Taking lego into the real world – 4 September 2018

Something I hadn’t thought about before I saw there was a group on Flickr devoted to it. So I tried it, and it worked.

The day began with Scamp going out for coffee with one of her friends. I stayed in, half intending to slap some watercolour on a bit of paper, but inspiration wasn’t there, so I started into my plan to thwart those pesky birds I suspect of stealing my leeks. Twice, or is it three times now, I’ve planted leeks and watered them in, only to find that they’d disappeared the next morning. JIC has now had the same problem. I don’t think it’s slugs because there is no sparkly slime across the raised bed and besides it’s been dosed twice now with slug nemesis nematodes. It must be birds. When I asked Colin last week, he agreed that the wee feathered buggers were the culprits. I had thought of buying a shotgun, but that was a bit severe and besides, the pellets would probably damage the kale that’s growing quite well now. Then there would be the noise and I don’t want the polis coming to the door asking if I have a license for a firearm. No prevention is better than cure, quieter and less damaging to the environment too.
I’d already planned it out, sort of, so I got some bamboo canes and cut them to size then used cable ties to tie them together at the top to … Now look, this is far too difficult to describe. Imagine a ridge tent. An inefficient ridge tent because it’s covered, not with canvas, but with netting. That’s the basis of the bird keeper outer. Hopefully it will work. We shall see in the morning. If the leeks are still there then it was a success. If not it’s on to the internet to find a supplier of shotguns. Ebay, that’s the place to go. Ebay for the Dark Web perhaps.

When Scamp came home the bird keeper outer was finished and looking … reasonable. I had just finished my lunch and was thinking that I might go out in the sunshine and take some of my lego weemen out for a run on the Dewdrop. Weemen were originally all men, but now some female minifigs have made their way into their midst but the name can still apply because the singular for a woman in West Central Scots is Wummin and the plural is Weemen, so it works. Set up the scenario on a bit of waste ground covered with big rough chipping. Set the camera up on a tripod and shot ten or so frames while moving the lady road mender around between each. Back home I layered up the shots and used masks to remove the bits I didn’t want and reveal the weemen. Like the bird keeper outer it’s easier to see than explain and it doesn’t need any cable ties either. The resulting image is PoD.

I think we are on our way to getting the dripping tap fixed. Unfortunately it looks like we’ll need a new tap, rather than fixing the old one. I was coming round to that conclusion after so many plumbers seemed to reject the idea of fixing the old tap. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I just want the Japanese water torture to stop. It’s driving me more crazy than normal.

Guess what happened today. Michael phoned to change the time of tomorrow’s class to an hour earlier. Actually it suits us better to go then, because it opens up the afternoon. So dancing tomorrow.

Two Firsts & A Second! – 30 August 2018

Four quid too!

Scamp was out in the morning and that gave me time to start painting my latest masterpiece. It was to be an abstract seascape. I tried using the Inktense sticks, but they didn’t look right once they were down. I think the colours are too ‘cold’, especially the blues. I’ll probably just paint over it again with acrylic tomorrow.

After that and after hanging out the washing, I went to meet Val and Colin. Coffees all round. Fred was missing because he’d to stay in to keep the plumbers on the right lines when they were rebuilding his bathroom. Colin very kindly brought my photos and painting back from the flower show, along with my winnings. Four quid for two firsts and a second! The little piggy watercolour got a first and the landscape of Quiraing also got a first in the photography section. My favourite landscape, Murdo’s old tractor with the Quiraing behind it only got a second. Now it could have been that there were on two photographs and one painting in the competition, I don’t know because we were down in England at the time, but Colin did say that competition was tough, so I’m thinking that’s good enough for me. I’m now considering entering the little piggy in the Venice Biennale. I think it has a fighting chance.

Came home and realised that I didn’t have a photo for today, so got my cycling shorts and long sleeved top on and took the Dewdrop out on the back road to Kirkintilloch. That’s where I got the PoD. I also got a fairly good shot of these four horses in a field under a glowering sky, but the landscape felt more luminous, so it won.

Fell off the bike on the way back. I think the SPDs need some adjustment or maybe some grease. Left shoe is sticking a lot. Amazingly, the right pedal is fine although it’s caked in dried mud. The left one is shiny clean and it’s the one that’s sticking. Can’t fathom it out. I’ll grease them and see if that helps. No harm done in the fall, just my pride, but luckily there was no-one there to see me!

Dinner tonight deserves special mention. It was Chicken Milanese with potatoes and a big hunk of broccoli. Scamp showing just how good a cook she is. Absolutely delicious.

Tomorrow Scamp is out to lunch with the witches. May take the Dewdrop out again along the same road as today. I’ve a hankering to climb the Kirky Volcano. It’s actually an old pit bing, but from certain angles it looks like a volcano.

Dancing in the morning – 29 August 2018

Today Michael had deemed that the dance lesson would be in the morning.

That meant an earlyish rise and we were out by 10.15am. In Glasgow we started with a fairly lengthy waltz lesson covering all we’d learned so far with Michael tweaking and gently adjusting it. Things were beginning to make more sense. Next was quickstep and that wasn’t much clearer than it had been before. I’d forgotten just how fast it was. Tango was much better. Got the head movement and the staccato style of the dance better. Today we had to change partners for a while just to see how the other half danced! Finally we were on to Jive, but not the Dance of the Seven Spins, well not at first. We started with the Ladles and then went on to the Lindy Hop. Mental wee moves from the 1920s. I don’t know what they were drinking when they invented it, but I’d like to taste it! And that’s when the Seven Spins came back in to complete the sequence. It did all fit together after all.

Coffee afterwards to calm down and take stock. Yes, we certainly are improving. Michael spent some time with us, correcting mistakes, but not nearly as much as he spent with the other couples. We must be improving. On the way to coffee we passed Hutcheson’s Hospital grabbing a ray of sunlight and shining brightly. That became PoD. I say ’became’ because it is actually a Vertorama, a made up name for a vertical panorama. It’s made up of two shots, one of the top down almost to the start of the street and another of the foreground cobbles combined in Lightroom and then processed a bit to brighten up the white building.

Went for a walk when we came back, just over to St Mo’s, but there really wasn’t much of interest there.

Salsa at night was fairly interesting in the first class (7.30) but I just can’t get into that second class. Maybe my dancing brain is exhausted by the end of the day but it just seems a bit of a drag. I think we’ve agreed to dismiss it from our dancing day.

Tomorrow, Scamp has a coffee booked with Shona in the morning and I have coffee booked with Colin and Val in the afternoon. Fred is supervising the fitting out of his new bathroom.

I walked into a door – 7 August 2018

Today, a Tuesday, we were going dancing.

So far we’ve had ballroom classes on a Wednesday, a Thursday and a Friday. Today we added a Tuesday to the list. The only weekday we haven’t had has been a Monday, not yet, anyway. Today saw a definite improvement. The Waltz was better and we were introduced to the mysterious Spin 7 in Jive. Even the Tango was getting better. All of this was a miracle in itself after the black monkey I brought to the basement of Blackfriars pub.

The reason was this. When we left the house, I was ducking down to avoid a low hanging branch of the chestnut tree we park under, and simultaneously opening the car door. I whacked my nose off the corner of the door and bells started ringing in my head. I ended up with two cuts to the side of my beak. To say the red mist descended would be an understatement. The sensible thing to do would have been to go back into the house, clean the cut and maybe put some ice on my beak to halt the progress of any bruising, but when have I done anything sensible? No, I drove off with a paper hankie in one hand, dabbing away the blood when there was an opportunity. Nothing can stop the desire to go dancing. Parked in silence and that silence continued all the way down through the streets to the the basement of the pub. We arrived just in time to start the class. I firmly believe that the black monkey only leaves you when it finds some other person who deserves its attention. Some poor soul left that place with the cares of the world on their shoulders, disguised as a black monkey. Me? I was in a much better mood and Scamp breathed a sigh of relief. I don’t think she believes in black monkeys and you have to believe in them, for them to cling to you. Some call them black dogs, but for me it’s always monkeys.

Coffee after the dancing to discuss what we’d learned today and what we need to improve. We’d had a few pointers from Michael. The most enlightening for us was the importance of ‘The Frame’ and ‘The Hold’. The Hold especially made so much difference to the difficult second part of the waltz. It’s sometimes the little tweaks that make the biggest difference. The other two couples didn’t bother to use what he taught us. One couple think they know it all. The other pair have just started learning to walk upright, so it meant nothing to them.

Got today’s PoD in that storeroom of photo opportunities, The GOMA. All human life is there, and a few other species too. I got another shot too. Another sketch on a junction box at the side of Candleriggs. I’ve seen one by the same artist before only a few meters from this new one. Impressive work in what looks like wax crayon or chinagraph pencil.

Home with a sore nose. I got a few strange looks, but if asked if I was alright, I had the answer off pat.

“I walked into a door!”

Early rise – 6 August 2018

Up early to get the milk for breakfast.

I woke just after 7am and knew I wouldn’t get back to sleep, so I got up and dressed and went to get some milk for breakfast. Tesco is so much easier to park in, shop in and browse at this time of the morning. I should do it more often. After breakfast, Scamp left to go see her cousin and I did some essential cleaning up. After that, I fixed the new SPD pedals to the Dewdrop. It was a much easier job fitting them than removing the old rat traps. A dollop of grease on the crank threads, another on the pedal threads and male met female in perfect harmony. Tightened them up with the new pedal spanner, just because I could. After that I did the final tidying of the back bedroom. By that time Scamp was home for lunch before exiting again for her next meeting with one of the witches.

I’d considered going out to get a new external HD to back up July’s photos, but decided to plough on with getting the room ready for the visitors. Now they have a bed and also sufficient space to swing a cat. Fear not Hazy, no members of the feline community were injured in this exercise. Apparently the ‘cat’ in question was a cat o’ nine tails anyway, at least according to the InterWeb, that mine of useless and occasionally factual information.

By the time Scamp returned full of caffein, it was dinner time and I tried a variation on Spaghetti Carbonara which contained mushrooms as an extra ingredient. It was ok, but nothing special.

Salsa tonight was tiring and the moves confusing to a bear of little brain (me). Most people had their own variations on the moves and stuck to them. The new move was Setenta Chino, but this may have its name changed to something more PC.

Today our neighbours in the pensioner’s house next door left to move to a bigger house around the corner. I guess they need it now that their daughter is nearly six months old. Wonder who we’ll get now? Heavens, we would both qualify for a pensioner’s house, but how would we pack all our stuff into a smaller house. We’d need a ginormous version of a vacuum packer machine!

Today’s PoD is just some leaves with a bit of side lighting. Never really got out to get anything else. That’s the problem with shooting over 200 shots yesterday. You become sated and need a bit of a photo diet to bring you back to normal.

Dancing in town tomorrow, hopefully unless Scamp gets a phone call tomorrow to re-schedule. Hopefully not.

Coffee, Sycophants and Nits – 24 July 2018

Coffee with Fred to start the day off.

Actually coffee wasn’t until midday and the day was well and truly started by then. Topics for discussion today were shed building, the dangers of dodgy wiring and laying paving slabs. All mixed in with our usual critiques of each other’s paintings.

After lunch Scamp and I started working on her garden videos which are a great way of recording what was where in the garden in July 2018. Finally got them converted to a reasonable size and a usable format then put them on the website. They will stay there for a week or so.  Here’s the link

Dinner was home grown potatoes with cabbage (and bacon for me). Then it was time to go meet an author.

Got in early to Glasgow because I wanted to have a look for a PoD. I found it up at the Art School. I went there to see if I could get some moody shots of the shell of the Mackintosh building which is being partly demolished amid great weeping and wailing from the vociferous luvvies who attended it. Glasgow council has finally made a courageous decision not to throw any more cash than is necessary at this money pit. One fire is a real shame. Two fires is a message. Let it go. Others will disagree, let them. My blog, my opinion. Anyway, I couldn’t get a decent shot past or over the safety cordon, so I chose instead to shoot some shots of the new building. I hadn’t noticed the stylised bird shape etched on to the surface of the building. I liked the way it shone in the sun and doesn’t it look a bit like a phoenix? Not exactly rising from the ashes, but it is a bit of a coincidence. It was an easy PoD. Not so easy to process. That took Lightroom 6 for levels correction of perspective, Photoshop CS3 for adjustments to the sky. (The cloud just wasn’t quite in the correct place) and finally ON1 for extra colour tweaking. Ansel Adams was right, you don’t take a photo, you make it.

Finally got to the book signing which was on the top floor of Waterstones where there is a bar! Who knew?! Got a seat then became fidgety and started writing … in pencil … on a notebook – old style. This is what I wrote:

I’m sitting at the top floor of Waterstones in Glasgow waiting for Becky Chambers to appear to talk about her new book. I already have the book and also a birthday prezzy for Murdo which I got half price! Two rows in front of me is a girl with nits. She must be because she has a classic ‘bowl cut’ about an inch clear of her ears. Her hair is shaved into the wood below that line. Its awful looking, It’s the same cut as all the boys with nits had in Larky when I was wee, back in the ’50s. It probably cost her a fortune.
All around is the twittering noise of the twittering masses of the twenty-something, excitedly discussing what they’ve just read and how much they are going to enjoy this reading tonight. I must be the oldest here. The old bloke who’s stumbled in here thinking it was a political meeting or something. I feel so out of place. I’m not tweeting, I’m not twittering, I’m not excited. I don’t even have my phone out. Most folk in the room are on their phones, no doubt tweeting their excitement while verbally twittering. I must be the only one here who’s writing with a pencil on a notebook. The Nits Girl is making me itchy.
UPDATE – We’ve now had our safety talk and know where the nearest exit is. We haven’t yet had the life vest demo but the fasten seatbelt light comes on. Then I hear the captain call “Cabin crew, doors to automatic and cross check”. We’re off. She’s here!!!

After all that, the talk was just ok. A few dull questions from the Waterstones bloke and then the usual fanboys (and fangirls) with their hands up, shouting “Me miss!”, “Me miss!” Then it was over. Time to go home. Interesting to see Ms Chambers, but not something I’d write home about. Oh! I just did!

Watched “Rip It Up” tonight. A quite forgettable Haun’ Knitted Scottish production about how we started the rock scene for the whole world. EXCEPT, when Lulu was the subject, Scamp remembered being in the crowd that was there to watch her in Easterhouse. I’d downloaded the program at the weekend and when I watched it on the computer frame by frame, look what appeared. A star is born, and it isn’t Lulu!

Dancin’ early tomorrow then maybe manage another run on the bike.

A day out in the Clacks – 16 July 2018

Nothing to do with communication systems in the Diskworld

A Monday without Gems and also without Salsa is a strange thing, but so it was today. We were going out to explore. I thought, as it was a fairly bright sunny day we should go for a walk and suggested Gartmorn Dam near Alloa.

It’s well signposted almost from the Clacks (Clackmannanshire) bridge but when you turn off through a housing scheme, not an estate, a scheme – it’s different. When you turn off you have to run the gauntlet of the slalom through the cars and vans parked both sides of the road, with the added interest of the speed bumps. It would appear that the locals are no fans of the speed bumps either as many of them have been removed by some clever folk who have access to the special spanners used to fix them. I can see why. Speed bumps are a deterrent when they aren’t on your own territory, then they are just a nuisance, so it they are demountable, demount them. Once you get there, it’s actually a really pretty looking pond. It appears that nobody knows exactly when the dam was built, but the estimate is some time around the start of the 17th century. It’s a decent size with a good path round the 3mile perimeter. We didn’t actually walk all the way round today, although we walked about half way round the last time we were here, about two years ago and almost the same again on the other side of the reservoir today, so that’s us been all the way round by my reckoning. Today’s PoD shows the view across the reservoir to the Ochil Hills.

On our way round we found a dilapidated sunken garden that was in real need of some TLC. Hmm the ‘cooncil’ can afford to put in speed bumps that nobody wants, but they can’t afford to look after a garden. We watched a young couple paddling an inflatable dinghy on the reservoir. A cleg found me and sucked a bit of my blood, the last meal it had before being flattened. We watched two wee boys jumping off a filter in the reservoir with increasingly innovative dives, egged on by no less a person than Scamp. We drank some coffee, although to give mine the name coffee was a misnomer (it was a Babyccino with something brown added for colour.) We had a couple of lovely fruit scones and Scamp managed to tear a hole in her tee shirt on a rose bush. Most of all, we had a great day out, except for the cleg bite and the torn tee shirt.

Came home and the sun was still shining. I intended taking my bike out for a run while Scamp pruned the rose at the front door, but I lay down and had a snooze on the couch instead, waking up just in time for dinner.

Now that was a good day out.

Tomorrow we have no plans.

Pizza, roses and new specs

Out at midday to catch up with Val.

Coffee in the usual place and an hour or two of chat, then back to pick up Scamp for a visit to Simpson in Larkhall to pick up new lenses for Scamp and new specs for me. Couldn’t decide on dinner and finally opted for pizza, home made of course.

After making the dough, I knew I had at least an hour to wait for it to prove before I could start, so that was as good an excuse as possible for a seat in the garden under a partly cloudy sky to read and drink a glass of wine. We even got a chance to use our Garden Scotland glass holders. Took some photos of flowers and things in the garden and the Ruby Wedding rose got PoD.

Pizzas were made and consumed and basically that was it for a warm Friday with just the hint of dampness in the air. I did detect a couple of tiny spots of rain on my Kindle, but it didn’t come to anything.

Tomorrow I think we’re going to Glasgow to see the Gay Pride march. It’s been quite an ‘interesting’ show for the last two years. Hopefully the rain will stay away for another day.

Lazers and Needles – 11 July 2018

Physio today.

Up and out early to meet the torturer. Actually he’s a very gentle torturer who tentatively prods and pushes then presses on a spot a bit harder and, as I twist, says with a smile “It hurts there then!” Oh yes, it did! He swiftly diagnosed a damaged medial ligament. Caused by not listening to Michael properly when he was demonstrating the reverse turn. Then it was on to 15 minutes of laser treatment before he started with the needles. I’ve had acupuncture before, but it’s a while since I saw them going in. Oh, they are long! It’s a strange feeling seeing them sink deeper and deeper into my leg. He finished up by giving me two exercises to give a bit more flexibility to my core. I didn’t know I had a core, but apparently I do have quite a stiff core which is also part of my problem. These are exactly the kind of exercises that JIC warns that you do a couple the days before you go back to see the physio, but you tell him you’ve been doing religiously all week and you both know you’re lying! I’m starting out with good intentions.

Got home and it was just a few minutes after 9. Had a coffee, checked my mail, checked Flickr and the inevitable FB then went out to the garden and did a bit of light pruning. Chopped the seed heads off the aquilegia.

Came in to find Scamp washing half a dozen bone handled knives. Old ones. Probably older than me. Probably a wedding present to my mum and dad. Definitely so much better than modern stainless steel ones. The handles weren’t even bone, they were that modern plastic! The only down side is that you can’t put them in the dishwasher. When they were made a dishwasher was called a scullery maid.

While Scamp went off to buy some more flowers for the garden, I grabbed my cameras and drove down to Auchinstarry for a walk along the railway out to Dumbreck Marshes, then back along the canal, still hoping to see that blue flash of the kingfisher. It wasn’t there. It must be on its holidays. What I did see was a little yellow and black striped caterpillar. I knew I’d seen it before and I reckoned it was a moth caterpillar. Tried to review the last photo and got the message “NO CARD”. Luckily I’d only taken a few shots, but the SD card was indeed missing. Still in the slot in the computer, no doubt. Swapped a card out from the Teazer that was in my pocket and I was back in business. A few steps further on I saw another couple of stripy caterpillars and got the shot. When I was checking them back home on the computer, they weren’t all that sharp. The ones I missed would have been pin sharp and full of detail. They were indeed moth caterpillars, that would grow up to be cinnabar moths in a few weeks time.

They didn’t make PoD, the view along the canal did. I liked all the tones and hues of green in the shot.

Dinner tonight was Chicken Rogan Josh from the Spice Tailor series. Easily the best and simplest curry kits in the world. Coupled with basmati rice and flatbreads it made a delicious dinner.

Went to salsa because the physio said that was ok. Danced half the first class and then all the second amid cheers from the Scottish supporters in The Schoolhouse pub magically turned into AWPE (Anyone Who’s Playing England) supporters when Croatia equalised. Probably half of them didn’t know, or care, where Croatia was, just that they had beaten ‘the auld enemy’. I didn’t hear the final cheer, but then the music was quite loud. Doing La Confusion where men become women and followers become leaders. Probably the best named move we’ve ever learned, although some of the technicalities still evade me.  I was really glad of the fans tonight, nothing to do with football, but everything to do with staying cool.  It may be getting close to the end of the heatwave, and rain may soon be on  the horizon, but the temperature is still in the mid twenties and when you’re dancing in an airless atrium of an old school you need the fans to create a circulation of air.

Home with a smile on my face tonight. It was a good day.

Tomorrow? Maybe Dunfermline on the bus.

Larky for glasses – 10 July 2018

Today we were going to the opticians in Larky.

Scamp was going for an eye check and because she felt her contact lenses weren’t quite right. I was going because I thought I needed a new pair of reading glasses. My reason was that the legs had fallen off, the frame was broken and there was only one lens in the frame. Yes, I think I may need new specs.

Thankfully, after inspecting my glasses, the optician agreed that it was probably time I had new glasses. Scamp also needed new lenses, but he also told her that she had the beginnings of a cataract and that although it would take about five years to mature, when it does and when she has the operation, she will be able to see perfectly for the first time ever without lenses or contacts! How amazing is that?

After that revelation, we drove down Clydeside for a light lunch. We ended up at Sandyholm which is now the ubiquitous Dobbies. I hesitantly ordered a pot of peppermint tea for Scamp and, hesitantly, an Americano coffee for me. My record on coffees hasn’t been all that good recently, but I needn’t have worried. The coffee was fine. So was Scamp’s sandwich plus my panini was just as it should be soft and warm. If anyone was needing nails hammered in they’d need to use a hammer instead or go to Craigend Nursery to get an alternative impelling agent. We’d already bought a couple of plants from what looked like a new nursery further along the road, with the unusual name of “The Flower Fairies”. That isn’t the kind of name I’d expect from a plant nursery, certainly not down Clydeside. Still, we had a look at the plants on display at Sandyholm and as usual with a Dobbies franchise, they looked a little worse for wear. Admittedly the weather has been unusually hot these past weeks, but that’s no excuse for not watering the plants you’re hoping to sell.

Drove home through Netherburn. The houses in the scheme had been tarted up, but the occupants still had those low brows and stared in suspicion at a red Juke driving round. You could almost see the brain cells working “That’s a STRANGER”. Drove out in the direction of Craignethan Castle and were surprised at the amount of new houses being built on what used to be the railway. Noted that the primary school was gone leaving only the iron railings. It’s amazing the changes in a place after thirty odd years.

Back home Scamp finished pulling the fruit from the blackcurrant bush and then started pruning it back. I finally watered the Vine Weevil nematodes into anything that looked like it needed it and then finished off with a feed of seaweed fertiliser.

Spoke to JIC tonight and exchanged views on our holidays. Ours was totally different from theirs, but both lots seemed to be satisfactory.

Today’s PoD is Scamp’s sweet peas, the second picking.

Out early tomorrow to see the physio and no ballroom dancing in the afternoon as it was cancelled by Michael. Maybe, just maybe going to salsa at night.