A day that starts with a dentist visit – 14 January 2019

… Is a lost cause!

Well, not totally lost because I was out within about fifteen minutes, £33 lighter, but with a front tooth that was back in business. Drove home, solved the ‘Mild’ Sudoku and had a cup of coffee.

Then it was almost time to go for Gems, but first Scamp and I cleaned out the smelly fridge once more, but still it smells. Can’t work out where the smell is coming from. We’ve taken everything out, chucked out half of it, only put back stuff we both agree we’ll use. We washed all the jars before putting them back. Washed the shelves and today we washed the walls of the fridge just to be sure we were covering every base. Still it’s there. My only thought is that the drain at the bottom of the fridge is leaking into the insulation of the box itself and that’s where the smell is coming from. Tomorrow I may put some disinfectant down the drain hole.

Went out for a while in the early afternoon to get some photos while the sun was shining and Gems were singing. Got some interesting macro shots of a lichen I’d never heard of before. It was Dog Lichen (Peltigera canina) so called because the fruiting bodies resemble a dog’s teeth. You might be able to see why from the photo at the top. There wasn’t much else to see today so I wandered back home to make the dinner.

We were going early to Salsa tonight because Mhairi and Robert were going to a new beginners class at 6.30. Wow, what a big class. Scamp and I helped out as there weren’t enough leaders (as usual). Our own class was remarkably small again. Where have all the leaders gone, I wonder? We covered Akia (that’s how you spell it apparently), Erato, Titanic and just for fun at the end, Roulette, the Rueda move.

Heard our first little scuttling noise from the ceiling tonight when we got home. First one in about four nights, but still disappointing. Stared to keep a record so we can pursue the issue (and the rodents) further.

Tomorrow we go visit Andrew in Falkirk.

Just another Manic Monday – 7 January 2019

Back in the old routine.

Scamp had Gems coming today and we were off to Salsa in the evening. In between it was pasta for dinner. Looks like the festivities are over and it’s back to the old routine.

Since Gems were coming, I decided I’d make a sharp exit and go for a walk along the canal, then back along the railway path, but not before I could check Margie’s homework. Her attempt at two point perspective was very good indeed. I think she has a fairly good grasp of it now. She wanted to go back over one point and I did that with her, but also showed her three point perspective, which is the least intuitive, but easiest to learn if you stick to the rules. Margie, by the way is over 80, but a quick and patient learner.

After today’s drawing lesson I drove down to Auchinstarry and parked at the now closed Boat House restaurant. I don’t see anyone rushing to buy up this failed fine dining establishment, but when they do, I’m afraid I’ll lose my parking place for a walk along the canal.

Walked into the teeth of a westerly gale. It wasn’t pleasant and there were no ducks or geese to photograph all along its length. They were probably tucked up in the reeds somewhere waiting for it to blow over. The wind was blowing in squally showers and then the sun would come out and shine from a blue sky, but it was still cold.  Spoke to one man walking his dog and didn’t see anyone else until I came back to Auchinstarry again. Today’s PoD is of a Cladonia lichen growing from an old rotting fencepost. Apparently lichen are a sign of clean air. So says Margie’s son who is an arboriculturist. There’s a nice little link there!

Back home via Tesco to post the final lot of calendars to their recipients, and then home to make Spaghetti Carbonara, otherwise known as “White Spaghetti”. Then it was time to get ready for Salsa. When I opened the drawer to get my shirt, I marvelled at the neatly stacked shirts I’d folded and arranged in the morning. That bloody Japanese woman is infiltrating this house with her tidying techniques! I thought you were supposed to start with your sock drawer.

Very few men tonight, two girls to each man in the Rueda. Scamp and Irene danced as leaders to even out the numbers. No new moves, but going over recent moves like Akea, not to be confused with IKEA, and Setenta e Cinco Moderno. Good fun.

Tomorrow we are intending driving to IKEA, not to be confused with the salsa move Akea. We are looking for something that will help to tidy my sock drawer!!

Every Cloud

Apparently every one of them has a shiny metallic inside covering.

Today we were awake and ready to rise from 8am. That was the earliest the “Rat Man” would arrive. With that in mind, Scamp was up and out by 9.30. I was much more relaxed and waited ‘till the end of the chapter of the excellent “Lies Sleeping”, well actually it was the end to the second chapter as it turned out. Still, I’m trying to meter myself with this book, because I know it will be another year before the next one gets published. After coffee and the first run through of today’s Sudoku puzzle, it was time to go back up stairs to clear out the top three shelves of the ‘tank press’ cupboard. It’s been called that since we moved in to the house thirty odd years ago and about twenty years since the actual hot water tank was removed. We waded into the multiple tins of paint, varnish and paint remover. We sorted through boxes of hammers, saws, chisels and gouges. We threw out a fair bit of what might be called antiques, but were really just rubbish and we put the rest back in a much more orderly manner. All this because we worried that the rodents might have built themselves a nest in that cupboard. They hadn’t, thankfully, but as Scamp said, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” I have to agree the cupboard looks a lot more organised. She also said that we should look, next, at the ‘towel cupboard’. So called because it has towels in it. It’s also got loads of cables, cardboard boxes, more cables, boxes of Lego and even more cables. This may take a little longer.

After lunch the “Rat Man” phoned to say he’d be with us in about an hour, and he was as good as his word. He still seemed determined that the rodents were in the loft, but we insisted that we’d heard them last night in the ceiling void. He inspected my handiwork blocking up the hole in the downstairs cupboard and seemed very impressed. What did he expect from an ex-woodwork teacher? He did a fairly extensive survey of the outside of the house back and front and agreed with the lady on the phone who had suggested that he’d probably put down an external box with poison that it’s hoped the rodents will carry in under the house and feed the family in the nest. A sort of rodent Trojan Horse. With that done he went to inspect the house at No 26 where he thought he had seen a possible access hole near the steps to their back door. We bid him farewell and hoped that when he returned in a week’s time we’d have a quieter house.

It was a dull, dreary day, but I’d already got a PoD. While we were waiting for the “Rat Man” I had taken a few shots of Scamp’s Christmas Rose plant on the back step. The flowers are beautiful and just seem to keep coming. The best shot it at the top of the page. Camera on a Gorilla Pod allowed me to use low ISO and remote control from the phone app. That prevented me from getting grain like golfballs in the low light.

That was about it for the day. I think we may be going in to Glasgow tomorrow so I can get my hair cut. New year, New hair.

The Plan – 3 January 2019

The plan was to get up early and fix the kitchen light. It didn’t work out that way, neither did the kitchen light.

Ok, we did get up fairly early. Before 10am is fairly early these days. Started the fix on the kitchen light, with limited success. That translates as it didn’t work. It looked like the fluorescent tube was a goner. So, it was time to have a coffee, start to solve today’s sudoku and take stock. In the mean time I got a text to say that my pills were ready in Boots. Scamp suggested we go to Tesco (surprise!) where she could get milk and stuff and post the calendars.  At the same time I could go to Boots to get my pills. Then we’d go to B&Q to get a new lamp for the kitchen. On the way we could drop the old HP computer off at the dump. That sounded like a solid Plan B.

Tesco and Boots were no problem, nor was the council dump, it was when we got to B&Q that the problems started. We’d had the old fluorescent light for so long we’d forgotten that they are no longer made or to be more accurate, they’ve been superseded by LED units. The LED lamps seem to have no user replaceable parts in them any more, are simpler to fit and are more expensive, of course. No problem, we got one.

Got home and fitting was simpler than the previous one, once I’d drilled the fitting holes in the right place (second time lucky). Also lucky not to electrocute myself when I accidentally crossed two live wires. Silly bugger. Turn the power off at the box before doing anything with ‘lecky. Those tiny little LEDs don’t half provide a powerful light. Nice white light too. Apparently they have a five year lifespan. We’ll see.

Today’s PoD was taken in the front garden and processed in ON1 2019 where it did a magic trick called Focus Stacking. To prevent your eyes glazing over I’ll leave it at that. If you want to know any more Google it. Green shoots in the first week of January. Maybe Hazy is right and spring is just round the corner. We’ll see.

Lady from the pest control company phoned to say that someone will be here tomorrow to set down some poison outside the house in the hope that the rodents will take it to their nest and kill off the whole lot of them. Now last night the rodents were running around like mad thing right above my head and I was getting a bit upset, so Scamp suggested we email our MSP and see if he could do anything. Suddenly today we get a call from the pest control company suggesting their own Plan B. Coincidence?

It wasn’t the brightest of days today, in fact it was pretty dull all day so we didn’t get very far, but we do have a bright new sun in the kitchen. Maybe tomorrow we’ll get out somewhere nice, after the “Rat Man” has been.

Frosty (no snowman) – 2 January 2019

I woke around 4am this morning and looked out. I thought it had been snowing, but I was mistaken.

Although we were both up and about fairly early, we couldn’t get our little ducks in a row properly so wasted a fair bit of time, although I did make some bread. My main task today was to get the calendars sorted and hopefully posted. I managed the former with the calendars punched, clipped and bagged, but when Scamp took a walk to Condorrat to post them, the A4 parcels wouldn’t fit in the post box. Obviously our post boxes are Eurosceptic Remainer boxes, not happy with these new fangled European metric sizes. So she had to bring them back and hopefully they’ll be posted tomorrow.

When she came back, it was my time to get out. I took a walk over to St Mo’s to see if the frosty stuff was still there. It was, and it was everywhere. My favourite shot and PoD is of a little twig frozen to the surface of a wee pond. To take it, I set the ISO to 200 manually focused at about the right distance and set the self timer. Then I could rest the Nikon on the ice and press the shutter release. It’s a good method if the ice is thick enough to hold the camera! I was holding the strap all the time just in case. This was the best of about four shots. I saw some other potential images, but would probably use the Oly for them if I get another day like today, because then I could see what the camera was seeing through the phone app. I’ll keep it in mind.  It was cold out there.  Temperature was allegedly -0.6ºc when I came in, but it felt a lot colder than that.  It’s now 1.6ºc, but still feels cold.

Scamp claimed dinner tonight. ‘Rats’ for her (no pun intended) and mince pie for me. Beans and potatoes for me and just potatoes for Scamp. Simply superb! Then it was more of the crumble for pudding and it had significantly improved since yesterday, but alas it is now gone.

Tomorrow I need to get up early to fix the kitchen light and after that we’re going out somewhere. Cabin fever is setting in.

A Foggy Day – 23 December 2018

Woke to a grey fog. Not alcohol induced, more weather related.

After lunch it seemed to be thinning so I took the chance to go and get some photos in St Mo’s. I managed to take just over 120. Most of these were culled in the first pass, but a few remained. Today’s PoD was from two of the best ones. The wire and the grass stem from one and the water drop from another. Fairly easily done. As I was walking home from St Mo’s the fog started to thicken again. It’s been like that for the rest of the day. Thick, then thin, but always there. Weather fairies say it will be the same tomorrow.

That was about it for our activities. Our rodent friends have been very active. I’ve dropped another packet of poison behind the wall board in the bathroom and will leave it undisturbed for a few days to allow the hungry beastie to have a feast.

I had a feast of my own.  I had about a third of a steak pie from the butchers in Muirhead.  It was a massive pie and the meat was really good, tasty with no gristle or chewy bits.  Look forward to having another third tomorrow.  Scamp had Veg sausage with her potatoes and cabbage.

Watched Alice in Wonderland on TV and a show of out-takes from The Chase. The Chase program won. We don’t often watch out-takes programs because they are so formulaic, but this one was exceptional. Probably won’t watch anything else like that for ages now.

Tomorrow we may go out if the fog lifts. It’s a bit icy tonight, so hopefully that will disappear during the night too.

Rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain, ice, plagues of frogs – 15 December 2018

We were amply warned about all of the above, except the plagues of frogs, but only the rain and a thin covering of snow appeared.

Woke to a dull leaden sky and a thin scraping of snow and expected the worst. By midday the dull leaden sky was still there, but the snow was disappearing and it was raining. Still the weather fairies predicted rain, sleet, snow and freezing rain with roads and paths being reduced to treacherous skating rinks. It rained some more.

We had decided not to go to Embra today, not because of the weather fairies predictions, but because it was just so dull. What was the point when it would be equally dull in Embra. We could save money and do some work in the house instead. I volunteered to take apart the back bedroom in the search for the rodent that still evades us. I moved my art cupboard and lifted the carpet, found a convenient floorboard to lift and found no evidence of there ever having been a rodent in that area. Before I put everything back in place, I took the opportunity to fill a big IKEA bag with a load of unwanted painting canvases and also some odds and sods from the chest of drawers. The rain was getting heavier so I postponed the dumping of the rubbish until tomorrow … at least.

That was the high point of the day. By then it was about 2pm and we were almost at twilight. Tidied the room back to its usual chaotic level and had a cup of coffee. Realised I’d very little coffee left, so ordered some from the Perth shop. Also ordered a new Toy off the Rack. A Raspberry Pi Zero W. The ‘W’ stands for WiFi.

<Technospeak>
This is a miniature computer with a 1.2GHz processor half a gig of memory WiFi and Bluetooth for the princely sum of just under £10. Ok, you have to supply your own keyboard and mouse and also a TV to see what’s going on. I runs on Linux which is a Windows-like OS that is totally free. The best part is that the whole shebang can be powered by a battery pack and is smaller than a cigarette packet. Great for experimenting with and getting your fingers burned when you have to solder some connections but if it all goes off with a bang, you’ve only spent a tenner.
</Technospeak>

Dinner was a plate and a half of Scamp’s delicious soup which is officially called “Just Broth”. Later we had a second go with the ‘Air Fryer’ and this time it was a lot more successful. Made potato wedges that tasted just like my usual ones.

PoD is a wee Lego model of a snail, or maybe it’s a tortoise. It’s hard to tell with Lego. Anyway, I wasn’t going out today, so this was it.

Tomorrow we go searching for food for dinner, hopefully the rain will have stopped and the plagues of frogs will have dissipated by then.

An improving situation – 8 November 2018

Today was indeed a better day than yesterday.

Went with Scamp to buy provisions for tomorrow’s dinner with Crawford & Nancy. I say “Went with Scamp” because she was driving. It was good to look out at the world zipping past the side window. It seems as if they’re putting the roof on the shops in the new retail park already. Once the roof is on and the walls are up, they are good, fitting out the insides. While Scamp was in Tesco, I picked up my repeat prescription from Boots and came away with an additional bottle of stuff that seems to have cured the stomach problem that has been nagging away at me for the past few days. Thanks to a very helpful pharmacist I didn’t even have to pay for it because I got it on the NHS. Isn’t it great to live in Scotland (when it’s not raining).

After lunch I messed around with ON1 2018 for a while before being told it would be good for me to go out and take a walk in the fresh air. In other words, Scamp wanted to watch her recorded episode episode of River City. There wasn’t much doing in St Mo’s, but I took a few arty shots of cow parsley seed heads knowing that they’d be turned into moody mono shots later, and they were.

When I got back and with today’s images safely in the computer I started, under supervision, to cook the stew for tomorrow’s main – Steak Pie. With it happily bubbling away I made that moody mono shot of the cow parsley seed head. Then I drank from the bottle I got from the chemist. The bottle that said “Drink Me!” I didn’t shrink or fall down any rabbit holes, but let’s say it did what it said on the bottle. Feeling better tonight.

I’m not going to bore you with all the conversions and stuff that were done to the photo. It is what it is.

Tomorrow looks like nasty weather and we’re taking Shona in to hospital for her op. Alarm has just been set for 6am! Picking her up at 6.45 because she has to be there for 7.30.

Just another Wednesday – 17 October 2018

Wednesdays are the bane of my life just now.

There’s no time to think on a Wednesday. We have a couple of hours in the morning, then it’s the drive in to Glasgow, followed by an hour’s dancing. Drive back home and another couple of hours later we’re driving in to Glasgow again for Salsa. Back home and post the photos, do the sketch if it’s not already done and write the blog. It seems non-stop. Yes, it’s self inflicted. Yes the dancing is enjoyable, but some days it just seems too much. Today was one of those days (if you hadn’t guessed!)

Dancing was tough today. We’d practised the moves on Monday night and again today before we went out. When we got there, we started with a different Jive routine and maybe it was that, that put me off my stride … literally. Waltz is still getting better, but I still need to make it smoother and faster, especially the turns. Quickstep is the same. It needs to be slicker. Tango we haven’t done for weeks now and it came as a shock to realise how little I could remember. It also plays with my head, changing the rhythms and steps with three ballroom dances in half an hour. That’s just 10 minutes for each. I felt like Worzel Gummidge with the wrong Dancing Head on. Next week it will be better I’m sure, especially if they play  the Scarecrow Hop!

When we got home I took the ‘Big Dog’ out for a walk in St Mo’s. The light was beautiful, but there was nothing interesting to photograph in it. I finally settled on the larch needles almost ready to fall as PoD. Walking back I watched a couple of swans going at it hammer and tongs. I’m guessing that, as they were two males, it was a fight to see who would be the dominant male. I’m not totally convinced the fight is over, this may only have been round 1. I’ll check back in the next few days.

Drove in to Glasgow and found that the time to the SECC was 43 minutes. Usually it’s around 10 minutes. The M8 was like a badly managed car park, but I managed to take a different route to our normal one that got us the STUC (not to be confused with the SECC!) by 7.30pm. Start time. Class was interesting with a variety of moves. New move for them was Ellie.

Sketched the beer bottle and glass while I was half watching The Apprentice. I think it may have run its course now. It’s formula is fairly predictable as are the contestants. It passes a mid-week TV slot, but is rarely worth wasting time on.

I think today was just a bad day. Tomorrow will be better. We may go out somewhere, but where I don’t know.

Nothing much to report – 16 October 2018

Out early to the dentist, but no fillings for me, mum.

Drove Scamp to the dentist on a cold morning and waited in the car reading the latest Rebus book. Three quarters of the way through in just under two weeks. Must be a record. Scamp arrived just as the cold was beginning to seep in and I had switched on the engine to warm me up. Unfortunately, there was a filling for Scamp, a temporary one to see her through until a week on Friday, the 26th of October. The pain seems to have diminished a lot since yesterday and appears to be manageable. Now she’s complaining about the taste from the temporary filling. There’s no pleasing some people.

When we got back I noticed a little moth on the outside of the front window with the light shining through its wings. That became PoD. I also started what would become Inktober 2018 No16. Basically, it was what was sitting right in front of me on the coffee table. I got the scale of the apple totally wrong and that’s why there’s a ‘ghost apple’ there. That’s the trouble with drawing in ink, make a mistake and there’s no going back. There’s a fad just now for sketching in ball pen, that’s why today’s sketch was done with a cheapo black ball pen. I’m now looking for a better pen, one equipped with a Ctrl Z (Cmd Z Mac) button.

After the outing to the dentist, the furthest we went today was a short trip to Costa in Robroyston after calling in at the butchers in Muirhead for some raw meat for me. When we got back, and with the help of Scamp, I converted the raw chunks of meat into stew. Actually I’d so far as to say a very tasty stew. I can take no credit for it at all, it was all down to Scamp’s careful and patient instruction. I did add the Bisto though! Loads more for tomorrow’s dinner too.  By dinner time the sun from the morning was long gone, replaced by a drizzly smir.

Tomorrow is dancing day. Practised the Timesteps tonight to try to fix them in my head for tomorrow.