Friday, 22 December 2017

Leading up to Christmas

The last few weeks have been spent in Christmas preparations and following the Volvo Ocean Race on line. (This is turning into an addiction as I check the videos every day and am amazed at the wind and wave conditions sailing from Cape Town to Melbourne, through the Southern Ocean. Certainly makes Lake Erie, even at its worst, look pretty tame.)
Rasta has staked out a spot, under the tree, in the sun.
Exploring the menu button on the borrowed camera, I found a mode called "Pet Portrait". So I had to try it out.
I started to knit a blanket for the spare room, last spring, one square at a time.
Luckily Mum took it over and whipped them up in no time. Now I am working at sewing them all together so the blanket is ready for all the overnight guests this Christmas.
"Long Point Santa" standing on the beach, hung in the window.
Snow and wind have been the order of the day on the beach.
Sculpting into stationary waves
and icing the trees.
Its making a suspicious humming noise. It needs to be guarded

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Fun weekend - no hiking

This year most of my time with my sister, Nicola, has been our periodic days spent hiking on the Bruce Trail. On one of those days I mentioned how much I hate decorating for Christmas by myself and Nicky offered to come and help. Our only agenda item was to get the tree up.
So, right after coffee and breakfast, on Saturday morning, we did just that. And only that. We then took off, to Tillsonburg, to find a pattern for the bed runner that Nic is going to quilt for me.
Rasta giving his approval for
the fabric that we picked out about a month ago, in St Catherines, for the bed runner.
In Tillsonburg we "hiked" the main street and then went into the quilt store, "Cherished Pieces", which Nicola declared her favorite so far; lots of fabric choices, patterns, books, accessories and really nice and knowledgeable staff.
Good prices too. As well as a book that had some lovely runner patterns, Nicola also bought these "fat quarters" as they were beautiful and well priced.
 Lunch at a place called Cup and Cake, a visit to a bakery and good coffee rounded out the visit. It was late in the afternoon when we got home but we walked into the Provincial Park and came out with a basket of greenery and berries.
Wove them onto a couple of wire wreath frames
(the red berries are High Bush Cranberry but I have no idea what the orange berries are)
wrapped in battery operated twinkly lights and
Ta Daa, 2 outdoor wreaths
completed just as the sun was setting.
Next job
was to decorate the tree.
which didn't take long

with 2 of us doing it, and a couple of glasses of wine.
When we had been coming home from Tillsonburg we found a couple of flocks of Sandhill Cranes, in the corn fields near Port Rowan, but I didn't have a camera with me. So, on Sunday I went looking for them with Nicola and Dave's camera. A good chance to see how good the zoom was for wildlife photos.
They were not in the corn fields but driving further along the road I found huge flocks of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese.

I found it a bit challenging to capture
moving wildlife
but it was great practice.

Back a home, I finished the next sample for my Monochromatic McGown teaching piece. This one was hooked with 3 blue and 1 white yarn.

Friday, 1 December 2017

More experiments with the camera - shutter and auto

There are not many fast moving things at Long Point in November to test the impact of a fast shutter speed. I did try one day when I was burning leaves
but the leaves were wet and I just got pictures of smoke. Not a good test to see if it will capture a speeding lion or antelope.
I have concluded that leaving the camera on Auto is probably going to give me good pictures and that I am unlikely to get good enough at switching to the shutter and aperture controls by January to make it worthwhile. The rest of the photos in this post were taken on Auto.
We have been getting our usual late fall wind storms. Sometimes the wind howls so loudly that I sleep in the room at the back of the house.
Milkweed in the evening light.
Nic and Dave's camera has an excellent zoom. I could never get this shot with my "point and shoot".
It responds well to pointing directly at the sun
and also has good results in very low light.

Not exactly an antelope but I scared up some seagulls to practice taking photos of moving creatures.

I found it quite difficult. I was using the viewing screen tilted in such a way that I could look down at the camera and up at the birds. There is a switch so I can use the traditional viewfinder so I will have to see if that is easier on a moving target.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Miscellaneous November items

At a rug hooking friends I was introduced to a couple of lovely black labs;
Bosco (the big one) and Fiver (the puppy) were very well behaved and after enthusiastic greetings were happy to sleep in the sun.
We were colour planning a rug which resulted in piles of discarded wool tossed on the floor. When Bosco moved, Fiver decided that it would make a great dog bed.
I have been assigned an Art Nouveau piece to teach, next year, for the McGown  accreditation. It has to be hooked as a monochromatic. I have too many ideas and don't know which one to pursue so  I traced the pattern and redrew wedges of it onto backing to use as experiments/samples.
The first one is hooked in denim
The five pairs of blue jeans (from the Port Rowan thrift store) that constitute my denim "swatch".
The end result. The thing to the right is the tape I used to take all the shreddy bits off it.
I didn't enjoy hooking with denim although I really like the final result.
Pros: jeans are cheap and easy to come by (4 of these pairs were free as they weren't in good enough condition for the thrift store to sell, but the back of the legs gives the best denim as it is least warn). They are durable and the rug can be washed.
Cons: Jeans now are made a little stretchy so they are woven on the bias which results in them shedding little pieces while they are being hooked in. They don't have as nice a feel as wool and they are tougher to pull through the backing.

The second one is hooked using a swatch
The blue swatch on the background I used.
Although Art Nouveau usually has an outline I chose not to as the bright swatch stood out well against the navy background.
This one was fun and hooked up quickly although did take some thought to make sure it was clear which part of the elements were on top and which were behind.

Lastly, a couple of sky shots. I really do get to see some magnificent skies here.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Bruce Trail - Governers Rd to Rock Chapel, Dundas

After an excellent breakfast at Serenity Ranch (fruit, yogurt, croissant, bacon, sausages, eggs, tomato with salsa and lots of coffee) we dropped one car at the parking spot on Valley Rd. The Bruce Trail Reference book not only gives us a map of the trail but also suggested parking spots and the number of cars that can fit there.
It was actually warmer than yesterday but the lack of sun and damp feeling made it seem colder.
Groups of people kept running past us and we asked at this gathering what was going on. It was some sort of competitive orienteering run. They had maps and compasses and were serious runners.
We knew from the map that there was a lot of "urban hiking" and after the golf course,
down a road,
over a river
and past this beautiful old school converted into loft apartments,
we were hiking through the streets of Dundas. Beautiful large Victorian homes with well kept gardens so it really wasn't a chore although our hips and ankles are happier hiking on dirt than on cement.
And above, the ever present escarpment.
To get up the escarpment the trail follows the Sydenham Rd hill. Jason biked the hill this year, and last, to raise money for research into a disorder that his nephew has.
It's quite a hill - long and steep. These cyclists were going at walking pace but took off when we challenged them to race.
Near the top it was back into the woods.
The trail wasn't as well used or as well maintained on this stretch.
We spent quite a while trying to get a decent photo of this Pileated woodpecker, Nicola with her phone and me with my little camera. The Pileated is listed as "uncommon" in my birdbook and worth the effort to try and get his picture.

None of the pictures turned out well. He was a dark bird, high in a dark tree, with other trees in the way, back-lit and pecking rapidly. He really did look like Woody Woodpecker.
A little more walking on the road and then we were into the Rock Chapel area.
The trail was quite smooth and well traveled
and the lack of leaves meant we had good views over Cootes Paradise
and Hamilton Bay with its industrial side.

Although there were some yellow leaves left it was the copper and burgundy foliage of the oaks that were most noticeable.
We saw lots of squirrels (grey and black) but not much other wildlife.
Another waterfall and we could hear that it was quite high but couldn't get beyond it to look.
Neat ice formations though.
Back onto the road, over a bridge and onto RBG property
and we got around to the other side to see the waterfall
and the ring of ice it created at the base.
Each time we hike we get better at reading the maps. We knew that the last section would have some steep climbs as the contour markings on the map were close together.
We hiked for about 4 hours, stopping to take pictures, eat snacks and drink water. We walked 10.7km.

Bruce Trail 2017 Summary.
We started this journey on June 18th at Brock's Monument, Niagara. This hike, November 12 is probably the last for this year. We hiked on 9 days. Our shortest hike was only 6km and our longest (on November 11) was 12.5km.
Our total for this year is 81.9km. As the trail is 898.6km long we have completed 9.14%. At this rate it will take us more than 10years and to quote a friend of Nicola's "the Bruce isn't conducive to walkers" (and he meant the kind you use if you have mobility issues) so we will have to step it up a bit if we want to get it done in 3 - 5 years.
We are going to plan to start earlier next year, set aside more days for hiking and keep increasing our distances.