Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Commuter Heaven

Picture taken at about 5.15pm one afternoon this week.

The silhouettes had just been dropped off by the commuter bus.

Time to go home.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Scenic Sunday

No more snow please ...

Let's have one day off and go back to the summertime instead.

Follow me ... feel the warmth of the sunshine on your shoulders .... and breathe ....

Let's head back to "Going to the Sun" Road just south of the Alberta/Montana border in Glacier National Park

Fancy a dip of your toes ?

Crane your neck in the hazy sunshine ...

Fields of Beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) - I just love this flower ...and it is also called other names such as: soap grass, elk grass, fire lily as well as squaw and Indian basket grass. It is found in very high altitudes of the northwestern United States and Canada. The leaves are strong enough for weaving, hence the name Indian basket grass. Native Americans used all of this plant for head dress as well as foot wear.

Glacial waters melting, trickling or gushing, with the hordes of visitors trundling by ...

And I think this one is Mountain Harebell (campanula rotundifolia) ... growing up, along and inside the crevices of rocks ...

And the colour green .... ahhhhhh.

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A little snow shower ...

Who needs to put a dog in a bath
when they can take their very own snow shower?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The shuffle phenomenon ...

People of a certain age will appreciate the ability to "shuffle". People of a certain age will recall listening to the Top 40 on a Sunday evening, with their enormous cassette player and index finger poised, to record their favourite songs and trying to hit the Stop button before the DJ talked all over the end of it.

The beauty of hitting the shuffle button on your ipod is the pleasure of hearing a random song from your past - perhaps something you haven't heard for years. The downside, in our case, is being subjected to some hideous noise that you have never heard before, nor want to hear again.

Now it's fair to say our ipod is a rather bizarre amalgamation of era's, styles and preferences - my husband had the mistaken belief that it would remain his own property and contain his choices. Wrong!

Due to somewhat lazy administration, and since our UK trip in December, the "family" ipod still contains virtually everything we (all) own in one collection - and until someone ruthlessly goes through the menu, it will remain a hotchpotch. But I kinda like this.

So this morning, while I was having a "god, this house is a digraceful pig-sty, you will clear it up" moment, the beleaguered ipod was plugged in and the volume set high so we could all tune in as we cleaned our allotted rooms (well, I call them rooms, you would never have known at the beginning of the cleaning session that we even owned "rooms". Walls and carpets could barely be seen, work tops and tables were covered in layers (and layers) of crap - toys, colouring, socks - well, one sock - paperwork, ear-rings, coins, hairbands, half eaten dog chews - I could go on but don't want to disgust you any more than you already are).

We kicked off this workout session with some Kings of Leon, some Robbie Williams and a bit of Neil Diamond. Throw in some Avril Lavigne and The Sound of Music and you can see where I'm coming from. I now know the whole Taylor Swift repertoire and my current guilty pleasure is Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus. I know - there is little hope for me now. Put your hands up, playing my song ....

But the best song to come out of the vacuuming and polishing today was by the Beautiful South. I am in love with Paul Heaton as a lyricist. One of the most under-rated bands ever I think. The man is a modern-day poet.

And anyone that can write a song called "36D" needs a pat on the back and a large beer. (Or maybe he'd already had the beer - let's make him a coffee).

My favourite lines of his

"... gotta a Phd in I told you so, and a Knighthood in I'm not listening"

This link is the song that came up today but I love all of theirs. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Skywatch Friday - in the pink

Sunrise in Calgary on Wednesday morning.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Poor old UK ... that snow stuff.

I've been quietly sniggering to myself these past few mornings. Empathetic smugness, we'll call it. It's 'cos I is such a hard nut now, innit. A winter hard nut.

Whilst battling through my new commute (which I have not yet been doing long enough to get bored), I listen to my Sirius radio in the car.

I am currently tuned in to Chris Moyles on the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show - got to keep up with all that new-fangled music somehow, and the UK is still a hotbed of some good bands. Canadian offerings of Death-by-Nickleback wear a bit thin, very quickly.

And as much as I'm enjoying the music and the general silly banter of the studio crew, it's the road and weather reports that have me smiling right now. There is something quite bizarre about being in one continent thousands of miles away from a weather report in another land, but which is also very familiar to you.

Being a Brit who used to live in a house at the top of a steep drive, situated down a sloping road, in a village at the top of a hill 5 miles from anywhere, I truly understand what a snow fall means to the dear peeps in the UK. Simply put, it's chaos, nicely documented in Rob's blog here. I can recall many a snow day there and I used to miss school and work days every so often - maybe one day every other year or so. So I do understand.

Ignore "Miss Pretty in Pink" in the foreground and you can see the angle of my old driveway - that is no fun in the ice. Well, actually, it is great fun on a go-cart if you have no fear for life nor limb, but not when serious matters are calling - like work and school and beer.

Old photo of Daughters Number One and Two - taken in about 2005 - so I know this snow phenomenon does happen.

The UK, I think, is currently enduring it's third week of snow falls and the country is slipping and sliding to a painful halt. I hear of panic food buying, transit routes gridlocked and even the co-host of the breakfast show was reporting the issues of no baby milk in the village. This really is quite serious!

I am now, of course, a veteran in Alberta - entering my third winter here, I know a thing or three about snow. A veritable expert no less. Yeah - OK, I'm a novice by Canadian standards, but give me a break.

But the British Isles are generally not able to cope. Really. No-one has ever heard of snow tyres - I know I hadn't when I lived there; each council (municipality) probably proudly owns about two snow ploughs, and stores of salt (no grit over there) are only hoarded for a 4-day period, with barely enough gritting lorries to distribute it anyway (funny how they are still called gritting lorries, but they don't really throw out grit). The investment into "winter" is not top of the agenda in order to deal with, what might normally be, about 2 days of snow a year.

During Week One of The Great British Winter of 2010, I was driving down a highway in Calgary, Alberta listening to Chris and the breakfast gang reading out messages from the listeners about the various locations around the UK. My highway was at -19 degrees, and we were knee-deep in the white stuff. Pah - come on you British wusses - you call that snow?

By this morning, three weeks later, Calgary has been basking for five days in almost tropical temperatures of 7 degrees and we are over the pristine Christmas card good looks - we are awash in grit and dirt but little snow. We are warm, relatively speaking. And warmer than the UK which is funny - and a first! It won't last of course, but I take my glee where I can.

Friends in the UK, in the meantime, are emailing me wondrous photos of their home towns - which look more like Canada than Canada!

I should get their permission for posting these, but it's currently 2.30am in London so I won't wake them up, and I'm too impatient to await a reply to an email. So thanks Mr K - I'll pay your royalties later.

This one is a pretty country lane near Merstham in Surrey. Cute, huh? Until you have to go out for baby milk I guess.

Real purdy !

So, to any of my readers in the UK considering emigrating to the Great White North - how are you feeling?!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My World Tuesday ...

I like patterns in the snow. Some are the obvious foot, paw or hoof prints.

Some patterns are supplied by Mother Nature. We usually have quite dry, gritty snow here. It's useless for snowmen and snowball fights! It seems to evaporate rather than melt.

It's also quite windy here too and the grains of snow billow around. I can walk a pathway several times in a week, and the snow changes location and "moves" around in the breezes. Little drifts sneak 5 feet to the left, or hide under a tree, or snuggle up to a wagon wheel.

Sometimes I think it just looks like a rippled, sandy beach. Somewhat chillier but you still need your sunglasses.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Skywatch Friday

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Grrrrr - need to vent.

A new bumper for my car. This is my punishment. Punishment for giving in to Daughter Number Two and agreeing to purchase the enticingly named but wholly unforgiveable meal of "Popcorn Chicken" from KFC. This was my crime.

Crappy food at it's worst - with fries and a pepsi to wash it down. Who says I'm not a caring mother, wrapped up in the all-encompassing nutritional welfare of my offspring? Well, it's about the most expensive meal I have ever bought because......

.... when I came outside to start my car, some bloody woman had reversed into my front bumper, which was now hanging off - and she had driven off! I was just a tad pissed off, I tell you.

I apologise, I am swearing too much right now.

I know who it was - as in I can describe her - I stood beside her for some interminable minutes while the two "not an urgent bone in their body" females behind the counter conjured up our gastronomic feasts.

On making the fateful decision to enter the stylish square box, aka KFC, for the first (and now only time), I parked behind a silver Grand Caravan beside the "restaurant" and noted it was a "Sport" version 'cos initially I thought it was a friend's car (but it wasn't) and a "Sport" version is unusual. There was a hoodie-wearing teenage person of unidentifiable features and sex, sitting in the front passenger seat, zoned out in the world of i-pod.

I went into KFC and eventually ordered my combo. Then I waited. And waited. And, as is my nosy way, I watched as a woman who had already been put out to pasture in the waiting area (Lordy, how can it take so long to put together such awful fast food?) got into a conversation with an older man - and I somehow took this relationship to perhaps be a teacher recognising one of his old students and having a ten minute catch-up. I'm not sure why but that's the vibes I picked up and how it seemed in my little world.

A few minutes later, the i-pod laden teenager appeared (a young male of the species if you are interested) and whispered something to the lady - I couldn't gauge her age - could have been his mum or his sister!

A short moment later, she gathered up her meals, bid farewell to the older male-cum-ex-teacher-cum-maybe-it-would-be-inappropriate-of-me-to-think-about-this-further - and she left. And within 30 seconds, my number was up (literally - they shout out your order number with such love and care) and my little brown bag containing one squillion calories was handed to me, and I too left the building.

And she was already long gone.

So I reckon the lad in the car either did something or hit something in the car and it rolled back into mine, then he came in and told the woman and they legged it quick.

Or she just reversed or rolled back into my car when they got ready to leave.

Either way, my bumper was properly knackered and half hanging off, and there is no way in hell they didn't know what they had done.

See this nice shiny picture of a nice car? Well, OK, I think it's a nice car, I love my big comfy, lolloping bus. Jeremy Clarkson may have other ideas. Well anyway, my car doesn't look like that anymore. It looks like this.

Not a happy bunny - could be worse though. I suppose. Could be like this gent's beetle!

I need to report this to the police station now. Bah humbug again. But I don't want to go through my insurance 'cos we'll then get hammered next year at premium renewal time because we dared to make a claim that had nothing to do with us! We have a $500 excess anyway. Grrrrr. You can feel my Grrrrrrr, can't you?

I tell you, I'm almost incensed enough to pen a snotty letter to our local paper shouting "SHAME ON YOU" and signed off "Yours, in disgust". That would show her. Yeah!

The dealership state a new bumper will be in the region of $1350. Great. Just what I want to spend the first few weeks of my new hard-earned wages on.


So - in the meantime, in the spirit of happy, smiling blogs - here's a pretty picture.

Have a great weekend everybody!