Thursday, December 29, 2011

SkyWatch Friday - December Sun

I took this photo about three weeks ago - in anticipation of posting it for Christmas.  
It is a fair representation of the usual 
Christmas days in Alberta!
However, we are having a wonderfully welcome mild and snow-free "brown" Christmas week
and it feels more like March.
  There is only a little residual snow on the sides of paths, and the grass is dry, brown and crunchy, with a smattering of white ice in the crevices and creases of the landscape.
The mountains are looking wonderful - there have been clear blue skies, warming chinooks and then icy breezes, and an occasional hint of heat from the sun.
And no-one is complaining! 
The sun pours in through the Big Window for Nosy Dogs.
Mild temperatures have been running between 
3ºC - 9ºC (37ºF - 48ºF) which is perfect for end-of-year 
walks with Smudge & Honey.
Who seem to have lost the use of their limbs.
Ahh, Bliss - There is nothing better than a 
self-medicated snowy back rub.

And Wishing You A Really Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

SkyWatch Friday - Christmas Reds

The chinook winds blew in again this week.
Sigh.  So pretty.
Wishing everyone a very happy 
 - and peaceful Christmas weekend.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our World Tuesday - December days

A drive out to Banff (Banff National Park, Alberta) is about an hour and five minutes from my home town, and is usually a fantastic opportunity for bloggie photos.   
My camera twitches in anticipation. 
NOTE: The above two pictures were taken 
in the summer months.

And now for the December shots. 
The roads conditions during last week's drive to Banff were mostly OK, until we passed through the gates for the National Park - and then one definitely had to slow down and take care 
- and yes, that line through the middle of the photo is my obligatory cracked windscreen - a essential rite of passage for all worthy Alberta vehicles!
The clouds were so very low.  Socked in, as they say here.  This picture was taken in Canmore.  A smudge of vague blue to the left of that first peak hints of a beautiful sky just bursting to show through.  
C'mon baby, you can do it!
Flurries of snow during the day kept floating around, not amounting to much, but sufficient to disguise voluminous mountains and transform them into a bump on the landscape.
The Three Sisters at Canmore became 
the One Point Eight Sisters.
Banff Main Street was positively white.
And those clouds stayed low and smothering all day.
And then the Spirit of Christmas showed up.
As the sun set (what sun? No sign of the sun in these pictures), the street transformed into one of those little china
 village scenes.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My World Tuesday - Where is everyone?

Let's take the dogs for another walk 
on this cool and grey December day in Alberta.

Soft white flakes carpet the paths again over the weekend, and the heavy clouds threaten to dump a little more snow.  
The day has no colour.
There is not another soul around.  
Maybe all sensible people are currently huddled in front of a roaring fire?
No-one new to play with.  Best go and do some investigations then.  The river remains unfrozen, but is far too chilly for a swim now.
But hey, look over there - yay, another dog.
Let's see who can race to him first.
And suddenly, they are coming out of the woodwork.
The off-leash park comes alive and there are canine friends everywhere you look.

Now this is more like it!!

See more Tuesdays from around the world here.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Scenic Sunday - And we're off

Winter arrived properly last night.
Sideways snow storm.
Eight inches of the white stuff 
is quite heavy to shift off the driveway.
I think my husband might need one of these for Christmas!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Our World Tuesday - Fattening up

I know it's officially wintery when the 
Bohemian Waxwings come to visit.
but I love these little yellow-tipped birds.
They basically gorge themselves silly on the plump red berries of the mountain ash 
outside my front door.  
They will fly south soon.
They've been stalking the neighbourhood for a few days now.
And they are getting fatter by the minute!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Our World Tuesday - Chocolate delight

Marvel at the skill - and take a long, slow sniff at this wee beauty.  Absorb the rich aroma of layers of one of my favourite foods.  
Chocolate sponge, filled with a lightly cinnemoned cream and wrapped in a hand-made cloak of yet more chocolate.

Cherries swimming in a chocolate lake, so awash with brandy, they have died and gone to heaven in a drunken stupour.

My "Our World Tuesday" comes to you with thanks to the SAIT students in the Highwood Dining Room - a living classroom for cookery students.  

It's a good job that these courses exist to train and graduate such essential personnel into the workforce.  I mean, EMT and Paramedic courses are all very well, but we are talking chocolate here - serious business indeed.
See more Our World Tuesday's from all over the world.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Christmas lights, already

It was a balmy 10ºC on Friday, so we did what all normal people in Canada do on the 11th November - we put up our Christmas lights.
Last year, we left it too late - standing up a ladder on a frozen mid-December morning (read about -20º with windchill) - and trying to mess around with fiddly clips on the guttering, while wearing big gloves is no longer our idea of a fun morning out.  
Much swearing ensued, much dropping of said fiddly clips into the snow on the drive, and the strings of lights were somewhat thrown at the mountain ash, rather than artistically placed for maximum effect.  It got to the point that we didn't really give a damn about maximum effect - we were lucky to get any lights up at all.  Throw, dump, and run back inside was our methodology.

So this year, we have got into the game extraordinarily early - but ha, so did half the neighbourhood it seems.  And instead of feeling self-conscious about being premature, now I feel part of this chilly country's festive preparations.
And I've bought new stuff too, so I am excited to see it all come together. But we won't be switching them on yet.  I'm still a bit bah-humbug about looking at Christmas lights for ten weeks - it dulls the anticipation! 

So we've learned the hard way - and have been admittedly pretty slow to pick up the hints.  This will be our fifth Christmas in Canada.  

All we need to do now is leave the lights there 'till April and we will have assimilated beautifully. cool smileys

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blogging gets sidelined...again

It's that time of year blogging some nonsense about my world has become almost non-existent - and I'm missing out on lots of your own updates and lovely photos.  I have, of course, many excuses I can offer, but none are very original.  And to prove my state of mind right now,  I can't even think of anything interesting to entertain and distract you from my boring excuses!

Family life continues at a fast pace.  After-school activities and the requisite ferrying around takes up much energy. Homework for all - or should that read "cajoling" sessions?
Finally repainted the last basement room and Daughter Number One moved into her new purple palace - OK -aubergine, if we are being technical.
Have been back to my choral group on Tuesdays - fa la la la la'ing with a new repertoire of pretty toons for our Christmas concert.  Supposed to be learning them by heart, but it's all going in one ear and out the other right now.

Life for a couple of friends has thrown some awful curveballs recently and we have tried to help out, cook meals, and generally rally round being upbeat and supportive.
"Back to School" for me on a Wednesday evening - a long, long day and my brain is about to shut down for the season. Grades are respectable however, which is a relief as I am currently feeling like a right old fart in a class of early-twenty somethings!
Work has been so busy busy - many staff changes, swapping of duties, and in a moment of weakness, I agreed to take on presenting the new staff orientations (gawd help 'em - the blind leading the blind).

Hubby has also changed the focus of his job and he is finally a happy chappie who does not have to contemplate working outdoor shifts during this winter - hurray.  And he will do regular office hours - this is indeed a miracle!
Halloween and pumpkin-carving has been and gone, and I bought a new Christmas tree last week!

Life is a rush right now.  Can you tell my brain is fried?
I need a week off and a spa weekend.  Who's in?