Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sixty Percent Done

I am 60 days along in the 100 Faces in 100 Days challenge.  Some days, I just don't like the results but more often than not, I really do, which is exciting.  I can definitely see progress and I continue to really enjoy the process.  Here are some of my recent successes:
My interpretation of a drawing
done by Dina Wakely

When I gessoed over the sprayed/painted background of this page, it seemed as if there was a face wanting to come out - can you see it?

This is what I drew.
I'm finding it challenging to draw eyes the same size or evenly spaced lips.  In reality, we all have one eye larger than the other - one of everything is larger than its mate on the other side of your body, actually, but it seems that discrepancy is sometimes made even more exaggerated when I draw certain faces.  For example, I tried to even out the size of this woman's lips on each side of her mouth and ended up making her look like she'd had too much Botox or something as a result!  I'd like to paint over it but don't want to mess with the scuba diver on the background that just happened to end up on her chin.

Hmm, wonder if Picasso or Rembrandt ever had to worry about these sorts of things? Ha! Probably not, especially with respect to the scuba diver.  Not to worry, I shall persevere!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More Picnic Pics

A few more photos from our annual family summer picnic.  Or should that be annual summer family picnic?  Hmm....  Anyhow, here are some photos of my other cousins, the parents and grandparents of the cutie patooties I blogged about yesterday.

Byron and Sandy, the hosts for the day, have been busy building a new deck on the front of their cottage.  Just before lunch, we took some time to stand about and admire their handiwork:

After lunch, Gabby washed all the lunch dishes in the kiddie pool:

(just kidding!  These are actually play dishes for the kids - yup, vintage Melmac!!)

There was a craft area set up for the kids as well.  Isla decided she'd get a better perspective standing up.

Have you seen these things? I forget what they are called, they look like a magic carpet except they float on the water.  Uncle Will was kept busy throwing the little ones off of it, which they loved!

The rest of us sat on the shore and watched the fun.

Here's Karen taking photos with her biggg Nikon while Catherine looks on.

Robyn and Bunny posed for me.

as did Barb and Sandy.

Here's Catherine, Janine and Robyn:

Maks was happiest when his mom Wendy was close by.

Connor decided he didn't want anything to do with those frogs his cousins had caught and daddy Maurizio kept him safe.

Mom Stacey and Grandpa Gary helped her kids play in the hammock.

As is our custom, we lined up for the annual family photo.  While Byron was busy fussing with his Nikon on the tripod, I snapped a couple of quick photos.
Isla (2nd from left) is holding her cheek because
Tyler (far left) just kissed her there!
I caught my mom peeking in this photo:

I almost like these photos better, as you get some interesting things going on when everyone isn't quite ready to pose for the camera!

As we do every year, a great time was had by all!  Those who couldn't make it were missed but hopefully, we'll see them at the Christmas gathering, which will no doubt be here before we know it!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The World's Cutest Cousins

Saturday was our annual family picnic.  I'm sure everybody thinks their little cousins are the cutest but I am 100% positive that mine are.  Have a look at these photos and see if you don't believe me!
Connor and Alexandra in the hammock
Gabby and Isla are happy to be making art

Happy Maks
Not so happy Maks
Aidan looking for frogs
Maddie and Claire showing the frogs they found
Maddie, Tyler and Claire with frogs (above)
while Cameron and Gabby aren't sure
they want to get to close to one! (below)

Isla makes a face
Alexandra all tuckered out

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Last Saturday Morning

Last Saturday morning, as I was getting ready to leave for the cottage, I noticed there seemed to be some sort of gathering of garbage trucks and their drivers taking place in the parking lot of the shopping plaza across the street.

I'm not entirely sure why they were there, I never did find out.  I'm guessing they were about to make a special Saturday trip around the neighbourhood to pick up more debris from the big storm back on July 8th.  Alas, people are still cleaning out their basements and undergoing renovations and the city had implemented special "flood garbage" pickups.

Nevertheless, I thought it made for a colourful picture or two.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Night Baking

I am spending a rare Friday night baking.

I must admit, this is not something I normally do on any other day of the week either.  If I baked it, I'd want to eat it and I'd end up even larger than my current proportions so...I usually don't.  But now and again, it does happen.  Christmastime, for sure.  And here in July, as tomorrow is our annual family picnic and I've been asked to bring a dessert.  But it's been a busy week and I'm a bit behind schedule, so I've opted for a "just add water, eggs and butter" mix for lemon squares.  It's the President Choice mix, from Loblaws.

I've made this before and to me, it tastes just as good as the made-from-scratch variety, so I'm going with it.  Although I forgot that last time I made these (was it at Christmas for these same cousins? will anyone remember?), I couldn't find the beaters for my electric mixer (how can they not be stored with mixer and the power cord?!).  I think that time I ended up whisking the lemon mixture.  This time around, I'm going old school:

After I cut the butter into the flour mixture with this:

If I have enough energy, I'll whip up some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies when the lemon squares are done, using my favourite just-add-water-and-chocolate chips mix made by the good people at Quaker.

And yes, for those who are wondering and/or may have noticed in the top photo, I did have to clear my art supplies off the counter and the stove top so I could do this!! ;)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Now Identified Woodpecker

As I was reviewing my photos from the weekend, I realized I had forgotten to mention this woodpecker I also saw on my quiet Monday morning at the cottage.

I was going to call it a pileated woodpecker but then I realized that would not have been at all correct. As you can see here, the pileated version is much larger and has a much more pronounced crown of red.

I then had to figure out exactly which type of woodpecker I had been seen.  I returned to my favourite research tool, Google, and immediately discovered this blog entry written by Mark Read on his blog entitled Confessions of a Global Birder (you've got to click on that link if only to see the photo he has at the top of his blog page, it is an astoundingly beautiful picture of a misty lake with sun tinted mountains in the background taken somewhere in the world where there are palm trees, judging by the frond in the foreground.)  Said blog entry refers to both the hairy woodpecker and the downy woodpecker, two birds that are very similar in appearance except for one quick reference point, the length of their beak.  A quick glance back at my photos and yes, I confirmed that what I saw was in fact a hairy woodpecker.

A little more Googling and I found this page from the All About Birds website posted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (which amazingly, appears to have been written by the same Mark Read - how spooky is that? Is there only one birder on the Internet??!) which has a picture of the heads of both woodpeckers and talks about how to measure the length of their beaks against the width of their head for quick identification.  If there is one thing I've learned about identifying birds in my limited experiences doing same, you've got to be quick because you just have to blink and that bird could be gone and if you didn't get a photo and you're like me, you have no idea what you just saw!

Luckily, with respect to this particular woodpecker, the mystery of its identity was easily solved.

Or so I thought.  When I looked at my photos again, I realized the red on the crown of this bird was different than the patterns of each of the hairy and downy woodpecker, who have their red markings on the back of their head.  Even in my not-so-great photos, you can clearly see the red appears on the front of the bird's head, not the back.

Back to Google images I went and bing, bang, boom, it turns out I was actually photographing a yellow-bellied sapsucker (which is also a member of woodpecker family).  A female, to be exact, as the males have a very noticeable red throat.  However, the bird I saw didn't have the long, white stripe along its wing which is one of the ways of distinguishing it from the H and D woodpeckers, nor did it have any suggestion of yellow on its belly.

Still, I'm pretty sure that must be what it was.  What do you think?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Monday Morning at the Cottage

I enjoyed a rare Monday morning at the cottage this week when I took the day off after the Stanley Cup party the night before.  While I was there, I noticed that a regular Monday is a lot different than a holiday Monday - it's much quieter, there is less human activity on the road and out on the lake and nature seems a lot more active as a result.

There was a constant parade of birds and squirrels flitting across the lawn. These crows were having a very noisy conversation until I interrupted them.

I went down to the lake to see if I could get a closer look at this family of ducks, which turned out to be mallards.

We've had pairs of adults mallards for several years now but I don't recall ever seeing any baby mallards before so I was quite excited.  They seemed to have no fear of me at all and actually headed in closer to shore as I approached, which means someone has been feeding them and they've come to associate humans with food - not a good thing.  When I didn't make any move to feed them, they swam about for a bit while momma duck had a bit of a cleaning of the feathers session and then they headed off down the shoreline.

As I turned back to the cottage, this butterfly almost landed on me, before finding a spot on a nearby lily.

Isn't it gorgeous? It's a tiger swallowtail, according to the insect book I rushed inside to search through.  I can't say I've ever seen one of them before but maybe I just wasn't looking, as they are apparently quite common in eastern Ontario.

Ah, nature!