Sunday 18 February 2024

Seeing Red.

 There are a lot of colours that are described as “red”. Many of them have a descriptor in front, such as “fire engine red” or “blood red”. Others are descriptors of a different sort such as “burgundy” or “cherry”. “Scarlet” is red, as is “crimson”. As to what it is by definition, an on-line dictionary says it is “of a color at the end of the spectrum next to orange and opposite violet”.

I love red. Bright red. I love to wear it, to use it and admire it in sunsets and roses. I have two red jackets and a red sweater and I used to have, until I got too fat to wear it, a red down-filled winter coat. I have two red hanging lights in my kitchen. If I could grow anything that flowers, I would try for red, red roses.

So, all the colours of red.

Wickipedia says that “Varieties of the color red may differ in hue, chroma (also called saturation, intensity, or colorfulness) or lightness (or value, tone, or brightness), or in two or three of these qualities. Variations in value are also called tints and shades, a tint being a red or other hue mixed with white, a shade being mixed with black. A large selection of these various colors are [sic] shown below.”

Another source tells us that there are 99 varieties of red. I am not about to get into technicalities here. You can, if you have that kind of interest, find lots of information and colour charts and names of varieties here.  or here.

I have a post about ‘red’ that I wrote back when. It can be found here.  The little velvet wonder in the last photo (my grandkid posing for a Christmas card photo) in this post will be hitting her maturity birthday in a few months. She is a student at McGill and, amusingly enough, a Martlet. She is on a university sports team and the McGill identifier is a red bird, a martlet. I have a photo of this. Somewhere. Sigh.

My English as a Second Language students suffered when faced with homonyms. Red, the colour, and the past tense of the verb “to read”, are both pronounced ‘red’ although spelled ‘read’, the same as the present tense. Faces suffused with misery as I explained this, slowly, several times. The definition in my Oxford Reference Dictionary covers four inches of dense type, at eight point type or less. I have not had the courage to look in the big Webster, which has migrated downstairs, at any rate.

If you have read this far, I note that this is another rag bag, but this one filled with red rags. And, just to sweeten the mix, I will end here with a shot of my red-haired daughter in a red Stewart kilt.

Thursday 15 February 2024


 Like other and more organized bloggers, I occasionally want a rag bag of a post. This one will be quite raggish indeed.

First, an update on my medical fun and games. I have been measured in practically every way known to medical science and am now waiting for the verdict as to whether I can have minimally invasive surgery. This verdict will be delivered next Wednesday via a Zoom meeting with my doctor. Thankfully, some things can be done this way and the hospital people are very accommodating about it. Unfortunately, some things cannot and require me to abstain from coffee, chocolate and all other things caffeine for up to two days before trekking into the city hospital. My suffering cannot be adequately described.

Second, the mess on the desk. Still there. Between the medical stuff and the secretary for our local hall stuff, I am not in paperless mode. I actually dug out a bunch of outdated types of paper for the Annual General Meeting handouts and colour-coded them. Not that most people noticed, alas. I now have to get an updated minute book to a wonderful person who is going to back me up as secretary while I get on with the medical stuff. And I am willing to bet I can do that without printing another copy of anything, provided I can sort the piles I have. Yeah. And, as I rolled merrily along, I formatted the ad for our next event the wrong size. A plaintive email from the local paper alerted me to this. Talk about typing errors. 

More Organized Blogger just put up a post about typing errors and got a lot of comments to agree that it is a very easy thing to do. I hang on to what is described as a ‘gaming’ keyboard because it has raised pads and is the same large format as the standard machine on which I learned. It also clicks and I love that. If I try to type on a small, smooth keyboard, I make a huge number of errors. I use, as I have described in other posts, a correction app called ‘Grammarly’ to find the errors. So far, all the underlining in this post is highlighting usage. Well, except that they want me to hyphenate “colour coded”.  And so I just did.

Earlier this morning I read a lovely and lovingly written post by a former teacher about a student of hers who went in very wrong directions and has died very young. It made me think of some of my former students, long ago and fairly recently taught, who struggled. And whom I am very much afraid I could not help enough. I ended up wondering why it is the failures I remember vividly, rather than the things that worked, the successes. One does not lie awake at 3:00 am brooding about a girl who went on to a Master’s degree in your subject, for instance. Or I don’t. What keeps you awake in the small hours? Other than the aches and pains of old age, that is. 

Okay. Time to quit this and hit ‘print’. Note single quote mark. Easier than using the shift key to get the proper one. Not lying awake about that.

Saturday 3 February 2024


 I should be cleaning the flat surfaces in my office here. It is a disaster, especially as I decided to clear some of the drawers of an accumulation of, frankly, useless junk. I was looking for a card the surgeon issued when I had my knee done. I am supposed to take an antibiotic before dental work and I could not remember the name of the [@##$$%%^&&] drug. After a long and fruitless search, during which I found a credit card that I thought was lost forever, I found it sandwiched into a card holder, one of three I was sure were empty. I must, repeat MUST, file it somewhere that I can find it again without this kind of disaster.

In fact, disasters abound, chez me. Another is a closet overfull of clothing in a lot of different sizes, some of which I am sure I will never wear again. The reason for this is that I dropped three or four clothing sizes in a hurry when I had the heart surgery. Although I quickly gained one back, I was quite happy with myself (although my GP told me to lose ten pounds) until the Covid shutdown. Between that, mobility loss from the back problems and a lot of chocolate brownies, I am now back up to my biggest clothing size. The closet badly needs emptying. I think about this, and then think about the fact that I have another surgery scheduled, and am very undecided about which clothes to pack up and give away. The smallest ones are the least used, of course. 

Another surgery. An anomaly in my lung that has been followed since 2019, or thereabouts, has finally been identified as a small, discrete cancer. Supposedly the tumour can be removed by laparoscopic surgery, with only an overnight stay in hospital. However, pretesting for this surgery is ongoing and that is why there has not been much written in here lately as the testing is at the city hospital over an hour’s drive away. We have been doing a lot of driving. The problem is that if they cannot do the surgery, or if they do and things go pear-shaped, I may be in for another long siege on the hospital food that slimmed me down last time. So, what do I keep, just in case? 

Meanwhile, the desktop is layered with Stuff. And I am accumulating a big pile of paper to be recycled as I go. I keep things. And forget what I have kept or where I put it. I just found all the back paperwork from the medical claim in our Income Tax return from 2018.  And I know there are a lot of financial records jammed in there. I print off a bank statement sheet once a month and write in any information I might need for some future query.  Who received a cheque? Who was the recipient of an E-transfer? That kind of thing escapes my memory with the velocity of light. As do numbers. I can remember what my parents’ phone number was in 1958. I cannot remember what my daughters’ numbers are now and am hard-pressed to come up with my own cell number. Why is there all this stuff in my desk when there is nothing but space in my brain?

That last description of my brain? Am I a certified airhead? Yes. Because in that space there is an earworm playing. Scarlet Ribbons for Her Hair, by Belafonte, is echoing in there, over and over. It was on the playlist in the car on our next-to-last drive to the city and it will not go away. I had hoped that there would be something on yesterday’s playlist that would overwrite it, but no. Not even the Phantom of the Opera drowned it out. (And if I infected you, please accept an abject apology). Not only on my desk does disaster lurk. The head is also overfull of mostly useless junk.

Wednesday 24 January 2024

About Snow

My daughters with their grandfather on the canal, circa early 1070's

 Winter is with us, full steam. We have just had a power flicker and the internet has been knocked out, we have no idea for how long, and we could lose the power entirely. Wind and blowing snow out there; the ED says it is worse in Ottawa. And they just got the canal opened for skating, in part, yesterday, courtesy of a week of deep cold. Now we are back to the just below to just above freezing temps and I hope they can keep flooding with some success. ED loves to skate and can access one end of the skateway from her office quite easily.

The grandkid on the canal
For those of you who are not local, I guess an explanation of the skateway might be in order. Our city has a canal that was dug through the small town of Ottawa over one hundred years ago. The canal was meant to be a link from the Great Lakes system via the Ottawa River to the St Lawrence system just this side of Montreal and thus create a passage into Canada that did not run directly beside the United States. Great Britain funded it. It was and is a marvel of engineering and, as it runs right through the middle of Ottawa, when it was drained for the winter, people skated on the ice formed on the remaining shallow water. Around about the 1970s somewhere, the City of Ottawa or the National Capital Commission (NCC) made bits of it smoother, this being done by men with shovels and hoses. It was wildly popular and the length of it grew until, now, it is billed as the longest man-made skateway in the world and stretches over, I think, nine kilometres from Carleton University at one end to the junction with the Ottawa River at the other.

I took our girls skating on it when they were in grade school, and Jim’s parents came up one winter to enjoy it as they were good skaters. The last year I was there myself was 2004. I know this because I was pushing baby Audrey in a stroller kind of thing. I had to hang onto the stroller as my balance was gone, so that was my last attempt. But both daughters and the grandkid have been on it many times. 

Putting the ice into condition for skating is now much more mechanized. The city uses trucks with ploughs on them to clear the snow and so the depth of ice has to be very good to be strong enough. Global Warming is getting to it; last year was warm enough that they never did get the thickness of ice they wanted and the skateway never opened. Sad. IMHO they should go back to the strong backs with shovels and worry less about depth of ice. The Canal ‘rink’ is a marvel when it is in use. At one point, when she was working next to the canal, the YD used to skate to work. You have to love that.

In fact, it is winter sport and recreation that make our climate possible to endure from November to April. Getting out into the bush, going to areas which, in summer, you could never reach, is satisfying in a way that nothing else I have ever done can match. A small cloud of chattering chickadees blows by you. There are tracks you recognise in the snow and others that are a complete mystery. The sun shadows make marvellous lattices on the snow, blue and grey blue where the snow in the sun is sparkling white. A trickle of open water remains in the stream bed, exposing moss so green it is almost black. You can trek into marshy land – I once found a cutting wedge sitting on a stump in the middle of nowhere. If the beaver ponds freeze without heavy snow, skating is wonderful. You can, with effort, climb in your snowshoes but walking on the level, where, in summer there is water, is almost without work. On skis, you fly.

Snow Shadows

The Beaver Pond, Clearing the Snow

More Shadows

The Stream

If there is one thing that sucks about old age, it is that it robs you of the abilities that enrich living. I can only go there in photos, now.

Sunday 21 January 2024

Leave nothing but footprints ...

This is going to be a plaintive post; I have a new version of Word that has more bells and whistles than even my last one. As I try to navigate through it, I am also on call to go and help JG with HIS new Word app. He has not used Word much ever, having preferred another word processing program when he worked, maybe something called WordPerfect, and having done very little word processing in the last two and a half decades. Since I am not at all sure what I am doing myself, this is not even a story about how, in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In fact, I appear to be typing this in something called Aptos (Body) and I did not decide to do so. It’s not bad. I am interested to see how it will come up when transferred to Blogger. (In serif typeface in the draft, a sans serif when published. Wha...?)

I am more than annoyed with Blogger today. It ate two sets of well thought out and nicely worded comments that I wrote on posts I enjoyed. The comments were not nearly as thorough or as well written on the third attempt. But if, when I hit SAVE it actually does save, I guess third time pays all. Or something like that.

The ED was out on the weekend and went for a snowshoe in about a foot of new, untrodden and crusted heavy snow. She did most of her usual circuit through both the home hundred acres and the back hundred, in a little more time than usual and remarked that she was labouring coming up the last hill. Yeah. She did, a bit wistfully I thought, wish for her sister and her dog to, as she put it, break trail for her.

Aforesaid sister has resigned her prestigious position and handsome remuneration and is now on leave, using up her vacation and then her terminal leave before she will make the final decision about retirement. This is Freedom 55 Plus, and she is off to do a bike trip in the Far East and then a hike in Europe and then may pack up her home in Brussels prior to getting her house in the city back from the renters. She has home renovations in mind but so far that is all that she is discussing of any planning. I am surprised and yet not surprised at this decision. I knew she was not happy in many of the requirements of the position, but was not aware of the extent of her frustration. I suspect she was making the best of it when talking to us, to spare us worry. At any rate, she may be available as a trail stomper by next winter’s need.

As a personal report, I think I have found at least some of the surfaces of my desk and table here in my office. Between the hall material, the paperwork needed for my various medical appointments and the stack of usual filing, there was a fine mess. Then I was hit by a request from JG to find a particular document from his brother’s estate papers that I had handled. We got a portentous government document saying said government owed deceased brother money still and JG needed the reference. I dug, piled up files, muttered and after three tries I found the dratted thing. The money owed turns out to be about three dollars. Or about the cost of sending the cheque? And I am now refiling and Putting Things Back. When the ED was here, she put the Christmas boxes all away under the stairs, and so that is that for another year. It may, sometime, become tidy. There is a tidy in the affairs of woman…

I am stopping now before this leads on to anything. Up top you will have seen a fine photo that the ED took of the back beaver pond. You can contemplate that; nature is neat in more than one aspect. 

Saturday 13 January 2024

Winter is Here

 Last night we had our first big snowstorm of the winter blow in, and I do mean ‘blow’. There was snow pasted to all of the screens on both sides of the open porch, and the whole porch floor was covered, except for about three square feet right at the door. I did a lot of brushing and sweeping, but meanwhile JG actually got to play with his new toy. This toy is a dedicated four wheeler with a heated cab (Note: heated) and the cab has windscreen wipers front and back. This allows JG to blow the snow away while driving forward, instead of backing up as was required by the big tractor rear-mounted auger, and he can let it rip without getting his face full of snow. This is very good, for obvious reasons.

And here he comes!

When he went out to start clearing, the snow turned out to be wet and pretty heavy, and the temperature actually went above freezing for a bit in the afternoon. Then, in late afternoon, the sky cleared almost at once, the temperature dropped and we ended up with stiff snow. This, of course, is when the Township plough decided to finally come and do our road. We are the last house on a dead-end branch of a very rural part of the Ottawa Valley. I guess we should count ourselves lucky to be plowed out at all. If it were not for the school bus needing to run up part way on this road, we might be an even later afterthought. But, hey, we now are reconnected to the world.

 It took most of the day for JG to get us tidied up. Meanwhile I was ducking out in my slippers and trying to get some photos with my new and superior Christmas iPad. With very mixed results. I need to figure out how not to take 'Live' shots, for one thing. And look where I am aiming. I took a photo of the cleared porch and area, with a shovel (see above right) sitting in the middle of the shot. Annoying. And so I edited it out, sort of. A sloppy job, but, hey, it improved the photo. I think. Sigh. Must read the book. Must think before shooting. And, also very important, must put on boots and coat before venturing out into snow world.

Thursday 11 January 2024

Less Waiting.

It was Wednesday morning (when I started this but it is now Thursday evening), the morning chores are done and I have just been phoning to try to figure out what happened to my credit card. Amazing to me, I was not put on hold. Two rings and straight through to a real person – well, two rings and typing in my credit card number twice. I have an older landline phone with no speaker facility. It has a club speaker/receiver that I tuck close to one ear and hold with my chin; I started doing this in the 1980’s while working at a job that required lots of telephone calls and the habit has stuck in spite of my stiff neck and a perfectly working iPhone with a speaker. “Turn on the speaker,” says my YD, more or less patiently, when she calls me on this marvellous device.

What is the most marvellous, really, is that I am chatting with her as she drives home from work or back from an assignment. In Brussels, or on the Autobahn in Germany, or ... wherever. We can also chat with her via video from her home, also in Brussels. The phone calls are crystal clear. The video is excellent. It is not the same as having her here and getting hugs and finding strange wrapped bags of things in the refrigerator. But it is a miracle of modern technology. Mind you, I thought that email was a marvel when I first acquired it. The ED was living in Scotland, and to be able to reach her on a daily basis and to know that she had managed that day -in a difficult period in her life – was priceless.

Earlier communication methods were not priceless – sending bulky letters across the Atlantic, trying (and failing) to keep phone calls from Africa economically short, paying for international cell phone coverage in an emergency – all came at a price and a high one by times. Worth it, though. It is an interesting, for me, comment on how life is that something you want starts out looking expensive but becomes routine. The switch from black and white film to colour film is a case in point. We had a good camera that took a roll of twenty-four shots but that made a film expensive to have printed. (I had a developer of my own for black and white for a while, also expensive to do but very interesting.) I started by being very careful when I had colour film, but ended up doing candid shots and paying for the rather mixed results. Lines of relatives, posed and resentful, are not good photography. I went looking for such a photo and found this. Terrible photograph, but it is funny, especially when you know the kidlets.

My Facebook friend, AC, just did a retrospective of his year in photographs, and it is worth a look. His comments are gold mines of teaching about good photography. He has a post here. It made me think about photos I have taken that I liked well enough that I remember something about them. I may just go and look for a few, although remembering about them and remembering where I put them are two very different things.

Report on the report: I had to trek into our medical facility and ask for a copy of the report to be found and printed from my master file. It was frustrating, but at least I now have that information. It has generated more tests, so I will probably be muttering about more reports here before too long. Both JG and I have reached the plateau of old/old and that seems to cause our doctors to want to know all about our insides. Me, I read the report, do a LOT of looking up of very big words and sort of shrug. Yeah, this, that and the other thing are Not Quite Right. Or, even, labelled with Latinate tags. I expect I shall be like the wonderful one-hoss-shay.