Thursday, January 31, 2008

January 31, 2008

It's almost Groundhog Day.
Someone at the weather office is getting creative with the writing. There is a weather watch up on the main website and when I clicked on it I read the following:
"Meanwhile a low pressure area over west Texas is getting organized and setting its sights on southern Ontario."

Monday, January 28, 2008

January 28, 2008

We had a successful weekend. We rented a car because Peter had to get out of town for a dental appointment and because we had it for the weekend, we got to get tons of groceries and go other places. After we used the car on Friday to go to the dentist, get a hair cut, renew my driver's license and get groceries, we finished up by walking to Marshy's for our usual Friday after work rendezvous.
Skye and me at Marshy's
Marshy's has a weekly draw of something hockey related and on Friday, I was the lucky recipient of a genuine NHL Senators jersey! My ticket happened to be drawn by a cutie with the lovely name of Skye so I got Peter to take our picture together.
Me and Brad at Marshy
Here is Brad after awarding me the jersey. Yes I am short but man, is he tall! Now I have no excuse and will have to go cheer on the Sens at a game - at the pub.

On Saturday we went to breakfast with friends and then, after doing laundry and such, we drove to Carleton Place to view a photographic art exhibit. Someone Peter knows was one of the exhibitors so it was a nice excuse to drive out of town and do something different. When we got to the tiny, owner-occupied gallery, we were greeted by a 5 year old Golden Retriever named Finnigan, who completely charmed me as much as he shed hair on me.

Today, the sun was appreciably warmer. Even with a high haze, you could feel the warmth of the sun getting stronger as we approach the Equinox. My cyclist spirit soars like an eagle. That's because it's not getting on the bike until March.
construction you can see
I've noticed for some time now that the construction on Centrepointe is finally more than just a hole in the ground, so I took a picture of the foundations.
headed to the skating rink
It was a beautiful day for a skate. When I walked by the other side of city hall at 11 am, I saw this fellow heading over to the rink. I only saw one person on the rink but I bet it's crowded now.
lost headband
I see I am not the only one to "rescue" lost woolies and put them where they might be spotted by the owner. This was a headband that had fallen out of someone's pocket or pack.
another vole
As I walked down the bike path, I heard a faint noise and stopped to listen. It sounded like a rodent chewing and sure enough, when I started looking at the ground, I saw a vole, busy with the bark at the base of a cedar bush. I watched him as I sneaked closer and took out my camera. His little tail made it apparent that he was a vole and not a mouse. Just as I got the camera ready, he whisked back into his snow tunnel! Rats! Voles! I had missed the opportunity. Just then, he poked his head out to assess the danger and I snapped this picture - no better than the poor one I took on January 6. Then he disappeared completely and did not show himself again while I stood there. So you'll have to click on the photo and then view it large to be able to believe me.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

January 24, 2008

I guess it is the January doldrums. Nothing new happening, weather cold, more snow. I go to work, go to the gym and hang out at home. I am thankfully not depressed and not even blue. But the days pass and I don't even see rodent tunnels so there is not much to blog about, 'hood-wise.
crows having a meeting
Yesterday I came home and spotted four bold crows in the road. I suppose that is redundant, to call them "bold crows".
crows picking at garbage
They looked like they were picking at garbage on the ground but then I got up to where they were, I only saw a flyer flattened on the ground and no food. So I don't know what they were doing.
crow in tree
One flew up into a tree as I approached and the others finally flew off toward the park as I got within a few feet of them.
mysterious object
Today I was sitting at my computer and I heard a noise outside. When I went to look, I didn't see anything and no fresh tracks in the snow either. But something caught my eye, in the tree on the other side of the fence. I got the binoculars which are much more powerful than my little zoom lens on the camera and I could see the object clearly. It looked like a ball of yarn almost but on closer examination, I could see it was a ball of small twigs and shredded leaves, sort of like a tiny squirrel's nest in its materials. But it was so nicely round and looked dense that I knew it couldn't be even a bird's nest. I don't remember seeing anything in the tree recently, so it has appeared in the last couple of days and therefore can't be a nest of some kind. Now I'll have to keep an eye on it and see what happens. Short of climbing the tree, I don't know how I could examine it more closely.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

January 16, 2008

I saw marks on the snow the other day but didn't have the camera with me. Then I saw more of them today and got some pix. Can you guess what this is?
tracks in the snow

How about from this angle? Don't forget, you can click on the photo and make it larger at Flickr.
tracks in the snow
They are tunnels made by rodents! The extended mark in the upper part of the second picture is the roof of a tunnel made by the creature who popped out of the snow and went back under a foot later. It is risky being out on top of the snow - birds can pick off little voles who linger too long.
tracks in the snow
I'm not quite sure how the vole got from the obvious hole on the right to the tracks beside it, unless he was jet-propelled and flew through the air a little.
tracks in the snow
I'm not really sure in what direction this vole was travelling. Does he drag through the snow as he leaps forward or as he lands?
tracks in the snow
I think those are dog tracks going through the middle. On the right is the roof of a tunnel. And tracking through it are the distinct prints of some bold rodent who managed to not drag through the snow at all. Did he have long legs? Fun stuff.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

January 12, 2008

The sun is still warm enough to melt some things, like thin snow on top of dark pavement, but winter has returned.
after the thaw
The internal path had been plowed around Centrepointe Park but it wasn't scraped enough to prevent the freezing of slush into ice and so walking is dicey on some parts of the path. You have to tiptoe around the edges of the path where there is crunchy snow which creates traction. I didn't walk back through the park. But it was very nice to see the sun (it has been so grey lately) even if it does come with colder temperatures.
after the thaw
The main paths with the yellow painted stripe down the centre (what I call the NCC paths) are bare and dry except for this one persistently flooded spot behind the bus station. I think the only way to fix it is to dig it all up, raise the height of the path and then re-pave it. Putting some drainage tiles leading away from the path under the grass would be good too.

Friday, January 11, 2008

January 11, 2008

This blog tends to be more about the weather than anything else, but weather is a big thing up here, I guess.
That wind we had two days ago really was fierce and blew parts of houses off and trees down. We didn't have any damage here in the hood thank goodness. And now Winter is back, even if it's not that cold. We had had a little snow over night and then freezing rain in the morning, followed by plain rain. It's above freezing now so we won't have the horrible results of the Ice Storm of 1998 following up today.
On my way home, I saw several bunny tracks but couldn't find a clear enough imprint for a photo. Then, right in front of my own garage door, I found this set in a track that went all around the house and into the back yard.
bunny tracks
You can tell by the toenails that this bunny was hopping from right to left. His front feet are in the "back" - they are the pair set close together. He plants his front feet and then swings the hind feet forward and that's why the hind feet prints (they are wider apart) are in front of the front feet.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

January 9, 2008

We've been having quite the thaw for the last few days. Here's what the circle in front of Nepean city hall looked like on December 17:
deep snow Dec. 17, 2007
And here's what it looked like today:
melted snow Jan. 9, 2008
You can see the bushes now.
ground fog Jan. 8, 2008
For the last few days, we have had thick fog, as the air temperature has soared to 10 C or above (50 F). It is spookily quiet, especially early in the morning. This photo doesn't do it justice but my batteries died the day before when it was thicker.
melted snow
Today I took notice of how much snow had disappeared off the "bunny hillside".
bunny poo
But there was plenty of evidence that new bunnies were busy (look at the centre of the photo). Today the wind was ferocious. If there had been ice on the ground, I wouldn't have been able to make any headway at all. The weather folks say it is gusting to 60 kph (38 mph) but I think it is even stronger than that.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

January 6, 2008

Big melt
We are having a January thaw. It looks to last several days but I am sure it won't make much of a dent in all that snow we have had. The temperature was slightly above freezing yesterday and currently stands at 4C (39F). Monday it is supposed to be 10C (50F). That's jean jacket weather!
Big melt
Mostly what a January thaw does is make things mucky for walking, although thankfully not life-threatening.
Big melt
Unless you fall down and drown in this enormous puddle. I was happy to see that when I walked by it two hours later on the way home, the drain had been opened and it had (mostly) drained. It was about ankle deep prior to that.
small tragedy?
This tiny mitten was there yesterday and since it was still there today, I took its picture. Someone had placed it on the top of the snow bank, to wait for its owner (or owner's parent) to return. I often wonder what the story was, when I pass these little vignettes. Did the child cry later when its hand got cold? Did the parent only notice when they got home? Do they walk here every day and so will they retrieve the mitt?
vole hole
On the bike path behind the transit station, I noticed a tiny movement and as I focussed in on it, I saw it was a vole out eating some grass that had been exposed by the snow plow. As I hurried toward him taking out my camera, he scampered into a hole in the snow bank.
vole close-up
I drew up beside the hole and as I peered in, I realized he was still there at the entrance, holding his breath and waiting for me to go away. I snapped a photo and then stepped closer to take another and he vanished. It would have been better with a flash but you can't have everything.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

January 5, 2008

Skating at Centrepointe
I hadn't had a really good chance until today, to take pictures of folks skating on the reflecting pond at the old Nepean City Hall.
Skating at Centrepointe
There were quite a few people skating when I saw them from across the street, after I came through the park.
the Zamboni!
A little later on my way home, I spotted the Zamboni trundling down the bike path toward the rink. They keep it in a large garage with other things like lawn mowers and snow blowers behind the city hall and I think it's great that they have a real Zamboni to clean the ice here.
Skating at Centrepointe
Here, the Zamboni has turned off the main bike path and is waiting near the rink. It was hooked up to something - maybe electricity to charge the battery?
Skating at Centrepointe
Skating at Centrepointe
I think the kid in the foreground was waving at his family but it looked for a moment like he was waving at me.
Skating at Centrepointe
I had put my camera way but when I spotted this little girl lying on the snowbank, I had to capture the moment.
Skating at Centrepointe
She was just taking a breather but in a minute, she sat up and was good to go skating again. Pretty cute.
A parking lot full of snuds
I happened to notice, as I walked by the parking lot at the old Nortel building, that it was chock full of snuds. I don't ever recall seeing an empty lot with so many snuds all scattered around. You might want to click on the photo to see it larger and even then, it doesn't capture what I saw with my own eyes - photos rarely do. I had heard them called snuds for years and remember hearing someone call them that on CBC radio, before I knew they had a name. I looked them up at dictionary dot com and the word isn't in there. However it is at Wikipedia (the link is above) and if you scroll way down, it says it is a colloquial term. But even they don't define them properly as the snow and mud that accumulates in the wheel well and on the mud flap. Snuds are what you take pleasure in kicking off your car when it's in the parking lot, as these people obviously had done.
how deep is your snow?
Finally, I noticed how high the snow had been pushed up against this tree in the 'hood. It is way over my head and even if I am short, it is still a lot of snow!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

January 1, 2008

New Year's Day snow storm
The snow was blowing and the weather website said the wind was gusting to 45 kph (28 mph), so we took a turn around the park today. It had been snowing for hours before we got there and no plows had been out so the path was drifted in solidly on many spots.
New Year's Day snow storm
There was no one at the little playground when we went by. That is the knife edge of a large drift on the right, leading into the middle of the photograph.
New Year's Day snow storm
The swings are still above the snow but I don't know if someone has been shoveling under them. They weren't there today, in any event.
New Year's Day snow storm
The wind was whipping across from the right and had blown needles off the pine. I waited for a gust to make it look windier but had to move on to keep warm.
New Year's Day snow storm
I got snow down my boots, trying to wade through the drifts, in spite of the boots being knee-high. We saw a couple of cross country skiers and a lone woman struggling but determined to go for a walk, as were we.
New Year's Day snow storm
This was the turning point, where we went forward instead of retracing our steps. We headed into the wind here and as soon as I tried to capture these snow drifts, the camera refused to work. It turns out the batteries had given up but at the time, I thought it was the camera. It was quite a struggle with the wind but mostly trying to walk through knee high drifts. At a few points, we tried walking on the snow banks that had been windswept clear of new snow but they crumbled underfoot and we were back up to our knees again. I'm glad we went but I'm glad to be back inside too.

Happy New Year!

buried bench
I took these pix back on the 30th and here it is, the new year already and no new pix! It is so nice that the interior path in the park is being clearing this year. But the back of this bench poking out of a snowbank shows how much they have had to work at it. I don't know why the picture is crooked - I don't think I was standing with my right leg in a hole.
I spotted this squirrel keeping an eye on things in the copse of trees by the old Nortel buildings.
I wonder if they are digging through the snow to find the nuts they buried in the summer? I haven't seen any evidence of tunneling and it would probably take them all day. To add insult to injury, we are currently getting even more snow. I know we can always look out the window, but I like some web cams for giving me a view of other parts of the city too. At any given moment, you can see what is happening up on Parliament Hill. And for comparison, the spider cam points south.