Monday, February 28, 2011

Time-Lapse Photography

Mindrelic produces these awesome time-lapse videos. He uses a rail dolly system, which adds depth and another dimension to these shots. I love them and the music he chose. I don't have this kind of equipment, but I'm going to try a time-lapse "day at the cottage" this summer. The lake is surrounded by rolling hills, and when you are swimming and looking up at the clouds, it's like floating in a bowl of whipped cream. In the meantime, enjoy these.

Make sure you go to the little button that expands the screen so you can watch in full screen mode.

NYC - Mindrelic Timelapse from Mindrelic on Vimeo.

Sacred Lands - Eastern California - Mindrelic Timelapse from Mindrelic on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Good news follows good news

Yes, there is more good news.

First of all, there is my friend Rose Holck. She lives in a land far, far away and once a year we meet for breakfast in a Magic Breakfast Room overlooking the mountains. Rose's new book is called LEAVENWORTH which will be released March 14, 2011. Check out Rosie's website or blog for details. Way to go Rosie!! Give your new baby a hug for me.

Hélène Boudreau, author of REAL MERMAIDS DON'T WEAR TOE RINGS (seriously, is that not the best title?) is getting rave reviews for her book, including one by Kirkus Reviews, which is notoriously tough on authors. And this week, she is referenced in this article on treadmill desks in the Toronto Star. (I sometimes use my laptop on my treadmill, but I just use a piece of plywood instead of a fancy desk. I fell off once, but that was because I so into the music blasting over the built-in loudspeakers that I closed my eyes in blissful reverie, lifting my head towards the heavens with a bit of a bee bop do whoppity, and the next thing you know...ass over proverbial teakettle.)

Then there is the divine Vicki Pettersson, a true goddess inside and out, who is about to launch the final novel in her Zodiac series. See details on her new website. Yes, it's time to say goodbye to Joanna and the dark underworld she has fought her way through (in heels, no less) but Vicki feels it is time sooo.... look for THE NEON GRAVEYARD coming out May 31st. When I was in Vegas last year, Vic and I got together and chatted about new projects and directions, and let me just say this - keep an eye out for this gal. She's got some cool new ideas coming down the pike (pipe? no, I think it's pike) and this remarkable, inspiring woman is the epitome of success, demonstrating year after year how hard work and dedication to craft pays off. Hats off to you, Vicki. (Sure it's in the minus digits and a blizzard is forecast but Hats Off!)

Bedtime Puppies

Doesn't get cuter than this.

Am I the only one who wanted to crawl in there with them and hold them close?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Linda Grimes, friend and fellow writer, has just landed a two book deal with Tor!! This is the Sci-Fi/Fantasy imprint of Macmillan Publishing and it's a huge, big, hairy deal!

I read some early drafts and I can honestly say I'm only surprised it took this long because her writing is fun and engaging and just plain terrific. Like Linda.

Way to go, Linderloo! I'm just so very happy for you!

To read about her journey to publication, visit Linda's blog VISITING REALITY

File this under inspiration.

Or why you should never give up.

Or it's never too late to be what you might have been.

Or reasons to do the Happy Dance.

Or why you should pour yourself a glass of champagne, raise a toast whilst simultaneously reaching for that last chocolate truffle. Hypothetically.

Writers Deserve to be Paid for their Work

The Writers' Union of Canada has produced this video about the rights of Canadian writers. They ask - simply, eloquently, logically - to be compensated for their work.

This video is in direct response to a proposed bill on copyright legislation that if passed through our parliament, would grant educational institutions the right to copy written material without compensating the writers who produced it. If your article or novel or textbook ends up being used in a classroom, you might not be paid one penny.

Writers’ groups are lending their voices to fight Bill C-32. This video explains why.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chocolate Makes Everything Better

I am still recovering from that nasty bug that crept up on me and bit me in the aspiratons. I've been told by many people that it drags on for months. One sage individual said "a hundred days" seems to be the average time to kick this thing to the curb. I pooh-poohed it when I heard it. "Pooh-pooh!" said I. "And also, fie! And a pox on all your houses!"

Now I'm starting to believe it. I believe I jinxed myself when I pooh-poohed it. Also I can't stop saying pooh-pooh.

There's only one cure in my books. I'm not a fan of hot rum and lemons, or salt rinses or as someone suggested, a stewed garlic gargle. No, there is one thing guaranteed to make me feel better. (Whether or not it actually makes me physically better is moot, because I feel better after I've inhaled and ingested it.)

Chocolate cake. Not just any chocolate cake. This is a divine, dark, rich chocolate torte adapted from a recipe passed along by my friend Laura B. from when she lived in France. This cake is practically an institution there. You'll come across various adaptations for which ingredients to use and how you bake it (some want you to immerse it in a bain-marie to cook it, which is too much effort for me and unnecessary, I think. But I do like to toss around the phrase, "you'll have to excuse me, as I have to check on my bain-marie.")

Of course I've adapted the recipe for my family because no one tells me what to do, not even, or especially, a little old recipe. Like the stop signs here in La Belle Province of Quebec, a recipe is merely a suggestion.

Now some of you may remember that I've had a few difficulties in the past with my baking adventures, most particularly the time I had to vacuum a cake.

But this one is really easy. And it's idiot proof.

Honest. You're looking at her.

Chocolate Torte So Good You Will Moan and Hug Yourself

300g (10 oz) bittersweet chocolate, broken in pieces*
200g (7 oz) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs, brought to room temperature (organic if you can)
1/2 tsp real vanilla
pinch salt

(Note there is no flour in this recipe. Damn you, gluten, and your little dog, too!)

1. Preheat oven to 350F

2. Butter a 9" springform pan, then dust with cocoa powder and tap out excess.

3. Melt butter in a 4 cup microwave-safe measuring cup, then mix in chocolate pieces and stir until the mixture is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool down.

4. Whisk eggs and sugar together, then add the cooled chocolate/butter mixture, mixing well.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. The middle might be a bit jiggly, but your finger should come away clean if you touch the middle. I don't like my middle to be jiggly so I usually turn the oven off, and put the cake back in the oven to bake for another 10 minutes.

(If I really didn't like my middle to be jiggly, I wouldn't be eating this cake. But I digress.)

Cool on rack before removing sides. Optional: dust with icing sugar. (See cautionary tale about cake vacuuming above.)

Serve warm, room temperature or cold when it becomes more fudge-like which is the way I like it. Best served in small wedges, with whipped cream and fresh strawberries or raspberries on the side.

*I used 3 bars of Cocoa Camino Fair Trade orange chocolate which has bits of candied orange peel. You can use plain 55% chocolate, or mix it up with flavoured bars like espresso. I've also used Lindt orange chocolate bars. Basically, use the highest quality chocolate and eggs possible and you'll be fine.

Claire, Sarah said to tell you "I eyeball the ginger noodly thing." I'd like the recipe.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mila's Daydreams

If the last post was too much for your heart to bear, then this is the antidote.

Adele Enersen, new mother and photographer in Finland, copywriter and concept designer for an advertising agency, tried to imagine what her baby's dreams might be like, and so she created various dreamscapes around little Mila while she slept. She calls this a maternity leave hobby. Apparently each scene took only minutes to set up. There is a book of photos in the works, too.

You can see stills of the photos here.

You can read her blog here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Julie Project

Darcy Padilla, the 2010 winner of the W. Eugene Smith Award in Humanistic Photography says this of her subject:

"I first met Julie on February 28, 1993. Julie, 18, stood
in the lobby of the Ambassador Hotel, barefoot, pants
unzipped, and an 8 day-old infant in her arms. She lived
in San Francisco’s SRO district, a neighborhood of soup
kitchens and cheap rooms.....

For the last 18 years I have photographed Julie Baird’s
complex story of multiple homes, AIDS, drug abuse,
abusive relationships, poverty, births, deaths, loss
and reunion. Following Julie from the backstreets of
San Francisco to the backwoods of Alaska."

Her documentation of Julie's life is brutally honest, heartbreaking, and ultimately enlightening. As difficult as it was to look at her photographs, I couldn't look away. It's definitely a hard thing to see, but it will open your heart and mind to those who live their lives with poverty and AIDS.

The Julie Project.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Buddy sends his thanks

For all the good wishes for a speedy recovery.

He's still on painkillers and anti-inflammatories so he's not his usual peppy self, but he's much improved and sends his regards.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for his biscuit break and back rub.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vacuuming is bad for you

Yesterday was a bad day. I blame the vacuuming, and the fact that I washed my hair. And Wascally Wabbits. Confused? It's okay. But I need to vent. You can read or you can skip to something pleasant like this. I won't mind.

First, some of the highlights of my Very Bad Day.

It started with the garbage pickup. Simple task, right? As I dragged my can (the garbage can) through the snow to the end of the driveway my neighbour called out that I'd missed the truck. Odd, since I was about half an hour ahead of the usual schedule, but okay. "Use my driveway," she said. I reluctantly agreed and dragged it across the road, reluctant because I have avoided talking to her for years. (She lives to gossip and never lets the truth get in the way of a good story.) She then launched into a long breathless monologue about work, kids blah blah.... I said I had to get Eldest to train.

Said daughter came very close to missing her train and after I dropped her off at the nearest intersection, she dashed across red lights, heavy traffic and railway tracks to catch it. My lifespan has been shortened by several years as a result.

Returned to see garbage truck picking up on my side of the street as usual. But not before I got stuck behind it.

I had an appointment downtown so I left my dog with a new groomer/daysitter ( I shall call her "C") to see how Buddy gets along with her dogs and cats. As I pulled out of C's driveway, I heard an awful dog fight and squeals on the other side of the fence. Instead of rushing back, which is what every maternal instinct in my body was telling me to do, I listened and waited. C. had asked me not to be present when they all met, and I trusted her. I also thought that sometimes when dogs establish pecking order, they make a lot of noise which sounds worse than it is. She went inside, things were quiet, so I left for my appointment. With trepidation, but I left.

On the way, there was a multi-car accident that happened on the crest of the hill in front of me on the highway - there were at least five wrecked cars, one flipped on its side, people wandering on the road, and no police or ambulance anywhere. Completely rattled me, and I arrived late to my appointment. Because of the snow storm the day before there was no street parking anywhere. The indoor lot was full. My emergency backup lot was blocked by a giant snow removal truck. I tried a third location, took the wrong entrance and ended up underground with delivery trucks surrounding me. After more twists and turns, I found another lot a block away and parked in a tight spot with the help of a passing woman. (Women really do help other women park when they see them in distress, don't they? I love that about us.) I ran to my appointment and arrived sweaty and breathless.

Still venting. Are you still with me?

I arrived at my husband's dental office only to be tackled by the office manager and hustled to the secondary entrance. Apparently there was another patient booked at the same time and they didn't want me to have to deal with this particularly pernicious person. (The team in my husband's office operates like a cross between loving, caring sisters and well trained Navy Seals, so God help anyone who crosses them.)

Just as I'm thinking "what else do you have to throw at me, Universe?!" I get on the highway to come home and...another accident! Montrealers do not slow down for anything, including inclement weather. So put Kamikaze-style drivers on an icy highway with afternoon glare from the setting sun and what do you get? Bumper to bumper traffic for miles, turning a twenty minute ride into an hour and a half.

Oh, it gets much worse.

When I picked up Buddy, a very upset C. told me he'd been attacked by a dog she was looking after, a young Bernese Mountain Dog, who had yet to be neutered. The owners knew he had "issues" and just hired a trainer who'd been to their home once. She warned me that Buddy had some bruises on his belly and that she'd take care of any vet bills. When I got him home and examined him, I realized his chest was turning bluish/black and that he had bruises and bite marks all over his belly, chest and groin. My sweet, gentle Cavalier who would not hurt anyone had clearly gone into the submissive posture and was attacked anyway. He was in considerable pain and limping so I had to take him to my vet last night. He's on painkillers today and can't manage stairs. We need to watch him for signs of fever which may mean a puncture wound under his fur where we can't see it.

What does this have to do with vacuuming you ask? And washing my hair? And wabbits?

Well, yesterday was the Chinese New Year, marking the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. Lainey Lui, my favourite entertainment blogger, warned that you had to clean everything (house, hair, clothes, whatever) by Wednesday, and you are not supposed to do any cleaning until Sunday. Because if you do, you scrub away the good luck. Phht, I thought.

Then I vacuumed and washed my hair. Just as the new year started.

I have learned my lesson.

Buddy is flaked out on painkillers and is laying beside me on the good couch he's not normally allowed to sleep on.

Today I'm going to let him.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cave Dweller or Sky Walker?

According to my sister-in-law the interior/garden designer, there are two types of people - sky and cave. Sky people tend to like bright colours like yellows and pale blues, and airy interiors with lots of light. Their art might be rolling hills in Tuscany and vases of bright flowers.

Cave people, on the other hand, like dark colours. Their home might have beams and wood paneling and leather chairs and fireplaces, the artwork more dark and moody.

Guess which one I am.

If you guessed cave, you'd be right. If I could live in an English manor house library curled up in an overstuffed, worn out leather chair, I'd die happy.

And when it snows and the temperature drops, I go from cave to hermit.

Which one are you?