Category Archives: Friends

Close encounters of the bird kind

B12 and I are continuing our study of ecosystems with another family so we made the most of the good weather last week to take another field trip. I shared pictures of our first field trip here. Our trip last week was to a local woodland area with many trails which pass through various types of ecosystems. B12 & P12 were on the lookout for the flora and fauna in each different area but ended up being most interested in the birds we saw.

After waiting and changing location a couple of times B & P’s patience with the chickadees was rewarded.

We saw this little nuthatch next.

The highlight of the day came just as we were about to finish our walk. A barred owl swooped through the woods ahead of us. It passed a few feet from B12’s face and then landed in a tree about 15 metres away. We went as close as we could and I snapped a few photos. I’ll include the full photo first to see if you can pick it out; the camouflage is superb. (click on photos to enlarge)

Did you spot it? We wondered what it was doing flying around in the middle of the day. There is a bird sanctuary in the area so perhaps it had a day pass.


For more photos visit my Photo of the Day board on Pinterest

Glimpses of our Christmas

We enjoyed some relaxing family time and some fun with friends as well. It was lovely to have Andrew’s mum here with us to celebrate Christmas and experience a bit of Ottawa winter. As always we were spoilt by Andrew’s excellent cooking; the turkey was done with the new Smokenator 1000! 

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A day in Montreal

For the last week we have enjoyed the company of guests from Australia, a family we met in Wollongong in 1996 and have been friends with ever since. They visited for Christmas and New Year in 2008-9 so have experienced our winter. This time they were happy  to avoid wearing all the winter layers.

Their children are very close in age to our children and a good time was had by all. We spent one day in Montreal visiting the science museum in the morning then walking through the old town and up to Mount Royal in the afternoon. There was one exhibit in particular which kept everyone intrigued as they tried the 26 “hands on” activities including the giant bubble maker.

The Ripstik

When school ended and the summer stretched out ahead of him B10 had one purchase in mind.  J11 across the road had just bought one and was kind enough to let B try it out numerous times.  When B had the money and had done the research we set out so he could buy his own Ripstik.  It looks like a skateboard but has only two wheels.

He has fun around our street but what he really wants is to be taken to the skate park.

Fundraising 2 ways (part 1)

Both ways involve chocolate!

The girls and I have recently been involved in two very different fundraising efforts.  Both were raising funds for the same cause: the Stellae Boreales tour to Iceland in June/July of this year.  Nobody loves fundraising, but our ensemble does get creative at times.  Our yearly November concert is always followed by a silent auction and last November one of the parents generously offered to host “An Evening of Fine Food and Fine Music”.  It was bid for and bought by four couples.  L16 was enlisted to provide musical entertainment between courses along with another senior musician in the ensemble.  I volunteered to be sous chef and A14 was called on to serve at the table. Vicky, the chef, hosted it at her house and prepared nine superb courses in her tiny kitchen!

The dinner was a huge success.  The musicians played a duet after the guests had enjoyed their amuse-bouche.  Guests were then seated for the next two courses before enjoying the first sonata of the evening. The main course of Arabian Nights Stuffed Quail followed, then L16 played her sonata with our fabulous accompanist Judith Ginsburg.

There were several more courses and two more fine performances from the musicians before guests, chefs, musicians and serving staff adjourned to the living room  more than satisfied with the fabulous food, music and company.

I had a ball assisting Vicky in the kitchen.  She had prepared almost everything in advance so my main task was plating up. For dessert this involved a little “chocolate artwork” with of course a musical theme.

I decorated the plates in advanced and whisked them away to be retrieved later so I could add slices of chocolate terrine with balls of mango and raspberry artisanal sorbets.

All the courses were delicious; Vicky had prepared enough for her staff as well! The event was deemed a huge success by all and will hopefully be repeated next year.

Snowed under

Snow, thaw, pour, slush, freeze is the current weather sequence round here.

We have had a couple of big snowfalls in the last few weeks that I have attempted to photograph with my new camera. I am slowly getting to know what some of the buttons and settings do.

Of course the real purpose of a good snowfall is to provide somewhere to play and something to play with..

B10 and J10 across the road, with some help from J’s dad buried themselves up to their shoulders in snow. It reminded me of burying people in sand at the beach.

Birthday business

On account of it being my birthday today I thought that I should not do any school so that gives me time to document the whole day for your reading pleasure.  The day started very early this morning when, although I was tucked up in bed, there were still noises coming from the kitchen.  My girls were making preparations of some sort.

At a much more reasonable hour I came down to breakfast:  pancakes made by L15 with a pile of presents on the side.  The presents are all lovely and some will be featured in this post as I put them to use during the day.   One such present was just crying out to be used straight after breakfast.  Although it was my birthday and I shouldn’t really be doing the dishes, my children kindly allowed me to try out my new rubber gloves, not ordinary rubber gloves but cool ones with pretty “business” on the ends.

My kids are good like that, after I had washed the dishes they also let me clean the stove!  Rubber gloves with business are a big hit.

The morning progressed with the girls getting down to work, it’s not their birthday after all, but not B9.   He is under the impression that my birthday is like the Queen’s birthday, a public holiday for all.  That being the case I decided to put him to work helping me bake Butterscotch Chip Dreams.

While I was at the computer updating the birthday business, B9 was setting out yet another edible treat.  The jelly turtle has always been a favorite of his, but this time it took on a new look becoming instead the jelly lagoon complete with kiwifruit  flotsam and jetsam.

I was planning to head out around midday to do my birthday laps at the pool but time got away over lunch and next thing I knew the window of opportunity had closed.  Despite what one of my children suggested I do not yet qualify for the 50+ Vitality swim!  Had I swum I would have put to good use another of my birthday gifts.  Whenever I swim I usually return home wearing the alluring fragrance of chlorine. That is about to change.

I received a delightful selection of potions from a very pretty store.  It came wrapped very prettily also.  Apparently business was rather slow when my husband made the purchases and the woman who helped him was only too happy to gift wrap for him.  The contents of the box came in a cute little bag (with ribbon) which lay amongst scads of tissue paper in a beautiful silver box (also with ribbon) which was placed in a gorgeous silver bag, which would have been topped off with more tissue paper had not my husband put a stop to it!  I think she would have even written the card if asked.

Serious business is going on in my kitchen right now  and I am not a part of it.  Children who are happy in the kitchen are a very wonderful thing.  (Birthday business part 2 coming soon)

Tree hunting

Yesterday we took to the woods with a few friends to hunt for our respective Christmas trees.  Armed only with a hand saw we were hoping to hunt down three suitable trees.  We entered the forest looking high and low, left and right, near and far.  This was no ordinary hunting ground, missing were the ordered rows of Christmas trees planted in different years  so to mature over the years to come.  No, we were hunting in the wild, in the forest, where trees grow unchecked for year after year.

It soon became evident that to take home the perfect tree some creative cutting might need to be done.  Most of the trees were wild, large trees so they needed to be chopped down then chopped again, or cut fairly high up the trunk.  Finally one of the families with us spotted their tree, the one that was to fit perfectly in their living room.  Not long after the other family closed in on their own and half the hunting party started hauling their quarry back to the waiting vehicles.  It was only us with out a tree.  Joined in our search by our friends we retraced our steps revisiting possible trees only to reject them as too short, too thin, too uneven, too brown, too fat, or too ugly.  We know we have made a name for ourselves but we have had some beautiful trees over the years and we could not see what we wanted.

If you have visited our house at Christmas you would know that always have a tall tree.  Our ceiling is at least ten foot high where we place our tree and more than once we have brought home a tree only to have to chop a little off the top.  In the end we gave up our hunt.  The wild tree was not for us, no we were going back to the pay station to buy one bred in captivity.  These trees were baled already so we were taking a risk, but when it was set up in our lounge room we were satisfied that we had chosen well.  It is a beautifully shaped tree, a little shorter than past years at about seven foot but lovely all the same.

What made the hunt all the more enjoyable of course was the company of our friends and the beautiful day.    We had wondered whether we would be tramping through green woods on our hunt, but  no, the trees were laden and there was 15-20 cm of  fresh snow on the ground.