before the day was done the snow had increased to 10 inches (25 cm), bringing to mind big snowfalls we had experienced before we retired and went on the road in an RV. This snowfall took place a week after the first major storm of the winter dropped around 4 to 5 inches (10 to 12 cm) of wet heavy snow on us last Friday, followed by a smaller one a few days later. The forecast is also calling for 1 to 2 more inches of snow tomorrow, so it has suddenly started to look like a winter wonderland around here, as can be seen in the photo above taken at sunrise this morning. At least it was cold enough this week that the last couple of snowfalls were the light fluffy kind.
    We were very fortunate the snow storms took place when they did. Over the last three weeks we had to go to Ottawa three times, a drive of 100 miles (160 km) round-trip and two hours on the road, which isn't bad if the roads are clear but horrible if they aren't. The first trip was Tuesday two weeks ago to visit
Linda Markey, a lifelong friend of Sandra's family, in the hospice where later that week she died from a brain tumor. Then Tuesday and Wednesday the following week we were again in Ottawa to attend Linda's wake and funeral and the third trip was for the family Christmas dinner. For Linda's funeral, we stayed in Ottawa overnight at a B&B, which I won't name because if I had it to do over again it would have been less stressful on all concerned if we had instead driven home and then back the next day. I wouldn't describe the B&B as a dump, but it was not to the standard I had expected.
    Anyway, we had snow before, between, and after all those trips to Ottawa, so we not only dodged a bullet once, but three times. Traveling in Canadian winters can be very hazardous, so we were fortunate.

Christmas In Ottawa

Click here for larger view Yesterday afternoon, Sandra and I drove to Ottawa for the Christmas gathering of her family, hosted by Margie and John. Pictured here L-R are Danica (who made the trip from Hamilton, ON), Margie, Nick, moi, John, Jack, Becky, Betty (who made the trip from Toronto, ON), and Sandra. As always it was a sumptuous feast and the gift opening centered around Jack, who once again raked in a ton of loot.
    Happily, unlike last Christmas, this time we made the trip to and from Ottawa without having to drive through a snowstorm.
    Before leaving for Ottawa, the sun actually came out for a while so I grabbed the camera and headed out to photograph some snowscapes. The snow we've gotten recently is the kind that sticks to the trees, so many areas around here look like a winter wonderland. Click
here and here to view a couple of the photos I took.
    For the rest of my latest photos, click here.

Seasons Greetings!

Click here for larger view Today Sandra and I took our annual Christmas photo, as seen on the right. Click on it for a larger view and click here for one large enough to print at 4 x 6 inches. As usual each year, please treat this as my Christmas card to you, so Season's Greetings and Happy Holidays to all.
    Each year we try for a different setting to wear our Santa's Helper caps and this year we ended up on the snow covered grounds of the
Heritage House Museum here in Smiths Falls. This tradition began in 2006 while we were in the midst of my Photo Odyssey. The Christmas photos we took during that sunnier and warmer era are a far cry from those cold and snowy ones we've taken since then, as can be seen in my Christmas Cards Gallery on PBase.
    The snow in the photo above is from a blizzard that started in Colorado and arrived here late Thursday evening and it snowed until around noon today, dropping roughly 8 inches on us I'd guess. By the time it got here, there wasn't much wind but it sure turned things white and the snow will still be here for Christmas so we'll have a white one.

    For my latest photos, click here.

Shortest Day Of 2012
- This is the shortest day of 2012, so the days will now start to get longer again. Hurray!
    It is also the first day of astronomical winter in the northern hemisphere and the end of the current baktun of the
Mayan calendar, which according to some idiots is to mark the end of the world. Yeah, right. The day isn't over yet, but I have total confidence the world will still be here tomorrow and for thousands of days afterward.
    The Mayan calendar is made up of
baktuns, which are cycles of 394.26 years and today simply marks the end of the 13th baktun and the start of the 14th, not the end of the world, no more than December 31st by our calendar does. It not only amazes me that people come up with this nonsense, but even more amazing there are people who will believe them.
    As I reported on 27 November, we had our first significant snowfall that day. It soon melted off and we've had a few snows since then that didn't amount to much more than flurries, but as I write this we are having our first
major snowfall of the season. I took the photo above at 1:15 AM this morning, three or four hours after the snow started and it's been snowing since then. I consider this a major snowfall because I've already had to shovel the driveway twice. At this point we've had three or four inches of snow, which by itself isn't a whole lot but since the temperature is right at freezing, the snow is the very heavy wet kind that's brutal to shovel. My little snowblower is useless with this stuff because it can't be pushed through it, so I have no choice but to shovel it. If I didn't, it would freeze to ice tonight and since the forecast says we aren't to be above freezing again for at least a month, this snow would have turned to inches of ice on the driveway with no way to get rid of it. Learned my lesson with this the hard way one year.

Featured Album
- I maintain two online photo galleries, my primary gallery (14,177 images) on and a smaller secondary gallery (5,293 images) here in my own personal domain, The reason for having two galleries is because PBase suffered a major crash in 2009 that took them offline for weeks and it was months before they fully returned to normal. During that time, to get my photos back on the internet (and being fed up with PBase's chronic problems) I started to build up a gallery at (which I ended up not liking and eventually dropped, staying instead with PBase whose reliability had greatly improved after their crash) and also started to build the gallery here. As with all online photo hosting sites, getting my photos showing at PBase and Zenfolio was a matter of simply uploading them, however not so simple getting a gallery up and running in my domain since I had to build the gallery from scratch.
    Having no HTML skills to speak of, I used an application called
JAlbum to create that gallery. Back then JAlbum was free, but in September last year they made it a commercial product. They still offer a free version, but it puts ads into the gallery pages it creates and those ads are neither subtle nor unobtrusive, so since the old version I had been using no longer worked properly with the new computer and since the price for their standard license is currently a bargain at USD$17, I went ahead and bought it. Not only did that remove the glaring ads from my gallery pages that trying out the new free version had put into them, it also enabled a couple of features I had never been able to get working before – hit counts and viewer comments.
    It also gave me a presence in their own photo hosting site (don't know yet how that worked) and I guess someone at JAlbum saw my photos and liked them well enough to make my gallery a
Featured Album, an event they notified me about yesterday. It's an honor to be recognized like that, but on the other hand, since as of this writing they've already featured ten more galleries, maybe they feature everyone's gallery who buys a license and being featured isn't such a big deal. Whatever the case, it's certainly better than being ignored.
    For my latest photos, click here.

Astronomical vs Meteorological Winter
- I seldom sleep more than a few hours at a time, so I'm usually up for a while during the wee hours of the morning and this morning at 1 AM, I awoke to snow and freezing rain. Always on the lookout for photo ops, regardless of the hour, I headed out in the car in search of some photos because snow is very picturesque. Shown on the left is one of the scenes I saw, the Detached Lock of the Rideau Canal here in town.
    This is our second accumulating snowfall recently and even though it is still autumn by the common definition of the seasons, the weather has definitely been more wintry of late than autumnal, which corresponds to something I recently learned that I never knew before - there are two definitions of winter - astronomical and meteorological.
    Astronomical winter is based on the position of the sun in the sky and starts on the winter solstice (December 21 in the northern hemisphere this year) and lasts until the vernal equinox in March, while meteorological winter is based on the three coldest months, which in the northern hemisphere are December, January, and February, and runs from December 1 to the end of February. This definition is much more logical to me, since it corresponds more with what we observe as being wintry weather.

    For my latest photos, click here.


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Updated Friday, February 1, 2013

Copyright © 2012 by Gordon L Wolford .
All rights reserved.


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Just want to say 'Hi?'

Didya Know?

It has been known to snow with temperatures
in the mid 40's. Temperatures are below 32°F
up in the clouds where the snow is forming.

Hail is a chunk or stone of ice dropped from
a thunderstorm. Sleet is frozen rain.
Freezing rain is liquid rain that freezes to
a surface such as the road or a tree.

A Spot O' Humor

With her marriage, she got a new name
and a dress.

Parting Thot

The real voyage of discovery consists
not in seeking new landscapes but in
having new eyes.

– Marcel Proust

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)