Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Still Practising!

I thought you might like to see a couple of my recent drawings -- copied, yes, but still very good practice for me since I need all the help I can get!
This one hasn't reproduced so well. I must learn to make my pencil strokes bolder to get the deeper colours.

The girl in red looks a little sun-burned!

I really enjoyed this one, below. It had lots of challenges, especially with shading, but I think it turned out quite well.

Here is the original of one I am working on now. It will be some time, I think, before you see my version!

Again, lots of challenges. But I have really enjoyed what I have accomplished so far on it. I am finding that I have to REALLY like the picture, before I get any enjoyment out of reproducing it --and I really like this one -- it's cute, don't you think? But the cat reminds me a bit of C.S. Lewis's Aslan, in the Chronicles of Narnia!

I don't want to tell you how long it takes to draw these! But it is a great stress-reliever for me and I enjoy the final product, even though I see so many areas that need improvement -- but that's how we learn, isn't it?

What kind of pictures do YOU like to draw?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Red Sky at Night: Photographer's Delight!

DOTH (Daughter of the House) has gone away with my camera again, so I am using one of lesser capabilities (HP Photosmart M637), but I think it's done a pretty good job.

The sky at twilight this evening was fascinating. I took these photos from all different angles around our house. The colours in the photos are just as they really were -- beautiful!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Calm after the Storm

It was a perfect day, weather-wise, and we were grateful -- as we've not had many of those kind of days so far this summer.

We'd gathered together to celebrate two of the grand kids birthdays. Barbecued chicken and hot dogs and all the 'fixins.' and lots of gifts, cake, candles and wishes

and laughter and fun in the pool.

After a while, we (13 of us) were all scattered outside and throughout the house. I was upstairs together with my son-in-law, who is a great photographer, admiring his most recent collection of photos on the computer.

Suddenly, there was an almighty 'whoosh' through the windows. Curtains went flying and everything began to whirl through the house. Amidst cries of alarm, everyone quickly ran to slam closed the windows and doors.

Someone was outside shouting, "The umbrella's flying away!" In fact, two of them went sailing -- the biggest one went as high as the roof top. Plant pots flew into the pool, and leaves and tree branches were swirling around.

It only lasted a few frightening minutes -- almost like a mini-tornado, and we heard later that there was one a few miles north of us.

(not an actual photo, but it's pretty effective isn't it?!)

But look what the final result was!
A beautiful DOUBLE rainbow!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It Really Stinks...

So we are into the third week of a strike by Toronto's municipal workers, which includes those who pick up our garbage. And while it does give us a somewhat greater appreciation for those who do the job, it's hard to comprehend why they would go on strike when everyone is experiencing the effects of a recession.

It also helps to give us a greater appreciation for the cooler-than-usual summer we are having, although I do get whiffs of my next-door neighbour's garbage once-in-a-while. She keeps it at the side of her house which happens to be only a few feet away from the window I am sitting in front of right now.

We've only had to deliver our garbage once, so far, to the local temporary dump. It was a better experience that we had anticipated.

This was the view as we drove up to the dump two weeks ago (we could smell it before we saw it) - can't imagine what it will look like when we head out there again this week; that is if it is still even open:

We have heard and read horror stories about what it's like at some of the dumps -- much heckling and fighting between neighbourhood residents and the strikers, who, of course, are there in abundance. I think if I lived next to a park being used as a temporary dump I'd be pretty upset too.

But at 'our' dump, the strikers were very civilized, even helping us lift the garbage out of the car trunk and throwing it in the truck which takes it about 50 yards over to the pile. In front of us was an elderly couple, and the strikers even told them not to get out of the car, and took care of their trash for them.

We actually met the man who picks up our garbage (we recognized him by his hat!) and DOTH had quite a nice conversation with him. Above, a driver backs his car up to the gate to drop off his trash as strikers mill around. This is the traffic heading towards the dump as we were leaving.

All in all, it took us about 20 minutes -- we were grateful.

There are 19 temporary dumping sites in parks, parking lots and a hockey rink. The strike has not only shut down parks, but also local swimming pools, day-care centers and golf courses. (ctvtoronto.ca)

Two of the temporary garbage sites, at Christie Pits and the York Mills arena, are already filled to overflowing and have been closed. At the Christie Pits site the garbage is stacked about two meters high and fills an entire outdoor hockey arena.

Interestingly, Toronto’s recent Canada Day celebrations (a parade and firework display for Canada’s 142nd birthday) were cancelled, but the Gay Pride parade proceeded, and the government paid for private companies to remove all the garbage:

About 100 non-union staff from the city, working with private contractors, helped clean up after the annual (Gay Pride) parade, which usually draws a million people to watch. (CTV.ca)

I think THAT stinks!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

So, Rocky -- THIS is what you get for raiding my bird feeder!

In the east end of Toronto on Monday, a raccoon was caught in some binding wire used to hold overhead cable TV wires together.

'Rocky the raccoon' was left hanging overhead for nearly three hours in distress before getting the help he needed, due to the civic workers strike which also affects animal services.

Neighbours say they called animal services as soon as they noticed the animal was struggling, but were told it was not an emergency situation due to the strike, and the call was put into queue.

The raccoon was finally rescued by Toronto Animal Services, along with the help of Toronto Hydro workers.

(You can watch the rescue here. Click on the video on right hand side of page - you'll have to watch a short ad first)

I must confess, watching the rescue on TV (yes, they must be REALLY short of news items these day), that I did feel a little sorry for Rocky. But I can’t say I haven’t envisioned something like this happening to him, after all the hassles he’s given us since the beginning of spring.

Do you think he's learned his lesson? Nah -- he’ll be back at my bird feeder in no time at all.

(More about that continuing civic workers strike, and the stink it's creating, in my next blog)