Tuesday, May 03, 2016

More Spring Flowers

I've done this once already this year, but I have shot a few more spring flower pics, getting as close as I reasonably can. Photographically, there's not much else going on.

First, I present Calluna vulgaris or Heather. The flowers are tiny on this hardy plant, but they're pretty when you zoom in.

from Wikipedia
Calluna vulgaris (known as common heather, ling, or simply heather) is the sole species in the genus Calluna in the family Ericaceae. It is a low-growing perennial shrub growing to 20 to 50 centimetres (7.9 to 19.7 in) tall, or rarely to 1 metre (39 in) and taller, and is found widely in Europe and Asia Minor on acidic soils in open sunny situations and in moderate shade. It is the dominant plant in most heathland and moorland in Europe, and in some bog vegetation and acidic pine and oak woodland. It is tolerant of grazing and regenerates following occasional burning, and is often managed in nature reserves and grouse moors by sheep or cattle grazing, and also by light burning.

Next, I present Scillia siberica. I found a patch in my neighbours garden. Standing only 3" - 6" tall, they are quite pretty but can be invasive. The first photo has had a texture applied while the colour of the second is pretty accurate.

Finally, for now: I noticed that the lilac bush in our backyard is in bud.

Sunday, May 01, 2016


My last physical fall occurred just a few winters past. I has been strolling pleasantly through a wintery woodsy area near our place. Upon exiting into the more open, snow-covered parklike area, I had quite a tumble because the snow had covered an icy patch on the path by the adjacent pond.

Falling in older age is not like falling at a younger age when you play football or contact sport and don't even notice the fall. Up you bounce, ready to rock n roll as it were. Now, you lie there, scan your body and assess the damage.

As I lay there and took stock, however, I realized that I was fine. Nothing broken or even bruised, except my pride.

However, as I begin to fall into old age (I said, begin), I also begin to take more precautions. I almost never forget to take my wallet with me when I go for a morning walk, as close to home as I might stay, for I am aware of what could happen. At this time of life, I could have a heart attack or stroke or at least find myself fallen once again but injured this time.

It's not that I anticipate this, but I also now find it prudent to take precautions. My wallet goes with me, so that should I be struck dumb or dead, someone can find out who I am and notify Sue and family.

In addition to my wallet, our dumb cell phone usually accompanies me. Assuming I am not struck dumb or dead, I can easily call for help — at least I can if I can remember how to use the darn thing because when you only use it once every year or three ...

Most of our lives are spent falling into old age. Although there are notable exceptions, such as the hockey player, Jaromir Jagr who is playing well enough in his mid-forties, most athletes begin to suffer a decrease in performance in their mid-thirties if not earlier. I would be surprised if everyone reading this hadn't noticed some deterioration in the same period in their lives. For me, it was heel spurs followed by achy knees as I entered my thirties. Not that I couldn't still coach ball or play tennis, but the deterioration had begun.

But falling, as in aging, isn't all bad. Somehow, there emerges a greater appreciation of life's blessings as we, perhaps, take more time to both physically and metaphorically stop and smell the roses. Think of the beauty of the Fall season. It presages winter but is a feast for the eyes and soul. We can walk in the glorious autumnal woods in pleasant temperatures and without being ravished by black flies or mosquitos. So I think it is that in our own Fall seasons, many of the pesky irritants of our earlier lives fall away as it were.

I just hope that I don't fall too far too fast.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lo The Word was Gifted unto Me

Not so very long ago, I decided that my bookshelves were in need of reorganizing, which also involved a modicum of discarding. There were many items that I couldn't discard, however. Included in the list are quite a few bibles along with a few study aids such as concordances.

Yes, I have owned a number of bibles, and they aren't all in the photo, but these four are especially memorable, for they were all gifts.

The New Testament at the top right was the first: a gift from my mother for my ninth birthday in 1956. My father was also very religious, but he didn't get in on the inscription, so I think my mother saw this as a very special and personal gift. It may have been in recognition of me getting SAVED from my dastardly eight-year-old sins earlier that year although I had thought that momentous event had occurred a year earlier. Who knows at this point in time?

The next two on the left were both from the same year, 1968, and also for my birthday — my 21st. The blue one (that I gave too much space to in the photo) is the JB Phillips translation into modern English of the New Testament from my soon-to-be-at-the-time inlaws. The one below that is a spiffy-looking bible in the King James version. It was a full bible and a good size to carry around, which, of course, I did quite proudly back then whenever I went to church — which I did with regularity. It looked good too with that rich, brown leather cover and the gilt edging.

Finally, for this post at least: a study bible from Sue for our first anniversary in 1970. I remember being really pleased to receive it at the time.

Bibles, church, spirituality and religion were very important to me in the first half of my life. I would never have guessed that I would, on one distant day, become a non-believer. Nevertheless, all these bibles remain as treasured possessions. They are an important part of my history after all.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Generational Difference

The other night, Sue and I found ourselves at a gathering. We were the youngest at almost 70.

None of us, representing 5 households, had a smart phone. A few of us, perhaps all, had old-fashioned,  dumb cell phones, and I think all those who did just used pay-as-you-go cards because we really have them for emergencies — not necessarily dire emergencies, so let's say exigencies rather. I think you get my drift.

We all at the gathering used computers although very little for some, but they were in each of the homes. Some also have iPads or iPods. Like Sue, one lady uses her iPad for emergencies instead of a phone. That's what Sue does; her iPad has a cellular card while mine doesn't. So she usually takes her iPad with her when she's out, and I port the dumb cell phone.

So you see (don't you?), we're not simply old fuddy duddies or luddites who are totally out of it, but we have lived a long time without smart phones and can continue manage our lives without them. At this point in time none of us seemed to see the need to upgrade although I certainly wouldn't mind. It's an expense I can do without, however.

The younger generation, which seems to extend at least to folk in their forties live through smart phones, which have become GoTo devices. They go with them everywhere, and they use them habitually. Meanwhile, I still marvel at the computer. What a life-changer that was for me!

They aren't wrong. Neither are we. It's just a generational difference.

Oops, excuse me; my iPad just beeped, and then this geezer luddite is going to listen to an audiobook on his iPod. Speaking of iPods, back just over 10 years (or so) ago, I was the first in the family to own one. I even beat the kids to it. So there.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ashton General Store

In the tiny hamlet of Ashton lies a tiny general store. Or at least it did.

There has been a general store on this site since 1841, and it has included a post office since 1851. The present owners took possession in 2011, and since then it has served as a community hub for coffee, mail, general supplies, a small library, and ice cream in summer.

However, the ownership of the building has passed on after the death of the previous owner, and they have given the store owners notice. In fact, as of yesterday, the place is closed.

I am not sure what the plan is for this building. Do they prefer it to sit vacant, or do they have a new purpose in mind? Time will tell.

I've often wanted to poke my nose inside but never got around to it. However, as we passed through Ashton this past week, I couldn't resist making a stop.

Of course, I had to snap a few photos, which I attempted to give a somewhat old feel in post processing.

Bonus Afterthoughts

Here is the place from the outside, at least a side view. I don't know why I didn't take a frontal shot, but I think I have done so in the past. Sue and Danica have just exited. The sign says, Est 1851, but other info I cam across said 1841 and post office since 1851. It's a long tradition either way.

And just across the street, something very different.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Early Spring Flowers

For a number of years, I grabbed and posted photos of short-lived crocuses. They are the earliest flowers and the harbingers of spring for me. Due to weather and rabbits, I haven't done so well for the past couple of years, but I managed a few shots this time.

I don't have a macro lens, but do have a set of ring adapters to help me get closer. The result is a very tight focus with the rest of the frame becoming blurred quickly. This first photo is lightly processed: pretty close to what came out of the camera.

I upped the processing in the next two photos with various effects, including textures.

Then, I wandered across the street to the neighbour's garden. She has more crocuses with varied colours, but they were a little more spent than mine, and they were also in the unforgiving, bright sunlight, so I didn't bother. However, I did take this one of heather in bloom. We tried heather in our garden at one point, but it didn't do well for us. Looks great in hers though.

The daffodils will be next, perhaps as early as next week. We don't have many tulips, but perhaps I can piggyback on the neighbours again.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nine Years Old

Danica had her ninth birthday yesterday. I remember when it was just about All Danica on this blog, but times have changed. But today, it is All Danica once again.

First, I have gotten in the habit of printing a collage on the kids' birthdays using photos from the past year.

To start the day, Gramma gave her a new dress.

Then, we went to her mother's work. In the first photo she is carrying flowers for Mom's new office. In the next two, Danica insisted on the grand tour, which included meeting various of Mom's co-workers. Danica was in her glory, meeting all of these folks, some fpr the first time.

After that, we went out for lunch.

Later, after driving back into our town, our meal had digested enough that we could enjoy dessert at DQ.

Finally, came family, supper, cake and gifts.

(I went for a bit of a retro look on this one.)
What a nice day! We don't always have good weather on her birthday at this time of year, but it was fine yesterday. She doesn't always get the day off school, but since JJ was on a field trip that day, it seemed right for her to have a day off.