Sunday, January 2, 2022

Christmas Wrap Up

Well another year into the pandemic and trying to stay optimistic is getting hard. Just when things looked like they were improving along came Omicron and we're very nearly back in lockdown. Many businesses have capacity limits again and we're being told to upgrade our masks to N95 or KN95's.  I was able to get my booster before the province opened it up to everyone 18 and over but getting tested is hard, we're told just to assume we have COVID and isolate until symptoms improve or to go to hospital if you have chest pain or difficulty breathing. 

But overall it was still a pretty good year and it ended with a nice family Christmas. Well, more family than could get together last year. My youngest sister came up from Kingston and stayed with me; her husband decided not to join us. My niece and her family had moved back to her parent's place as they had their townhouse up for sale in preparation for a new job and a move to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I invited friends to join me in decorating my tree. My sister and one of my friends did join me. I was a little late getting the tree this year. The  tree lot that I go to had very few trees left but the ones they had were still nice. For the first time that I recall, the tree lot actually closed before Christmas Eve as they had sold out.

I hosted Christmas Eve. The menu was seafood chowder with cornbread, followed by meat pie and Greek salad, finished up with mince tarts and ice cream. The boys had McDonalds Happy Meals. It was nice hosting on Christmas Eve since it meant I didn't have to pack up the dogs and drive home. We just had to put on our PJs and sip another glass of wine before heading to bed.

Christmas morning the dogs got to open their stockings before we headed out to my sister's place for Christmas brunch, opening gifts and Christmas dinner.

We had an enjoyable day, hopefully next year it will be more normal with less worry about getting together with family and friends but then some of us will be further apart so who knows who will be able to get together next Christmas. 

Boxing Day was kind of spent relaxing. In the evening, my brother in law, my two sisters and I drove down to Parliament Hill to see the Christmas light show. After seeing the show, we all just went home and had left overs. My youngest sister and I had meat pie and shrimp with a few more glasses of wine and watched some movies. My sister left the next day and I took the dogs to an agility practice in the afternoon.

In years past I have invited a number of my girlfriends over for New Years Eve, last year I decided not to host the event but this year I thought we would be able to get together for a couple hours for a drink and a chat. But Omicron squashed that, I had hoped the surge in cases wouldn't be here until after the holidays but no such luck. I could have gone to my sister's place but I decided to stay home and have a SALY New Year's Eve. SALY is an expression I learned on one of my military postings when describing the organization of an event. It means Same As Last Year. I made myself a nice charcuterie board and opened a bottle of Prosecco. I didn't think I would make it until midnight but I did.  

I did go to my sister's place for New Year's Day dinner. I've started taking down decorations. I don't like to do it all at once; the house feels so drab when you do that. I leave the tree up until Epiphany or Little Christmas as my mother used to call it.  

So while COVID still dominated our lives, life wasn't all bad. For me, there still was no international travel again this year but we did get out and do some camping last summer right into the early fall. Next summer, the plan is to go west to Alberta with my youngest sister and her husband. No one in the family has yet to be sick with COVID. We welcomed to new family members, two little great nieces with another one on the way. I was able to continue with agility classes with Teddy and Liam. Teddy was able to get three Jumpers Qualifying scores in the two trials that we entered. Liam will be old enough soon to compete but we're going to hold off entering any indoor trials until the positivity rate comes down. Hopefully we'll be able to enter some outdoor trials before we start our summer trip. 

So I'm grateful for all I have and am looking forward to 2022 being a much better year.


Saturday, November 20, 2021

Going Downtown!

With so many activities still restricted I try to think of places to go with the dogs that are a different from the normal places we walk so twice recently I took them downtown. It's about a twenty minute drive and then you have to find parking but usually the walks are well worth it. 

The first time we went downtown we wanted to find the statue of LCol John McCrae who wrote In Flanders Fields. This location isn't actually right in the downtown core so I had never walked this area before, there's not much public parking on weekdays in the area or not that many tourist attractions either so not as many people around. I'd only ever been to that area once before. John McCrae's statue is across the road from the building that was once Ottawa's city hall; it now houses the School of the Public Service and I had been there on a course. 

John McCrae's statue is in a small park near a memorial to the fallen of the Royal Canadian Artillery. The park is right on the Rideau River and you can see the falls from one side of the park and even walk over pedestrian bridge over the falls.

On the other side of the road and around the back of the School of Public Service I found a bridge that led across the river to another park on Maple Island.  

The building on the left behind the bridge is Global Affairs Canada and the pyramid shape is the part of the roof line of the School of Public Service.  The white bridge is the one we walked over to get to this little park. It's only a one lane bridge for cars so they have to take turns with a pedestrian walkway on one side.

Above was a statue I found on the island suitably called Flight. Sadly as I walked around this area I found two encampments. It's probably not uncommon in most large cities but I had never seen any in Ottawa before. 

The next time we went downtown for a walk, it was to take the dogs to the Animals In War Memorial. I took Beckett and Keltic down on the day that the memorial was dedicated and one of the reporters said to me that they hadn't expected so many people to show up with their animals. It also was a good experience for both Teddy and Liam to be around so much hustle and bustle as we walked around the downtown core. The Animals in War Memorial is in Confederation Park as is the Indigenous Veterans Memorial. Initially Liam barked and barked at the dog statue while Teddy usually the reactive dog is like what's your problem. Once Liam figured things out we got a few photos of them with the war dog statue. 

We then walked up to Parliament Hill then over to the temporary Senate where the  Women are Persons statutes are currently located, then down to the canal locks and finally around the Chateau Laurier hotel to Major's Hill Park. This was the first time in all the years I've been in Ottawa that I had gone up to Major's Hill Park.  I was tired when we got home but I don't think Liam and Teddy were.

National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Eternal Flame on Parliament Hill

The canal locks looking toward the Chateau Laurier

Parliament Hill from walkway around the Chateau Laurier

Statue to John By in Major's Hill Park

Rideau Canal

We had a nice time exploring our city on both of our outings. Sometimes it's nice to be a tourist in your home town so if you haven't been in awhile maybe you should go downtown in your home town. You might be surprised with things you didn't notice before.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Lest We Forget

Ottawa is a city with many statues to heroes and historical figures, some well known and some lesser known. Some of these statues are in places where they are not often viewed as they are somewhat off the beaten track. Recently a friend posted a photo of one such statue. It's downtown but it's found along Sussex Drive where there is not a lot of parking and not many restaurants or tourist attractions to draw people to the area.  I decided I would take a drive downtown to walk around the area where this statue is located, luckily on Sunday I found that the visitors parking at the National Research Laboratory was open. 

The statue is that of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, the author of the poem In Flanders Fields.

I'm sure many of you have read or heard this poem before. And many of you wear a poppy in remembrance of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. This year marks the centenary of using the poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

In Flanders Fields
    In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
          Between the crosses, row on row,
       That mark our place; and in the sky
       The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

        We are the dead, short days ago
      We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
       Loved and were loved, and now we lie
             In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
       The torch; be yours to hold it high.
       If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
             In Flanders fields.

–John McCrae

I hope on Remembrance Day you can take the time to remember our veterans especially those who gave their lives in battle or who served, came home but then struggled with battles unseen. 

I will remember especially friends, colleagues and my father who served their country at home or on deployed operations abroad. 
MCpl Daniel Stewart

Sgt Craig Gilliam

Maj Ray Ruckpaul

Maj Scott Foote

Col Marie Leloup

Lest We Forget!