Thursday, 30 December 2010

Festival of Light.

Since Boxing Day is long over, why is it that my house is filled with boxes? Boxes containing manuals, candy and unsorted credit card slips. Boxes containing an ever shrinking selection of Christmas cookies. Empty boxes, also, waiting to make sure the electronic device formerly contained therein actually works as advertised. Bags, also, litter the house, bags with Santas whose beards shed glitter everywhere, bags with food and lottery tickets and other small goodies from stockings, stashed there during the unwrapping frenzy and not yet put away. The stockings themselves are draped limply along the staircase railing. The tree is shedding and so is the poinsettia. Enough turkey remains for one more (sob) lunch, even after I sent the carcass into the city with the ED, whose stepson is home from his freshman year at University and eating everything that he can find. The Ghost of Christmas Past is hanging out at our place.

It was a good Christmas, however. The thermometer declared the turkey to be edible at almost the exact moment everything else was ready. The seven year old was prevented from melt-down by the provision of a special Christmas cake at exactly the right moment (lip quivering, she had just announced that she didn't LIKE anything being served for dessert.) Her father put on his Christmas sweater immediately and announced that he was never taking it off again. I managed to surprise JG twice with gifts he couldn't guess (as well as the obligatory gloves and shirt.) The daughters managed to surprise me - I didn't even know there was such a thing as a Plantcam. (That's one of the empty boxes, as the camera is now getting a trial run monitoring the amaryllis bud on the plant Little Stuff gave me.

The big news is that I am now the ecstatic possessor of a Nikon Coolpix P7000. It is small enough to fit into a purse (well, a good-sized purse, which is what I carry) or jacket pocket but big enough to possess a good lens, a viewfinder (!) and seven or eight shooting modes. I think. The manual for this virtuoso is sitting beside my easy chair and I had better dern well read it soon. I am hoping that the 365 Project participants will let me back in now that I have a camera that I can take with me and not worry about the case, camera, lenses and all being lifted through a smashed window of my car. My first attempts at using it well have not been spectacular, but I. Will. Learn. Aperture priority mode is at the top of the list.

For the first time in many years, no one gave me a book. Two photography magazines, but no novel. Perhaps they are tired of me buying a title myself before Christmas rolls around. When we were young and newly married, with money being scarce, I longed for books but only got them after putting my name on the wait list at the library. When we got a little more solvent, I bought the books I wanted after they came out in paperback, whining a little if I were too far down the library list for the hardcover. Whenever I got money for a gift, I raced to the book store. Now we are well and truly pensioned and financially secure, I buy the books I want when they come out -- or, at least, as soon as they are available through Amazon. Sometimes I forget I have ordered something from Amazon and buy it in the book store, leaving me with a new copy to give away. Now that, that is luxury. Or even excess.

With all this talk of boxes and pricey presents, you would think our Christmas was about excess. But it wasn't, really. It was about shared laughter ( the YD's dog got a chew toy that sounded just like a fart when chomped on) and good food and good music. It was about, mostly, small thoughtful gifts carefully chosen to the recipients' tastes. It was about watching the seven year old open her gifts. It was also, alas, about forgetting to take the aspic out of the barbeque where it was cooling down and finding the bowls frozen to the grill on Christmas morning. One more legend to add to the store of Mom's Christmas Disaster stories.

And I did get money from my mother-in-law, a generous amount that will accompany me to the book store quite soon.... while the sale is still on.

I hope your Christmas and/or holiday celebration was equally wonderful and wish you all the best for the New Year.

Friday, 24 December 2010

and warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate.


Wednesday, 10 November 2010


This week's prompt is 'memory'.  With Remembrance Day tomorrow, what else could I post.

This is my father in the uniform of the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve.  He joined in January, 1940 and was discharged in 1946, in pretty rough shape.  After a stint doing convoy duty across the North Atlantic in a corvette and a brief reprieve as an ASDIC instructor, he joined a destroyer as Executive Officer and ended up in the Mediterranean.  He never talked about his war to me or, I think, to my mother, but by the time my daughters were adults he could bear to tell them things.  This was a great joy to him as was his love for and pride in his grandchildren.

This is my father-in-law who joined the army in, I think, 1941 and fought his way through Italy.  After that he was in the Netherlands at the end of the war and the first weeks afterward.  He had some very amusing stories about the Netherlands, but not about Italy.  He was an artillery spotter in the Italian campaign.

Two wonderful men, gentle, thoughtful, intelligent.  Both scarred by their years of fighting.  Both able to carry on, look after their families, find happiness in the small pleasures of life.

Courage, and love of country, look like this.

Shades of Grey #2

I love to play with photos almost as much as I love taking them.  The 'grey' prompt is, for me, an invitation to get out the photo editor and have fun.

I do have another grey squirrel shot, though.  I was really torn between the two of them (see post below this one) but went with the other one as the model was in coffee pot mode.  This shot is at extreme telephoto, hand held.  I love my camera.

I hauled out several shots from earlier exercises and played with them.  Moved them to grey scale, inverted, played with the intensity and generally had fun.

102/365 inversion.  Should have cleaned the background here.

103/365 geranium.

104/365  pond scene

I also wanted to show you where the squirrel shots were taken.  Little Stuff and her dad have turned their back yard into a bird restaurant.  The squirrels, while not invited, are also ubiquious.

Shades of Grey #1

 101/365 Coffee Pot
Like a small grey
 sits the squirrel.
 He is not

 all he should be,
 kills by dozens
 trees, and eats
 his red-brown cousins.

 The keeper on the
 other hand,
 who shot him, is
 a Christian, and

 loves his enemies,
 which shows
 the squirrel was not
 one of those.
Humbert Wolfe

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Running Hard

I have just deleted a whole paragraph of whines about old age and too much to do.  I got tired of listening to myself complain to myself, if that makes any kind of sense.  Tomorrow I head off to the city to grandkid sit for part of the weekend, although not much sitting will be involved, I am pretty sure. Little Stuff and I are going to be making pies because the big fund-raising event at the local Community Hall takes place on Sunday.  It's called the 'Hunters' Dinner' because we hold it during deer hunting season - there are a lot of hunters and hunt camps around the area.  We feed over 300 people usually in a couple of hours, and we have a reputation for good quality pies and lots of them. 

There are lots of orange figures staked out through the bush this week and the four-wheelers are humming in and out of the hunt camp on the next lot over from ours.  I don't think they have any deer yet because no one has arrived on our doorstep with a dripping bag of liver  - JG told them we like liver and we have had a gift of one every November ever since those unwise words.  And I am having the annual attack of driving nerves I have every hunt season since I hit a spooked deer and crunched up the front of my poor Jeep.  (Okay, poor deer also.)

There are fewer deer visible this fall than during the last several years, but we still see them most days because we put feed and corn out on a rock at the bottom of our back field.  Here are three of them, looking hopeful.

096/365  I think this is a mom and two almost grown children.  We haven't seen a single buck this year.

Alas, it is November.  Frost and wet rain and wet snow and falling temperatures and dark, short days.  I find it hard to keep my spirits up until the Christmas rush overwhelms me and there is no time at all to brood.  I've been admiring other people's frost and first snow photos; here are my attempts.  Please don't notice that the planters are still on the porch and not cleared away until next year.

097/365 Please note the stylish snow tam Mr Pumpkin is wearing.

098/365  Flash frozen geranium close-up.  

099/365  Hoar frost.

I'm still also playing around with self-photos in my trifold mirror.  This one is a little better than the last try. 

100/365  Looking over my own shoulder.

Yahoo.  100.  I am now going to find out what the prompt is for the coming week.  And admire some of the other 365ers' work.  There's a link to the list in the upper right corner of the right column -- go and take a look.  Some of the work is truly excellent and all of it is fun.

Monday, 1 November 2010


We went to Montreal over the weekend and I hopefully lugged my camera along, wanting a fine vista from Mont Royale and some last-of-the-autumn shots.  Rained out.  Sigh.

However, we dropped in on Little Stuff and her parents to help her prepare for her Halloween outing and eat pizza and I now, finally, have some photos of the jellyfish costume and her mother's classy spooky decorations for the great night.

As of this morning, I am told that the costume was a great success - she got a lot of compliments and interest - and candy, of course.  Which were deserved; she worked very hard to make it.

091/365 - the Jellyfish girl is admired by all.

092/365 A tour de force jack-o-lantern face.

093/365 Decorated for Hallowe'en

094/365 The full jellyfish rig.

095/365 bat light

She also had glow-in-the-dark face paint.  I have no idea how her mother got her cleaned up.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

On Where I Live

 087/365  This one is titled, 'Where IS everybody".

Have you ever noticed how the very tipmost leaves hang on when all of the others are long vanished?  I explect that there is some scientific reason that my brainy ED could explain to me, but I prefer to think of this one as the baby of the bunch who does not want to leave home.


Every year I take photos of glowing trees and forests pulsating with colour.  But these last few burnished leaves, accented by the absence of light and their fellows, are so beautiful.


This is the cemetary of the hamlet near where I live.  The old part of this graveyard is grey and sere on a misty day, the legends slowly eroding from the stones, but in the new part, the families have decorated and elaborated and the monuments are new and shiny.  If you magnify this last shot a bit, you will see that the centre gravestone, the one with the tub of gold chrysanthemums in frontof it, also has a hummingbird feeder on a hook at the left hand side.  I am not sure whose grave this is, but whoever it is, I would wager, loved hummingbirds.

Can I have the last two count for both idiomatic and spooky? No?  Oh, well.  I agree that these graves, in their festive decorations, are not the least spooky.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


A while back my daughter and granddaughter presented me with a Martha Stewart magazine of Halloween projects. Along with the maximum labour pumpkin faces and other d├ęcor ideas, there were some pages of costumes for the big day. Adult costumes, and very elaborate. And on one page was a photograph of a woman about my age, dressed in white perfection, holding above her head an umbrella that had been crafted to resemble a jelly-fish. Seven year old Little Stuff was fascinated by this and asked if, maybe, I could make her one like that, big brown eyes staring imploringly into mine.

'I have a cloche umbrella just like that one,' said my daughter, cheerfully.

I know when I'm outnumbered. I promised LS I would make her a jellyfish umbrella.

Yesterday she and her mother came out to our place from the city, lugging big bags of bubble wrap, rolls of cellophane and tape, the umbrella and the illustration. I read the directions beside the photo. I read them again. Not a lot of help there. And so ......... we propped the photo up on my desk, plugged in the glue gun (but forgot to turn it on) and started cutting strips of bubbles, diagonally across the large size bubble wrap. Not a fun job, that. If you are not very, very meticulous in your cut, you can nick the side of the bubble and it goes foof. LS was getting frustrated and grama was starting to perspire, gently. We developed a technique where we cut only every second line of bubbles, in strips. Not perfect like the ones in the photo, but possible.

Then we had to make the handle and edge of the umbrella white, while taping the strings of bubbles to the edge. White book tape - miserable to stretch out and impossible if it touches itself - was laboriously applied and the bubble strings untangled. And untangled again. Next we had to make the umbrella sections look like turquoise jelly.

The instructions said "Cut 8 same-size strips of lightweight iridescent cellophane; sandwich each between 2 bubble strips; hot-glue smooth edges of tentacles to umbrella spokes. (Plastic will melt.)"  We made a pattern. We cut, fringed, pasted, untangled the strings of bubbles, untangled the fringe and repeated. Two hours passed while we did this, again and again. Little Stuff was indomitable and hung on for the whole time, with one digression out to the swings while I put the roast into the oven and one small pause for a snack (and coffee for grama) when we discovered the glue gun was still cold.

The pattern cut from the newspaper had most of a photo of Muslims at prayer on it - down on their knees with foreheads on the floor. "What are all those people doing, grama," said LS. "Praying," says I. "They look silly," said little Miss. Oh, dear. While I tried to get bubble wrap to stay square, not drip the glue all over and untangle the strings of bubbles, I also had to carefully pick my way through the minefield of discussing tolerance of one another's differences with a judgemental child.

I asked her what she would do if a friend wearing a dress she loved but that looked ugly to Little Stuff asked LS what she thought of it. LS allowed that she would not make her friend unhappy by saying it was ugly. Same with what people do that looks strange, I tried to explain, especially their religions, because that is something that a lot of people feel strongly about and it is both wrong and easy to hurt someone's feelings. After some discussion of this, LS read the caption under the photo, which accompanied a story on the firing of Juan Williams, "Remarks over Muslims cost top US radio host his job."

To the tangles of bubble wrap and strings of glue, we now added the tangles of political correctness. We got into 'jihad' from Williams' statement that Muslims on a plane madehim nervous. I finally wiggled loose after explaining that some people misinterpreted their religion and were very wrong. I clearly recall, in another post, saying that I was thankful that theology and all its ramifications were the province of parents, not grandparents. And after this I shall make sure that we make newspaper patterns with the comics section of the paper.

The umbrella looked quite handsome when it was finished.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


After some brooding about the latest 365 prompt, I realized that I have at least one photo in the ready pile that answers it.

We have a lot of buildings around here with the characteristic 'doghouse' on the top - old and decrepit ones, new and spiffy ones, big ones, tiny ones.  In Eastern Ontario a building with a doghouse on the roof is a sugar shack or sugar camp, a building used to boil down maple sap until it becomes syrup.  The 'doghouse' has removable sides and when the sap is boiling, the excess steam escapes through it, making the main part of the building less steamy and improving visibility.

 087/365 - idiomatic - an old sugar camp on Concession 2.

Leaves and Lingering Light

It's the very last of the warm, crunchy autumn weather here - almost all of our leaves are stripped off and have, with great noise and effort, been piled into composting heaps.  But the oaks are still bearing leaves in beautiful shades - mahogany, ochre, sienna.  The oak trees, large and small, stand out against the bare branches and the deep shades of the evergreens.


Besides the oak leaves, only the tamaracks are still providing colour - blazing away like golden candles in the marshy lands they prefer.


Over the last two days, trying to make up for the hiatus in posting for the 365 project, I have been taking my camera around the area with me, perched precariously on the passenger seat, trying to manage my meetingfull life to give me time to leap out of the car (or, at least, hang the camera out of the car window) and record some of the beauty of the countryside.

I've been especially attracted to old, battered buildings and to the way the long light falls and blazes and glows in the late afternoons.  Here are some of the results to get me up to date and allow me to deal with Sue's next challenging prompt in a more timely way.  A fair number of these were taken at Last Duel park in Perth where there is a very old cemetary and access to the Tay River.

079/365 Tay River

080/365 A glowing oak at the park

081/365 A gull makes a loud comment

082/365 The last leaf

083/365 Long light - with the cemetary in the distance

084/365 the cemetary again.

085/365 glowing sky

086/365 - sunset across the fields

I think I am now up to date and I will get to the old barns on a day when inspiration has failed me.  On to 'idiomatic'.

Monday, 18 October 2010

More Catching Up

We had a lovely, lovely sunny fall weekend - a bit cool, but not imposibly so.  The YD went canoeing on the Petawawa River and had, according to her, a lovely time.  Brrr.  It is 8 C out there this morning.  She did not take the large white dog, figuring it would be too cold for her.  Her father rolled his eyes at this, but I didn't - the LWD will wade into water at the slightest provocation and getting her coat soaked at these temperatures would not be good for her if you couldn't dry her off.  Ah, the joys of pet ownership.

At any rate, we had this glorious sun and I decided to play with shooting directly into it.  Probably not good for my camera sensors, but I wanted to try.  I also wanted to capture the oak on the front lawn as it was looking very nice decked out in deep red and rust.

071/365  -- notice how cleverly I have hidden the satellite dish behind the trunk.
 072/365.  Dramatic, in a strange way.

I was also up early one day this weekend and as we are still on Daylight Saving time, I got to see the sunrise.  It was very cool and still and damp - there was not a bird chirp or rustle of leaves.

073/365.  What I saw first - and took without the flash on the camera, being somewhat dopey and not outside of my first coffee.
 074/365 A few minutes later, with flash. I can't decide whether the colour did intensify or using the flash changed the sensor reception.

I'm still playing around with the oxymoron prompt.  Can't leave this kind of thing alone.  I looked at my office desk the other day and one of my mother's expressions surfaced in my mind -- "A fine mess you've made of it!' she used to say.

I have tidied all the mess into one pile this morning, as my cleaner is here and I don't like to watch strong women weep.  But I will have to disentangle it later and Do Somthing with most of it.  Maybe a bonfire would be a good option.  Maybe not, though.  There is, I think, a cheque lurking in there somewhere.  No better incentive to file than finding money while you do it.

076/365.  If only this fellow were a bit bigger and more, um, animated.

Sunday, 17 October 2010


Yep.  That's the mind bending prompt that the 365 project photographers are struggling with this week.  Good grief!

Here are a few that I've squeezed out of the reluctant brain - I confess to having grabbed a couple I took earlier in this project and coudn't think what to do with.  There's also one I took a while back and have used once before, but it meets the prompt so well that I'm recycling it.
and finally 070/365  Bedrock.