Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour

What were you doing for earth hour? I know some people took a cynical look at it and said turning off the lights would not make a difference in saving our planet. While I agree, it was a wonderful opportunity to raise global awareness to the problem of global warming and our carbon footprint. Hopefully people will see that just by turning off a few more lights can make a difference and then, in turn, help us to make even more environmentally friendly choices. Don flicked off the breaker so we would have no power to our house for an hour and we spent our time playing Backgammon. I loved playing by candlelight. As well, we kept all lights off for an extra hour while we finished watching the Canadians-Leaf hockey game and playing more backgammon.


It has been warm enough the past couple of days to actually melt enough snow so I could see my grass. I almost forgot what it looked like. CELEBRATE!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ottawa, Part III - Canadian War Museum

Here I am again telling about our time in Ottawa. Again, I will just quickly tell the highlights. Don and I went to the Canadian War Museum. We spent about four hours there quietly waling through the exhibits and reflecting. We started our visit in the Afghanistan exhibit. It was a very moving experience knowing the sacrifice soldiers are willing to make for others.
We sat at a computer terminal to look up Don's grandfather and my great grandfather Wallbridge. It was cool to see their application papers. The library was closed, but some day I would love to go back and get copies of this information. You can also get a list of battles and medals. That would be cool for Don since his grandfather, who lied about his age to fight in WWI, received a few medals - one for carrying an injured comrade even though he, himself, was shot in the leg. Below: an example of tunnel art done while waiting in a tunnel at Vimmy Ridge and memorabelia from Billy Bishop, a famous Canadian fight pilot. The windshield of his plane has a bullet hole in it.

The last interesting place we went to was the Deifenbunker - the cold war bunker for the national goverment and military. Each province also had bunkers, but this one was the main one in the country. When we entered we were lead down a long tunnel to the main entrance. The tunnel kept going up the other side so that if a bomb fell the pressure would go along the tunnel and out the other end. Before we went in through the entrance there was a nuclear bomb on display.

As we entered we were taken through the decontamination area where there were showers for those who may have radiation. In the same area was the medical facilities to deal with possible radiation burns. One of the rooms in the area was built so that it could be locked down from the outside so peoople inside could not get out. This came in handy in case someone went a little crazy with being too long in the bunker.

It amazed me how this place was built and maintained until the late 90's in secrecy. I was surprised at how basic the life would be down there. I guess I thought it would be a little more elaborate with couches and nicer furniture since the Hitler bunker was somewhat elaborate for its time. Below is a picture of the Prime Minister's bedroom, a radio room, and the cabinet room. Notice how small the cabinet room is - only select ministers would be included in the inner circle. The rest were out of luck!

Ladies, if you were the prime minister's wife at the time of an atomic bomb, you would be left behind with the children to die. Unlike the saving of people you see in American movies (wives and children), only necessary personal were allowed below and only a handful of people knew who those personal were. Example: the primeminister appointed a second in command in case he could not be there and no one except the PM and that person knew who it was. That person, in turn, appointed another minister and only he and that person knew who he was. That was secrecy was maintained. Below is a picture of a room in which only certain people were allowed to enter due to secrets over the years. even the base commander did not have access. The tour guide met a man who worked in that room and he is sworn to secrecy to never reveal the information learned in their reconaisance. SCARY!
The bank of Canada bunker for gold storage. If there was enought notice a train was ready at Union Station (Ottawa) to bring key personal and gold to the facility. One of the gentlemen going through the tour with us worked in the bunker for years in the generator room.

The last place Don and I visited was Rideau Hall (Governor General's residence) and Rideau Falls.

This is the end - that's all there is folks!

Ottawa, Part II

I am not telling everything we did - just the highlights. Don and I wwalked to the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, which has a focus on Canadiana. It is very well done, with exhibits that have the feel of being in a real village setting.

Walking on the bridge from Ottawa to Hull and a view of Parliament Hill from Hull.
We spent a lot of time in the First People's Hall which showed the history, diersity and contributions of Canada's Aboriginal peoples.
We also spent time in Canada Hall that is set up in village vinettes from different time periods. Joanne, the turn of the century exhibit felt like Heritage Park in Calgary.
Lastly, we walked through the Face-to-Face exhibit which showed some of the interesting personalities who shaped Canada. I enjoyed a visit with Pierre, although he isn't very photogenic!

A Whirl-Wind Visit to Ottawa

I love Ottawa. I love the museums, the architecture and the shops. I dragged Don along with me on my visit. He chose Ottawa because he didn't want to drive all the way to Quebec City. Everywhere we went Don wore his Montreal Canadians hat and, of course, we got constant comments due to the Montreal-Ottawa rivalry.
We visited Parliament the first day. We went on a tour. I love the library there and all the wood. It is hard to believe it was the only part of the old building to survive the fire years ago. We saw the Senate but due to Parliament sitting we could not go into the House of Commons. We were able to sit in the house of Commons to watch the proceedings. We considered coming back for Question Period but didn't. Too bad we didn't because at the end of the Question Period the House voted on the war in Afghanistan. It would have been interesting to be there for the historic vote. Don and I watched the "Turning the Page" ceremony in the Memorial Chamber. In this chamber are housed the various books of Remembrances within which are hand written the names of all soldiers who have died in action during Canada's Wars. Every morning at 11 o'clock the next pages in each of the books is turned. Sounds so simple but it was was very moving. We also went to the War Memorial. I have seen the memorial before, but it now has the tomb of the unknown soldier. Some day I would like to be there on November 11th.
For Don, we went to the Currency Museum. It was very interesting since the audio tour had a focus on counterfeit money and how it was done through the ages. Even though we did not go to Florida this year, we did get the Florida feeling! Pretty good, eh Barbara?!

Don's way of dealing with Cathy and the camera.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Know Spring Has Arrived in Brampton When...

I know that spring has sprung in my corner of the world when...

1. Just when you think the cold weather is behind us, we get one last blast of winter (will it ever end?).
2. The snow is replaced by rain and more rain and more rain.
3. You sink into a foot of mud.
4. Don comes home from work covered from head to toe in mud (he works in construction).
5. The smell of mud is in the air.
6. The smell of manure drifts across from the farmers' fields.
7. The smell of skunks scared off by neighbourhood dogs.
8. The cat sits at the back door and cries to get out, and out, and out.
9. The cat's fur comes out in clumps instead of a few hairs at a time.
10. Don hides in the basement to avoid the necessary yard work.
11. BBQs are already on sale in the stores.
12. Buying daffodils for cancer research.
13. Watching Blue Jay baseball. Remember the cold spring games at the CNE exhibition stadium and couples making out under blankets?
14. Neighbours coming out of their winter cocoons to socialize with one another.
15. Clean cars - well, no salt cars. They are muddy instead!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More Snow Pictures: Can You Believe it is MARCH?!

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this little guy sitting on our back fence nibbling away at this chunk of snow.

Don shoveling and shoveling...and shoveling!

Another sign of animal life! We have a rabbit visiting our street on a regular basis these days. He must be looking or grass. He's going to be looking for a long time!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Still Walkin in a Winter Wonderland

This is the winter that never ends - and I love it! I know a lot of people are complaining, but I figure if I live in Canada and winter is one of our glorious seasons, then let it snow to show for it! We have just been through another day and a half of snow (approximately 25-30 cm in the GTA and 50 cm in the Niagara area). I went shopping on Friday and have hunkered down for the weekend. I have tried to upload some pictures but had no luck for the past two days. I will try again soon.

On Saturday night Don and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood at 11:30. It's a great time for a wlak because no one is around. As we went down one street we heard a lot of arguing. We stopped to listen since we were not sure if it was people joking around or not. Well, it was not. There was one man and two women screaming. We had to do something, so Don walked to the door and knocked. The teenage girl who lived in the house was attacking the man of the house with her mother in the middle. There were tears and angry words but with Don and I there eventually there was some semblance of calm when the girl took off in the family car. Rather than finish our walk Don and I went home and called the police. Our conscience just couldn;t ignore what we saw and heard. The family is known to the police and we were told they would check in on the situation. I wonder what ended up happening...