Thursday, October 30, 2008

One in a Billion



I was thinking how many blogs are out there and figured the chance of me being found in the masses of other random sites popping up constantly is pretty slim! Billions come to mind - but that is one of the words we seem to overuse in everyday speech. Politicians throw it around almost casually when they talk of dollars without comprehending what it really means. Thanks to my friend Bruce who supplied me with these facts the other day I have a new respect for a billion and this puts it into some sort of perspective for me: A billion seconds ago it was 1959. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age. A billion days ago no one walked on the earth on two feet! Still too much to comprehend yet it is a figure that always come to mind whenever Marie and I spend time out at our mountain getaway. Clear nights are always awe inspiring with the heavens ablaze with stars and the Milky Way a bright white slash across the whole sky. We are exceptionally lucky to be in this area where little light pollution affects the brilliance of the show above us. And last year the International Dark Sky Association awarded its first International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR) designation to the regional county municipalities of Granit and Haut-Saint-François and of the City of Sherbrooke. The presentation was made at Mont-Mégantic National Park, in the heart of the new reserve and just a few miles from our property. That's where the observatory is located (see picture), the largest in eastern North America, and the most important astronomy and astrophysics research center in Canada. Looking up at this beautiful sight I never cease to be amazed and always my mind wanders off into figures I can barely comprehend. Recently astronomers have raised the estimate on how many planets are out there - they figure that at least 25 percent of Sun-like stars have planets, which means there are at least 100 billion stars with planets in our Galaxy! With about 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe that could mean that there are at least 10 trillion planetary systems in the Universe! Darn - and I was just getting my head around a billion! Happy Halloween and don't forget to look up! You might just see ET! gws

Monday, October 27, 2008

Montreal

Good morning everyone! Woke up this morning to a $.77 US Canadian dollar and 87 cents a litre gas. Can't have the good without the bad I guess and now it seems Premier Charest wants to call an election in December. Only problem is 7 out of 10 Quebecers don't think it's necessary! Maybe he didn't check the voter stats from the last Federal election a few weeks back! Had a great visit with Lara, Chad, Phil and Fer in Montreal this weekend after coming back from the property. Marie and I went out to cover up the camper for the winter and enjoyed the peace and quiet for the last time this fall. Stopped off in Montreal for dinner and a visit with the kids before heading back to Ottawa. Sure wish the drive between the two cities was more interesting though. It's gotta be one of the most boring roads in all of North America! Maybe what we need are some billboards welcoming one to the Nation's capital and all the cultural and historical sites available. At least it would keep one's mind occupied since the Ontario governent is considering banning all cell phones, blackberrys and even GPS systems. How the heck are you going to stay awake?.. Have a great week and keep those hands on the wheel! gws
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Children

Thought I would post some pictures of the kids when they were younger and enjoying winter - all taken in Nova Scotia. At least they look like they are having fun. Winters there were not as brutal as here in Ottawa but I'm sure kids don't worry about the cold anyway. But how fast they grow. Thinking back now, even before I was married, I had a hundred theories about raising children but no children. Now, I have three children and no theories. Oh well! It felt like old man winter was on our doorstep this morning but the temperature has risen and it has turned out rather nice. Marie and I might be going to check on our property this weekend if the weather cooperates - the closer we get to November the more chance of snow. I bought new Goodyear Wranglers for the 4x4 so we should be ready for whatever comes our way... Last night we took in a play at the Ottawa Little Theatre called "The Perfect Wedding". It was hilarious and a nice change from the movies. We are lucky to be able to enjoy the local nightlife living downtown and within walking distance to every venue! Have a great week all! gws
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gary's Art

Triptych "Prince Edward Island" acrylic on canvas 31"x20" $2oo.oo



"Lake in Quebec" acrylic on canvas 27"x19" $300


Some recent pieces you might like to hang in that bare spot! Click on the painting to enlarge. If you are interested email me at stewgm@gmail.com . Have a great weekend! gws

Friday, October 17, 2008

Apathy

Seems Canadians didn't expect to make any difference in the election results Tuesday as only 59% bothered to cast their vote. Are we that resigned to the status quo that we feel we can't at least make some sort of contribution to the way Canada will be lead in the next few years? I assume those who didn't are happy with their lot in life or there were no real issues or candidates with anything to say to make them get off their butts and vote. I guess you can figure out which way I went by my last blog but at least if I am not happy with the way issues that concern me are addressed I have the right to bitch. 9,208,000 other Canadians do not. gws

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Election Day












Good morning to my family, casual visitors and those who stumble onto my blog - Welcome and welcome back! For those of you who have exploring on the moon, admiring the foliage at your cabin in the mountains or snorkeling in Cozumel, or asleep for the past two months, today is the day Canadians vote for a new Prime Minister. I can certainly understand why you all down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana or my visitors from Sweden - hello Norrtalje, Stockholm and Kiruna, Norbottens Lan ! - might not be aware of this particular day...but c'mon Canada, where have you been? The past week leading up to today one hears more about the loss of the CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" theme song to rival TSN, Madame Palin's wink or the miserable lot of millions of poor Pakistani's (read: poverty=Islamic extremism). Sure these are all important, life -changing topics but do we really need Stephane Dion or Jack Layton rubbing shoulders with Asif Zardari? Canada has finally emerged into a nation to be reckoned with on the world stage and this is not the time for change. And yes, I'll admit it is still pretty boring stuff...,Polls close at 21:30, where will you be at 21:31? And what a fantastic weekend for Marie and I as we spent Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving Day weekend at the property, staining our new cabin. The weather was wonderful, dry and warm - a typical Indian summer weekend on the higher elevations.We are so pleased with the cabin and the quality of the construction I must mention again the builders - Pinnacle Farm Mini Barns in Kingfield, Maine. As you can see from the photos it looks just great in the spot we chose for it. Next year we plan to finish the interior and do some landscaping. My previous invitation is still open to all! The drive from Ottawa to the townships was especially beautiful - nothing but every imaginable shade of yellows, oranges and reds as nature dressed in her best foliage. For those who have never experienced fall in eastern Canada you are in for a treat. And if you come up for a visit I know of a great little boulangerie in Notre-Dames-des-Bois...a bientot gws


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy Thursday


After the complaints yesterday about Ottawa's panhandlers I wonder how the city will now cope with this problem after issuing notice this morning the city management will be cutting back 300 - 500 jobs among lower ranking workers. What the heck does that mean? Our happy-go-lucky mayor thinks tough times are just around the corner and service levels to us hapless citizens will just have to take a dive. Earlier this week it was disclosed the city has turned away thousands of women from shelters this year. Are we to turn into another look-alike third-world capital? Don't be surprised... Marie and I are off to our property tomorrow morning so our best wishes to all for a safe and happy Thanksgiving! gws

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The shortest distance between two points is under construction






I had a little problem with the server today but I'm back up now. As promised I have posted some more pictures of this past weekend, including one of Muffy and Sal. Things haven't changed here in the big city since my return from the peace and solitude of the mountains - police, firetruck and ambulance sirens, drunks and questionable ladies of the night staggering around on the streets outside my condo window, and strange bumps in the night from our neighbours above, below and to the side, continue unabated. This then is part of living downtown, slightly soiled by the cities inability to clean up the grimier side of life in the shadow of the Peace Tower, our symbol of freedom, and prosperity. Perhaps this enduring symbol of Canada should be renamed to better reflect who we now are - a nation of "peacemakers" instead of "peacekeepers". I often wonder what the masses of camera-clicking Asian tourists think as they step over and around the panhandlers and sleeping derelicts in our capital city...

And to make it worse every road in the city - plus the main truck route from here to Quebec which runs a block away - seems to be under construction. Traffic jams, honking, irate drivers, and dust...Only two more days till we return to the mountains and blessed quiet...Peace. gws

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cabin Fever!



























































Good morning and welcome back to everyone logging on today! Marie, Rich and I returned safely from our trip to our property in the Eastern Townships late last night after an eventful four days! We are now the proud owners of a new cabin! We crossed the border into Coburn Gore, Maine (17 kilometers away by road) Saturday morning and met the cabin's builders, Rob and his son Caleb from Pinnacle farms in Kingfield, Maine, an hour south on Rte 27. They had pulled the cabin up on their trailer but due to legalities about doing business in Quebec without the proper permits, etc we switched the trailer and cabin onto another 4x4 truck we had borrowed and, after the usual hassles at the Canadian border, brought it into Canada and up our winding, steep road to our property, Marie leading the way as escort vehicle - with a flashing light on top of our little pickup! After an hour of backing and pulling it into position we finally got it where we wanted it, the porch facing the rising sun and the windows looking out over the mountains. Lara and Chad arrived shortly afterwards from Montreal to spend the night and the next day we explored the Domain, walking down to the lakes and enjoying the fall scenery. Monday Rich and I drove down to Farmington, Maine to have a new set of tires put on the truck, returned to the property to pack up and headed back to Ottawa, driving through the Townships, into New York state to avoid driving through the traffic in Montreal, and then up to Cornwall and home. Next week Marie and I are heading back, if the weather allows, to put some wood protector/stain onto the cabin before the really cold weather arrives, try out a new kerosene heater we picked up and say goodbye to the end of summer for good. More pictures to come tomorrow so drop in then and say hi! gws