Ali’s Rant – 19 September 2018

The Ali in question was the first named storm of the year, and it swept in this morning causing havoc and destruction.

Ali didn’t prevent us from having our weekly dose of ballroom, although the walk down from Buchanan Galleries to Blackfriars was ‘interesting’ and at times ‘challenging’. Enjoyed the Jive because we were reprising the First Seven Spins and adding on the Ladles and finally attempting to bolt on the Lindy Hops. We would have done more, I’m sure, but D&D were back and apparently had had their brains formatted securely in the intervening two weeks. It was back to the start for them, and us, because we were in the same (physical) class. Just different class!
Waltz was improving, just trying to get Rise and Fall included in our steps and with Quickstep it was the swooping turns at the start we were introduced to. So no new moves this week, but revision every so often is a great thing, especially to smooth off the rough corners of our dance routine.

After that we fought our way back up to the carpark and the run home. We had a tail wind on the way back, so didn’t feel the effects of the wind so much. Scamp is beginning to show signs of my cold which is a great pity. I’m really selfish with things like colds and flus and I like to keep them for myself, where possible.

I wasn’t keen on going out for a walk with Ali still prowling around, although he was looking like a shadow of his former self, so instead I photographed the roses that were sitting on the coffee table with my glamorous assistant holding a piece of A2 paper behind them to hide the untidy living room. The roses are Sheila’s Perfume on the left and Peace on the right.  Scamp brought them in from the garden to prevent Ali from running away with them or battering them flat.  I’m quite impressed with the photo. It’s been through the mill a bit with changes here and softening edges there, but it looks like I wanted it to and that’s what counts.

Dinner tonight was the remains of yesterday’s Aloo Saag which was actually more Saag than Aloo, but there were flatbreads and rice to pad it out and it was declared fine. Better than yesterday’s in my opinion, but that’s often the way with soups and curries.

Scamp declared herself fit enough to go to 7.30 class tonight in STUC and it was a shambles.  They just don’t listen to what’s being taught, they think they can make it up themselves and they can’t.  The class is supposed to be level 4, but they make, and keep making elementary mistakes like turning left, not right.  Simple things.  I know we’ve all done it, I’ve done it, but I stop, think and try to fix it.  They don’t.  Numpties.  It’s partly Shannon’s fault for merging classes from different levels and calling them by the higher number.  What I mean is:  There aren’t enough students in a level 3 class to make it cost effective to run.  Rather than tell them that, she lumps them in with a level 4 class and calls the combined class Level 4.  This makes it twice as difficult for the teacher of the combined class and means that the level 3 students are struggling to keep up with the level 4 pupils in the class or the level 4 pupils get bored having to repeat level 3 moves with the influx students.  It’s never going to be a good way to teach, and it’s long term pain for short term (financial) gain.  Not the best way to run a railroad … or a salsa class.

Tomorrow the car goes in for service and I am getting a courtesy car. Wonder what it will be. We’ll all find out tomorrow. Me first, then Scamp and then you lot!

Cold begone! – 17 September 2018

Woke with a fairly clear head this morning and the roughness in my throat had gone. I was miraculously cured!

Just as well really because today is Monday and that’s Gems’ Day. There is no way I could have gone to my bed and stayed there all day while they were singing. What I did do was strip out some old silicone sealant from the shower cabinet and dry out the resulting cavity. Then resealed it and left the bathroom smelling strongly of vinegar. It’s not the best repair in the world, but I think it’s waterproof, or at least better than it was which is the next best thing. Tomorrow, I have to put the shower cabinet back together again with more silicone.

With that done I was free to go out and take some photos. I drove up to the back of Fannyside to see if there were any likely subjects. I found a field with some black sheep that looked as if they’d just arrived from the sales. Usually sheep spread themselves thinly across a field, but this lot were all bunched together and when one of them ventured away from the crowd, the rest followed like … er … sheep! Must visit them next week to see if they’ve settled in a bit better.

My subjects today were macros. A scary looking Daddy Longlegs spider, some Cladonia lichen and some moss fruiting bodies. And the winner is <Cue Drum Roll> The Cladonia. It was a neat, low, tight bunch and that helped keep them nicely in focus.

Scamp was eager to help out with the beginners 6.30 class tonight, so we left early. Unfortunately there was an EIS union meeting in the main hall of the STUC building, so parking was at a premium and we were lumped in a small room on the second floor. Worse still, it was a carpeted room. It’s really hard to dance on a carpet, and especially hard to dance salsa on a carpet. They were doing turns tonight and with the friction of my feet on the carpet, it wasn’t doing my poor wee knee any good. Thankfully the meeting finished before our own class started and we were back on a hard slippy floor. Tonight’s move was called ‘Seo’. Not its real name of course. That was just the name of one of the dancers in a video the teacher had learned the move from. Jamie G once taught a move called Setenta Batman. We searched YouTube to find that move without any success until years later when another teacher told the class that the move was called Setenta Batman because the teacher in the video was wearing a Batman tee shirt. You get used to this method of naming moves after a while.
Andrew and, the newly returned to the fold, Megan had their first beginners class tonight. Apparently it went really well. I don’t imagine we will be helping with that class … Ever!

Tomorrow we may be going for a swim. If so, I may go to the gym and loosen up my leg on the bikes. First time since the spring, I believe!

I’ve got the Cold – 16 September 2018

Woke with a sore throat. It couldn’t have been last night’s rum ’n’ blackcurrant, surely. The Ribena is supposed to be good for you!

Felt as rough as my throat. Had breakfast and gargled with some awful Listerine which usually sorts it out pronto, but it didn’t today, so pulled up the covers and went back to bed. Surfaced an hour or so later feeling just the same. Decided that I’d better get up. Vertical is sometimes better than horizontal with the cold. The hot shower helped a bit, but only a bit.

Watched an ‘eventful’ Singapore GP with very little to recommend it other than Vettel coming in third. They really need to do something about Perez before he kills or maims someone. Crashing into someone you’re racing because the won’t let you past is a sign of the wrong temperament for a racing driver.

Decided that as the rain had gone off, I’d get covered up well and go for a walk in St Mo’s. That’s where today’s PoD came from. Also decided that I wasn’t fit to go dancin’, certainly not salsa dancin’, so we stayed at home. I felt sorry because I’d also done Scamp out of her evening’s dancin’. Hopefully I’ll be fit for class tomorrow.

That was it for a dull day in the rain. Tomorrow will be better.

Late start. Lost day – 10 September 2018

Slept too late today because of a late night last night. In so doing, I lost the best part of the day.

If there was a best part, that is. Drove out to Airdrie to try another garage to get the scrape fixed. The owner was off on holiday. How inconsiderate of him! Who decides that these people can swan off on holiday any time they choose. He should have known I wanted to see him, even if I didn’t know him and hadn’t heard of him until yesterday. Only one more garage to try and that will need to be tomorrow.

Parcels are coming tomorrow. One contains coffee from Perth and the other contains the Samyang 7.5mm lens for the Olys. Don’t know which one get to play with it first. It seems to me that the Oly 5 gets the best shots from the short lenses an the Oly 10 certainly works better with the longer zoom. In particular, the Oly 10 does not work well with the short kit lens. Don’t know why, it just is.

Avoided Gems in the afternoon by driving to Auchinstarry and walking along the canal, over the plantation and back again in the rain. It was the rain that helped produce the PoD, so I shouldn’t be too critical of the weather. Weather is just there. It’s a given and you have to use it to your advantage. Of course, you could do like I did the other day and add some golden sunshine in Lightroom or ON1, but you should really accept what you’re given and do something with it. I don’t think I’ll ever be happy to do that though 😉

Salsa tonight was half an hour of beginners being amazed that they have mastered Dile Que No, which is no mean feat in week 2 of the course. That was followed by an advanced class reprising moves we’ve been doing for the past three weeks. I’m not complaining at all. I think that’s exactly what we need some times. I enjoyed the night, but my knee was giving me gyp for the last half hour.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to go out looking for someone to give me a price for fixing my scratched car. Alex sent me some shots he’s taken with the Samyang he used to have and they look good, so I’m hoping for some decent weather to test it out.

Just one of those days – 9 September 2018

Do you ever have one of those days when nothing happens, but then you have difficulty in recalling any of it? No? Must just be me then.

Didn’t get up until late. There seemed no point as the sun seemed to disappear, then reappear again weaker than it was. It would repeat this sequence, then come back strong again before starting again. It was also raining fitfully. Almost as if it couldn’t be bothered becoming full on rain, it just wanted to drizzle all day.

It was Scamp who decided we must get up and go shopping. Not go for messages, go shopping to Morrisons in Falkirk and she was driving. So off we went (we got dressed first 😉 ) We hadn’t gone far before the rain started in earnest and continued all the way to Falkirk. We went to get milk and muesli and came home with a whole lot more. Loads of stuff. Morrisons weren’t doing breakfast, well they were, but it was taking 20 minutes for hot food and we wanted hot food, so we said “no thanks” and came home to make breakfast / lunch. Not brunch, because that’s american (with a small ‘a’) and we’re not the sort of people who do brunch. Whatever it is.

After lunch or breakfast whatever you want to call it, I went out to see if a bloke in Coatbridge would fix the scrape I made in the car last week, but he only fixes bumps and wasn’t interested because the paint was scraped and he didn’t have the tools to do paint jobs. He did however tell me about somebody on the other side of town who could do the job. That’s tomorrow’s visit.

Came home and took today’s PoD from the top of the Whin Edge Brae above Mollinsburn. Faked it back home to produce moving clouds in the sky area but static grass stems in the lower part. Also gave it a warmer light overall. Not great, but at least I took a photo today.

Spent the evening tweaking the email settings on my Linx 12×64 and finally managed to get all my emails working on Windows 10.  We should have been  going  to Mango to dance with The Dark Side, but just before 6pm when we were due to leave, we had to put the house lights on because it was so gloomy and the rain was battering against the window.  We couldn’t really be bothered, so we left it to another day.

Just one of those days.

Tomorrow I am hoping to go to sunny Coatbridge to see a man about paint.

Sorting out problems – 5 September 2018

As well as sorting problems, we also did a bit of dancing.

We were out fairly early and in Glasgow for a 12 o’ clock start. We started with waltz and picked up another few tips, just tweaks really. Some made little difference, others made things a lot easier. Next it was Quickstep to which we added a few more steps. Lastly a couple of runs through our Tango. In the second half there were two Jive classes running concurrently with two teachers again, now that Ann Marie had returned from Oz. Only three of us today, so it was almost a private lesson. We added to last week’s Lindy Hops and practised The Dance of the Seven Spins once more.

When we came back I phoned the plumber and ordered the fitting of the new kitchen tap. He’s coming tomorrow and hopefully by tomorrow afternoon we should have a shiny new tap that doesn’t drip. Problem one dealt with.

Later in the afternoon I took the panda on in the Dewdrop for a photoshoot and to get some more brambles (just over half a kilo). This was to be a simpler setup than yesterday. This would be a mountain climbing panda. Actually it’s a big boulder that somebody has hit with a van or a lorry. I know how that’s done now! The result was a big broken corner that made a lovely rock face of a mountain. The background was a sunset taken from the upstairs back window about a year ago. It’s amazing the lies you can tell with a computer, a decent bit of software and a bit of imagination.

Dancing tonight was a mixed lot. Far too many men, so I sat out for a while, only for more folk to join. That’s when I started writing this blog. Then I got fed up and danced for the last twenty minutes of the class.

When we came home, in fact just five minutes ago, I finally signed up for AppleCare. I think their website was having a bad day the last time I tried to sign up. So now I have two extra years insurance on the iMac, another weight off my mind. Problem two sorted.

Hopefully I’ll get my knee sorted tomorrow at the physio and that will be another tick in another box. Always hopeful. Totally unlike me!  Oh yes, and fingers still crossed, but the leeks survived the day.  The bird keeper outer is working DV.

A much less ‘clicking finger’ day – 2 September 2018

Yesterday I took 856 photos, most of them out of focus or just rubbish. Today I hoped for much less.

Lazy start to the day where I turned over after reading another couple of chapters of Record of a Spaceborn Few. “Nearly there,” I keep telling myself, “Nearly there.” Some books are like that. Usually the second book in a trilogy. This is the third book in what might be a trilogy, or it might not … It’s a trilogy for me!

Finally dragged myself up into a vertical position about 11am and ventured downstairs for a second look at yesterday’s airies. (Fixed the spellchecker problem last night, so no more ‘fairies’!).

After lunch I took my tired old D7000, the ‘big dog’, over to St Mo’s to look for beasties. Found some dragonflies, not DeHavilland Dragonflies, but real ones and managed to get a fairly good, clear macro of the head of one of these scary beasties. I rightly judged that it would be my PoD. Lots of other little beasties feasting on blue Scabious flowers, but none as close-up as the dragon’s head.

Back home and changed to go to Salsa in Paisley. Enjoyed the night where leaders outnumbered followers in a ratio of about 2:1. So strange. So, not many Old Firm supporters among our salsa crew then? Back home it was home made chilli for me and veg fried rice for Scamp. Sat with dinner on our laps and watched Vettel put himself out of the race with a charge into Hamilton. I like neither of them, but Vettel is probably the worst driver of the two and the most petulant. Anyway, it made for a slightly more interesting race than normal, which is a change.

Tomorrow I’m taking Shona to Glasgow for her pre-op. Other than that, it’s a free day. If it’s dry I may do some sketching. More photos from yesterday are now on Flickr.

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.

Coming Down – 27 August 2018

Returning to normal today. No security checks, no check-in required, but it was raining.

Warning, this paragraph may contain Technospeak
Scamp went to buy Tesco, or at least that’s how it seemed, considering the weight of the shopping bags I carried in. While she was there, I posted the backlog of photos on Flickr. One of the great things about Lightroom is that you can export three or four days of photos as a catalog from one computer and import them into another. Not only are the photos imported, but any adjustments you’ve made to them are imported too. Another feature of Lightroom is the ability to geotag photos using the ‘Maps’ panel. You just drag and drop the photos on to the map and Lightroom automatically adds the location info to the files. That’s a feature I hadn’t used until today.
Technospeak all gone!

My contribution to the day was watering the slug nematodes into all the exposed earth I could find. I’m sure one wee woman thought I was completely aff ma’ heid when she saw me watering the flower pots just after the rain had stopped. It would have taken too long to explain to her that I was watering in microscopic worms that would kill the slugs and eat their eggs and that the best time to do it was after rain. It would have taken too long and it wouldn’t have changed her opinion. The coarse rose I bought ’Dahn Sarf’, as Ray would say, was a bit better than the normal medium rose, but still not really coarse enough. However it did the job and that’s it done for this year. We’ll see if those microscopic assassins have done their work next year DV.

Since we were going to salsa later than usual, I had enough time left to go over to St Mo’s and capture a pretty red dragonfly, but you’ll have to look on Flickr for that, because I decided that PoD should be a landscape view of the park. Just a little gentle adjustment to brighten it up a bit because, although the rain had stopped, it was a bit dull today.

Salsa tonight was a one hour class with a silly wee Rueda move a bit like the despicable Enroscate  and a reprise of various moves we’d been doing over the last four or five weeks. Knee survived, but it was giving me gyp all through the class. Maybe have to go see David on Wednesday, Tuesday being his day off, as Scamp reminded me tonight.

Tomorrow looks dry, so I may take the Dewdrop out for a run.

Dancing and Competition – 22 August 2018

Wednesday is dancing day, but we’re not good enough to compete yet.

It seemed that half the Buchanan Galleries car park was cordoned off today. Maybe it’s getting painted, maybe they’re going to re-cover the floor, maybe they’re not going to do anything at all and it’s all just a ploy to annoy us. Most likely the last one. Anyway, it didn’t stop us getting parked on level 4 which is quite good for midday and midweek. So off we trotted to Blackfriars to strut our stuff.

First up was Jive and maybe because I’m getting used to it and maybe because we’ve been practising more, but I’m beginning to enjoy it. I still get mixed up with the different spins in the Seven Spins, but even that’s beginning to iron itself out. I need some mental mnemonics to fix numbers to names. After that was more or less sorted, Michael added in four Ladles. What a ladle is, I do not know. It seemed a bit like Ochos in Salsa. In salsa that’s a bit of time wasting move that nobody apart from Shannon seems to like. I didn’t like it much in Jive either.

On to waltz and although we’re not perfect at it yet, the moves are becoming slicker. One of the lady helpers cleared up a few of my mistakes and set me right on a few other things. Next a quick reprise of quickstep which is fine when you’re walking through it, but is a nightmare at dancing pace. Still learning the basic steps. Last, it was Tango which I always found a comical dance. It’s not so comical when you have to dance it. It’s very quick and staccato. I never can get the head turn correct. I always go left – right and it should be right – left. More work needed here, definitely.

On the way home we stopped off at Colin’s to drop off two photos, one painting and one pot of jam. All for the Industry section of Chryston show which is on Saturday. This is the first year we’ve entered anything and it’s one of the few times we’ll not be able to go. Stayed for coffee at Colin and Evelyn’s and talked for a couple of hours. We got a conducted tour of their garden again. Lovely garden, but it seems to take 24/7 work to keep it that way.

Grabbed a camera when we came back and got an hour in St Mo’s. Lovely evening light and lots of photos of spiders, tiny wee ones on their webs. Most were rejected, but a couple were decent and that’s where today’s PoD came from.

Dinner was beef burger (own make), sausage, egg and chips. Scamp, of course, decided to forego the meat and had egg ’n’ chips. Our own Charlotte potatoes didn’t make very good chips. They’re much better boiled.

Up and out early tomorrow, hopefully.