Sunday, December 31, 2023

The Silliness of Aging

As I have recently written, I do sometimes nod off while I am watching tv. Usually, it involves fading away for just a few seconds before snapping back into this present dimension, only to rinse and repeat. It would be nice to be one or t'other — either asleep or awake — but that is not to be my lot.

If I happen to be watching a Midsomer rerun, it is not too much of a problem, but we had a brand new Shetland coming up, and I don't want to miss a second of that because it is tv that is hard to top.

It had been a tough night and very early morning, so what should I do?

Well, I had a little nap (or tried to) before our lunchtime viewing. (My naps btw are very brief and are mostly just short rests.)

Whatever it was, whether sleep of just rest, it worked well enough to keep me awake for the episode, but imagine having to nap to watch tv.

Now that is old-age silliness, but so was what I discovered on the night before.

You know that I am bald, eh? But I have stubble up there, and before I went to bed, I was surveying my scalp and realizing that it was time to give it a bit of a tidy-up come morning.

And that is when I saw it — an inch-long hair growing out of the middle of my forehead.

The middle of my forehead! Middle! What the heck! I'd never seen that before.

I attended to it; of course I did, and while I was at it, I did some eyebrow plucking.

Yes moi, a man of 76, resorts to plucking his brows every so often.

You see, my brows are still dark. But . . . but there is one silver hair in each brow. One! It looks stupid and annoys me, so I pluck it.

Another oddity is that said silver hairs are also sprongy as if they are trying to flee the brow. There are a few other dark, brow hairs that are also sprongy and sticking out stupidly, so I removed one or two others. But I refrain from getting too carried away with the non-silver ones because I don't want to denude my eyebrows entirely. It's not a great look, you know.

As I said, aging is silly, and I haven't mentioned the difficulty of getting in and out of the bath tub or trying to trim my toenails.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Of Frogs and Tin Cups

My ex-BiL essentially lives in the woods. He has a pretty good-sized cleared area around the old farmhouse. But most of this 100 acres are forested.

On the morning of Dec 29, this is what he discovered on one of his woodsy tromps.

So, as crazy as the pansies were yesterday, to see a frog at this time of year, is even crazier.

To top it off, his son and DiL were visiting him yesterday, and this is what they did, believe it or not. In Ontario! At Christmastime! 

But, to switch topics, it's too bad about the cup, actually a mug.

It was in my stocking — my Christmas Stocking and not my everyday sock, I'll have you know — and I looked forward to using it because I sip my coffee slowly in the morning, and it does sometimes cool off. But when I saw that the interior was tin, I was leery. In my head, I think tin affects the taste. It probably doesn't and is probably all in my head. Still . . .

Then, I found that the handle screws the wrong way. I drink with my left hand at the computer in the morning, and I hold whatever mug I am using by the body of the mug and not the handle. Yes, I know that I am weird.

I would be willing to adapt and use the handle if all else were copasetic.

Except . . . except for that flipping tab, Which met my nose and impeded the act of drinking.

I'm sorry, but that is three strikes, and you're out, Mr Mug.

However, thank you, Santa, for trying.

Silly Santa uses the handle.

After all, it is the thought that counts.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Three Disparate Images

It was the sign (see previous) post. The rest of the photo is b&w, but the sign remains in colour. Actually, I subdued the colour a lot from the original, and I guess it was subtle enough (goal achieved) that it didn't stand out. Since I was going to post the photo again, I did decide to remove the truck from the earlier version.

Although I have a fuller pedigree on Ancestry than on Family Search (LDS), I seem to get many more hints and notices from the latter. Yesterday, I was directed to the marriage register of my maternal great grandparents. I thought that was cool. I am not sure if I had come across it before, but it was nice to see it regardless.

They ↑ are the second entry in the image, John Quinlin and Mary Ann Baker, who both signed with an X. They wedded on Christmas Day, 1871. Coincidentally, their son, my grandfather, was born on Christmas Day, nine years later in 1880. The settled spelling became Quinlan.

But I have a third image to share, this from Shauna who messaged us a very unexpected picture last evening. A co-worker has pansies (or violas) amongst the leaf little in her yard. That's crazy!

This is not what happens in Canada in late December, especially not here in Eastern Ontario, but the weather continues to be unseasonably mild and rainy.

Thursday, December 28, 2023


You've seen this church before, sometimes from inside and sometimes from outside. It's where we get our special occasion pies. But I don't think I have shown the Ashton United Church from this angle across the street.

Generally speaking, I try to compose photos reasonably well and without distractions, but distractions can't always be helped. Sometimes, I just need to take the picture for the record.

But often, I want to play with it afterward, and this time, I decided on a somewhat retro mono look as an alternative for this church. I have decided that I don't like although it does look retro, which was the intent.

Does it resemble 1950s b&w at all?

There was also a general store on my right from where I was photographing the church.

Sadly, the store is no longer in operation. A previous tenant, who seemed to love having the general store, was asked to leave for some reason. It has stood empty for a few years since then. I wouldn't always post a photo with a random truck driving through (on the left), but I am trying to be less uptight and sometimes settling for capturing things as they were. lol

Once upon a time I posted a blog from inside the store. Let's see if I can track it down . . . and here it is from almost 8 years ago.

I also decided on a mono conversion for the store.

Then I made a slight modification that you might not even notice at first, but I like it. I think it adds a focal point. Of course you see it  Right?

Now that I have Photoshop back, I am able to do slight manipulations, like that above, that were otherwise difficult if not impossible for me, like the little touch above.

I also took this photo in the corner between the church and the store. It seems like I should be able to get a good shot of these two tractors, but I haven't quite managed it yet. I did deliberately included the fence so I would have a photo for Happy Foto Friday on Flickr.

Those three photo subjects are just about all there is to Ashton, except for an English-style pub and restaurant.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Boxing Day

We were watching the Simm's version of Scrooge after lunch when I had to retire upstairs because I kept nodding off. I am doing that a lot lately. The trouble is that I wake myself up by going upstairs.

After my non-nap, I hustled Sue back to the bridge for more photos. My goal was to get there before it got as pitch dark as on the previous night. A professional photographer once demonstrated in a tutorial that the best night-light photos are usually taken after the lights come on (naturally) but before it becomes completely dark. In all of the following photos, we are able to see some remnant of blue sky whereas the sky was black in yesterdays photos. They were still good enough though in my opinion.

I also wanted to take other lenses to get photos that I couldn't manage with my normal/regular lens.

The two photos below are what I obtained with my wide angle lens on the same side of the bridge as townhall but across the river. I couldn't have managed to take either photo on the previous evening.

Then, we drove over to the trail bridge where I used my telephoto lens to look back at the lights and get these results. Actually, I wasn't zoomed in that much and probably could have shot them with my regular lens.

So that's it for seasonal bridge lights and quite likely for any Christmas lights at all. It is time to move on, but with no snow to speak of,  photo ops may be scarce for awhile.

Back home, we warmed up the Mexican Lasagna leftovers and finished Scrooge, for the umpteenth time: umpteenth being a word I don't seem to hear others using anymore. My mother used it quite a lot. A darn fine word it is too.

After Scrooge, we turned on an old episode of Midsomer Murders, and I am embarrassed to confess that I dozed off again. When I resurfaced, I asked Sue if I had missed a murder, and I had. Now I am up at 4 with only 5 hours of sleep at most. It's nuts, I tell ya.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Christmas Colours on the Bridge

As you already know, I return to the bridge when it is lighted for various occasions. Of course, Christmas is one of those occasions, so we had a little photoshoot around supper time on Christmas Day.

The views are always close to being the same and they almost always include townhall, for there's not much else that one can do. But the colours are different, so I return to the scene.

It would be better if the night wasn't quite so pitch black, but that is when the lights show up best. 

Of course, I share Sue's de rigueur pic de moi.

You may be tempted to ask why Sue takes photos of me and me not so much of her. Well, it's less work for her. She can swing her tiny phone around with reckless abandon while I must fuss and fume with my tripod and settings. She can, therefore, squeeze off 12 photos in the time that it takes me to press the shutter once.

Monday, December 25, 2023

An Unexpected and Delightful Christmas Memory

I swear that I was not going to post on this Christmas Day, but after seeing this photo on FB, I feel compelled. It is the Christmas train right inside the Eaton's department store in Montreal, 1957.

By 1957, I likely would have considered myself too old, for I probably would have ridden it in the early 50s. In fact, the experience was completely gone from my memory from then until now. All these years later, I feel the stirrings of something wonderful and almost magical. On FB, others remember it better as travelling through several Christmassy rooms and getting a little gift at the end, but all I can conjure is a warm, nostalgic feeling.

While I am here, I might as well post a few images for our Christmas, which, as you know, we celebrated early.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

A Short Note

Here it is our Christmas Day and everyone else's Christmas Eve. It is almost 6:30 in the morning, and we promised to be back with the kids by 8 to open gifts with them. Sue is still asleep, and I had hoped to be, but I didn't have a great night — again!

But we had a pleasant Eve over there. We munched, talked and played a few games. Then, I scraped the ice off the car for the drive home. Yes, sorry to say that we did have freezing rain, but it could have been worse and gone on for longer than it did.

The Mexican lasagna ↑ has been pre-cooked and is already over there, and I picked up the apple pies from the church in Ashton ↓ so dinner will just take warming up whenever we choose to have it.

In the meantime, I leave you with several composites by Sue of our evening at the Mill, which is what I most wanted to post today.

Enjoy your Christmas Eve and Day wherever you are and whenever and however you celebrate the season.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

The Other Mill Photos

While I knew that the cabin would be lit up for yesterday's post, there were many more lights, and more than I will show here.

The Cloister

The Picnic Pavillion

The museum building was also lit up down below. We could have gone down there, but we were chilled by then. 

Sue took some snaps of me. I took one of her, but I didn't like the photo very much. All the light spots were created by two specific lights throwing colours.

In case you can't tell, I enjoyed this photoshoot very much. Should the Mill do this again next year, and I suspect that it will, I'll provably concentrate on the museum. This evening helped set my mood for Christmas, which for us, starts tonight for our day-early Christmas Eve gathering.

Friday, December 22, 2023

They Lit the Cabin at the Mill

They lit the lights at the Mill of Kintail on the weekend and kept them on until last evening when we were finally able to visit. We were worried at first, for there were no lights at the 4:30 starting time, but about 10 minutes later a worker pulled in and began to get to work. After another 10 minutes, they were all finally on.

When I say all, it is because I was surprised by the number of lights. From social media posts, I knew that the little cabin would be lit, but I hadn't known about the cloister or the picnic pavilion or other lights.

So I ended up taking more photos that I had thought, but I have decided to just show the cabin today. I photographed the cabin from various angles in the order that you see. The first composition was most in my mind, and I think it's the best, but I like the third one too, and perhaps even more. I am not sure.

I did take other photos that I am sure that I will get to in future posts, but here's one that features the cabin but that also reveals a little more context. The cabin sits on the left and the cloister lies in the background.

I really enjoyed the outing. It was cold, and my hands were really feeling it after about 45 minutes, but it was good to get out on a photoshoot. Due largely to health problems, there hasn't been a lot of that this year, and I have been missing it. While I wish the snow had been deeper and certainly less trammeled, I was pleased that there was snow at all because there wasn't just a few days ago.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Card and Snaps

Thinking more about the gyrations that we had to go through with Shauna as described in yesterday's post, I recalled when we tried the same movements with our second child. PJ just about had conniptions when we got rowdy with her, so we had to learn all over again. Actually, it wasn't a hard lesson because PJ was normal — at least then. 

I had another think about Sha's picture from yesterday and realized that there must be snow in the background. I don't think that I am very good at this, but then again, I am not good at much, and I do have my fun trying. I also changed the aspect ratio and made this version wider do I could insert the greeting. That extra step required a little thought too.

Yay! Snow for a snow-suited baby. Doesn't that make more sense?
Actually, there was green grass in the original photo before
I got to playing, which is why I was ok with the trees at first.

I also found this composite that I created once upon a time and just adjusted it a bit. I should probably have started over from scratch, because I think I am better at it now, but time has been a looming factor. I believe the first image, top left, was taken in the hospital not too long after Shauna entered the world. It reveals the marks of her passage into our realm.

I wrote a lot about Shauna yesterday, so now we have a few phone party pics, taken in horrid lighting.

A gizmo that will play all sorts of old music media

JJ is putting candles on the cake

I wish you Happy Solstice in parting.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Happy Holidays

We here are most definitely Merry Christmas types, but I like to take a stab at wishing folk the more inclusive Happy Holidays, and I have decided to post that on my annual, homemade card, below. I am posting earlier than usual this year while there is still a chance that most of y'all will see it before going a'wandering or a'wassailing. 

The scene is from the park around the corner, and since I just got Photoshop up and working, I used generative fill to add the other bits and bobs. Generative Fill is what Adobe calls their AI. In this case, for example, I targetted the area on the lower left, and typed white snowman, and what you see is that which the program inserted, As you can see, I also added bridge lights, a sled, and a deer in the same way although I don't know about that deer; it seems a bit odd looking to me.

I thought that all these things added a bit of fun and interest, at least for me, even if they are a bit kitschy. I like to learn and experiment or more likely experiment and learn from my mistakes.

Anyway, it is my card to you as I wish you happiness and joy in this festive season.

Christmas is almost upon us. We've moved everything back a day to accommodate split families. We will do Christmas Eve on the 23rd and celebrate Christmas on the 24th. We will have snacks and things and likely play games on the Eve, and I shall make a Mexican lasagna for our Christmas meal. We'll have an apple pie for dessert that I will pick up at the Ashton Church, which you see and read about several times a year.

There will be a somewhat disappointing difference on Christmas Eve, for Sue and I shall return home after our little family gathering. For all of the years since the grands have come along, except for the COVID interruption, we have slept over at theirs and been present in the morning for the fun to begin. Now, with my rotator cuff nonsense, I can't get comfortable in bed, and so I sleep in my chair. We will drive back there bright and early, however.

I have been sleeping in my recliner for months now, and it is pretty well a necessity. I gave into temptation the other night went to bed, but I only managed a few hours before the pain was irritating me too much. My arm was also sorer than usual the next day. So, I will return home to slumber on our Christmas Eve and will return to Sha's early on what will be our Christmas morning.

Today, however, is the actual beginning of Christmas for us because it is Shauna's birthday. My little girl has been living in tis world for 51 years, How can that be? She was born on the 20th of December 1972 and came home on Christmas Day. What a Christmas present!

However, Sha was not happy about being home, and we were at our wits end until Sue's mother arrived all of the way from Toronto (200 miles) with Christmas dinner. More important than dinner, however, was that grandma knew just how to settle and comfort a distressed Shauna. Thankfully, she was able to teach us before she return home abut a week later. Basically, we had to bounce her (Shauna, not grandma) furiously in the carriage or rock her with exuberant gusto. People couldn’t believe what we had to do to keep this little baby girl content. 

Once upon a time, Sue’s Aunt Elsie came to visit. When Sue was out, Elsie took Shauna for a walk in the pram. Fortunately, she was walking with our neighbour who also had a baby girl. Shauna was unhappy with the way Aunt Elsie was pushing the carriage, so the neighbour, who knew the routine, took over the carriage, bouncing it with considerable enthusiasm. This settled Shauna right down, and Elsie, pushed the neighbour’s normal child sedately, as normal people do for normal babies. I swear that I am not exaggerating. Our routine perplexed and astounded many a person, let me tell you. 

I re-edited this photo of Baby Shauna in her snowsuit. There was no snow on the ground, but that was often the case when we lived in Sarnia. The snow came and went and came and went again. Here in Easter Ontario, it tends to come and stay although the big snow of December 04 did almost vanish before we got a little more on Monday night.

I used generative fill for the background. Why I didn't specify snow, I know not.
I simply asked for trees, and AI gave me very summery ones.
Perhaps I shall retry later when I have the time,
for it is going to be a busy day.

That is our precious and beautiful, Christmas baby, Shauna. She looks sweet, sedate and normal. Doesn’t she? Actually, she was always sweet but just not normal. However, I think she had grown out of the frenzied state by the time of this picture, which I liked well enough to print as an 8x10, just to have around for the party.