Past-winners of the Newboro Lake Ice-out Guessing Competition

2016: Jim Waterbury  (current holder of the bragging-rights mantle)

2015: Doug Fyfe

2014  Dr. Roslyn Dakin

2013   Louise Pritchard

2012  George Kitching


To the winner of this competition passes the mantle of Ice-Master/Mistress of the Lake, with all of the bragging rights and free-beverage privileges which go with it, until the mantle again passes on at the conclusion of the 2018 competition.


Entries may only be made by posting comments at the end of this post with the entrant’s first and last name and the geographical area of the Lake each has chosen to represent, and of course the date in 2017 on which the entrant predicts that judges and volunteers will no longer be able to find a patch of floating ice of greater than 100 square feet in surface area on Newboro Lake.

As usual, the dates are on a first-posted basis.  If someone double-posts on an already-taken date, the moderator will void the second entry, using the date stamp of the message software to establish priority.  The moderator will make a reasonable attempt to notify any thwarted aspirants to a particular date, but entrants would do well to read the comments section of this post religiously.

Emails to Rod with dates, or postings to the Ice Observations Page will not be accepted as entries this year.

Contest entries will be accepted until 11:59 P.M. on March 15, 2017, so beware the ides of March.

Exercise in winter

January 20, 2017


Today conditions were perfect for a bit of exercise, so I began to gather up slash left over from the trimming job on a stand of ten-year-old white pines.

Last fall a contractor offered the trimming in return for the pine needles which he sells in Toronto for wreaths at Christmas.  The crew came back a couple of weeks later and dutifully trimmed the stubby branches off the trees, but I decided if I got a chance I’d clean up under the canopy so that I could mow it once or twice a year.

Five loads of branches transported to a burn pile were enough for today.  If the weather holds I’ll get back at it.  There’s little danger of running out of branches to gather in the near future:  these rows are 700′ long.

Of course the best part is the unloading:  just back up to the pile and flick a lever.  The trailer dumps itself.  A little overcapitalized?  Maybe, but it’s fun.

The Ada Virus

December 24, 2016

My super-efficient MacBook Air computer has begun to suffer from performance problems relating to a lack of disk capacity. Routine purges of the hard drive fail to contain the deterioration. It seems Google Photos has linked my phone’s camera to the computer and automatically saves a version or two of everything the camera takes to my hard drive.

Each new photo automatically becomes sacrosanct, for almost all are of an adorable infant, our first granddaughter Ada. A tentative attempt to delete one or two this morning earned me an electronic slap on the wrist: the blasted things are locked! Many of these artifacts have come from other family members in an earnest effort to document Ada’s life and travels around the province.

Pretty well every time Ada opens her eyes there’s a camera there to record the event, and Google Photos immediately and automatically distributes the new data to other named recipients.

This reached a fever pitch about when Ada’s first selfies hit the Internet. At three and a half months, the kid has now become smart phone-sophisticated, calmly maintaining eye contact with the camera as a natural part of her personality.

And of course the album links get forwarded: we have created the Ada Virus.

The impulse to share one of Ada’s pictures popped up from some unfamiliar corner of my brain as I finished typing this deliberation, so I tried to upload one to WordPress.  I couldn’t find a single photo accessible to this program’s software.  The virus has now concealed itself!


*This online document  has been checked and declared free of the named virus.

You’ll find it saved as a page at the top of the column to the right of this post.  Please forward your reports as comments to that page.  I’ll sort out a title for it which places it high on the alphabetical list.

Here’s a URL for cross posting:


December 4, 2016


Every year about this time Mommy goes into what Dad calls “elf-mode.”  Yesterday she tried to fasten a wreath to the door of my house, but I put an end to that with a baleful glare.  Anyway, she’s cheerful in elf-mode, so there are lots of treats.



First snow

November 21, 2016

This is admittedly click-bait, but first snow is a fairly big deal up here.  Let’s call it kitchen table journalism.



Ada comes into our lives

September 15, 2016



Yesterday was the beginning of the full moon, so Ada Croskery decided it was time to enter the world at Ottawa General Hospital.  To the delight of Roz and Charlie and the four assembled grandparents, she presented herself as a good natured and inquisitive little creature, undisturbed by the flocking parental units brandishing phone cameras.

Welcome to the world of the selfie, Ada.

I keep telling myself that the birth of a child is the most ordinary thing in the world, but I don’t believe it for an instant.  This is the first grandchild for Ken and Helen Dakin of Burlington, as well as for Bet and me.

While the “competing grandparents” waited in a surprisingly comfortable waiting room for Roz’s 2-hour push, we were joined by a frazzled young woman with three rambunctious toddlers of Haitian ancestry.  Their single mother had come in for a routine checkup with the kids in tow, only to be sent for an immediate c-section.  This kind French-Canadian friend did her best to ride herd on the well dressed but tired and very loud kids who seemed to range from two to five in age.  They had nowhere else to go without their mother.

At length Charlie came along, proud as punch, to announce that Ada Croskery had entered the world — no middle name yet — and that we would be able to visit the family in the birthing room in a few minutes.  A study in contrasts awaited us as Bet and Helen, arm in arm, parted the curtain to meet The One.  Roz was a study in composure.  Ada was relaxed, a little sleepy, but primarily aware of her tongue and upper lip.  To my untrained eye, she looked a lot like a small Cabbage Patch doll.  Maybe it was the toque and the tight swaddling which made her into a 24″ package, readily passed about among the grandmothers.

Roz was a bit tentative on the kid-holding, keeping her positioned across her chest and patting the part of the package opposite to her head.  I assumed there were feet down there, but she could have had a tail for all I knew.  Bet assured me that Biologist Roz would have made sure all of the parts were there.

If she could focus at the time, Ada’s first impression of family members would have to involve smart phone cameras, flashing gently but incessantly.  Charlie had assured us that the flashes wouldn’t be a problem for her.

So today Ada will make the journey home to the family’s downtown apartment.  This will be a new driving challenge for Charlie.  Roz’s mother will stay around for a couple of days to help out, and then they’ll be on their own.  The apartment is a ten minute walk from Charlie’s office, though, so he hopes to get home for lunch each day to give Roz a break.

So away they go down the dizzying slide of parenthood, while we oldsters, bolstered by the new relevance, content ourselves with acquiring trinkets and making plans for visits and Thanksgiving.