Friday, October 28, 2016

Photo Friday: The Calm Before

They said flurries and I grumbled, but didn't fear it.

On Tuesday, at the office, the overcast sky and wind chilled the air, and tiny white particles fluttered about the parking lot and surrounding forest, as though that non-existent entity had shaken its long, grey hair and let loose flakes of dandruff.

On Tuesday, those flurries melted on contact.

Thursday started of mild: no frost on the windshield, dry roads all the way to work. There was a slight breeze but nothing to chill the bones. A hoody and gloves kept me warm. On the radio, a risk of rain was promised with a chance of snow. The rain, the CBC announcer said, would carry through to Friday.

I hadn't yet stopped, this week, for my Hog's Back Project photo. Indeed, I hadn't posted any of the photos in about three weeks, and I feared that I would lose track of the ones I had already shot. I didn't relish the prospect of shooting the falls in the rain—had avoided wet days for most of the previous 42 weeks (of which, I had missed a couple)—and at the last second, before I turned onto Colonel By Drive, I diverted my course and made my way to the parking lot at Hog's Back Falls.

It was dark, just past 6:30. A few cars were in the lot: runners out with their regular group. Sometimes, I would see them warming up in the lot or just returning from their workout. There was the one lone car, parked in a corner, idling. I had seen vehicles like that, before, on Bate Island. The drivers who used this lot, though, pretty much kept to themselves, didn't approach anyone who parked in the middle of the lot or ventured toward the falls.

This park is a safe one.

Although it was only a couple of degrees above the freezing point, it didn't feel very cold. I left my gloves in the car and held the one leg of my tripod that is covered by a foam grip. Sadly, the flashlight that I keep in my camera bag was dead, so I had to trust that I knew my way on the path well enough not to trip.

At the lookout, I extended the tripod and tucked it into the corner of the rail that protects the sightseers from a steep drop into fast-moving water. I focused on the bridge, turned off the automatic focus, and mounted the camera on the tripod, dialing the zoom lens to the 24mm position.

I use the trunk and overhanging branch of a nearby tree as a framing bracket for the top of the viewfinder and the left-hand side. It's not perfect, but it's been close enough. The camera has a built-in level, which I can see on the viewing screen, and once I'm lined up, I take my shot.

It was a 30-second kind of morning, so I dialed the aperture until the shutter speed indicated half a minute: f/4.

Cars of all shapes and sizes traversed the bridge in that 30 seconds. As luck had it, a few giant pickup trucks with several bright spotlights on their grill drove by, lighting the maples across the road, bringing their autumnal splendor to life.

As per usual, I reset the camera and took a couple more shots. I take at least three, in case something screws up. On each, I double-check the exposure. On the small view screen, my eyes aren't good enough to see if the image is in focus, but that rarely seems to be a problem.

It was the second shot that was the best. Early morning, before sunrise, on a crisp autumn day.

Before the storm.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Let There Be Light

Sink's in place (but not connected).

Range hood has arrived (but not installed).

Electrician has made his final visit, connecting wires to the island, installing pot lights, puck lights in glass-door cabinets, and hung pendant lights. (I picked up the pendant lights, making a last-minute decision--texting images to DW, who was at work--hours before the electrician arrived.)

The kitchen is brighter than it's ever been and will be even brighter when we install the under-counter lighting. We haven't chosen those lights yet but got the electrician to install the wires. I trust myself enough to hook them up myself.

Here's the kitchen, as of last night.

Next on the agenda: the drywaller arrives next Tuesday; the counter top gets installed on Wednesday. I will cut and install the baseboards after that and will move the family room furniture back into place. Then comes the backsplash, the range hood goes up, the plumber installs the dishwasher and hooks up the sink, the gas line goes in, and then the stove.

It's almost done. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


We just saw the sofa, imagined its deep, chocolate leather against our antique-white wall, contrasting with the natural oak floor and complementing the dark-brown wall on the opposite side of our family room, and we wanted it.

When we started our home renovations, we decided that it was time to retire the two sofas in our family room. One went to the curb; the other went to our basement, where I suspect it will stay for the rest of our lives.

We decided to stay with leather for our large sofa: Edwin, our black cat, seems to hold no interest in leather, neither to sleep upon nor to use as a scratching post. Because our budget doesn't allow us to buy a new sofa, we've been scouring Kijiji, looking for a great deal. We knew the colour that we wanted, and our style preferences are basically similar. I need a sofa I can sleep on, so the arm rests can't be too high. Neither of us likes cushions that are baggy, nor do we like buttons or studs as accents. We like clean lines and smooth surfaces.

After a month of searching, we found a sofa that met our criteria. After some negotiating, we settled on a price and made plans to pick it up. I enlisted the help of my father and his Yukon, and we brought it home on an evening when the rain wouldn't spoil the like-new fabric.

The sofa was heavy and took nearly all of our energy to carry it around to the back door, from where it could go straight into its new location. Only, when we got it to the sliding doors, we discovered that it was a tight fit and wouldn't go through, as it was. With the last of our energy, my father and I walked it back to the front of the house and stored the sofa in the garage. With some preliminary measurements, we figured that we would have to remove the feet on the sofa and dismantle parts of the back door so that we could either remove the sliding door or remove the handles so that it could open wider.

Again, we had to wait until the autumn rain subsided.

Last night was that night.

I measured the sofa twice: at its narrowest, with its feet removed, it is just over 34 inches. The door, I figured, was just under 36 inches.

Somewhere in my calculations, my measurement of the door was off.

After an hour or so of messing with the door so that it could be at its widest opening, we took one last measurement and discovered that the opening was only 33.5 inches. That sofa was not coming into the house.

We should have measured the door before we started shopping.

Currently, we're seeking other ideas and trying to figure if the stationary panel for our sliding doors can be safely removed.

If not, I have a beautiful sofa to sell.

Monday, October 24, 2016


They said it was going to be a one-week job. That was three weeks ago.

My laptop contains all of the photo-editing tools that I use, and for months, that computer had a glitch that we could no longer overlook, especially with our home renovations and space on our main floor being at a premium.

Several months ago, our laptop developed a problem where the battery would hold a charge but would not recognize that it was fully charged. As a result, the computer could not operate on the battery at all. If the machine was running and became unplugged from the power cable, it would immediately die.

It wasn't a huge problem, as the computer worked perfectly fine, as long as it stayed plugged into a power outlet.

During the demolition stage of our kitchen and family renovation, I would constantly cut the power to various parts of that area, and sometimes I would inadvertently hit the wrong switch at the power box. If DW was working on the computer at the time, I would learn very quickly of my error, as I would hear an "Ahh!" or an "Oh, no!"


When we moved our refrigerator, toaster oven, kettle, microwave oven, portable electric stove, and coffee maker in to our dining room, we very quickly learned that you couldn't boil water and heat up a meal at the same time. The trouble was, we also had our computer plugged into a workstation in the same area. Again, one of us would gasp if the circuit suddenly blew.

So, we made the decision, before its warranty expired, to have the problem fixed. We contacted HP and they sent us a box and packing slip to ship out our device for repair. They said that it should take no more than one week to receive, fix, and return our unit.

Three weeks have gone by.

For the most part, it hasn't been much of a problem: we have a second laptop, which the kids use, and DW and I have our work computers, although I can't do much in the way of personal work with that laptop.

I can write my blog on almost any device: I've even used my iPad when I've travelled for any length of time. But what I can't do on any computer at my disposal is my photo editing. My main laptop had the software that I use. On a couple of occasions, DW has let me use her work computer, which also has this software (she works for the company that makes it): I transfer my RAW files from my camera onto one external drive, use the apps on her computer to fix the images, and then I save the finished image on a second external drive.

But my big dilemma is that I just shot nearly 500 photos, this weekend, on a project and I don't have the luxury of using DW's computer at my leisure. I get that.

I want my old computer back. I want to be able to use the tools that I am familiar with on a machine to which I am accustomed. HP says I should have my laptop by the end of this week.

The clock is ticking.