Thursday, December 30, 2010

SkyWatch Friday - Ending on a blue note

Not sad blue - happy blue!

Dog walking for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and every day on this InBetween week.

Mixture of blues and sunshine,

greys and snow clouds. 

And another year closes for 
Frostbite & Sunburn in Alberta.

2011 - Bring it on!

and wishing all my readers a wonderful New Year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A very Happy Christmas to you

Wishing you love and peace and health.

Wishing you fond memories of loved ones no longer at your table.

Wishing you all you wish for yourself, and all you wish for others.

And finally, wishing you a well-cooked turkey, a well-deserved glass a wine and a well-earned slim waistline (in 2011).

Have fun!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

All I want for Christmas is a Chinook

No, not a helicopter.  A warm wind.

Chinooks are quite prevalent across southern Alberta and are known as "snow eaters".  Ordinarily, we may get 5 or 6 of these each winter. We were robbed last winter!  
(They also occur across some parts of Europe and are known as the Mistral winds in France.)

(Click on this to enlarge photo)

It looks like we had one arriving on Tuesday evening - a large warming weather front blows in, 
the sunset highlighting it for us for only about eight minutes.  You have to be quick around here with the camera.

“Those who have not the warm, invigorating Chinook winds of this country, cannot well comprehend what a blessing they are. The icy clutch of winter is lessened, the earth throws off its winding sheet of snow. Humanity ventures forth to inhale the balmy spring like air. Animated nature rejoices.” 
(1900–Calgary weekly Herald)

The cloud formations can look stormy and sinister - but they rarely bring anything other than a welcome rise in the temperature - and sometimes some fierce winds.  
But not today ... so far.

We humans may relish a temporary relief in the depths of a cold winter.  Nature gets mightily confused however, especially the vegetation which thinks "yippee" and may start to bud and leaf out too early, only to be cut down and thwarted as the next hard frost arrives.  
Which it does, sometimes even in June.

Pink must be my colour of the week - the mountains glow an unnatural colour, but I'm loving it.

Happy SkyWatch Friday folks - and a very happy festive weekend to all of you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My World Tuesday - Pink Beauty

Sunrise on this cool December morning in southern Alberta, 
as viewed from my back door. 
Isn't it great on the days when nature's beauty obligingly presents itself under one's nose?

And pinky-gold reflections in the windows opposite.  
What a wonderful start to My World Tuesday.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dieting in December is a silly idea

I have been on a diet for the last 4 weeks.  I have lost 13lbs. Thank you, thank you (takes a bow).

Christmas threatens to undo all my hard work. Maybe it was a dumb idea to try and lose weight in the run up to the Season to Be Jolly, but you have to start somewhere.  But at this time of year comes the inevitable socialising, partying, drinking and over-indulgence.  It is just so hard to resist beautifully prepared calorie-laden temptations as they are laid before me.  And I am polite to the core and refusal would be so, well, rude.  So let's just say that the last two Saturdays have been, um, non-diety.

The world is out to get me.  You should see our counter tops at my office.  They are smothered in well-meaning chocolate flavoured goodies, thank-you gifts of naughtiness sent from one department to another, and fancy biscuits and cookies that squeak to me as I walk past.  

"Eat me, eat me" they cry, and when I can bare their pain no longer, I oblige.  Three times.

We should resort to sending inter-departmental thank-you pencils, or some other non-fattening and non-threatening treat.

I have been mostly following a no-sugar, low-carb, higher-protein type regime.  I chose this because I am probably a diabetic-in-waiting.  That and the fact I have put on 12lbs since sitting on my ample derriere in my job this past year. Not good.  It's probably about the only "diet" that I have not tried before - but it's working and I am mentally in the right place.  Which is what all successful weight-loss is all about when it comes down to it - your mental attitude.  I've known for decades what I should eat - I just didn't want to.

However, I don't think I'll ever be a huge fan of that "exercise" stuff - it requires discipline, lung capacity and three hours in a private room to return to a normal colour.  And I didn't even mention sports bras.

Popping out to the gym in my lunch hour is not going to happen, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to work out before or after a working day.

I did try Zumba classes for a while which were enormous fun, extremely sweat-inducing and hard for my knees, but the timing clashed badly with the need to pick up Daughter Number One from her ballet class.  My most legitimate excuse ever.  But if you ever want a laugh, try Zumba. Maybe another time for me.

And then, of course, Saturday and Sunday mornings inevitably require lying in bed until at least 9am, followed by household chores, entertaining or taxi-ing children around and trying to remember to drink lots of water and ponder some more excuses.  See - no time for exercise when you think about it.  (Does thinking about exercise count?  Or walking around a shopping mall?)

So wish me well over the next two weeks - I want to lose another 15lbs in total.  And I've put the idea out there now, so I have to keep going.  Perhaps the Christmas/New Year season can be blanked out on my little graph and then I'll just carry on from 3rd January?  If I can keep off those first 13lbs I will be one happy bunny.

Florida, t-shirts and shorts, and the need to be seen (in public, aagghh) in the dreaded swimsuit all beckon in the Spring.  That, and the silly decision of going on holiday with a very slim friend are the motivation I need to dust off all those lovely tops in my wardrobe.  

The only whale I want to see in my holiday photos is Shamu.

Have a wonderful, joyful and peaceful Christmas everyone and if you can't be good, then have another choccie for me.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

SkyWatch Friday - Shades of white

Light grey skies reveal their overnight activity of throwing a few more snowflakes in our direction.  Half covered trees unveil their beautiful silhouettes as the dull light tries it's hardest to camouflage the day.

Snow has blown in sideways from one direction only, settling on the eastern side of every bit of growth.

A lop-sided snowy contour.

The fence intercepts the snow like a lacy net, 
and it grows and puffs up 
under the weight and build-up of large snowflakes.

Blonde dogs roll around and play - can she still see me?

Whites upon whites upon whites.

Happy SkyWatch Friday and have a great week.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dances with Humans - Dog days

Smudge here - just a quick report this week.  Although I am a busy chap about town with a hectic schedule of walking, sleeping, sniffing and peeing - sometimes a pup just has to chill man.

Just in front of the Big Window For Nosey Dogs, the heat pours into our favourite room.

Honey and me catch some rays.

We dodge between the long winter shadows to find our spot.

We carefully rotate so that our whole body cooks slowly.

Sometimes the Reluctant Dog Owner throws down a cushion and joins us for a wee doze.

There is nothing nicer and more comforting than the heat of the afternoon pouring all over your body, while the snow glistens outside at minus 12 degrees.

We hard-working dogs deserve this crash-pad.  We stay here until we can bear it no more.  Then we get up, panting and puffing with our fur on fire, and flop out on the 
cold, tiled Food Room floor.

I tell ya, life can be tough.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Forgot to add the picture of me tree!

So busy talking ABOUT the tree in my last post, that I forgot to actually include the tree - so for "Anonymous" who reminded me, here you go!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Deck the Halls

Do your Christmas decorations follow a theme?  Are you colour co-ordinated, or scruffily and happily dusting off years of mis-matched family traditions?  Do you love digging out your shiny treasures from the loft or basement each year, or are you bored to tears with the same-ol', same-ol'?

I split into both camps.   I mean, first out of the cupboard has to be the Santa Cookie Jar.  Essential for every December-related eventuality.

For several years now, I have yearned for a "professional looking" tree - something direct from one of those high-class store window displays.  Mono-coloured, 12 feet tall, smothered in about 8000 lights and simply spectacular.  A really stunning wow-look-at-me tree!

What I actually put up is quite different (she says with mild understatement).  The decorations we have gathered during seventeen years of marriage, twelve of which have included the tastes and artistic offerings of Daughters Number One and Two are kinda fun and juvenile in nature.  Traditional in an "old-fashioned toy" way.  I don't think they are tacky but I accept others might!  But everything we have collected still makes me smile, so it can't all be bad.

Last week at work, we had our Christmas Smorg lunchtime gathering, which included a gift exchange and I was delighted to open up these very cute stockings.  I knew the kids would love them.

And the reason for my delight is that they match some other bits and bobs in our home - like these newly-purchased and deeply stylish quality chair covers (at my husband's insistence would you believe?) and also the tree-skirt.

A recent trip to Costco (I've already documented how dangerous that place is) resulted in the purchase of some cheeky bears.  

Necessary?  Not really.  Fun?  Definitely.  Make me smile?  Certainly.

But this year I have (unilaterally) decided to leave some of our family traditions in a box in the basement - and finally go posh.  Of course, it involved the careful pursuit of some carefully co-ordinated shopping, but I stuck to my guns and worked at it.  You would expect nothing less of me.

Oh, and as an aside, apparently those ball-shaped shiny decorations you hang on a tree are not called baubles in Canada, or not in my workplace anyway.  Who knew?  They all gently took the mickey out of me for calling them baubles.  Is that a very British word?  Here, they are simply balls, ornaments or decorations.  But I like the word baubles.

I now (fanfare please) do have my gorgeous - albeit slightly stunted at only 7 foot tall - colour co-ordinated tree that finally looks like something out of shop window.  Yay!  Lime greens, reds and golds rule the day.  I'm chuffed with the end result and just need another 7900 lights to give the full effect.

And do my girls like it?  Not so much.  They're still trying to work out why the blue cat ornament from Bob The Builder cannot grace the tree this year.

Now then - if this time of year fits into your world, go and finish putting up all your shiny stuff - it's only two weeks away you know.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My World Tuesday - Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Come for a little stroll along one of my usual dog walking haunts.


and hoof prints - the only clue that the deer take control of this landscape of an evening, once all the pesky dog-walkers and their four-legged friends have vacated their home territory.

Narrow paths are carved through the drifting snow by determined pedestrians.

Long winter shadows, even though it is just after midday and the sun is at it's highest point for today.  

How is it that my husband transforms into tall, skinny stick man, but I remain short and dumpy - where are my tall, skinny winter-shadow legs?

Interesting scents that must be investigated....

... and with noses buried and fluffy bums in the air, we must investigate some more.

The golf course lake is mostly frozen over and covered in a smooth blanket of snow.  Inviting but dangerous.

And this is the view over the river valley, and the town of Cochrane, looking towards those mountains.
And despite the clear skies, there is little warmth to the day and the blues look weak and watery.  

But at least we can actually see the sky today - so I am happy!

My World Tuesday - Have a super week.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bureaucracy at play

Same-sex marriage is legal in five states apparently, in the USA.

But it is not recognised at a federal level with regards to immigration and therefore a US citizen who may be married to someone from another country cannot currently sponsor his or her same-sex spouse under the spousal visa route.

Seems a bit mad to me.  And unfair.  I was reading this article today on the BBC website.

Having been through an immigration process to move to Canada from England, I fully understand a country's need to only allow who it wants to live there.  I have no issue with this in principle.

But to have two different layers of what is or is not a marriage/spouse, etc, sounds like the wheels of bureaucracy grinding slower than a slow grinding thing.  The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage for federal purposes as a union between a man and a woman, and was brought in to law in 1996 - that is not very long ago.    So really, it was out of date at it's inception.

The US immigration authorities are perhaps (in)famous for interviewing and scrutinizing male/female couples to verify they are "really" a couple and that it is not a marriage of convenience.

I suppose if this same-sex campaign to have their marriages recognised is eventually successful, then the next thing they can look forward to will be similar scrutiny to prove they are "really" gay! 

(steps off soap-box and proposes to look up the state of play in the UK and Canada just out of interest!)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A tad chilly hereabouts

This sums up the week really.

Hello winter, my old friend ....  
I've come to talk with you again!

It did get to -35 degrees on Tuesday evening, 
but to be quite frank, it was too bloody cold 
to be hanging around with a camera!

See where the "Frostbite" part of my blog title 
comes from now?

No SkyWatch from me this week - too cloudy and cold and I'm afraid my fireplace looked much more attractive.