Monday, February 28, 2011

Ruby Tuesday watercolour

For Ruby Tuesday I have this painting of a coneflower.  It's not finished yet; I still have to do some refining and shading in the cone part.  But right now I'm liking the way the petals look--with just a touch of red, well pinkish red.

This is the second painting I've been working on in my water colour class.  I am learning a lot there but I still have a way to go to master the water colour medium.

You can see many other Ruby Tuesday posts here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mystery bird

When the snow came earlier this week we saw an enormous increase in the birds at our feeder. Here are the usual sparrows and juncos, and below the larger towhee nudging his way in.

Of course there's our resident Anna's hummingbird trying to avoid getting snowballs on his beak while feeding.

But then there was this one, new to me and quite a bit bigger than the others.  I couldn't find it in my  bird book, even with its beautiful plumage. Any idea what it is? 

When we lived in the city we never paid much attention to birds but up here on the hill we're captivated.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Camera woes revisited

So it turns out that my little point-and-shoot camera can be repaired but it will cost more than $250 to do so.  I've decided that this is probably too much to pay for a camera that's over two years old and has already seen a great deal of use. I'm lucky to have another camera that I can use for blogging.  It's lens is not as sharp but it does ok so I'll just keep on.  I'm thinking to perhaps buy a used point-and-shoot camera for our trip to Italy in June as I'll want something that I won't be concerned about losing.  (More about the Italy plans later.) 

I just so hate this throwaway culture.  Here's a camera with incredible capabilities that cost me $400 and I'm choosing to throw it away because of one malfunctioning part.  I can get an equivalent used one for less than $100 so why would I pay $250 plus to repair it.  But still--the waste of resources really disturbs me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Capturing the sky

Lately I've been following Kat Sloma's blog from Italy, where she's living for a while.  Kat is an on an inspiring creative journey with photography and she shares her exploration through a series she calls Exploring with a Camera.  Click on the button to the right to see.

This week's subject is capturing the sky. I enjoyed her pointers on sky photography so much that I decided to look through my own photo archives to see what I could find to post.  I've done some selecting and cropping to come up with some images from trips we've taken to the big sky country of New Mexico, Arizona, and Nebraska, with a couple from Mazatlan thrown in.  

These first two were taken on a stormy evening in Nebraska.  I like the reflection of the wet road in the one above and the amazing light in the sky in the one below. 

These two were taken outside of  Santa Fe, New Mexico and obviously the subject is the clouds.

Is this a sky photo or a photo of the rocks?  I like the way I've cropped it to show the big rocks but the even bigger sky.

Trite sunset photo somewhat uplifted by the verticals.

Here the subject really is the variety of cactus but there is a tiny daylight moon in the sky that I think adds to the photo.  Can you see it?

I'm going to link this post to Kat's Capture the Sky series and you can visit there via the Exploring with a Camera button to see other peoples takes on capturing the sky. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A snowy day

Yesterday this was the view out our kitchen window; today, it's a completely different look.  We awoke this morning to another snowstorm and the usual havoc it creates in Victoria.

They've barricaded the road down the hill to the highway so we have no option but to stay at home.  Apparently one car slid down the hill followed by several others causing a pileup at the bottom.  We're just not prepared for driving in the slippery stuff here in Victoria, even just a few inches.

This was the first barricade put up early this morning, being investigated by a dad and his daughter on her rarely used sled.  Later on the safety tape was replaced by a more official barricade.

It's predicted that we may get up to 20 centimeters (that's maybe 6 inches) of snow by the end of the day. So, hurray!  A snow day.  I get to catch up on my blogging, and maybe do some water colour painting, plus finish the book I started last week.  If the snow lets up we'll take the dogs out for a walk and a play and then home to a soup simmering on the stove and cozy fire.

But first we have to take care of the birds in the back yard.  The feeder's full of seeds for the chickadees and such, and Harry's cleaned the snow off of the humming bird feeder.  Fortunately it's not that cold so we don't have to worry about the syrup freezing.

This little bird looks a bit chilly though.  Too bad he can't come in and curl up by the fire.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Camera woes

This is what the viewfinder on my camera shows--a bunch of coloured lines and fractures.  Yup, somehow I managed to break the LCD.  The internet tells me that this is the most common problem with digital cameras and it's certainly been my experience, as this is the second time it's happened to me.  Both times the display brokewithout my dropping or banging the camera.  However I must admit that I do carry it in my coat pocket so it could have easily happened.

My little Lumix doesn't have any other viewfinder so unless I can get this fixed it means the camera is toast.  I'll be taking it in to a camera shop to see what's possible.  Meanwhile I have an old Canon that I got second hand that I can use to feed my my photo taking habit.  I'm realizing now that I do have a serious addiction to carrying a camera around and my day to day experience would be severely compromised without a camera of some type. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Deep into the heart a rose

Too much going on.  Hectic days.  Falling behind with work at the Yukon Street house.  Enjoying a visit from son James.  Not managing to do as much pilates and tai chi as I'd like to.  Feeling overwhelmed by bills to pay, articles to write, meetings to organize, dogs to walk, paintings to compose, decisions to make about appliances.  We're feeling pressured because we want to get the renovations finished by the end of March.

Meanwhile, I received these flowers from a fellow student in my water colour painting class.  She runs a little convenience store and florist shop and she ended up with a few extra bouquets.  It's nice to take a few minutes with the help of my camera to go deep into the heart of a rose.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hearts big and small

I discovered this old box of heart-shaped cookie cutters at the bottom of my baking drawer.  And since Jamie's coming home from university for a few days I thought I'd make a batch.  I debated about cutting the recipe in half but decided to make them all up. The nice thing about these cookies (aside from their yumminess) is that the come in several different sizes.  The tiny one-bite cookies are just right for those people who say:  Oh I shouldn't!   And for people who really love iced cookies there are those big ones right at hand.

I'm one of those who just loves iced cookies.  But I never (well almost never) make them for all the usual reasons:  too fussy, not contemporary, babyish, fattening.   The real reason though is that if I make them and they're sitting around the house I just end up eating most of them myself.  I've already had three this morning.  You see what I mean?

My plan today is to keep a tin for Jamie and give the rest away to everyone I encounter.  What better way to celebrate love than by giving away hearts big and small? 

You can see others' red themed celebrations at Mary's Ruby Tuesday blog.   How do you celebrate Valentines Day?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Two kinds of painting

This past week has been all about painting--both kinds.

Most of my time has been spent on painting windows and cupboard doors.

These are the windows, newly made for the kitchen in the house we're renovating.  These custom windows are incredibly expensive as they're opening sash window style made the way they did it 100 years ago.  What you see is the exterior view.  They're ready to be installed on Monday.

The other painting I've been doing is the water color flower painting.  I've enjoyed this and have learned a lot but I'm not all that happy with the finished product.  Some of the petals don't look quite right to me.  And it's probably been overworked.  This is a tendency I have--to take things past the point at which they're finished. 

I kind of like it better before I added the yellow for the stamens.  But with water color there's no going back.  I'm starting another flower painting on a sheet of paper twice the size.  We'll see how this one goes.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

January book list

As promised, here's a beginning to my book list for 2011.  You can see I'm not really into heavy books these days.  This reading is more in the way of escapist literature as a reprieve from our renovation work.

This list is in order of books read and is complete with my ratings out of five stars.

Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay  (novel)       ***
Interesting history of Paris during the Nazi occupation, combined with a contemporary story of a trail of secrets leading back to 1942.  Somewhat clunky, but it kept my interest.

Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, Lisa Scottoline (collection of columns)  *****
Insightful, personal and laugh-out-loud funny columns about life as an aging single mom with  pets and a kooky family.

Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby (novel)  ****
Laid- back story by bestselling author of About a Boy.  Not as good as others of his.  I found the ending unsatisfactory, but interesting themes of fame, creativity, parenting, and relationships.

The Family Man, Elinor Lipman  (novel) ***
Light, charming, somewhat complex story about exes, children, gay lovers, and the social scene in New York.  The characters are well drawn.  This author has been called a contemporary Jane Austen.

The Bishop’s Man,  Linden MacIntyre  (novel) **
Follows a priest in Newfoundland whose job it is to confront priests who molest children.  The protagonist has his own issues with celibacy and sobriety as well as a complicated family past. The story’s told in the present as well as flashbacks, which I found confusing.

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax,  Liz Jensen  (novel)***
Fascinating mystery set in Provence and told partly by a nine year old boy in a coma.

Made in the USA, Billie Letts (novel)***
Predictable story about two orphaned kids on their own in scummy Las Vegas with a happy ending.  (literary junk food, hard to put down)

For a change I'm beginning to read some nonfiction.  I have "It's the Crude, Dude" by Linda McQuaig, which reveals what America and others will do for oil.  This won't be quite so escapist.

All of these are from my local library.  I'm so grateful for this wonderful service.