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Monthly Archives: January 2012

TODAY’S THEME………………….PRIMITIVE

I called this theme primitive because it is certainly one of the earliest known means of travel in winter. Europeans produced sophisticated skis before 6000 B.C.

The snowshoe was however largely ignored in most European countries and it was not developed to it’s present state until about 1600 in Quebec and introduced to Europe by Samuel De Champlain in the early 1600’s.

Up to that time European snowshoes were small and short …not much larger than the shoe itself.

The word snowshoe is an English word while the original word was Raquette….roughly translated as racket or what we would call today a Tennis racket as it’s shape suggested in the game in the 1600’s.

They were long used by the Eastern Canadian Indians and although the Indian name has been lost I grew up calling them beavertails.

The original ones were often more than 7 feet long.

I’m lucky enough to own 3 pair.

The oldest was handmade by a French Canadian ½ Indian who sold them to me many years ago.

These are more than 1 metre long….about 44 or 45 inches.

They are traditionally made of birch cut green and catgut…what that is I’m not sure but it looks a lot like rawhide that has been softened and twisted into shape.

The second pair I purchased 5 or so years ago and were made by a Canadian company for the U.S. Army in the 1960’s.

These are VERY highly curved upwards in the front and longer by at least another 6 inches than the wooden ones making them over 4 feet long.

The construction is unique as it is supposed to be free of ‘sticking’ to the snow.

The frames are made of a very lightweight ( and expensive ) material called magnesium.

It is in a sort of ‘H’ channel for a high strength/weight ratio.

The webbing is plastic coated aircraft grade braided stainless steel wire but they came with no harness so I use the old leather one that I bought with my wood ones.

The newest ones ( and incidentally the one I use most often ) is the modern one which is quite short and in a pattern called a Modified Bear paw from it’s shape. They are made of Aluminum and plastic with a built-in harness.

It doesn’t support as much weight but it is MUCH shorter and thus easier to maneuver through ‘messy’ bush.

I have seen but not used much longer and thinner ones ( 5 feet or longer ) used by trappers still today in the bush.

Not sure it will be of any interest but here are the approximate dimensions of them.

Wooden ones …Beavertail design……….44 long…15 wide…….Weight about 4 Lbs

Magnesium ones………………………………50 long…12 wide…….Weight about 4 ¼ Lbs

Modern Modified Bearpaw………………..30 long…8 wide………Weight about 5 Lbs

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME………………..NIGHT

I took this picture the other DAY on my daily walk with the dogs down my bush road path.

The snow is getting deeper and it’s getting a little harder walking in boots but until my sister and her husband come for their weekly walk in the woods with me I’m a little hesitant to go on snowshoes.

It’s not that I don’t like snowshoes….I do but going alone for the first few times can be quite a bit of work and with 3 people taking turns breaking trail it is decidedly easier.

Once out and back with 3 people is equivalent to 6 trips alone so it will make my daily walk quite a bit easier after.

In any case they are supposed to be coming down tomorrow so perhaps I’ll find a way to post pictures of out snowshoe adventures and our snowshoes….mine anyway.

Also factored in is the reality that the dogs, however much I enjoy having them with me and how much their presence on the trail makes it easier when I’m walking, when you snowshoe their tracks make a bit of a mess of the trail so the sooner it is packed…the better.

The first picture is almost unprocessed except for some downsizing and cropping.

The second is done with Topaz and is replicating a night scene.

I like it as it really is quite dramatic…..maybe I’ll go out late one night and see if it’s the same.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME……………………REST

Today’s theme was decided after watching my two dogs approach resting….each in their own unique way.

Jack, even though he is at least 11 or 12 years old ENJOYS the cold and actually prefers it outside.

He comes in to eat and socialize with us and will stay in when it’s VERY cold but there’s little doubt that he MUCH prefers to be outside.

When he wants out he comes and pesters us walking back and forth between the front door and wherever you are until you let him out.

Wally on the other hand, despite his young age and although he too seems to love it outdoors STILL prefers to rest indoors.

These two pictures were taken I think on the same day but it doesn’t really matter….it has become a regular routine and I can almost always count on each of them resting at their preferred location.

Jack is outside the deck at the edge of the pool up on the remnants of the old woodpile where he can both see what is going on around him…in Jack’s world outside AND keep an eye on the inside of the house in case anything exciting happens.

As it faces south he is warm and a scant 10 feet from Wally but DEGREES away!

Wally, on the other hand has ‘adopted’ a pair of old party pizza pans we ‘liberated’ from out old pizza shop which I use as a temporary boot tray when I go out the sliding door to get more wood .

Wally likes to eat….AND he’s VERY dedicated to it and if Jack finds something worth eating or chewing on Wally is immediately jealous and wants it thus his location allows HIM to keep an eye on Jack and HIS activities AND keep warm in HIS south-facing sliding door.

Even though they measure a scant 15 X 21 he somehow fits his body unto them in a way that despite their being aluminum, looks comfortable…well….almost.

As we used to say ….”Different strokes for different folks”.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME……………Stop Sign

I’m not certain you will be able to recognize it but these stop signs are EXCLUSIVELY for the snow machine trails and by the way….they might be a tad blurry….I took them in a tiny snowstorm.

They are posted where trails cross ANY road AND where trails form an intersection in the bush.

There are THOUSANDS of kilometers of trails up here in winter created and maintained by an organization run by and for the snowmobile enthusiasts.

I used to have one but skyrocketing costs of both trail passes and fuel made it less than worthwhile and I opted for a quad at about the same price and NO trail cost at all……….AND I’m street legal if I wear a helmet on secondary roads.

There used to be LOTS of people from the south that came up here in winter exclusively to use the trail systems.

In years gone by ( the dirty old times ) we used to have trails going essentially from bar to bar….ALL through the woods in order to stay off the streets even though you are quasi-legal up here on small town streets.

I think the main attraction however used to be getting pleanty of anti-freeze inside you and staying out of the reach of the law.

Today these trails don’t JUST go from bar to bar AND they are fairly well patrolled by the cops so although we can expect the usual number of accidents and fatalities they are MUCH less than they used to be.

This trail cuts across a Provincial highway but they are not allowed to cross MAJOR highways.

In reality most sled drivers PREFER to avoid highways where they might encounter faster and heavier vehicles.

The most popular ‘run’ of trail however is, and will probably always be….open lakes where these new high-powered machines can open up and travel at an astounding 110 M.P.H. or approximately 175 K.P.H.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME………………..Conspicuous

I took these pictures both today and yesterday.

We have found ourselves inundated with birds now that the snow has arrived and it is somewhat cooler than it was.

Naturally Blue Jays are here…they are very hardy and LOVE most of the seeds although it’s obvious the sunflower are their favorite.

Chickadees, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers, Finches and the odd blackbird are usually here but amongst the large number of regulars we saw,BUT  for the first time since the fall some Pine Grosbeaks.

I have included 3 pictures so you can see their plump attractive shape and their vibrant colour….the male, as usual is the more striking of the two in an effort to attract the most desirable female.

Apparently it works as there were 3 or 4 pairs at the feeders.

We also have the black,red and white variety of Grosbeak called a rose breasted Grosbeak and a yellow one called an evening Grosbeak  but they don’t seem to be here this winter yet.

We’re delighted to have them as they add a definite splash of colour to the otherwise monochrome world up here in winter.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME………………….Adolescence…….mine!

No Ron, I’m NOT entering my ‘second’ childhood….just a spate of techno-reminiscing.

I selected today’s theme as it pertained to my OWN adolescence since both my boys are beyond that and my grandkids are not even close.

These pictures are from a very naive and innocent time in my life when friends and photography were ALL that mattered…..well….almost anyway.

I had just purchased my very first SLR after a childhood filled with Kodak Brownies and Starmites.

My very first camera was in fact a box camera I purchased at a White Elephant Sale ( as they were called then ) in a church basement predating garage and yard sales by several decades, and took 620 film rather than the more popular 127 most others took.

I’m sure I paid no more than 5 cents.

I had never even heard of SLR and my knowledge of cameras beyond my experience was limited to my dad’s 35 mm Kodak.

The first picture is me ( aged 16 or 17 ) with my then new to me ( but already 15 year old Topcon ), an astounding camera was EASILY the quality of either Canon and Nikon and in fact was the official camera of the U.S. Navy post WW2 for many years.

Gradually, with the help of a photog friend who was attending a College specifically for a photography degree, I learned at night and on the weekends what he had learned the week before and eventually we rented a small apartment and set up a darkroom.

Long story shorter YEARS later, after developing and printing MANY, MANY boxes of 8 X 10’s I loaned ALL my prints to my sister, an artist , so she could use them for some paintings. 2 days later her house burned to the ground and I lost ALL the prints.

2 years ago my wife bought me a do-dad that turns B/W or colour negs or slides into JPGs and I was able to view HUNDREDS of pictures both lost since then or developed but never printed.

These are the results recovered from those negatives…..happily I lost only the prints.

The next 2 pictures are of me ( way cool at the time ) in a suit jacket 20 years out of style even then ( I was completely unaware of it though )….BTW cool meant NOTHING on underneath the suit jacket!

I hope this post will trigger a memory of your past and bring a smile to your face.

This post was inspired by Tammy’s picture of her wedding….I figured if she could do it then so could I and I encourage everyone to hit the retro button and let’s see some of the old YOU!

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME……………Friends. The Continuing Adventures of Jack ‘N Wally.

First there was the Trojan wars….with the siege of Troy 1190 B.C. and the famous wooden horse ploy…..seemed to work pretty well for them too.

Next in 1415 the battle of Agincourt where the English showed the French the superiority of the longbow over the crossbow, winning the battle but ultimately losing the Hundred year war and getting booted out of France and promising never to make drinkable wine.

The next major conflict was World War 2 ending with the victors buying cars from the losers and learning how to make sashimi properly.

Today is the not-so-famous battle of the bone ‘n Chicken.

The first picture shows Jack with the bone ( which has no marrow in it anymore ) and Wally with the much-desired rubber Chicken.

With a flick of the paw and a well played feint Jack ( using a lot of smoke and mirrors ), tricks Wally into ‘WANTING’ the bone and cleverly permits Wally to ‘win’ it.

Once again we see how George Santayana’s saying……”Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” is correct.

Apparently Wally is NOT a student of ancient history or has forgotten the lessons learned.

Jack does a victory roll and proudly displays his  trophy!

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S POST……………..Clock

The theme I chose was prompted by a glance at the MANY theme choices.

Clock used to mean a desk, wall or mantle one but changes in technology and styles have prompted MANY new varieties of clocks AND ways of knowing the time.

From the once popular pocket watch to the ever-popular wrist watch most people today have abandoned any PERSONAL timepiece in favour of their cell phone which doubles as a texting device, camera and even occasionally as a phone.

I looked around my life and possessions and as an unintentional  ‘collector’ of technological memorabilia both new and old I realized I could provide a perspective on the theme ‘clock’ that surely others might remember and perhaps even identify with ( if you are old enough that is!).

The first picture is of a mantel clock proudly declaring it was made by Smiths of England. I have NO idea what year it is from and I bought it MANY years ago in a Salvation Army store in Montreal….still with me as well as it’s cousin, a Seth Thomas clock looking much the same made I believe in the U.S.A.

Next is a picture of a Hamilton pocket watch I purchased when I was just 17 and carried MANY years…through the hippie times and beyond but, again I really have no idea how old it is except to note that it was far from new when I purchased it and has been repaired once in all these years….about 25 years ago now…..BTW it still keeps almost perfect time.

The next picture is a close up of the face as it is so lovely I reckoned it deserved its own spotlight.

Lastly is a clock my elder son gave us 2 Christmas’ ago. An intriguing idea it has peel-off letters and numbers and a template so the clock can be mounted directly on the wall and, as you can see, personalized.

As well as being large enough to see at a distance ( we have a pretty large old style kitchen where we do EVERYTHING ) it is sufficiently unusual to provoke comments about where we got it. Not often a clock provided the time AND entertainment!

I hope you enjoy my modest offering.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME……………….Critters

Today’stheme is a bunch of critter tracks I took pictures of the other day.

Fresh snow makes it easy to view them and although I am by no means a skilled tracker most of these tracks are pretty easy to identify as they are animals I see every day up here.

The first one is of a Rabbit run….a regular path the make in both summer and winter…presumably to make their travel easier. Unfortunately it allows human hunters and animal hunters to easily follow them by scent AND visually by the path they left.

The second picture is a sort of closeup of the typical Rabbit track. If you don’t already know the direction of travel indicated by a Rabbit track is somewhat counter-logical as the rear feet are in FRONT of the front ones while they are traveling in other words the direction they are going will be shown as the bigger prints in front.

The next set are of a Squirrel….they have claws …unlike a Rabbit and will leave ‘drag’ marks of their claws incoming and outgoing when they run.

The next set is of a Partridge….they spent a LOT of time walking under the Pine trees where they seem to love the seeds and pine nuts they find. When one is frightened they don’t seem to like to fly far and don’t often fly more than a few yards into the nearest tree where they are nicely camouflaged.

The last picture is, I think a Fox track….most likely on the trail of Bunny…his favorite meal.

I hope these modest tracks provide some small entertainment.

I see HUNDREDS of them crossing and recrossing my bush road every time I go for a walk. When I find some others I will post them….Moose, Deer, Coyote or Wolf are some I expect to see this winter.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on January 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME………………Depth of Field

This is a very simple picture of a very simple subject….a dead and dried leaf  that forgot to fall off the tree like all the others.

Stubbornly clinging by the thinnest of tendrils it shows us, even in it’s dried form, the delicate beauty that most likely was not even visible in life.

I think it is from a Maple but I’m not certain…in any case I thought it an interesting, albeit  pretty typical use of depth of field.

I’m sure everyone knows by now but the word for the blurred background in these extreme depth of field pictures is bokeh. Originally a Japanese word  it is pronounced Bo-keh, meaning blur or haze.

Ideally  Bokeh photography refers to the area in the photo which is out of focus yet increases the beauty or mystic of an image so not quite as simple as just the ‘out of focus area’.

There can therefore be both good and bad Bokeh depending upon how it affects both the photograph AND the viewer.

I think ideally it should add to the mystique of a picture by just barely suggesting what the background might be without INTRUDING…..but then again…what do I know?

 
11 Comments

Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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