Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Canada!

Canada Day on July 1 this year celebrates Canada's 145th birthday.  Yea!  Celebrations across the country will include face painting

Canada Day birthday cakes


 parades, picnics, barbeques, family get togethers, and all manner of fun.

Here are a few fun facts about Canada, courtesy of Lucy Izan at Readers' Digest

Our beavers have built a dam that is visible from outer space. 
The 2,790 ft. structure is located in Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta

Jasper, Alberta is the largest dark sky preserve in the world...a great place for seeing stars without conflicting ground lights to hde them.

Twillingate, Newfoundland, is the home of a winery that makes wine from iceburg water.

80% of the world's mustard seed is grown in Saskatchewan and exported worldwide.
Isn't that something you always wondered about?!

Canada's Parliament buildings in Ottawa house a sanctuary for stray cats.  They have little wooden 'houses' to shelter them on Parliament Hill.  People are encouraged not to use the sanctuary as a dropping off place for unwanted cats however.  The resident cats don't take kindly to this.  Somewhere in my collection of photographs we have a picture of me petting one of the Parliament strays back in the 1990s.

Canada's a great place to live.  The climate varies from Arctic cold to desert heat, depending on which part of the country you live in.  We have large cities, small towns, acres and acres of ranchland, majestic mountains, fertile plains, rivers and lakes and forests...the best of all worlds.  Come visit us sometime.  We're very polite you know.  And very few of us say 'eh'.

Have a happy Canada Day celebration.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Quincey's Garden 2012

Every year SIL Quincey workes at his garden.  New things get added and old plants pulled out, but only if it looks like they'll never recover from the winter cold.

This year is no exception.  Lloyd and I were over visiting the family the other day and Q proudly showed us around the garden.

This hanging basket contains begonias I think.  Quincey knows what flowers he likes but he doesn't bother himself with their names.

There are two beautiful baskets of these hanging from the porch roof overhang by the front door.

Almost directly under the hanging plants, and a little bit forward, is a large bunch of these lovely peonies.  They come back every year and require little or no effort on the part of the gardener.

They are in all stages of growth right now, from bud to full bloom.

This is his overgrown front walk.  One needs to push aside the rose bush to get to the front door.  I have told Quincey that I'd come over in the fall and prune back his front yard bushes but he always insists that he loves the roses and wants them to spread out and grow however they want.  There's no convincing him otherwise. 

These pretty little flowers (petunias?) have a spot in his rockery by a little stream Q created.

These colorful little ones share part of the rockery and stream.

The little trickle of a stream falls from the gap in the rocks and tumbles over the rocky bed.

He has a couple of these bubbling rocks sround the yard.  The garden hoses usually aren't evident but Q had been working on the garden before we got there and hadn't finished clearing up.

And another view of the rock garden.
There are other plants and features in the yard but I didn't take pictures of them all.  Maybe next time I'm over.  Quincey is such a busy man that he really needs his yard to let him unwind and stop thinking about his work for a few hours every week.  Everyone benefits from his efforts.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Blue Baby

Our youngest grandchild - 2-year old Quinn

Blue scented marker with an underlay of yellow highlighter.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sara's Kittens - Part 2

I was over visiting Sara's family the other day.  The kittens I blogged about  when they were born on May 13

are now 4 weeks old, growing like weeds and very active.  They tumble and play under the watchful orange eye of Mama Climber (the kids named her!)

Minnie, the first born, a little girl who bore a striking resemblance to a bat when she was a week or two younger

Chip (as in chocolate chip), the youngest, also a girl.  She's all brown except for a white spot under her chin.

And the middle child, also the largest and more active, and the only male.  I forget what the kids have named him.

They all have blue eyes and some striping is starting to show through their black, brown and grey coats.  We have no idea what type of cat their father was but they certainly didn't inherit their mother's striking orange eyes.

They've learned to climb the flight of stairs without rolling to the bottom.

Climber is very watchful and protective of her family and never wanders far from them.

Chip is a very clean kitten, always licking and washing herself.  Her feet look awfully big in this picture.

She had worked her way down to the bottom of the stairs when Percy, the large fluffy Balinese blue point, put his head around the corner and hissed at her.  This was Chip's reaction.  Frightening isn't she!!

Sara has always maintained that she'll give the kittens away to good homes when they're 8 weeks old but I have my doubts about that.  The kids have all claimed and named 'their' kitten so it's not going to be easy to pry the kittens away from them.  We'll just wait and see.

In the meantime, we'll all enjoy their cuteness.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Another Epic Sleepover

To use Brooklyn's word, it was an 'epic' sleepover we had last night - me and seven of my grandkids - ages 4 - 9 - got together for our second sleepover and it was soooo much fun!

Practicing the experiments the day before the sleepover
They all arrived around 6:00 pm.  I had set up a coloring station with rolls of coloring paper taped to the table and pots of crayons in the center.  At some time during their stay, each of the kids occupied themselves with good old fashioned coloring.

Charlie, Aidan and Tate
 Then the puzzles were brought out and worked on.

The two year olds, Quinn and Tate, only stayed for an hour or so, leaving with their mothers, under protest.

Some of the kids gravitated to the computer during their stay but there was so much to do that the computer didn't get the workout it ordinarily would have.

Kenzie and Charlie

The first 'real' activity was walking across the street to play at the playground.  They love 'Grammie's playground'.

Back at the house again we dove into our first experiment - making sparkling eruptions in glass vases using baking soda, food coloring, vinegar and glitter.

They loved this activity as you can see from the expressions on their faces.  They worked in teams so we had four 'eruptions'.

Kenzie and Charlie did theirs first - Kenzie has just added the vinegar - look at all those bubbles!

Next, Sydney and Brooklyn did theirs.  Brooklyn added the glitter and then Syd poured the vinegar in.

Then Max did his while sister Charlie 'supervised'.

And finally Elly and Aidan had their turn.  The 4-year olds sat on the table so they could reach things more easily.
After the excitement of the sparkling eruptions ended, we decided to see what would happen if we microwaved a small bar of Ivory Soap.


It was lovely and puffy and dry.  The kids broke pieces off and marvelled at how big that little bar became.  Aidan asked several times, "Can we eat it?"  I guess he thought it looked like whipped cream and should have been edible.  I let him break off a piece and he washed his hands with it.

So then someone wondered what would happen if we put food coloring and sprinkles on top of a bar of soap and then microwaved it.   So we had to try it to find out.

Well, it really puffed up but as you can see from the right side, the glitter and food coloring stayed intact and didn't mix with the soap at all.   An interesting lesson learned.

All this activity was making up a bit peckish to I told the kids we'd make our own ice cream while waiting for out pizza and wings to be delivered.

Here Brooklyn is seen shaking the bag of cream inside a larger bag of ice and salt.  Each of the kids took a turn shaking the bag and I was left to finish off the final five minutes of shaking.  I won't double the recipe next time!

The kids were amazed at how good our home-made ice cream was, as each took a turn (and a clean spoon) getting a taste of it directly from the bag.

Then our pizza arrived at we had a quiet time watching Puss in Boots and eating pizza and wings.  It must have been close to 10:00 by this time but no one seemed to be feeling tired yet - except Grammie!

One more experiment, after the movie was over and food devoured.  We tried to make 'fairies in a bottle' but it flopped and our 'fairies' were more like ugly trolls.  The kids didn't mind though because after all, the jars did glow!

Production line for the 'fairies/trolls'.  Gotta shake those bottles.
 Our final activity before heading to bed was blowing up the glow-in-the-dark balloons.  The kids loved these and took them down to the dark basement and played hide and seek with them.

Here they all are, ready for bed and playing with the balloons.

Finally, by 12:30am, they were all down and asleep with the balloons by the beds as night lights.  I was too wired to sleep and too tired to do anything else so I just lay in bed listening for any sounds from the sleeping kids.  The last time I looked at my bedside clock it was 3:15.   Then just before 6am I heard a crash!  Aidan had got up to go to the bathroom and banged into something.  That did it - we were both up for the day! so we went downstairs and snuck a cupcake while nobody was around.  (no lectures on nutrition please - this was a party!)

By eight everyone was downstairs and feeling hungry.  I filled them up with bacon, pancakes, chocolate milk and orange juice.

Our final activity, which they did one at a time as they woke up and made an appearance, was to make bottle cap fridge magnets to take home.  I had printed out a bunch of pictures of them previously, small enough to punch 1" circles of their heads.  We glued the pictures into the bottle caps and added a magnet to the back and put them on the fridge.

I made one for the younger siblings who couldn't attend the sleepover and when the kids were picked up around 10 this morning, we gave their mothers a little baggie with their fridge magnets in.

And now the sleepover is just a pleasant memory, and this exhausted Grammie is going to have a nap!

Have a nice weekend and Father's Day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Last One

This is the last of our Arizona road trip posts.

Part of the Petrified Forest National Park is called the Painted Desert.  It leads the visitor on a tour of the varied colors and structures found in the desert of Arizona - a geologist's dream I'm sure, with varied colors and stripes and natural construction that makes up the topography of the desert.  My pictures don't do it justice but you'll get a sense of how beautiful it can be.

These pictoglyphs are centuries old - there are a lot of them in this part of the desert

This place seems so ancient - the different stripes in the formations indicate millenia of sediment deposits and tell a story of how this area came to be.  It just makes me want to go out and study geology so I can figure out for myself what all of this means.