Friday, April 30, 2021

Swept Out of Bed

To say the least, that was weird!  We were watching tv when out of the corner of my eye I I thought that I saw strange lights out on the street, and they seemed to emanate from trucks turning around and around. What the heck?!

This was around 7 o'clock. Full of curiosity, we paused the program, went to the patio door, and confirmed that, indeed, there were trucks turning around and around. 

With this better view, we soon discerned that there were 4 street sweepers plus a little truck to guide or follow them. What the heck?! Four? Sweepers? In the evening?

They went south, down the street, past the traffic lights. Thinking that was the end of the weird show, we settled back into our program. 

Lo and behold! A few minutes later. we were caused to spring from out chairs yet again. They were back, heading north this time. They drove out of sight; surely they were done.  

And they were done, but only for a few hours, as it eventuated.

As usual, Sue trundled off to bed early, and put in her earbuds to listen to a podcast. Shortly thereafter, ~10 o'clock, alerted by quite a racket she heard above her podcast, she jumped out of bed, thinking that she was hearing a helicopter passing over. This does happen from time to time as the hospital's helipad lies just over yonder.

Somewhat incredulously, she notified me that the same four trucks, plus their minder, were passing yet again. Apparently, they made one more subsequent pass, but I missed that one as I was then elsewhere in the house doing other things.

Four sweepers! Turning around! Going up and down! For several hours! In the evening!

I have never seen the like.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

We Fight On

I know, I know. COVID, ugh. But it was time for me to have a look at the present situation and trends in Ontario. Therefore, I jot it down for you but will understand if readers choose to avert their eyes. 

The COVID situation in Ontario remains alarming, but there may be hope. 

As for the alarming part, according to this article (a short read), "875 people with COVID-19-related illnesses [are] being treated in Ontario's ICUs, with 589 of those requiring a ventilator." Those are current  ICU numbers only. Who knows how many genuinely active cases there are, for tracking must be problematic. However, there may be up to 47 000 cases still ongoing in the province in some way. Looking at it that way, the percentage of those needing acute care is less than 2% of total unresolved  cases, so that at least is somewhat encouraging.

A concomitant of these ICU numbers is overcrowding so that some patients have to be moved to other hospitals, and they can be far away. For example: some Toronto patients have been airlifted to Ottawa, an hour's distance by plane and 4 hours by car. This is a hard thing: "As we're loading ambulances to leave, we're finding family members lined up on the sidewalk, shouting goodbyes and taking photos — trying to catch a glimpse of their mom or their dad."

In the same article, there is a 1 minute video of a patient being moved into an ambulance. I find it both sobering and emotional.

On a somewhat positive side, the lockdown plus innoculations seem to be having an effect. Just a week or so ago, the provincial new case numbers had skyrocketed to almost 5000/day. Lately, they have fallen to under 4000 with only 3480 yesterday. While that number is hardly an only, trends are relative to what has preceded them.

The red trend line at the very right show that new cases are declining.

There is more positive news. More than 4.5 million or 30+% of us have had the first jab, and it is projected that 80% of age 16+ will have their first dose by June 14. It is important to stay the course for the next two months..

It's not so good everywhere, India is in dire straits, gaining 1 million more cases every three days. It wasn't so long ago that some nitwit on social media was saying how wonderful that country was doing with hundreds of millions not wearing masks. Alas, it was too early for that COVID-denying anti-masker to crow with a juvenile post. 

As this sad scene transpires, I understand that India continues to allow super-spreader, religious events. I will bite my tongue and not offer further comment on that point.

If all of this isn't sobering enough, I leave you with a photo of the cremation pyres burning. Apparently, they can hardly keep up.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021


I have been awake for two hours already. I am not sure why although I was in some mild discomfort. Moved over to my chair and stuck a podcast in my ears — to no avail.

Eventually, I went downstairs, toasted some cheese bread and gave Lacey her morning tuna, about 4 hours ahead of the usual time.

Now what? I dunno.

It is garbage day, and I will get that ready to put out by about 9, but I'm not going to rustle about now because Beloved is still in repose and will be for quite some time.

Happily, I suppose, this early rising has given me something to say on a day when I thought I had finally run out of blather.

I am also going to post (below) my new version of the pink moon with the reflections on the river.

I had thought to do it anyway and likely would have, and then a reader noticed that the reflection seemed to be misplaced vis-a-vis the moon in the original version which I posted yesterday. That rendition was the way that it really was because of the off kilter angle from which I had to shoot. I was on the riverbank, but the moon rose way off to my right over the opposite bank, and I wasn't going to get into the water to find a better angle, 

By the way, this is approximately the spot where I ruined my camera last September, so here I was $2000 later back at the same spot. So yeah. I stayed out of the water. But I was right on the edge I tell ya.

So what do you do? Well, I posted as I saw the scene because one tries to reflect reality (did I just pun?). On the other hand, if I could have been in a different position of perhaps a few hundred yards, I would have seen the reflection aligning less jarringly with the moon and something more like this new adjusted version.

With a little more work in post, I managed to move the reflection.

I am still not sure if I got it, the reflection, placed exactly right (I have trouble visualizing these things aright), but it is better than it was.

A lot went into the photo. First came the waiting and then the two exposures. Then came the original blending in post in which I enlarged the moon slightly because that's was how it felt to me. Finally, I have now aligned the reflection, at least better than it was.

They say that you don't take a photo but make a photo. This one required more making than usual. I guess I learned something in the process although I am not sure what. Maybe it was more of a practising of skills rather than learning.

And now it is almost 6. The sky is brightening although my brain is not.

It is time to edit and polish the above although I seem to always miss something.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Pink Moon over the Treetops

I had read that the full moon was to rise last night — the so-called Pink Moon. Alexa told me it would occur around 11:30pm. While that is rather late to stumble around in the dark, I was willing to make the effort. However, I was saved when Alexa later, to the question framed differently, told me that the moon would rise at 7:40. 

It was discrepancy that made sense when I thought about it. The moon would rise at 7:40 but technically wouldn't be full until 11:30. It's much like the equinox. We call the whole day when the sun is  directly above the equator, The Equinox, but if you ask Alexa (or Siri or Cortana or whomever and whatever), she will give you the precise moment that the sun reaches fullness.

I had picked out a spot by the river where Danica and I had spotted the moon back at Christmas. It had then been directly across the river from us. However, the earth tilts differently in April, so the moon rose farther downriver. I was barely able to make photos from my chosen vantage point, but I managed.

From my observation point, the moon didn't rise at 7:40 because it had to climb over the trees.  I didn't begin to see it until after 8.

While, of course, I wanted the moon to be clear of the trees across the river, I was also happy to take photos of the rising.

All along, I had wanted the treetops in the photo(s) and not just the moon because I like context in my photos, if possible. However, by the time that Pinky cleared the trees, it was so bright that s/he came out as an overexposed, white circle. I began to take two exposures, a lighter one for the scene and a darker one for the the moon. I then blended them in post.

I had got the shot that I had come for of the full moon over the trees, particularly the photo below. While it is not the most spectacular lunar photo ever, I did the best I could at that location that night with the equipment at my disposal.

The treetops are subtle, but they're there.

In the process, I did take a different photo to get the context of the location and particularly the reflection on the river. Once again, it's a two-photo merge.

By zooming out so much to incorporate the whole scene, Pinky looked pretty small: smaller in camera than what I felt that I was seeing with my eyes. I therefore decided,to embiggen her (above), just a tad, in that one photo.

So often, the full moon occurs on a cloudy night when it is obscured or too early in the day when it is still too bright, so I lucked out to some degree. The location didn't give me the very best angle, but the results were fair, enough, and I am not disappointed.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Split Toning

When I posted the above re-edited photo last week, I didn't post the bw version that I had also made at that time.

While it does get a pass, I didn't and still don't like it as much as the colour version, so I neither printed nor posted it.

Later however, I decided to apply just a wee bit of split toning to the bw version. Very slightly, I added blue to the shadows and orange to the highlights. I think it adds just enough more life to make the photo more interesting.

Most would probably not notice the split toning if they hadn't been made aware, but it did make a positive difference — to my old eyes, at least.

I might even consider printing it at some future point.

The main thing with bw photos, IMO, is to not post bws adjacent to the colour photo as I do here and often. It's best to let them stand or fall on their own merit. 

I should heed my own advice, but that's no fun.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Strange Times

How do you do this COVID thing in your lil ole lives? Living with the pandemic, I mean.

Many of you are past our country's stage of being in the third wave and consequently, the third lockdown, so your lives are probably closer to normal that ours. As you know, we are in lockdown, but by golly, you can't let the cat starve. I needed to order her monthly food bag.

In the previous lockdown, I was able to call the store, and they set aside the order. I then phoned when I arrived. They put it out on a table, and I picked it up. Easy peasey. 

This time the method had changed. This time when I called, they told me that I was now to order online, making sure not to pay online because that would mean they would ship the order from elsewhere, and that would take time. Once I did the online thing, the store would be notified, and once they readied the order, they in turn would notify me.

I am still flexible (in spirit at least), and it worked out well enough.


I also have a jumpy mouse, which has nothing to do with the cat and is driving me to distraction. Not in my bed although I have experienced that too, albeit in the distant past. Nuff said.

No, I refer to the computer mouse. It's jumpy. I will move the mouse pointer to make a click but the silly mouse has a mind of its own and will jump around willy nilly. More than once these random perambulations have caused me to inadvertently close the browser and lose my place in the online universe.

Still stuck with a tethered mouse, I also want a cordless one so that if I am watching something on YouTube late at night from my distant chair, I can click to the next clip without having to get up. You see, I sometimes endeavour to lull myself to sleep that way, and it doesn't help if I keep having to get up and down. My theory is that I could work the cordless mouse right from my easy chair. Time will tell.

Confidently onto the Staples website went I, knowing the process there already. It works like the pet food store. You order online. If the store has the item in stock, you can pick it up in about two hours. If not, they will ship it within two days. This particular "Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie," (thank you Robbie) will require shipping.

Aarrgghh! The jumpy mouse just caused this post to close again. Fortunately, Blogger does a great job at continuously saving the post as I write it.

The thing is, even though I have an online Staples account, I have to input my store every single dadblasted time that I visit the site. They do maintain all of my data on file, including my address, but they seem to want me to travel to a store in Toronto for pickup. It's a strange thing, I tells ya. Why the website defaults like that, I know not. It's not even nearby Ottawa where they try to send me. Go figga.

But these are strange times. I am telling you that, just in case you don't already know.

Saturday, April 24, 2021


Does this interminable pandemic have you languishing? Apparently, it is a recognizable condition. The esteemed NYT even wrote about it here, and I offer a few snippets from the article.

Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.

As scientists and physicians work to treat and cure the physical symptoms of long-haul Covid, many people are struggling with the emotional long-haul of the pandemic.

It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. ... You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work.

I think the simple antidote (oops, I had anecdote there), both partial and temporary, is to do something. On Thursday, after picking up cat food, we went for a drive. The bitter cold and wind doesn't appeal to us for walking, but the little drive was a welcome diversion.

Then yesterday, we did something that has not been unusual for us. We picked up breakfast from MickeyDees and took it to the park. I know we have done this a lot over the months, but we aren't there every day by any means or even every week come to that. So, that kind of little outing continues to provide a break and help reduce our languishing.

Once again it was cold and windy, but at least it was sunny. On this cold day, the sun warmed the car to the extent that we were obliged to crack open the windows.

Being in a languishing state of mind, we both forgot to take the usual selfie, which probably cheers the readers greatly. I mean, you must be tiring of those photos.

I was taken with this tree, however. To get past signage, I got as close as I could and took two photos in vertical mode and merged them in post. Due to the perspective, the background is wonky, but it is an impressive tree. I may return at some point with my wide angle lens to try another photo. The sidelight at mid morning seems like a good time for light and shadow variation.

I love it when the trees are just feathering out. That's my word, but you're welcome to use it. In the feather stage you can still sone the bones of the tree. You can use that word too if you like. Looking the other way, toward the park, there were more trees in this stage. 

It was a nice, little break. Hopefully, we'll get out more as the weather improves and before the trees get too leafy. Happily, we did have those early, freakishly warms spells to also break our languishing.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Glory be to Hanna Hats

Once upon a time, I commuted to school with two family studies teachers who informed me that there is a difference between hats and caps. In deference, I try to use the right word, but not when alliteration beckons to my muse (see title).

When I posted this ↑ of me in my cap, fellow blogger, Pipe Tobacco, inquired about it.

I bought the cap at the Irish and Scottish shop in Ottawa. It is a fairly weighty cap, best worn in spring and fall but not in hotter summer or in the deepest cold of winter. While it would work for some of the winter, particularly in the milder country from which it hails, I don't wear much in that season because clashes greatly my red coat. Besides, I have caps which suit winter well, including one with ear flaps for the coldest days — actually two, but I don't like the style (or lack) of one of them.

Even in spring and fall, it clashes with my other spring/fall jacket which is a red-black check. As much as I can, though in these seasons, I wear the more neutral khaki jacket, above, just so I can wear this hat, because I do like it.

Indeed, it is a Hanna Hat from good ole Donegal in good ole Ireland. I will leave up to Mr Pipe to pursue inquires ... or not.

Yes, AC has a big head. Too bad about the small brain.

I think Pipe also asked about lighter-weight, summer hats caps. They aren't as ubiquitous in my experience, and I searched fruitlessly for years. However, I finally found this one  ↓ at the same store and from the same company. 

This ↓ photo was unplanned, but the shirt is a good match. I also have a mask that is also a pretty close match. I should get a photo of the three items together. Perhaps on another day, for I am still in my jammies.

I also purchased another tartan-style cap on the same day as the red one, above. While it isn't quite as snazzy, I like it too.

Speaking of jammies, this was a phone selfie taken just a few moments ago. All that I do, I do for you. Eh?

Thursday, April 22, 2021

An Order and an Edit

Last week I was contacted by a lady who had seen my photos at the cafe (where I haven't been for six months) and wondered about purchasing a few prints for her husband's birthday. She was looking for photos not necessarily like the ones hanging at the cafe at that time but specifically for recognizable places in our town that were also on the brighter side.

Hmm ... bright photos could be a problem because photographers tend to take a lot of photos in lower light toward the beginning or end of daylight hours. I dragged a few possibilities into a separate Flickr folder for her to peruse and also suggested a few of my other albums that she could look at.

She made good choices with these two photos. Both the one of the railway station with the peonies in foreground and the one of town hall in golden hour qualify. They are both of recognizable places and are bright enough.

Her third choice of the whitewater by the old mill puzzled me.

While the photo of the mill is in keeping with the recognizable features theme, it didn't seem to qualify as bright. Also, the crop would not have matched the other two photos; it is closer to square while the others are closer to a 3x2 ratio, which also meant that I couldn't print it as large.

I went to work. Going back to the original photo I uncropped it. I had cropped it, particularly on the right because there were many stray and distracting branches. I then photoshopped the branches away as best I could and also tried to give the photo a bit more pop.

Although I had been somewhat surprised by her choice, I must say that the final print actually looks very good. Prints can be that way, very often looking more appealing than their digital counterparts, especially when the print is a fair bit larger than the online version.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Clouds Rolled In and the Light Went Out

When we were sitting in the enjoying our coffee (and donuts) after Sue's jab (which I was just told is a jag in Scotland, which for some reason pleases me to now end) we spotted the sun highlight cattails over yonder between the trees. It looked good, and since I had my camera in the car, I decided to amble over.

However, as soon as I exited the car, clouds covered the sky or at least the portion over the reeds. You can see the gloom in Sue's phone photo as I headed over. The patch to which I am referring is just to the right of my hat. It is plain to see that they were no longer exactly bathed in light. Sigh.

I got over there and waited and waited. Oh, I probably didn't wait all that long, but as I kept eying the sky, the return of Miss Sunshine did not exactly seem imminent, and I wasn't in a mood to wait for a  long time. I might have persisted longer, but it was also cool and miserably windy, and I am nothing if not a wimp.

The sun did peek out a bit, briefly, but not in the way that we had seen it in the car. I took a photo and brightened it in post to give the general idea, but it is not the same as what we had seen.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

COVID Birthday and Jab

We did manage to have a little time with Danica on Sunday. We Sue set up a table at the front of the garage where we could put her meagre but good swag and then step way back. We were well beyond the usual 6', so I think we kept in the spirit of no gatherings of multiple households. Besides, we kept the meeting, such as it was, very brief.

She opened her gift, earrings with diamonds, very small diamonds, and they were soon on their way.

I endeavoured to make a garage photo taken at a distance as nice as possible

It was something, and something is better than nothing. Eh?


Yesterday, Sue received her own very fine gift: her COVID jab.

Going In: The Excitement Mounts

The Jab and the Reaction

Post Jab Celebratory Coffee

Monday, April 19, 2021

Happy Birthday to the Poor Chicken

Once when Danica was younger, Sue told Danica that I wasn't feeling well. Danica replied, "Aw, the poor chicken."

Now I must say likewise to her on this her 14th birthday. The Poor Chicken.

Last year, she entered her teenage years, and that should have been a momentous birthday. But no! We were in the first lockdown, and she couldn't see her friends. We did manage a small get-together in our garage on a rather nippy day, but let's face it, parents and grandparents are not are not quite the same as peer friends who are very important in a teen's life. It's just the way it is, and we remain loved, so it is okay.

You know the rest. School is shut down again, as is everything that can reasonably be shut down. We are no longer to meet with other households, even if we keep outside and to a maximum of five people as before. So, we won't even be having a garage 'party' this year.

I was able to scrounge enough photos from the few visits that we had during this past year, mainly when COVID took a little break during the summer. We had a sleepover and a visit or two, and did a few little photoshoots. As the kids get older and we see them much less than we used to anyway, and there are fewer photo ops, but they really dropped off last year due to COVID.

But there is still a collage.

And there is a card.

Front (and Back)

Unfortunately, neither the 'garage' nor 'celebrate with' parts still apply.

We couldn't wish for a nicer granddaughter and do feel badly for what she is missing this year. I love this kid to bits.

Before I end this post, and as an afterthought, here are a few photos from previous birthdays.

In 2014, a princess showed up for the party.

In 2016, we kept her out of school and took her into the city to visit her mother who took us out for a Chinese lunch.

The girl loves tacos. In 2018, she had a taco-shaped cake.

 It was a more standard cake in 2019, but it was pretty rich.

And finally . .  . last year in the garage. I didn't consider then that this year would be even more restrictive.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

To Contrast or not to Contrast

Yesterday, one blog friend noticed that my truck in the rock photo was lacking contrast. Indeed, she was correct. Somehow, I posted a somewhat earlier iteration than my final version.  I have reposted it below and the intended one below that, so you can see the difference. The darks are a bit darker and some of the lighter grays on the truck have been boosted just a tad. Good eye, Mage.

Generally speaking, it is best that b&w photos have a good tonal range although there are exceptions. Some of the minimalist winter photos that I posted a while back were not at all contrasty. It is also true to some degree in this woodland photo taken from the same year as the above pictures. There is not too much deep black in the scene.

Meanwhile, permit me to wrench you back to the present with the colour photo that I made of Lacey, just yesterday. I was sitting in my living room chair and she in hers, and quite frankly, I just snapped if you will permit a little dad/grandad humour.

She does not look best pleased, does she?

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Revisiting Older Photos from Another April

It has been rainy for a few days, and since I also feel restricted by lockdown, I have taken to re-editing old photos. Mainly, since this is April, I have been opening April files from other years. I found significant local flooding just two years ago, which I put in our local FB as a reminder, but I didn't reprocess them. Then, I came to a folder from way back in 2015. We were at the cottage with our in-laws. The ladies went out for the day, so my brother-in-law and I hit the rural roads with our cameras.

On a very rural road at the far end of a property, we saw a truck embedded in the Precambrian rock. There is also a bicycle on a ledge (look to the left) and a tricycle below at ground level along with some Christmas decorations. The original photo was vertical and covered a lot more area from bottom to top. I cropped deeply and converted to b&w. In this case, I think monochrome allowed me to emphasize the textures better.

Later along the same road, I took this detail photo of a rusty latch on an old shed. In the new edit, I opted to render the background boards to b&w but left the colour in the latch, I also cropped this one but not nearly so much. I had the latch more centered in the original but cropped a bit off the top and right to get it into this offset position which I find more pleasing.

Finally, for today anyway, I converted a photo of a disused Community Centre into b&w and also cropped some from the left as there were just more trees over there, and I wanted to bring greater focus to the building.  I love the result. Oh . . .  I almost forgot to mention that I swapped the sky which was just a solid blue in the original version. I just wanted a little more interest up there. I had almost forgotten that I had done this.

Not so very long ago, I had no inkling that I would become so interested in b&w photography, but I have been finding that I can often push the editing more than I can in colour and focus , and at least sometimes draw greater attention to where I want it to go. I have been enjoying the process.

All three of these photos have been cropped in the re-editing: the first one of the truck in the rock especially. I like to think that these six years later my vision in-camera has improved and that I would now take photos that would require less cropping afterward. However, although one can sometimes crop in camera, it is less natural and takes extra steps because the camera defaults to a traditional 4x6 format, like you see in postcards.

We both took many images that day, and I most certainly liked a lot of them and how I edited them six years ago, and I see no need to re-edit them. But going back to then from now, gave me a different perspective on some of them.

Largely for my own benefit, here are a few links to blog posts from back then. Both of these posts centered on photos of a single piece of heavy machinery that we came across elsewhere on the same road.

Working the Scene and Working the Darkroom

I was really surprised to discover that I made a slideshow of the machinery photos and actually went as far as including a soundtrack: The Champion in a Slideshow

Friday, April 16, 2021

Old and New Again

With nothing else to post today, I remembered that I had this photo in the queue: an old pic of town hall composited into the modern scene.

The river view has changed a lot. All of those buildings below and to the left are long gone. The right side was also quite industrial at one point.

I have previously posted two other old and new photos here and here.

I would be fine with not having a post for a day or even longer, but I have been meaning to post this for quite some time. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

AC Revises His Post

I had some semi serious pandemic stuff in this post, but I have revised twice in a major way and eliminated that completely because I am weary of it all. I am sure that there will be more to write, and likely sooner than later, but for now, let us ignore Jake Tapper's slamming of our country in favour of a wee bit of humour. 

First, I stumbled across this ↓ juxtaposition of two consecutive posts on my FB stream. For a brief moment, I read them as one and wondered: What the heck?! Did the poster find a giraffe costume, the letter K, or what? Call it a giraffe gaff on my part, for I didn't notice the word, visa, at first. I do tend to skim and miss things.

Shortly thereafter and just a few posts down from the giraffe, this tickled my funny bone.

This was on the morning, when Lacey was insistent that I arise at 5:30 after a short night by continually headbutting me and gently gnawing on my arm. I got up and hand-fed her kibble, which is our usual morning ritual. Then, the imp went off for a nap while I was left sitting in a bit of a stupor.

So here is a cat post although Lacey is a feline who does not do boxes. She is not normal, I tells yiz.

For my final attempt at humour, I offer this graphic to fully explain how to recognize Canada Geese.

I wish y'all a fine Thursday.