Mr. Magoo

Forty odd years with perfect vision and without wearing glasses and now I can’t see for shit.
I know my prescription has changed again but I can’t face it, even now that we’re allowed to go and be breathed on at close quarters by an optician again. I’ll get to it.

It does mean that I miss stuff though. I took the photie above of the sunset the other day and had no idea that there were birds having a stramash just outside the window. Ah well.

I saw the spider though. I see it every day. It mocks me with its safe position over a long drop and my choice to have incredibly awkward windows to clean from the inside and my reluctance to get a proper windae cleaner in because he will see stuff that he won’t understand through the glass from his far too tall and most likely wobbly ladder.
Aye, so the spider lives for now. Unlike that mummified winged buffet it has lashed up all around it, it’s a dab hand at catching a free lunch. Crafty wee bugger.

Sing a Rainbow

As I was heading up the crags yesterday my head was spinning round looking at all the trees, splashes of red and yellow reigning over the creeping brown and fading green.
It’s utterly glorious and it was only improved as I gained some height and the sun broke through the shifting clouds with searchlight beams that flashed across the landscape lighting up even more autumn flags through the patchy rain and haze.

On my way back down as I got closer to the trees it occurred to me that nature isn’t just painting in beautiful broad strokes here, the joy is also in the detail.
I picked up leaf after leaf, finding in each infinite shades of the colours that usually melt together with distance to give the autumn blanket.
Impossibly diverse and wonderfully individual, every leaf shouted out to me and I soon had a pocketful to take home and make a little centerpiece for the dinner table.
Outdoors brought indoors. And, everytime something new. Ah, the joy of it all.

 

15th Wish

I’m rarely disappointed now. It’s taken a lifetime to be like that, to hope but not to expect, to imagine and not demand.
Today I had cold hands and rain on my glasses, my base layer was overloaded with sweat and the best of the blue skies were hours earlier.
I grinned the entire time.

The rainbow was just cream on top.

Which reminds me, I didn’t get cream at the shops so we’re not firing up the vintage coffee percolator tonight which has become a Friday dinner ritual.
Dammit, I’m so disappointed.
Hey, it’s not the hills it’s fine, I’m allowed, shut up.

Nightflight II

A walk in the chill air to a door I can’t pass through.
To look back at a face I have known and loved all my life from two metres distant.
To see a hand wave back that I can’t hold in reassurance and that little frame that needs so much a wee cuddle.

It’s the cruelest of times.
Started by accident, spread by ignorance, perpetuated by stupidity and suffered by us all.

Hindsight will always have 2020 vision now.

No Rest for the Thankful

I’m a reasonably frequent flyer of the Rest and Be Thankful road from Arrochar to Loch Fyne and I’m a constant viewer of local road signs telling me that Beinn Luibhean has shoveled some of its excess onto the road after the rain and closed it meaning that if you’re lucky you get a wee trip up the original road or if you’re unlucky you’re on a hysterically long detour round half of Scotland.
It always was a stupid place to put the new road, the hillsides are cut deep with water fueled movement on that side of the glen. The schemes in recent years of catchment pits and fences were a waste of time, all that money and effort could have been spend on what they’re finally looking at – a permanent fix.

However, the official document on the subject is hilarious Project Corridor Options – Access to Argyll and Bute (A83). There are some sensible options on show but it’s the wacky sci–fi ones I like best. I thought the councilors in Inverclyde fact finding about running a cable car service four miles across the Clyde from Greenock to Helensburgh was good, but these new plans are a clear winner.

Option 1 is the most sensible probably unless they get some Italian engineers in to tunnel it, it moves the road onto the other side of the glen, just where we are in the photie below in fact.
The hillsides are very different over here with no major water runoff channeling comparable to the existing problem area but there’s long established forestry that won’t be there for ever so it could all change.

Option 2 is horrific, cutting a road through the lovely empty lands from Butterbridge past the tail end of Loch Sloy to come out north of Ardlui. The east end here is a problem area, very steep, but they managed to do a steep climb for the new Glen Fruin military road a few years back, so it’s a worry that they might have a go at this one.
I would drive it though, often.

Option 3 takes a similar cross country route but through a glen that’s more developed, less remote feeling. Still steep to the east, I just can’t see it.

And then we’re into fairy tail land. A land where they have unlimited money to build their dreams, to cross oceans, scale mountains all the while unrolling a new road behind them from their magical bag of infrastructure spells.
Their document is worth a read in general, but in particular that they’re so worried about nuclear submarines hitting their new bridges.

In an ideal world a lot of these other crazy roads would actually exist, but Scotland has mostly been there as a resource for others not as somewhere needing to be developed so it all feels a little late.
That new Glen Fruin road I mentioned? Built for the military to use then handed to down to us when they were done with it. The newer roads and bridges up north seems to have got money from somewhere, maybe it’s that logo I see on them, a blue background with gold stars? I look forward to see what else these folks manage to help with…

In the meantime, Argyll and Bute, Italy’s dialing code is +39. Get on with it.

Push to the back to the front to the back again

I like the daily movement of it. Not the predictable east to west, it’s the daily creep of the point where the sun hits the horizon which is so very noticeable from this window. even if the daily increments of it’s travel into winter positions are probably actually awfy wee.

The variations are endless too and I still get caught by surprise after a hundred years of watching it through my apparently slightly grubby mid range double glazing.
The colours, the shapes, the brevity of the show and the times where I just catch the last whisper of red on a cloud because I was in the kitchednand missed it all.
I’ve seen a lot of glorious skies in my time, from sea level hands in pockets to summit tears in my eyes and this window has the power to beat them all.

Even this rather subtle showing, a few scattered clouds like still glowing ashes blown from a bonfire, it brings me joy. I’m always lifted by it.
It really is the little things.

 

Caught

It’s not all the denim, it’s not that we’re both wearing the best shoes in the world and it’s not that I thought it was my dad in the photie at first glance.
It’s just a perfect moment caught by Linda.
It’s a real moment too, crossing the burn with a mix of laughter and mild terror with both of us secretly hoping the other would slip into the water. Not because we’re cruel, but because we know we’d both be helpless with laughter whoever got soaked.

It’s a metaphor as well. What I saw there was instantly symbolic for how I feel as Holly gets older and faces a difficult, confusing and often unfriendly world. Wherever she is in that world, that’ll always be me, right there, one hand out to catch her.
Maybe sometimes one of us, maybe even both of us will slip. That’s okay, we’ll get it right next time.

Never felt more of a dad as I do looking at this. So proud of that wee lassie.

Sunsetting

I’ve taken more photies in the past 18 months that I did probably in about five years before that.
I went from not being able to find a camera then not being able to find the batteries or their charger to having it all ready to go every day.
I’m still relying on stuff to point it at that doesn’t need much fixing and my usual three idiot proof settings but it’s just magic.

We’ve been exploring local as well as beyond and seeing the familiar and well as the new and it’s just a joy. Oh, there’s going to be so much sunsetting on here in the coming days.

Missed It Again

It was the anniversary of starting this thing last month and I not only missed it I forgot. Ah how priorities change.
From the #1 outdoor blog in the world – really, I have the numbers and the analyst agency figures so fight me – to an occasional accidental clicked on destination on my phone. Ah, silly bugger what am I doing.
Waiting actually. I was waiting to see if Photobucket really had shat the bed and and I was going to to have thousands of images stuck in a host that I couldn’t use anymore. I would never redo this place with another host, I couldn’t face it. Plus my photos are are so badly labelled on hard drives etc that I would never find anything to do it all again.
It was actually very dispiriting.

However, Photobucket seems to have turned a corner. It’s early days but their new site and new regime is doing the right thing today, we’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.
So this is a fresh start of sorts. Let’s see what I can do with it.

Hiding in darkened churches for the most part. How a huge building with so many windows can be so perpetually dark I don’t know. Even with the sun beaming through a break in the clouds it just lights one single spot.
I love it.

 

Glass Menagerie

I spend so much time in empty churches. And I tell you, I can feel something standing there, looking up the images of stories centuries old… cold usually. Churches are always cold, even in the height of summer. My job of 30 odd years is to fix that for when the people are on the pews, and it takes time to test stuff.
Big systems are slow to react, slow to change despite my efforts. Hmm is there a message for the wider world in there somewhere.

So I wander around, feeling pipes or checking my strap-on thermostats for flow and return temperatures and maybe I’ll sit on the worn varnish of a pew with a cuppa and listen to the silence as it’s subtly punctuated by the creak of an expanding steel pipe under the floor or the burble of an air pocket that keeps escaping me.

Sometimes things just line up perfectly while I’m not even looking for them. Old churches are dark by design, high and thick stone walls and tall slim windows dimmed further by their intricate patterns of leadwork holding painted glass.
I could spend hours wandering around at these windows and even places I’ve been visiting for nearly 20 years like the church here I can still see something new.

This day though, on a dark winter’s afternoon as I sat in the gloom wishing I had a phone signal, the low sun broke through the cloud and shot a kaleidoscope of colour and shape across me and whatever surface in the church it could find.

It lasted for about ten minutes until the pulsing light source dimmed once more and didn’t come back.

I took less shots than usual probably as I sat or stood waiting for the light to come up to full brightness for a couple of seconds and relocate to try and capture something else.
I had a great time, running around snapping on my phone as its weary battery dropped power noticeably as I kept the camera live. It was close to dusk or dawn on a summit, that level of grinning and chuckling. I think I actually just love doing photies, wherever that may be. Never thought about that before.

It was over too quick, but I got what I saw. That’s actually very true too, no editing on the phone or laptop other than a couple of crops.

And now, the nearly versions… Or the better? I have long learned that its our eyes that are different, everything is beautiful to someone.

Plush

I saw the skies I saw a year ago.
Still through the window, this time not by choice.
My hands aren’t cold. But I wish that they were.
Sandy boots left by the door, kettle quickly on.
That was nice I said.
Look, I got nice selfies confirms the girl.
If it’s nice we’ll go down again tomorrow.
Yes, I hope tomorrow is soon.

The return of the bluebells

In our currently limited scope I’m finding joy in the smallest detail, like a mountain in the fog where patches of lichen spring out bright and vivid in a sea of grey.
Our daily walk route is changing with the season and the biggest joy has been the return of the bluebells.

It’s such a lovely little flower, a wee bit sleepy looking, maybe a wee bit melancholy, a wee bit reserved in demeanour but beaming with vibrant colour.
Seen in swathes in woodland it’s the essence of spring, a flush of new life through trees who have been hanging their heads for the months of long winter nights.
Seen by itself it’s a delicate, fancy wee soul. It’s shy for all its frills though, happy in it’s own company.

That wee flower is a sign of change, a sign of life, it’s nature knowing the way. I hope we can follow it.

Catching some rays

Two days in the year the sun slips down to the horizon between the old church and the tenement building. It was a clear sky so we caught it tonight.
I hope by the time it comes back to peek through this gap in autumn we are watching the sun setting from somewhere higher, somewhere outside, or maybe best of all, somewhere, anywhere, with all the ones we love.

Pandemic Denim

My favourite fabric is denim. I think I like polycotton outdoor trousers because they wear in just little bit like denim.
I like that denim tells a story, like the duct tape patch in my Kimmlite down vest, the scars and wear lines got there through use and abuse.
Except modern denim is a big fat liar.

Pre faded denim is on the surface a nice looking thing, faded in all the right places, that lived in look without any of the living. But there are problems with this.

One is that the fading never actually lines up with the natural creases your body starts forming as soon as you pull the jeans on.
Another is the chemical use and water waste that comes from making your jeans look old. Indigo coloured rivers and potassium permanganate in the air. Pre faded denim is environmentally and ethically unsustainable and I am as guilty here as anyone for supporting it.

Another thing is stretch denim. Comfort and freedom of movement at the expense of a non recyclable fabric and microplastic down the drain as the elastane wears away in every wash.
Still guilty here.

So what are my options? Easy: Raw, rigid denim. 100& cotton, unwashed at the factory, stiff as a board, ready to be made into whatever your body and time decides.
Like lightweight outdoors there is a hardcore of obsessives that break raw denim in as a lifestyle defining choice and thrive on the minutiae of the process which will alienate most casual observers.
There is though a simple method which is all you need to know, wear it and don’t wash it. Yet.

There are a great many specialist jeans makers who will sell you a pair of jeans crafted from raw Japanese denim for a weeks wages and have you believe that your life will now be much improved, but isn’t it always the way with anything non-essential?
There are other ways.

Hidden at the back of their shop, the ugly sibling, the last one to be chosen at the high school dance, Wrangler’s 11MWZ. A reissue of a classic design I wore back in the 80s and early 90s with all the detailing pretty much perfect.
Wrangler are an odd brand, #2 in the world behind Levi’s, but around here they seem to be something of an old man brand, shapeless, high waisted, zip flied middle aged comfort pants.
Which isn’t actually the case, the range is modern and sleek if you look online. Like everything else, there’s just no shops to see stuff in anymore.
To me though, they are the jeans of my youth, so I’ve come home. In a larger size.

The 11MWZ’s are a slim fit but not tight at all and after a day’s wear I had full movement, just a little tightening on the thighs when crouching. After washing they will close in a bit more, but they’ll be in molded into my shape by then so it’ll still be fine.
The denim was cardboard stiff with a notable texture to it, something missing from stretch denim. The colour, described by Wrangler as “New” was deep, deep indigo with maybe some battleship grey in there which is now taking on a little more blue overall, especially in the creases and other wear areas which you can see in the photies.

The denim is broken twill which means the pattern is reversed every few runs resulting in the internal zigzag pattern you can see above. This removes the mechanical pull of a standard weave, the very thing that twists a jeans legs round over time.
In the same photie you can see that zip fly. Oh yes please, button flies now feel so awkward, like the designers are deliberately trying to  piss you off and make public toilet visits longer and more awkward.

So what is this all about? Well, I’m going to wear these in, make those whisker lines and worn knees all by myself, all in high contrast indigo and white like you buy in the shops. But I’m just doing it by wearing. And not washing.

Indeed. The not washing is vital for the wear to be high contrast and look just right, so these have become my lockdown loungewear, my pandemic denim. I think I’ve had them on most days for 3 or 4 weeks now, airing at night, always wearing underwear and being super careful when I eat, drink and cook.

Dabbing a few light splashes turns a slightly damp cloth blue instantly, indigo really hates being on fabric. Big molecules they say, just sits on the surface of the fibres, ready to get scraped away.
Also fun fact, indigo dye is yellow, it’s oxidation during drying after the dying process that makes it blue.

My intention is to wear these as much as is possible until life goes back to normal, or whatever the new normal turns out to be. I hope they look great, but I’m prepared for whatever happens.

“In my day, we just wore our denim” was a nice quote I saw a while back regarding modern overworked jeans and I’m doing that but taking it too far probably.
It’s oddly fun though, seeing the lines come out purely by light abrasion.
It’ll be so tense that first wash.

I can still get in this 80s pair. I seem to have grown about two inches since then, up the way I might add, not round the middle. Although, that’s also grown…

Right, on with the wearing. More later.

Locked In Syndrome

It’s like something out of a made for telly science fiction mini series. But no, this really is the world we find ourselves in.

I’m not making light of it, I have some near to me who are very precious and vulnerable and no amount of inconvenience or freedom limiting in my life is too much to try and protect them.

It’s all an unknown, but I do expect the best and worst of people to be made plain. We’ll see noble and heroic, selfish and exploitative.
I’d like to think lessons will be learned, but when we’re at the other side it’ll eventually fade into anecdotes and stories. It’s now we cope as humans, belittle our pain, ridicule our enemy.

The hills have never felt so welcoming and now that schools are closed, so accessible for me on a weekday. Not had that for a long time.

Talking of that, Holly took and edited this last week. She’s got a good eye, but there’s something prophetic about it too.

Wicked Garden

There was a day not too long ago where the sunset was so dramatic it made the news.

Social media was flooded with gorgeous purple and orange skies that I would normally have burned rubber to get myself in the right position to view.

Instead me and the girl were joyfully fannying about in Granny’s garden.

She’s a high school girl now with interests and opinions expanding ever outwards but she’ll always be my girl and I’ll take and keep every moment of our banter filled messing around that I can.