Grammomsblog 2012 in Review

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I was going to give you a summary of Grammomsblog for this year but the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 Grammomsblog Annual Report!

Included in Grammomsblog 2012 Report are statistics for:   my most popular post (Home Grown Wedding), number of posts and pictures, most active day (53 views), most active Commenters, viewer Countries, etc.

I thought this was quite cleverly created, so I hope you will just click the link below and enjoy reading.

Click here to see the complete report.

See you all in 2013!

Grammom

Mudpuppy Night

Last evening, we went to Mudpuppy Night in Oxford Mills, Ontario, Canada.

Grandkids waiting for Mudpuppies

Grandkids waiting for Mudpuppies

What the heck is a Mudpuppy, you ask?   “Mudpuppies, Necturus maculosus, are foot-long permanently aquatic Salamanders. They retain the gills and smooth skin of larvae as adults, and go undetected in many water-bodies because of their secretive habits. Mudpuppies are slow and cautious, though they can swim nearly as fast as a fish on occasion.”*   Every Friday night at 8 p.m., from Canadian Thanksgiving until the spring, this weekly nocturnal event takes place at the dam at Oxford Mills on the Kemptville Creek.  Mudpuppy Night is led by my friends Fred Schueler, a herpetologist, and Aleta Karstad, also an artist,  who live in the area.  For almost 30 years, they have documented their research and observations on these mudpuppies because these salamanders are most active all winter long.

Mudpuppies in a cooler

Mudpuppies in a cooler

Our family of observers included my son Darin, granddaughters Kalia and Livi, son Robin and Nici, son Marty and Jeanette, my grandson, and myself.  We arrived early in the small village, which has a general store, a fancy restaurant, a church, school, and some houses – your typical small town Canada village.  While waiting for Aleta and Fred to arrive, we played in the snow, had a snowball ‘fight’,  the grandkids sucked on icicles (as if the -15 celsius or +5F  temperature wasn’t cold enough!), and searched for mudpuppies from the bridge.  Several other carloads of adults and children arrived then Aleta and Fred.  They had with them a cooler with two mudpuppies in it from last week.  They usually keep no more than 3 mudpuppies for the week to make observations and notes before letting them go the following Friday.  There was a layer of ice floating on top, just the way the creatures love it.  Kalia couldn’t wait to get her hands in the icy water to touch them, followed quickly by Livi.

Along the Creek

Along the Creek

Fred and Aleta patiently explained the mudpuppies habitat and gave information about them as well as answering any questions.  Then we walked down the embankment to the river and freed the captive creatures.  Others put on hip waders or rubber boots and went into the ice cold creek with minnow nets to catch other mudpuppies for observation. “Flat bedrock and clear shallow water provide safe footing for researchers and spectators of large numbers of giant aquatic Salamanders pursuing their winter activities.”*  They have observed up to 180 Mudpuppies on an average Friday night.  We stood in the deep snow at the side of the creek watching and waiting for the first catch, which arrived after only a few minutes.  Again, Kalia and Livi took their mitts off and ‘petted’ the mudpuppies in the cooler.  Their little hands were red because they were SO cold.  Finally, my grandson braved the freezing water and touched the salamanders, not to be outdone be his girl cousins.  Kalia peppered Fred with lots of questions which he answered completely to her satisfaction. Mudpuppies are amazing creatures!   They have more DNA in each cell than any other animal and this provides them with wide range of temperature-adjusting enzymes required to remain active in the freezing cold water.

Fred patiently answering Kalia's questions

Fred patiently answering Kalia’s questions

Almost 30 years ago, Fred and Aleta began recording Mudpuppy activities in the Kemptville Creek.  In 1998, ‘Mudpuppy Night in Oxford Mills’ began “taking observers to the only place in Ontario where Mudpuppies have been repeatedly observed in large numbers throughout the winter – the longest-running winter herpetological outing in Canada.”

Observing Mudpuppies

Observing Mudpuppies along the Creek

Unfortunately, I had to leave to pick up my son from work so I wasn’t able to stay and retire with the rest of the crowd back to the Brigadoon Restaurant for hot chocolate and ‘mudpuppy talk’.  We had a fun and educational time at Mudpuppy Night in Oxford Mills!  If you live in or visit Eastern Ontario during the winter, I urge you to attend Mudpuppy Night – 8 p.m. every Friday night in Oxford Mills.  Thanks Fred and Aleta for all the work you do!

* http://pinicola.ca/mudpup1.htm

http://pinicola.ca/H2001C.HTM

Snowed In

Snow covered Porch

Snow covered Porch

Snow covered Cedar tree

Snow covered Cedar tree

We’ve had another dump of snow, for the second time in a week.  Last Friday, we had about 45 cms (18 inches) of wet, heavy snow.  This morning when we woke up, there was another 30 cms (12 inches) of light, fluffy snow which had fallen overnight.  It has continued to snow all day.  When I went outside to take some pictures, the snow was up to my knees!We wanted a white Christmas and boy did we get one!!   I am SO thankful that I hired someone to plow my driveway this winter – he’s earned his fee just this week alone!   Today, he came with the backhoe to clear out all the snow from my driveway.  Last week he had to come 3 times to plow all the snow.  The municipal snowplow has still not been down our road so hopefully soon…….. the end of our driveway will have to be shovelled or plowed out after the snowplow leaves a mountain of snow there while doing the road.

 

Woodpile

Woodpile

This afternoon, Melvin and Kelsey cleaned off the cars in the driveway and shovelled around them while Robin, Nici, Jeanette, and Marty went snowshoeing out on the ice along the edge of the river.

Melvin cleaning off Dar's car

Melvin cleaning off Dar’s car

I went out back to shovel the snow away from the back mudroom door as I couldn’t get it open.   While I was outside, I also added sunflower seeds to the bird feeders and hung up both halves of an orange as a treat for the birds.

Backyard

Backyard

The temperature was a balmy    -10 celsius (14F) and cloudy with light snow falling.    I put in a roast beef to have for supper, with roasted carrots, butternut squash, potatoes, and leftover Christmas turnip.

Yukon LOVES Snow

Yukon LOVES Snow

After the kids returned from snowshoeing, they warmed up some homemade Chili and made some fresh coffee and hot cocoa and combined the two with some mint extract for a delicious drink…………. then watched a movie while waiting for supper.

Nici returning from Snowshoeing

Nici returning from Snowshoeing

The hats, mitts, coats, and scarves are all hanging up or around the wood cookstove drying now, waiting for the next adventure outdoors.  I hear that we’re in for more snow in a few days.  I guess we should “be careful what we wish for”!

P.S.  By the time I got this posted, the municipal snowplow went down our road requiring a touch-up at the end of our driveway.  This gave my grown kids the opportunity to go over to Darin and Amanda’s for a movie and hot tub.

Downy Woodpecker at the Suet Feeder

Downy Woodpecker at the Suet Feeder

 

Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

It’s Boxing Day today and Christmas Day 2012 is now behind us.  We had a wonderful time celebrating, eating, and spending time at home with family.  Amazingly, everyone slept in until after 8 a.m. then after coffee and tea were made, we commenced opening presents with Nellie, Melvin, Marty, Jeanette, and myself.   Nellie gave me an incredible Beatles calendar which had a Beatles album cover for every month of the year.   Gift giving is a little low-key around here, with the gathering of family most important.  Jeanette and I then made a delicious breakfast of bacon and french toast.  I prepared Melvin’s room for Robin and Nici’s visit then we began watching more Christmas movies like White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, Disney Christmas with Micky and Donald Duck, Charlie Brown Christmas (boy I never realized how bossy Lucy was!),  Garfield Christmas (you gotta love Garfield’s Christmas spirit lol), The Grinch (animated), Muppet Family Christmas (my favourite), and Jim Carey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.    I had videotaped these shows from the 1980s and ’90s, including commercials which we thought were hilarious.  I made the dressing and stuffed the turkey then put it in the oven.  I cut up the carrots and turnip to have ready for cooking abit later.  Thankfully, Jeanette had spent the morning of Christmas Eve, cutting up all the veggies and cheese for snacking on Christmas Day.  Then the rest of the family started to arrive:  Darin and Amanda and the girls and Kristi and Mike.  Of course, the children were ALL excited about the morning’s events at their homes and told us about their new toys.   Another load of gifts entered the house and another round of gift opening began!  Haha, I just had to chuckle that at the end of opening lots of presents, the grandchildren ended up playing with their very own package of bubble wrap that I got each of them from the Dollarama!  (I KNEW they would love it)  My children got me a new set of Lagostina pots and pans since they were tired of looking at my mismatched 40 year old pots as well as some new oven mitts (much needed) and spatulas. Melvin immediately laid claim to the old pots for his eventual move to the city for college next year.

Christmas Fun

Christmas Fun

Just as we were settling in for tea and Christmas goodies, it was time for Darin to leave for the airport to pick up Robin and Nici who were flying in from Vancouver.   I was missing Taylor’s presence but he telephoned after supper and talked to many of us before Livi said goodbye and hung up on him by accident!   It was mayhem when Robin and Nici arrived as everybody was excited to see them.   After the dust settled, supper was ready and everyone pitched in to get the table set for 14, dressing scooped out, turkey sliced, gravy made, potatoes mashed, carrots and turnip drained, and plates served.  I was SO full after eating the delicious turkey dinner that I almost didn’t have room for dessert!  …….. almost.

Opening gifts

Opening gifts

After supper, Melvin offered to wash ALL the pots and pans, serving bowls, etc which took him the better part of an hour!  He had a better sense of appreciation for what I do on a regular basis and even apologized for just leaving the table after daily supper and sitting down, leaving ME to clean up!    We set the table up with desserts for everyone to help themselves:  Cherry cheesecake, Coconut Macaroons, Hello Dollies, Rice Krispie Squares, Turtles Cookies, Chocolate chip cookies, and Chow Mein Clusters.  Then we watched Mike’s favourite movie, Muppets in Space.  Afterwards, the grandkids and their parents went home and the others went outside for a walk in the bright moonlight, looking for animal tracks and taking pictures of the stars.Darin came back after helping Amanda put the kids to bed and we played a card game, A**hole/Capitalism.  Around 11:30 p.m. they decided to watch a movie but I went to bed.

Kitten's favourite gift

Kitten’s favourite gift

I felt totally blessed to have my family close by at Christmastime.   Today some of them are in the city visiting relatives while those of us at home enjoy a quiet day.  I’ve made a pot of Chili for supper or whenever anyone wants to eat.  Tonight we’re supposed to get another snowstorm with 15-25 cms (6-10 inches) of snow, so tomorrow will be another quiet day.

I hope all of you reading my blog enjoyed a wonderful Christmas day.

A White Christmas

A White Christmas

Our Christmas Tree

I thought I wouldn’t write a post about our Christmas tree this year but I just couldn’t help myself!   Last year, I wrote a story (‘O Christmas Tree’) about cutting down and decorating our tree.  But this year was extra special because Marty and Jeanette are here for Christmas, so I just HAD to write about it and report our adventure to you – my blog, my rules!

Searching for the Perfect Tree

Searching for the Perfect Tree

Last weekend, we drove out to Campbell’s Christmas Tree Farm, a no bells and whistles, no gift shop, no sleigh rides, no complimentary hot beverage…….. and no price gouging family farm.  The trees cost $25.00 instead of the $65.00 cut-your-own trees closer to the city.  They’re pretty low tech with no website or email address………. just cut-you-own Christmas Trees.  All my grown kids who live close by came along:  Darin, Amanda, Kalia, Olivia, Kristi, Mike, Marty, Jeanette, Nellie, Melvin, and myself.  With Darin in the lead, we trudged through somewhat frozen puddles into the bush then back out again searching for that perfect Scotch Pine tree.  Finally, close to the beginning of our adventure, we found the Perfect Tree.

Found!

Found!

So Melvin sawed it down in record time and we brought it back to the car, tied it on the roof, and went back to Darin’s for Chili and Toast.

3 Trees on 3 Cars

3 Trees on 3 Cars

The next day, we brought it into the house and decorated it beautifully.  Our cat has decided that he likes the bottom piece of  garland and takes it off every night, in addition to a few pine trees from my Winter village.

Melvin & Marty decorating the Tree

Melvin & Marty decorating the Tree

I want to share some of my favourite decorations that we’ve collected or made over the years:

Bubble Light

Bubble Light

This Bubble Light is my favourite of all – one of only 2 I have left.  When I was a kid, my next door neighbour had bubble lights like these and I used to stare at them, mesmerized.  I found them for sale again about 20 years ago, but now I can’t buy replacement bubble lights – so I cherish these two.  The glass ampoule is filled with coloured liquid that heats up from the light until it bubbles – cool, really cool.  I also have a mini set that I bought from Avon, I think.

Marty's Star Wars decoration

Marty’s Star Wars decoration

I love this little decoration!  Marty made it when he was about 10 years old – he loves the Star Wars movie trilogy SO much that we just HAD to have a decoration for our tree.  It’s shaped like a Christmas tree ball, two-sided, with cardboard in between.  That’s one fierce battle going on in his depiction of “the Forse is Forever” ornament!

Perce Rock

Perce Rock

I’m fond of this hand carved and hand painted ornament  of our beloved Perce Rock from the Gaspe, on Canada’s east coast.  Since we were children, we’ve been going back to New Carlisle, Quebec to visit relatives.  Every trip included a 2 hour drive to Perce where this famous rock sits in the ocean like a sentry guarding Chaleur Bay.  One year, the town of Perce had a ‘Christmas Shop’ where I found this beautiful depiction of Perce Rock.  I look forward to hanging it on my tree every year in a prominent spot that I can see clearly from my chair.

Grapevine Wreath ornaments

Darin’s Grapevine Wreath ornaments

Darin made me about a dozen of these wild grape vine wreaths for our Christmas tree when he was a young lad.   He did such a good job of winding them around themselves that they’ve never come apart.   I don’t know how many of them I have left as I think that I’ve given him some for their Christmas tree……

Brass Ornament

Brass Ornament

Each one of my children, most of my children-in-law, and grandchildren have their own name on a brass ornament.  I still have to find two more for Jeanette and my newest daughter-in-law Nici.  I’ve looked everywhere in town this year but I have been unable to find any brass ornaments.   So when I do, I will have their names engraved on one just like the rest of the family.

Handstitched Bears in Kenyan Basket

Hand stitched Bears in Kenyan Basket

I received two of these lovely hand-made African baskets from a friend living in Kenya in 1987, when we were both on the Board of Directors of the International Lactation Consultants Association.  I see that this year, Melvin added Nana Lil’s hand-stitched bears to go along for the ride.  Whenever I hang this ornament, I think back to those busy days and fondly remember my friend Helen……

Birdfeeder

Bird feeder

Ice Skates

Ice Skates

Drum

Drum

These Christmas Tree ornaments were made by ‘Church ladies’ and bought at local church Christmas bazaars over the years.  Every year when I take out the Birdfeeder decoration, I’m amazed that the mice haven’t somehow eaten their way into the Rubbermaid container to get at the birdseed in the ornament.   I always wrap this one up in used tissue paper  and put it in a used envelope when I take it off the tree after Christmas.  The knitted drum is really cute:  simply made around a toilet paper roll.  And I love the Ice Skates knit with a paper clip for the blades and attached together with the yarn!  Adorable!

Well those are some of my favourite Christmas Ornaments.  I hope I haven’t bored you…….. I could go on and on – I have alot of favourites!

P.S.  Happy 18th Birthday to my son Melvin!

Dentist Visit

View from the Dental Chair

View from the Dental Chair

Recently, I made my annual visit to the dentist.  I’ve been going to the same dentist for almost 30 years now.  All of my children went there too.  The same dental assistant, dental hygienist, and dentist still practice in this little small town dental office.  At one time, they were the only game in town, but now there are 3 other dental practices offering a variety of services like laser or pain-free dentistry.  But I still like my dentist anyway.  We have an ‘understanding’.  I’m not a “standard quo” lady – I do not partake in ‘routine’ anything.  No routine dental x-rays for my children and I.   I just couldn’t see radiating my kids or myself every six months for no specific reason.   Since we rarely had cavities, we saw the dentist once a year rather than every six months.

I like this dental office because it’s open concept:  there are no rooms just ‘areas’ where the dental hygienists will clean your teeth or Simon will fill your cavity.  Simon’s area is the first one you pass as you walk back for your teeth cleaning:  the patient is usually in full dentistry mode reclined in the chair with Simon and Jane, the Dental Assistant, flanking him/her.  They always say hi as you pass and ask how you’re doing, all while they perform their dental magic.  As you recline in the Hygienist’s massage chair, you can hear the drilling in another area, loud and clear.  I think this open concept theme is specifically created so that everyone remains calm and doesn’t wimp out knowing that everyone else in the office can hear you lol.

Open Concept View

Open Concept View – from Dental Chair

There was one time that Simon and I had a ‘heated’ discussion:  one of my children needed a filling and the usual mode was to give a child nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to perform the procedure.  “What are the other options”, I asked.   They were:  nothing or local freezing.  I knew he was SO skilled that the filling would be virtually pain-free.   Ever since then, we understand each other perfectly!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely opposed to nitrous oxide and in fact I did suggest it once for one of my kids who was a biter.

Simon, his staff, and I get along great.  Since they’ve been there SO long, we know all about each other.  They always ask about what’s new with me and how the other grown kids are doing or where they are living or how many grandkids I have now…….. just friendly chit-chat.  My dental hygienist’s daughter was my son’s high school teacher…..

Mouth 'Froze up' - my point of view

Mouth ‘Froze up’ – my view

Last month’s trip to the dentist brought the same result:  clean teeth, no cavities, but a 45 year old silver filling loosened/cracked and  needs repair.   It seems that every filling I had done way back then by that other dentist is now becoming a problem.  So today, I went in and got that old silver amalgam filling removed and a fresh new white one installed.   Simon began with local freezing which wasn’t too bad.  Then after 5 minutes or so – to allow my gums, half my tongue, and the left side of my face and lips to go numb – we began.  Well I just laid back.  I wore safety glasses since the old filling bits can fly about during the drilling out…….. oh, am I being too graphic?  lol   Ha, I was taking in all the sights and sounds and smells all whilst trying not to gag on the water being sprayed into  my mouth!   Simon did most of the talking of course with me just saying the occasional “uhuh”.   Note to self:  eat before you go to the dentist at noonish.   I failed to do so because I went shopping and was quite in need of nourishment by the time we finished around 2 p.m. (he was running late….).   Isn’t it kind of funny how huge your tongue and cheeks feel when ‘frozen’ – I massaged my cheeks a bit the aid the de-freezing.  Unfortunately, most of my mouth, tongue and lips were still quite frozen at 4 p.m. but I just had to eat anyway, hoping I wouldn’t bite my tongue.

So, I’m glad that’s over with for another year.

Christmas Comes Early

Yesterday I was given an amazing gift!  I’ll be able to enjoy this gift from now through to Christmas and beyond.  What kind of amazing gift is this you ask?  “It came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes, or bags” LOL  Well it’s…………. my son Marty and his partner Jeanette!  They arrived home for Christmas all the way from Malaysia after 23 hours of flying and landing and flying and landing and flying and landing again!   What better gift could a Mother ask for?!

Marty & Jeanette August 2012

Marty & Jeanette
August 2012

They enjoyed a really good cup of French Pressed coffee (thanks to Kelsey, Melvin’s girlfriend)  almost as soon as we got home from the airport.  We had a simple spaghetti supper so they could continue to relax and get their ‘land legs’ again.  Afterwards, my two Granddaughters, Kalia and Livi, and Darin and Amanda came over to see them.  The girls were SO excited!    Jeanette managed to stay awake until 8 p.m. but Marty held on until 9:30 then called it quits after well over 24 hours without a good night’s sleep.

Our house is full of life.  This morning we began watching a new BBC series that Marty knew we’d like called “Wonders of the Universe”  and when we’re done, we’ll start Carl Sagan’s series “Cosmos”…….. Marty’s all pumped about the Universe these days!   Then Melvin and Marty brought up the electric guitar and keyboard and had a bit of a jam session in the living room.

Gaming After Jam Session

Gaming After Jam Session

Marty had just bought a new acoustic guitar  with pickup in Kuala Lumpur last week so he wanted to test it out on the homefront.   After eating a season’s worth of Asian food,  they enjoyed good Canadian cuisine of roasted carrots, parsnips, beets, and corn with roast Chicken and mashed potatoes and a nice fresh green salad  tonight.  Jeanette, Nellie, and I gleefully planned alot of meals and baking to enjoy in the coming days and weeks.   Tonight my son-in-law Mike brought his own home-roasted fair trade Sumatra coffee beans for Marty and Jeanette to enjoy for the next couple of days.   After dinner, we all watched “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas”…………… (~sigh~, again).  We also began making plans for the Star Wars moviefest including Robot Chicken Star Wars.

Both of them actually felt more fatigued today than yesterday – likely the result of the adrenaline rush yesterday, the weeks of extreme heat in Malaysia, the long flight, and of course, the lack of sleep………. not to mention the time change.  They left one day and arrived here 23 hours later, but on the same day and even gained about 1/2 a second (thanks to Einstein’s Special Relativity Theory, I think)!  In the true spirit of Marty McFly, they went back in time, so to speak.

For the coming days and weeks, Marty will be busy re-exploring the old neighbourhood and ‘gaming’ with Melvin.  Jeanette is happy to be where she loves to be:  in the kitchen cooking  again or enjoying the cold Canadian winter, before she heads down east to visit relatives in January.   But tonight, our two world travellers barely made it to 9 p.m.

Jeanette in the Kitchen

Jeanette in the Kitchen

We’re  REALLY excited to have them home for the next little while.

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