Thursday, February 29, 2024

On a Fine February Day

Tuesday: we are walking in our little downtown. It's beautiful out, something, like 14C/58F. Although still February, it is like an early spring day. I am hatless and gloveless. My coat is open, but I am not chilly. What more could an old geezer wish for on a February day?

But there is more. 

Across the street, we spy a man on a bike with a red parrot on this shoulder. He sees Sue pointing her phone. He comes over for a chat.

He and the parrot make a good pair, for they are both 65 years old.

The parrot can fly, but he is more than happy to sit on the man's shoulder and to be taxied about the town.

Isn't he a beauty?

For me, it is a wonderful sighting and encounter on what is already such a fine day.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Sue the Tenacious and Chuffed

I am not sure how to tell this succinctly and coherently, but I shall try. I may fail at telling it interestingly, however. It is a story that highlights my wife's ingenuity and tenacity.

Let me begin with the ending, or close to it, which happens to be Sue scrabbling in the ice and snow in the park.

Now, how do I tell it from here?

Weeks ago, Sue was carrying the tripod through this park to take a selfie of some sort. It turned out that she never used it, but she did notice, at about this location, that a piece had fallen off the tripod head.

It was the little piece that I've circled in red on this ↓ photo, the bit that says, "Lock."

I'll now use this next image to show the size of it compared to her fingernail. 

Remember, it's the little circled thingie inside the little knobby thingie.

Somehow, she saw it, picked it up and put it in her pocket. We didn't realize the full ramification until later, however. That occurred on the night that I took my tripod to the bridge to shoot the night lights and realized that my tripod head was broken. The whole knobby thingie (outlined in green, up above) was gone, and that the tripod was therefore, like me its owner, dysfunctional.

After another week, and probably three weeks in total, we had lost some of the snow cover, and Sue determined that we should return to the scene of the crime, as it were, and  look for the knobby lever thingie.

If you go back to the top photo of Sue scrabbling on the path, that is where she found it. Yup, she found the little thing embedded in the ice — after several weeks! She used her handwarmers to heat the ice and the car keys to pry the knob loose.

The little divot within the red square is where it had lain embedded in the frozen snow.

We came home, and she put the tripod head back together; lo and behold, it functions once more. 

Sue is more mechanical than I (well most people are, squirrels and crows too), for while I had thought that the tiny round plate thingie was decorative, she realized that it was meant to actually hold the lever in place. It's a poor design, in my opinion, but that is how it was designed to work.

My lady was quite chuffed with herself for finding the two pieces despite the odds and then putting the the device back together into workable order.

I'd say that she had good reason to be chuffed.

And I am happy to have a functional tripod once again.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

A Lesser Winter

Perhaps you recall seeing this photo about a week ago. It is one of the places where we can access the OVRT (Ottawa Valley Recreational Trail) in town, but we tend to refer to it mare casually as the bridge trail or train bridge trail. However, the point of the photo is to review the snow cover on February 17th.

Eight days later, on February 25, the view had changed.

As far as I can recall, we don't usually see as much bare ground in February, but that photo has sent me off to review pictures from out front, comparing last winter and this. This is what it looked like more than a month later than now on March 28 and April 04, 2023.

So what does it look like now, on February 26 2024?

February 26 20024 is not too dissimilar to April 04 2023 but it's quite a bit less than March 28 2023. You can also see the difference in this image.

It is a real possibly that we will yet experience some significant storms. In fact, based on past experience, I would say that it is more than likely. I doubt, however, that it will accumulate to 2023 levels. I'll get back to you if I am wrong. Which I usually am.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Reimagining the Photo

I took this photo of four sleeping geese early in January and showed it to you then. The four geese were standing on ice that also had a thin layer of water on top.

I was pleased enough with it, for it was an accurate photo that captured the light, or lack of same, pretty well as it was on that day. I do tend to do realistic portrayals more often than not.

After almost two months, however, when I came across the photo again, I was not quite as pleased with it. By then, I felt less constrained by the actual the conditions at the time and decided that the scene could do with a just little brightening and warming.

It isn't a huge change, and I think it keeps the integrity of the image, but it's a better version (not saying it's a great image) in my opinion. It just adjusts reality a bit, which is pretty well what phone photos do each and every time. 

Some photographers believe that you should make it a habit to wait for awhile before you process your images. I can see their point, but I won't be able to resist editing them almost right away, for I feel as though the processing is part of the shoot. Also, as I have just proved, they can always be re-edited, and that way, you get to play with the photo twice if you so choose.

Note: I was deliberately shooting through the foreground reeds for effect.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Living in 2024

I came across a post, You Know You're Living in 2024 when..., and decided to select a few items to comment on (or, on which to comment if you insist😊).

1. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.

Sue and I often text each other from her room to mine when we are just across the hall from each other. It is often links though, which would be difficult to verbalize. Most recently, she saw a linedance video that she wanted to share. Most of the time we will chat in person about things on the daily agenda.

2. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or almost 70 in my case) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

Pretty much. Sue reminds me to take my phone every time I leave the house. If she were to forget and if I were also to forget, Siri would remind me ss longas I also wouldn't have forgotten to ear my watch. In other words, it would take a lot of forgetting.

It's a safety issue for us and not so much a "I can't live without it" sort of thing.

3. You get up in the morning and go online before getting your coffee.

Not quite, but close. The coffee machine is close to my chair, which also serves as my bed these days. I set it up the night before and press the start button almost as soon as I wake up By the time I return to the room from completing morning necessities, the coffee has brewed, and I sit down with it and turn the computer on. So the two events – coffee and going online –  pretty well occur concurrently. 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Caturday 57: Senior Cat Afflictions

Look at this most impressive jump and climb made by a cat that somehow got herself into a pretty deep pit at what appears to be a construction site.

That was noteworthy, but climbing and jumping are very difficult for poor Lacey. Look how she struggled to get onto my chair while I was watching a hockey game one evening.

This week was the fifth anniversary of Lacey's arrival to our home. I don't know how agile she was in her youth, but she was at least somewhat more capable than this five years ago. These days, either her hips or back legs seem to be arthritic. Poor thing.

Lacey has lived with us into her senior years, as had our previous three cats.

Prior to Lacey, old Bella was in even worse shape. She was a rescue from a lady who lived in Shauna's senior residence. When the lady could no longer take care of Bella, we took her in (Bella, I mean, not the lady). She was even more arthritic than Lacey and also required daily laxative to keep functioning. 

Already in old age, Bella only lived for only 7 months with us, but she was, indeed, a sweetie. We were sad to lose her, but I hope we helped to make her last months, good months.

Keeping with the theme of compromised cats, we had a tuxedo cat that we called Rocky. He was born with a foot defect, which you can see in this photo.

He limped somewhat throughout his life, but like our other cats, he lived to a pretty good age. Considering his deformed front paw, he was fortunate that his hindermost parts didn't seem to become compromised like Lacey's have and like Bella's had. I always thought, however, that his poor, front foot must have caused him significant discomfort.

Let's go back one more cat, shall we, for we also had Scutter for a very long time. He grew deaf in his dotage, which is odd in a cat, but otherwise, he remained pretty spry until the end.

He loved to chase those little cat treats that come in bags. I would give one a good toss, and he would scamper after it with gusto and glee. I am not sure how he could track them when he was deaf, but track them he did.

Lacey, also loves her treats, but if they don't land directly in front of her, she is lost. She even loses track when they land on her. She has no clue, actually.

And that, dear reader, is a glimpse of the afflictions of our last four cats, who all lived well into their senior years although Lacey still has a couple of years to go to catch up to the others. We think she is 13, and I think the others all made until they were about 16.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Three States

H2O in Three States

On another little afternoon walk with the compact camera, we spied a bit of ice below the little bridge. The first two photos set the scene of the steep and rocky river bank with the fast-flowing water below along with some ice formations under the overhanging rock at the edge of the river.

The scene was quite monochromatic to begin with, so it wasn't a stretch to convert to b&w.

Then I zoomed in to study the icicles a little more closely. As it happens, the first and third photos are almost the same composition.

They say that there are always photos if we look thoroughly enough. While most may not quite reach the standard of a seaside sunset, they can still be satisfying enough, maybe even more so if you see something in the little details of an otherwise banal outlook.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Family Day

Family Day is a statutory provincial holiday that is just what it sounds like, a mid-winter day off for people and families.

Come morning, I gathered the ingredients for a big pot of Chicken Corn Chowder. The rotisserie chicken is already shredded in the container to the left, under the evaporated milk cans. Behind the bacon is a similar container of chopped onion, celery, red pepper and garlic, which had taken me a very long time to chop because I am an incredibly slow chopper of veggies. Well, let's face it, I'm just plain slow.

Once I had gathered all of the ingredients, I took my time getting everything lined up in the order that I would use them. I have to do it this way because otherwise I tend to miss steps. Well, the bacon was out of order because it was actually the first item to be cooked, followed by the flour+thyme which was in the container between the evaporated milk and the diced tomatoes. The rest is pretty well in order of deployment.

I cooked the chowder in the morning in order to get it out of the way for company in the afternoon when we reheated and served. It also gave my aching back time to recover.

What a big pot, eh? It did the five of us for that supper, three of whom had seconds. Then we sent some home with the family, and there was enough left over for Sue and me to have two more meals.

By the way, it was very good. I can't remember when I last cooked it, but this rendition seemed extra tasty. Maybe taking my time in the morning was beneficial because I did seem to get it right.

We played games, first UNO . . . 

JJ was peeking at my hand while the rest of us posed for the picture.

. . .  and then Wizard.

Our Wizard scoresheet: two columns under each person, the first being the running total while the second column is the hand just played. If you make your bid, you get 10 points plus whatever you bid. I (last column, J)  bid and made 2 tricks in the final round, which gave 12 for the hand and 55 for the game. We sometimes go back down from 7 to 1, but we broke for supper and didn't get back to the cards.

We have been playing variations of Wizard in this family for probably close to 50 years. Once upon a time, we played with a regular card deck and called it Oh Heck.

The visit, with games and food, lasted for three hours or so. Sue made composites of the event as only Sue can do.

After supper, Lacey got some prolonged loving from JJ, which was appropriate since it was the fifth anniversary of her arrival to our family. We think she is 13 years old. We also think that she didn't have to best possible life before we came along. I can tell you that she was thinner, five years ago.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Fool of a Toque

Canadians call pull-on wool hats, toques (/tōk/) or sometimes tuques. Elsewhere, similar hats may be called beanies.
The word toque has been known in English since around 1500. It is a loan word from the French tuque (15th century), presumably by the way of the Spanish toca 'woman's headdress', from Arabic *taqa طاقة, itself from Old Persian taq 'veil, shawl'. The word toque in Breton means 'hat'.  (Google)

I have three toques, and I struggle with them all. While it may look okay-ish in that ↑ selfie, the situation soon becomes ridiculous. This ↓ is how it begins to want to work its way off my head when I wear one for more than about 30 seconds. I mean, a toque is supposed to more or less adhere to the head, and not try to lift off and look like a black chef's hat.

Sue opines that my head is too big.

When we went out to photograph the bridge lights (yesterday's post), I used an alternate toque that we discovered in the box where we keep scarfs and gloves and so on. Apparently, it had been thrown into the box and forgotten for good reason, and there it should have remained because it was worse than the above toque.

It was so much worse that Sue burst into fits of laughter on the way home in the car.

What the heck is going on with my head?
I swear that this was not staged.
It just happened.

I only wear toques (in winter, obviously) when I am out with the camera, so I don't have to adjust a brimmed hat every time I raise the camera to eye-level. But we are on the back end of winter now, so I guess that I  will make do with regular hats for the duration and think about the toque situation again next winter.

I almost added "if I am still around" to the end of the previous sentence. I have never been tempted to think like that, but I will be 77 by next winter, so thoughts like these begin to surface.

Meanwhile, I refer you back to the title and ask, who said "Fool of a Took" in the movies, and in what circumstance? (Answer before scrolling down.)

It was Gandalf speaking to Peregrin Took in Lord of the Rings.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

White Night Lights

Sue required a night photo, so we headed to the bridge to photograph the lights. You have seen the special colour displays several times over the past year, but what we didn't know was that they routinely light with plain white lights at other times.

I ran into trouble right away when I discovered that my tripod had lost a piece and was, therefore, dysfunctional. I resorted to hand-holding the camera at a high ISO and slow shutter speed, and the results were acceptable.

You may recall that I prefer to shoot night lights when there is still some colour in the sky, but after editing for colour, I converted it ↑ to mono on a whim.  It turned out that I rather liked the black sky for b&w, which tends to lend itself to high contrast images. Here ↓ is another photo that I also initially processed with colour in mind but then converted to mono in the end.

Sue and I parted for a few minutes. She walked over to take photos on the other side of the bridge while I decided to to stash my useless tripod in the car and drive over to meet her. I took the following photo from where I had parked the car.

It was at that point that I lost my car keys. I checked my pockets and the car seats about three times before finding them on the ground, beside the car. Phew!

Meanwhile, Sue was not having much success on the other side, for she couldn't get past the snowbanks from snow clearing over there.

Between a broken tripod, lost keys, and a lack of accessibility, it was not the finest of outings. I picture returning, unencumbered by hats, boots, mitts, coats, and a functional tripod on a deliciously warm summer eve when we can take our sweet time taking whatever photos that our little, beating hearts desire.

Monday, February 19, 2024

An Almost-Hidden Door

There are many ways to access the trail, and most are easy, but this ↓ is the one that we chose recently. Toward the bottom left you can see a bit of the path that we were about to take up to the trail. It inclines gradually and reaches trail elevation just off the right of the photo. From there we usually walk left to get to the bridge. (You can see the beginnings of the bridge mid-left.) We often take photos from the bridge, like the set of the former Baines Machine Shop that I showed in mono a few days ago, but we didn't do that on this day.

This↓ is the same scene vertically. There is nothing extraordinary about either photo, but I am drawn to the softness of even ordinary winter scenes.

The building in the background ↑ is not the Baines building (of the recent post) in either of the above photos. It is the former McArthur Textile Mill, which unlike Baines is being restored and converted into condos. Meanwhile, poor Baines suffers with broken windows and birds and squirrels coming and going.

When we did later walk by Baines, I spotted this little, almost hidden half-door. I don't recall ever noticing it b before.

However, I have often noticed the door in the back wall, and I probably have better photos than this ↓ one.

Upon our return to the car and opposite the first two photos of the post, there is the little Hackberry Park with a stand of hackberry trees that are somewhat unusual in this region. We are told that in times past, these trees were used by first nations people for medicinal purposes. I took this picture of the lonely bench that is well-framed by the trees.

It is Family Day in Ontario, so Shauna and the kids have the day off, and I shall cook a large pot of Chicken Corn Chowder. It will be nice to see them all, for with the kids now having parttime after-school jobs, it has become more difficult for all five of us to get together.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

At the Grand

At the very beginning of our Friday walk, I stopped to take this photo of the courtyard and [unused] entrance to The Grand Hotel with the still pristine, blanket of overnight snow covering the ground.

The owner/manager chanced by and invited us to come inside, wet boots and all, to look around and take some pictures. The small downstairs restaurant has just been converted to a bar lounge, so it was new to us and would be to most townsfolk. My little compact camera had its work cut out in the low light, but it did its best, and some editing in Lightroom also helped.

Upstairs was all set up for a wedding rehearsal dinner that evening. I am supposing that some of the ensemble would be staying in the hotel part of the establishment for a night or two..

This ↓ is a closeup of the little table in the far corner of the above ↑ photo.

It was a pleasant, little visit, providing us with something different in our otherwise repetitive winter walks, and I think the brave, little camera did well enough.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Commenters to the REDscue

After my post yesterday bemoaning the lack of red tees, Judy posted that I might find some at Lands' End. I tried but couldn't find red, but later, Damselfly posted some links, and sure enough, she found some.

Ed also chimed in to note that he gets them from Amazon. Why didn't I think to check there? After all, I do lower myself to purchase many items from the evil empire. Sure enough, I found red tees. 

Thank you all. I will certainly bear both sites in mind come the warmer weather, or maybe even before then.

I don't know why I am drawn to red, but I am, and in winter Sue insists that I wear my red coat on our photo walks. The one day that I wore my duller burgundy coat, I pretty well got lost in her photo, and she wasn't impressed. I do rather like this series, however: same spot, different focal lengths for the three images.

Aw, what the heck! After writing the above, I decided to go ahead and order two short sleeves and one long from Lands' End. I was apprehensive about the shipping cost to Canada, but it was sort of bearable.

After I made the order, Mary sent a link for a Team Canada tee. It has a small, rather unobtrusive logo which wouldn't bother me, so I will try to keep it in mind.