Ontario

Black and White

December 7, 2017

What I am about to type, I first wrote by hand in a notebook, very unusual as I have a tendency to type more than I write, a speedier process, but perhaps one that does not give me enough time to think about the actual words I type….

I have not written in this notebook for a long time, more than six months! I am currently waiting for my desktop computer to catch up to my commands. Why is it so slow? It may have something to do with saving to the cloud. That cloud must match the one outside. It is saturated.

Georgian Bay is long gone .The lighthouse is disappearing into a uniformly grey sky.. The tone of that grey is getting darker as night descends. Somewhere the sun is setting but it is not at all visible in any direction at Cobble Beach today.

This week I have been experimenting with black and white photography. Why, you might well ask. A friend, Marie, issued me a challenge on Facebook to post a black and white photo each day for seven days. I am to post each photo with no people, no comment, no explanation, photos of my life. Then each day I have also dutifully extended the challenge to someone else. This is day five of the challenge for me.

In the course of the past five days my world has become more and more monochrome as the days shorten and the snow falls, and falls. In the past twenty-four hours more than thirty centimetres of snow has blanketed our neighbourhood.

The snow began in earnest yesterday afternoon with fierce winds driving it horizontally past my windshield as I drove home from a delicious potluck lunch in Port Elgin. I left behind the waves crashing on Lake Huron’s shore, splashing onto the road and icing the branches of shore-side trees and shrubs. The drive reminded me how grateful I am to be retired. I do not have to drive anywhere if I do not feel like it. My preferred mode of travel is walking, cycling and skiing. I will be able to take up skiing tomorrow after four days of golfing this week! Amazing weather changes!

I shoveled out our driveway when I arrived home yesterday. Brian cleaned it out again this morning. I reshovelled after him, adding the steps on both sides of the house and the front walk and porch.

This afternoon in the space of two hours as I cleaned out two friends’ driveways, the snow continued to fall straight down in huge wet flakes with no wind. The kind of snow that sticks to eyelashes. I love it!

Although I have seen such constant snowing in the past I still marvel at the magic and power of such a snowfall.

My efforts at cleaning driveways is no longer obvious as an additional fifteen centimetres have filled them in. My snow angel will soon have disappeared.In fact it is now so dark that I can no longer see it in the yard below even though the white snow is bright in the darkness.

Black and white, yes that is our winter. However, in the natural black and white winter world, I see colour. In the milkweed pod, a golden glow of seeks peeks out of the cracked pod. In a dark sky sunrise varying shades of pink and gold slowly leak across the horizon and line the clouds. Some days, not today, a patch of blue briefly sneaks into existence, a bright spot in a dull day.

Right now, as I look out, the bay has reappeared. The grey shade of the bay is now distinguishable from the far black shore, the medium grey sky and the white snow.

Alan did a fine job of decorating six small trees outside his townhouse, five with white lights and one with red. These sparkle in the black night. Our own small pine in the back yard is weighted down with red and white smudges of light.

I like colour photos more than black and white because even on a monochrome day, I glimpse colour, subtle perhaps, but there, and I like it. That little bit of colour warms my heart and brightens my life.

This black and white challenge is teaching me a thing or two about photography. I think it is more demanding of talent or skill or both. I need to learn more about editing photos and taking the photo using the optimum light in the correct direction.

I chatted with Brilynn on the phone as I waded shin deep through the falling snow along the buried golf course path. I consulted my photography expert on what I had to do to give my black and white photos more definition. Brilynn suggested that I download the snapseed app. I have done so and have even looked at a couple of the tutorials. I have so much to learn about editing photos: colour or black and white.

I sent Brilynn some of my colour photos and asked her to edit them as black and whites. She sent my milkweed pod back in seconds, edited with snapseed. I clapped my hands in delight. The monochrome milkweed pod no longer has black blobs hiding the features that I saw in real time, features I tried to capture with my IPhone. The seeds were missing in my black and white version. Brilynn knew how to use the tools to highlight those seeds.

I finished creating a forty-page book of colour photos this week. I like to assemble my photopages as collages. Many of you would probably say I included too many photos and that the photos would have stood out more with white space and fewer larger photos. No doubt you would be right, but making collages brings me joy. And that is good!

Brilynn pointed out that many of the editing tools are available in the editing software of my iPhone and iPad. I just have to dig a little deeper in those menus. Now perhaps if I learned more about editing I might even select fewer photos but spend more time making them just right. Unlikely!

It is a good thing that I typed this immediately after writing in my notebook. Probably a month from now I would not be able to decipher my hieroglyphics. Decoding handwriting is another reason to opt for typing or thumbing my blog. The resulting black and white text is legible.

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October Delights

Kayaking and Swimming
October 2, 2017
5:23 PM

That was delightful. We just came home from kayaking along the shore of Georgian Bay here at Cobble Beach. This morning when we were golfing the bay was a sheet of glass. Not so this afternoon. The waves were rolling in from the northeast; so, we paddled north with the waves swiping at our side and occasionally landing in our kayaks. It would have been a good day for kayak skirts. That is something for our purchasing list.

It is so quiet kayaking in the bay with only the occasional cry of a gull or the waves splashing the shore or spilling over boulders rot make white caps. It has been three weeks since we finished kayaking the Douro and our first time back in a kayak, this time our own, a little sleeker and cushier. I think our trip gave me a keener interest in kayaking. We had never done a multi-day trip before. I really enjoyed it.

We kayaked back to the beach in a stream of sunshine, the sun warm on our bodies. That made it perfect for a swim after kayaking. Brian did not think so, but when the air and water temperatures match at 20C, I think it is perfect. I love to be able to swim in October. That is so special. Still more swimming, Kate!

I spent a few hours this afternoon dead-heading flowers, trimming and edging the garden. I prefer cleaning the garden to cleaning the house. We grew our tomatoes with our dahlias this year, with greater success. If the long range forecast holds true we should keep getting tomatoes for a couple of weeks.

The Circle Tour

February 14, 2017

This past weekend we did the circle tour of southwestern Ontario, a mere 1000 kilometres in three days. As already reported, on Friday we drove to Ridgetown. I say “we” but Brian did all the driving as he usually does. I check maps and look for alternate routes just to bug the GPS.

On Saturday morning we drove Brilynn to Chatham so that she could photograph the bride and groom and theories entourage in their preparations for the wedding. Brian and I picked up a coffee and headed for Lake Erie, erroneously thinking that there would be public access to a beach somewhere. There was not, at least nothing close by, just large luxury homes with driveways posted as “private”. No lake views for us.

We proceeded to Deer Run Goldfish Course near Blenheim where the wedding was to be held. We had a leisurely stroll around the golf course. Alas we only found four golf balls, only one of which was a Titleist, but not a Pro V, Brian’s brand. We scouted out some potential wedding photo opportunities for Brilynn. The best was the covered bridge near a pond. A rust oil derricks looked interesting.

By the time we returned to the club house the groom and his mates were arriving; so, we got our wedding duds from the car and went inside to change.

The wedding ceremony was short and sweet with the bride’s brother officiating. With about sixty guests present, we had time to visit with folks, and in particular, our friends, Mike and Kathy, the brides parents. We enjoyed a delicious meal of stuffed turkey breast, roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes, gravy and salad. Four different cakes were offered as well as chocolate covered strawberries. Perfect!

Our original plan was to return to Ridgetown to spend the evening with Doug and Midge, but since Brian’s Dad had gone to hospital Thursday evening with heart issues, we decided we should check in on him in Niagara. He went home at 2AM Friday as he did not want to leave his cat alone all night and the gurney was not very comfortable for sleeping. We arrived in Niagara Falls Saturday evening.

We took Highway 3 to Niagara and shortly after getting on 3 we saw an intriguing abandoned house. Brilynn loves photographing abandoned buildings; so, we stopped and she took some great shots.

On Sunday we celebrated World Marriage Day at Our Lady of the Scapular and renewed our wedding vows. After breakfast we headed for home dropping Brilynn off at the Aldershot GO station.

We had every kind of weather on our journey to Cobble Beach. We awoke to freezing rain, drove in slush and rain then rainy snow then greyness then huge wet snowflakes. After waiting a while at a level train crossing for a train to move on, we did a detour to get around the train.

By the time we arrived home it was blowing, rather than snowing and our good neighbour had cleared out our driveway. Good to go exploring. Always good to come home!
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

The Hometown

Ridgetown, Ontario
Friday, February 10, 2017

I lived the first eight years of my life in Ridgetown, this small town in southern Ontario, once the home of Canadian Canners and Silcox Hardware, and the Kent Dairy Bar that sold Cherry Cokes. This is the place where the hill on Erie Street down one block from Main Street to Tiffany Street was a big hill. Truly it was, but maybe my seven year old legs helping my big brothers pull a wagon load of newspapers up that hill imagined it to be more Everest than it really was. It is still difficult to believe that this little bump could ever have been called a hill.

Ridgetown is where milk was delivered in glass bottles to our door, lots of milk as well as many loaves of sliced bread to feed our ever expanding family. We were up to seven children by the time we moved from Ridgetown to Simcoe in the spring of 1959.

The last time I was here, which is several years ago, I knocked at my friend, Doug’s door but did not find him at home. This time I emailed well in advance to see if he would be here. Alas he and his wife would be in Mexico, but friend from long ago that he is, he said we could stay in their beautiful home anyway.

After a three hour drive from deep snow in Owen Sound and snow fogged air past acres and acres of flat fields, we arrived in Ridgetown where there is not one snowflake to be found, but a bitter wind chilled us as we walked up and down Main Street, I looking for stores from my childhood and Brilynn chuckling at my side as we saw empty shell after empty shell. There are not many stores still operating in downtown Ridgetown. The cinema where I saw my first movie, The Ten Commandments, I think, is gone. I think the Foodland parking lot occupies that space. I cannot imagine how this Foodland can be open twenty-four hours a day, but obviously someone thinks that this is profitable.

The dairy bar is a laundromat with a row of empty stores beside it. The hardware store on Main Street has disappeared. A Home Hardware exists on the edge of town, on the way to Morpeth. Only Mitton’s Jewelry store survives, dating back to 1876.

Tiffany Street was only ever one block long. This has not changed, although our house at 5 Tiffany Street could really use a fresh coat of paint. The sidewalk is the same, still as narrow as it was when I first learned to ride my new red two-wheeler. The backyard seemed smaller although I only viewed it from the street. Someone appeared to be at home. Tempted as I was to knock on the door, I did not. I wanted to retain my childhood memories of the interior.

Faye’s house at 6 Tiffany Street seemed smaller. I could still picture Bert in his tidy workshop.

We drove to St. Michael’s School, only one kilometre away. I am sure I remembered it twice that distance. Of course it would have been in miles then. The two room school has mushroomed into something bigger that did not at all resemble my first school. St. Michael’s Church has not changed.

Sadly the Carnegie Library was demolished and replaced with a plain red brick one floor building with no character. Across the street the lawn bowling is still available but no one was hanging about on this cold windy day.

The Ridgetown Ag School is now a satellite campus of Guelph University and is quite possibly the only business in town that has grown. It even spawned a Tim Horton’s beside it.

Canadian Canners long gone, is now the setting for some storage units and a few small bungalows.
Yecks appear to have the eatery business in hand with three different restaurants, the latest of which is licensed. We went to the unlicensed Grill that advertized yellow perch on Fridays. We entered the restaurant at the absurdly early hour of 5:10 PM. There were only a few empty tables. It is definitely the senior crowd that dines at this time. There were two children younger than Brilynn present.

The servings were generous. My yellow perch was good. Brian and Brilynn would have liked their ribs to be warmer. Dessert was included: rice pudding or jello. The rice pudding was enhanced with whipped cream and cinnamon but was cold and lacked raisins. Sigh!

Back at Doug’s we relaxed playing Hand and Foot. Brilynn and I let Brian win both games.