Another day of swearing – 6 January 2022

Swearing at the printer and the coffee maker, making a loaf, taking a few photos and making the dinner. My day in a nutshell.

The printer was being bad. It was as simple as that. It would print perfectly, then stop, chuck out the next two pages and then put on its red light to show it wasn’t happy. After trying lots of different things that you aren’t interested in hearing, I did what I should have done ages ago and removed it in its entirety from the iMac. Then I reinstalled all the stuff I’d taken off, and it worked perfectly for the rest of the day!

The coffee maker was being bad. I cleaned the portafilter, checked the filter itself and made sure it was clean. I checked the little hole in the filter cup wasn’t clogged. Filled it with coffee and set it to work, except it didn’t. It just held its breath and grumped, not releasing any life-giving coffee. So in true John Cleese fashion I gave it a damn good thrashing. I took the filter cup upstairs and used a nail and a cross pein hammer to enlarge that tiny little hole. No coffee ground is going to get stuck in there now. Maybe a coffee bean might manage to get lodged, but no coffee grounds. It would probably have been better to use a 1mm drill, but I didn’t have any. It worked perfectly after the thrashing.

The loaf knew better than to mess me about. It just worked, perfectly. I let the mixer do the hard kneading work and at the end of the process, a perfectly baked and slightly odd shaped loaf graced the cooling rack. Nice to know that some things just do what they’re told.

Scamp had taken the Wee Red Car out for a spin in the morning, just to make sure its battery was well charged, and also to get some messages. Fruit, veg a half price Christmas Pudding and a packet of tooth brushes were here prizes today. Oh yes, and I can report that the wee red car is looking very pumped up after its run. Pumped up and sparkling, actually, as you can see!.

It had been a very dull, wet and cold day with not a hint of sunshine until about 3pm when the sun broke loose from the clouds and shone on Cumbersheugh! On with the boots, camera in the bag and out looking for photos. I managed to grab a few shots of a couple of Coots before the swans came, demanding to be fed. Tomorrow I’ll take them some of the bread I made on Sunday. They won’t come asking again. They might not even get to the other side of the pond before they have that sinking feeling. It was a heavy loaf.

Dinner was Chicken Curry made with real chicken dated August 2021. Last year’s chicken that had been hiding at the back of the freezer. That poor cooker. It had all its four rings burning brightly. It’s a wonder it didn’t melt! One ring for the curry, one for the rice, one for the flat bread and one for the leftover chicken that couldn’t be re-frozen or put into the fridge while raw, but could go in after it had been cooked. Maybe it was because I couldn’t stand the heat, but I was finding it hard to keep my cool in the kitchen. More swearing ensued. Finish the day as you started it, that’s my motto!

Tomorrow there is snow forecast. In fact as I look out the window, it’s arriving early. We might manage a walk tomorrow, it depends if we get snowed in or not!

Computers, Drumpellier and Drives – 28 December 2021

The computer was still acting up today, but walking in Drumpellier woods was refreshing.

It was the blue sky this morning that made us want to get up and go out somewhere. The somewhere Scamp suggested was Drumpellier and I agreed.

We walked round the pond in a clockwise direction which was the opposite to our usual mode of travel. Again, it was like walking on a travelator, everyone walking in the same direction at almost the same speed. We accelerated and walked past a lot of folk. Overtaking on bends too because we were accomplished walkers and could do that sort of thing. Scamp suggested we walk away from the travelator and head up towards the cricket pitch and that’s what we did. The walk took us out into the woods and then we followed our noses until we found a likely side path to travel on. There are literally hundreds of side paths in Drumpellier and today’s one was a path we’d walked before. It was really mucky and I don’t think Scamp was all that impressed with it, but the light was good and there was a fair bit of gentle climbing then a sharp descent on the far side. All in all it was a good walk and most enjoyable. The only down side was the lack of an ice cream van, not surprising really since it is nearly the end of December.

We drove into Coatbridge proper and I went to Currys to get yet another external SSD drive. The computer is still playing up and one possible way to fix it is to remove almost a year’s worth of photos from the internal HDD and put them on to an SSD, so creating over 300GB of extra space. Long story short, the move worked, but the problem is still there. I’ve a couple of possible fixes still in my head, but both of them are more severe and I’m loath to apply them.

Tomato soup for dinner tonight with toasted croutons. Slow cooked roasted tomatoes and peppers, the ones Scamp had bought for less than a pound yesterday. It was a bit thinner than the last batch, but it still worked. Some left for tomorrow’s lunch.

PoD went to a trio of walkers ahead of us just cresting the rise before the descent. I really liked the light on the bushes and trees.

No plans for tomorrow, but it looks wet, so maybe more computer antics.

A long lie-in – 12 December 2021

At last a lazy lie-in. I did enjoy that.

We had booked an engineer’s call today and he arrived just as the final F1 GP of the year was starting. Poor guy, Simon was his name and we think he was Polish. He looked a bit out of his depth. He did all the things that I’d already done. He reset the modem to factory settings and he tried connecting using what we thought was his phone and he got through to all the sites we couldn’t reach. However, neither Scamp nor I could. We were still getting the error message. After a few phone calls back to base he tried using what was his personal phone and hit our problem. His previous connection had been done with his Virgin PDA which he admitted had a lot more software on it that allowed it to shortcut the normal wireless routes.

In the midst of all this I asked him about all the corruption we were getting on the TV and asked if it was just cables needing cleaned. He agreed that it was the usual cause. However once he’d checked the connections, he said that wasn’t the case here, it was the hard drive in the TiVo box that was giving the problem. He went to his van and returned with what looked like a new modem, but it was a new set top box, not a TiVo this time. He fitted the new box, and set it up while still struggling with the modem problem. Eventually he gave up, gave me his phone number and told me he’s go and discuss it with his manager and get back to me.

We sat there in amazement. We’d been trying for years to get Virgin to admit that the corruption was due to a dodgy hard drive, but they insisted it was just the cables that needed cleaned. All we needed to do was book a service engineer and Bingo, a new set top box appears. It’s about a quarter the size of the old one and much, much faster. All this time I’ve been blaming the TV for taking so long to connect to iPlayer and it was the TiVo box all the time.

He did phone back and said that it looks as if some of the sites have blocked our IP address. We need to phone Customer Services and ask to be put through to the Faults Team who should be able to change the default IP address. I realise this is just gobbledegook to you Jamie, but maybe your sister will understand it a bit better.

The story doesn’t end there. The window cleaner came to get his money tonight and he said “I think you’ve left a brief case out in the rain” pointing at a very wet black shape that did in fact look like a brief case sitting on one of our bins. As I reached for it, I realised it was our old TiVo box. Poor Simon, he was so bamboozled by our problem that he left the box sitting there while he went looking for the external connection box to make sure the problem wasn’t there. It’s lying in the kitchen now drying out gradually, but I don’t think it will ever dance with the Bolshoi again!

Watched a confusing F1 GP on and off while the repair was going happening. It was more ‘Off’ than ‘On’ as the new box was taking ages to boot up. Great to see Verstappen win, but to be honest, neither of them covered themselves in glory. It was also good to see that smug smile wiped from Toto Wolf’s face when he realised what was happening. So much hype, so much macho posturing from the team principals, so much bad feeling. Then the the drivers themselves fist bumped and behaved like sportsmen on screen despite what they said off screen. A strange day. It might be worth watching the highlights just to see how stupid it all was.

Almost no chance for photos today. The furthest I was away from the house was to bring the car down to our parking space from where I’d parked it last night. PoD was a shot of some starlings sitting in the bare trees trying to find some berries for their dinner. Ours was beef burger for me, veggie sausages for Scamp, both served with roasted veg. Scamp’s Christmas Sponge for pudding, served with custard.

Tomorrow we’re going for the messages and to get Scamp’s meds. I also need to call the faults team.

Cavalcade – 1 November 2021

How the other half travel

Today we were going for the messages and we thought we’d go to Waitrose in Stirling for a change. While we were driving there I noticed a line of motorbikes heading west on the opposite carriageway. There seemed to be no reason for them unless they were escorting an X36 bus, but that wasn’t likely, they were going far too fast. A few minutes later we found the reason. About a dozen outriders on motorbikes with blue lights flashing then the line of heavy duty black cars with tinted windows swept past, and they were flying. Last were the tail gunners, also on motorbikes. I wonder how they square all that petrol and diesel consumption and excess carbon release with the Global Warming conference they were heading for to spout more hot air at. How do the other half live with themselves?

When we got to the shop we had to wait while some american (you know the rules. Lower case for zoomers) dimwit decided whether to buy a piece of tuna or not ”It has to be Sushi Grade”. After checking with his phone for the umpteenth time he settled instead for four sea bream fillets, then almost caused the fishmonger to have a ‘hairy fit’ by asking him if he could have the skin removed! americans, you can’t take them everywhere twice – second time to apologise. Scamp and I had a good laugh about it. We bought some fish, then we bought Waitrose. I really did feel sorry for that poor fishmonger.

With a ton of stuff in the boot of the Blue car, we headed off to speak to a man about an upgrade. I’ve dealt with Azam for years, more years than I care to remember. After a fair bit of discussion about my gradually slowing down computer, we said the easiest thing would be for him to send me a quote. It’s a big job taking an iMac to bits, changing the memory and the hard drive and I knew it wouldn’t be cheap, but neither would a new iMac. I how have the quote. It’s roughly what I thought it would be.

Scamp was meeting June in the afternoon at Tim Hortons, so off she went after lunch. I stayed home and explained to the iMac what would be involved in the operation and that I trusted the surgeon. I think it’s going to be ok with what we’ve discussed. After that I did my usual ‘first day of the month’ tasks of backing up the photos, deleting all the rejected ones and building a new screensaver from last month’s photos. With that done I was off to St Mo’s on a very dull afternoon to see what I could find. There wasn’t much to see or photograph today, but I did find a wee park bench that became PoD. Best of all, there was no prompt today. No last minute sketching. No photographing it and squaring it up and posting it for two people to ‘like’ and fewer to comment on. Inktober 2021? Glad it’s over for another year.

No plans for tomorrow.

Out to lunch – 22 September 2021

Scamp had arranged a lunch for Gems to mark the end of an era for the singing group.

A sad day in a way, but as she, and the other ladies, admitted, although Covid had put an end to their activities with all the churches and halls closing their doors during Lockdown, the heyday for the singing group had passed. The final decision had really been taken out of their hands. All the remaining members joined in the celebration of years of providing music and enjoyment to people who needed just that little lift. I was taxi driver for today and drove Scamp and Margie down to The Village for their lunch.

That meant I had some time on my own and nothing to do, or so I thought. I’d intended doing some painting or drawing because Inktober is just around the corner. In the end I just added some pastel to the ongoing sketch that lives in the back room. Then I started on more catch-up for the blog and finally finished the posting of photos on Flickr. Finally I made a bowl of dough to make a pizza for dinner, mine really, but I knew Scamp would sample it too.

I’d almost finished when my phone chirped to tell me it was time to go and pick up the ladies. It had turned into one of those miserable Scottish days with drizzle and rain designed to dampen anyone’s spirits, but they seemed to have had a good afternoon.

I couldn’t be bothered going out to get wet and come home with a miserable set of photos, so I put the A6000 on the Gorilla Pod and set up a tabletop display of some of our apples. Red ones are James Grieve (much redder than usual) the dull green ones are Russets. One of those shots became PoD.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go dancing, tea dancing, and there will be cake!

Roses, Keys and Stitchery – 14 June 2021

A dull, cold day the temperature didn’t rise much above 14º.

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was a beautiful sunny, but windy day. Today was cold, windy and a bit dull, but you can’t win them all which might be the Scotland team’s motto having failed to win their first game in the Euros.

Annette visited today and keys changed hands. I’ll say no more than that. While Scamp and her were deep in conversation I cut two fading roses, took them upstairs and set up a small tabletop studio to photograph them before they completely fell apart. For the first time ever, I think, I used the MBP as a monitor and shot the pictures tethered to the Sony. Once you get past the restrictions of using the poor Sony software, the results were really good. The whole process could have been a lot easier if a bit of thought and some better programming had been put in place by Sony, but at least it worked and was an improvement over the phone app I’d used before. One of the rose photos got PoD. Annette was leaving just as I was finishing. It was strange to see her red Juke sitting just up the hill from our blue Micra. I still miss the Juke a bit, but I prefer the better mpg of the Micra.

Lunch was another quiche with the same ingredients, smoked salmon and broccoli, as last time, but this time we used a tortilla wrap for the base. So much simpler. It was voted a success. Worth doing again but with an extra egg next time.

I’d bought myself a pair of walking trousers last week and like the previous pair I got last year, they were too long. Tonight I got the sewing machine out tonight and folded up the hem on the legs and sewed it. I thought the poor machine was going to have a heart attack as it hammered away at the heavy cotton which was triple thickness and even thicker at the seams. However it seemed come through it unscathed. Just to be sure I did a wee test piece after I was finished both legs and it sounded fine again.

I’m still thinking about formatting the disk on the iMac and re-installing the OS. Too many little quirks are appearing. I think there is a lot of junk on the OS and also in the unused programs that is just taking up space. Tonight I think I’ve discovered how to copy off the Keychain and then re-install it. That would be very useful.
The foregoing is really just for my benefit.

Tomorrow we’re waiting for the post. We may go out for a spin.

Right on time – 20 May 2021

It was promised for 11am and at 10.50am the first drops fell

Today was dry when I was making breakfast around 8.30am. It was cloudy and it was dull, but it wasn’t raining. I checked my weather app around 10.15 and it was predicting rain at 11am. Later I went out to photograph today’s PoD which is an anemone which is sitting on the back step and when I looked closely there were raindrops on the petals. Two quick shots and that was enough for me. They looked sharp and there wasn’t any reason to hang around. Went out front to collect the empty bins, Thursday being bin day, and when I was coming back in it was definitely raining. I checked my watch and it was 10.50am. Rain arrived right on schedule. Fifteen minutes later it was coming straight down. Glad I got those two shots when I did.

The rain did go off again for a while, but in the afternoon we went to Calder’s garden centre to get a plant Scamp had liked the look of earlier in the week. She didn’t have time to buy it then, but she got it today. When we came out of Calder’s it was raining again. To be fair, all of the foregoing was predicted by the weather fairies yesterday and for once it came true.

That was about the end of our activities for the day, although our electricity went off for almost an hour just before dinner time. We’re in a warning listing with the electricity company and we always get an automated call when something like this happens. They were predicting a two hour delay before it would be connected, but the lights came back on after an hour. Luckily we both had fairly well charged laptops so we could continue to play games and fritter away some time without power, but without internet it was a different story. Scamp was resourceful and used her phone’s hotspot to save off the work she was doing to the cloud. It’s amazingly useful to have a decent phone and a bit bandwidth to do stuff like that nowadays. Who’d have thought twenty years ago that power like that would be at your fingertips.

Strangely I was just about to download the new Lightroom/Photoshop bundle when the outage happened, so it’s not installed yet, in fact it isn’t even downloaded yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Today’s sketch prompt was for a corkscrew. I drew the Waiter’s Friend we keep in the drawer in the kitchen. Probably the best corkscrew I’ve ever used . So simple and easy to use. A true design classic. The problem with classic pieces is that everyone knows what they look like, so your sketch has to be fairly decent. Mine is reasonably accurate, but not exact. It looks like the real article and that’s good enough for me.

Tomorrow we may go shopping to Stirling or Falkirk. We’ll maybe toss a coin.

Haircut a new laptop and a fish supper – 30 April 2021

The day started with an hour or so’s shopping at Tesco and ended with me just about swearing at Catalina.

Scamp wanted to get some stuff for tomorrow when we are hoping to go to a belated birthday Party. It’s Peter Wilson’s birthday. We’ve known him for a while because he and his wife are enthusiastic salsa dancers, and ballroom dancers and tango dancers. In fact they’re just enthusiastic dancers in any and every form it takes. I don’t know if they’ve done Soca yet, but I’m sure they’d excel at that too. We’ve been invited to a very special afternoon tea at their house. Because of Covid you can’t have a party in the house, so Gillian has divided the day up into three, two hour slots with two couples invited to each slot. That way there are only six people at any one time at the party, but it means he gets to see a dozen friends over the two days. Ingenious. We were shopping today because we needed a present for Peter, but also for Gillian because she had done all the organising.

Scamp was driving today and we were also dropping off two big bags of duvet covers and sheets into the Salvation Army collection bin. With the parcels delivered and sufficient bottles of alcoholic beverages for the couple we drove home. Last night we had had a long talk about a replacement laptop for my ageing MacBook Pro. I had thought about getting a PC, because they’re cheaper, but I like the Apple system and although they are expensive they last longer than a PC. I’d chosen the one that best fitted my needs (wants) and we’d agreed that it was probably worth paying the extra to get the Mac version rather than the PC. Long story short, I drove in to Glasgow when we got back to get the Mac if it was in stock at JL. Apple only seemed to have the widely criticised M1 chip. I wanted the tried and tested Intel i5 chipset. Drove to JL and sealed the deal, then went to get my hair cut. Best tenner I’ve spent in a long while. It only took the bloke about ten minutes top and it’s a lot neater than I can do.

When I came out, I noticed a ‘ghost sign’ across Bath Street. It was for William Brechin & Son. I grabbed the shot and it became PoD. I liked the idea that the flat above William Brechin’s shop, which had sold ‘spirits’ (quite apt for a ghost sign) was being used as a beautician’s and advertised Electrolysis and Nails. I wondered what he and his son would have made of that when they set up shop in 1903!

On the way back from the barbers, I picked up a plain brown box that concealed the normal white box holding the new MBP. When I phoned Scamp to tell her I was on the way home, she suggested we get a fish supper tonight for dinner. That suited me perfectly. I knew I’d suffer for it later, but it would taste like a Friday night when I was eating it.

It took a lot longer than I anticipated to get the MBP set up with all the extra security that’s onboard these days. Almost everything you do needs a confirmation six digit code sent to an iPhone I don’t have any more. Heavens, it even asked me to confirm my login pass to my old iPhone. Security gone mad. Finally I was finished and although it wasn’t quite as fast as the iMac, the flexibility Apple devices have with sharing files is impressive. Also all the apps I’d bought on the App Store were still available to download. Only one downside so far, Lightroom doesn’t work on Catalina. It’s not a deal breaker because I was intending leaving it behind anyway. Capture One can do most of what Lightroom can do and is a better photo processor.

Enough, you don’t want to know any more about my Apple Fanboy experience, I realise that. I’m happy with today’s purchase and that’s the end of it.

Tomorrow Scamp is getting her hair cut in the morning, but not a No 3 on the sides and a No 4 on top like I got. She has to look her best for the party tomorrow.

Chasing Butterflies – 29 April 2021

The butterflies almost won.

Scamp was off having coffee with Annette and I had intended to start a watercolour practise piece in preparation for Every Day in May, but then I though it would be a good idea to give some of the plants their freedom and planted out half a dozen peas and the same amount of kale. The peas were grown from last years peas, but the kale was bought as plug plants. With that done and a cup of coffee I started yesterday’s Sudoku. I was just getting to the sticking place with it when my Fitbit reminded me that I needed to get off my backside.

It was dry and the sun was shining, but I knew from my gardening that it wasn’t all that warm out there, and of course there was the risk of a wee April shower, so I dressed appropriately for a walk in St Mo’s.

A lot of the fruit trees in the park were beginning to show off their blossom and I took a few shots of them, then I went looking for damselflies to photograph, but there were none. It must be almost time for them to crawl up the reeds, shake off their shuck and fly away. However there were none today. Further into the woods there were a host of butterflies. This time of year, late April and early May is the time to catch the Orange Tip butterflies. That’s what I started chasing. However, every time I got near to one it would fly off, leaving me empty handed. Finally one landed on a dandelion flower and I did get the chance to shoot a few frames of it. It was one of them that made PoD. Lunch was beckoning and I headed home.

I hadn’t been in the house five minutes when the rain started battering on the window. That was lucky. I’m not usually as lucky. I’m usually just thinking about coming home as the first drops start falling. The first drops of a downpour.

Scamp arrived just after I’d finished lunch and I went off to go shopping in Tesco. I saw a good deal on true headphones and treated myself. It took me ages to get them paired to my phone. They paired right away to the tablet and to Scamp’s phone, but point blank refused to connect to mine. Then, suddenly they were working and at full volume. I think I’ve manage to get the better of them now and they are behaving quite well. Time will tell if they are as useful as I think they’ll be.

I’m still thinking about getting another MacBook Pro, because although I got the old MBP to run Mojave after a little tweak, it won’t run the new editing software, I’m guessing its because the processor in the MBP isn’t quite up to the task. I’ve seen what I’d like now and Scamp agrees with me, but I’m still not sure. I’ll sleep on it, at least for tonight.

With that in mind, I’m off to bed. No real plans for tomorrow, other than buying a bottle of something for a man who has everything. No JIC, it’s not you, although you do almost qualify!

Deep breath and here we go – 22 March 2021

Today I left Sierra behind and found Mojave.

I’ve been running Sierra on the iMac since I bought it about four years ago. It’s been getting slower and slower all that time. Finally, today, after making another backup and filing away some important passwords, I ran the Mojave installer and went to have my lunch. I fidgeted and paced the floor like a dafty on and off for about half an hour after that. Actually, the time scale the installer gave was almost correct and after an hour I had a new, responsive operating system. I’m quite impressed with it and have learned a lot in the process. The main thing I’ve learned is to let the computer and the code I’m injecting get on with things and don’t poke about in it. I’ll try to remember that when things go wrong as they did about half an hour ago when my memory usage was red-lining and one app was taking up twice as much physical memory as I have installed. Don’t ask me how that’s possible, I don’t know, but it just is.

It was a dull day, so I suppose it was the perfect day to do this kind of messing around. It didn’t actually rain, but it looked like it wanted to. Scamp was busy doing housework while I was pacing the floor and swearing at anything that got in my way. Eventually, I closed the computer down, grabbed my camera and went for a walk in St Mo’s. For the last week the weather has been really like spring, but today it was as if we’d returned to winter. Cold wind, grey sky and not a lot of light. However I was out. I did two circuits of the pond and then came home with a few photos, two of which got red spots, which means they were good enough to post on Flickr. PoD went to the photo of the red flower with the zig-zag stem. I also took a few shots of desiccated weeds. The structure of weeds is really interesting. As someone who used to make a living drawing structural steelwork, these featherlight vertical structures are amazing. They can sway in the breeze and not break. They have evolved to cope with wind, rain, snow, sun and ice. If you study them, they are incredibly strong for their light weight. Anyway, as I photographed some weeds a line from a George Gerdes song popped into my head, “Seeds that I’ve sown were all a bunch of weeds”. When I got back home I searched for George Gerdes and found that he had died of a brain aneurysm on January 1st this year. He was 72. We heard him sing at a Loudon Wainwright concert in Glasgow away back around 1974. RIP George. I loved the humour of your songs.

We had a quick attempt at the figure we learned yesterday, The Five Step, but after Scamp trod on my toe and I trod on hers, both by accident, we decided to call it a day and try agin tomorrow.

There will be some worried faces in the SNP party tonight since Nicola Sturgeon was cleared of ‘breaching the ministerial code’, which is legalese for ”She didnae dae it!” That means all those who had their daggers drawn ready to take her down will be keeping a low profile for some time to come. I’m not saying she’s vindictive, oh no, I didn’t say that. I’ve always said she was the best leader we’ve ever had. Ahem, I think I got away with that.

Tomorrow looks reasonable weather wise, but we may get some of the wet stuff.