Dragonflies, Porridge and Lentil Soup – 21 September 2018

Although not in that order.

Scamp was feeling a little under the weather this morning so I let her sleep on and got up and made some porridge for me. It’s a long while since I’ve had this Scottish breakfast. You can tell it’s the Scottish version if it comes unsweetened or even with added salt. Only sassenachs have honey / sugar / syrup on their porridge. Me? I take it as it comes. No salt and certainly nothing of a sugary nature. I make mine with oats, and milk. Boiled in the microwave for 2 minutes and 20 seconds. I find it funny, the looks I get, when we go on cruises and I add salt to my porridge. That look of horror from the english who don’t know any better 😉
After an hour or so, I took up her light breakfast. No porridge of any kind for Scamp. I was pleased to see her looking a lot better than yesterday.

We had an easy morning and after lunch Scamp instructed me in the noble art of making Lentil Soup. I’ve made soup before, in fact I’d half intended to make Tomato Soup for tonight’s dinner, but I’ve never attempted soup using the time honoured “a handful of this and a pinch of that and just about this amount of water”. It’s what my mum used in her cooking and what Scamp’s mum used too. I’m more a ‘time and temperature’ person, working to millilitres and grams where possible. Anyway, the soup turned out too thin, so I had to add “Just about a handful more lentils.” Then it was fine. I also made some bread using grams and millilitres, and felt so much more in control.

With the soup thickening and the bread proving, I walked over to St Mo’s to get some photos in the afternoon sunshine, because today we had sunshine almost all day. A bit of a breeze, but nothing like the gales we had midweek. PoD was the black dragonfly resting on the boardwalk over the mashes at St Mo’s. I used my usual method of taking a shot, moving closer, taking a shot, moving closer etc. Except, my final shots were taken at almost 1:1 and the dragonfly hadn’t even twitched. Maybe it was exhausted or maybe it was doing what dragons seem to do, sizing me up.

Came home and had soup and bread for dinner with a recovering Scamp. She does do a good lesson on soup making.

Tomorrow if the weather fairies are correct, should be a decent day, so we may go out for a run in a shiny clean Juke. Where, is open to suggestions!

Ladybirds, Spiders and Mini Trees – 31 August 2018

All in a days walk for me.

Scamp was out with the witches today for lunch, a late lunch where drink would be taken. Gentlemen were not invited, they were the taxi drivers. We know our place.

I painted for a while in the peace and quiet of the house and sort of improved yesterday’s Inktense disaster. It’s still a work in progress, but the acrylic paint does give a depth that the Inktense couldn’t quite achieve. I added another layer to it tonight after the initial layers had dried and liked the contrast that was created. You may never see it, it’s really a development sketch if I was going to be po faced about it. I’m sure there will be other iterations before it is ready for canvas and oils.

There are really disruptive roadworks with four phase traffic lights down at St Mo’s school this week and they are causing a lot of bother. Because of that I delivered Scamp to the restaurant before starting on the painting. While the painting was drying, I took the Duke out through the roadworks again to fill it with petrol and also to get some photos. I drove up to the back of Fannyside and found a little dragonfly sitting on the grass. Unfortunately the shots weren’t too sharp, so they will never see the light of day, I fear. Then I saw a long legged spider and a white spotted, orange ladybird having a .Mexican standoff’. It was a bit of a toss up, but the ladybird won the day. Just across the road I saw the fencepost with the miniature trees growing out of it. No doubt they had grown from seeds dropped by birds or seeds excreted by birds.

I was just walking down the road when I checked my phone and found that my three hours of peace and quiet were at an end and Scamp was requesting her taxi.

That was a good day, with good weather, painting, photography and a little bit of nature too.

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.

The Long Arm of the Law – 20 August 2018

This morning I was up and out early, very early for me.

Picked up June just after 8am, then picked up the (im)patient, Shona, then it was on to the M80 and a fairly clear run into Glasgow until Robroyston where traffic started to queue up. Actually, I was surprised we hadn’t run into more traffic earlier, but I suppose the workers were already in work and the school run doesn’t usually involve motorway driving. Got parked fairly quickly and easily, sent the mum and daughter off on their travels and settled down with a good book, Becky Chambers – Record of a Spaceborn Few. Strange SF, but really enthralling. I’d only been sitting a few minutes when I saw Scamp’s text -“Remember to look for the coffee shops.” Cryptic, but I knew what she meant and went in search of the coffee shops.

It turned out to be just the one coffee shop, an independent with a large frontage. Got a very decent take-away Americano and a packet of biscuits and went back to the comfort of the car.

Soon afterwards the twosome returned with smiles on their faces. It was a different doctor Shona had seen and he had pronounced her fit and ‘normal’ whatever ‘normal’ means. Anyway, that was the result they were hoping for and puts her back in the queue for the operation she’s been waiting for. He also suggested she had “white coat syndrome” as so many of us have.

Back home I got ready and took the Dewdrop out for a run, having stuffed a poly bag in my rucksack on the chance that I found some brambles along the way. I did and came home with just over 400g of berries and a bruised knee where I’d fallen down a banking in among the brambles. It was a good run, although one knee was aching and the other one was grazed and bruised. Today’s PoD came from that cycling visit. A wee dragonfly perched on some builder’s rubble on a fly-tip site.

After dinner we went to Glasgow to find that the parking charges had gone up and there was no 6.30pm class any more. That’s what happens when you miss one week of salsa. Today’s move was Lizzie and for once I managed to get it right.

Came home and checked in with police 101 to tell them we were available to hand over the footage from the dash cam. Just after 10.30 two polis arrived and had a look at the footage on the computer and agreed that as there wasn’t much damage to the car and none to the occupants, it was unlikely the matter would go to court. Breathe a sigh of relief. Still not totally settled yet, but I should know the final result by the end of the week.

Tomorrow? Going in to Glasgow to get my hair cut and probably cut mats for the painting and the two photos for the flower show.

Just another Monday – 2 July 2018

Woke early and couldn’t get back to sleep, so started the blog reconstruction.  That gave Scamp an extra hour or so in bed because it looks as if she’s picked up somebody’s cold in the recycled air of the bus yesterday.

Thankfully I’d a couple of blog posts written on the Linx 12×64 that were ready to post. Written on Live Writer, the best blog composer on any platform, it was an easy job to post it. Since the last two days of the cruise were sea days I wasn’t willing to pay the exorbitant price for the Maritime WiFi, so I saved the files and posted them when we were back home. Then it was down to writing a few more of the blogs from the bullet points I’d written while at sea. Catchup is the name of the game here.

After that, it was the inevitable trip to Tesco to refill the fridge, the vegetable rack and the fruit bowl.

A quick trip to St Mo’s got a few pictures to use and the dragonfly shot became PoD. While I was there I put on my Fireman Sam hat and doused a smouldering fire in the woods. What idiots thought it was a good idea to build a fire in pine woods when everything was tinder dry. I sometimes wonder if the numpties here just switch off their brains in hot weather to avoid the overheating.

That was about it for the first day back home. No dancing tonight as we didn’t know the whereabouts of our salsa teacher and I for one didn’t fancy the alternatives! Instead we watered the garden again and the refreshment seems to be working. Still hot here.

Probably more of the same tomorrow

Zoglets Everywhere – 10 June 2018

They may be Frogs or Froglets to some, but to me they must be Zoglets.

The day didn’t start well with pain in my knee, but once I was up, showered and with a couple of paracetamol in me, I felt much better.

<Technospeak>
This bit is very complicated, so just keep your eyes closed when you’re reading it JIC. Right. Last night I made a backup of the Linx before it got a chance to install the Spring Update. After that I allowed it to do the update, as if I had a choice! It was taking hours. Two hours in, it had done less than 20%, so I halted the update process by doing that old trick of holding down the power button for ten seconds. I connected up the magic usb memory stick and the backup drive, booted to the memory stick and reinstalled the May backup which doesn’t have the overload of the downloaded Spring Update (SU) and left it there.

Today I booted that May backup. I don’t know what went wrong, because I’ve used this backup before, but everything went screwball. Restarted again and reinstalled last night’s backup with the SC taking up 10GB of extra disk space. As soon as I booted Windows asked when it should do the upgrade. Ach, to hell with it. Just do it. I’m pretty sure you can downgrade again, almost sure. This upgrade went much quicker. The whole thing was over in less than 2 hours. After I’d answered all the questions with NO, the system worked fine. I’m now toying with the idea of deleting the 19GB of ‘Windows.old’ that is Microsoft’s own backup, just in case something does go wrong. Perhaps, because of all the hassle so far, I’ll just leave it. Ok Eyes Open time JIC.
</Technospeak>

Planted my last two seed potatoes today in an enormous black bucket today. They’re meant to be ‘earlies’, just not that early. With that and with a bit of cutting and pruning I was finished with gardening for today.

Scamp chased me out, telling me to go out for a walk for half an hour. I took her at her word and went over to St Mo’s for a walk. That’s where I found the Zoglets. There must have been hundreds of them wandering around. That wasn’t PoD though, the dragonfly took that award. Surprisingly, it was the exact same dragon as yesterday’s PoD! What’s the chances of that? I did feel better after the walk. When you’re just sitting about in the house, aches in you knees seem to be there all the time with you. When you’re out walking, you’re too busy looking around you to notice the nag in your knee. Well done Scamp. Well done too for dinner tonight. Sea Bass with Broccoli and New Potatoes. Can’t go wrong with that, especially cooked by an expert.

Tomorrow? Hospital for Scamp in the morning. Scamp out for afternoon tea later and I’ve got the results of my blood test after that. Finally, we’re hoping to go dancing at STUC. Phew!

Nematode Nemesis – 8 June 2018

Slugs and snails beware. The end is nigh.

A package dropped through the letterbox today and in it were two boxes of Nematodes. One to treat the garden and hopefully eradicate the slug infestation and another to do the same for vine weevil. I’m not sure we have vine weevil, but I suspect we have and I know for certain that we have more than our fair share of slugs. I don’t really mind the shell carrying snails, but I hate slugs. The instructions on the box said to keep them in the fridge. I said no thanks and put them outside in the bin that holds the fertiliser and compost bags.

I took some photos of the Ladybird Poppies, macro, of course, and it was one of those that became PoD. Also on the agenda for today was putting up a frame for the peas. I’d bought the wood yesterday and also some woodscrews. It’s a pain having to buy these things, but like I said yesterday, I don’t have access to these materials and consumables any more! The frame wasn’t too difficult to erect and screw in place. The netting was a bit more of a faff, getting it stretched across the frame and clipped in place with staples and cable ties. Even after all this work, the bloody minded pea plants wouldn’t hang on to the netting. The ungrateful things just hung there for a minute or so and then dropped back to the ground. After a bit of delicate weaving of the tendrils, they eventually got the idea. I think I must have planted dim peas.

<Technospeak>
I spent the afternoon clicking and typing away at the new Win10 machine, trying to get it to create a macro to allow me to log on to my blog. I can do it on the Mac using a macro created with Keyboard Maestro, but there’s nothing like that app in WindowsWorld. You have to resort to some cryptic code in AutoHotKey to get anything like the same result. I finally managed to adapt a piece of code I found on an internet forum, but it only works with Internet Explorer. It’ll be another afternoon of swearing before I can get it to do the same on Firefox. Finally when I shut down the PC it wanted to do an upgrade. Now is that different from an update? Who knows. Maybe when I switch on the computer today everything will be different. I doubt it.
</Technospeak>

A walk across St Mo’s later cleared my head and gave me some photos of dragonflies and also a couple of coots feeding their scraggy little red headed young.  A cool breeze at times, but still a beautiful day.

After dinner it was time to deal with the pesky slugs. Dissolved the contents of the nematode packet in a 5 litre bucket of water and stirred frantically. Removed 500ml (ish) into the watering can and diluted it to 5 litres of slug nemesis. Tried to water it over the raised bed with the rose, but found that the rose was too fine. Had to remove it and just pour it on. Repeated this round the plants and pots in the garden until the bucket was empty. I should have watered it in later, but it was getting a bit cool, so we left it to nature, it’s supposed to rain tonight.

Tomorrow we may go to Stirling to look for cheap trainers for me and lunch for us.

Johnny Appleseed – 5 June 2018

Went to Livingston today to get a pair of trainers and failed, but didn’t come home empty handed.

I’d intended going to Glasgow today to get my hair cut, but, as we would probably be going there tomorrow and could accommodate the shearing in that visit.  That left the day open. An open day never stays that way for long in this house, so we drove to the retail outlet place at Livingston to look for a pair of cheap(ish) trainers for me. I didn’t find any that I’d risk my delicate little tootsies in, at least not for the price they were asking. What I did get was a pair of shoes. Nice oxblood colour sensible Clarks shoes. I’m still not sure that they are the right size, but will persevere with them for a day or two in the house and if they are too small, I’ll reluctantly take them back. Scamp says I only want them because of the colour. She could be right.

When we got back home I had time to go for a walk to St Mo’s and I took with me, in my camera bag, a trowel and a chestnut seedling that I’d grown in the greenhouse. I picked the chestnuts in October last year, overwintered them in a paper bag in the greenhouse and planted eleven out in pots in March. Of those eleven I think it’s eight that have survived and it’s now time to return them to the wild to fend for themselves. A bit like Johnny Appleseed in America, but with chestnuts instead. Maybe none of them will grow, maybe all will flourish, but it’s been fun doing it and at least they’ve had a good start.

Photos today were scarce. It was down to the ‘beasties’ as Scamp calls them to provide most of the interest. I liked the shot of the Crane Fly or ‘Jenny Long Legs’ if you come from Scotland. It should actually be a vertical format, but I turned it  horizontal to get more of the actual fly on the page. Other than that, there were dragonflies again and some fat hoverflies. Fewer damselflies than I’d have expected with the warm weather. Maybe they are falling prey to the faster flying dragons.

It was another really hot day, but later, in  the early evening it cooled down quite quickly.  So quickly in fact that Scamp postponed watering the garden until tomorrow morning.  Forecast is for more warm weather tomorrow and Thursday with cloud and the chance of rain on Friday.  Oh well, we should make the most of it and get a tan while we can.

Tomorrow it’ll probably be dancin’ and drawin’ again. If time permits, I’ll get my hair cut.

May leaves us – 31 May 2018

The last day of May and it left us in sunshine.

Up early for the blood-letter to do her worst, then back for breakfast before Scamp left to see the new ‘wean’. With some time to myself I set the A2 drawing pad on the easel and drew the ‘man in the mirror’ again. This time I was more pleased with the result. I got the nose right and the proportions which is what the Andrew Loomis method is supposed to help with, but I adapted rather than adopted the method to make it work for me. I suppose that’s what the tutor was talking about really when she said last night that it’s a generic method that produces a generic head. The trick is to know how to move away from that to the realistic head.

Went off to meet the Auld Guys with a lighter step, knowing that I’d got a foothold on this portrait thing, only to find that the coffee machine in the coffee shop wasn’t working. If the coffee machine stops working, does that just make it a shop then? Maybe, but it wasn’t selling anything I wanted to buy, so I met val and we went to the other Costa at the opposite end of the mall. It was not as mobbed as I thought it would be and we grabbed three seats and I phoned Fred to tell him about the change of venue.  The usual topics for discussion:

  • How we got in this mess (politics)
  • Life was so much simpler and more fun in the ’70s (nostalgia)
  • The cost of living (economics)

I also got some tips on what to see in Rome, Marseilles, Barcelona and Naples.  Not visiting some of these places, but I now know what to see and where.  Finally had to break up after a couple of coffees because of the overbearing rules on parking by Tesco.  That should really have been added to the agenda.

Came home and had just enough  time to grab a camera and get some photos of St Mo’s wildlife before dinner.  It was really muggy with a heavy feel to the air, but the sun was still shining.  Got some photos of a little deer with its nice colourful summer coat.  Loads of dragonflies, but also loads of biting beasties about, so I was quite pleased to come home to make dinner.  Dinner was mushroom burgers with potatoes and broccoli.  The potatoes and broccoli were good!

Tomorrow we are due thunder storms almost all day.  I think we’re going for the messages.

A day of rest – 28 May 2018

I think we deserved it.

It may have been designated a day of rest, but Scamp didn’t get that memo. She was out cutting the front grass, strimming it and then began strimming the back grass. I did rake the cuttings from the back grass and dumped them in the compost bin, so I did contribute, but the majority of the work was done by Scamp. I don’t know where she gets the energy from. Just to make it look as if I was getting in the act, I planted some peas and then planted out my kale seedlings. At least I got my hands dirty.

After lunch I went for a walk in St Mo’s and was amazed to see not one, but five dragonflies flying circuits round the wee pond at St Mo’s. Five dragonflies and it’s still May. Unbelievable. I caught one while it was resting and that made PoD. Lots of damsels out today too, so some of them join the dragon on Flickr with a pine flower to keep them company. It appears it’s the male flower and will turn into a pine cone later in the year.

Came home and got changed out of tee shirt and shorts into dressier pink shirt and trousers, no, not pink trousers(!) and Scamp drove us down to Milano for dinner. Pizza Italiana for me and Pizza Primavera for her. Both delicious. New pizza chef I think.

Back home we sat outside with a wee glass of wine and later we sampled our Strawberry Vodka, but it wasn’t as good as it usually is. Maybe the strawberries weren’t ripe enough or maybe I should have stored it in the cupboard, not the fridge. Both changes will be made in the next batch DV.

Another beautiful day and hopefully more to come. I think we may be going shopping in Falkirk if everything turns out as planned.