Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

SundayStills - signs of fall

Fall is a time of extreme height
for showing off in a big, ornamental way
fall is unkempt and a bit wild

fall is golden amongst greenery

a warm evening glow

see sundaystills for more signs of fall

Saturday, September 26, 2009

PhotoHunt - twisted

My tires are getting a little worn and probably should be replaced now, but I am holding out until November so I can replace them with snow tires. Until then, I need to drive a little bit out of my way to find one of these every couple of weeks. There are very few gas stations that still have FREE AIR. What twisted mind decided it was a good idea to charge for air??

How difficult is it to put the hose back on the rack so that it is not perpetually twisted?
Now, this is a new one I found when I went looking for twisted hoses...

note the "please walk hose back to machine"

And on a completely different tack...
I see this on my way home from the gas station with free air.
How twisted do you have to be to think this is a good look for a front yard??

(click to embiggen for a better look)

for more twisted views, check out other photohunters

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

what I like to see

When I was about 12, I got my first pair of glasses. I distinctly remember sitting in our living room and staring at the wallpaper - the flocked wallpaper (well, it was 1970) and realizing I could see the gold flocking. I could actually see the furry swirls raised from the rest of the wallpaper. It seems so obvious, but at the time it was new and exciting. I would sit on the chesterfield and bob my head up and down to see the difference in my improved eyesight. And I'm not even that blind. For more than 30 years I had the exact same prescription. The frames changed. The size of the lenses certainly changed. But the prescription, not a bit. I only needed the glasses for distance and even then, not all the time. I was always losing them at school. So I eventually stopped wearing them unless absolutely necessary. As a result, when I did wear them I was amazed all over again at the clarity and detail.

This all changed about 6 years ago, coincidentally just in time for our provincial health plan to delist vision care. I started having trouble reading those big signs in the middle of the grocery aisles to say what was in each aisle. Worse, I realized that I would be holding the boxes of cereal at varying distances to get the right angle to be able to read the information that is so vital to be included that it is in the tiniest font size available. It turned out my regular prescription needed to be stronger. AND, I needed reading glasses. Bifocals were recommended. I bit the inside of my cheek and tried not to shed any tears. I went home with new, stronger, prescription distance glasses and a pair of invisible bifocals. I sat on the chesterfield and bobbed my head up and down (I was told to do this, to get used to them) to watch television and read a book at the same time. This time, it wasn't so exciting. It was more dizzying than anything else. Then, the invisible line bifocals were almost the same style as the distance ones and within a matter of weeks I had trouble knowing which were which.

I ended up later getting another pair of reading glasses. I keep magnifying glasses in every room because that is so much easier. Except for reading books. I still need to work on that. And now I need another, stronger, prescription. I get headaches whenever I try to read the newspaper or a magazine. I find I check out the print before I even consider buying or reading a book. I can't get away with not wearing the glasses any more. All those blurry letters make my head spin, my eyes water, and scare me even a little. I hate to see anything out of focus. When I upload my photos I spend hours scrutinizing each one to determine the one that is the most in focus.

My mother had macular degeneration and for the longest time she struggled with doing the crossword and knitting as her eyesight deteriorated. I have no idea how she did it. Sheer determination and pig-headedness, most likely. Instead of biting my cheek, I had to bite my tongue to stop from complaining about my needing new reading glasses after 30 years. I maybe don't like anything to be out of focus, but I still have the opportunity to fix that. For the time being.

In the meantime, I have to take a blurry, out of focus photo for my new team blog It is an unbelievably difficult challenge. I could just take an out of focus shot, but there would be no meaning to that. I need to find one that has a reason for being.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SundayStills - purple

Purple is, you might admit, an unusual colour for decorating a building. At least at this northern latitude.
This has faded a bit over the years, but still stands out on a street with otherwise unadorned brick facades.
(you can see she owns the store to the right as well which has purple awnings.)

I am noticing a recent trend for cladding new buildings, or renovated ones, with bright bold colours. Mostly they are red, yellow and a bit of blue, and this one,

most definitely purple.

I think it will look great with the white snow that will surely fall
(way, way, in the future)
And behind this purple hoarding will eventually be the new Centre For Performing Arts.

which, by a happy conicidence, also has a purple logo!
(on the door of their old office)

We have had not a drop of rain for over four weeks now. We also are getting frost warnings overnight and warm, sunny days, making it difficult to not be outside. (taking so many pictures)
The clouds have contributed to some very dramatic sunrises and sunsets, portending some changes. This is a sunset from last Thursday as seen from my balcony.

see what other purple was found by going to SundayStills.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

now, where were we?

What was I writing about before getting so distracted...
Oh yeah, New York's Central Park.

I left my place in a snowstorm and arrived in New York in balmy 38F sunshine. Of course, I'd been working all night and it was mid afternoon when I got in the airport bus to take me to the hotel. I was meeting an old friend whom I hadn't seen in years. She was actually a friend of a friend I had met while travelling in Belgium in 1979. I met her when I went to visit him in Australia in 1989. We had kept up a Christmas card correspondence ever since. This trip had been planned for months and I was simply going to see her for a couple of days during one of her layovers on those extensive round the world things that Australians do so well.

New York is only an hours flight away, and after a delay of two hours which involved snow clearing and de-icing, I got to the hotel she had booked for us and was prepared to check in and grab a bite to eat and wander around to get a feel for where we were in Midtown before she got in from Peru sometime after midnight. Fine. Except there was no booking for me, or her, at this hotel. Nothing. No help. Never heard of her.

With a heavy heart, and a heavy extra sweater and boots (remember the snowstorm?), I wander up and down the streets asking at EVERY hotel I came across, and there were quite simply, no vacancies. Long story short, I call my friend who likes to help and knows NYC very well and after a couple more hours I get a hotel room and I crash into bed watching the news that Heath Ledger has died. My luxury room on 56th St is now a basic room on 97th St. It is under renovations and the room has no view, but has at least a comfortable bed.

The next morning I get some maps and plan out my two days of solitary touring. I decide to do Midtown and Central Park the first day then head down to Soho and the East Village the next day. I walked and walked and walked. It was still so very warm for a late January day, and clear and almost windless. It wasn't quite dark yet when I thought I'd get something to eat and watch the skaters at Rockefeller Center before heading up to the top for the night view (because by then I was too tired to walk to the Empire State Building). I walked down Fifth Avenue, taking architectural pictures of the very expensive shops instead of actually shopping in them when suddenly I hear someone call out my name. In a very distinctive Australian accent. I turn around, and there is Fiona. She was coming out of some shop about a block away and saw me and followed awhile to make sure. We had not seen each other in almost 20 years. It took me a few moments to bring my jaw back up off the pavement where it had fallen open in shock. I used to be amazed (and slightly unbelieving) at how that Seinfeld gang used to run into each other in such a huge city. Now folks, I am here to tell you it is possible. On the street. On Fifth Avenue. At 5pm. (the point being rush hour, not the coincidence of the fives).

Turns out, her travel agent screwed up the dates, so a frantic phone call to her back in Australia, and a few hours later, (remember Heath Ledger has just died, so rooms are still filling up) she gets a room booked. An upgrade to a suite in a very swanky hotel in Soho.

We had a much shorter visit.

And in the meantime, I fell in love with New York.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

having coffee and dreaming

These past few days it has been all about TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and the appearance of Himself - George Clooney.

No, I have not seen him, except on numerous news reports and on the front page of all the newspapers, because, who wouldn't want to see George Clooney on the front page?

But, I discovered today, that while I was sitting at one of my coffee haunts last weekend, the owner was setting to prepare a meal of a lifetime for ... yes, Clooney. He wanted a special Italian meal to take out. Okay, for his plane trip home. Airline food that isn't anywhere near airline food. Unfortunately, owner Mr Albanese wasn't allowed to meet Mr Clooney in person. But it was two degrees of excitement to that 6 degrees of separation to Himself. I lunched at the bakery where the owner (who, okay, I've also never met, still...) made lunch for Clooney (who he also didn't actually meet, still...)

I bet it is crowded in there today. Sigh.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday AMuse

making do, when things get broke
mason jar mailbox
umbrella works where sunroof is stuck

pop bottle sprinkler
shopping cart bbq grill
found on

Saturday, September 12, 2009

SundayStills - mechanical transportation

Ah, summer cruise nights ...
are now over for the season. As much fun as I have at these events, I know very little about the inner workings of these old automobiles. I am all about the body. The curves. The colours. The style.
The instructions for this challenge was "transportation
for two or more passengers"

this Viper barely fits two
but this model always has that little extra room in the rumble seat
and a no frills interior on this one, with a bit of home made decoration
I still lament the loss of those no draft windows

and FINS!
and a certain whimsical look in the Crestliner

or just pure whimsy as in this DeLorean
see more examples of transportation at SundayStills

Thursday, September 10, 2009

where I explain a photo

It seems my filing system is perhaps the most boring on the planet. I've been tagged by Sistertex to show the fourth photo in the fourth folder of where I store my pictures. I have a haphazard system of moving photos into folders that are named such things as "blogger pics" and "violet's pics" as they are posted. I have no idea at the moment whether I thought there should be a difference in these folders, as they both seem to hold photos that have been posted to my blog. I also have a folder named "family pics". Since I rarely think to take people photos, most of these are a collection of photos that other people have taken and sent on to me. Bless them for that.
Thereafter most of my photos are listed by date uploaded. Which makes it difficult to find certain ones at times. I think about reorganizing, but am a) lazy and b) overwhelmed by the fact that I haven't deleted any unless they were truly bad. Some are not even in folders and I still have not figured out why.

I was feeling a tad worried about this tag thinking, maybe I should just randomly open my pictures and keep looking until I found a nice picture with a story attached... but, I played by the rules and it worked out nicely without any covert cheating on my part.

So, before we begin, here are the rules:
1. Open the fourth folder where you store your photos
2. Go to the fourth photo in that folder.
3. Explain the photo.
4. Tag four people to do the same.

Hmmm, so consider yourselves tagged: Geewits, Susan, Oliag, Jazz.

Now, back to me.

So, since I bought my camera to take with me on my first, and so far only, trip to New York City, my 4th folder is the first dated one in 2008 (after the three 'named' ones I mentioned above). The 4th pic is this:

And the story is (partly) this:
I went to NYC in January to meet up with an Australian friend who was stopping over on her way home from Peru. It seemed a long way around to get back to Melbourne, and it involved a few days in Portugal, where quite frankly, I would rather have gone to meet her. For some reason, New York did not hold much interest for me, especially in late January. My friend, Fiona, really wanted to go shopping on Fifth Avenue, and I really did not. I thought we'll have to go to Central Park because we were staying right there, but it being in the dead of winter, I figured a quick peek in and out would suffice.
I was so wrong. I spent more time wandering through and around that Park than anywhere else. I could not get enough of it. The bare trees only enhanced the view and reaffirmed its immense size. People were friendly and helpful in giving directions. Even though the weather was warm enough to feel like an early spring, I ever so briefly thought it might be fun to go skating. I was a little surprised to discover you had to pay for the privilege (on top of the skate rental) and since I hadn't skated in far too many years to know if I still could, I contented myself with more walking. I found some hot pretzels and sat on a rock and watched the skaters before wandering the streets of Manhattan. Alone. Because somehow I lost Fiona.
That is another story, unrelated to this particular photo.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

the first post in an irregular new feature that involves me walking

My usual daily jaunt around town most often involves walking along the waterfront, or at least through part of the park on the waterfront.

I wasn't going to let a little thing like a crowd stop me from my enjoyment.

Some years, I sat on my balcony and if the wind was blowing the right direction, the smoke and aroma of the Ribfest wafted over my way. I would look down on the street below - before the trees grew up to obscure the view - and see dozens of people walking home with white styrofoam containers stuffed with delectable ribs, or corn, or whatever it was they stood in line for many, many minutes to purchase.
I'm not even remotely fond of ribs, but it would be enough to entice me down from my quiet contemplation to immerse myself into the crowd that had gathered to eat, listen to music, buy stuff, and enjoy the novelty of being able to walk around outside with a plastic cup of beer in hand.

I'm also not overly fond of crowds, but love to see events like this enjoyed by so many people. Since I'm not buying and live so close, I can simply leave when I've had enough and sit at my favourite cafe and watch the people who wait patiently for the free shuttle bus that will take them to the far flung places where they have (thankfully) parked their cars.

One can never be too overdressed for buying ribs. Now how long before that bus...
This group was the last to get on this bus... it would take 2 more buses to pick up the rest of the seemingly neverending line that snaked down the block and around the corner.

Once they all cleared off the sidewalk, I headed back home to my potato salad and my own not-a-$5-Coors-Lite-8oz-beer.
"Four days of warm weather and sunshine brought over 175,000 people to the 14th Annual Canada’s Largest Ribfest in Spencer Smith Park in Burlington, Ontario - Crushing last year’s attendance record of 148,000.
An astonishing 150,000 lbs of ribs consumed over the weekend!
The venue, entertainment, 18 rib teams from across North America, attendance, ribs consumed and money raised for charities makes Canada’s Largest Ribfest the “Super Bowl” of Ribfests across Canada.
The organisers from The Rotary Club of Burlington Lakeshore were also elated to raise an estimated $320,000 for local charities. Over the last 14 years, total money raised is now over $2,170,000."
~from website

Sunday, September 6, 2009

SundayStills - rule of thirds

The idea of the rule of thirds is that you should place the key subject one-third of the way in from the edge of the photo, rather than dead centre.

There is a setting on most cameras with a grid pattern (like a tic tac toe board) across an image to break it into nine equal squares. The four points where these lines intersect are the strongest focal points. The lines themselves are the second strongest focal points.

I don't actually remember to use this setting, preferring to "eyeball" it. Then again, I was dismayed when I looked through my photos to find that I don't use this rule quite as obviously as I thought I did (for someone who loves asymmetry!) Too many close ups, perhaps. These were not cropped however - all straight out of the camera shots.

oooh, look, more orange! a leftover from yesterday's post.

see what other contributers of SundayStills have come up with.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

PhotoHunt- Orange

One of the more fun things to do on a summer's evening is to wander over to Cruise Night - a strange name for a parking lot of vintage motors, though I understand in some places they actually do cruise down the streets - and poke your head into several old, usually refurbished automobiles. Yes, these are better described as automobiles than cars. And this one in particular is perfectly suited for this week's PhotoHunt challenge of Orange.
for more orange photos see PhotoHunt

Friday, September 4, 2009

best ever butter tart

Butter tarts are (that bit of dessert on the plate in the post below that is not fruit or yogurt or cheese or eggs) the most decadent of Canada's National Treasures. The act of eating one is almost a patriotic duty. As is the annual search for the best butter tart recipes and the inevitable arguments that follow. There are many subtle variations of this beloved dessert but by far the most contentious difference, beyond the amount of gooeiness, is the addition of raisins or pecans or walnuts. Sort of the same argument that exists with banana bread. I personally do not bake, butter tarts or any other desserts - preferring to buy mine and not having to deal with the ensuing cleanup. That may seem lazy to some, but I will happily drive to Dee's Bakery which makes "butter tarts to die for". Check out her website and see for yourself. You can place an order and people from as far away as Australia and England apparently do! Because these are only in Canada. Pity.

Or you could try this recipe I stole from the ever respected Marion Kane.

from CBC website
Q Food Sleuth Marion Kane tracks down one of Canada's most popular desserts and offers this recipe for the best ever butter tart.
Adapted from The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook (Random House), this produces the best homemade butter tart I've tried: flaky, melt-in-the mouth pastry with a gooey but not too runny filling. And they're a cinch to make. - Marion Kane

Use proper baking method for dry ingredients: measuring scoops or spoons and a knife to slice off the top, not a measuring cup. You can make dough in a food processor instead of by hand. I found a 28-oz/796-mL can works perfectly for cutting it into rounds. Add raisins or coarsely chopped pecans, if desired. (Violet has tasted butter tarts with dried cranberries instead of raisins, interesting added flavour)

1½ cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt¼ cup cold butter, cubed
¼ cup cold lard or vegetable shortening, cubed
I large egg yolk
I tsp white vinegar
¼ cup ice-cold water

½ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup maple (or golden corn) syrup
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp softened butter
Pinch of salt
¼ to ½ cup raisins
Preheat oven to 375F.

For dough, combine flour and salt in large bowl. Using old-fashioned wire pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter and lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Using fork, stir in egg yolk, lemon and water until dough holds together. Wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour.

If using raisins, plump them up by covering with boiling water while preparing the rest of the filling.

For filling, vigorously whisk together all ingredients except raisins in medium bowl until combined. (This can be done in food processor.)

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface until fairly but not too thin. Using 4" round cookie cutter or empty 28-oz can, cut into 12 rounds to fit 3" cups of muffin tin. Divide raisins between each pastry shell; spoon on filling.

Bake in oven 15 to 18 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cool in pan about 2 minutes. Run knife or small metal spatula around edge of each tart; transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 butter tarts.

Eat with care ... and remember it is always better to share!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

market day

a foray to the market brought home a plateful* of goodies (and more)

what do you think I ate first for breakfast..................?
*not meant to be consumed at one sitting

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

please, no, don't change

So, hands up all who have received their new IKEA catalogue.
Have you looked through it?
Did you notice the changes that were made to the design of the catalogue?
Do you feel the "lack of warmth" in the new typeface?
Well, it seems many people have noticed and have gotten their knickers in quite a twist over it. There is even a petition going to have the font changed back from the 'new' Verdana to the 'old' Futura. Actually, it was IKEA's customized version of Futura, which they have used for almost 50 years and has been an "integral part of their branding".
So much outrage over a font. Though, mostly, it is from people who are really, really into fonts and typefaces and graphic design who feel it is "a sad day" and are "horrified" by this shift. You can read all about their anger and angst here. But be warned, there will be more details about the significance and intricacies of various fonts than most of you (I'm guessing, though I may be wrong) will ever care about. I actually found it interesting, even though I didn't understand a lot of the details. IKEA says they changed it to blend with the web so that their online catalogue will match their printed catalogue. They also say that most people won't even notice the change and are surprised at the backlash.

Which makes it seem like they are saying it isn't important. Design isn't important? For a company that prides itself on innovative design? That is now using what some consider the most basic (and inelegant, when writ large) font available. Ah, but it is a free font, provided by Microsoft. Except all signs must now be changed... so, the cheap change does not come so cheap.

On Aug. 26, a Romanian design consultant started an online petition to get Ikea to change its mind. There are already almost 4,000 signatures! To add yours go here.
Wikipedia even has a page (that may be deleted soon) about this called Verdanagate, as well as a page on the catalogue.

Now the real issue for the rest of us may be that they are possibly gearing up for an end to their printed catalogue, which would be a shame. It is the most printed publication, surpassing the Bible and Harry Potter. There was a time when I had saved every one for over 10 years. I think I got tired of packing them up every time I moved and eventually got rid of them. On a rainy Saturday afternoon with nothing better to do though, I did like to thumb through the old ones and reminisce...
see here for a museum collection IKEA catalogues.

The most interesting part of this story is that IKEA has been around for 58 years! FUTURA VERDANA COMIC SANS
Though this wit thinks it will not last much longer!
And on this site you can find a 1965 version of the catalogue.

Now, I think I'll head out for some strong Swedish coffee and a look at some Sultans, Leksviks, Erdslevs, and maybe some Färgkrik.
(P.S. this font is Trebuchet)