Saturday, January 30, 2010

Walking on water

Panorama - January 30, 2010

Today was a beautiful, clear, crisp day, and very cold with the wind chill of -34C. This meant that the weather warning continued on today. I took the above panorama when I was walking on water -- frozen water, that is. This means, of course, that we were walking on the lake ice. We hadn't planned on doing this, but Tawny and Taz took off into the woods on the edge of the lake and we had to go and get them. Because it was so cold, we decided just to walk across the lake diagonally, instead of walking back up to the road and back home. Standing on the lake and looking around is always very interesting as that is a perspective that you don't normally get, as you are either at water level (if you are swimming) or about 2 feet above the surface (if you are in a canoe).

There were two cracks running along the eastern edge of the lake and I couldn't figure out what caused them. It was obvious that it was something to do with the lake ice, but beyond that, who knew?

Then we came across this chunk of ice that had been pushed up - Tawny was very interested in sniffing it for some reason -- maybe because she's a dog? That gave me an idea for an explanation. We have had a lot of wind lately and my hypothesis is that the wind pushed the whole mass of lake ice up towards the shore which could have caused the cracking by (a) pushing the ice up onto the shore where it fractured, or (b) pushing the ice against the shore where it buckled. I think this photo with Tawny likely shows (b).

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bitter cold and Bright moonlight

It was very cold today, bitter cold in fact. The high temperature today was -21C and the windchill was between -29C and -34C so the city's Health Officer published a frostbite warning - which is always done when the windchill reaches -25C.

Besides being very cold, the moonlight is very bright. I took this photo at 11:15pm with a time exposure. This photo is darker than it actually seemed.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


12:45pm, January 28, 2010

This photo was taken just behind the garage, looking toward the back yard -- you can barely make out the fence here. I posted this photo on The Weather Network's photo gallery.

12:48 pm, January 28, 2010

I took this photo when I was standing under the cedar trees behind the fence, looking toward the house. This photo doesn't do the storm justice, and it doesn't convey the bitter wind which was blowing the snow into a frenzy. In order to take this photo, I had to stand right in the middle under the tree, to get some protection from the snow so the camera didn't get covered in water.

Update: I made this post only 30 minutes after I took these photos and now the snow flurries have passed and the sun is bright through the clouds overhead. More updates below.

2:10 pm, January 28, 2010
4:30 pm, January 28, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Making Orange Braised Chicken with Vegetables

Today, I made Orange Braised Chicken with Vegetables for supper. I served it with Basmati rice, and we had salad too.

The recipe was actually from a Weight Watcher cookbook. I was looking through the cookbooks to find a recipe to make with chicken breast, and this was one that caught my eye.

Freda really liked it, and said she liked it the most of all of the things I have made so far. I thought the orange flavour was too strong, but that is because I put too much orange zest in.

I guess that's even though... I used consomme instead of chicken broth. and italian seasoning instead of basil. and lemon and pepper salt instead of salt. and crushed croutons instead of Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs. and broccoli instead of leeks. and mushrooms instead of carrots. and no celery. and no dry vermouth either.

Overall, out of the 14 total ingredients, I changed 7 (including the excess orange zest) and ignored 2 of them. And it still turned out quite well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Snow panoramas

11am, Jan 26th, 2010

We had a sudden round of snow flurries around 11am. It looked like a snowstorm, but it was very short-lived.
5pm, Jan 26th, 2010

Of course, the flurries were very brief and we received less than 1 cm of the white stuff. This photo shows that it didn't even cover some of the slope on the hill that was exposed by the warm weather and rain.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Record January rainfall

A warm front moved in last night, bringing freezing rain with it. It was +6C this morning and the freezing rain was just plain rain. This photo was taken around 11am when the rain was quite heavy - not sure if you can tell in this photo. Needless to say, I expected the rain to melt a lot of the snow.

The rain finally stopped around 3pm, and I took this photo around 5pm. It was still +6C at that point, and you can see the effect of the rain and the warm temperatures on the snow. Virtually all of the snow and ice on the road has melted, and the lake is covered with large puddles of water.

According to this CBC report, Ottawa received a record 45mm of rain by 3:45pm, the previous record was 11mm. A number of roads were flooded - including parts of Highway 401 and some on/off ramps on Highway 417. Cross-country skiing trails were also closed, as was the Rideau Canal which was closed to skaters.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bathroom draperies - finished!

We finished the curtains today - this is that story.

We hung up the sheer panels. Well, I started doing it. I hung up one panel, and then I hung up the second panel. Then I noticed another panel folded up at my feet in the tub (I was standing in the bathtub when I was doing this). I said to Freda, this is so strange - there are three panels in this package!!! And then I realized that when I hung up the second panel, I had actually taken the first panel and slipped the hem on the rod. That was very funny!

There was only one package of the blue panel curtains (two panels in the package) at Fabricland, so we had to make do with one. Fortunately we didn't want to cover the window with the drapes, because we just wanted to have the blue drapes hanging at the sides. Before we cut anything, we hung the drapes up to see what it looked like (above).

Instead of cutting the blue panel in half vertically, as was our original plan, we decided we would cut it in half horizontally, so we would convert our two full-width panels into four full-width panels instead of our originally plan of having four half-width panels. So we cut the panels in half and were going to sew them, and then we remembered that we had some no-sew hemming material that came with some curtains we bought at Ikea some time ago. Here I am ironing out the wrinkles in the curtains after Freda ironed the bottom seam.

And here is the finished product - this photo is actually a panorama as the camera doesn't have a wide enough angle to take in the full scene. We are quite pleased with the result.

Little Red Riding Hood

Our very own Little Red Riding Hood.

Well, maybe not red so much as fuschia... And maybe not a Riding Hood so much as a throw blanket... But Taz is ours, or are we his? or something like that....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Diamonds in the trees

We had another hoar frost overnight, but this morning we had beautiful bright sunlight which made the frost sparkle and gleam in the sun. This photo doesn't really do the scene justice as the slight breeze made the trees move which resulted in a wonderful scene of sparkles, like brilliant diamonds dangling from the trees. At least you can see some sparkles at the top of the tree on the right.

Drywall repair

Shortly after we moved into this house, we heard a scratching inside a wall. So I cut a hole in the closet (taking care to make it rectangular so it would be easier to repair) to open up the wall and discovered a little mouse. So now I am repairing the hole. First, I screwed some short pieces of wood strapping behind the existing drywall, and then I screwed the small piece to the strapping. I applied some self-adhesive drywall repair tape over the joint.

The next step was to apply some drywall repair compound and let it dry. Then I will give it a light sanding and another coat of compound. This photo was taken after the first application of the drywall compound.

I forgot to take a photo on Thursday after I painted the trim. This was the one area by the stairwell. It looks pretty good.

This is the other trim in the powder room - looks perfect!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Beautiful day

The day dawned with an overcast sky, so it wasn't too beautiful. But Mother Nature left us a beautiful gift overnight with glittering hoar frost decorating the trees, shrubs, bushes, fence, etc. This photo was taken around 11am, so the sun had melted the hoar frost from the east-facing side of things.

Today was quite mild, only -4C, and the afternoon sun helped make it feel quite nice. This photo was taken just down the road, where the warmth was making the snow and ice (from our freezing rain about two weeks ago) slide off the roof of the barn. This horse will have to watch his head when he goes into the barn.

Update: I decided to submit this horse photo to the Weather Network... :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Touching up the trim

Over time, cracks appear in the caulking by the trim, because the wood shrinks as it dries out in the low humidity in the house during winter. The dark cracks can look quite unsightly, especially if they are large. This first set of photos below show only a small crack, because I forgot that I was going to take photos of the process until I was almost finished with the caulking.

Step 1: using an old paint brush (or other soft brush), thoroughly brush off any dust (or dog hair!!!) from the area to be caulked.

Step 2: apply paintable latex caulk to the gap. I was mostly filling only small gaps, so I cut a very small hole in the end of the caulking tube. Use a wet finger or cloth to smooth the caulk and clean up any excess.

This is what it looks like after the caulk is applied. The gap is much less noticeable, isn't it?

This was a larger gap on the trim of the stairs. This is before being caulked (obviously!).

This photo shows what the stairway looks like after it was caulked. The caulking shows up well with the camera flash, but once it is painted it will all blend in and nothing will be noticeable.

Here I am painting the caulk with a Chinese trim brush. I thought I would try this kind of round brush as it is supposed to be excellent for things like this. I need to do some more painting with it to get more practiced before I can decide if it is better than the standard flat brush.


I just realized that I didn't take any "after" photos. That is because as soon as I was finished painting, Freda and I went off to Kelsey's to enjoy their free chicken wings - that was a 30th anniversary promotion. And it was very tasty too. I thought this view was very pretty, but the camera didn't render it very well. I had to adjust the original photo to darken the photo as the camera rendered the sky too light and the neon lights on the building across the parking lot are over-exposed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ice fishing fantasy

This morning when I was walking the dogs, we saw someone was ice fishing. This was fascinating to Tawny and Taz. Sometimes, when someone has been fishing and they are off-leash, Tawny and Taz run down to the ice and enjoy sniffing around the fishing holes and perhaps even the areas where fish had been caught and were laying on the ice.

Panorama, January 20th

You can see that the photo stitching software isn't perfect as it made Taz's head very skinny. That is understandable because his head as at the edge of the photo (see above) and was incomplete in that photo and he had moved by the time I took the adjacent photo.

As it took a minute or so to take all the photos for the panorama, Tawny decided to make herself comfortable and sit down while she was watching the fisherman... You can tell that I got their collars mixed up this morning, because Tawny is wearing Taz's collar here. Taz's collar is a solid moss green, and Tawny's collar has some decorations on it.

This is a NASA panorama photo, composited from many images from the Mars Spirit rover. Even NASA's photo stitching software isn't perfect - look at the top of the 'mast' (upper right corner of the image), and you can see it is partly cut off.

This photo is from the NASA web site, and was dated Dec 29, 2008. I think it is truly amazing to be able to see the surface of Mars like this, including the wheel tracks from the rover. This photo also is a good one to show the fine Martian dust that is covering the solar cells.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bathroom privacy

When we moved into this house, we decided that we did not want to cover up the big windows and their beautiful view and trim. But we did want some privacy of course, so we applied some vinyl in an obscuring pattern over the bottom part of the window. This worked a treat for that. The only problem with it was that one window was too wide for the vinyl, so we had to put the vinyl sideways across the window. Unfortunately this left a narrow strip at the bottom that was clear, as shown in the window below.

The other problem is that the vinyl is shrinking slightly and coming unglued at the edges and is looking unsightly.

So we decided that we are going to remove the vinyl and put up some curtains. So we went out to get a curtain rod that would fit inside the window casing. We first went to Fabricland, and found a double rod that will suit very well. You can see it in the above photo - that's not where the rod will be located - we were just testing it out to see how it fit and what it looked like. We think it looks pretty good!

This is a closeup of the bracket. It matches the light fixures and taps very nicely.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Yesterday, Freda and I took the dogs out for their walk after work. Taz had a long walk in the morning -- too long really -- so I took him in after he had his walk, and Freda was going to stay out with Tawny. Two minutes after I went in, Freda came in and said to look at the wolf across the lake. So I looked out the window and saw three wolves. At least, I thought I saw 3 wolves, but was only able to capture two of them in the photos below.

Needless to say, there was a lot of wolf howling last night, and they were close too...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A vole - a victim

This is a vole, also known as a field mouse, or a meadow mouse. According to Wikipedia, the average life span of a vole is 3-6 months. This one didn't get that old. How did this happen? Well, it was due to Taz the Hunter!

Freda was out with the dogs, and Taz came running up the hill, his mouth slightly open and his tail wagging furiously -- he was obviously very very pleased with himself. Freda saw this and recognized this as his behaviour when he had caught something. He dropped it out of his mouth and Freda saw that it was still alive at that moment. It didn't survive much longer, so who knows if it died of fright, or if it had some internal injuries when Taz picked it up.

Unfortunately, being prey is part of the lot in life for voles. They don't live long, have 5-10 young at a time, reach sexual maturity in a month, and can have 5-10 litters in a year.

So, Taz's catch and kill totals, that we know of, are:
  • two baby foxes
  • two baby skunks
  • one baby vole

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A life of quiet courage - Miep Gies

Miep Gies, the person who found and preserved Anne Frank's diary, died January 11th after complications from a fall from before Christmas - she would have been 101 in February. The following is an excerpt from a BBC news article (Anne Frank diary guardian Miep Gies dies aged 100):
Miep Gies, the last surviving member of the group who helped protect Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis, has died in the Netherlands aged 100.

She and other employees of Anne Frank's father Otto supplied food to the family as they hid in a secret annex above the business premises in Amsterdam.

Anne's diary of their life in hiding, which ended in betrayal, is one of the most famous records of the Holocaust.

It was rescued by Mrs Gies, who kept it safe until after the war.
Miep Gies would have turned 101 on February 15th, 2010.

Images from BBC web site:

Miep Gies, with a copy of the now famous Anne Frank's Diary - first published in 1947 and has sold over 30 million copies in 65 languages.

Mrs Gies, front row left, seated next to Otto Frank. I think this photo is likely from around the time Anne's diary was first published. There is no date on the caption on the BBC web site, and no names for the other people.

Update: I found this same photo on the website, with the description that these were the four helpers who brought food and supplies, etc, to the Frank and Van Pels families in the the Secret Annex, as it was known. The seven were later joined by Fritz Pfeffer. The Anne Frank web site photo had this caption that identified them:
From the left to the right: Miep Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Otto Frank, Victor Kugler and Bep Voskuijl.
What happened:
  • Otto Frank -one of only 7,650 prisoners alive when Auschwitz was liberated by Russian soldiers on January 27, 1945, he weighed only 115 lbs .
  • Edith Frank - dies at Auschwitz concentration camp Jan 6, 1945.
  • Margot Frank - dies of typhus at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in late winter 1945.
  • Anne Frank - dies of typhus at Bergen-Belsen, one day after her sister Margot.
  • Hermann Van Pels - gassed at Auschwitz after becoming too exhausted to work, September 1944.
  • Auguste Van Pels - dies somewhere in Germany or Czechoslovakia, probably between April 9 and May 8, 1945, after being shuttled around from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen to Raguhn (part of the concentration camp at Buchenwald) to Theresienstadt to -unknown-.
  • Peter Van Pels - marched from Auschwitz to Mathausen concentration camp in Austria where he was forced to work in a stone quarry where he died May 5, 1945, sick and exhausted.
  • Fritz Pfeffer - dies in sick bay at Neuengamme concentration camp, Dec 20, 1944.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Crisp winter day

Yesterday was a nice bright sunny winter day, and was very nice to be outside. Freda took the dogs down to play on the lake, as the ice is completely safe by now. Today, however, was overcast and a stronger wind, so it wasn't so pleasant, as you can see from the position of the hood on Freda's coat. The dogs like running around outside anyway, Tawny more than Taz as she is more of a winter dog. In the above photo she is running and her ears are flopping around - that is very funny to see in action.

Taz likes running around outside carrying a 'bone' in his mouth - the 'bone' is really what we call the rawhide rolls that we give the dogs. Today, Taz was carrying two bones, just because he can, I guess :). If he doesn't have a bone then he will steal the throw toy away from Tawny, which makes it not so much fun for her.

I took this photo just after Freda and Taz had gone in. Taz feels the cold more than Tawny, he doesn't have the thick fur or the added 'insulation' that Tawny does, so he doesn't like to stay out for as long. Tawny was looking towards the house and watching Freda and Taz walk towards the door.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Snow.... and the Weather Network

Well, it's snowing. Big surprise! But this is a real surprise.

I looked at the Weather Network to see the forecast, and I saw that the two photos I uploaded to the Weather Network Gallery appeared on this page! The sunset on the left and the crystal fence photo. Cool! And that is a surprise.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Sea of Blue and Red

The funeral for Constable Eric Czapnik was held today. I include a few quotes from a CBC news article Slain Ottawa officer honoured at massive funeral:
An Ottawa police officer killed in the line of duty last week was honoured Thursday during a ceremonial procession and a funeral attended by thousands of police officers from across North America.
Police officers, civilian police members, firefighters and paramedics from Canada and the U.S., as well as local, federal and provincial politicians, city councillors and some senators packed the bleachers of the venue, which holds 8,000 people.
Czapnik was stabbed to death on Dec. 29 outside the civic campus of the Ottawa Hospital, where he had been sitting in his cruiser taking notes.

Czapnik, who had been with the Ottawa Police Service since 2007, is only the second Ottawa police officer to be killed while on duty in more than 25 years.

Kevin Gregson, a suspended RCMP officer from Saskatchewan, has been charged with first-degree murder.
Officers taking part include:
  • 1,500 Ottawa police.
  • 1,000 RCMP and military police.
  • 50 U.S. and international police.
  • 300 Quebec police.

Freda took all these photos with her cell phone, so they are not the same quality as our usual photos.

Constable Czapnik's platoon led the way.

Constable Czapnik's remains with honourary pallbearers.

Ottawa Police Service, led by the brass, and it looks like some RCMP red serge in there too.

Probably every Ottawa Police officer that wasn't working...

People from the community, his church, friends, etc.

The paramedics. One paramedic (a female) tackled the guy who assaulted Constable Czapnik, while others tried to save his life.

More police officers, this time - the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). Or maybe these are the Quebec police, US police, and Military Police people that were reported in the CBC article - not sure about that.

And behind them, the officers of the RCMP start.

And the RCMP officers come in waves...

The Ottawa Fire Department had two ladder trucks, with a huge flag hung between them.