Friday, April 30, 2021

iphone Limitations

As you probably realize, I've been using my iphone for virtually all of my photos since I returned home from the hospital, over two and a half years ago.  For more than half that time, my large Nikon was just too heavy to hold.  But I've now been using the Nikon (having built back up the strength in my arms) for most of my bird pictures out the window, and a few flowers over the past few months.  I've come to recognize two clear specific shortcomings of the iphone camera.

First let me point out the advantages of the iphone camera.  Besides being lightweight, it's the camera I always have with me.  It fits in a neat pouch hanging on the side of my wheelchair; it's even under my pillow at night.  I always have it with me as a safety precaution.  And it seems to take perfectly good pictures as long as I'm not zooming; at least you haven't complained!  This is the view out the window yesterday morning in the fog.

There are two very specific limitations I've found.  First it blows out the whites if I am zooming in on something like this Primrose.  Compare this picture above taken with the Nikon, to....

..... this one taken with the iphone.  Clearly the whites are too white here.  I think you can also see that the iphone picture, at full zoom, is a little blurry compared to the Nikon picture.  That's the second problem, because I've cropped this a fair bit.

Here's another example, our Magnolia, which is much further away.  This is the Nikon picture, and you can see although I've cropped it a lot, it's still quite clear, if not perfect.

But this iphone picture, taken at full zoom and then cropped quite a lot, loses all resolution.  You basically just can't crop an iphone picture that's taken at full zoom.  this was also taken a few days later when more blooms were out.

You may recall this picture of a Pileated woodpecker out back.  An absolutely terrible picture, cropped from my iphone, but I was so excited I posted it anyway!

On the other hand I had time to grab my Nikon when the Rough-legged hawk stopped by, and got this fabulous picture when I cropped it in.

Thursday, April 29, 2021


Our dining room table has recently been decorated with a bright small bouquet of Daffodils and birch twigs.  Mrs. F.G. was trimming the White Birch tree a little, and picked four of the Daffodils that grow below it.  She tucked some birch twigs into the vase as well as the flowers, for a touch of whimsy.

Low and behold the birch twigs have come out with small green leaves.

They've even developed a couple of catkins.  We keep wondering if they will sprout roots, but I'm not sure this built in effort to complete their cycle of life is going to last much longer.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Around Home

 Plants continue to grow (and some to bloom) as our garden unfolds for 2021.  And Mrs. F.G. continues to prepare the garden for all the things she's going to plant over the coming weeks.  If we just got some more actually warm weather I could get out and enjoy it more. 

Mrs.F.G. is quietly expanding the garden in three small patches, the largest right outside the window.  It's under those leaves.

Our garden helper took off the sod here, and then dug it up a week later,  Mrs. F.G. then spread both fertilizer and manure, mixed it in, and spread decaying leaves on top.  I think it's ready for planting.

She is also preparing our big planters for use, here mixing in the triple mix on top.

Out in the front scree garden the Yellow Iris is in bloom.

The White Bleeding Heart is about to bloom too.

And this is a really unusual plant to me, one that I think of as the stinky flower!  It's a Fritillaria standing 2-3 feet tall, with a ring of orange blossoms hanging down.  I have a great picture of it snow-covered at our last place a few years back.  And it really is stinky!  There are numerous different species, and the colours range from white through yellow and orange to red to dark purple.  It's a neat flower!

Our Magnolia is looking really good this morning under dark grey skies after overnight rain (and more is forecast all day long) - the garden needs it),

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Birds Were Flitting Through This Morning

Maybe it was because my caregiver came early and I was up and away from breakfast sooner than normal, but there seemed to be a surprising number of birds flitting past the window today.  And later on in the morning a very active small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers, my first warblers of the year passed through.

The first bird I noted was the Mourning Dove, perhaps because it's so big and obvious!

It stayed around for awhile, letting me get more pictures.  This I blew up as much as I could and it was still remarkably clear.  I love the feather pattern on the doves.  This picture is hugely cropped, probably more than it should be!

A House Finch visited the feeder, and earlier a pair had stopped together briefly.  I expect they're nesting somewhere close.

There were also 3 or 4 Dark-eyed Juncos around.  They usually leave in the spring to nest in the boreal forest.

But the big sighting of the spring so far was a flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting through the canopy of our big trees.  They hardly ever sit still for more than a second, and it was a challenge to get a picture that would show the flash of yellow in their wings.  These photos are enormously cropped, but I was using my big Nikon, so they stayed relatively clear.

We still have a Downy Woodpecker and the Chickadees, but they too will soon disappear to the woods to raise their young.  The only birds I didn't get a picture of were a Robin and a Song Sparrow, but I'm sure they're both nesting nearby.

Monday, April 26, 2021

2016 Hike - A Favourite

Six years ago today I posted about a great hike a friend and I completed, crossing both Pinnacle Rock and Mill Creek.  I had never hiked there before, and the geology was fascinating, so I really enjoyed it.  I'd love to get out hiking this year, but I can't, so revisiting this one is the next best thing.  Here are a few pictures from April of 2016.

We headed in along a side trail to join the main trail at Pinnacle Rock itself, here looming up behind the trees.

Pinnacle Rock is a huge chunk of the top escarpment layer, the Amabel Dolomite, that toppled sideways who knows how many thousands of years ago, perhaps helped by the glaciers.  A dominant feature right beside the trail.

We hiked down the steep hill below to the small waterfall at the bottom, bouncing over the very thin layers of a different geological layer, the Manitoulin Formation.  This is actually the only place I know of to see these two geological layers close together, they're usually separated by some distance.

Some nice patches of Hepatica along the trail.

I pulled out my tripod and tried some fancy pictures of the water - these ones at a fast speed, trying to 'stop' the water.

Then I tried the opposite and tried to 'slow down' the water, creating a misty curtain.

Continuing east we saw several more outcrops of the Manitoulin Formation, first a few big boulders showing off the thin flat layers and then the upper edge of the Mill Creek valley, where it forms a sharp horizontal line.

Soon we came to the then brand new bridge over Mill Creek, built by soldiers of the 32 Combat Engineers Regiment as a training exercise.

I'll finish with a picture of the creek itself, the rest of the trail to the road was just a hard uphill slog!  But this still sticks in my mind as one of the most interesting hikes I've done on the trail here in the valley.  I'm very glad to have done it.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Garden Work Day

 Yesterday our Saturday morning helper arrived, but Mrs. F.G. was out well in advance getting things ready and starting the work.  This week's project is expanding the flowerbeds in three specific areas, partly to smooth out the corners and make it easier for lawn mowing.  But Mrs. F.G. has more plants arriving, so she needs space for them.

It was a sunny warm day so I was able to get out and join them for half an hour - just to watch mind you, I can't do much.  This slightly different perspective on the view is taken from down on the patio.

Mrs. F.G. brought me over a tiny bouquet, just for me!

Our Magnolia has come out in bloom, but it's still looking very thin and scrawny to me.  Mrs.F.G. helped me with the close-up.

We've wondered if our two small Rhododendrons would survive, but they seem ok and have a few beautiful deep pink blooms.

And I was pleased to see a small cluster of bright Dandelions along the driveway - great spring food for the bees even if they do attract critical glances from the neighbours!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Celebrating Volunteers!

This has been National Volunteer Week and it's one of those things I try to remember each year, for our lives depend heavily of the efforts of volunteers.  We have both volunteered extensively, and I hope you do too.  As my dad always told me, it's important to find a way to give back to your community one way or another.

I didn't think about it much at the time, but both my mom and dad volunteered, commitments I was aware of as a child.  Dad volunteered with the church, usually on financial matters, and mom helped run a thrift shop for the IODE (Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire - how's that for colonial name!).  The IODE does still exist, with more than 200 chapters across Canada.

The next time I thought much about volunteering was when our young boys got into sports.  We realized immediately that here was a whole large group of parents who volunteered as coaches and organizers - for T-ball, hockey, football and baseball.  And the coaches made a huge difference to our kid's enjoyment of the games.

Mrs. F.G. and I eventually chose to make our contribution by serving as leaders for cubs, scouts and brownies.  Have you ever walked by a brownie group and a cub group meeting in different rooms (ours were in a church)?  No-one can ever tell me that the genders at that age aren't different.  But we survived and loved it, especially when it came to camps.

Later, as the kids grew up and we had a little more time, we got involved in other organizations.  Mrs. F.G. took horticultural courses and led the establishment of the Guelph Master Gardeners group.  Later she moved out of that intense time and into quilting, where she helped with programs for both the Guelph and the Queen's Bush quilting guilds.

For my part I got involved in helping start both the Ontario Land Trust Alliance and the Ontario Farmland Trust, both organizations still going strong today.  After I've retired my life (until Feb. 2018!) was built around volunteering for the local Bruce Trail Club of the Bruce Trail Conservancy.  I was in charge of overseeing all the properties they had purchased here in the Beaver Valley (some 40-50 now) and assessing each new property that was preserved.  

This involved mostly field work, which was the part I enjoyed.  In fact, knowing that I would be asked to volunteer after I retired, I pro-actively called up and offered to volunteer two years before retiring.  I wanted to head off any requests to serve on any committees!

Today our own volunteering years seem to be over, and we're more on the receiving end.  Volunteers do so much in the health care system, from raising money for hospitals to visiting shut-ins and delivering meals-on-wheels.  Sometimes I think volunteers run the world, they certainly make it a much more pleasant place to live!

So I encourage you to find some way you can 'give back to your community', in any small way that you can.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Nelson Street West Part ll

To continue my ride down Nelson Street, this time in the right sequence, I headed west.  Next on the list were two of those old red brick farmhouse style homes, among the few oldest on the street.

First was this small home on the south side.  Note the decorative molding on both the porch and the dormer.  But the reason I took the picture was for the daffodils, so bright under a big maple tree.

This is my favourite among these old homes, and now is the best time for a picture, before the leaves come out.  Both the old porch, the dormer, and the curved lintels above the windows are all typical.  But the big old Sugar Maple out front isn't looking too healthy!

Underneath the shade to the left is a remarkable patch of woodland plants, a big show of Bloodroot flowers today.  It will have May Apples in a few days.  But as I looked to the right I saw a big patch of wood shavings on the ground....

And up above was a deep channel of woodpecker diggings, probably by a Pileated Woodpecker.  Not sure how long the old tree has left.

Another deep channel chipped out by a woodpecker in an otherwise healthy tree down the street.

I passed a small patch of Heather (I think), a nice bright pink colour.

And as I got nearly home this circle of Daffodils around an old tree in a front yard.  I actually stopped and talked to the owner here and complimented him both of the flowers and the renovations they recently completed.  He was very gracious in return.

Off on a beautiful drive this morning through sunny countryside past several orchards where they are getting the trees ready for summer.