Friday, April 30, 2010

Family Quote of the Week

FK to JK: "Copycat!"
JK to FK: "Copydog!"


Up until yesterday there was a burn ban in this area of Ontario. It has been extremely dry. We have enjoyed summer-like weather for the past few weeks. However, the lakes are very low and a spate of grass fires prompted the Ministry of Natural Resources to post an extreme fire alert. Then, on Wednesday afternoon, you could feel a shift in the wind and moisture in the air as clouds began to roll in. Yesterday brought the first of the spring showers which is now replenishing the water supply. The affect of the rain on the plants, grass and trees has been tremendous. There are hues of green everywhere; God took hold of a few paintbrushes with various shades of green and with massive strokes reached down and happily used the Earth as a giant canvas. New life everywhere!

It's funny how your life matches up with weather patterns at times. I feel extremely dry right now and wonder if I can get through the last two months of teaching. The school year, though rewarding, has been a long, challenging one (and from what I have been hearing, next year even more so). My "spring shower" is still weeks away - summer holidays. I love summertime: enjoying the pleasure of the company of loved ones, travelling, exploring, camping, taking pictures, curling up in a quiet space to read, running long, taking the kids to the park (even if it is an hour away), watching movies, talking with family and friends on back porches and around campfires, buying produce at farmers' markets, and taking pictures (did I say that already?). I hope I can hold on just a little while longer so that my low water supply can be replenished...

"Fill my cup, Lord..."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How Cool Is That?

Today I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of my water bomber pics taken on the weekend was published in the local paper (local as in the metropolis town an hour away). I sent an email Sunday to the paper regarding the photo but there was no reply, so I thought no more about it. However, a student came into class this morning holding up a clipping from yesterday's local paper of my photo and the caption detailing the event. How cool is that? Not so much that my picture was in the paper, but that a student recognized my name, cut the photo out and brought it in to class the next day! I say it again, "How cool is that?"

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A New Lens Comes in Handy

I recently added a new addition to my photographic gear: a Nikon 70-300 mm VR 4.5-5.6 lens. I haven't had a chance to use it much for wildlife photography (the reason I bought it) because our bear/wildlife alarm (read JK) has been with me most of the time I've had it out. However, I had the perfect opportunity to use it today. My spouse has written about it on her blog so I don't have to go into the whole story (there sometimes is a little bit of a competition to see who can get the story online first!). Suffice it to say, with the new lens I was able to get a little closer to the water bomber action than with my 18-200 MM. Check out a few pics on my Flickr site.

I love this new lens. I am still working out using the slow auto-focus (mostly because I shoot at low ISO's on the Nikon D80 to avoid noise issues), but the sharpness of the pictures is amazing (if I can hold still, anyway). Like I said earlier, it has a longer reach than the 18-200 mm, which makes it an affordable option to get a little closer to the Northern Ontario wildlife than I have been able to in the past. Hopefully more wildlife pics will be had in the future!

This lens was very affordable as I bought it new through Henry's Ebay site. Check it out here.

Friday, April 9, 2010


This 4 day week felt like a month. Report cards were due to the office (only 1 mistake - yes!), an old/new student with behavourial issues arrived in my classroom after a six month absence, my students finally (!) finished editing and typing up their chosen stories for the classroom newsletter and today was our grade's turn for hot dog day (on a long Friday, no less). Phew! Anyway, the week is over, it is Friday night and almost time to curl up with my spouse on the couch and either watch a movie or another episode or two of Bones (or ....).

Tomorrow is grocery/errand day in town. It is supposed to be a nice spring day, so I think a trip to Dairy Queen with the family is in order. Now, what kind of ice cream cone should I have as a reward for getting through this week? I am definately getting a sugar cone, that's for sure!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It's a Party in the Bathtub!

My wife has made the Easter Egg hunt a family tradition at our house. She has come up with clever ideas, and today was no exception. This morning FK, our six year old, was up very early expecting something to happen, but there was nothing downstairs. Hmmm...

After a breakfast of hot cross buns and yogurt (and coffee for Papa), the kids went upstairs to get dressed and EK went outside to set the stage for the egg hunt. The kids then went outside, and using baskets sent to them by Oma, found and collected eggs placed around the house.

The collected eggs were counted to be sure all were there...

...then brought inside. The kids discovered that upon opening the eggs (with difficulty by some), puzzles pieces were to be found inside. What did this mean?

The backs of the pieces were two colours - pink or blue. The pieces were sorted into two piles, then put together and glued on paper.

They formed maps! Perhaps to a treasure?

The kids discovered the treasure, or Easter baskets of loot, in the bathtub. Jo promptly exclaimed "It's a party in the bathtub!"

They carried the party, er, baskets downstairs and took out the contents of books, toys, and candy (there has to be candy for Easter!).

I wonder what my wife will do next year? Hmmm...

Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen! Shout hosanna! Celebrate this day of days!
Christ is risen! Hush in wonder; all creation is amazed.
In the desert all-surrounding, see, a spreading tree has grown.
Healing leaves of grace abounding bring a taste of love unknown.

Christ is risen! Raise your spirits from the caverns of despair.
Walk with gladness in the morning. See what love can do and dare.
Drink the wine of resurrection, not a servant, but a friend.
Jesus is our strong companion. Joy and peace shall never end.

Christ is risen! Earth and heaven nevermore shall be the same.
Break the bread of new creation where the world is still in pain.
Tell its grim, demonic chorus: "Christ is risen! Get you gone!"
God the First and Last is with us. Sing hosanna everyone!

Text: Brian Wren

The runner in me wants to change the second line of verse 2 to "Run with gladness in the morning...". It was a beautiful Easter Sunday morning to go for a long run!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Best Camera

I had forgotten about a photo contest that I entered for Tourism Sarnia at the end of last summer. I sent the pictures in, knew 3 of 4 were selected in the top 20 (to my surprise as we live on the other side of the province) and knew they were displayed at the Lambton Mall in Sarnia (my dad even sent pics of my pics displayed in the mall). I waited patiently for the contest website to display the other top 17 top photos, but waited in vain, so eventually forgot about it. Today an email from Photolife arrived, and the magazine's email pic of the month was taken by one of the photographers who won the tourism contest. This triggered the memory of the tourism contest, so I checked the contest website on the off-chance that the pics were posted. They are! Here's the link:

This is a welcome reminder to continue to take my camera with me wherever I go, whether it be out in the backyard or across the country. The best camera is the one you have with you.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Yard Work

I inherited the clean yard bug from my dad, a man who takes great pride in his outdoor domain. This past year and now this year I have found myself out in the yard after the spring thaw, running a rake through the lawn to collect the detritus that collects during the winter. There is a satisfaction at the end of raking a lawn or cleaning a yard, a sense of accomplishment with the knowledge that the work was done well. I find that this kind of work somehow cleanses my mind. The focus on manual labour in the great outdoors allows the grey fog of work and worry to slowly dissipate and disappear (at least for awhile anyway).

I wonder if my dad experienced the same thing I did today. Did he have an almost three year old with little red boots on following him around , trying to help (but not being very helpful)? Did he have constant chatter thrown at him, questions and more questions, and pointed repeated observations ("Papa, you are raking the grass,...chatter...chatter...papa, you are raking the grass...")? I hope he did, because though on the surface it may have seemed annoying, it was wonderful to have JK doing all these things with me today.

I wonder of JK will experience the same thing one day with his little red booted three year old?