Monthly Archives: June 2008

Working on a Portrait

I put down the initial linework that I’ll work around for my first real portrait in a long time, based on the day that we all painted each other’s faces (so this is of course Caitlin and Nefarious). It’ll change quite a lot from this — outside of anything else, it needs “more” on the left side — but I think it’s a good start. The canvas has been primed with a rough mix of latex house paint and acrylic leftovers, giving it a texture and appearance quite similar to cement… I much prefer working on a rough surface, and I especially dislike the texture/pattern of canvas, so I hide it with a very thick basecoat.

A Tall Tree Painting

The wading pool at the park down the street has opened so we spent the afternoon there — every day until fall it’s open, and not only is the pool open but there are free city-sponsored kid’s activities as well. I assume that’s the case at every little municipal park across the city, which is pretty cool.

I finished off The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind painting with some really minor touches. I’ve posted it to my art gallery along with two older paintings, Amsterdam (2001) and Boatel 6 (2003), as I finally get around to taking pictures of some of my early work. I have two new pieces on the go as well that hopefully I can finish before moving out… one of this week’s mission’s is finding a new place.

Oh, and in the next few days I’ll be upgrading the server this and my other blogs are hosted on, so they should be more consistently responsive…

Algonquin Adventure

This has got to be the longest I’ve been offline — truly offline with not even cell phone access — in a decade. Caitlin and Nefarious and I just got back from a week up in Algonquin Park, where we were staying on a homestead helping with (and learning about) an eco-construction project. In this case, the project we took part in was building a cordwood-walled structure with cob (clay/sand/straw) mortar, all of it locally sourced. In addition, pretty much everything we ate was either grown or foraged on the property, so I also learned a little more about wild foods that can be eaten here in Ontario.

One of the things that struck me most from the week’s experiences was when Steven, the event’s main organizer, said that his moment of revelation came after he’d been living in the woods self-sufficiently for some time — the simple realization that “everything is edible”. Everything that one needs for a happy life is being provided free…

Unfortunately I forgot my camera battery in the charger at home, and Caitlin’s battery was dead when we left, so we were only able to take a few pictures along the way. We took an additional trip afterwards to take Nefarious to all the beaches around Prince Edward County, and then visited Ryan and Corrie’s new homestead as well.

  1. Caitlin putting on her boots getting ready for the first day of work. In the background is part of the operation getting the cob mixture prepared. The big frames are for the two large windows in the new building.
  2. Walking through the wetlands to the building site.
  3. Nefarious exploring the wetlands. I was worried that she was going to have a hard time in this environment (or just be bored), but I don’t think I’ve seen her have more fun in any given week… other than a terrible set of mosquito bites that she got the first night!
  4. We built this bonfire to char the logs that were going in the bottom row of the cordwood house to reduce the risk of bug infestation. Cutting down one of the dead trees for it I got bitten by a lot of very angry ants!
  5. One of my jobs was de-barking some of the 22″ sections of log that would later be used to construct the walls. It wasn’t fun at all with an axe, but after switching to a machete it went much more quickly. Caitlin is in the far background of this shot taking the bark off the long poles that would be used for the roof.
  6. Sorry this is the only picture I have of it, and I know it’s not very obvious, but this is the area the cordwood building was constructed in. It was a circular earth-bermed structure with a radiating roof design, and two large windows. It was intended to be a ceremonial or meditation building.
  7. Nefarious in the yard doing yoga with River, a seven year old boy from Niagara that was there as well. The whole experience, especially seeing the way she interacted with it, really reminded me of my childhood and what a wonderful place for young people the country is.
  8. River and Nefarious after coming back from one of our swimming trips to Lake DorĂ©, a beautiful golden sand beach with exceptionally shallow (and warm) water — they could walk and walk and walk and still never get past the middle of their chests.
  9. Nefarious loves the water and spent as much time as she could swimming with Caitlin, River, and I. As well as swimming here at the lake, we’d also swam in a leech filled pond, and then on the drive back, in a hotel pool — all fun in their own way.
  10. They never got tired of being chased around and then grabbed and thrown through the air — they don’t weigh much, so I could toss them about fifteen feet for a giant splash… at once incredibly terrifying and incredibly fun. I admit that we probably spent more time vacationing than working.
  11. We slept in the ashram (a barn), which was essentially sleeping outdoors. Other than the mosquitos — she completely refused bug spray the first day, but then learned her lesson — Nefarious loved getting to sleep in the barn, and loved the outhouse even more.

Anyway, a really wonderful, inspiring, and tiring week.


Makeup Party

I’ve been fiddling on tuning up my PHP/MySQL/Python familiarity for a new site project built to address some of the issues both of government spying — and occasional seizure of servers — and that of the staff of websites spying on the members. In addition to my own experiences with privacy issues and high-profile cases of things like Facebook admins reading the private messages of members, I read that half of workers snoop in confidential files, one in three IT staff snoop on colleages, and businesses routinely spy on employees. I find all of it extremely disturbing, and would like to see systems designed from the ground up around the concept that spying will be attempted, and that it will be attempted with direct server access or with access to the connection to the server — one needs to take that into account when designing the data formats, the logging systems, and every other system that records potentially confidential information. I’m going to take about a week off the ‘net to really get my ideas on this subject solidified so I can decide whether I want to apply them.

Other than that, Caitlin got out her theatrical makeup kit, and Nefarious first did her own makeup, then painted Caitlin’s face, then painted my face, and then had me repaint her face… Lots of fun. More pictures after the break.



Nefarious gets up earlier than me most days and works on various projects before I get up — I usually am up around 7, but she’s up with the sun at about 5:45. This morning she handed me this note when I got up. To decode, it says “dad. mat to ari. rat.” — her asking me to buy a new mat for her room, perhaps one with a picture of a rat on it. Little things like this make being a parent really wonderful.

As I mentioned before, I’m really glad that the Montessori system teaches cursive and doesn’t bother with block lettering (since kids learn that on their own and there’s really no need to teach it).

Yesterday we had a very surreal day at the park. When we arrived, it was completely deserted and quite eerie. Not a single kid was there, but there were squirrels and chipmunks everywhere. The “eerie” part was because there were tons of lunchbags, backpacks, jackets, and hats strewn about, including half eaten lunches… But no kids. We stayed for about two and a half hours, and no one came in that time period to retrieve what had been left, and I don’t really have an explanation as to why everyone had disappeared in such a hurry. I can only assume it was some sort of alien abduction.

Then as we’re sitting on top of the monkey bars, a women dressed as a princess walks into the park, followed not long afterwards by a guy in similar medieval garb. A total of eight more princesses followed — apparently there was some sort of “team building” exercise they were forced to do by their employer, who was a medieval reenactment enthusiast, and his wife had sewed their outfits.

Today we went back to Rock Oasis and climbed for another two hours. Nefarious made it to the top of a sixty foot tower, but spent most of her time bouldering. She saw some women climbing on the ceiling and definitely wants to be able to do that too.