Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SkyWatch Friday - Pink or red?

Great colours and formations this week.
This first picture taken with a regular "au naturel" 
setting on the camera.

Second picture using the "sunset" setting 
which certainly adds to the depth of colour.

I like both, but the first looks more authentic to me.  If someone had painted that second one, you'd be tempted to say the paintbrush had run away from them!

Have a wonderful SkyWatch Friday.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dust to dust ...

We bought a new fridge.

This meant moving the old fridge.

Which had never been pulled out in the four years we have lived here.

I have just killed off an entire eco-system.
I do hereby declare I am a slob.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How does your garden grow?

The term "garden" translates slightly differently on either side of the Atlantic.  In the UK, your garden is the whole patch of land that comes with your home - large or small, grand or paved - the whole area is called your garden.  
In North America, this would be called your "yard" - and the term "garden" is used more to describe the actual flower beds or vegetable patch where you physically grow stuff. What do your call your outside space in your part of the world?

So, when I first moved to Canada I would tell colleagues I had spent the whole weekend in the garden.  I got slightly quizzical looks as they were probably imagining me standing forlorn in the middle of my poppies, or soaking up the sun among the carrots.  But to me I was spending time in my yard - gardening!  
Regardless of the terminology, I do like to try and grow stuff. Not always successfully. I try to make my "yard" look pretty. My British assumptions and ambition are repeatedly thwarted by the shorter growing season and the Alberta winters - but I'm learning!  
I was sad that my favourite Globe Thistles (echinops) 
have not re-surfaced this year.
However, my lasagne gardening did finally work - it only took 18 months, instead of the usual 6 !  So this has resulted in more space to plant new stuff - and spend more money of course.  Everything is small and new but in a couple of seasons (if it all survives!), these will have filled out nicely.
To finish up this exisiting flower bed, I've put in soft silver Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina), interspersed with spikey blues of the Sea Holly (Eryngium).  And some pinky-blue Columbines (Aquilegias to me).  At the back, to give some height, will be some tall blues of Monkshood (Aconitum)And then I've just thrown in some blue pansies this year to give it some instant interest.

So 4 years ago, we owned this barren patch of grass:
And now we own this shapely little number:
A dog run, a home for the trampoline, a path out to the back park area, and a still-terrible lawn (mostly because I refuse to irrigate it) - but it is taking shape and looking better.  Well, I think so anyway!
I love these three trees that were hurredly shoved in the ground in September 2009, with a little prayer that the snow would stay away for a few more weeks - which it did.  They are simple, and fairly commonly grown here - Caragana "Sutherland" - I love the vase shape and the bronzey green bark.
We've given Daughter Number Two a patch to play with - and she chose (what I think are slightly old-fashioned plants) Gladioli and Dahlias - and some ever-popular pansies - plus an obligatory plastic dragonfly to brighten things up!
 Things that do grow remarkably well in this area are poppies, day lillies, iris', russian sage, potentilla, heuchera, and some geraniums.
Coneflowers, columbine and thrift survive well - but my lupins and astilbes all gave up and died rapidly. 
 Oh, and of course, the conifers and pines love it here!

So - how does your garden grow?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Scenic Sunday - Nose Hill Park, Calgary

Come for a stroll with me around Nose Hill Park - a large chunk of natural environment situated in the north west of Calgary, Alberta - it is apparently one of the largest municipal parks in North America and is approximate 3 miles (4.8km) north to south, and about 2.5 miles (4km) east to west.
It has hundreds of walking trails, some purpose-built with asphalt, and some just worn away by many feet, but not always of the human variety!  
An hour or two up here offers a city dweller a welcome feeling of space and fresh air in amongst the city limits and lies in the midst of blocks and blocks of timber and rooftile suburbia.  The lay of the land rises up some 300 feet, and the grassy hills are a notable feature of this quadrant of the city.
And it's worth a walk to the top - 
you can see across the city from up here. 
 (The above photo courtesy of Kevin Cappis via wikipedia.)
In the first week of July, wild flowers abound. 
I took the dogs for a walk here on a thankfully cool and slightly wind-swept visit this week 
(we've been mostly cooking with temps in the high 20's and early 30's - I'm not complaining though). 
It's rough and wild, and natural and colourful right now.

Many people bring their dogs up here for walking.
But take great care.

The parkland is notorious for coyote attacks.
Every year there are reports of pet dogs being tempted into the tall grasses by the crafty coyotes, and there are several fatalities.  The coyotes are hungry and merciless.

This hand-made warning poster this week states the owner's dog made it through his ordeal, after extensive surgery.  
Yikes!  A wake up call.
So have a wonderful Scenic Sunday
and if you are in Calgary soon, take a morning out of your schedule to come and have a wander.

Week One of the School Holidays (9 to go!)

I have been in a bit of a blogging funk the past few weeks - life has been very busy.  Family came to stay from the UK which was great (and so very fattening), the last few home renovation and DIY projects were completed, and exhausted children and parents were praying for that last day of school, and now we've moved full swing into what-to-do-with-the-kids-in-the-summer mode.
'Cos they love each other so much!

Kids camps to the rescue!

My girls are booked into a few camps each this year - the variety can be overwhelming and costs can be eye-watering - but as working parents, we reach the usual compromise of camps, playdates, mum and dad booking alternate dates off from work, and then a few days of making it up as you go along.  A good fall-back is to have plenty of flour, sugar and chocolate chips in the kitchen cupboards!
So far, Daughter Number Two has spent a week learning how to make soap, lip gloss, and some disgusting smelly gloop that is supposed to revitalise your hair - one whiff of that, and I'm not convinced.  Key ingredients were vinegar and kelp - just let your imagination loose with that one. Poo-ey!
Next week, both girls go to the "best idea ever mum" and attend a Shakespeare vs Glee camp at Calgary Young People's Theatre.  Who knew Juliet could sing Bohemiam Rhapsody with such verve?  Thou art more lovely than a Scaramouche, Scaramouche, can thou do the Fandango.

Later in July comes a one-week camp away from home with a friend (think mum's gonna like that week the best) and then in August, there will be a dance camp to shock their lazy limbs and muscles back into fitness mode.
Speaking of dance, one of this house's tv favourites - So You Think You Can Dance - has returned to our screen - but some wise production companies have decided to run the American series and the Canadian series at the same time. When, pray tell, am I supposed to get a look in, on my own television?!  With the two dance shows, then the results shows - that's four evenings taken care of.   Hummmph! 
(Pssstt, if you have the vaguest clue or interest in what I'm talking about, 
I'm rooting for Melanie Moore - simply stunning on the stage)

The latest home renos include new carpet (finally) on the stairs and the three bedrooms, and I think I've reverted to the 1970's because shag is back in.  Well, just a short shag (Brit readers, stop sniggering).  And here's one tip for you.  When the carpet fitting company offer to pull up your old carpet for a few extra dollars, take them up on it!  

OMG - what a hard, dusty and disgusting job that was - especially the stairs - and then you spend hours pulling out hundreds of bloody staples.  Then you have to load up your own vehicle - twice, just to take it all to the tip.   So just pay the man, OK?  Anyway, it all looks and feels fab underfoot - and not a tea-stain, paint stain or puppy-pee stain in sight!
And last but not least on this mini-update, two quick bathroom renos have now been completed too, 
and I need to collapse with a very large glass of the chilled stuff.  I mean - there are still nine weeks of school break to contemplate here!