Cold and Frosty – 19 January 2020

Not just the morning, either. Most of the day was cold at least.

Not a day for doing much. Certainly in the morning at least, not a lot done. Finally agreed to go to the manky Classic Grand (so inaccurately named) for the Salsa Ceilidh. That was about it for the morning.

After lunch I went out to take some photos in St Mo’s and after that I walked down to the shops to get enough stuff to make soup for tonight’s dinner, which was to be Tomato and Red Pepper soup. Well, we’ve had two days of heavy lunches which for me included lots of red meat, so making an effort today to be meat-free was a good idea. Scamp didn’t mind, in fact she was quite like minded and soup was easy and fairly quick to make. We could have a bowl of it before we went out dancing tonight. Soup and Salt ’n’ Pepper bread to dook. Yes, that would do nicely.

The walk to St Mo’s wasn’t the best. There was very little to see and the cold west wind wasn’t conducive to spending a lot of time framing up a shot. PoD was the Whin bush, also known as Gorse, looking really jaggy. Almost making it to PoD was a landscape shot of a beautiful sky. I’ve often faked a sky to look like that. Today I just photographed it. Nice to see that skies like that actually exist outside of someone’s imagination. Speaking of imagination, I’ve an idea for a fantasy shot. I got one of the elements of it today. Really need a starlit sky for the background and although I could just download one, it would be better to create one myself. Must look out some of my old photoshop reference books.

Made the soup when I came back and almost forgot about the dancing tonight. It was a good Sunday Social with lots of folk I haven’t seen for ages turning up. Spoke to Heather and John and wished them well for their trip to Cuba this Tuesday. Seven days with ten hours of dancing tuition booked. Maybe fun, might just be purgatory. We’ll no doubt find out when they return with lots of stories and lots of photos. Really wish we were going!!

Soup was good and will be better tomorrow. Soup always is. As for the rest of tomorrow, well it’s Gems and it’s Ballroom. Hopefully our bits and pieces of practice will have rubbed off some of the rough edges.

Beadbags, planter ponds and fairy wings – 12 January 2020

It was dry today, but there was still a lot of water about.

It was when we were looking out the window this morning that Scamp noticed we had a new pond in one of her planters. The water was easily 50mm deep. I tipped out most of the water and moved the planter over to a dryer bit of the garden where it could drain away more easily. However, the pot was so heavy it still sank down into the soil, thereby blocking the drainage holes again. Even when I lifted it up onto the step, the holes were still being blocked. I finally resorted to using two pieces of wood to act as supports to raise the pot up off the concrete step and finally the water began to drain. The water I’d poured off initially was still sitting on the depression the pot had made when I last looked. That’s how saturated the ground it today.

Scamp had a birthday present for one of her friends and I wanted a new Sudoku calendar, so we headed to The Fort which is the nearest place with a bookshop. While she went to shop for a prezzy, I went to Waterstones and got my calendar half price. Result! Next thing she wanted was crepe paper to make the fairy’s underskirt. Got that and returned to wait for Scamp in the car.

Back home after lunch I took two cameras and the new ‘beadbag’ out to St Mo’s to test the practicality of it and to get some photos, hopefully. The best of the day, and PoD, was a sunset view along the boardwalk, not take with the assistance of the beadbag, but I did get a photo of it being used.

Back home I removed the wings from the fairy, photocopied them in the scanner and used the photocopy as a template to cut out a new pair of sparkly wings. They’re not perfect, but they are a lot better than the ones she had at Christmas. Scamp, meanwhile, worked on the underskirt which is what she wanted the crepe paper for. It’s looking good and if she can get the dress cleaned properly we’ll be ready to reassemble the Christmas Fairy.

Gave the MBP another full charge today and it seems be working properly with its new battery, touch wood.

Tomorrow I’m planning to post some calendars and write some letters. Gems will be here too! Back to the same old, same old.

So this must be Sunday – 29 December 2019

All day yesterday I though it was Sunday, but it turned out to be Saturday, so hopefully today will be Sunday. Oh for some structure to the week again!

Scamp was feeling better today, but still not back to her usual self. Another day’s rest wouldn’t hurt and would probably be a great help.

In the afternoon I laced up my boots and took the camera for a walk in St Mo’s. There wasn’t much to see and nobody wanted to walk there, which was a shame because it was blue skies all round with a few clouds to make it interesting. Walking up through the trees a deer crossed the path in front of me and didn’t even notice me. They really should obey the Green Cross Code and look left, look right and look right again before crossing. It didn’t, but there were no cars coming, because there wasn’t a road.

Most of today’s shots were of lichen and fungi on trees. Bracket fungi mainly. Must look them up on the Interweb and find out more about them. Lovely detail on the underside of the brackets, looking like little 3D mazes. PoD was a tangle of leaves and grasses caught in a tree. Don’t ask me why, but I liked it right away.

Walked on down to the shops and got the makings of tonight’s dinner. Roast Chicken with Jacket Potatoes.

Struggled for the rest of the afternoon trying to install a clean version of El Capitan into the MacBook Pro. For some reason it didn’t want to install. Finally gave up and cloned in the one I’d backed up about a week ago. Now I’ve found that you can put almost any version in, not Apple legal of course, but it can be done. May try it today. It’s hand grenade time again!

“What does this little pin do? What will happen if I pull this ring?????”

Tonight Scamp was looking and feeling a lot better. Tmorrow we must go for real messages. Planning a raid on Tesco.

A bargain perhaps – 19 December 2019

One of those days when nothing seemed to happen.

Scamp went out to Tesco in the morning for essentials of the season. Shortbread and wrapping paper and stuff. I went out to B&Q and got a planter for her spring flowering bulbs. While I was out I parked at St Mo’s and went for a quick walk around the loch. The lighting was decent, but nothing great, much like the day. The sun stayed low all day and seemed to be having a problem cutting through the light cloud, resulting in a low amber coloured light. PoD was a trio of trees in silhouette.

Spent about an hour trying to finance Scamp’s game playing with a Google Play gift card, only to find that I’d paid it into the wrong account. Why do they make it so difficult and complicated.

Drove Scamp through the traffic jam of busses and cars taking weans home early from St Mo’s school. Christmas holidays have started in earnest. Scamp was going to Jeanette’s for Afternoon Tea, not High Tea as I described it yesterday. My mistake. I decided to go the long way home partly to avoid the traffic jam round the school and partly to see if there was anything more interesting to photograph. There wasn’t.

Wrapped up some secret stuff while I wouldn’t be disturbed and frittered away some more time on-line. That’s when I noticed an offer from ON1 reducing the price of version 2020 by a tenner. That sounded like my kind of offer. I’d been hoping they’d reduce the price over Christmas and New Year, but wasn’t sure. Paid the money and am now the owner of Photo RAW 2020. Not the “Happy” owner, just the owner. Some of the rough edges of the software are still there. The supposedly non-destructive editing isn’t exactly as it says on the tin. Most things are, but unless I’m missing something, there are elements that are still destructive. It’s certainly faster than the 2019 version. Much fewer ‘spinning beachballs’ and if they stick to their previous plan of removing the rough edges as the year goes on, I’ll forgive them.

Scamp texted to say she was getting a lift home from Annette who, like me is finding her Juke is more thirsty recently than she’d been led to believe. I imagine the cold weather means the car needs to run on ‘choke’ for longer than in the summer. I think we should just do away with winter and have Spring, Summer and Autumn. Returning to Spring after that. I’ll suggest it to Boris and I’m sure he’ll consider it in his next manifesto.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow, just for the fun of it!

Down on the boardwalk – 12 December 2019

Accomplished another ‘out before 11am’ .

Down to the village to pick up Isobel at 10am. Drove her to her pre-op appointment at Monklands. Thought we might go to The Fort for a cup of coffee and then pick her up again later. She reckoned it would take about an hour to get her tests done and speak to the surgeon. The satnav thought it would take about half an hour to get to The Fort from the hospital and that would leave us no time for coffee, so, as we were on the road to Drumpellier, we changed our destination to there. A cup of coffee, a bit of a walk and then check in with Isobel to see if she was ready.

It was a cold, dull day at Coatbridge, but we had the coffee and a scone each then we did go for a walk. In the cafe I snapped the high chairs because I liked the way the light shone on their chrome and the silhouette they made against the window. It would have looked better if the windows had been clean, but it is Coatbridge after all. The fact that the windows are still there is a minor miracle.

On our short walk we passed a bloke with a nice bit Nikon fitted with a long lens.  He also had a spotter scope on an equally expensive looking tripod with a smartphone clipped on to it. The only bird life I could see were a couple of swans, a goosander and about a million seagulls. (By the way, my spellchecker just tried to change ‘goosander’ to ‘goo sander’?!). Back to the bloke. Poor soul looked frozen. I wonder what he was waiting for. Flamingos perhaps? Scarlet Ibis? Spoonbills? We’ll never know. I hope he found them.

Just leaving the park, Scamp phoned Isobel, only to find that she was still waiting in the first queue for the ECG and had another three tests and therefore another three queue lined up before she met the surgeon. She said thanks very much, but she would get the bus home rather than having us wait around. We drove back home via The Fort because Scamp wanted to get some cold remedies from Boots, and because we were out anyway.

Back home I changed into my boots and old cord trousers and went for a walk in St Mo’s. The light was too low for any photography, so I fed the ducks and swans with some bread. Then I noticed the barriers were down at the boardwalk and I decided I’d have a walk on it, just to make sure it worked. It did. It held my weight. I even did a wee selfie as a reminder! Maybe they’ll ask me to cut the ribbon when it’s officially opened!

PoD was the High Chairs.

Tomorrow we may go to Perth for coffee or Larky to order new glasses.

The sun returns – 11 December 2019

It wasn’t lost after all. I was just having a rest yesterday.

I was out early today to make sure of capturing some of those little photons and storing them away in an SD card. Yes, I was taking foties. Scamp had already been out to the doc’s for her medication check and back again. I went over to St Mo’s and got some good light. Grabbed a PoD which is a low down macro shot of some sphagnum moss strands, looking like miniature evergreens. Got back just in time to go out again to meet Colin and Fred for coffee. Scamp was off again to see what the retail paradise that is the Town Centre had to offer the discerning shopper.

The coffee snobs centred around pubs in Glasgow (a common topic among us), books and the NHS. Given that tomorrow is polling day and Fred is a political animal, it was strange that the merits and demerits of the leading campaigners did not enter into our conversation. Maybe it’s not all that strange. I think we’re all a bit jaded with the whole shebang. It’s become a tactical election. Pick the person you don’t want to win and vote for anyone else. Much like the old Scottish football question:
Question – “Who are you supporting in the World Cup?”
Answer – “Anyone who’s playing England!”
(Notice that Scotland is never mentioned. We don’t do the World Cup.)

Drove home into glaringly blinding sunshine to collect Scamp and take her to the doc’s again, this time to get her flu jag. By the time we were coming home, the sun had set and the day was sliding into evening.

When Scamp had been out earlier, she had bought the makings of Stir Fried Prawns with Singapore Noodles. Sounded great. I volunteered to make it. It tasted as good as it sounds. The sauce that came with it was labelled Soy, Chilli and Ginger, but it smelled like simple Brown Sauce, the stuff that comes out of a square bottle with letters HP at the top. The strange thing was it didn’t taste anything like it! Must have been my cooking skills that transformed it.

The weather has turned back to rain again and it’s forecast to further turn to snow during the early hours of tomorrow morning. We’re booked to take Isobel to Monklands in the morning. Let’s hope the snow has gone by then.

Solar Power – 9 December 2019

Sometimes I think I am solar powered.

Woke to sunshine this morning. Beautiful sunshine. Got up and dressed, no time to waste on a shower, I’d go dirty! Grabbed two cameras in the big black camera bag and waltzed off to St Mo’s (actually I walked, no dancing was involved) while Scamp was defrosting her car. Nearly fell on my backside when I stepped on a thin slice of ice I hadn’t noticed, but regained my balance and nobody was there to laugh at me.

No time for camera testing today. I’d (partly) mastered the buttons and dials on the LBJ and today was too good to waste on test shots. Got a few shots of interesting fungi in the woods and some backlit leaves, but nothing too special. Nothing that was a contender for PoD. It’s remarkable how quiet the shutter is. Much quieter than any of the Olys. Yes, of course I was still testing and comparing. It’s the way I am!

By the time I got back, Scamp had returned from her shopping trip and she’d put the coffee maker on. Thank you Scamp. She’d been busy because she’d made a pot of soup too and it smelled lovely. She’d also done the hoovering which has been my Monday job for the past few weeks. She just can’t sit still some days.

After lunch and after Gems had gathered I had my Monday talk about all things Art with Margie, I put my boots on again and drove down to Auchinstarry to walk along the canal, across at the plantation then back along the railway. Got a few more shots with both cameras, two of which I knew would be on Flickr and one of which I was sure was destined to be PoD. Saw a poor luckless quad bike rider getting his/her front wheels stuck in a bog, right up to the axles. Don’t know how they were going to get out of that one, but I wasn’t going to help pull it out.

On the way back I paused to just take in the colours and shapes around me. You don’t realise just how beautiful the countryside is until you’ve had a week of rain and leaden skies. Sometimes I think I’m solar powered. I need sunlight to recharge my batteries. Without that dose of vitamin D I just get deeper and deeper down and it’s the sun on my face that lifts me, well that and Scamp’s smile. It can lift me any time. “One smile relieves a heart that grieves” Robert Graves.

Back home it was good news. Jamie Gal was in the driving seat tonight. We went in to see if the beginners class needed any helpers, but two weeks of Shannon had taken its toll and it was a vastly reduced class in the hall. An even class of leaders and followers, so we weren’t needed after all. Our own class was well attended, but the skills of the class were a fair bit below what an Advanced class should be able to demonstrate. Jamie took quite a lot of criticism for his absences and I did feel sorry for him with nobody to stand with him against the class. However it had to be said and now he knows the feelings of the class.

Came home feeling a bit deflated with the loss of two dance classes and nothing to fill the vacuum until the new year. Hopefully a new year will bring new opportunities or am I starting to sound like an astrology page from the Daily Record?

PoD today went to a dried stem of cow parsley with an out of focus background. I liked it. There’s more on Flickr.

Tomorrow we’re expecting rain and Windy Willy. That won’t be fun!

A bit more relaxed day – 30 November 2019

Done my bit for the ‘up early and out’ brigade.

Today was cold, really cold -3ºc when we woke. Sun was shining, but it wasn’t making much of a difference to the frozen cars in the street. Definitely a day for taking things a bit slower.

Finally in the afternoon we decided we needed the basics. Dinner for tonight, some veg and some bread. Dressed for the winter weather which was now a temperate one point something above zero and headed down to the shops. Got the bread, the veg and a chicken for tonight’s dinner and walked back.

After the walk, it didn’t seem all that cold, so rather than taking off all my layers, I simply changed my trainers for boots, grabbed a camera and went to St Mo’s to test out their new footpaths. Actually it was just a compressed hardcore base, not an actual asphalt footpath. Maybe that’s still to come, or maybe that’s as much as the finances will stretch to. After all, NLC councillors annual Christmas junket must be on the horizon now and of course that will take precedence. Anyway, the lighting was good and I got a few moody shots. Enough to give Lightroom and Photo Raw something to get their teeth into.

Got some more detailed shots of the Hair Ice I saw yesterday. Took a quick photo of it on my phone purely to get a GPS fix on it, but the phone placed it about a mile and a half away, in the middle of a housing estate. Weird! But then again, I don’t suppose Mr Android and Mrs Google had ever been to Cumbersheugh, so how would they know.

That was about it for the day. Chicken was lovely. The bread is uneaten as yet and the veg will hopefully go to making soup tomorrow. PoD was a shot of the lovely frosted reed stems poking from a frozen pond, looking like early Christmas trees.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to dance at the Sunday Social in The Record Factory, but it does depend on the weather.

Out before 11am – 27 November 2019

Success!

It was a foggy morning, but by the time I was up and dressed, it was just misty. Scamp went out to go to the chemist and when she got back I took the initiative and went our for a walk to see the work being done on St Mo’s and also to get some photos, although the mist had gone by then. Work seems to be progressing quite well. The asphalt teams were still busy laying paths and probably one of them in particular was lying on the paths! (See Monday’s post if you don’t understand that last sentence.). I got a few shots and one or two were worth becoming PoD. But the time I was coming home, the sun was breaking through the clouds and spreading its light on the Campsie Fells. Best of all, I’d just got out before the 11am deadline. Feeling quite pleased with myself.

Drove to Glasgow and we thought we’d danced our new routine quite well. There were some mistakes, but not too many. Then Anne Marie wanted to go back reprise Over The Rainbow. Again, I made a couple of mistakes, but nothing too serious, I thought. AM then proceeded to make me repeat and repeat one of the moves until I said “Enough” and walked off. One way to make sure someone fails is to make them repeat and repeat a mistake they’ve made the first time. As a teacher you learn that three is the magic number. If a pupil repeats the same mistake three times, making them repeat it for another three is going to be counterproductive. Leave it. Move on. Come back to it later when, hopefully, the grey matter has managed to unfankle (brilliant word) itself. But she wouldn’t leave it, that’s why I said “Enough”. I felt bad afterwards because I know Scamp enjoys the Wednesday ballroom and jive class and my actions today denied her that enjoyment. I may go back next week, but right now I’m not so sure, and that makes me feel worse.

We walked back into town to get some Christmas prezzies for Scamp’s friends and while she was in the shop I managed to get the makings of today’s PoD. Like I’ve often said, taking the shot is done in a couple of seconds, the making of the photograph takes a lot longer. Workflow tonight was Lightroom to ON1 2019 to Lightroom, but I was happy with the result. The sky was taken from another photo, but was representative of what I saw in the finder. No, I didn’t use Luminar4 with its AI. I relied again on LOI. The finished thing got PoD.

“Tomorrow”, Scamp says “is another day.” Let’s hope it’s better than today’s disaster.

Up and out before 11am – 25 November 2019

Well, that didn’t happen.

It was a great plan and would have worked too if it hadn’t been raining. To be honest, it had been raining all night and the morning was just the continuation of the deluge. Maybe I shouldn’t call it a deluge, it was mainly just rain in all its glorious variations, but whatever variation it was in, I wasn’t going out in it, at least not yet.

By lunchtime and with Gems looming, I decided I’d go “For the messages”. Scamp gave me a list. I put on my big Bergy jacket and drove off to get some food. Raided Tesco and got everything on the list and a few more things too, and still it rained. Came home, put away the messages, grabbed my camera and went for a walk in the rain.

They were actually laying tarmac on the paths round St Mo’s pond when I went over and I saw the strangest sight. My brother has a saying “The things you see when you haven’t got a gun.” The thing I saw today was a bloke in the full hi-vis rain suit lying stretched out on the freshly tarmacked path while the aforementioned rain fell continuously. I was just getting worried for his safety or mental state when he got up and stretched in a leisurely way. I imagine the warm tarmac was quite comfortable to lie on. I just hope there’s not a man shaped depression on the finished footpath. Maybe a ‘tarmac angel’. Of course I had a camera, but I’d only brought a short lens with me and wouldn’t have been able to get a good shot of it, but what a shot that would have been!

Found a few bits of wildlife around and about, mainly in and on the trees. Tiny wee snail about 4mm long, a fly that presumably had hatched in the relatively warm spell we’re having. Similarly a shield bug, bright green underneath and dull green and brown on top. Perfect camouflage when sitting on the bark of a tree. The fly won PoD.

After dinner we drove in to Glasgow to find that Shannon was taking the class. Big disappointment and big surprise to even the other young teachers. We vamoosed to the kitchen area and practised our jive, quickstep and waltz for a while. Scamp hadn’t been feeling too good today because she has waterworks problems and they were making theirselves felt towards the end of our enforced practise, so we left early after warning everyone coming in that Shannon was taking Jamie’s class. We’re guessing after some research by Scamp that he’d been caught out by a train blockage between Aberdeen and Edinburgh. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and let it be.

Scamp may be going to lunch with Mags tomorrow all being well and I might be having coffee with Val and Fred all being well. We’ll wait and see. It’s still raining!