Thursday, December 3, 2015

Crispy M&Ms

I can't resist a new M&M, even though I only eat them these days when a new flavour comes out.

I didn't expect to like these, but I did!  A lot.  They've got a crispy rice centre to them, still chocolatey, but lighter due to the puffed rice centres.  Recommended.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas tree

Here's our Christmas tree for 2015.  We got an artificial Birch as it fits our very limited floor space better than a conifer would:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Baby Goliath turns three!

Our little Giant Sequoia moved to West Hollywood earlier this year.  We came along too.  He has his own corner of the roof deck now, and is thriving as he reaches for the sky.  I think the dead needles close to the trunk are a normal part of the growth phase, if I understand correctly, as the new growth is really healthy looking:

To see how big he is getting, here he is beside William the Orange, who used to tower over him.  (William has seven full-sized oranges this year, I'll post about that once they start to ripen):

Here's little Goliath last year, 2014, when he turned two, with William and his orange crop in the background:

And fall of 2013, when he turned one:

And the two below are from 2012, when he was just a little newborn giant sequoia, with his buddy William the Orange behind him to show how far he's come.  (William has gotten a little shorter, possibly, I think the top part might have died off and he got beefier, but still, he's not that much smaller.)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ocean freezing up

Flying out of Grise Fiord a couple of days ago, I took these photos from the plane.  The window was repeatedly frosting up, so these pictures turned out rather well considering they were taken through a layer of frost that I kept scratching at to try to clear.

Here's Grise Fiord (the actual fiord, not the town), with the open water at the mouth of it.  The light is the "golden hour" of evening, even though it's just after noon.  It's only around a week from losing the sun for 3 and a half months, so the days are very short and the sun just scoots across the southern horizon for around 3 hours.  The sunsets are also long and beautiful at this time of the year.

Thin layer of ice, with some thicker pieces that have broken off freezing into it:

I love the patterns that broken ice makes on the ocean:

I loved this pattern, and the way it meets a cloud bank at the top of the photo:

This photo is from my hotel room in Resolute, of the sun setting in early afternoon:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The roof deck

I'm still up in the progressively more-frozen north (the icebergs aren't drifting by any more, they are stuck in the forming ice), but I thought I would post these photos of my roof deck back in Los Angeles, for a little contrast.  These are from April 18, and I guess I was too busy doing not much of anything back then to post them!

I love bougainvillea, and now I have one.  It doesn't always look this good. It almost died of transplant shock when we first got it, and now waffles between looking dead, and being totally and spectacularly covered in hot pink flowers:

A couple of views from the north side of the deck, looking northeast, and then northwest.  The hills are loosely the Hollywood hills, although they have different names in different little sub-neighborhoods.  Click on the photos to get a better look, you can see the Hollywood sign in the distance in the first one:

Looking to the southeast, that is downtown off in the distance.  I forgot to take a photo looking southwest, but you can see Century City from our place.  We can't quite see the ocean, we aren't up high enough.

We don't have any pets, so we have named a lot of the plants.  That is Goliath the Giant Sequoia on the left, I'll be posting about his third birthday once I am back in LA.  That's William the Orange beside him (I never said they were terribly creative names):

The boxes of succulents, we inherited from the previous owner, we think they were staging props:

I forgot to take a photo of the lounge chair, but we have one.  It's tucked into a little alcove in the wall where it stays shady until mid-day, and I read up there sometimes.

I'm looking forward to going back ... it's nice to be able to drop back into summer, no matter what season I leave Canada in.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Low tide

A few more photos from low tide, these ones from this evening.

Actually, this first one is from around 1:30 pm, around high tide, for contrast:

Now low tide, or around an hour before it became it's lowest:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Supermoon tidal ice

The tides were super low this evening, I guess because of the supermoon last night.

I'm standing in soft frozen salt-water slush on the beach to take this one.  These ice chunks are around twice as tall as I am:

Looking back at the RCMP station from the beach:

Below is the floor of the bay, usually water-covered.  I walked around halfway across it in my rubber boots, and could have gone further, except I hadn't checked the tide schedule so I wasn't sure if the tide was about to turn and leave me stranded, so I headed back.  My camera (just my cellphone) was pooping out too, I could have gotten some other great photos out here but technology was just not cooperating.

The photo below is from Sept. 20, but I thought I would post it here, it fits with the tidal ice theme:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mid-September in Grise Fiord

Sure was snowy when I arrived today in Grise Fiord.  Here are the mountains as we are about to turn onto final approach for landing (this is taken out the right side window, so yes, we are flying directly towards them):

The pond behind the health centre.  It has a thin layer of ice on it.

Sunset, looking towards the fiord.  Mini-icebergs in the foreground, stuck at low tide.

I was out during the golden hour, it made this ice on the beach glow:

Summer is over for me, but it's nice to be back.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Painting BIG

Our new place in West Hollywood has a 2-story living room, with a second-floor loft.  The big wall that extends the whole two storeys was calling out for a large piece of art.  Being frugal, not to mention cheap, we decided that I would paint some thing to fill the space.

I've been painting in acrylics for around 9 years, off and on, but before now my largest painting was 16 X 20 inches, and I hadn't even done very many of those.  I estimated the size available on the wall, and compared it to available canvas sizes, and decided a quadtych (4-panelled painting) of four 40 X 60 inch canvases would result in a painting of around 7 X 10 feet, which would use the available space pretty well.  Not only do they not sell canvases as large as what we needed, they would never fit through the doors of our condo.

Now, the idea of painting this large is pretty scary, especially when you consider the supplies alone cost close to $400 (American $!).  The chances for me to screw it up were substantial, but we really wanted a painting for that space, and buying one would cost thousands.  It's not even easy to find paintings that large anyway.

I had to do something relatively simple to minimize the risk of working past my abilities, because of the financial risks of screwing it up.  We could only afford one go at it!  An abstract would offer the best chance of working out, and would also suit the modern layout of the condo.  

Before diving in, I spent around 10 days doing sample paintings to choose something which would look good.  This is the one we ended up choosing, keeping in mind that the finished version always comes out differently.  This sample painting is around 7 X 10 inches:

The only space big enough to work on was the garage floor, so bye-bye car.  Here I am with the blank, scary canvases:

Just before doing the circles, I decided it would be fun to render them as a maze pattern instead.  I drew the circles in pencil, outlined a solution in masking tape, and then painted thin black lines on, to guide the application of paint (and they would still be visible through the paint to guide the final lines at the end):

Then I built up the paint in layers:

Every painting goes through an ugly stage, and this one was no exception.  I've been painting long enough to know it would probably come out OK in the end, but the evening after I got to the point below, with $400 on the line (American $!), I was kept awake a bit that night brainstorming how to salvage the canvases somehow to try something else if it just didn't work out:

By the way, painting this large is HARD.  I have a shaky hand at the best of times, and reaching the full length of my little arms and trying to make steady lines (especially the final layer when any mistakes would be virtually unfixable), and smooth paint, was really difficult, while balancing my middle-aged body on the hard concrete floor.  I had quite a bit of body pain while working on this.

Next a layer of blue, and I figured after this that yes, it would pull together and look OK:

Dark lines are finished!  The whole thing took around 9 days of painting (around 3 hours a day).  The painting doesn't look that huge while lying on the garage floor, but I stretched out beside it for perspective:

Next, the master picture hanger gets his turn.  Those degrees in engineering and architecture do get put to good use now and then!  This is an 18 foot ladder, and I am taking this photo from the loft, so Ed is pretty far off the ground.

Panel one is up!


And one more photo from the loft, with the black couch back in place under it:

I know abstract paintings aren't to everyone's taste, but we are really enjoying the effect this one has on the space.  As well, I figure people will at least find the solvable maze in this one to be cool.  (You can go from any circle centre to any other circle centre ... and it's not too frustrating, there is more than one solution.)