Thursday, February 28, 2019

Arnprior in Winter

One recent sunny day Terry and I headed to Arnprior for a change of scene.

A 45 minute drive from Ottawa, Arnprior was built on a spot where two rivers meet - where the Madawaska River flows into the Ottawa River.

We couldn't get to the park next to the Ottawa River: high snow banks blocked the park entrance.

We stood on a bridge to watch the Madawaska River flow over the falls.

In the distance, we could see the river banks that had flooded a few years ago in spring. I took pictures and posted them on my blog.

We didn't see any ducks or sea gulls, as we usually do... I wonder where they go when the weather is cold.

We marveled at long icicles hanging down from some of the older buildings nearby...

Beautiful - but potentially dangerous!

Later we stopped for muffins and soup in our favorite cafe.

We don't do many day trips in winter, but for one day the weather was mild, so it was a great opportunity to get out.

I noticed this cute "SHOP" sign - but with all my discarding and de-cluttering at home, it was easy to resist the urge to SHOP!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Animal Prints in the Snow

Whenever fresh snow arrives, it doesn't take long before animal footprints begin to appear, reminding me that we are surrounded by various species in trees, bushes and burrows...

Day by day, more prints appear. I think these show that a rabbit passed by.

Wild rabbits hop around our yard early in the morning and late in the evening.

I can smell that a family of skunks lives under one of our sheds. (I like to think that they deter prowlers!)

But I really have no idea what rabbits use for shelter, winter or summer!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Cozy Winter Light

I've often thought that an electric fireplace would add a cozy touch to my little sitting area, but with all the furniture in the room, there really isn't enough space.

My son's salt lamp, however, does the trick!

My daughter mentioned that every desk in the office where she works has one - and people often warm their hands next to it! That surprised me, since it's not that warm... But it does remind one of a little fire!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Good Times!

You haven't looked this happy in weeks, Terry commented when I returned home from my weekend in Toronto.

How could I not be smiling? I replied...

I spent the morning being entertained by a singing, drumming two-year-old!

She had been watching the Wiggles on TV. When they started drumming, she pulled out her own drums.

I didn't stop smiling for at least two days - the memory of my granddaughter's drumming - and the Wiggles' music - were constantly running through my head!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Family Swim Memory

The weather was cold last weekend when I visited Toronto - but there are always interesting things to do indoors!

One was watch my two-year-old granddaughter's swimming lesson...

It brought back memories of weekly swimming lessons her father had attended... when he was her age, which - strangely enough - doesn't seem all that long ago!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Discovering New Interesting Restaurants in Toronto...

I discovered several interesting, new - to me - restaurants on my visit to Toronto last weekend.

En route to the comedy show I had come to Toronto to see (my son and daughter-in-law's Christmas gift to me) we met up at a restaurant called Harvest Kitchen. I had delicious chicken pot pie...

I forgot to take a picture of my meal - but I did take one of the comedy show venue...

After the show, for dessert, we stopped at a Japanese-style pancake house...

I'm not sure whether the topping on this latte is sesame or poppy... But it was delicious.

The next day, we had waffles at a new location of a favorite breakfast place called the Starving Artist. Always delicious! (No picture of that either, unfortunately... I guess I was too busy eating!)

Before heading back to Ottawa, we ate at a restaurant called Union Chicken right inside the central train station, Union Station. My son often eats there if he heads to a Toronto Bluejays baseball game right after work.

It's apparently popular with commuters who want to eat before heading home as well. The food is really delicious!

It's always fun to to find restaurants that don't disappoint!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Walking in Toronto Snow

A week ago I headed to Toronto by train...

(Fearing the possibility of weather-related house problems, Terry stayed behind.)

Toronto often has less snow than Ottawa, so I was hoping for good walking weather - I haven't walked outdoors in months.

It wasn't perfect: cold and windy, there were icy patches on sidewalks.

But I did walk more than 20,000 steps the day I arrived - according to my cell phone pedometer. So I was happy!

My last day in Toronto, there was fresh snow... So I had to choose my path more carefully as I headed to the train station.

Fortunately my son was with me...

It's an interesting switch these days. After years of looking after my kids, now they now sometimes have to look after me!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Our Laundry Area

Nineteen years ago, we did a major renovation, adding 500 square feet of living space to our house. Among the things we added was a main floor laundry area.... And I love the convenience of it!

Recently my daughter sent me a picture of a laundry area: This reminds me of yours, she wrote.

Well, yes... our washing machine and dryer look almost the same... But the similarity ends there!

Our area is only attractive when the doors are closed!

(Though the lovely picture of the pristine one may inspire me to try to beautify ours!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Getting Rid of Paper... and Pens!

This winter has been a time of going through boxes and files, trying to get rid of things we no longer use or need.

I've been sorting through boxes and files of old letters, birthday cards and newspaper clippings...

It hasn't been easy separating from a lifetime of family souvenirs - but I've made some progress!

Another kind of souvenir I've found hard to part with are pens from special places - like this rocket pen from the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

I don't know if I bought this University of Ottawa pen - or if it was given to me! But I have wonderful memories of working at the university, part-time, for many years.

It was an important part of my life, also because Terry and our daughter studied there.

Here is a pen from "Alpha Plus," a store that no longer exists. They used to sell teaching materials to teachers of immigrants - and they were the first to sell my spelling workbook...

They too were part of my life!

Souvenir pens that bring back memories are hard to throw away...

(Is everyone as sentimental as I am?!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

What a Winter!

Winter started - in earnest - in late December this year... and what a winter it's been!

Seven weeks of extreme cold...

... or snow storms...

... or freezing rain...

... or strong winds!

It never seemed to let up!

Is it always this bad? - I wonder...

Maybe it is!

Maybe we just forget!

Once spring arrives, maybe we drive the memory of all this winter stress completely out of our minds!

Monday, February 18, 2019


I've slowly been trying to organize our cupboards...

Recently I started on the linen closet - where we keep our towels and bedding.

I pulled everything out and reorganized it - trying to avoid piling things up, but instead, lining them side by side, where possible... It's easier to choose the one you want that way...

In the process, I came across this old towel of my mother's - with a crocheted basket and edge. The basket, I think, was for meant to hold a facecloth.

I don't know if this towel was ever used. Perhaps it was simply a bathroom decoration - but it's still in perfect shape... and I'd guess it's 70 or 80 years old!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Love ENDURES... Patiently

I have been reading an interesting book, written by a 21st century Benedictine monk, who believes that "humility offers the antidote to the epidemic of stress and depression overwhelming modern young adults."

The book is full of paradoxes... like its title, Humility Rules...

Written for young adults, it reinforces the idea of paradox with fun illustrations - traditional religious art that has been modified and modernized - like the cover illustration, which is entitled: St. Benedict With Skateboard.

In one chapter, the author tells of preparing a sermon for the wedding of a friend. The theme of the sermon is love... a topic that pervades Valentine's Daywhich we celebrated recently. Again, paradoxically, he talks of love in terms of forgiveness:

When it comes to living with someone, everything boils down to forgiveness. "Love is patient and kind... Love bears all things, believes all things, and endures all things. (I Corinthians 13: 4,7) So true love is more about endurance than it is about chocolates and teddy bears. We prove our love at precisely those moments when the people we love test our patience, put a strain on our kindness, and tempt us to anger. Love is truly love - and not just infatuation - when it proves itself in the crucible of suffering. 

I don't know if I realized it on my wedding day, but all these  years later, my response would be: So true!!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Bringing Home My First Pottery of the Season

I like to spend the winter months making pottery, something I've done for quite a few years now.

I recently brought home my first hand-built objects of the season...

This glazed pot...

And a few animal paper weights - that were washed in oxide solutions to give them a little color...

Also a head that is actually a little vase or bowl.

Friday, February 15, 2019

In the Shelter

I recently finished reading my "new" book for the month of February.

A little background information: I have the bad habit of starting but not finishing books. So I'm trying to discipline myself to finish at least one book a month before allowing myself to start a new one...

But this one, on hold at the library, surprised me by being ready before I expected...

An interesting memoir by young Irishman, In The Shelter introduced me to some of the dynamics of life in Ireland.

One of the most interesting comments in the book was: We don't tell stories as they are; we tell them as we are.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Official Snow Day

We have had more snow this year than last. I'm pretty sure, in any case...

(I clicked on the link "winter" on the right to compare...)

Our most recent snowfall started with a bright pink sky - which made me think of the saying: "Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning."

The following evening, it started to snow and continued to overnight. By morning we had 30 to 40 centimeters. (Or 12-18 inches.)

Terry kept busy moving snow.

Schools and colleges were shut down for an official Snow Day.

That doesn't happen very often!

It was nice knowing that I had no choice but to stay indoors... at least until the snowplow came to clear our street, which happened around noon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Celebrating Parents' Achievements

Most of the potters I share studio time with these days are women, but there is one man in our wheel studio. When I mentioned one day that I was spending a lot of time this winter getting rid of things - including my mother's papers - he looked up from the pot he was working on.

I have boxes of my father's stuff in the garage, he said. I don't know what to do with it all. In particular, I don't know what to do with his military medals. He was a US marine - and very proud of it. I got rid of his two guns when he died, but I still have his medals in a box in the garage...

Marie Kondo's solution might be to ask if these medals "sparked joy." If so, he might want to frame them, making an attractive piece of wall art - together, perhaps, with a photograph of his father in his uniform... If they didn't spark joy, maybe someone else would enjoy them - a collector of military medals or perhaps some member of the family...

There are shadow boxes in various sizes at Michael's craft store  - like the one on the left - so it could even be a do-it-yourself project.

Reflecting on this brought to mind my mother's B. Ed degree, rolled up in a cylinder somewhere. She never framed it, but she had worked so hard to earn it. Since she had only done one year of teacher training before beginning her career, earning a bachelor's degree involved spending many summers away from home at "summer school," where she took two university courses intensively for a period of six weeks.

Maybe I should also do something to celebrate her efforts... If not by framing her degree - we have so little wall space - perhaps by putting it into a portfolio, where it could be looked at.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Vintage "Phone Magnet"

I've been going through boxes of photos and souvenirs, trying to get rid of things we no longer need.

In one box of mainly photos I came across this Zenith "phone magnet" in its original box...

What was a phone magnet?! Neither Terry nor I had any idea.

Who had it belonged to? My father? Terry's grandmother? 

I looked up Zenith phone magnet online - and discovered that it was neither a phone nor a magnet, but a hearing aid!

To toss? Or to keep as a vintage souvenir?! 

(That's always the hard decision!)