Thursday, 4 December 2014

2014 Christmas Newsletter ~ Our year in photos

Living where we do near the Pinery Provincial Park, nature is a big attraction and we spend quite a bit of time walking in "our" park - so many of these photos feature the natural beauty around us.

January/February -  Our first real winter in Ontario was not typical. We had snow - lots of it! I stopped counting after we got the driveway plowed out 20 times. This year we bought a snow blower.  As you can see it was quite spectacular!

March ~ Ross went to Dothan, Alabama for a week of golfing with some new buddies and I stayed here to look after the pets.  We didn't get as many swans this year as last but it was still nice to see them. This red tailed hawk very obligingly sat in the neighbour's tree long enough for me to get several shots.

Red Tailed Hawk

Annual Tundra  Swan Migration
April ~ Miss Mulligan joined our household.  I drove to Toronto to pick her up - I think Ross thought I was nuts, but she is a little purring machine and has been so much fun to have around.  In spite of the initial hesitation, she and Hanna are now best buddies. Of course she is the boss.

She's not so sure about Hanna
First snapping turtle of the year
Pinery tree hit by lightning

May ~ This was busy month for bird sightings as you will see from the photos.  Many of these were ones I had never seen before. The area we live in is Carolinian forest, sandy soil with lots of oak trees, so it attracts many different species. Jess & Todd finally put together some engagement photos ( my favorite is below), and Ross & I both took turns visiting Calgary so one of us would be here for his parents.  Jess' wedding shower was held at his parents house and we had a blast  - the highlight of which was seeing Bob ( his dad) dressed up as bride in a toilet paper gown ( sadly there is no photo proof, but the memory lives on).  

Jess & Todd - they suit each other
American Gold Finch

Pair of Grosbeak
First hummingbird of the year (ruby throat)

Ruffed Grouse - spotted in the park very close to our house
Scarlet Tanager

Eastern Towhee
Indigo Bunting

Red Headed Woodpecker

June ~ Miss Hanna turns one, the yard is covered in wildflowers including columbines.  We have a racoon visitor that keeps raiding the bird feeder and Ross & I get away for a few days with friends on their new cabin cruiser. 

Wild Columbine Flower

Ross taking a turn driving the boat

Our bold little racoon - was standing on the deck for this shot but it did not  scare it one bit

July ~ wedding month!  Jess & Todd tied the knot on July 5th the day before my 55th birthday. It was a wonderful wedding with a rocking party afterwards.  From Darwin, their corgi in orange bowtie to the outdoor ceremony,  to meeting Todd's brother & Ryan's new girlfriend we had a wonderful time. Afterwards we rented a car and drove to Revelstoke to visit our good friends and also took a few days to do some touring in the rockies.  

The Willsies & Huntleys

Wedding Party - such good friends

Cedar Grove near Revelstoke

Wolves at the recovery centre

August ~ this was a month for visitors as Ross' brother & his wife came over from England, then Doris & her friend Kari stayed for just over a week and Eric & his partner Brenda stopped by on their way to and from a trip to Nashville. It was also the month we got our concrete driveway done as well as the last bits of stonework & beach rock landscaping done.  I went to Les Miserables at the Huron county playhouse with a friend and Ross managed to hit a deer on his way home from dropping us off. Just over $6000 damage to the Santa Fe.  

Great Blue Heron resting on the beach - my favorite bird!
Monarch caterpillar on butterfly weed
So happy to spot this monarch as they are not as common as they used to be
Oh Deer!
Loving the beach stone we added to the driveway
Hanna loves to chase balls up & down the drive

September ~ It may be the end of summer but we still have loads of wildlife around. Our flock of wild turkeys is back, chipmunks, and painted turtles & frogs in the Pinery, a visiting bat takes up residence on our deck for a week.  I get a new bike a little late in the season but we manage to get a few rides in before the weather turns cold.  Two of my beach photos from last year win prizes in photo contests and I spend the $575 in winnings on a new super zoom camera. We spend the month here doing lots of walking in the park.

Paddling in the Pinery

Zoom lens is awesome
Painted turtles taken from canoe using zoom

Zoom shot with new camera

Chicken of the Woods - edible!

October ~ one of the things I love about Ontario is that we actually get 4 distinct seasons here. It's not the east coast, but there is some fall colour. This month I joined the photo club and so I've been trying to always have a camera along, and that I how I came about getting that great shot of a tree in full colour along the highway.  My friend Liz & her husband from Okotoks also stopped by for couple of days on their way back from a wedding.  It was busy month as we moved both of Ross' parents - Jennie from her nursing home in Parkhill and Bill from his apartment to a new nursing home ( Earl's Court Village) in London.  So great to have them back to gether after being apart for a year!  Ross & I spent the month cleaning out their apartment after over 20 years, so it was a lot of driving back & forth from Grand Bend to the city. In between we managed some hikes in the park.

Hanna in the park

November ~  Ross' mom spent just over week in the hospital with what turned out to be kidney stones, but she is now back at the nursing home and doing much better.  We spent most of this month getting ready for winter, had a little snow and turned on the furnace & used the fireplace for the first time this year.  Got some walks in the Pinery.

Hanna & Mulligan are now good friends

Snow Geese heading south

Hooded Merganser ducks - shot with full zoom

Winter is coming

Ice forming on Lake Huron

Playing with paint features on my new Sony camera

December ~ How fast the years fly by, Christmas was upon us before we knew it. 2014 ended without any snow, probably becasue we were prepared and had bought a snow blower!  We did have some amazing sunsets, and quite a few walks on the beach with Hanna. The woodpeckers and birds have also been really enjoying the suet feeder.  Ross & I spent a quiet Christmas at home, with a few nights out with friends. I unfortunately had a toothache for a couple of weeks before we figured out I had cracked the tooth and needed a root canal - just in time for the holidays.  Ross revived his tradition of rewriting "The night before Christmas" and the kids & family in Calgary had a good laugh.  We put up a tree and this year's best new ornament was a tardis from Doris.

Bill and Jennie Christmas Eve at Swiss Chalet.

Snapped this one foggy morning on the way into London to visit Bill & Jennie. I really love the bare trees outlines against the sky here.