Lisa Nilsson’s Marvelous Paper Quilling

I’ve dabbled in paper quilling but I don’t have the patience to do much with the tiny twirled results. But Lisa Nilsson makes spectacular art works using the technique.

This work, which took her six years to create (!) is an amazing work of art. You have to see some of the details to appreciate what she’s done:

I came across this piece on Colossal https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2022/05/lisa-nilsson-grand-jardin/ today. It’s worth taking a moment to read about Nilsson’s work.

The World In Stones

Jon Foreman, a Welshman, does these amazing creations on a beach using stones or shells, or just a rake and some string.

It’s about the time it must take to collect the RIGHT stones – construct the array, take photos, then walk away. The next day the array is likely gone, washed away by the waves. He sets to work again.

Do take a look: https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2022/04/jon-foreman-new-land-art/ – each piece is spectacular!

Are You Playing Wordle?

A week ago someone mentioned Wordle to me – I hadn’t come across it on my own. In spite of my reasonable size vocabulary, I’m not great at crossword puzzles. I don’t seem to have unassociated words floating around in my head. I have lots of words in meaning units, but I can’t easily just pull out a word based on an ambiguous clue.

So I was skeptical about Wordle. Nevertheless I gave it a try.

My first go was a disaster – couldn’t even find out how to submit a word! Finally, I discovered the “ENTER” button below the keyboard. Next I discovered I couldn’t think of 5-letter words. Useless. So I did a bit of online searching and came up with some useful tips and handy word lists to start the game.

Screenshot Showing Game Opening (Including Enter Button)

I quickly came across the “opening word” strategy – try to cover as many vowels as possible in a single word – two good words: AUDIO, and ADIEU – you’re almost certain to get at least one vowel, occasionally two. The vowels are likely in the wrong location but you’re on your way. There are a bunch of opening word selections – here’s one with some helpful starting words.

Strategy two: high frequency consonants and consonant clusters. I had to google for lists of 5-letter words with various consonant and vowel combinations – they just wouldn’t pop into my head. Once I had some lists in front of me I started coming up with words on my own. I now have lists of 3-vowel words, 2 vowel words, words using S, L, T, R, N, M, P, H – some of the most commonly used consonants. Then there are consonant clusters: CL, CR, DR, FL, FR, GL, GR, ST, STR, WR, – I’ve probably missed a few here, but you get the drift.

I read somewhere in the last day or two, don’t waste time on a final S – there seem to be no plural words so save your S for other positions in the word. Also, there can be double letters – both consonants and vowels – that can be tricky.

With my word lists at hand, I’m getting better at the game – I’ve even managed to solve it several times in 6 words, a few times in 4 words. Today’s word HUMOR I missed altogether (my 6th word ROUGH had 4 letters R, O, U, H all in the wrong location – I would never have thought of HUMOR because my spelling for the word is HUMOUR! This is an American English game.

I’m hoping to do better tomorrow.

Feb 10: Pure Luck Today!

Feb 10 – Pure Luck Today

Rapid Test Kits

Throughout the past year and half, Nova Scotia has been focused on early detection of COVID-19 cases. To begin with that meant many Pop-up Rapid Testing sites – staffed by volunteers, in locations where the presence of CoVID-19 was suspected. I helped out with that effort, registering people as they came in. I did that for a couple of months until the number of cases declined, and while a couple of testing sites continued, they were downtown and difficult for me to get to, so I stopped volunteering.

On Nov 9, I joined the Rapid Testing “Test To Protect” effort. For a couple of months volunteers had been making up rapid testing kits for distribution to the airport but the effort ramped up in late October when the NS Department of Health decided to issue kits to school children in order to pick up early warning of COVID-19 spreading among unvaccinated school-age kids. I decided it was time I helped out again. So a couple of times a week, until last week when TTP closed down for the holidays, I helped assemble Rapid Test Kits.

You wouldn’t think putting a few bits and pieces into plastic bags would take much effort – but it did. A four hour shift doesn’t seem like a lot of time – but it was.

When you walked into the assembly room (a large open space with 25 tables – one person at a table, , hands sanitized, wearing a mask) the walls were lined with large labelled boxes – some holding test kit stuff, others already packed with test kits ready for distribution, and on tables dividing the room a WALL of small boxes containing what you needed to make either 30 or 15 kits depending on the batch we were preparing.

You started by adding labels to the bags explaining the “expiry” date on the test strips could safely be ignored. Next you carefully laid out the test components (swabs, test strips, small vials with testing solution) so you could pick up what you needed to place in each bag. Then you filled and sealed each bag and placed it back in the original box.

We started out assembling 30 single test kits; we progressed to 15 double test kits – these to be handed out to arriving passengers at the airport. Working as quickly as I could, it still took me slightly more than 15 minutes to do a single box of test kits. The assembling took a lot of repetitive physical effort (the tables were a bit too high for me – I found it less stressful on my back and shoulders to stand when filling the bags). More difficult was the concentration required to make sure you put the precise number of each component into each bag! You didn’t want to end up short something or to have something left over – that meant you had to go back through all 15 or 30 bags to find where the error had happened! Each bag needed to have the exact number of swabs, vials with testing solution, and testing strips!

I breathed a sigh of relief every time I finished a set of bags neither short something or with any component left over.

In three and a half months, hundreds of volunteers have managed to assemble well over 500,000 test kits for kids and arriving passengers at the airport. A herculean effort. We don’t know yet whether we’ll be called back into action in January but I’m sure everybody who helped out will return, particularly since Omicron looks like it’s set to take off like wildfire here in the province as it has everywhere else.

A Double Rainbow!

Complete Double Rainbow!

I was at my cutting table just how tracing a jacket pattern when I happened to glance out the window – an astonishing complete double rainbow!

The sun had come out behind my building with the rain still falling in front of me allowing the sun to create this amazing sight. Can’t remember when I last saw a rainbow like this.

I used the wide angle lens on my iPhone 12, adjusted the vertical alignment of the building on the right, but otherwise the photo is unedited; this is the colour in its full glory – a glowing rainbow against a dark sky.

I took a raft of photos while the sun shone – it didn’t last long – the rain has returned, the sun gone behind the dark clouds behind.

For a moment it was compelling – I called a couple of friends to share the event.

The “Last” Times

I had an interesting experience about five weeks ago. I needed to change the batteries in the three smoke detectors in my apartment. I change them yearly ( I keep a post-it on the wall in my storage space with the date I last changed them). I don’t want them waking me in the middle of the night screaming when the batteries die.

I had bought batteries. I got out my step ladder, positioned it under the first smoke detector. Climbed to the second step – I’m too short to reach the ceiling from there. I go one step higher – but now there’s not much to grab onto to prevent me from tipping the ladder or losing my balance. I get down, reposition the ladder closer to the doorway, which I can hold as I climb back to the third step to change the battery. I manage to rotate the detector, pull it down, find the battery door, open it, take out the old battery, then fight to put the new batter in. Takes me 5 minutes or so to change that battery. I move on to the second, then the third, both taking less time since by now I have figured things out.

As I descend from the third smoke detector I breathe a sigh of relief – job done. But I also recognize this is the LAST time I am going to do this job myself. I will have to find a younger able neighbour who will do this for me next year!

This was another of those “last time”s I seem to be encountering at this point in my life.

I’m 78. Still exercising three mornings a week at the neighbourhood rec centre. I’m reasonably fit, balance not bad, but after my mattress flipped me onto the floor breaking my wrist and compressing a vertebra two years ago, I catch myself, as I go to do something that could be a bit hazardous, and wonder whether this is the “last” time I do whatever it is, or in fact, was the last time I did it, THE “last” time.

I’ve been thinking about “last” times a lot lately. A year ago I bought an automatic transmission car although I’ve driven a standard stick shift my entire life. I miss shifting gears! But I realized most people don’t know how to drive a standard shift car and were I to be somewhere and find myself not feeling up to driving I’d be stuck unless one or other of the people I’m with can also drive my car. I bought the automatic. It was the sensible thing to do.

I see my world beginning to narrow. I’m probably not going to make that solo drive to Toronto although I love driving long distances on my own; I’ve done many solo long distance trips in my life; but probably not again. Over the past 15 years I’ve travelled to out of way places on my own to join a group interested in textiles without a second thought. The last two times I became ill – fortunately I didn’t require hospitalization, but I know my solo long-distance travelling days are over.

I think this past COVID year and a half has helped me accept how my life plays out from here – taking satisfaction in visiting with friends, enjoying the creative endeavours I undertake, pursuing the iPhone photography in greater depth, making more textile art. I have enjoyed these past 18 months even though there weren’t enough hours in the day to get done everything I wanted to accomplish. I’m getting better at picking up today what I didn’t manage to complete yesterday.

I have longevity in my genetic makeup (at least on my father’s side of the family), so I’m not expecting to wind down anytime soon. However, as Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal” reminds us, we all need to be thinking about “end of life” long before an actual end of life arrives.

In the past month I’ve had conversations with two younger friends, both have mothers with dementia, both the daughters with responsibility for making difficult end of life decisions for their parent. Both have had lengthy, searching journeys to get to the place where they are comfortable facing and accepting the near end of life for that parent. I’d suggested they watch Being Mortal on PBS – it has helped each of them take control of the difficult conversations they need to have with medical staff at this point.

I’ve begun keeping a record of my “very last time” moments – not with any sense of foreboding but as an essential aspect of my personal adventure. I’m not exactly slowing down, I’m still getting much accomplished every day, but once in a while I notice that I’ve probably done something I would have tackled without a thought for the “last” time.

I feel like Maggie Muggans – “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow”. Although those “last” times will continue to come along, I know new doors will open when others close. Besides, we ARE living in interesting times!

The “Hum”

The Fairview Cove Container Terminal – Halifax NS

This story goes back at least 45 years! When I lived on Braeside Lane in the late 70s I found myself experiencing a definitely audible “hum”, particularly in the middle of the night, which drove me crazy. It sounded like a very large diesel truck idling just outside my building.

A low frequency hum, almost a vibration, just on the threshold of human hearing. It’s not particularly loud. In fact, you might not have even noticed it yet – but once you do, you can’t stop hearing it. It sounds like a truck, idling on the street in front your house. Or the atmospheric din of an airplane flying overhead, that never gets further away. You can hear it when you’re outside, but it seems louder indoors, and particularly at night, when you’re lying in bed. Maybe it keeps you awake.

If you do hear it, you’re among the roughly 4% of the world’s population affected by “the Hum”, a frequently reported but little understood global phenomenon.

[From The Guardian – July 7 2021]

I struggled with the “hum” for a couple of years before finally I had the brilliant idea to call the acoustic engineers at TUNS (Dal) to see if they were aware of the “hum” and what they knew about it. Not much, it turned out, but they were interested.

Two guys came to my house with some fancy recording equipment for me to use after, say, 2:00am to see if I could capture the noise that for me was so audible and irritating. I recorded the “hum” for a week, after which they came back, collected the microphone and recorder, and analyzed the recordings.

Then they reported back to me. They could definitely detect a low pitch noise (somewhere around 40Hz – they were actually more specific but it’s been so long ago I can’t actually remember the precise number) around 5-10 decibels – loud enough for some people to hear even at that low pitch. They had no idea what the source of the sound was but they assured me it was real.

My Braeside Lane townhouse was constructed on bedrock – a continuation of the Halifax bedrock on which the Fairview Cove Container Terminal was built – so it was not inconceivable that the vibration made by the large cranes or the idling container ships docked at the port, particularly at night, might be transmitting a sound through the bedrock and reaching my house.

No way to prove that theory but I took comfort in knowing the “hum” was a real sound.

I was fortunate, in that I discovered a “node” of that vibration that happened to occur at the foot of my bed, about the diameter of a 15″ platter. Well, that helped a lot – a silent spot in the middle of the thrumming low pitch vibration was a godsend – I was able to sleep comfortably with my head at the foot of my bed and be oblivious to the “hum.” (Although it took some time to feel comfortable/safe sleeping with my head in the middle of the room!)

When I moved to Winnipeg a number of years later, and was looking for a place to live, the first thing on my list of things to watch out for was any “hum”! The realtor and I would visit a place during the day. I’d ask for silence as I walked through the house or apartment trying to listen for any “hum” particularly in the bedrooms. I wasn’t surprised to encounter a variety of “hums” – refrigerators, air conditioners, traffic, railway lines – a city is full of “hums”. I was trying to listen for that unidentified low pitch “hum” I wanted to avoid. I drove the realtor crazy asking to return to a location late in the evening so I could listen to the ambient sound before I’d consider purchasing. I finally found a condo on the Assiniboine River that fit the bill – I was never bothered by the “hum” during the four years I lived there.

When I returned to Halifax in 1997, same thing. House hunting, making sure I wasn’t also buying a “hum” to go along with the house. Again I was lucky. My Chelsea Lane townhouse, although built on the same bedrock as Braeside Lane was further from the container terminal, and “hum” free. I wasn’t bothered by any “hum” for the 20 or so years I lived in it (there was a large CBC radio antenna not far from my place, but I never encountered a “hum” emanating from it).

In August 2016 I moved into an apartment building, 6th floor (top floor), checked for “hums” – thought I’d managed to escape once again. However, on Oct 19, two and a half months later, as I was returning to bed from a trip to the bathroom at 3 in the morning, I was assaulted by a very pronounced “hum” – it persisted for the rest of the night and into the next day. I could hear it – I could feel it thrumming in my head. I could block it out if I turned on the radio, which I did. It wasn’t the highway traffic on the other side of the building – that was intermittent, and besides I really didn’t hear the vehicles, even when standing on my balcony. It might have been the air circulating fans on the roof close to my apartment – but then why hadn’t I heard them when I checked before moving in?

The “hum” was everywhere in the apartment, I could not find a silent node anywhere. I tried identifying the pitch of the “hum” using the keyboard on my iPad. It seemed to blend as a harmonic with F/F#/G two octaves below middle C – I’d lose the “hum” when I played those notes, although I couldn’t pin it down precisely (C1 – three octaves below middle C has a frequency of 32.70 Hz – which is close to the acoustic range mentioned in the Guardian article; it’s also a harmonic with F so it’s possible the base pitch of the “hum” is somewhere around C1 with harmonics further up the scale).

The “hum” never quite subsided, but I discovered an App for my iPad – White Noise – which produced a range of backgrounds to block offending noises. The sound which worked best for me, believe it or not, was the ambient sound of the International Space Station! That, combined with “grey noise” which I was able to pitch closer to F2/F#2/G2 worked to mask the “hum” – so just before turning out the light, I’d turn on White Noise and run it for the night. It allowed me to fall asleep. I used the App nightly for a couple of years and then the “hum” seemed to disappear. I stopped turning on White Noise before getting into bed.

The “hum” returned last evening! At 9:40pm – there it was again – that loud low pitched thrumming – I actually went outside to see if I could see a large diesel truck idling nearby – nope, no vehicles anywhere near the front of the building. Even turning up the volume on the TV couldn’t block the “hum”. I was getting ready to turn on White Noise when around midnight the “hum” subsided. I went to bed and was able to fall asleep.

However, this morning, it was present still, although at a lower level. I can ignore the “hum” during the day – I keep the radio on, listening to CBC or some podcast or other. It generally doesn’t bother me too much in the evening, either, the volume of the TV (to which I knit) generally masks it. And I have discovered that the programs delivered by Brian Cox (professor of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester) put me to sleep quite quickly! As does David Attenborough. I’ve recorded a collection of programs by both men, which I set to play for a half hour, to mask any disturbing “hums” which might interfere with me falling asleep.

I’m waiting to see if the “hum” is present again this evening! It was very loud and irritating last night. I have found ways to mask it, making living with it bearable.

I just wish the “hum” would simply go away!

More iPhone Photography

It was actually a lovely snowy day today – snowing quite steadily but almost no wind. A perfect occasion to wear my Manitoba winter gear (which I’ve not parted with) and to take photos.

Our building superintendent was stoically shovelling (and reshovelling) the sidewalk in front of our building for much of the day. I just love his stylish snow-shovelling gear! I walked around him until I was able to see both feet not hidden by the shovel – I tried editing a bit, but in the end all I did was crop the image a little.

The Epitome Of Snow Shovelling Fashion

On the way back home I had my eye on hydrants as I passed them. This one seemed more sad than the others so I stopped to take it’s picture. Kind of reminds me of a toy soldier with his helmet pulled down around his ears.

Resolute But Sad

Several months ago I noticed this shelter built from fallen branches in the underbrush. I didn’t think a whole lot about it until today – it certainly wouldn’t afford a homeless person much protection! I wonder what the story is beind this construction….

An Untold Story

BTW – It annoys me to hear people complain about the weather – I learned many years ago in Manitoba that if I dressed appropriately for the day I could enjoy every day – rain, shine, snow. When I say I donned my Manitoba gear I mean it:

Wearing My Manitoba Winterwear (taken 2019)

A warm down parka faced with fur, a good scarf and warm boots and mitts – I’m ready for anything. In fact, I was too warmly dressed today so I unzipped the front of my coat a bit. I was snug at -30° C in Winnipeg mid-winter with this coat.

iPhone Photography

I’ve been sidetracked! A couple of weeks ago I signed up for an online iPhone photography course. To do the course justice, I have to be taking photos. The folks enrolled in the course around the world are taking terrific photos with their iPhones. I haven’t been out and about much for the last few weeks so I’m kind of limited to what I have here in the apartment.

I’ve been trying close-ups of the orchids and the amaryllis which is blooming again. I’m limited because my iPhone XR has a single camera (I don’t want to use the zoom, for technical reasons) unlike the latest iPhones which have either two or three cameras – one of which magnifies 2X. So I’m limited by how close I can get to my subject and still have the camera focus.

In this photo I was trying to keep the dots in the throat of the flower reasonably sharp. Then I edited the image trying to blur the background a bit and strengthen the veins in the petals and sepals.


I tried the same thing in this photo – not quite as sharp – I’ll have to try again on a brighter day. I was aiming to get the petals to be almost translucent

I was quite happy with this close-up of my amaryllis – I wanted to retain the pale green at the centre; I was also aiming to position the camera so the stamens were in focus. Here, your eye zooms in on the floral centre but then follows the stamens and the lines in the petals outward.
I’ve also tried a couple of portraits – using that mode it’s possible to blur the background in an interesting way. I need to take many more images before I’d say I can control of that function of the camera!

I now can intentionally take bursts of photos, use the “Live” function. On to the next module to learn more about what the iPhone camera will do.

And I have to get back to “At Five Islands” later today!