Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Eeriness

In the past little while, I've saved a few photos especially for this day. In keeping with the Halloween tradition, they all have a touch of eeriness. At least I think so. All but one were taken on a foggy morning in August, but I put them aside until now. Actually, when I say "morning", it was very very early — still night really. I simply woke up early, saw the fog, and decided to go out and shoot.

This "Face in the Tree" was shot recently.

Back to the foggy morning where I encountered some pretty creepy spider webs. Look at all of the webs in this picture. This is the bridge on our main street (cleverly called Bridge Street) over the Mississippi River (no not THAT Mississippi River) by townhall.

This final photo was also taken by townhall. I think it must win the creepy award for the day.

Eerily Yours

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hermione's New Home

One more and final post on the vehicle situation should just about do it.

About 40 years ago, I was in two accidents, a year or two apart at the time but close together in retrospect. One was deemed my fault, but I was rear-ended in the other. I was accident free until this summer when I was in two accidents. One was my fault; it involved a tree and no other vehicle; but, once again, I was rear-ended in the other.

Each of this years accidents involved photography. In the first, I was backing onto a grassy, treeless verge to park the car, so I could get a picture across the street. Except the the treeless verge wasn't ... treeless. The car was easily repaired, and off we went. The second accident also involved us wanting to stop to take a picture, but the guy behind didn't want to stop. /shrug/

Anyway, I am not about to give up photography, and here are some pics to prove it although Sue took the last two.

Getting ready to take Hermione (yes, that's her name) to her new home

A little later, we were about to take JJ for a little runabout. Notice the winter coat.
I was wearing it for the first time this season.

Our first passenger. I think he liked the ride. He has a new coat.

Behind the scenes of a CRV illusion ad. I only saw this after the purchase. It wasn't the reason for purchasing a CRV. I swear. Pretty neat: it's worth watching.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Fine Balance

Life is a balancing act. Both grands were working on their balance on Thanksgiving weekend.

Danica spent much of TG weekend learning to ride a two-wheeler. She didn't really want much help but just got on and worked and worked in the quiet dead end by the house. By the time we got there, she pretty well had it mastered. It isn't a long stretch, so turning around was a problem that was really slowing her down, but by the end of the weekend, she was doing oh so well. I was impressed with her determination and sticktoitiveness.

Meanwhile, little brother has been enrolled in hockey. As a Canadian lad, this is a good thing. But JJ is much more cautious about life and is the kind of guy who needs to warm up to something gradually. He was that way in swimming lessons this summer, dreading letting go. Toward the end of the two-week session, however, he did let go and surprised his teachers. Likewise, in these early days, he's way behind the other kids when it comes to skating, but hopefully, he'll soon get his bearings.

He looked good while still on dry land in shoes.

Steps were short and very hesitant.
Much time was spent alone both at and on centre ice.
He did receive much help and attention — to which he responded with reluctance.
The coaches even brought him to the net where he scored a goal.
Meanwhile, Danica ran about with great gusto.
These two children certainly respond to live differently. She jumps in with two enthusiastic feet, and he takes his sweet time warming up to new situations. There's room for both personality types, and I guess they'll both get where they need to go in the end.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Deal is Done and the New Girl is Home

So boys and girls, 23 days after the accident and 21 days after picking up our rental vehicle we are finally getting on an even keel.

I like that word: keel. Using it kind of floats my boat, even though I don't own one. It's a nifty trick.

The rental went back yesterday, and we picked up our new used CRV.

The two events coincided nicely as that was the very last day that insurance would fund a rental. Even then, I had to beg and plead for extra time.

Goodbye Jeep Patriot. You were good on the road but were found wanting in comfort and ergonomics. My back will not miss you although you tried your best.

The newcomer is black, just like the former CRV and also like the rental Jeep Patriot.

The CRV is pretty comfortable for us. We were quite willing to be thrifty and get into a Civic or something of similar size. We're all for economy for us and for stepping with the more favorable environmental footprint of a smaller vehicle; we really were. But you see, our backs think they are old, and they kicked up such a fuss.

Oddly enough, the CRV and Civic are just about the same width and length. I guess the extra height makes the CRV more comfy womfy.

Another limitation is that we live in Canada and like to use our garage in winter, but it's a small garage. Both small sedans like Civics and small SUVs like CRVs will fit. The somewhat larger Accord-size-vehicles would be too tight a fit if they fit at all. The CRV is tight enough as it is; Sue must exit the passenger side before I pull in or else she'd have to stay seated until spring. Being a kindly fellow, I would gladly bring her bread and water, however.

What is it with us and black SUVs? We never particularly want black but seem to have developed a penchant for ending up with same.

At least in automobiles, black shows the dirt more than white. It doesn't seem to make sense, but there it is.

We know about black and white and cars and dirt because we've owned both black and white vehicles and we allowed both of them to get dirty — at least once.

Owning both white and black cars must prove that we are either color blind or the opposite. I don't know which. Yes, I do. Hint: I am so left on the spectrum that I am pink.

Why are socialists pinkos and fascists rednecks? It doesn't make sense. What's wrong with purple or lavender for us left leaning types? (Just slightly left. Let's not go all political today, ladies and germs.)

Car hunting is not fun but making the deal is fun — about as much fun as getting a root canal, that is.

Our deal almost broke down over a difference of $350. I know it's a paltry amount when one is spending a fortune, but wars have been fought over less, and even Sweet Sue was getting pis ... er, ah ... annoyed at their negotiating tactics.

Obviously, we reached an acceptable solution for both sides with both getting what they wanted. Figure that one out.

What is with the $399 that dealers want to charge by default to get their extra special theft insurance? If you try to opt out, they squeal like their crown jewels are being absconded with. I suppose that hurts though. I know I would squeal if someone were to put the squeeze on my jewels and head for the door.

Around here, with sales tax, warranty extension,  PDI charges, and rust proofing (which is kind of necessary in the Great White North), you can easily add $5000 - $10000 to the cost of the car, which kind of makes a mockery of the sticker price and the low finance charges that the dealers post to entice the great unwashed into their showrooms.

A 13%  sales tax hit is a pretty doggonedly whoppingly humungous amount on top of a big ticket item. This is the price of being Canadian, but we are quite fond of our publicly funded health care, which we are rather in need of after forking over those taxes. Teapartiers would not be their normal happy, jolly selves up thisaway.

And then there's the financial finagling. To get the best interest rates we had to make sure the loan was over x dollars. Meanwhile, we were trying to balance good rates with keeping the monthly payments low enough that we could still afford milk, bread ... and the occasional pat of butter. Very occasional. Butter is overrated anyway.

We still don't have the insurance settlement in hand, but we have been able to cover that by some insider trading. Should I expect a knock on the door, or will they just knock it down?

Oh oh, I think I hear sirens.


This was our penultimate view of Harriet the Honda, aka Harriet the Chariot. Once we learned that she was destined for the scrap heap, we did visit her one more time to grab the stuff that she used to carry around for us. It was an emotional farewell. It's odd how one can get attached to a vehicle.

The rental jeep: she who will remain nameless. Also yours truly loaded with coffee mugs.

The new girl is being coy about her name. Will it be Hermione the Honda? Or maybe Harmony, or Holly. Suggestions? (Note: this is not she but a photo of same from the web.)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thru the Ceildow on the Estalot

Our recent hols were spent at one in-laws' place, and while there, we took a sidetrip to visit our other in-laws. These in-laws have a beautiful house, nestled in a large and beautifully wooded lot. In fact the lot is really too big to call a lot although it doesn't quite seem to reach estate status. Maybe it's an estalot.

Autumn was looking awfully fine in their estalot. Off the kitchen is a huge ... hmm ... what is it? Well, it's an awfully big, floor to ceiling window, which actually includes some windowed ceiling. So maybe it's a ceildow in an estalot house.

Here's ↓ the ceildow , so you go ahead and tell me what to call it. I'm just a guy afterall.

This is shot thru the ceildow ceiling. Pretty, eh?

And this is the reflection on the kitchen wall cast by the ceildow.

 A shot from the deck just outside the ceildow . Not a bad view with your morning coffee, eh?

Of course, the woods beckoned, and I took a little amble around.the estalot.

They have art and curiosity pieces strewn here and yon in their woodsy estalot. In this one, a teapot plays the fiddle.

The Grand Central clock on their little shed is an amusing juxtaposition because this tranquil place couldn't be much farther from the grand hustle and bustle.

As beautiful as their home in this estalot might be, the place is actually going to the dogs. Their two gorgeous King Charles Cavalier Spaniels really do live the life of royalty.

Occasionally, King Larry takes the royal spaniels for a stroll about the estalot.

All in all, I must opine that both in-laws and spaniels are living the good life.

Unfortunately, our visit ended with the sad news that our car was a write-off, so we headed into town from this tranquil interlude to retrieve whatever we wished from Harriet the Chariot, who was such a fine car for us for these past ten years. It was rather sad-making.

Knowing that we needn't hang about any longer, the next day, we packed up the rental and headed home in time to celebrate Thanksgiving Weekend. Despite, Harriet's untimely demise, there was much for which to be thankful.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sparking Spark

I haven't posted much of the grandkids lately. I've had several notions but not acted on them. Anyway, Danica's Sparks group held ceremonies for the parents, and grampa tagged along. The ceremonies were mostly for the newbies, but they were good to see anyway. As a tall, senior Spark she was relegated to the back row, but I managed to squeeze a few shots. Speaking of tallness, her parents reported that she has grown 3" since May. Yes, she is a long, tall Sally and about as sweet as a kid can be.

A quick pre-ceremony snap. She's always in such a bad mood. ;)

Proud flag bearer

The song required jumping, and so she jumped

The promise

A post-ceremony photo op

I had to get a flag pose at the end

A certain monkey got into the act

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Hastings Highlands

After visiting Egan Chutes, we continued west along hwy 28 and turned north at Boulter Road into the heart of the Hastings Highlands. Unlike much of the region with trees lining the roadsides, there are views to be seen along this road. Once upon a time, we seriously considered purchasing a property in this area. It was a lovely modern log house. However, we decided that it might be a little too remote for us.

The first photo was taken from the Community Centre on Fort Stewart Road. I never saw a fort, and I never saw much of a community, but I did see a nice view.

Driving back to Boulter Road from our brief sidetrip to Fort Stewart, I stopped to snap this photo, which seemed quite in keeping with the rurality of the region.

Just next door to the above photo, we spied this amusing sign on a garage.

A nice photo of a flaming solitary tree with some highland in the background.

The next photo was taken from a bridge on Boulter over the York River. This is the same river as the waterfall at Egan Chutes but farther upstream. Streams are very unpredictable in this country; they can go from being calm and navigable (for small craft) to raging torrents within a few miles.

Shortly after stopping at the bridge, we spied a little picnic area and pulled into it. This is not the York River but Fosters Lake. I wish there were more publicly accessible spots like this, but private property reigns paramount. We sat here for about 15 minutes, enjoying the view before going on to complete our circuit.

The western half of the loop was of the more typical forested backroad type. This final photo was taken either on Musclow Greenview Road or on the way to it.

And that was our scenic drive on October 01. October 02 featured our accident, and life has been less settled ever since. However, we seem to be getting on track and will have our paltry insurance settlement and a new-to-us car by the end of the week.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lower Faraday Road and Egan Chutes

After a week or so at the cottage, we bestirred ourselves to take a nice drive into the Hastings Highlands while the autumn colours were still showing nicely.

We started the trip by taking a backroad from Coe Hill to Bancroft rather than the standard highway route. We've driven this road before in autumn and are always pleased with what we see. Lower Faraday Road is not really in the Highlands, but it is always an autumn treat. In this first photo, we were about to drive under this rather splendid archway. How could one not stop to snap the shutter?

Still on Lower Faraday, I stopped the car and looked back for this next photo. The view didn't look so great in front of me, but I had a recollection that the view behind was a good one, and I was right. This occurred on October 01 2013. I find it good to mark the date whenever I fluke-ishly happen to be right about something. ;)

After a stop at Bancroft, we turned east on Highway 28 and stopped at Egan Chutes Provincial Park. It's a lesser known park, without attendants or entrance fees. We drove in on a bumpy road for a few minutes before we had to get out and walk the rest of the way. I took this photo while I was waiting for Sue to get herself organized for the hike.

The forested path ran alongside the York River. We both stopped to take photos, and this is one of mine. I was drawn by the combination of autumn colour, birch trees and reflections.

We were getting warm but plodded onward along the path, knowing that there was would likely be a treat at the end. Sue was happy to turn and wave to the camera.

We finally arrived at the falls or chutes at the end of the trail. For a younger more nimble person, there were many shots that could have been taken, but this old poop had enough trouble getting into position for this one. I had chosen not to carry my tripod on this trek, so I slowed my shutter speed to 1/8 second, which is pretty darn slow, and handheld the camera, hoping for decent results. Image stabilization technology worked pretty well to give me a bit of the silky water effect, which is what I was going for. I fuzzed (sorry for the overuse of technical terms) the trees on the far bank in post processing to draw more attention to the waterfall. I think it helped.

And so we come to the end of part one of our scenic tour. I had thought that I would cover the whole trip in one post, but I see that I have prattled on long enough for now.