Wednesday, 26 December 2007

A Not-White Christmas

A Brown Christmas

Once again, it was a brown Christmas here: not warm enough to sit out on the deck, sipping wine in our shirtsleeves, as it was two years ago, but nice enough to go for a three-hour walk along the river and not regret the adventure.

(Unlike today, with limited visibility because of blowing snow, and considerably colder temperatures.)

At 8.42 kg, our turkey was too big for our small propane BBQ, but we managed to fire up the 'que Christmas Eve for a slightly delayed anniversary dinner of rare buffalo tenderloin accompanied by our last 1998 Malivoire Old Vines Foch.

Despite some cork "issues" and a fair bit of sludge, the wine was terrific: lots of fruit, great nose and legs, and it hung in for the whole dinner.

Wish I could be as complimentary about our main turkey wine, which was a 2003 Estate Pinot Gris from Cedar Creek (usually very nice, and extremely reliable), although the Wolfberger Crémant d'Alsace (our regular supplier was sold out of Cipes) we had before, and the 2004 Gehringer Brothers Late Harvest Riesling for afters, were terrific.

And drifting off to sleep last night, to the wonderful scent of gently simmering turkey stock, was pretty nice, too.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Look up, look waaaaaaay up

Oil Derrick

(And since I've had recent problems with pictures being published on a commercial website, remember, you can't do that without my permission. Thanks!)

It's been a busy time here and at the shop, where I'm putting in a lot of hours, although almost two weeks ago, I managed to get out to the Calgary December Flickrmeet to Heritage Park. Cold day it was -- my feet were numb for some time outside -- but a gorgeous sunny one.

Used to like going to the park when I was younger, although now I notice that, like many City of Calgary-owned facilities, they are trying for more of a commercial orientation that a strictly historically accurate one. Case in point is the new construction in their parking lot versus the rescued historical buildings, like the old oil derrick above, that populate the original section of the park. The rest of the pictures I took on the adventure are here

While warming up my feet in the Christmas market, I looked at the stalls set up inside. Although one had some nice historical books about trains, and another had some rather tasteless (well, to me!) antiques, virtually everything else was dust-collecting junk that bore Made in China stickers.

As a local craftsperson, it would have been nice if they had a lot of regionally produced things, but such items (and a very few of them at that) were only found in the souvenir shop inside the main gate. Very disappointing, although I must admit that there weren't a whole lot of sales in the Christmas market either. Perhaps the organizers might learn their lesson and change that for next year (hint, hint).

One big advantage in refusing to take part in the excessive consumption movement is that we haven't spent much time at the stores -- our joint Christmas/anniversary present this year was the four weeks of curling lessons we finished last Saturday. Popped into Home Depot last Sunday afternoon and it was practically empty: no wonder I like shopping there!

We'll pick up our free-range turkey on Sunday, I'll make two stuffings on Monday, and we'll have our traditional brunch on Tuesday (Eggs Benedict with croissants instead of muffins, and smoked salmon instead of ham) before popping the turkey into the oven and setting off on our Christmas stroll in the local "wilderness."

Since we saw a very well-fed coyote two years ago, the pictures I'll post on Boxing Day could well be interesting.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Class Books

Book models
It was a nasty, dark, cold, windy, snowy day here last Sunday: just the sort of day any normal person would take one look at, then pull the covers over their head, and go back to sleep.

Of course, I got up, lugged a big bag of stuff (cutting board etc.) over to the bus, and took a day-long class on accordion books with Cathryn Miller. Am I ever glad I did! Some of my creations from that fun and busy day are pictured above: if you click on the picture, it will take you to Flickr, where I added some descriptions of each item.

And by the time I got home, after just missing a bus and having to wait at the cold and windy bus stop in the dark for more than half an hour, I was convinced that this was going to be a really crummy week.

Well, weather-wise, it sure has: today is the first day with lots of sunshine and I feel so much more energetic.

But book-wise, it's been great, as I received a letter from the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild in response to the three books I entered in their Art of the Book 08 competition. The Zebra Book (below) made the first cut of entries and I will be sending it to Toronto in the new year for the second stage of judging.

The other problem I've been wrestling with is what to do about the cover of What I Felt: I've got two great pieces of felt that I've made, and an increasing wariness of using them on the boards for the covers. Their thickness, in particular, is something I'm not entirely convinced really works here.

So I'm definitely looking at using paper on the boards instead, and using the felt to make an enclosure instead: this is certainly influenced by discussions that arose in my class with Cathryn.

This book is one I want to get done with soon: it will need to be photographed before I send it off to Victoria for the Pacific Festival of the Book.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

All Washed Up


I've been remiss about posting because at my first curling lesson last Saturday, I went thump on my backside while learning -- obviously not well enough! -- to walk on the ice sheet while wearing a slider.

To be kind, sitting down in one spot for more than a few minutes at a time this week hasn't been one of life's more comfortable adventures.

There's no swelling, the rather nasty bruise (think small Japanese eggplant) is going, and I no longer feel like I've been run over by a Zamboni.

In my previous entry, I mentioned about going to Vancouver with camera in hand, and before I did my poor imitation of Pat Ryan (a well-known Canadian mens curler with a penchant for sprawling flat out on the ice after delivering his shots), I sat down and started tinkering with Photoshop Elements 4 on my Mac.

While I didn't tinker with the colour of the washed-up bit of seaweed in the picture above, I did turn the rest of the shot into a black-and-white one.

While walking around Stanley Park two weeks' ago, we noticed a floating kelp bed to the east of Prospect Point: a good sign for the ecological health of Burrard Inlet.

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