Thursday, September 30, 2010

SkyWatch Friday - Indian Summer and Drive-By's

Despite the sheer loveliness of my warm, soft bed and my groaning, stiff joints as I stagger off to the shower, there are some benefits to getting up to a cold, dark house at Silly O'Clock in the morning.
The upside to early morning commuting is the chance to witness the sun rise each morning.
Another day sneaks a peak over the horizon.

Drive-By Shootings ...
I drive southwards to my destination, and the sun is rising to my left and is almost blinding as it announces a new day...

...and on my right, the mountains are to my west - and the new sunlight wakes them up with pink spotlights.

A stunning warm week in Calgary leading to some truly 
Take-A-Deep-Breath-and-Sigh bliss!

Have a great week, and to see more SkyWatch Friday pictures 
from around the world, click here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dances with Humans - Playtime in Autumn

Morning folks - Smudge here.  Sorry I haven't been in touch recently - I've been a busy dog but I thought I would have a go at Scenic Sunday this week and show you some autumn colours in Cochrane, Alberta.

It's been a good week in the Frostbite and Sunburn household - Honey and me have been taken to our favourite walking place everyday this week - and I never, ever get bored with it.  In fact, when I recognise the road that leads to the River, I literally squeak with joy.  I mean - who wouldn't? It's a great place - it's very yellow and orange at the moment!
So The Boss was away all week, and while I missed him terribly (of course), old Honey-chops and me got to argue over bed space and once she'd realised I was the chief bed-hogger, we got to stretch out on his side of the bed.  The Reluctant Dog Owner didn't seem to mind too much and I got so many tickles behind the ear, I was one happy woofer.

It can be pretty boring being locked up in the kitchen all day but, man, you can get in some good quality kip when you are undisturbed and there are no Little People in the house because they go off in that big yellow bus each morning. There are no delivery drivers to bark at, no visible neighbours reversing out their trucks (to bark at) and no doorbells to check out (and bark at).  See, pretty peaceful.

When we go to the river, we get to run free and play with all the other dogs.

Boy, there are some funny canines out there.  Some are cute and almost as handsome as me - some are just butt ugly and someone really ought to have a word with their hairdresser; and then there are the complete lunatics, and I have to be honest - they make me a bit nervous.  Those puppy fellas are just a gangly pile of legs, paws and teeth - and their aim is a bit off.

Honey likes to play the "stop and sniff" game - they take it in turns.  First she sniffs the bum of one dog - I think this is a bit forward really, she doesn't even know them ...
- and then she stops and lets the next dog sniff her bum.  Floozy.  Whatever.

I have other things on my mind.  My completely favourite bit is the "Find and Fetch the Ball" game.  The Reluctant Dog Owner says I am slightly OCD where a ball is concerned, but she simply fails to see the absolute joy and fun that can be had.  

The Boss reckons I would make a good Drugs Dog, but I don't understand - I've never taken drugs in my life.
A really, really fun game is to fetch the ball and then let it roll down the steep bank so it goes plop into the water. So then you dive in after it, have a bit of a wallow around to cool off, then grab the ball and run back up the hill.  It's very refreshing.  Chasing balls is hard, sweaty work you know.

Only yesterday, I had a different ball to play with - and it didn't float like the fuzzy tennis ball we usually bring - it just sank to the bottom.  Oops.
Well - I'm not going to stick my delicate little nose into the water, am I?  I'm not stupid. And Honey is no use whatsoever.

So I do the whole pleading-puppy-dog-eyes routine ... 
and the Boss comes down the bank to the river side and rescues the ball for me.  Sucker.
.... and then we do it all over again.  Brilliant game.

It's actually hard to spy my orange ball, when the undergrowth is competing for orangeness too.
So, the Poplars are changing rapidly - a golden border to my river views.  Lots of wonderful swirling leaves to chase.

The Siberian Larch is also turning an orangey gold, ready to drop it's soft needles.
On the other side of the river, these noisy digger machines were carving great roadways into the hillside and cutting through the bands of autumnal trees.
Looks like there is a new housing development going in.  It's going to be messy for a while.

Hope you've enjoyed my attempt at Scenic Sunday - have a woofing good week.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Garden meanderings ... and Lasagne.

If any of you have really, really good memories, or are even vaguely interested, I shall offer you one more update on my lasagne gardening saga. Calm yourself - this could be very exciting.

OK - it's not exciting at all actually - nothing much has been happening. This lasagne has been cooking for 13 months now and that stubborn bloody grass is still under there!

Can I just say we have had a really crap summer here in Alberta. A distinct lack of warmth and sunshine, with enough rain and dull, cool, cloudy days to make me think fondly of a British summer! Surely the composting organisms should be going nineteen to the dozen? (Did I mention it snowed last night? OK, we won't go there). Call that a summer Alberta? Shame on you.

So my harsh, angular garden design (purposefully so, by the way) has not yet been softened by new plantings - which now puts my garden another year behind in some proper growth and height - I don't really like new, young gardens, but it's exciting to watch them mature. See all that bark up there in that photo? That is mostly flower-beds-to-be.

So right now, my view of this quick-cheat lasagne lark is disgruntled disappointment - but then if I wasn't such a lazy bugger to begin with, I'd have just dug up all that grass and been done with it!

Of course I had visions of sweeping new borders, with tastefully scruffy blasts of colour and the joyous pleasure of flexing the credit card at garden centers this year - but lack of new planting space has kept me alternately swearing and praying that the composting fairies get their respective fingers out, and get on with rotting down last year's discarded lawn.

On the plus side, the collection of miscellaneous bargain-priced, end-of-season shrubs and trees that I manically planted last September all survived the winter and did well this year (why pay $180 for a tree when you can get it for $60 at the end of the season - admittedly, you are offered no guarantees for your $60 but I am optimistic - well, you have to be, to try and garden here).

My husband was quite pleased with the general lack of plant-related spending this year - right up to the point I brought home some stone pavers so he could finish off a pathway. Ha!

Anyway, the rest of the back garden looks respectable, if just a little bare - only a few splotches of colour from small old flower beds not yet incorporated into the would-be new large areas.

But all in all, the mini-veggie patch did quite well. However, the tomatoes refused to grow, ripen or redden after about June - so not sure what their problem was - stubborn buggers - I think they threw a wobbly at all the far-too-cool weather this summer and they just lost the will to live.

So Autumn officially starts today I believe - or perhaps it was back in June. The mountain ash provides some splashes of juicy colour, ready for the Bohemian Waxwings to return for their seasonal feeding frenzy.

And the hardy Potentilla - ugly and messy as heck for most of the year, let's be honest - earns it's keep, to offer some late-season buttons of sunshine.

Oh well - 'till next year.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cheese Grater Skies

What is this? No, it's not a cheese grater ....

It's one of these. None the wiser?

Well, it's a large metallic panel, about 2 feet square.
All the little cut-out circles are placed at different angles.

So you put lots of squares together, and then you get ......

A giant picture. Of clouds.

This is the outside covering to a new car park (parkade) where I work.

How cool is that?

Much better than giant slabs of grey concrete.
The clouds "move" as you move and the angles change.

Metallic skies.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Misty Morn

Beautiful pink start to the day in Alberta.

Cooler September nights produce low lying mist, shrouding my hometown in the foothills and hiding it from view.
Below those rooftops you can see, several thousand invisible inhabitants are waking to a very misty morning.

The Rockies have a new white covering.
When it rains on me, it snows on them.

Another day dawns.

Have a lovely weekend and happy skywatching.

To see more SkyWatch pictures from around the world, please click here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ramblings of a mad woman in September

So the kids went back to school last week - sigh. That's a sigh of relief , by the way, in case any of you mad parents actually like having the kids around for ten weeks solid - in which case, sorry, I don't get it! Love 'em to bits, but ten weeks - come on, that's just cruel.

Anyway, by day three, we'd received the phonecall we all love to get.

"Can you come and collect your daughter please - we think she's broken her foot."

Day three of the new year for goodness sake! And dance season kicks off next week.

Well, not for Daughter Number One, it doesn't - not now. Yes, she broke a bone in her foot in gym. At least 4 to 6 weeks in this air-cast apparently. Can't see her joining her tap class before Christmas to be honest!

But she's still smiling, so that's good. She's not your average build for a 12 year old - she's 5'8" and it is not easy to maneouvre a hopping heffalump into a shower, let me tell you. Poor love - this is gonna take a while.

Meanwhile, to continue my random comments for this week, do you remember my kitchen drawer from earlier this year - my sad case of airing my slovenly ways to you all?

Well, look at me now. You'll be so proud.

It's amazing what eleven bucks spent at the Dollar Store can buy you - a whole new mind set.

I mean there is still as much crap in the drawer - there is probably even more rubbish in the drawer than ever before - but it's organised crap, and that makes such a difference in one's life. Tidy crap - I can highly recommend it.

In the meantime, I think I must have a flea up my bum - I've heard of spring cleaning - is there such a thing as autumn cleaning?

My exterior walls need a facelift. Patched up, stained and washed out pukey peach coloured stucco is not doing it for me. What do you think of these options?

I like the top one - a clean and bright creamy-with-a-hint-of-yellow. But I don't think this is very Canadian, and I seriously think that while I might totally love it, no-one else would; the neighbours might not talk to me and it would negatively affect re-sale value. Sad, but true.

The middle brown-ish option is, well, beige. Very popular in new homes, and well, beige. (What is this obsession in new builds to choose one of four shades of brown - inside, outside, brown, brown, brown. And breathe.)

And the bottom square of elephant-grey would go very nicely with our new dark grey roof shingles, but not much else - and I fear that when it's dull and rainy or we hit the depths of a bleak, colourless winter, I might just slit my wrists with drab-exterior-wall-induced depression.

However, regardless of the colour I choose, now that we have 12" multi-coloured squares all over the wall, I will have to make a decision - or maybe I should just opt for the matchpot look this season?

What else, has been happening? Oh yes, autumn is arriving.

There's a distinct chill in the evening air, and the leave are a-turning.

We don't really have many of the red hues to the autumn foliage out here in Alberta - but we do a fantastic line in yellows.

See, if I pick my favourite paint colour, my house could match nature for three weeks of the year!