27 Dec 2014

Spring has sprung!!!!....err, Merry Christmas...

After the stockings were stuffed on Christmas eve, I glanced at the thermometer before heading to bed. I don't think we have seen a Christmas eve temperature of 10.5 C before!

10.5 C on Christmas eve? Come on... this is Canada!
That clinched it. It was guaranteed to be a green Christmas this year. I sure hope we won't have to get out the lawnmower again. 

Haven't been posting much lately, but now I have the time off to putter on the computer and do a little stained glass. Below is a piece that I made for Wendy after we sold one to a good stained glass customer a few days before. 
Finished two of these just before Christmas
The next piece we are working on will be a large transom window for our friends. When I say large, I mean 64 inches wide.  It will take some time but we have designed the pattern and already have all the glass. Will post some photos when it is done.

Christmas itself this year has been a whirlwind. Although Wendy and I are both off until the new year, there was always something to do. Now that Christmas is over, things have slowed to a crawl and it is sometimes a little to quiet for us. 

Christmas tree 2014

Stockings all filled Christmas eve

Parker trying to keep his eyes open when my flash goes off...

...Adam trying not to have any expression at all...

...and Stanley, who does not mind smiling!
We opened presents in the morning at our house then packed up at 10:30 and did the same at Wendy's parents. Round 2 begins...

Maddy received a bone - seems to just be compressed dog food

Stanley and Wendy opening presents

Parker handed out presents to everyone
Adam didn't get much, except a car.
Yes, you read that correctly.  Adam didn't get as much as he usually does for Christmas because he will be getting his grandfather's car when he upgrades in the next few months. Adam had to do a long and involved treasure hunt and eventually got the news that his new GPS and bumper sticker would not really need to be installed in Wendy's car. 

Here is a link to an auto generated movie that Google made of Adam's treasure hunt

After a short time at home for some cooking and a nap, Adam drove us up to Mel and Murray's for more presents and a big Christmas dinner. Here is round 3...

I got some scotch glasses to go with some good scotch

Murray also got some liquids

Parker really wanted white hot chocolate - he got enough to last a year or two

Adam got Advanced Scuba lessons on the island of Roatan (in February)

Everyone got into the action!

As with every year, Wendy got a Coca Cola item!

Turkey dinner with family

Murray, the chef

More pictures to follow as the holidays continue!

30 Nov 2014

Tomorrow is December, right?

Ok,  if winter has already started,  why is this the first thing I see when I take Maddy out this morning?

Yes, that is the real temperature on November 30th. 
It was certainly nice enough to hike this morning. In fact, it was too hot to wear a jacket for Wendy. On walking back to the car, we saw the last hint of summer on a day that felt more like spring than winter. Check it out!
They seem to be getting hardier! 

28 Nov 2014

It has been a while...

Haven't posted anything recently since I was away for 5 days in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.  My parents celebrated their 60th anniversary, and unbeknownst to them, all the children arrived on their doorstep to help them celebrate! After the shock wore off, it was a great visit with family. Seems that the weather in Manitoba, although cold, was better than most other places.  Here are a few pictures from the visit:

My mom still in shock

My dad puttering around outside

My parents, sister, and brother-in-law Skype calling their great grand-daughter (and grand-daughter)

Cutting the anniversary cake
My sister and I took a walk in the beautiful sunshine (about -5C). This was to get some exercise and to take a few pictures.The snow appeared to be the main theme (what else is there to see in Manitoba in November?).

Just outside the front door.

View from the edge of the lake to the Island.

The frozen lake - not quite ready to walk on, but very soon!

The only ones on the lake are the pigeons and the litterers .
The double cup suggests to me that they were also wimps.
The wind always makes small drifts - these were only a few inches high.

After a slightly delayed flight home, the whirlwind of activity drastically increased. Parker had 3 appointments this week and they all were in the middle of the day. Two of them were to install the first step in getting braces.

Cool dude getting an orthodontic appliance

He only needed an appliance to adjust one side of his jaw, full braces may be later...

Now that it is finally Friday (and Parker just had his third appointment during work/school hours), it should be time to relax a little.  Unfortunately, my students had an exam while I was away, and another one this week after I had returned. Marking is therefore the next big task over the coming weeks.

9 Nov 2014

Somewhat more calm

It was a much less busy week compared to last week and seemed almost calm in comparison.

We started off by getting snow tires installed on Wendy's car. Early, you say? We've already seen flakes a few times and it is coming probably sooner than we would like. Tomorrow it is my car's turn to get winter ready. The shovels and the snow blower are all set for the winter to come. The garden is all tucked in for the bad weather and the fireplaces are cleaned and ready to go. Hurry up, winter, we want to get it done and over with!

I have been in a bit of a flare for the last few weeks, so we haven't hiked at all. Maddy seemed to be getting anxious for a good long walk. Today, though, we met up with our friend Theresa for our weekly hike (Sunday). Just the usual Dundas trail loop, but it was nice to have another person along. It was a bit chilly with a slight wind but not really that wet. Maddy wore her winter coat for the first time this fall because she just had her hair cut yesterday. As usual, I took pictures and a few of them turned out OK.
Theresa, Wendy, and Maddy
The light was flat but the effect was almost "painterly"
We were surprised when we arrived at the Hermitage Ruins - all the trees on the west side were recently cut down! You could never actually see the ruins from the trail before - now it is in full view. It is a drastic change, and we are not convinced it is a good one. Hopefully it doesn't mean that they are going to try to tear it down when so many local people are hoping to fix it up enough to be not so 'dangerous' (as all the signs indicate). There were a number of birds flying around the ruins (perhaps they used to live in those trees?), so I took a shot of a single robin on the crumbling stone wall. Seemed a bit lonely and grey.

Waiting for spring...
The ruins continue to deteriorate, and we all reminisced about the good times years ago we had when we took our families there - when you could actually touch them without some ridiculously ominous (my opinion) danger sign getting in the way. The old secondary building at the back (an old stable?) is still accessible but not in great shape either.
Theresa at the Hermitage
Although most of the fall colours were faded and/or underfoot, there were still a few splashes of colour to be seen on the hike.
More fall colours
After we got home, we raked the leaves in the back yard, picked raspberries (Wendy and Maddy), then gave Maddy another shower (2 this weekend!). She was quite exhausted for the rest of the day.

As is typical of our weekend days, soon after a quick lunch it was off to the grocery store, back home for 5 minutes to put the groceries away, then off to hockey practice. After a few more errands it was back home again and it was time to make supper. After a few minutes to process the images and post to the blog and it seems like it is time to start all over again for next week.

1 Nov 2014

Halloween and winter

Halloween was a much quieter affair than normal this year.  Of the three teenagers, nobody was going out trick-or-treating. We did get pumpkins (last weekend) and Thursday night was carving night. As expected, Parker bailed (it is too icky!). Adam, Stanley, and I carved our respective pumpkins in the kitchen. Maddy helped by trying to steal things to eat.

Stanley scooping out his pumpkin

All 3 pumpkins at once (notice Maddy waiting a stray piece to eat)

Eric's pumpkin had braces - in honour of Parker getting braces later in November

Adam's was minimalist. He never smiles, so his pumpkin did it for him!

Stanley's pumpkin had style, and leaned back a little...

Halloween itself was very quiet, mostly because Wendy and I were out until closer to 7pm. It rained off and on for the whole evening. Parker handled the door until we arrived home and gave away lots of candy. Just before 8pm, several older teens came to the door and asked if Parker was around. Apparently, Parker had arranged a low key get together at our place (he wasn't sure anyone would come) and ended up with 4 boys in our basement watching a movie! They took some of the extra candy downstairs, as there was little action at the front door.  Adam had left mid afternoon to go to his winter field training exercise (camping in the bush) with the cadets, Stanley was in Toronto, so it was just Parker at home. After shutting down the pumpkins (2 with battery powered Dollarama lights, one with a candle), we went to bed reasonably early. 

November 1st came early, as Adam forgot his alarm on. Again!!!! 

At 6:45 we were rudely awakened by the crescendo of electronic horrors that Adam uses as an alarm clock (he doesn't wake up to it, by the way). A little fiddling with it made sure it was off for tomorrow, when the time changes. He returns tomorrow night - he doesn't have classes on Monday, so we expect he will sleep until just prior to Tuesday, no alarm needed.

Another rude awakening was the first hint of snow for the winter. We saw a few flakes coming down in the morning and it was cold all day. No freezing rain or ice pellets as were predicted. Guess I have to get the fireplaces set up for use and make sure the furnace is ready...

26 Oct 2014

The week that just won't end

This was one of our busiest weeks ever.  It started with our Thanksgiving celebration almost a week after most did theirs (hint - turkey's are cheaper a few days after the Thanksgiving weekend). We decided to have the big dinner a week late because Wendy's parents were out of town over Thanksgiving, and we could combine the dinner with her mother's birthday.

After the turkey was all prepared and in the oven, of course we had hockey. Parker did a great job and even reported to us that he got a goal (we didn't see it, but sometimes we aren't watching closely). They won the game. 

Parker staring me down, wondering when I will stop pointing the camera at him
Everyone arrived and we had a big turkey feast. Our niece and her family, Mel and Murray, and Wendy's parents joined the 5 of us (Stanley got back from Toronto early in the day). 

Laura loved the piano

She's a natural!

Marion opening presents

The busy weekend was followed by a busier week. Adam had a week off college (mid-fall break), and Wendy took several days off to use up some vacation and get things done around the house with Adam. He ended up spending a lot of time with friends and at the haunted house he volunteers at every year (they feed him...). Wendy and I started an evening financial course offered through her work - a way to learn more about keeping finances in order and planning for the future. It was an interesting group of people, but we hope they will have some good information to provide us. The class is held at the hospital next door to the Cancer Centre where I used to work.

Tuesday I gave one of my usual lectures and spent a lot of time on email reviewing with students over the next few days. Wednesday evening, Adam took my car up to Murray's to replace the rear brake pads. One seemed to have seized and made lots of noise, but it turned out to have twisted the pad so that a good portion of it wore right off. Not expensive, but glad it is done. On Thursday I gave the first 'exam' of the year, and it was a busy time running between 4 different rooms to make sure all was OK.  The TA's did a fantastic job, so I mostly went in each room just to show my face.

Wendy and I were preparing madly all week for a stained glass show at a church in Hamilton on Saturday. Wendy's friend and work colleague was running the show, so we rented a table. Lots of last minute rushing to get it and the display apparatus ready, but we got it done. We even went out to dinner with Mel and Murray on Friday then headed to the nearby hospital (same place as the financial class) to visit Mel's father as he recovers from surgery. They headed out for a vacation the next morning, so we took all the leftovers home ourselves. 

We got up early on Saturday and headed out to the Olivet Church bazaar and craft sale. Below are a few photos from the show.

Since Parker needed to get some volunteer hours for high school, he signed on to help the organizers for about 6 hours. We barely saw him the whole day. He is proud to announce that his very first duty in the very first hour of his very first volunteer job was to help take a bucket of water up the stairs. 

It didn't make it. 

Below, he and his supervisor are mopping it up. The mop bucket was apparently a little tippy as they both lifted it up the stairs. Gravity took care of the rest. Parker reports that it probably would have been more balanced if the mop wringer was removed first! He had somewhat more success helping sell lunch tickets, although Wendy had to have him count out her change several times.

Parker at his volunteer job
We ended up making about $220 - it was our best craft sale event so far, since most have been pretty dismal. Below are a couple of the larger custom pieces that we made. We sold the first one (a heavy cast iron stove pipe holder/grate with an 8" circle of glass) and the larger framed piece with a tree and leaves has not yet sold (22"x 17" glass area).

Antique cast iron stove pipe standoff with cardinal

Tree with leaves in reclaimed frame
If you want to see more, check out the stained glass page on this blog.

As the sale was winding down, I drove Parker the 30 minutes back to Dundas to drop him off at his Saturday hockey game. Back I drove to the sale to pack everything in the car. We immediately turned around and headed back home to drop off the stuff, then quickly over to the arena to catch the last period of the game. They tied the game, although they were ahead until the last 30 seconds of the game. It was very exciting. After a quick dinner, we headed out to Mel and Murray's to feed their cats, then drove all the way back to the hospital (yes, the same one where the financial course is held) and had a great visit with Mel's dad.

Back home, we watched Amazing Race online (we missed it Friday night), then collapsed.

Today (Sunday, finally!) we decided we weren't busy enough, so we got up and prepared for our normal 5 km hike. Of course, we got awoken early (6:45) by a cadet calling to ask why nobody was at the pickup spot for the cadet trip to gliding. All cadet events were cancelled across Canada due to the attack in Ottawa, so Adam had the day off since they were not allowed to go gliding. Some people don't watch the news, I suppose.

After we got home from the hike and got the kids up (3 teenage boys and Sunday mornings don't often go together), we headed to a pumpkin patch in Ancaster to pick out our pumpkins. No need for a hayride, so it was just get the pumpkins then get back home. Parker wimped out and stayed in the car. On the way home we also stopped and fed M&M's cats. Adam then took Wendy's car and went to the haunted house to get ready for running hundreds of people through today.

Adam found this one quickly - notice the 'vacation beard'!

Stanley with his pumpkin

Just playing with the good camera again
They day couldn't just end and be relaxing - not that lucky. Hockey time again!  Wendy and I dropped Parker off at practice then headed out to do our errands and buy groceries. After dropping the groceries ($365 worth) off at home with Wendy, I drove to the arena, picked up Parker and went back home. Now that we had food in the house, I had an unscheduled nap (fell asleep sitting on the couch) then prepared dinner.

Thinking that it was time to rest, we realized that we needed to go to the haunted house or we would miss it altogether. Stanley, Parker, Wendy and I went to check it out. Got a good tour, a few frights, then Adam took us behind the scenes to see all the work they had done over that last 2 months. They had completely transformed a barn into an electrified, computerized, video monitored, mechanical marvel of Halloween spirit. Below are a few images from the haunted house. Adam plans to video the whole sequence of the many rooms, elevators, video mirrors, , rotating platforms, etc., so we may be able to show it another time.

A skeleton in a model A greets you as you enter to line up

Adam in his glory
Just one of the control areas - mostly the mechanical systems are operated from here
Adam's friend Nick - scaring unsuspecting visitors
Adam's friend Mike, watching the many cameras

After getting through unscathed and with a little candy in our pockets, we finally headed home to crash. Well, after cleaning up the kitchen, paying the bills, reminding Parker to do his homework, and posting on this blog.

Finally. The week is over!

Now we can look at what's on the schedule for next week...