Today I’m bringing the blog up to date on writing, photography and gardening, especially gardening.

This month I finished the revisions of the galley proofs for the print on demand edition of The Facepainter Murders. Revisiting work is always tough, because the errors are glaring, the ability to change it minimal, and the time consumed to check each period and comma and tense exorbitant. Especially the tenses!

I’m also working on my as yet untitled sequel which takes Anne McPhail to Bermuda. About three-quarters finished as of today, but still a draft or maybe two to go. This time Anne is a suspect when she witnesses a murder and can’t convince the investigating detective of her innocence.

I’m still learning how to use my new camera, and yearning for a telephoto lens. We left our birdfeeder up for the summer and have had many species that are new to us arrive. The vivid orange variety of house finch and his cousin the purple finch and families are currently in residence, replacing the delightful rose-breasted grosbeak of last month. They are all easily startled so I’ve been trying photograph from inside the house. Recently my brother and I went up to the Ottawa Valley. On a bush road near Barrett Chute we came upon this deer, having lunch in the ditch.

Gardening has  become a joint venture, and this summer has been busy with a new retaining wall to build, or rather supervise.

Victoria Lister Carley, landscape architect

Rosepark Landscaping.

We are delighted with the result, and I have a brand-new garden to plant!

So that’s about it: writing, gardening, taking pictures, and oh yes, still trying to learn Italian.

Pictures from Seville

One Saturday, we walked into the Plaza Nueva, Sevilla Spain. On one side a basketball tournament, on the other wedding parties lining up to attend the civil ceremony in the city hall that formed on side of the square. The music, oddly, a piper, a busker, playing Scottish airs interrupted occasionally by “Here comes the Bride.”

The plaza in Spain, like the piazza in Italy, is the centre of civic life. It is our loss that we have nothing like it.

Photographic Gem

21 Settings, Techniques and Rules All New Camera Owners Should Know.

The Digital Photography School is a terrific resource for photographers, especially those like me who are making the switch from SLR to DSLR. The link above will take you to answers to the many questions I had, everything from white balance to cleaning.

Thanks to Darren Rouse for all the tips and article and links.

It’s been a hectic month with visitors from Florida to Paris to Elora in Ontario. The new year promises to be quieter, except for a visit to the surgeon for a colonoscopy(preventative maintenance).

I have 20,000 words of the new book and hope to finish by Easter.

Happy New Year and best wishes for health and well-being in 2011.

Gardening gifts, Christmas photo tips

45 gift ideas for gardeners – Fun and fabulous gifts – Gardening Gifts – Garden Gear – Canadian Gardening. This article from Canadian Living offers help to the last-minute gift buyer with a gardener on her list. My favourite, not counting the trip to England to visit fabulous gardens, is a truck-load of triple mix. If that is too much, check out the page at, and donate trees to an African family.

If you’re the person with the camera at the Christmas festivities, read the advice at the Digital Photography School at¬†

The Digital Photography School is a terrific site to visit, or, as I do, have on your home page. The e-mailed tips are great too. I like the opportunity to see other people’s work, and to submit some of mine. I’ve been struggling with learning the finer points of my Canon Rebel T1i, and the site has been a great help.

Finches at the Winters' cafe

Malaga, Spain

We left Ronda, taking one of the major highways to the coast. Fabulous views opened at every switchback curve–and there were many. At one point it was possible to see four widely separated white towns shining against the background of granite crags and olive trees. Further south we came across forests of pine. I have no pictures from this drive because, although the highway was modern, in good condition and wide enough, there was no possibility of pulling off.

We found our small hotel, single story, set behind walls, with an inner courtyard and pool, in a residential neighbourhood. It was also a ten-minute walk from the sea. We walked along the sea, in sunshine, watching children playing on the stony beach, and men fishing. Further along was a seaside restaurant, a man behind grilling sardines in the old-fashioned way with an open fire.

Canon Rebel T1i

I got a new camera for my birthday, a replacement for the venerable Minolta SLR and the point and shoot digital I had been using. The Canon Rebel T1i was small enough and light enough to fit my hands, and I thought, foolishly as it turned out, that I could transfer the skills I’d developed with those cameras to the new one. I opened the book, started to play and realized that the abilities of the camera outstripped the knowledge of the photographer.

The instruction book wasn’t as obscurely written nor as minutely printed as I had expected. On the other hand, the menus seemed to go and on to different levels of complexity. I decided to take advantage of the lesson that came with the camera and one evening sat with a very young woman, and went over it all. I recommend this as a way to become more comfortable with a new camera. One of my first pictures appears below.