Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Gigantic Skeleton

Halloween has arrived. It is a big deal to many but not so much to us. However, we always participated in the giving of treats in our former city and continued with enthusiasm when we first arrived here. But we were soon jaded. 

Permit me to explain.

Here, we were inundated with scores of kids. There must have been hundreds. We live in townhouses, so people from outlying areas would drop their kids on our block, so they could make a quick and big haul.

We were disenchanted, for it seemed to us that the event should have been, at least partly, a neighbourhood festivity in which we could interact with people that we knew. While we never minded some strangers at the door, we just didn't appreciate 200 of them.

Then, along came Danica into this world, followed by Jonathan, and we would hand out treats at their house while the parents took the kids around. That was fun to do. I'd take pictures of the kids before they went trekking, and we didn't mind handing out treats to the fewer number that came calling in that neighbourhood.

Now, we are no longer needed in that role, but we have no interest in plying the local hordes with treats. So, we don't. We close up, turn the front lights out, and head to the back of the house. 

Call us killjoys if you wish, but that really isn't it. Maybe it was simply much too much of a good thing.

Now then, I do have two photos. Of course, I do. There is a house with a gigantic skeleton just around the corner. They don't have it lit all that long in the evening, but I eventually arrived when it was lit.

It's challenging to photograph such a dynamic range. I took several exposures and blended the light and dark together in post to produce single, representative images.

Have a good Halloween however you do or don't celebrate the occasion. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Bits and Pieces

There was another first this week when Sue and the gals went to McD's for their kaffeeklatsch. It is the first time Sue has been there since March 2020. I still haven't been inside McD's, but at this point it is more down to a lack of opportunity as, sadly, there seems to be no one in the whole universe who wants to have coffee with me. Sniff.

That may not be totally true, for Bob and I stopped for coffee on our return trip from the boneyard. But we drank it on the run as it were.

As for the pandemic, this is a recent tweet from out health unit. We're doing about as well as possible.

The USA has now approved the vaccine for the over 5s. I expect that Canada will get on board in due course. We have to do our own studies, apparently. I don't know why we can't accept that the Americans, with their superior resources, have done due diligence. Oh well.

And the first province (at least as far as I know) has a plan to begin booster shots. There has been no news as yet here in Ontario.

Sue and I finished, or all but finished, putting the garden to bed yesterday. In our mid-seventies, I guess it shouldn't surprise us too very much that we get tired more quickly that we used to – as was the case in my roaming around the boneyard this week. My oh my, that was something.

Today, I shall take 5 bags of garden waste to the yard compost depot, and thus, we shall have cleared enough room be able to squeeze the car into our extremely narrow garage in time for Devils Night and Halloween. That is our annual goal. Although I don't expect any bad behaviour hereabouts, we might as well be cautious. Now, we are set for winter too – at least as far as getting the car out of the snow storms is concerned.

Friday, October 29, 2021

The Boneyard

One would be forgiven for thinking that a trip to the boneyard at this time of year, might have some connection with Halloween, but it doesn't. No! The Boneyard is a farm where they collect auto wrecks and put them out to pasture, so to speak. The farm only opens to visitors for two weeks a year, one in spring and one in fall.

I saw that my Flickr contacts paid a visit on the weekend, so I asked them about it. When they pointed me to FB, I found that I had already liked that Boneyard page. But I don't think they post much, and even if and when they do, you never know when it will pop up on your feed, and it hadn't popped up on mine. What I'm trying to say is that I had forgotten all about the place, just like I forget about . . . well, I forget what I forget about.

Anyway, we (as in Bob and I) had only a few days to get ourselves down there. I say down because it is southeast of us near the St Lawrence River, and therefore, also near the US border. It's about an hour and a quarter drive away, but the day was sunny; the rural roads were clear and also paved; and, there was some colour left on some trees. What I am trying to say id that it was quite a pleasant drive.

There must have been 100s of cars and trucks. I hobbled around with my cane in one hand and the camera and tripod in the other for an hour and a half or more until I was nigh onto exhaustipated, and even then, I hadn't seen it all. When we left, Bob asked if I had found the police car. "Uh, no." Sheesh!

Let me reaffirm that this old fella was sure darn tired after that long hobble, but it was worth it. I must have taken more than 50 photos although some were multiple attempts of the same vehicle. I gave up on multiple  pics or even extremely careful pics by the end of my ramblings, choosing more to ready, aim, fire. I guess I am overstating it because I kept my focus (I honestly didn't intend that pun) until very close to the end when I was really whacked.

So, that is your warning that there could be plenty of old wreck photos in the days ahead, which will give me something to post as the landscape gets bleaker and bleaker and the good photo ops become fewer and fewer, but I will try to keep each post to a minimum.

Today, I will show you only two photos. I am beginning with trucks because I want to have some for the Happy Truck Thursday Flickr group next week.

There was no rhyme or reason to where vehicles were planted, trucks were cheek by jowl  with cars and really old cars with less old cars.

I really like this. Is it a Model T, perchance? The photo is a bit dark,
but I will brighten a little in future renditions.

This is just a fun photo: Fired Up & still cooking. But that was then, and this is now when it is most certainly no longer cooking.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

More Traditional Scarecrows

Today, unlike yesterday's happycrows, we have more traditional scarecrows in the sense that they intend to be sombre of a little bit frightening. Of course, they are really just fun.

This is my fave of the bunch, but I like the other lady pics too.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021


I took an evening walk downtown om the weekend. There are scarecrows down there although many are actually happycrows. My thinking was that it would be better to photograph them in the dark. It worked only so-so because most weren't lit very well.

Last year, I photographed in daytime here, but here are some from this year. This post will concentrate on the happier crows.

Sadly, Halloween is close to the beginning of winter hereabouts. The snow plow contractor has put up his marker, and we have cleaned out our very narrow garage to accommodate our vehicle. It's a tight fit, let me tells yiz. Very few other people on the street bother and continue to use their garages for storage. We are fortunate that the former owner built shelves in the garage; otherwise, I don't think we could manage either.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Looking Across the River

I bit the bullet yesterday and turned on the furnace. I could have lasted longer, but with Sha and the kids coming over for dinner that night, I figured that I may as well do it now, for it would have to go on soon regardless. We keep the house on what many would consider the frosty side. We set the thermostat at 20C/68F during the day and 15C/59F for sleeping. The house doesn't always cool all of the way down to 15C, however.

Speaking of heating and cooling, shall we move onto what could be the final two fall photos as our hemisphere cools down? They may not be the last, but they are the last ones that I have on hand at the moment.

After wandering about in the park in yesterday's post, I looked across the river and saw two trees that stood out – one orange and one yellow. As I mentioned yesterday, I wasn't getting the best light, but I stood there for awhile taking photo after photo when conditions would brighten just a little. When I got home, I saw that I had taken 17 shots of these two trees, but I've trashed 15 keeping only the two below. Even for these two, the conditions were not optimal, but post processing helped me to brighten them a bit, as if the sun had been stronger.

Here are the two images that I kept. I took them from almost the same spot although I did shift very slightly. I have also cropped them differently. I think I like the closer crop best, it is almost 4x5 (8x10). The second one is the ratio that comes out of the camera which 3x2 (4x6), so I guess I didn't really crop it at all. I can crop in camera, but I never do. Oddly enough, the pre-set cropping ratios in the camera do not include the universally popular 4x5. I can do 4x3, 5x7 or 16x9, which is your monitor's ratio.

I think those were the best of that little excursion. I do like them better that the photos that I showed yesterday although the two boobs photo was a bit of a hit.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Trying for the Bones

This is positive.

The rest of the plan envisions all restrictions being lifted by the end of March, two years after the onset of this dreadful virus. Wouldn't that be grand?

Now, onto the actual post.

The trees are largely defoliated now, but sometimes I like to see the trees with a combination of colour and branches or what I call the bones of the trees.

I checked out the park for suitable trees in mid-afternoon and saw some possibilities in good light. Unfortunately, when I got there with camera in hand a little later, the skies had mostly clouded over. The light resumed a little bit at times, and I tried my best because I was already there and so was my camera. Here are my efforts.

I shot some photos along the verge by the water.

These two folk (below) bugged the heck out of me. I had my camera and tripod set up. They could have paused for a few seconds, or they could have at least apologized, but they walked by me without consideration or comment. They could also have chosen to walk on the other side of the trees, but no, they chose to walk into my photo.

They sauntered along and even sat on the bench for awhile. The guy looked back at me as if he were wondering if I had the audacity to take a photo of them. I sure did, ya turkey. Anyway, I think they improve the photo. (By the way, after waiting for a long time to get a clear photo, I see they are still the photo two up from here ↑↑. You might even see their heads in the distance if you squint.)

Anyway, here is the photo of them walking. If you compare the photos, I think you will agree that the photo that includes them is more interesting, so I guess I should thank them, even if they were inconsiderate boobs. 

Later, I took photos looking across the river, and I think they may be better than these. I will leave them for another post.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Focusing on the Sumac

We have a pharmacy just around the corner. When I went over to inquire about my new meds, I noticed that the little stand of trees and bushes was catching the light and looking pretty good.

So, I returned with my camera. The best of the light was gone, partially obscured by clouds, but it was still okay. The problem is that what looks good to the eye may not look good to the camera. I think it's because your eye focuses and roves here and there, but the camera sees it all in one take. If there's a lot of busyness in the frame, it doesn't tend to look so good to the camera.

You can see why I was attracted but also how busy the scene is.

I ended up focusing on smaller bits. Eventually, I was concentrating on just the sumac. If I had known that was going to be the case, I would have brought a different lens, but I made do.

I was attracted by the archlike curve in this ↓ photo. Again, a different lens might have smoothed out the background more, but I don't mind it too much. I am happy with the shape and the somewhat muted tones as well as the fall-off in the background.

Next, I liked the light and the series of almost parallel branches behind the main one.

I turned the camera vertically and focused on the same branch. That mostly eliminated the somewhat distracting branches on the sides. I think that simplifying the photo by eliminating those side branches makes this the best photo of this short excursion. While I wish that the branch in the upper right weren't there, you can't work around everything. Outdoor photography doesn't take place in a studio where every element can be controlled.

It might be worth another attempt with a different lens. We shall see.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Good Doctor

My urologist retired, and in some desperation, I finally got an appointment to see his replacement. I say, finally, because the first appointment had to be cancelled due to a family emergency.

It is taking two people to replace the retiree, and one is a young lady ­­­– a very very young lady who looks to be about the age of my granddaughter. She's a pretty young thing although that is neither here nor there. I tend to wonder why a young female would choose a specialty dealing mostly with old men's bits, but then I remember that our vocations tend to choose us rather than vice versa.

Give her credit: she was more attentive than her predecessor, whom I hasten to add was very qualified and competent. He simply wasn't the best listener, and I used to feel that I might not always have been heard. This was problematic to me because my symptoms seem to be elusive and uncommon. This young doctor patiently allowed me to describe my plight through my halting and frustrated words.

The examination was thorough, and she was able to put her finger right on the problem, so to speak. Her diagnosis, which she explained carefully, seemed credible. Unfortunately, it wasn't what I wanted to hear because I probably can't be helped. At least that was my take.

Having said that, she will try to help and has prescribed medication that could possibly ameliorate my problem. She will also follow in up in a month. Whether I can be helped or not, I am appreciative and relieved that my new doctor is making her best effort.

Next time, I must remember to tell her how much I appreciate both her thoroughness and concern.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Validation and Impetus

You may recall that our cafĂ© was a causality of the pandemic – the one where I had a bit of a photo gallery. 

I also hang a few frames at Sue's hairdresser's establishment. I hadn't sold any prints for so long (there was a long period when it was closed due to the pandemic) that I had all but decided to offer to remove them, thus allowing the proprietors to change the display if they so chose.

Suddenly, two of them sold – the photos, not the proprietors. Go figure.

I call this first one, Rust, White & Blue. It's a very early photo taken way back in 2012 on a December  day when conditions were almost magical. It's a bit of a time piece too, because, nine years later, the garage door to the boathouse is much duller. It stood out perfectly on that day, however.

The other photo, On a Rural Road, is from just two years ago. I passed by the same place a few weeks ago and took a picture of the same fence and tree. I  composed it differently but ended up trashing it. It can be difficult to go back to the same spot because the light and the colour will be different. And then, one doesn't want to used the same composition, but the problem is that you may have already used the best one.

I'm glad that these photos sold, not for the meagre dollars involved, but it gives me some validation. More importantly, it provides impetus to keep on with this silly hobby of mine.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Not Jiggy With Joy

I am driving myself even crazier than usual this week by waking up from 3 to 4am just about every morning. While I do sometimes manage to drift back off a for a short while, it is not for long. There's been precious little of that drifting back to sleep this week, I can tell you.

Waking so early in this season is not exactly a reason for joy. In summer, I can get out and catch a sunrise, but it remains dark for almost three more hours at this time of year. Then , even when the sun finally rises, it is so cold that I am not exactly eager to inhale that fresh air. As I write this on Wednesday morning, it is still only 7C/45F outside. Brrr.

While staying up later than my usual 10:30 - 11:00, say until midnight, seems like it would be a partial solution to my morning predicament by possibly letting me sleep later, I am so tired by then that I simply can't.

On the one hand, I am following my sleep app's advice to go to bed around 10:45, but I fail badly on the other half of her instructions by rising hours before the recommended 6:45. I can't help that part though. Wish I could, but there you have it.

Meanwhile, my Beloved continues to suffer from the opposite problem. With the sun coming up later, she sometimes sleeps even longer than her normal 10 hours. She is closing in on 11 hours as I compose this. If she were to sleep much longer, she will have slept the clock around.

Sue wishes she could give me some of her hours, for she feels as though she is wasting her life, and I wish I could take them. But it doesn't work that way.

Time was when we both slept more normal hours and kept on similar schedules, but aging taken us in opposite directions.

Even my afternoon naps, on the days when I manage to have one, which is most certainly not always, typically only last for mere minutes.

It is what it is, and there is nothing either of us can do about our respective sleep difficulties.

But I do not have to by jiggy with joy over the situation.

PS: Predictably, when Sue eventually did arise, she was quite peeved to have wasted so much of the day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Pandemic Incongruity

Some things don't jive. I think is can almost be categorized as cognitive dissonance although probably not precisely. If that doesn't fit, incongruity sure does.

As you already know we dined out for the first time, just last week. Then,  on Monday, we went back to exercise class for the very first time. I also read an article about how well the province is doing. But when I went to the grocery store I noticed a large sign at the entrance: Only one visit per week by only one person per family. Shauna informs me that it has been somewhere all along and that they must have just moved it. But it was so ominous and incongruous in light of developments. It is time for that sign to come down. No one is adhering to it in any case.

It doesn't make any sense to keep it on display. Things are loosening up a bit, and we all have our vax passports. Sue and I are onboard with caution and have been pretty much as careful as possible for a year and a half, but sheesh! it's time to take take baby steps back toward normality.

Following is some of the news in the article to which I referred, above.

  • The province had had fewer than 500 new cases/day for the past week. Note: less that 400 for the past two days with only 328, yesterday.
  • There have been 0 deaths in that span. Note: there have been a few since then.
  • Approximately 83.1 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older is fully vaccinated which makes it 73 per cent of everybody, even including the unvaccinated under 12s.
Our local health unit is doing even better and is the best district in the whole province. Last I saw locally, we could add almost 10%  to the above rate of fully vaccinated. I am thinking that not too many places in the world can be doing very much better than our area.

I guess we are still in the fourth wave, but relatively speaking (and I emphasize relatively) it hasn't been that terrible: nothing like the third wave, for sure. The majority of the inflicted have not been fully vaxxed. Of new cases, the ratio of unvaxxed to vaxxed is ~6x, and the disparity in ICU cases and deaths is greater. Also bear in mind that there are many more vaxxed than unvaxxed people, which means, at least to me, that an unvaxxed person is even more than 6x more likely to catch the virus.

Let me tell you about our first pandemic exercise class for a moment. It was so good to get back to our Gentle Fit for Seniors group. It was well attended, but, unfortunately, we were obliged to wear masks throughout. It is no longer a provincial requirement, but it is a condition imposed by the church whose facilities we are using. This shouldn't be necessary once we are at our designated spots. Ah well! it was still very very good to get out.

To commemorate the occasion, I took a selfie  as folk were signing in and milling about. Sue is way in the background with a light sweater and dark mask.

I had to break into laughter at one point. There are always one or two in the crowd who will go left when everyone else is going right, and I have to admit that does mess with social distancing. Seniors, eh! What fun!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Truckinatn and Experimatn

I don't seem to come across many opportunities to photograph trucks, but when I do, I try to take a photo. A photo friend has a group on Flickr called HTT, which is short for Happy Truck Thursday, but I haven't had anything to contribute for some time. The following truck, seen at Wheelers, gave me the opportunity. It's not a great photo by any means, but it is a truck, and most of the photos in the group are just that – trucks, and not often spectacular photos.

What timing that after photographing that truck, I had another opportunity the very next day. I looked out the bedroom window and saw a huge truck and cargo assemblage stopped on the road. What it was doing there is puzzling. I can't figure where it was going, and I think it may have actually taken a wrong turn and gone through town rather than around it. I hurried the get my camera, but the truck was soon on the move, so I missed the front end. Drat! 

I cropped mightily from the top and bottom of the original shot, down to, more or less, just the truck. I also soon saw it as a photo suited to b&w, so I converted it.

I then decided to try to remove some distractions: the cars, bush, and fence. I have neither super vision nor wonderful dexterity for such fine, detailed work, but I made the effort. It was going well, so after some time, I gave up and scrapped the effort. However, it played on my mind, and I tried again several days later. 

Here ↓ is my effort. If one doesn't examine the photo in close detail, I think it's a pass. Let me say, however, that when folk say, "Just Photoshop something away," it is not as easy as all that. It took me a many layers and fiddling about to get even this result. I could have gone a step further and removed the wire, and I may still do that before I post it on Flickr, later this week.

Since I was at it, I decided to go back to the Wheelers truck and also process it into monochrome. Hmm . . . very ordinary.

Then, I did one more thing. I decided to experiment with blending the two versions of the Wheelers truck into one image, using a graduated filter. Just messin about, for fun really.

My friend, Bob, often effectively mixes bw with colour in certain photos, especially if they might contain a vintage object such as this. I have also used this technique in the past but usually when blending past and present images as in the following images and not on a single image.


Monday, October 18, 2021

Final Photos from Our 2021 Fall Excursions

It is time to empty the jar, so to speak. While I tend to post my favourite images at the time, I found some more adequate leftovers. Actually, I don't consider every image from initial postings to necessarily be good or a fave. Sometimes, I just post as part of the story, as it were. For example, the Wheeler's Sugar Camp photos were hardly exceptional, but they were a record of the outing, which is pretty much what blogging is all about.

Since I just mentioned Wheelers once again, I do have a few more photos. First, let me show you a photo from October 14 this year, followed by a photo from October 15 2016.

What a difference! Not only was it a much nicer day five years ago, but there were also more leaves remaining on the trees although, to be fair, there had also been a lot of fall then as well. Comparing the two photos, it should be evident why we chose not to go walking through the bush this year.

I have one more photo from Wheeler's. See the big boulder? It is a glacial erratic, deposited by a receding glacier, perhaps 20 000 years ago. Erratics can be much bigger than this, but this is about the size that we see in this particular bush. There are others strewn throughout the property. You can also see the sap lines in the foreground.

Back to the foggy morning shoot with Bob, he sent me two other photos. He gets his photos done quickly and then has time to . . . er . . . shoot me.

I took one other photo that morning on the way back to the car. The fog had lifted somewhat by then but the atmosphere remained a little subdued and appealing to me. I don't mind the bit of leaf caught at the top centre although I wish there were more of the branch as it would help to close the photo better.

I think there is only one more to go. I photographed this abandoned barn near Tennant Cemetery. Last year's photo of the same was better because I included the road, but I didn't want to take the exact same photo this year. Besides that, the conditions were a little better last year.

I do think I am done now. lol

Sunday, October 17, 2021

More Miscellaneous Extras

An assortment from Bellamy Mills Road.

Near Tennant Cemetery, I saw a stand of bright, yellow trees. We see mostly oranges and reds, which are best in my opinion, but since it was a bit unusual to see this stand, I stopped to take a light, airy photo.

Back at Wheelers, I was struck by how much the yellow vines within the conifers resembled an animal skeleton such as a horse of even a dinosaur. That was my impression, especially if you ignore the part at the upper left. Opinions may vary. lol