Friday, April 29, 2016

Lo The Word was Gifted unto Me

Not so very long ago, I decided that my bookshelves were in need of reorganizing, which also involved a modicum of discarding. There were many items that I couldn't discard, however. Included in the list are quite a few bibles along with a few study aids such as concordances.

Yes, I have owned a number of bibles, and they aren't all in the photo, but these four are especially memorable, for they were all gifts.

The New Testament at the top right was the first: a gift from my mother for my ninth birthday in 1956. My father was also very religious, but he didn't get in on the inscription, so I think my mother saw this as a very special and personal gift. It may have been in recognition of me getting SAVED from my dastardly eight-year-old sins earlier that year although I had thought that momentous event had occurred a year earlier. Who knows at this point in time?

The next two on the left were both from the same year, 1968, and also for my birthday — my 21st. The blue one (that I gave too much space to in the photo) is the JB Phillips translation into modern English of the New Testament from my soon-to-be-at-the-time inlaws. The one below that is a spiffy-looking bible in the King James version. It was a full bible and a good size to carry around, which, of course, I did quite proudly back then whenever I went to church — which I did with regularity. It looked good too with that rich, brown leather cover and the gilt edging.

Finally, for this post at least: a study bible from Sue for our first anniversary in 1970. I remember being really pleased to receive it at the time.

Bibles, church, spirituality and religion were very important to me in the first half of my life. I would never have guessed that I would, on one distant day, become a non-believer. Nevertheless, all these bibles remain as treasured possessions. They are an important part of my history after all.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Generational Difference

The other night, Sue and I found ourselves at a gathering. We were the youngest at almost 70.

None of us, representing 5 households, had a smart phone. A few of us, perhaps all, had old-fashioned,  dumb cell phones, and I think all those who did just used pay-as-you-go cards because we really have them for emergencies — not necessarily dire emergencies, so let's say exigencies rather. I think you get my drift.

We all at the gathering used computers although very little for some, but they were in each of the homes. Some also have iPads or iPods. Like Sue, one lady uses her iPad for emergencies instead of a phone. That's what Sue does; her iPad has a cellular card while mine doesn't. So she usually takes her iPad with her when she's out, and I port the dumb cell phone.

So you see (don't you?), we're not simply old fuddy duddies or luddites who are totally out of it, but we have lived a long time without smart phones and can continue manage our lives without them. At this point in time none of us seemed to see the need to upgrade although I certainly wouldn't mind. It's an expense I can do without, however.

The younger generation, which seems to extend at least to folk in their forties live through smart phones, which have become GoTo devices. They go with them everywhere, and they use them habitually. Meanwhile, I still marvel at the computer. What a life-changer that was for me!

They aren't wrong. Neither are we. It's just a generational difference.

Oops, excuse me; my iPad just beeped, and then this geezer luddite is going to listen to an audiobook on his iPod. Speaking of iPods, back just over 10 years (or so) ago, I was the first in the family to own one. I even beat the kids to it. So there.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ashton General Store

In the tiny hamlet of Ashton lies a tiny general store. Or at least it did.

There has been a general store on this site since 1841, and it has included a post office since 1851. The present owners took possession in 2011, and since then it has served as a community hub for coffee, mail, general supplies, a small library, and ice cream in summer.

However, the ownership of the building has passed on after the death of the previous owner, and they have given the store owners notice. In fact, as of yesterday, the place is closed.

I am not sure what the plan is for this building. Do they prefer it to sit vacant, or do they have a new purpose in mind? Time will tell.

I've often wanted to poke my nose inside but never got around to it. However, as we passed through Ashton this past week, I couldn't resist making a stop.

Of course, I had to snap a few photos, which I attempted to give a somewhat old feel in post processing.

Bonus Afterthoughts

Here is the place from the outside, at least a side view. I don't know why I didn't take a frontal shot, but I think I have done so in the past. Sue and Danica have just exited. The sign says, Est 1851, but other info I cam across said 1841 and post office since 1851. It's a long tradition either way.

And just across the street, something very different.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Early Spring Flowers

For a number of years, I grabbed and posted photos of short-lived crocuses. They are the earliest flowers and the harbingers of spring for me. Due to weather and rabbits, I haven't done so well for the past couple of years, but I managed a few shots this time.

I don't have a macro lens, but do have a set of ring adapters to help me get closer. The result is a very tight focus with the rest of the frame becoming blurred quickly. This first photo is lightly processed: pretty close to what came out of the camera.

I upped the processing in the next two photos with various effects, including textures.

Then, I wandered across the street to the neighbour's garden. She has more crocuses with varied colours, but they were a little more spent than mine, and they were also in the unforgiving, bright sunlight, so I didn't bother. However, I did take this one of heather in bloom. We tried heather in our garden at one point, but it didn't do well for us. Looks great in hers though.

The daffodils will be next, perhaps as early as next week. We don't have many tulips, but perhaps I can piggyback on the neighbours again.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nine Years Old

Danica had her ninth birthday yesterday. I remember when it was just about All Danica on this blog, but times have changed. But today, it is All Danica once again.

First, I have gotten in the habit of printing a collage on the kids' birthdays using photos from the past year.

To start the day, Gramma gave her a new dress.

Then, we went to her mother's work. In the first photo she is carrying flowers for Mom's new office. In the next two, Danica insisted on the grand tour, which included meeting various of Mom's co-workers. Danica was in her glory, meeting all of these folks, some fpr the first time.

After that, we went out for lunch.

Later, after driving back into our town, our meal had digested enough that we could enjoy dessert at DQ.

Finally, came family, supper, cake and gifts.

(I went for a bit of a retro look on this one.)
What a nice day! We don't always have good weather on her birthday at this time of year, but it was fine yesterday. She doesn't always get the day off school, but since JJ was on a field trip that day, it seemed right for her to have a day off.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New Beginnings

I don't do memes. I don't do groups and prompts. I just don't. Except I am now doing a meme.

Last week, I became aware of a tsunami of sorts when a few presently-reluctant-but-once-prodigious bloggers all began to post. What?!

Apparently, they and others, still hang out on FB and got to wondering why they stopped blogging and began opining that they should start again. Somehow, I got invited along the way, and my unjoining/ungroupie self has decided to join and group.

While I never stopped blogging, my blog certainly changed over the years, and to some degree, although not entirely, I stopped writing.

When I first began to blog, back in 2003, although photos soon popped up on my blog, my posts were mostly prose. Over time, I shifted to a marked photo emphasis. Oh, a few posts are still heavier on the writing, but not many.

Anyolehow ... this new group of Comeback Bloggers (yes, that's the name) plans to post a topic per week, and members have that week to come up with their contributions. The first topic is appropriate for those who have fallen by the blogging wayside: Why Did You Start Blogging in the First Place.

I was still fairly early into my retirement years and found my interests often revolved around the computer. For one thing, I had taken an interest in coding web pages and had taken a few online courses. I had also been teaching myself Photoshop. One day, an email list that I had subscribed to mentioned Blogger and how easy it was to set up a blog. And so I clicked on the link to Blogger, set up a page, and have been posting ever since.

In the early days, I sometimes wrote at length, comparatively speaking at any rate. For example: my third entry, A Jumble of Late Night Thoughts About Good Teachers and Associated Things, was 13 paragraphs long. I don't expect anyone to go back to it now, but to get a bit of the flavour, here is a little excerpt.

"I don't think, heck I know, that most people have no idea just how good the average teacher is: the guy or gal who is probably teaching thirty kids for four to five hours per day. Most of us keep most of them moderately entertained, moderately on track, do a pretty fine job of babysitting; and we teach them a heck of a lot of important stuff while we're at it. Through it all, students accumulate skills and knowledge, develop their intellects, learn of their strengths and weaknesses. They learn despite shortcomings: theirs and/or ours. The average teacher is quite proactive in challenging and developing up to or more than thirty young minds at a time for those four or five hours a day. Calculate how long it takes for you to prepare a ten minute speech, and think upon that. Let that inform you about the strength of the average teacher who does yeoman service for many hours each day: the one whom we don't bother to call good."

Once the grandchildren came along, I shifted to more photocentric postings, partly because they were so darn cute and deserved public adulation and partly because I spent a lot of time with them, babysitting full time for about 4 years and seemingly always being on call with less time to string coherent thoughts together. At the same time, my interest in photography even increased and Blogger had made posting photos much easier, so the shift was natural. (Note: posting photos was not always easy in the early days.)

Frankly, for the most part, I have let my writing slide. While I expect my blog to remain generally photocentric, I could certainly use a weekly prompt to nudge the gray matter into putting a few words and thoughts together. This may be a lot to ask of myself as I slip further into my dotage and risk destroying my keyboard with the drool that now courses from my quivering lips as my enfeebled brain searches desperately for the right words that become more and more difficult to retrieve.

Oh, by the way in case you can't tell: I have a wacky sense of humour and kid a lot, or at least a little. I kind of slip it in and may seem serious, and I think that some people don't necessarily catch on. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Alternative Reality

There is always an alternative — or almost always at any rate, At a base level, we choose what to wear today and what to make for dinner. At a high level, it's what you choose to make the world a better place, whether it be the world at large, the world around you, or your own personal world.

Aside: Of course, there is a growing conviction among scientists that no one has a real choice and that each supposed decision is predetermined by the combination of our genetic makeup plus our experiences. But I am not sure that I agree with that, and, anyway, it certainly feels like we have choices and alternatives.

That all sounds cerebral, but it was just a wayfaring preamble to showing alternatives in photos.

You may remember this photo although it certainly isn't very memorable. I really shot it for the HHT (Happy Truck Thursday) meme on Flickr.

In taking the shot, my vantage wasn't great as I peered down from the road. So I shot it from several alternative angles and chose to post the one that looked best to me. (There is a lesson there; don't just take one shot, but try a few angles, but that's a digression).

After posting that, though, I wanted to see what it would look like with an alternative crop as well as in alternate monochrome.

I don't like one any better than the other, but I enjoyed processing and looking at both. Alternatives enrich our lives.

Here's another example. I posted the kids dancing in my previous post.

But, alternately, for yet another Flickr meme — HSS or Happy Slider Sunday — I walked on the wild side and came up with this sort of alternate reality rendition.

Alternatives can be fun, or at least mildly amusing.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dancing in the Streets

Although they did play outside in the snow a few times during winter, yesterday was the first time this spring where it had been nice enough to play outside. Barely nice enough, but still ...

They turned the radio on, and there was dancing in the streets ... or at least in the neighbours' driveway.

And the forecast is for better.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Yesterday and Today

Just two quick picks from yesterday morning before school.

Hockey season in over for JJ, but he shows off his certificate signed my all the players of Canada's [international] junior team.

Meanwhile, Danica was playing photographer.

This was one of her photos.

This morning, for the first time in forever, the sun was at an angle to strike my monitor. I had to close the blinds. Progress (although I don't like having to close the blinds).

Friday, April 08, 2016


I saw this on FB the other day and was just reminded of it on another blog, so, this time, I grabbed the image.

Even though I didn't do anything with it when I first saw the image, it did stick with me: to the point where I used the same joke on Sue. Verbally, it was a weak attempt at humour to be sure, and I had to explain to my perplexed wife what I was on about.

Anyway, as humourous as the message may or may not be, it is not true, for I was reminded of Danica when she was still in JK (junior kindergarten).

Danica was a very early reader. One day she picked up something that I or someone had written down. Up until then, she had only read standard printing. But darned if she didn't read the cursive without a hitch.

She was so advanced that she was sometimes picked to read in assemblies, even when she was still in kindergarten, but the odd and somewhat disappointing thing is that she is not, presently, an avid reader.

We shall see what the future holds.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A Second Helping of Images from Wheelers

I posted of last weeks birthday brunch with our relatives at the Maple Sugar Camp, concentrating mostly on people photos. Naturally I have more photos, and, quite naturally, you are pining to see them.

Above: the Forest & Farm Heritage Museum, containing the chainsaw exhibit (below). Henry's Garage to the far right houses a vintage vehicle that I show two photos below.

A little known fact: Crocodile Dundee spent his best years in the Canadian wilderness.
This is the vehicle inside Henrys Garage. Because there's a barrier in the way (see photo above), it is difficult to get a photo. I switched my camera to Live View, hung it over the barrier, and snapped three photos to cover the whole vehicle. I later merged them into a panorama in Lightroom and applied processing in ON1.
I have been to Wheelers so many times, that it isn't easy to get new photos, but I have never taken this shot before. I like the light and framing.
Inside the other museum, the Maple Syrup/Sugar one, I found two items that I hadn't previously noticed.

Sitting outside before our parting, I took this photo of reflections in the truck's grill.

Several miles past Wheelers, just before we turned on the main road back toward home, I stopped to take this photo of a truck that has apparently been put to rest down in a little hollow. I had noticed the truck on our way to Wheelers and managed to keep it in my deteriorating mind to take a picture later.

And for good measure, here is a pic of Brian and me at brunch that I could have posted at the beginning, but I wasn't sure that I was going to use it. I should have been wearing my cap too, but I had left it in the car. I processed it in a gritty way to suit two aging men.

Monday, April 04, 2016

The Sisters

Some people are just better than others. I mean this from the point of view of being kind, caring, considerate, compassionate — the type of people who genuinely wish the best for others and who are willing to extend their helping hands in meaningful ways.

Both Sue and Heather are such people. I am so fortunate to be married to Sue and to, therefore, also be Heather's brother-in-law. When they are together, the good times roll, and there is abundant giggling and laughter.

I have already posted of our meetup at Wheelers, where Heather and Brian were willing to make more than 2 hour hour drive just to treat Sue to a birthday brunch and celebrate her birthday. This is a photo that I took then.

I would also like to link you to a blog post that Heather wrote in honour of Sue: The Jewel I Know. It's really sweet.

Last but not least, I am linking you to Heather's entry in a short story competition held by The Australian Book Review. Her story Butterfly as Metaphor received a judges' commendation and is their featured story of the month. Beyond saying that it's both touching and brilliant, I can't describe it meaningfully. You just have to take the 15-20 minutes to love it. Heather writes differently, so stick with it beyond the first few paragraphs, and you'll be rewarded. Here's the link one more time.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

The Birthday Finale

The finale (surely the finale) to Sue's birthday celebrations took place on April 1 when we met Heather (Sue's sister) and Brian at Wheeler's Maple Syrup Camp and Pancake House.

It is out in the country, about a 45' drive from our place and about 2 hours from their cottage, so we thought to meet up for a few hours.

Part of the dining room, empty after the lunch hour crowd had moved on.

The sisters always enjoy each other's company.

Our server stuck a candle in a special pancake.
They gifted Sue with a nice, funky bit of bling.
Afterwards, as always, we toured around: maple syrup on the boil.
Brian in the museum
A small bit of the Chainsaw Museum: nothing but chainsaws.

We walked the trail: lots of rock on the Canadian Shield

Heather horsing around
Finally, we sat by the huge picnic table, not in a hurry to take our parting.
It was a great meetup: must do it again sometime.