Monday, August 31, 2009

One Fine Morning

I wrote how the nights and early mornings at the cottage were deucedly cold, but it wasn't all bad. Sometimes it was very good. One day, I took my chair outside to read whilst Cuppa remained in the mill. Although it was best to wear a light jacket, I found the weather very pleasant and even wonderfully bug-less. As much as I revelled in the weather and the lack of insects, I felt blessed with the long grass around me and beautiful scenes in front of me. I asked Cuppa to come out and take some pictures. Of course, she had already thought of this and taken one from inside the mill.

Being the accommodating woman that she is, she did come out to take more frontal views.

Then, she left the camera with me, and I took some photos of what I saw when I looked up. The barn was dead ahead.

When I shifted my gaze to the left, I saw meadow and bush lit by the sun.

I was very fortunate to be me that day. It was my version of Splendour in the Grass. It was a fine morning, but, having arisen at 5:30 today, I am much less sanguine about this morning.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lest I Forget

While I was working with some cottage photos to delight you with in the next few days, I found these recent pictures of my grand grandson. I think I took them around the time that his sister was sick, and I then forgot about them for some strange reason. Handsome little fellow, eh?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cold Morning, Hot Coffee

We're back from the cottage, and I must declare that I picked a rather unfortunate time to pack lighter than usual. I mean to say, it's August, still summer if you will, so why would I bother with track pants and sweatshirts and the like. I should have though; I really should have because the nights and early mornings were darn cold. Yes, it went down to near freezing on at least one of our four nights, and the other three weren't exactly balmy, believe you me.

Cuppa couldn't resist taking these pictures one morning when she got up to find my BIL and I severely bundled, he in a hoodie and down-filled winter coat, me wrapped up in a duvet. The days were tolerable and even pleasant, but my goodness, the nights and early mornings were glacial-like. In fact, I think if you squint, you might be able to spy a woolly mastodon lumbering by the window.

At least the coffee was hot.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Off Again and A Tiny Annoyance

Not that I've exactly been posting like a demented fiend lately, but I thought I should do the courteous thing and tell you that we'll be away this week. In point of fact, I've been posting so infrequently recently that you probably won't notice any difference. But when you've been blogging for more than five years, you do sometimes run out of steam. While there's an outside chance that I might shake up my gray matter enough to compose post while away, the internet is both slow and tenuous where we'll be staying, so don't hold your breath for my usual pearls of wis. Eh?

But I will take the time to tell you that Nikki Dee has rallied quite well and is almost back to her normal rambunctious self. Both she and Zach will be missed by the Buppa this week.

Meanwhile, permit me to leave you to contemplate this tiny little annoyance that I have with this wonderful service that we fondly refer to as Blogger.

By "tiny annoyance," I refer to the kind of comment box shown above. It appears on some of the newer blogs.

You see, when it pops up, there is no cursor in the word verification box. So, I am forced to reach for my mouse and click in the box before I am able type my comment. Why the cursor doesn't default to the box, I know not. Perhaps it would make life too easy for us?

Then, when I've finished composing my incredibly witty yet trenchant comment, I just want to hit the ENTER key but can't. No, I must relocate my mouse, grab it, point to the POST COMMENT box and click. Why can't I just press ENTER?

While I'm not losing sleep over this, I really do think that an application by the mighty Google leviathan should not be so cumbersome. Really, I do.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sick, Little Munchkin

We've had a poor, sick little munchkin on our hands for a few days. The dreaded H1N1? Who knows? It doesn't help when it's the doctor's day off and the ER says not to bring flu victims in unless you've checked with the doctor. The Health Ontario hot line was very helpful, but still ...

Anyway, the crisis point seemed to pass this afternoon. She was whining constantly, so I rocked her in her room for awhile. If she slept then, it wasn't for long, but she was definitely brighter and cheerier when she was done with the rocking.

We were pretty worried for awhile because this is not exactly a munchkin who's famous for her lethargy. She was a woebegone creature for awhile.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Perky and Chirpy

When the doctor advised me to take allergy meds for about a week, in compliance mode, I stopped at the pharmacy on the way home. Almost every alternative that I could spy with my little eye was of the Non Drowsy variety. Eventually, but with reluctance, I picked one. Although a few previous encounters with Non Drowsy meds haven't gone all that well, given the lack of choice, I decided to give them one more try because, after all, Non Drowsy should not necessarily mean Perky and Chirpy.

I took one around seven o'clock and figured that, even if it were to affect me, I'd probably begin to get over it by bedtime. Then, I promptly forgot about it. Much later, after several hours of tossing and turning and not quite falling asleep, I finally remembered about the pill. As it's happened before, it was happening again. Somehow, those things just wire me. Up I got in the middle of the night and puttered on the puter for an hour or so. Eventually, I tired myself out enough to sleep regardless of the medication.

I'll head down and take my daytime pill now, but not tonight. Oh no, not tonight. Lesson re-learned.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Presented for Your Amusement

Our first night back in our own little house was quite the adventure. It was a hot house. Summer has finally arrived here, and our little abode was blazing when we returned. Of course, we turned the AC on (the cooling type of AC, not this hot blogger) as soon as we got home, but somehow, it turned itself up when we weren't looking, so it was still rather torrid inside come bedtime.

I was sleeping only fitfully at best in the middle of the night, when I found myself coughing a lot. After about a half hour of this nonsense, I remembered the cough drops on the shelf in the hallway. This shelf overlooks the staircase down to the first floor. In the darkness, I reached for the cough drops and immediately tried to pull my hand back as realization set in. But I wasn't fast enough in my semi sonambulent state and knocked the glass over: the one that I had set there earlier in that restless night.

For some strange reason my shocked cry of bewildered horror awoke Cuppa, and we began the cleanup process. Picture me, or rather don't picture me, completely starkers but wearing running shoes to protect my feet. I never sleep starkers, not due to prudishness, for I am simply more comfortable with clothes on. Except for last night when I was uncomfortable no matter what I wore or didn't wear. So there I was in my birthday suit, my rather old and wrinkled suit, I might add. Meanwhile, Cuppa was in her scanties, and we were both bending and stretching in our search for glass. I fear that there was more glass without the gl than with.

Aside from the comedic or grotesque (take your pick) image, it was remarkable for another reason: ie Cuppa's ability to solve practical problems. Somehow she knew, even in her sleepy state, that the best way to find the shards was to CSI the scene. Out went the light, and on came the flashlight. Once we had retrieved all the larger pieces, she then knew enough to pick up the little ones with sticky tape. How she knows all this is beyond me, but she does.

Then, I vacuumed, and we went back to bed. And she was even thoughtful enough or too tired (take your pick once again) not to laugh at the incredible image of a frumpled naked-except-for-runnning shoes AC until morning.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Break

We're off for a few days, but I'll leave you with a few photos of unohoo. You do know, don't you? I mean, I don't really have to spell it out, do I?

Anyway, we and Mom took Nikki Dee to the waterpark on the weekend. It's not really what you normally think of as a waterpark though. It's not commercial with waves and chutes and things. It's just a community park alongside the river where they have a little bit of water spraying about. I sat there with the camera for most of the session this time around while the women pandered to The Bonnie Wee One. And these are some of the shots that I took.

Meanwhile, y'all have a good few days.

Oh, I also apologize to Cuppa and to those of you who also read her blog because there will be some duplication. This can be hard to avoid since we're pretty well joined at the hip.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tossing Your Tissues

There is a jokey line that many people use: "I have a good memory; it's just a little short."

Not me: I have a decent memory — for most things, most of the time — but it is terribly unpredictable and unreliable. The item that I need to remember isn't always present in my brain when I need it to be. It will usually come back to me at some point, but that point may be either too late or another inappropriate moment when I am once gain forced to file it and, therefore, repeat the process.

There are long term things one can do to keep track of necessary tasks. Most of us keep lists of some sort, for example. Unfortunately, I tend to lose lists after awhile. Even so, they frequently help me.

For very short term items, however, I frequently resort to displacing an article. Usually, it means throwing a box of tissues or something else that doesn't belong on the floor. That way, I'm sure to notice the object when I next get up from whatever I'm doing at the time (such as blogging), and it has never failed to remind me what it is I need to do. I always seem to recall why I put it there, and I usually tend to the chore then.

I think this temporary memory misplacement (of the mental todo list) to which I am prone tends to afflict males more than females (although Cuppa also resorts to the displaced object memory hook from time to time). Unfortunately, the task that we guys often lose track of is something that was requested by the missus. And I have observed (from afar, of course) most missuses find such temporary amnesia to be highly annoying.

So, although I recommend this displaced object technique for almost anybody, I especially suggest that males adopt it, especially with regards to those casual honeydo requests. We always intend to comply with such requests, and we always feel that we won't forget, but too often we do forget ... at least for long enough to really annoy that special someone. And it's really nice to keep Momma happy.

Wives, please feel free to share this to your husbands.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Foto Friday

Because they're at different stages of development, Zach doesn't quite get the same amount of publicity in this space as his sister. But it amazes me how much he is growing and changing. Yesterday, when we brought Nikki Dee home from an outing, Zach was sitting on the floor all by himself. In his little suit, he looked like a little boy and not just a baby.

Zach is now a happy and content six months old little fella and is quite happy to smile for the camera, which is a lesson he should pass on to his big sister.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday

What with me not feeling well last week, the younguns going away for the weekend, and two hectic days of us running hither, thither and yon, we haven't been seeing a whole lot of the grands lately. However, we did get a little visit late last week. Almost as soon as we arrived, Nikki Dee began jabbering about CAY (car), and then she began clamouring, "Shoes on, shoes on." She got her wish, and we ended up taking her out for ice cream. She quite enjoyed her treat, but then it was off to the usual Nikki Dee races, keeping Buppa and Amma very busy. TG for harnesses.

Monday, August 03, 2009

From Gramophone to Earphone

As a follow up to my recent post about the Walkman and its thirtieth anniversary, I would like to ask if anyone remembers gramophone players like those pictured to the left and down on the right. I do but not all that well, only vaguely. A gramophone something like that on the left stood in my grandfather's house, where I lived until I was about seven years old. As far as I know, it only played 78rpm records. I can only remember one particular song being played, a kid's song, Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, but I'm sure that there were more. I can remember that the good captain liked to feed his horse corn and beans and that he also liked the ladies in their teens for that was the style in the army. So maybe it wasn't actually a kids song after all. Who knows? I can also recall the story of Peter Rabbit being played for me. It bothered me to think of Mean Old Farmer McGregor chasing poor Peter, causing him to hide in a watering can and, consequently, also to catch a nasty cold. I didn't really like that story.

The cabinet would have been taller than little me, and as the photograph of the smaller player to the right shows (if you squint or better still click to view large), the head was a huge contraption that a kid couldn't work very well. What I forgot until now was that it was run mechanically by the crank handle that you can see on the side.

It must have remained at Grampa's house after we moved to our own flat until he passed away a few years later. I know it didn't come with us, and we had no record player at all for a few years. What I do remember is my parents eventually surprising me with the purchase of a portable player that would play 33's and 45's as well as the older 78's. It would have been something along the lines of the one pictured below. Believe it or not, my memory says that Cuppa brought a similar type of player into our marriage. However, Cuppa's memory does not necessarily coincide with mine other than the fact that there was some sort of record player that the kids used to play their Disney stories when they were quite young.

The era of the record player as a piece of furniture hadn't ended with the advent of the portable player, however. I guess it was a matter of form over function, but if a family had the funds and space, they would quite likely have opted for a large piece of furniture something like the cabinet pictured below. When I say form over function, it's because Cuppa's family had one of these furniture pieces, but she can't remember it being used to play music very often.

The next phase seemed to shift to function trumping form as people began buying component systems, the idea being that listeners should put their money into sound and not furniture. Eventually, Cuppa and I purchased a very decent component set. The following photo depicts that kind of component stereo system although ours was not as nearly as elaborate and grand. We still have it, but it now sits unused and derelict and gathering mold in our basement. We moved it with us across province with us four years ago, but when I began to re-attach the thing in our new digs, I discovered that the speakers had begun to disintegrate. So it shall remain in the nether regions of our domicile while we use our newer, multipurpose and much more inexpensive DVD/CD home entertainment system.

Onto the next phase: about four years ago, I found myself dithering and dithering over purchasing an iPod. I think my experience with the mini disc player that I mentioned in the previous post had whet my appetite, but it did seem like an extravagant outlay, so I dithered some more. I finally found one on sale and latched onto it, and I have found it useful. For example: sometimes, one wants to listen to music and does not want to inflict it upon others. Also, while I can appreciate that many don't share the same opinion, I sometimes find the in-my-ears experience to be more immediate and personal than a general broadcast. Under the right circumstances I tend to feel more connected to the music when it's right in my ears like that.

Cuppa and I find our iPods useful in a number of ways. After purchasing the pod, I also invested in a pair of small portable speakers, so if there's a reason to share our music, it's easily done. For example, when we go to the cottage, it's a snap to port our music with us. It was also easy to download a new fiddle tune and take it and my tiny speakers to a jam to let the rest of the group hear how it should sound. In addition, it's convenient for me to download a tune upstairs on my computer, put it on my iPod, shove the pod in my pocket, and take it downstairs where I can attempt to fiddle along with it. From the library, Cuppa borrows books on CD's that she rips and listens to in bed or elsewhere without keeping me distracted or awake.

The point of these ruminations, however, is not to extol the virtues of the iPod, for that's a matter of personal preference, but to stand back and observe the huge technological leap that I have witnessed: the contrast between the first gramophone that I recall and the modern, portable digital music player. It's a reflection of my personal experience and not meant to be the definitive history. If it were, I'd have to include ghetto blasters and who knows what all: perhaps even the short-lived, quadraphonic system that my friend purchased.

What a contrast! Within six decades we have moved from large pieces of furniture or at least cumbersome devices that operated mechanically and could play only one tune before someone had to change the record, to tiny portable devices. These little digital players could approximately fit on the label of an old 78 or 33 (see below), can store many hundreds of songs and can also play them back in any number of ways. They're very adaptable.

I wonder what can possibly be next.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Technological Anniversary

I really don't know what got me thinking about this topic — music players in my lifetime. Maybe it was reading something about the thirtieth anniversary of the Walkman; maybe it was simply down to the odd shuffle that is always randomizing inside my head. I never know what thoughts and images are going to pop up on my invisible-to-others screen, and I really don't seem to have much control over the playlist. Maybe it was reading about the anniversary of the Walkman. Maybe not.

Yes, it is now just over thirty years since Sony introduced this little miracle. I don't think any of us would have or could have predicted where this technology would end up (and maybe we still can't). We didn't even have computers back then for goodness sakes (although we were getting close to the revolution). From the way things have worked (i.e. Sony's diminished market share), it's more than probable that Sony's vision wasn't exactly prescient either. For just as they and their Beta format lost the VCR wars, Sony also seems to have become a minor player in personal digital players. However, I don't think we need to feel to sorry for this particular corporate giant.

On the BBC site, there's an article about a present-day kid familiarizing himself with the original, cassette-playing Walkman. He found it large and cumbersome and frustratingly limited as it could only hold about twelve songs per side. In fact it took him a while to realize that there could be another twelve songs on the other side of the tape. He also found the lack of a shuffle function rather disappointing. For awhile he'd hit fast-forward in an attempt to simulate a shuffle — until he was told of the fragility of tapes. He reported other problems as well: such as background hissing of the tape, a really short battery life, and the pant-pulling-down mass of the object.

I did own a Walkman, you know, pretty much like the one shown to the left, but it was not thirty years ago. In fact it was less than ten, sometime in the early part of this decade. It was a mini disc player. I guess I was talked into buying it when mp3 players were pretty new. I went to the local Future Shop to inquire about these newfangled things, but the salesperson who was a former student of mine steered me to the mini disc player. Although he may have been correct at the time, and it certainly sounded good in my ear, it was still limited as to the number of songs it could hold at any one time. While it wasn't a puny twelve per disc as in the early cassette player, it certainly wasn't the many, many hundreds of the iPod either. When my daughter left on a trip across the globe a few years later, she took my mini disc player rather than her iPod. and I don't know what happened to it, and it doesn't matter because I had my own iPod by then.

But the bulky, cassette playing Walkamn did start something, didn't it? Correct me if I'm wrong but I think that portable iPod or iPod-like devices have become the de facto norm for music listening for the majority of us the majority of the time: perhaps not the majority of the ancient types who tend to click into this old blogger's site, but still ...

Alright then, as I indicated at the outset, I was going to get into my own personal memories a little or music playing devices beyond my Walkman, but the reader's patience must not be tested too severely, so I'll save the rest for another day.