Friday, November 30, 2007

Anton Kuerti...fantastique!

Monique and I were blown away by his piano concert last night. We had previously seen him numerous times with the symphony but I think this was an even better experience. He played four very energetic pieces including the very wonderful Fantasie in C Major by Schumann. This was our favourite but we enjoyed every!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My latest painting

"Oscar admiring rainbow trout at the Curling's cabin in the Chilcotin"
12 x 16 acrylic on canvas

A few years ago Elaine gave me a number of photos they took when the leaves were turning in the Chilcotin and of their cabin. They were beautiful photos but since I've never been there I couldn't really conjure up a painting. However, we always are given trout they catch when they're there so I went on that theme. It was a fun painting to do!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sex, Lies, and Quilting

Geoff Hargreaves, who is now retired in San Miguel de Allende, has been participating in many of the amateur theatre productions there. He also wrote part of the current one. Looks like he's having lots of fun in retirement!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Just might get snow today

There is a chance of snow today and it feels like it just could happen...a leaden sky and cold.

A few photos off Beacon Hill Park towards the Sooke Hills taken in the sunshine last week.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Red Barn

I bought some interesting smoked meats at the Red Barn out in Saanich the other day...the bison come pepperoni stick was particularly interesting. I'm posting something else today since the YouTube video doesn't seem to be appearing. I hope the photo does!

Dog can fetch but....

This dog seems to be able to fetch but doesn't get beyond that. I noticed the owner walked along with it throwing two balls in succession. One solution I guess...the dog seemed to enjoy it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's a small world...

Jim received this email from Jim Fisher today. We stayed in Jim and Ann's great boathouse on Lake Sutherland a couple of years ago when Jim did some teaching at the college in Port Angeles.

"Ann and I visited your country to deliver a Buddhist altar to a friend and to have an American Thanksgiving dinner at the Empress. We are already back home without having had enough time to phone you with the news.

We traveled to Victoria with John and Jeanette Howard. The food area was packed and they were gracious enough to let us share their table. We started chatting away about Paris when we discovered that she was Egyptian-French or at least raised there. Ann's first husband was also an Egyptian Coptic who had to flee the new Nasser regime way back. We kept talking about teaching and I mentioned that a friend at Camosun and I had spent a week teaching for each other ...

John looked at me and asked, "Are you from the CIA? Are you talking about Jim Sexton? I golf with him twice a week."

Small world, indeed. Now we have even more reasons to get together."

Jim relaxing at the boathouse. It's been a tough term...I'm sure he wishes he was sitting there now rather than marking and preparing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Autumn rain

I took this little video just before the double rainbows appeared. We've had the most fabulous sunny but a bit cool weather lately...and wonderful sunsets. From my sunroom, I get this view of a soft red glow over the Olympic Mountains while I'm at my computer. I suppose I should head out and get a photo one of these days.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The very best pile of leaves...

This is the very best pile of leaves because it's ones we don't rake! We did love this house while we were in it but the leaves were always a pain.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Itty Bitty Book Review "The Turning"

"The Turning" by Tim Winton

I heard Tim Winton read from this a year or so ago and we're now reading it for one of my bookclubs. I'm very impressed with these stories. They are short stories that stand on their own but do interconnect quite a bit. You never quite know when a previous character is going to turn up. The Australia aspect gives his writing an exotic flair and he is just amazing at developing the most interesting characters...some seem larger than life and yet true to life. I must read his novel "Dirt Music" which I've heard really good things about.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Double Rainbows

Typical westcoast weather yesterday with rain and sun so caught this snap of a double rainbow out front. Not sure it the second rainbow will show up much.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My latest painting

I did this latest one for Roger and Kerry who also have very fond memories of Vancouver's English Bay. I wanted to make it a bit diiferent from the one I did for myself and also experiment a bit so tried to do a sunset sky and coloured leaves. It was fun doing that and sometimes a bit frustrating.

I had this idea of having Quito jumping up on the popcorn cart but alas, my renderings of the beautiful Quito had him looking like a deformed pig...

Hence, we just get the tail end of Quito...doesn't do him justice but at least he is there in some form.

"Autumn sunset on English Bay"
22 x 28 acrylic on canvas

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Walt Handelsman's Aging Boomers Animation

I got a real laugh out of this...thanks for sending, Don!

Walt Handelsman

Itty Bitty Book Review "Consolation"

"Consolation" by Michael Redhill

There was some amazing writing here especially in the part that dealt with mid 19th century Toronto. The characters and times were presented wonderfully. A parallel story taking place in the present didn't quite make it. The modern day characters weren't really believable or well developed. Very worth a read, though, for an insight into what life was like for early immigrants and also for the process of early photography.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Trouble in the land of Wikipedia

Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia compiled by computer users, is to stop people from editing entries after a series of questionable updates cast a shadow over its accuracy and reliability. Under plans being considered they will have to submit changes to a team of “trusted editors” who would then decide whether to update the entries.

The Vatican and Disney are examples of organisations who 'edit' Is nothing sacred!

Wikipedia was a wonderful idea and it did work the way it should have for quite a while...ah well...all good things seem to come to an end. It will never quite be the same.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

French and English Newspapers

I've always been rather fascinated by the difference between French and English newspapers. The major French newspapers mainly consist of debates about issues by very erudite thinkers. I found this recently and I think Chesterton's comments still pretty much stand today. I left the original paragraphing. Our ideas about that have certainly changed with the trend towards shorter and shorter paragraphs.

G.K. Chesterton on Newspapers
His illuminating Comparison Between English and French Journals

from the New York Times Feb 2, 1913

In a delightful article in The Illustrated London News, in which he wages a wordy war against the militant suffragettes, G.K. Chesterton, most electric of modern writers, has a few words comparing the modern French and English newspapers. We quote a few passages below:

“The habit of getting everything thoroughly mixed up in your mind, and then calling it the Higher Unity, has a disadvantage even deeper than its superficial one. The further difficulty is this: ‘That things are not always different from each other; but are even more different than they seem to be. Compare two nations, or two sects, or two colleges; and you will often find, after much perplexity, that the resemblance is on the surface, while the difference is at the root. Thus (to take the first case that happens to occur to me) an English newspaper and a French newspaper cannot really be compared at all; and the difference between them is not one of degree. Yet because they are both printed on paper and not on vellum, because they are both printed in black ink and not in green or red, because the words are arranged in a column and not in a spiral, both an Englishman and a Frenchman would probably think that the difference is merely one of degree, and each would underrate the other. The Englishman would think his newspaper was more full, more varied, more packed with the news of the world, better produced and cheaper at the price; and he would suppose that the Frenchman had aimed at these things, but had not achieved them as well as he. The Frenchman would think that his newspapaer was more of a force in politics; told him more of the truth about his country’s condition; was more exciting to any one to whom thought is an excitement; was written by more interesting men, and in a much better literary style. And he would suppose that the Englishman had been aiming at these things, but had not achieved them as well.

But, in truth, the resemblance of the two sheets is a mere resemblance of shape, like the resemblance of a barrel of gunpowder to a barrel of pork, or the wheel of a cart to the wheel of a ship. The difference in the two things is a difference in the aim - in the whole original idea of having newspapers at all. Even if the owners of both papers are out to make money, (and this is not so universally the case in France,) they will hope to make money providing the public with two quite different things, answering two quite different human appetites. The English newspaper is a sort of scrapbook; a miscellany of all sorts of things that have happened in the world; valued as a general widening of the mind; something that is amusement and curiosity, but has also something higher in it, something of the homo sum, nihil, etc. The English newspaper is enjoyed as a Christmas parcel or a playbox is enjoyed. The Englishman opens his paper as the English boy opens a hamper. The larger the hamper the better; and the more various the things are the better. But the French newspaper is not constructed like a hamper, but like a bomb. Its first object is, not to entertain, but to arouse; nor does it aim at distributing the reader’s interest over a wider field, but, on the contrary, at pulling his ideas together and fixing them on some particular point. A real bomb may shatter your brains physically; but even a real bomb is meant to concentrate them morally. And if a French paper is short and fierce, (or, as we might say, meagre and malignant,) it is because it is primarily meant as a pamphlet--or even a proclamation. Indeed, there is a shadow of this difference between the two countries. We speak most usually of a ‘newspaper’-that is, a lot of new things that come to us wrapped up in paper, like butter or chocolate. The French more usually call it a ‘journal,’ which insists on the idea of vigilance, and of daily repeated blows and sensations. The two things can be contrasted because they look alike; but they cannot profitably be contrasted, because they are essentially different.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stormy Weather

The first of our big wind and rain storms. Predictions are for another tough winter...glad we're heading to Palm Springs in January!

Monday, November 12, 2007

St Pancras International Train Station

The Queen recently opened this magnificent renovation that will now be the Eurostar terminus. It's pretty much next to the new British Library where Jim was doing his research last year and we were impressed with what we saw.

Air travel has become such a nuisance and unpleasant experience that it is wonderful to be able to indulge oneself with the train. We loved the Eurostar experience last year and this promises to be even more delightful. We will definitely begin our journey by taking advantage of Europe's longest champagne bar at 93 metres, with 40 types of bubbly on offer. Fast food joints have been banished...yeah!

It's going to be such fun going to Paris from here and the time will be even less than from Waterloo because of the new high speed tracks. It's going to run about 2 hours 20! Alastair Lansley, the architect behind the renovation, commented, "If you're travelling to Paris by train, it should evoke images of elegance and romance, and I think we're going to have achieved that. I think so too and can't wait to take it this June if all goes according to plan.

The outside of the station with the clocktower.

Station Platform View

In an effort to evoke the classic epoch of rail travel, this nine-metre sculpture called "The Meeting" was commissioned.

Friday, November 09, 2007

"Danger UXB" (1979)

This was a terrific series we enjoyed on Masterpiece Theatre years ago. When I was in the library last week I happened to see the DVD's for it so picked it up. It's about a army section working in Bomb Disposal during the Blitz. It holds up tremendously because of the excellent acting and story. Very worth a look if you haven't seen it and even if you have.

"Danger UXB" (1979)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fun with Photo Booth

I came across this fun application on my computer today. I did the comic book effect but there are lots of others!

End of a nightmare....

The last finishing touches were put on the deck today...whew...glad this got done before the heavy rains!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My latest painting

This was a difficult subject for me so I had to stylize it quite a bit but I think I captured the spirit of the birches without the leaves and the birdhouses. I was very attracted to this scene when I was visiting Edmonton.

I had trouble getting the colour right for the birches so decided to just use my bottle of parchment which is a light beige rather than silvery white. After I did that I decided to try again for the colour and somehow it worked now that I had the parchment as a base. So, I learned when you can't get the colour you want, go for something close then try painting over it. Seemed to work quite well in this case.

"Prairie Birches with Birdhouses"
14 x 18 acrylic on canvas

Itty Bitty Book Reviews

"Consolation" by Michael Redhill

There was some amazing writing here especially in the part that dealt with mid 19th century Toronto. The characters and times were presented wonderfully. A parallel story taking place in the present didn't quite make it. The modern day characters weren't really believable or well developed. Very worth a read, though, for an insight into what life was like for early immigrants and also for the process of early photography.

"The Bad Samaritan" by Robert Barnard

Fairly enjoyable mystery but not up to the quality and humour in "Death by Sheer Torture"

Sunday, November 04, 2007

And some final photos of West Edmonton Mall

I can see the Mall being a great place for families but I found the sheer size and number of stores rather overwhelming. Kerry destination shops there and I think that would be the way to go. Lots of things to take photos of!

The wave pool seemed to be a lot of fun for people and I loved how they created a space like a sandy beach. With all the natural light you could almost think you were in Maui or somewhere.

This is "Europa Boulevard"...a bit kitchy but beats endless strip mall stuff.

And of course one never escapes the ubiquitous South American Flute folks. I wonder how many really come from the Andes or if it's one big scam.

Just about everything here.

Fun to observe...

In addition to various pirate things (Richard would have loved it in his pirate phase!) a replica of the Santa Maria...these were brave people who got on these boats to explore unknown lands.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My latest painting

My latest painting was inspired by my trip to Edmonton and the big prairie sky.

"Prairie Sky"
14 x 18 acrylic on canvas

West Edmonton Mall

Needless to say I didn't go on this ride at West Edmonton Mall.

The ice rink at West Edmonton Mall

More West Edmonton Mall

We watched this sea lion go through some training at West Edmonton Mall.

The wave pool at West Edmonton Mall.

Friday, November 02, 2007

For Roger Colwill

I had only briefly met Roger the odd time when he was dropping off some contract work for Richard. He was doing watercolours of old houses in Victoria and suggested Richard commission a painting from him to do our house as a Christmas present. We were thrilled with the painting and the thoughtfulness of Richard. We learned he had a stroke not long after doing this painting but Richard said while he couldn't do the delicate watercolours he had been doing he changed his style and still kept painting. He seemed like a pretty amazing person and I've included a photo of the painting of our house here and part of a story that appeeared in the Times-Colonist today.

11 x 14 watercolour on paper 1995
Artist: Roger Colwill

Some excerpts from Jim Gibson's column in the TC:

"Any time you spent with him, you came away feeling a better person," says McDonald, putting this down to Roger's "incredible spirit."

When McDonald and his family still lived in Victoria, the two "wannabe" artists were sketching partners. They also played tennis twice weekly until a stroke a decade ago restricted Roger's left side. That didn't stop him from later joining McDonald on his jogs. He rode along on the first of the electric recumbent bikes he used when no longer able to drive.

Roger spent more than three months in hospital recovering from his stroke....

Roger, according to Barbara, was always asking people, "What's your biggest challenge. And how can I help?" He was barely three days in hospital after his stroke when he tapped people to help the man in the next bed with his problems.

"Good news? Bad news? Who knows?" was his usual reaction to a tricky situation, says daughter Sarah Colwill, 25. He was always looking for "the blessing" within.

McDonald remembers how frustrated he might be with someone, and Roger would counter, "Everyone has a reason for what they are doing.

"It may not be clear to you, but it made sense to them. Until we understand what that reason was we shouldn't pass judgment."

The two go back to the mid-1970s in Vancouver, when both worked on the province's Robson Square development. At the time, Roger was at B.C. Buildings Corp. and McDonald in Royal LePage's commercial real estate division. Roger later joined Royal LePage, "where he got more deals done than anyone at the time."

"He had an ethical and positive attitude towards doing business. I'd never seen a thing like it -- or since," says McDonald.

In 1969, Roger arrived in Vancouver from England with just a single contact phone number. He called it. Nobody answered. Undaunted, he went out and met people.

Barbara and Roger first met at a car rally treasure hunt.
"It was like living with a whirlwind. He had a lot of energy, and he loved meeting people," Barbara says...

"He could be working away on a million things, and I'd say I really need someone's number, and he would drop everything," she says. The same happened when she played the piano. "He'd leave the computer and come tell me how much he loved me playing."

"He loved me without a doubt. He adored me. He saw a beauty in me I'm not sure of myself," she says.

When Roger died, the couple were at the White Heather Tea Room. He was 65 and had just come from a bone scan trying to peg the source of pain surfacing over the summer. The couple were laughing, holding hands across the table when Roger had a fatal heart attack.

Roger Colwill was born Aug. 28, 1942, in Tintagel, England. He died Sept. 26, 2007, in Victoria.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The amazing world of friendship

We have had various home reno sagas this year and our most recent one hit me smack in the face on my arrival home from Edmonton. We had problems with the company that was to replace our vinyl surface on the sundeck. Long story but we ended up with the vinyl torn off and a tarp over the deck and no one to work on it. This is over a living area so it's a big problem. Companies are booking into next year to do this work and we now had a big emergency. We did finally manage to get a company to agree to squeeze us in and we hope it will be resolved in the next week.

Kerry and Roger knew about this since I had just been visiting and I just learned from Kerry that Roger was considering flying down from Edmonton to see what he could do. He is a great guy in a crisis. What a sweetheart...thank you, Roger!

Now this is one busy man.... a Professeur of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Alberta, busy consulting practice, constantly travelling the world going to meetings, giving presentations, etc.

Wow...thanks guys!

Our deck at the moment...hope to post a photo soon of it being finished.

Chinatown at the Mall

If I lived in Edmonton I would really go in for Asian cooking as they have the most amazing and huge store of foodstuffs in their Chinatown area.

P.S. to Don...note the goatbreast.

Scenes from the prairie

There is a ravine, park, and lake very close to the Roger and Kerry's house. I loved the birches and the big prairie sky. I think I'm going to try to paint something with the sky, the birches, and the coloured birdhouses.