Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Tuesday Check-In

It is almost noon, Tuesday, but I haven't slept since before midnight last night. I got about an hour of repose before Queen Mab took over (a Romeo and Juliet reference). I blame the switching of some meds.

I did play with this ↓ photo sometime during the night. It didn't really requite too much play, the main part being a conversion to b&w. Most will now recognize that it is from our favourite maple sugar goto – Wheelers.

White Rose was once a Canadian Oil Company

The car was due in for an oil change at 8, and they were kind enough to drive me home to wait the long wait. I had asked Bob to help me out by driving me home, but his car is at the body shop after an accident.

The day isn't going too badly, despite the paucity of sleep. I managed to solve Wordle in 5 and had 2 decent rounds of Sudoku.

We have been doing some garden work lately but not today, given how I am feeling. Sadly, I managed to blow out our grass trimmer on the very tall grass and weeds in the easement beyond the fence. I have mulched out front with red and have picked up 24 bags of brown for the back. Someday soon, I will have to wheelbarrow it to the back and spread it about. I hope I bought enough.

This is just a check-in, for I have nothing scintillating to write. Of course, when do I ever? 😊

Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Last Derecho Post with Poles and Fish and Chips

I had thought the previous derecho post to be my final word on a most boring topic for the rest of you. But on the road to Almonte, Sue took many a photo, and I might as well use them, for it is a remarkable thing.

The road to Almonte from Carleton Place is the blue line superimposed on the ↓ map. It says 11.6 km, but that is from point to point; the actual highway – 29 – isn't that long, but it is the corridor for power supply to Carleton Place.

Back in 1989 it took 6 months to build the powerline between the communities. In 2022, they replaced it in 3 short days!

I am not sure how long the damaged section was, but I have heard that between 70 - 90 poles had to be replaced. I think that would include the poles in this photo and many more besides.

As far as I can tell, all of the poles along the route were replaced although I am not sure about one stretch of road. It was a lot anyway. Occasionally, we passed half poles sheared off  ↓ or even dangling. We learned that they were other utility poles and not hydro poles. Consequently, they had to be left for those companies to deal with.

This ↓ is one example of an ongoing repair to one of those other poles.

The reason for the little trip was to visit a food truck called the Cheeky Chippy. We had visited once previously in the peak of COVID when we wouldn't have dared to dine in, but the fare is good enough to have drawn us back, even in better times. This time I didn't even wear a mask when I placed my order because we were in the great outdoors. Others did, however. On the whole, I am pretty good about masking up.

The food was grand. The fish was very tender and flakey with perfect, thin and crispy batter.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Derecho Bits and Bods and Mostly Pics

I will not keep going on and on about the derecho event, but I must conclude with some random bits and pics.

Before I forget, let me say how lucky we were. If we had to lose power for 4 days, this was the ideal season. We did not have to contend with the cold and snow of winter. The house did not go cold, and the pipes did not freeze. We also were saved from the heat of summer when the lack of fans and air conditioners would have been mightily difficult to bear.

Our initial damage was minimal. As you already know, we lost some roof shingles, but it was a relatively small patch. The fences were pushed around but, somewhat miraculously, remained upright. We lost half of our lilac bush. The trees in both the front and back stood.

Monday is the day when most of Sue's photos began and when we all set off to Perth for coffee. We enjoyed English muffins and came home with ice and recharged power packs.

Tuesday was the day of coffee and tea by means of the camp stove. Sue had tea. I had instant coffee that seemed delicious. It came from packages that had previously been gratuitously added to grocery pickup orders as a thank you. Who knew that instant coffee could taste so wonderful?

Tuesday was also the afternoon when people came knocking on our door. They were enterprising  roofers who had seen our bare patch. While I am not normally amused by strangers cold canvassing, especially to sell things, this was a godsend. We knew that most roofers would be busy with major repairs for some time, and we didn't know how long we would be left with our little bare patch. Sue, ever with her phone at the ready, took one picture, and then the young woman posed for another.

Tuesday was also the day that Shauna brought pizza  from Perth. It wasn't hot by the time it got to us and then by the time that we got to it, but any port in a storm.

After pizza, we gathered the spoiled food. These were some of the boxes. Fortunately, garbage pickup was the next day, so it didn't have to sit for long. Normally, we are limited to one bag per week unless we were to purchase additional and rather costly stickers. An exception was made this week. Food is heavy, so we used multiple, lighter bags out of deference to the collectors. I will add in passing that we had managed use the bbq to save a lot of chicken before it thawed too much for too long. It was touch and go because the propane ran out. Fortunately, however, when we cut open the chicken, it was cooked sufficiently with no pink to be seen.

I was especially thankful for the restoration of power on Wednesday, for I was able to shower before my medical appointment, also in Perth. Then, we dropped by Shauna's workplace to return the borrowed charger. Sha tries to take her boyfriend's dog, Lola, to work once a week. We had as little playtime before heading home where we could make all of the tea and coffee that a body could want.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Derecho Coffee Saga

When I rolled over on Sunday morning, I expected to see the clock radio glaring its red numbers at me. Disappointment awaited. What to do now with no electricity and no internet?

What I did first was to take my phone to the car, plug it in, and nudge around online. Alas, no good news was forthcoming.

Sue wasn't long asleep either, but she remembered our little power pack (booster). That's one thing that it is good for – boosting the car on cold winter morns. Mind you, that is usually an indication that the battery is wearing down, but it gives us time to act.

I had forgotten that we could plug a power receptacle into that and then plug our USB chargers into the receptacle. This would enable us to keep our devices going. Although low on reserves from the outset, it worked for us for as long as we needed it, which turned out to be more than 48 hours later.

As you might guess, it does not have sufficient juice to run a coffee maker. Maybe the bbq would work? Nope. Not enough heat to bring the kettle to a boil. Sigh.

Sue, especially, had a real pounder by then. When coffee failed to eventuate via the bbq, AC was able to ingest a Coke and thus alleviate his headache, but it was not a solution that was palatable for Beloved.

Meanwhile, Shauna was also in a bit of a fix over at her place, but when she heard that power had been restored to her seniors residence, she set off. They gave her coffee and made her toast. She brought home ice and a stronger power pack than our ancient device. More importantly, she brought Sue (mostly Sue) a carafe of tea. Tea also contains caffeine, and Sue loves her tea, so the headache crisis was over – for Sunday, at least.

Surrounding towns were regaining electricity. Surely, we would soon follow. Monday morning came. No glaring red numbers yet again!

You may recall that Sha was at the ready with that newer and supposedly more powerful, power pack. Thunder and tarnation: it wasn't up to the task either. What is it about coffee machines? The charger can boost a car but a coffee maker is too much for it?

We all trundled off to Perth with Sue in the throes of another major pounder.

We were served with the most scrumptious English muffins known to humanity. And there was coffee: not great coffee, but it contained the vital ingredient – caffeine. The headache was defeated once again. More ice was obtained, and an even bigger power pack unit was brought home. We would be sure to have coffee on the morrow – Tuesday – for sure.

And so, we limped through Monday.

And kept limping into Tuesday still with no glaring red numbers.

But Shauna had that big unit. We would be saved. Nope. It handled her curling iron well, but . . . but it was not enough to brew that %$#& coffee.

Fortunately, Sue had saved cold coffee from the previous day. She gagged it down. Headache mollified once again.

Canadian Tire posted a message that they would open in a very limited way. They had propane for camp stoves available.

"Sue: do we still have our camp stove, the one from 20 years ago?" 

Now Sue's reluctance to ever discard anything can be a tad irksome at times, but, by golly, we still had it, and she knew just where it was. We had brought it with us across province 17 years ago and had never used it since, but had it we did.

Off the Canadian Tire hied (sorry, spellcheck, it is a word) AC. It was mostly dark inside, and one would just let in the doorway where ladies stood, ready to take orders and go off to find what one required. They didn't have to search for AC, however, for the propane cannisters were in a bin right by the door.

I flashbacked about 30 years as they ran my credit card through one of those ancient credit card imprinting machines. The technology worked then, and it works now. That's all that they would take, by the way: just a credit card – not cash, not a cheque, and not a debit card.

We set up the stove on the edge of the back deck, and gingerly lay our old camping kettle on the burner. It worked! Tea for Sue and instant coffee for me.

We would survive for another day.

Then, I received a text that we would be without electricity for another two days. Sigh. But at least with the camp stove, we were better equipped to struggle our way through. We could make coffee, tea, soup, and eggs.

Fortunately, that prediction was wrong, and the lights came back on just two hours later.

Next morning, Wednesday, those red numbers shone brightly. The bathroom light came on when I stumbled through the doorway, and the coffee perked. Just as coffee is meant to do.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

That was a Fierce Derecho

I had never heard of a derecho and would that I had remained in my ignorance. Derecho is pronounced de-Ray-chow, or something close to that.

A derecho is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storm that is associated with a fast-moving group of severe thunderstorms known as a mesoscale convective system.

It hit us around 3:30, Saturday afternoon, moving at 80mph/130kph. It only lasted for what seemed like 10 minutes, give or take, but it affected us for 76 hours from the time that power went out until it came back on again.

I had two posts in the queue for Sunday and Monday, so it probably seemed to you that I wasn't MIA, but in point of fact, I just got back to the computer last evening – Tuesday – after the power went out on Saturday afternoon.. 

After our almost-cold pizza supper (brought to us from Perth by Shauna), we received a text from Ontario Hydro advising us that we'd be without power for another two days. This was not good news, to say the least, but when I came upstairs, I saw that Alexa's lights were spinning into action. I called her name, lovingly, and she began to reply. I looked around me and rejoiced to the fans commencing their dance. 

I kind of danced too. Since I only have one good leg at the moment, I moved the other foot around and told Sue that this was the sight of one foot dancing, as in the more famous sound of one hand clapping saying.

It is rather a pity that I shortly must drag 3 heavy bags of spoiled food to the curb for our impending weekly garbage collection. Our rough estimate is that we've suffered about $250 worth of food waste. That's on top of the $150 to replace 8 roof shingles.

It could have been worse. As we drove around in the past few days, we passed houses with big trees on their roofs. Indeed, fences and trees were felled all over the place. A little outside of town, we passed a barn with its roof torn asunder.

The power outage lasted for a goodly portion of 4 separate days. Our town was hit harder than all of the surrounding towns, which pretty much had their power restored within a day or so. Perhaps I am wrong to say that the town itself was hit harder, but the route that the power lines take to get here bore very heavy damages. Apparently, up to70 poles along that power corridor to Carleton Place were knocked down, and at least one tower was toppled.

I will close for now by writing that it was quite a pleasure to awaken at 4 this morning and then be able to hit the light switch and see ... um ... light. I can't tell you how many times I have wandered into a room in the past 4 days and clicked a non-functioning light switch. Such is behavioural conditioning. 

After turning on the light, there followed a second miracle – coffee – but more about that later when I will relate about living in the blackout, but that's enough for now, for I will be off for a medical appointment in short order. Before that, though. I must gas-up the car, which is yet another thing not to be taken for granted. 

Oh yeah, and a warm shower too. It turns out that it is the little things which are really quite big things in life.


Monday, May 23, 2022

Better Late than Never

For many years, I have done a birthday collage for the kids -- pictures from the previous year. Because we see them a lot less, I don't have the same variety from which to choose, so I thought I probably wasn't going to make it this year. But when I sat down to it, I found enough to create some sort of little memory for them. 

They're late, of course. Jonathan's birthday was in early February and Danica's in mid-April. 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Second Booster

It has taken me a whole week to get around to posting about our second booster from last Sunday because I've had a lot of spring blooms to show y'all.

As soon as we could go ahead and reserve our spots about a month ago, we did. I booked mine about a scant 5 minutes after securing Sue's appointment, and that resulted in a time slot a whole 2 hours later. Go figure.

It turned out that the turnout wasn't great when we got there, so Sue asked about me getting in early. Sure enough, they weren't overwhelmed this time, and Sue texted to let me know that I could come on in.

She was already done and waiting her obligatory 5 minutes when I entered. I saw her; she saw me. What joy and bliss!

As you can plainly see, Lacey was with me in spirit.

I was soon well shot and joined her for my obligatory 5 minutes. She had me take this picture with her phone.

For me, it was as easy peasey as the first three C-shots. I didn't feel a thing, and there were no subsequent repercussions. Sue hasn't fared quite as well. While she hasn't been terribly unwell, she has been incredibly tired. It's been a week now, so I expect her lethargy will soon pass as I seem to read of some others having a similar experience and then rebounding after about 7 days.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Blooming Bush and Boulder

Three years ago, I did a little photoshoot posted here of the blooming trees at St James Park with St James church in the background in some of them. I returned in both of the past two years, but my timing was off in one year and the road was under construction in the other year.

Here are two of the photos from 2019.

It's tight shooting, and I wasn't sure what I could do differently this year, but I returned regardless because you never know.

I think I was earlier in the day this year because the light wasn't on the trees so much. My attention, however, was drawn to a smaller bush or tree adjacent to a boulder, which the sun was reaching nicely. These were my three photos.

Before I left, I took another of the old mill (now apartments) across the river. There's almost nothing but green in this one, which almost makes it seem like a completely different location despite it being quite a small park.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Myosotis and Taraxacum

Sunday was overcast, which can be a pretty good time to photograph flowers. You don't have to worry about uneven lighting and overly bright highlights. I was drawn outside by the lilac bush, which was blooming, but they were completely washed out in those conditions. However,  the dandelions (taraxacum) and forget-me-nots (myosotis) looked good way down there at ground level.

Yes, although dandelions are an unwanted weed for the most part, they can be photogenic. I found one right next to a little patch of forget-me-nots and thought the two would contrast nicely. Complement might be the better word.

Then I focused on another little clump of the forget-me-nots. I like the heart-like shape of this patch.

In both cases I used a wide aperture to keep the background blurry, but with macro photography the depth of field is tiny, and that threw many of the flowers out of focus as well. So, I kept changing the focal point and then combined the different shots in post. Both of the above photos are, thus, a combination of 7 different images. I more or less accomplished what I wanted to with the second photo, but the farthest of the forget-me-nots in the first photo remain unfocused. It still came close to what I envisioned, however.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Tulips in the Garden

On Saturday morning, I decided that I couldn't wait any longer for the breezes to subside. Nope. I had to photograph our tulips as best as I could while they still looked good. There was much rain in the forecast, so the opportunity might soon be lost.

While there are more than two tulips out front, given the light and distracting backgrounds, I concentrated on two flowers that I could focus on pretty tightly.

My first target was an orange variety.

Actually, they may have been two different tulips↑. I can't remember for sure, but the light is different. I prefer the second one with the backlight.

There was a smaller magenta bloom bent over a bit, so that became my next target.

Now what? Well, the forget-me-nots have not forgotten us again this year, so I'll try to get a few, as I do every year. They're harder to photograph, though – much smaller and lower. Groan, grumble, grumble.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Raising Cane and Kicking Up Our Heels

After many years of creating cards of various kinds for various family members, I may be more or less done with making full inside-outside cards – at least sometimes. But I did post this ↓ one-sided card on the bathroom mirror for Sue to see first thing yesterday morning.

We are a pretty low key pair, so we seldom do anything too very grand. A certain issue from 53 years ago was repeated, however. To begin to unravel that thread, let us go way way back. This ↓ is a portrait of Sue before the nuptials.

And here ↓ is the wedding party after the blessed betrothal.

Notice the placement of the flowers in the first photo (of Sue) and my foot in the group photo. We were doing what it took to hold Sue's veil down in the mighty wind.

Yesterday was also very windy and even more so. Sue's theme for the day was contrast and mastering. She decided that we were both in the process of mastering canes, and a contrast between b&w and colour would fit nicely.

We are ordinary folk, but we can raise a little cane on occasion.

That ↑ was the photo that she chose to post to her group, but we did take some others – with help. We sort of required assistance because the wind was wreaking havoc with Sue's very flimsy phone tripod. A nice lady saw us struggling and offered to help.

We are kicking up our heels in this ↓ photo.

Other than that, we did our usual pizza: a tradition after having one delivered to our motel room on our honeymoon. I am not sure that we have done this every single year, but we have repeated it an awful lot. A treat of fudge is also a part of the tradition. We haven't been able to follow that quite as much as the pizza, but we've also done it a lot.

A pleasant touch was having our car and driveway strewn with what looked like confetti from blossom petals being blown from the neighbours' tree.

Fifty-three years have brought one or two mild changes (wink), but what would have really floored us all that time ago was being told that we would be taking pictures with our phones. Can you imagine how we would have processed that, trying to picture, among other things, how long a cord we would need.