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Ice is not nice – 14 December 2017

An icy morning. Jac’s taxi didn’t come, so I volunteered to drive her to the station.

It wasn’t all that cold, but it had snowed during the night and the snow had melted, then frozen again and now that ice was melting, on the surface at least and that meant it was treacherous. The Juke performed perfectly, I couldn’t fault it. Unfortunately there was a queue of traffic heading along towards St Mo’s taking the children who can’t walk if it’s cold, or windy, or wet, or dry, or too hot, or too tired, or .. well, you get the picture. I turned at the roundabout and took the longer, but much quicker way round the back of Blackwood and then through the new estates to the station. Got there with plenty of time for Jac to catch the train (the next train, that is). Came home the same way because, although the queue was shorter, it was still there and resolutely not moving. Walked back from the car and that was when I found out just how slippery the surface was. Slid all the way down the short slope to the house. Didn’t fall, luckily, but Scamp decided it would help other folk if I spread some chippings on the path. Such a simple solution and it worked.

After lunch Scamp parceled up the Christmas parcels for JIC and Sim and I took them to be posted at Tesco. Got that completed and stopped off at St Mo’s to take some foties. Liked the shot through the trees also liked the shot of the swan attempting a tricky landing on ice, but decided the trees won PoD. The rest were good, but not great. I was better prepared for the ice this time with a pair of walking boots, real ones, not Clarks flashy looking, but ultimately useless Goretex ones. The ice was melting in the areas the late sun was reaching, but as I was leaving I could see thin icy fingers stretching out across the puddles. (Oh dear, I came over all ‘Nigella’ there!)

Later in the afternoon I finished last week’s Zentangle doodle. I thought these things were beneath me, but they are more difficult than they look. You need a good eye and a steady hand to produce the accurate linework.

That was about it for the day. The highlight of the day was going to Tesco. Some days are like that.

Tomorrow, I may be joining Scamp for a coffee with Shona!

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Number Crunching – 5 December 2017

Meeting with the FA today (no, nothing to do with football)

Drove to Falkirk today to meet with our FA for the six monthly meeting. All was good, so we went to Tea Jenny’s for lunch on the strength of it. Omelette for Scamp and Stovies for me. Lovely grub. Today’s PoD is one of their famous tea cosies. After that, a walk through the delights of Falkirk which didn’t take long. Waterstones for me and M&S for Scamp. That’s about all the High Street shopping there is in Falkirk. We did, however, go to Morrisons after that for ‘messages’ and copious amounts of alcohol. It’s Scamp’s Witches Christmas party on Friday. Copious amounts of alcohol are a must.

Came home and got the tree down. The house always looks that much cosier with the tree up and the lights on. Yes, Hazy, the letter was there in the Christmas lights box. I’ll hopefully get a shot of the tree tomorrow, just for the record. Need a bit of daylight to show it off at its best. There was precious little daylight today. Not a lot of rain, but very little light.

Finally managed to get up to date with Ink ’17 sketches as you can see.

Tomorrow we should have been taking the car in to check the condensation in the headlights, but the garage phoned to say that, as there had been no recurrence it would be pointless to investigate it and when I suggested I take a photo of the extent of condensation the next time it happens they agreed it was the most sensible solution. Apparently there is a bulletin from Nissan as so many people have had the same complaint. That means we’re free tomorrow. I think we’re still going in to Stirling, though because Scamp wants to go shopping. Stirling has a good Waterstones and a Nero, so it won’t be a totally wasted day for me.

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Deep and Crisp and Even – 19 November 2017

It was a lovely frosty morning (-1ºc) with bright sunshine, so I decided to get up (fairly) early and go out to source some photos in St Mo’s.

Scamp then noticed that Hazy had phoned yesterday when we were out and because we hadn’t checked the phone when we got in, we hadn’t phoned her back. So she warned me that she was going to check if Hazy was free for the return call. I told her I had my phone with me and to text me if she was up for a call back. I’d got a couple of photos which you can see above and was just walking into the woods to see if there were any photogenic deer available when my phone vibrated to tell me that Hazy was indeed on the phone. I about turned and retraced my steps back to the house and had a chat with Hazy. After comparing notes on books we’d read, she went to rest and I went for a coffee.

From then on the temperature rose just enough to take away the frost without providing a comfortable temperature for a walk. As a result, after lunch I got a sketch done for my one-a-week personal challenge and started planning the Keyboard Maestro macro that would allow me to automate the playlist creation for the car player. I didn’t get far with that, but at least I did get the sketch done.

We headed out to Glasgow for the Sunday Social at Arta and decided to park in JL carpark rather than try for an on-street space near Arta itself. The reason was that tonight was the switch on for the Christmas lights and I just knew parking would be at a premium. Got parked easily in JL which was a surprise, but the crowds around George Square were much more than we had anticipated. Added to the fact that anti-terrorist blockades had been erected around the square, it took us ages to get down through the city to the venue.

Arta itself was quite quiet until just after the switch-on, then it livened up a bit. We left earlier than we’d intended, hoping to avoid most of the crowds, but came out just as the fireworks display started. Once we were on Buchanan Street and the fireworks had ended, the crowds (estimated at 20,000) were streaming out and heading for the carparks and the bus station. Got through without too much pushing and shoving and emerged onto Dundas Street from the carpark without too much problem. One punter was a bit annoyed that I actually wanted to drive my car out of the carpark and onto the road. He seemed to think he had right of way and could walk in front of me. A quick “Fuck Off” informed him of the error of this assumption. Got home in double quick time after that.

A dull, dreary, grey day with nothing much to recommend it apart from a walk in the frosty air and a phone conversation with Hazy this morning. Oh yes, and the dancing was good too. PoD was the frozen cow parsley.

Tomorrow is Monday with all the timetable that entails. It’s 4.5ºc just now and raining, so not much chance of a frosty walk tomorrow.

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Halloween – 31 October 2017

What a dull, dank, dreary day.

It was almost 3pm before I risked leaving the house today. Up until the, it had been damp and dismal (I think that’s me got the ‘d’ alliteration out of my system). Even when I went out, I had to have the lights on in the car. This is such depressing weather, I can imagine how folk get Seasonally Affected Disorder well named by its acronym SAD. I’m glad my painting room has a daylight bulb in it and that the bathroom has daylight LED lights. Brightens up your day more than the weak yellowish sunlight does.

Only went out to get ‘messages’ for dinner. Do you know, I had to unlock the front door because I was the first one to cross the threshold! I wasn’t out long, but when I came back the headlights came on automatically on the car, because it was indeed growing dark.

I had already planned today’s PoD and it worked out quite well, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’. The ability to use the iPhone as a trigger for the camera is a great idea. Very useful for indoor shots.

Today’s sketch is the last in Inktober 2017 for obvious reasons. I can’t believe the number of folk who are asking on the Facebook ‘Inktober’ page if they can keep posting there. Eh, the clue is in the name. If you want to post your artwork, and some of it is so amazingly detailed, I think it must be drawn in advance, or nicked from the ‘net, then feel free to create your own page for NovINKber or some such. Me, I’m closing down my Flickr Inktober 2017 group on Friday. That gives the slow-coaches a couple of days to catch up. Today’s sketch is on toned Ingres paper and is of the workhorse of my sketching, the Micron 0.3mm pen and a bottle of white ink which I’ve re-discovered for adding highlights to the toned paper work. If I particularly feel like doing a sketch tomorrow, I’ll do one, but there is no pressure now to keep up with the one-a-day. It was fun last year and it was fun doing ’28 Days Later’ in February, but this year Inktober was a bit of a drag. Feeling burnt out now and looking forward to a rest (and a few early nights too!)

Tomorrow we are expecting more rain, so we may go to the gym.

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Feeling Sheepish – 30 October 2017

Today was Monday and it was cold when we woke. Not as cold as it was when I finally went to bed last night. Then it was just above zero!

It’s a Monday and that means Gems. I spent a few minutes in their company, which was possible because their ranks were depleted today. Margie had a cough that she thought was Whooping Cough (nasty) and somebody else was missing too. I was stuck in the living room waiting for my iMac to finish backing up and then I fled upstairs to tidy my room. Sounds like a punishment, doesn’t it, but believe me, the punishment was downstairs. As quickly as I could I made a sharp exit and drove away to Fannyside Moor hoping to get some landscape shots.

I got the landscapes, but they weren’t too scintillating, so I went for a walk along the narrow wee road towards the farm, hoping that a stray sunbeam would light up a farm in the distance. It did, but then the camera seemed to have amnesia and thought it didn’t have a card in the slot – it did. When I finally got it to realise this, the light had gone. However some sheep in a park on the other side of the road were wondering what on earth I was doing. I took some shots just in case anything interesting could be gleaned from them. Then I noticed the big pumped up looking sheep. It looked a proper bruiser and I realised it was a ram and obviously there to ‘service’ the sheep. It was standing next to a much smaller ewe and I thought they made a nice couple, so grabbed a few shots of them. As I was walking away I saw the other sheep with the earrings in. It seemed as if it was out for the day with its friends. A proper girls day out, so I took its photo too. Two certainties in the bag and neither of them was a landscape.

Came home and Gems were ready to leave, so I had a chance to looking at the shots. Both shots were good which was a blessing because it was now about 3.30 and the sky was already beginning to darken as it does in Scotland at this time of year. Dinner was pasta with carbonara sauce and it was time to make it.

Drove to the STUC for Halloween Salsa. It was a hoot as always. Balloons, sweets, glowsticks and silly rueda games. The man is simply mad as a brush and everyone in both classes agreed it was a brilliant night. Probaly the best laugh was La Confusion where the leaders and followers are reversed. Men become followers and ladies become leaders. Such a simple thing really, really messes with your head.

PoD was the “Me ‘n’ The Missus” and sketch today was The Teazer.

Tuesday, no plans as yet, although we may go for a swim.

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Summer’s End – 29 October 2017

Early this morning, the clocks went back, so we got an extra hour in bed.

It was a lovely morning, with sun streaming in through the windows, but it was really cold and tonight it is forecast to get even colder. It would have been a shame to stay in bed with all that sunshine outside, so we got up and went for a walk. Not Glasgow for a change, and not me driving either, but Scamp driving us to Colzium for a walk through the trees and round the gardens. It’s ages since we walked round Colzium.

It was the Acers that grabbed our attention. Stunning reds and yellows. No dull greens here, and with a bit of back lighting they looked even better. I even had a willing model who suggested she sit on a seat to be framed by the red acers. I got my shots and we walked on. I thought it was a much longer walk than it was. Even our convoluted figure-of-eight seemed easy by comparison with our longer walks along the canal. Having said that, the colours in the trees were wonderful, and only ten minuted from the house. However, it was cold!

Came home and the best of the day was past. The sky clouded over a bit, but not enough to cause the temperature to rise significantly. Scamp washed her car, I went to Tesco for milk and basically that was it!

PoD is the red acer (without the model) and the sketch was done from an old photo of Castle Stalker.

Tomorrow is a Monday. Not time to think on a Monday.

 

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Follow the yellow brick road – 24 October 2017

Today we went to Ikea, where you have to follow the ‘yellow brick road’ round the store, except …

Actually, the yellow brick road with the arrows painted on the floor has been modernised, updated and illuminated.  Now its a light that projects an arrow on the floor.  How enterprising.  I found it less intimidating.  I could stand under the projector and the arrow disappeared.  That meant I was free to go wherever I pleased, without being condemned to go where the arrow pointed, because I was controlling the arrow!!  Excellent.  We just browsed the ground floor of the store because we were looking for a floor lamp.  We didn’t find one that Scamp liked.  I got a frame for the pastel picture and tonight I cut a mat and framed it.  It’s hanging behind me now, but it’s a bit dark in this corner and I think I might move it.

When we came out of Ikea at Braehead, Scamp wanted to go for a cup of coffee, so me being a bit flash, typed Costa into the satnav and sure enough it showed all the nearby Costas.  Off we went following the directions.  Only, it took us down a filter lane at a roundabout, then promptly changed its mind and decided we should have gone straight ahead.  Worse still, the filter lane became the slip road on to the motorway, taking us back into Glasgow.  After much swearing and harrumphing by me, we settled on going to  the Costa at Robroyston instead.  Much easier to navigate.  Possibly the worst part of the whole escapade was that I KNEW where the Costa was, I was just following the sat nav to see if it knew an alternative route.  I’ll be more circumspect when taking its instructions in future.

Back home I started looking for a website where I’d used a Java powered page that worked out optimal rebates for a picture mat.  That’s the edge bits round the aperture that you see the picture through.  I found the references to the page, but apparently the page itself has disappeared.  Every link gave an error 404 (not found).  Gave up eventually and took some useful information from a picture framers forum, then started to write my own program in Excel.  Mine only uses metric sizes, although I did see one written for Excel where you could put in sizes down to 1/16th inch accuracy.  I’m still not sure how the writer managed to code the conversion to decimal inches and then back again to fractions for the output.  Too much work.  I remember working out sizes  of bolt groups for steelwork using feet and inches and being so relived when we went over to the metric system.  Anyway, I got it working and it produces a decent mat.

After the mammoth calculations in Excel, I went out to St Mo’s to clear my head and try to get some photos.  It had been a decidedly wet drive in through Glasgow in the morning, and a dry and bright drive home, but by the time I went out for a walk it was just our usual dull.  Today’s photo I liked because of the twists and turns in the dried weed, but the ISO was 1000!

Yes, I did open the box.  I’m sure you knew I would Hazy. Like I said in the description of the sketch on Flickr:

*I opened the box, and inside was a thin slab of black glass with a silver rim. Amazingly this slab of glass can bring me pictures from all around the world and allow me to speak to people thousands of miles away. I call it black magic!*

When I look back on it, it’s been a busy day.  Most days are now we’re retired.  When did we ever have the time to work, or to put it another way, what did we have to give up to allow us to work?

Tomorrow the weather should be better than today.  We may go out and take pieces!

 

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iPhone Day? – 23 October 2017

Well, today should be iPhone day, but then, so should last Monday and look what happened there … and since!

It’s usual when you have a parcel being delivered by DPD to get a text or an email giving you a one hour time slot. Today, nothing. I waited until after eleven and checked on the DPD site and found that my parcel would be delivered between 6.00am and 10pm today. By my reckoning that’s slightly more than an hour. However, at least it did say ‘today’. Later I phoned the depot and got a voice message to the effect that it would be delivered between 5.20pm and 6.20pm today. A bit more helpful, but nothing in writing and as I’ve found, that’s what you need these days. I’ll wait, not patiently, but I’ll wait.

Other than that, I didn’t do much today. Installed a ‘free’ version of Acronis on the Linx just as Windows 10 decided it wanted to install updates and restart. That’s another computer whose access to the internet I need to restrict. This is becoming an epidemic. Operating systems that seem to think they own the computer. They didn’t pay for the computer, I did. It’s getting to the stage that the only OS worth installing is going to be Linux. At least for now, you are in control of updates.

Drove to The Fort to try to get a white gel pen. Fred phoned me while I was there to see if I was up for a coffee. I told him I wasn’t, but he did point me in the general direction of some cheap artists paint. Found the white gel pens, but at £3 a shot, declined the offer. Just to cheer myself up, on the way back I switched from Eco mode to Sport and zoomed past some traffic! It goes like stink in Sport mode, but I did manage to stay within the speed limit … just.

By the time I got back the Gems were packing up, so for once that was good timing. Salsa tonight and we have to try to remember last week’s moves. Off to try that now.

Well, the phone did arrive and it became today’s Inktober sketch, that is, its box did. “Take the money or open the box?” That was a line from an old TV show starring Michael Miles if I’m not mistaken. This box contains my new iPhone SE. I’ve had so much trouble getting it from Vodafone that I’m not sure now if I want to stay with them. So, do I take the money, ie cancel my contract? Or do I open the box and in so doing accept the contract? I think I’ll sleep on it tonight. I’ve waited over a week now for the resolution, so another day won’t matter.

Salsa tonight was much less stressful than last week, mainly because we took some time in the afternoon for a quick practise and that paid back a hundredfold when we came to dance the moves in class.

Today’s photo is of the last of the roses and the last of the sweetpeas. The rose is Alec’s Red which still grows strongly in the front garden, despite being over 40 years old.

Tomorrow we follow the yellow brick road through IKEA. Scamp is looking for a new lamp and I’m looking for a large frame for my pastel painting. Oh yes, and some Swedish Meatballs too.