Friday, September 30, 2011


As I drove home from work in the rain tonight under grey and dreary skies that looked like this:

I could see this amazing cloud in the southeastern sky, and rushed to the window with my camera as soon as I got in the door to be sure I didn't miss capturing it on film.
Can you see the CN Tower peeking out?

It just looked so pretty and white against the blue sky, a reminder that even when things look dark all around you, there is usually a bright spot to be found somewhere.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Letting Go of Perfect

Last week's assignment in the online class called Supplies Me that I am currently taking with Jane Davenport (who answers to the nickname of "Danger") required us to use watercolours and coloured pencils, to draw a figure with legs (or "lolly legs" as Jane calls them) and to include the words, "there once was a girl who..."

Here's what I came up with:

"There once was a girl who knew she would have to let go of perfect if she wanted to play with Danger."

I am really pushing against my resistance in this class, whether it is using supplies that I am not comfortable with, or drawing figures and faces or just being brave enough to share the results with others.  It's nerve-racking and challenging and fun and exciting all at the same time.  The videos Jane posts for instruction are pretty amazing.  She films herself creating her drawings so we can see exactly what she does.  Sometimes she talks us through it, step by step, and sometimes is all at fast speed so we can see the finished result quickly and easily.  This week she's on vacation in Bali with her husband, who is there to surf while she draws and paints on the beach - lucky for us, she has posted new videos so we can see where they're staying and pretend we are travelling along with her while learning at the same time.  It's also a catch up week, so we can spend time going over the lessons from the first three weeks.

Stay tuned for next week, which focuses on pens and markers.  In the meantime, I'm going back to draw some more faces - as you may have noticed in yesterday's drawing, I still haven't quite mastered doing noses.  Not that they have to be perfect, but they could definitely be better.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Tape = Happy Girl

I came home last night to discover my order of Happy Tape stuffed inside my mailbox.

This particular combination is called the "happycheer 10 pak" - ten rolls of delicious colours and designs that I can honestly say make me feel pretty darned happy and cheerful!
If you'd like to order some for yourself, you can find all the various colours and designs here.  Order them singly or in groups, did I mention I have a birthday coming up?! (two months today, but who's counting? Oh wait, I am!!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another Face

I am pleased to report that my face drawing skills (as taught by Jane Davenport in her online class called "Supplies Me") are definitely improving.  I drew this one the other night after watching one of Jane's instructional videos and I like it so much, I'm afraid to draw another one, in case I can't do it again!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shopping at Aberfoyle

Why yes, as a matter of fact, I did pick up a few treasures at the Aberfoyle outdoor antique market the other day, besides the vintage photo album I told you about the other day.

I got a hardcover children's book that is Peter Pan on one side and Alice in Wonderful on the other.  Funny thing is, when I got home, I discovered I already had one just like it - how did that happen? (so if anyone would like a copy, let me know!)

I got a bundle of french music books, wrapped in brown paper marked 1959 and deliciously aged (because Maria Von Trapp isn't the only one who has an affinity for brown paper packages tied up with string!).

I got a Partridge Family trading card, for nostalgia's sake.  I remember collecting these cards when I was young, they came in a package with a stick of gum.  It was a bit scary how many of them looked familiar as I flipped through the selection on hand to choose from.  I liked this one because it has the whole family and the bus, and okay, yes, because Keith (a.k.a. David Cassidy) looked cute (as always)!

I got an old issue of Popular Mechanics and a LIFE Science Library book about Time that I had to have simply because I loved the watch face on the cover (for $2, I couldn't resist). It was published in 1966 and for all I know, the science inside is completely out of date by now but it's still quite interesting and the old photos are entertaining.

But the best finds came from a vendor who had several boxes of old envelopes, stamps, maps, black and white photos and various pieces of ephemera for sale at the fabulous price of 3 for $1.00.  I spent a long time in his booth, going through what he had and I got tired long before I got through it all.  For a grand total of $15, I got some old maps:

several old security envelopes (including one from the newspaper in my hometown postmarked 1955 with a five cent stamp attached), several of which are either filled or covered with stamps (I focused on North America):

and one which was filled with pictures of France (several of Mont Saint-Michel, which I wish to visit some day):

and a bunch of old B&W photos.

As you can see, I picked up lots of vintage goodies with which to create things in the days ahead!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

More Photos from Aberfoyle

Here are a few more photos from the outdoor antique market at Aberfoyle yesterday.

There were buggies, big:

and small:

and wooden letters, short and tall:

There were buttons and bottles and coins to delight:

and scary-faced baby dolls to give you a fright.

All manner of old things that were built to last:

like this Easy Bake Oven I remember from days past!

There were sleds and snowshoes, toys for one and all:

and of course a black jaguar watching over us all!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Almost Didn't

I almost didn't go to the last outdoor antique show of the season today. If I'd had to decide based on yesterday's heavy rainfall and forecast predictions, I would have stayed home.  Luckily for me and everyone else at the show, including all the vendors with their fabulous goodies, the day dawned dry and by nine a.m., just as I was arriving at Aberfoyle, the sun was starting to come out.  It ended up being a very warm, sunny day, perfect weather for strolling around looking at vintage and antique delights of all sorts.

I saw this exquisite old Japanese photo album at the first table I stopped at, right next to the admissions booth.  The raised figures on the cover were made out of ebony and ivory, according to the vendor, but the price tag of $275 was way out of my reach. 

I almost didn't even look inside, until she told me the pages were hand-painted on silk and that there were old postcards in there as well.  Look how beautiful they were!

I almost didn't buy the next (and only other) vintage photo album I saw.  It seemed way too large, measuring 13 inches tall, 11 inches wide and a full 3 inches deep.  It's really heavy to lift and I told myself I just didn't need another album.  But the cover design was so unusual, with all of the various images stamped in gold on the burgundy leather cover (a globe, a crescent moon, palm trees, something that looks like a sea serpent, a stork eating a snake - I assume the album is Oriental in origin from the design in the bottom right hand corner), I kept going back to see if it was still there and flip through the pages again (all of which are in good shape).  In the end, I couldn't resist the $30 price tag and I ended up bringing it home with me. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Things I Didn't See Either

In a post today, my friend Kate McKinnon blogged about "things I have never seen", describing a nest that she hadn't noticed before today but that has probably been sitting in its current location for several months.

I had a bit of a chuckle to myself when I read this, only because I had a similar experience myself a month or so ago.  In my case, I was stunned, shocked and totally surprised to be driving home along my street one early summer evening when I suddenly noticed that there are several medium-sized trees all along the boulevards that divide my street.  The shocking, scary part? I had absolutely never consciously noticed any of these trees (and there are several) before in the more than two and half years that I have lived here.

Now, some trees on my street are young and quite straggly looking, like this one:

and if that were the case with these trees on the median strip, I could perhaps excuse it to myself.

Alas, this is not the case.  Here are a couple of photos (not taken today, as it has been grey and/or very wet all day today) of the trees I am talking about:

As you can see, they are not newly planted trees, they are medium to large sized, healthy-looking trees with lots of foliage.  I drive past and between them every time I exit or enter my building, which is let's say an average of a dozen times a week.  How could I have never noticed them before?!!

And, as Kate says, it does beg the question, "what else am I missing?!".  Perhaps, in my case, I should be asking, "am I going blind and/or completely losing my marbles???"  Lord knows, some days it feels like that!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facebook Changes - Good or Bad?

If you use Facebook regularly, you know they are always updating certain things, changing things around, adding new stuff, all without telling anybody in advance so that one morning you log in and it looks a certain way and then you log in again after lunch and surprise! it's all switched up and there are all sorts of annoying little explanation boxes popping up everywhere that disappear too quickly that by the time you realize you'd like to read that box again, it's long gone.  Just when you feel like maybe you're used to the latest changes, some you like, some you don't, they switch it all up again.  Seems like the past few weeks, they've been doing a whole lot more of that and while some things seem a little better, other things are totally annoying and frustrating, especially when you can't figure out how to alter or remove a certain feature.

One of my FB friends posted this last night and because it so perfectly describes the way things seem to be with the FB administrators, I just had to share it:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An Accident Waiting to Happen

The older I get (and that's about to be pretty darned old), the more surprised I am at how stupid we humans can be. 

On my way to work this morning, I rode down in the elevator with a guy wearing pants and a white t-shirt, who was using both hands to balance a very large bowl of very runny oatmeal.  Spoon in the bowl.  Button-up dress shirt on a hanger tucked under his arm.  Medium-sized glass bottle with a screw top lid full of water also clutched in one of his hands, along with his car keys. 
Photo courtesy of

When I asked him if he was planning to eat the oatmeal while he drove to work, he smiled rather sheepishly and said if he answered that question, he'd have to kill me.  I suggested it could be rather messy (while in my head thinking, "are you insane?!??") and he laughed and said that's why he doesn't put his dress shirt on until he gets to work.

I'm thinking this behaviour is a total recipe for disaster.  Seriously?  Where do you balance a runny bowl of oatmeal on a car seat? The dude could barely operate the elevator buttons and I have no idea how he would have handled the doorknob on the parking garage door if I hadn't been there. And a glass bottle with a screw top for water?  Oh right, you probably just steer with your knees when you need both hands to get that lid off, am I right?  Geez, buddy, get a clue, would ya?

As we walked to our cars, I asked if he'd give me a head start out of the parking garage because I sure as heck didn't want to be anywhere near this clown when he got behind the wheel!!  (He thought I was joking.)

In reality, we're all idiots, aren't we?  I like to tell myself I'm smarter than this guy but then, I foolishly believed the weather forecaster on the radio this morning who said the rain wouldn't start until "later tonight" and was surprised when it started pouring at 3 p.m. and I ended up with very wet shoes and toes because I thought it would be safe to wear sandals to work today. 

But at least I wasn't going to risk lives by driving with damp toes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing?

I wrote an email to the CBC today, filed under the category of "complaint".  I was reluctant to do so but wanted to voice my opinion on their recent switch to showing five hours a week of Coronation Street episodes, instead of 2.5 hours as they have been doing for the past several years.

At the moment, I am currently at least 12 hours behind on the show (partly because this change happened back on Sept 5th and it wasn't until the following week that I even found about it!) and wondering when I will have the time to catch up, let alone keep up with the weekly quota.  It's especially upsetting because I know something absolutely earth-shattering happened in the middle of this past Sunday's five hour show and I'm dying to get to that place in the storyline as soon as I can, but I also don't want to fast-forward through what I'm seeing now, which involves the death of one of the older characters on the Street and the poignant scenes associated with that as the other characters say their goodbyes. 

I know one of these reasons the network has changed the format is to catch us up to the episodes that are currently being shown in Britain, where Coronation Street is filmed. Canada is currently about 9 months behind, which seems a bit extreme until you realize that New Zealand is even farther behind than us!  But unless I go surfing the Internet to see what's happening in the current storylines, it doesn't matter to me that other people in parts of the globe are already that far ahead of us here in Canada.  And I'd certainly much rather keep watching week by week than do what the CBC did several years ago, when they tried to catch us up by jumping several months worth of episodes completely and simply summarizing what happened in the missing episodes.  They never did show those skipped episodes and as a result, we missed several valuable chapters in the lives of our beloved friends on the Street, including the wedding of one of the major characters, which I have always regretted.

I just can't imagine myself tuning in for a solid hour every day, five days a week or all five hours on Sunday mornings starting at 7 a.m.  I know lots of people do this on a regular basis, that's normal volume for a daily soap opera but it seems too much to me and I wanted to let the people making programming decisions at the CBC know that I, for one, don't want that much Corrie, no matter how much I love the show.

And I do love it. I've been watching faithfully for at least 30 years now, believe it or not. (I'm not the only one watching, the show has been on the air longer than I've been alive, since 1960 to be exact!) These characters are a part of my life, I just don't want to be compelled to spend that much time with them 

Yes, I could stop watching altogether.  Or I could just catch parts of episodes here and there, an hour or two at a time when it suits my schedule, but that would make all the story lines seem quite disjointed.  So my only option is to hope the CBC will see sense and return to two and a half hours a week.  Pleeeeeze!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Facing My Fears

Last week's lesson in Jane Davenport's Supplies Me online course was focused on coloured pencils and featured a tutorial from Jane on how to draw faces.  I don't do much drawing or doodling, mostly because I don't feel that I know what I'm doing and as a result, don't consider myself to be very good at it.  Which is one of the reasons I signed up for this course in the first place, because the class description said the emphasis would be on faces and the figure.  I figured it was time to face my fear of drawing by learning how to draw faces.

So, I dutifully watched Jane's instructional videos (which are stunningly awesome to watch, she is such a talented artist, it would be totally intimidating if she wasn't already in the process of showing us what to do but knowing Jane and seeing how encouraging she is, it's only slightly intimidating instead of being completely intimidating), took a deep breath, picked up my drawing instrument (sometimes a pen, sometimes a pencil) and started drawing.

I started by doodling with a pen and paper last week when things got a wee bit boring at the work conference in Niagara Falls (I've been carrying pens and a sketchbook around since seeing Jane do it in Portugal in June, just hadn't actually gotten brave enough to use them yet!) - here's the first face I drew:

Then I got a bit braver, and drew a few more:

Once I got home from the conference, I was able to pull out my coloured pencils and give them a try:

I have to say, I'm pretty excited about the results. I definitely need more practice, especially on drawing noses, that seems to be the most challenging feature of the human face for me so far, but I'm actually looking forward to doing more faces with this week's featured supply category - watercolour paints.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dreaming of July

Remember this photo from back on July 23rd? Usually when people complain about the heat, as they did that day, I tell them I can't complain, that these are the days that I dream about in February.  Well, it's only September but I was definitely feeling nostalgic for that hot July day this morning when the temperature was only 5 degrees Celsius:

Alas, it feels more like October today rather than September and I'm so not ready for winter and cold weather and turtlenecks (which I am horrified to have to admit I have worn twice in the past 4 days). 

As far as silver linings go, it is nice to have the fireplace going at the cottage to ward off the cold. And the sunsets are just as pretty...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

An Impractical Room

The hotel suite I stayed in while in Niagara Falls this past week was nice enough.  It had a spectacular view of the Falls:

but it wasn't really a very practical room for two work colleagues or people that are not related to each other and/or in love, although it's probably a great idea for a family with a couple of kids. There were two bedrooms separated by a hallway but only one door blocking off that hallway, leading into the larger bedroom.  As a result, not a lot of privacy for the person in the 2nd room when the other person was going in and out of the washroom or using the small kitchenette tucked into the hallway. And there was only one closet, located in the first bedroom.  Not to mention the fact that you had to walk through the first bedroom to get to the second when you entered the room from the outside.
Then there was the bathroom.  It had a lovely big tub that looked like it would be wonderful to bathe in, although sadly, I did not have time to take advantage of it:

But as you can see, there was a window in the bathroom! Said window looked into the bedroom shown above.

Luckily, there was a shade that could be lowered for privacy. Given that this wasn't a romantic weekend away with the man of my dreams, I was actually sharing the room with my boss, that shade went down as soon as we arrived and stayed down for the entire two days we were there.

Alas, my boss pulled rank and took the room with the view (although I intend to bring these photos to my performance review in January to use as blackmail if needed).   Which left me with a bedroom that was okay, but was really just a regular hotel room with a comfortable bed, a TV, a couple of pictures on the wall...and no view. In fact, no windows at all.

Unless you count the view from the kitchenette, which was pretty spectacular for a hallway window, I must admit:

But that's okay, we were only there to sleep anyway and luckily, my boss and I get along well, so we had an enjoyable time.  Still, I think I'd like to stay there again some day, sleep in the bedroom with a view with the curtain open so I could see that amazing view of the Falls as soon as I open my eyes in the morning, and make time to try out that tub - preferably with a cute guy.  What the heck, a girl can dream! :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Home From Niagara Falls

I've been at a work conference in Niagara Falls for the past two days.  We stayed at the Hilton, across the street from the the Fallsview Casino, appropriately named because of its proximity to the Falls.  This was the view from our room on the 26th floor:

You may not realize that there are actually 3 sets of falls here where Lake Erie drains into Lake Ontario by way of the Niagara River.  The most famous of the three is Horseshoe Falls, which looked like this first thing this morning, with the mist rising in the sun:
Horseshoe Falls
Across the U.S. border in Niagara Falls, New York lies the second set of falls, known as the American Falls:
American Falls
The smallest of the three is known as Bridal Veil Falls, situated to the right of the American Falls, on the other side of what is known as Luna Island and separated from the Horseshoe Falls by a piece of land known as Goat Island.  You can just see this set of falls on the right hand side of the above photo of mine but here's a better (night time) view, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Here's how the view looked at lunchtime yesterday, from the restaurant on the 32nd floor of our hotel:

Here's how the American Falls looked at night.

Whenever I could, I would take another look at that view.  It was pretty darned amazing.