This Wordless Wednesday has words

I happened across the Wordless Wednesday meme on Create With Joy, and thought I would try it out, particularly as I have been trying to take more pictures. I have a nice little plugin that imports all my Instagram photos. It’s intended to add them as posts to the blog, but I didn’t like the format. I’d rather pick & choose and format manually.  My goal with the meme is to say only enough in the post to give context. After that, it’s all up to the picture.

Visiting Canmore!

We visited Canmore this past weekend to attend a wedding. I think I spent more time gawking at the mountains than anything else. It’s been about twelve or thirteen years since I’ve been out that way, so I enjoyed it immensely. Something tells me we will be taking more road trips now that we have a car that can make the journey!


Ten on Tuesday: The Beach

As a transplanted Ontarian, there are a few things I miss about my old home. I miss being able to drive out in any direction and find small towns, adventure, and sometimes ice cream (I’m lookin’ at you there, Pakenham). I miss architecture that is attractive and sticks around for more than 50 years, and I miss going swimming in fresh water that doesn’t freeze your appendages off.  Today’s Ten on Tuesday is all about things you can do at the beach, and if it wasn’t for growing up outside of Alberta where there actually is a concept of “Beach” that doesn’t involve leaving the province, I suspect I wouldn’t have much of a frame of reference.

When I was wee and living in BC, my parents would take my brother JP and I to a beach just over the Canadian/US border in Washington State. Apparently it was one of the less-crowded sandy beaches around. By the time we were getting old enough to swim around on our own without a ton of parental supervision, my folks were renting a cottage on the Ottawa River from one of my Dad’s aunts for two weeks during the summers. Later, we moved to an old Victorian home just a ten minute walk from the river itself, just down the street from Robert Simpson Park in Arnprior, Ontario. JP and I spent as much time in the water as we could – we had the months pretty much mapped out as to just when in May you could get away with taking your first swim of the season (1).

Dog paddle like you've never paddled before!
Robin, braving the cold glacier-water

We would be at the river almost every day – Making castles, critters and other sculptures out of sand (2), getting a tan (3), or – more likely – getting a burn (4). We learned very quickly that the one thing that very fair-haired kids needed to do was to wear a shirt to the beach (5). Preferably a light one.

Spray Lakes
Spray Lakes, western Alberta

When my maternal Grandfather would visit, he’d take us fishing. The beach in the park had a wharf, and as long as you didn’t aim towards the swimmers, you were allowed to fish from it (6). There was also a boat launch, and Boompa (our name for Mum’s Dad – my cousin couldn’t say ‘Grandpapa’, and it stuck) loved to put in his little three-man fishing boat with the 10 HP Johnson motor so that he and my brother could go fishing (7). My brother now has that same boat up in Yellowknife for much the same purpose. Friends of the family had a much larger cruising boat, so there were times when we were able to take tours of the different islands (8) in our part of the river.

The beach was also a great place to enjoy live music (9), as the park down the street used to play host to a festival called the “Salute to the Ottawa Valley“. I seem to recall that it was mostly country music, but googling to see if it was still an annual event shows that it was discontinued at some point. Apparently they’re trying to get another festival going in its place.

When we got older, it seemed that the big thing was attending bonfire parties on the beach (10). I never attended any of the unsupervised teenage bonfires, but then…I somehow don’t think I missed much. I much preferred the family-and-friend parties where you could enjoy the fire and the songs of the frogs in the reeds after a long day of  activity.

Wading in
Jamie and Robin try to decide whether or not to take a dip

Here in Alberta, there don’t seem to be a lot of public beaches, and the season is really quite abbreviated. I haven’t seen a lot of pools in backyards the way that we used to in Ontario, and I think that it’s because the swimming season is so short. There are campsites that seem to have swimming holes, but they seem to be few & far between – and they’re up in the mountains, so they tend towards being full of glacier water. A little cold to swim in, from my meagre wading experience. The only swimming I’ve done in the past 15 years has been in well-chlorinated pools. While I still enjoy the occasional swim, chlorine is one of the things that deters me from doing so more often.

And yes, it does make me nostalgic for the days when all I needed to do was toss some clothes on over my swimsuit, hop on my bike, and ride down the street to the beach 🙂

Photos from 2010 trip to the Spray Lakes.
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A-Marketing we go…

I’ve noticed that a few of the blogs I follow (thank you Google Reader) have been doing 10 on Tuesday, so figured I’d jump on board and give it a shot. This week’s 10 are all about the Farmer’s Market

Flea Market

1. Fresh Produce: After being a SPUD subscriber, I have to say that I do appreciate being able to handle and choose my produce personally. Not that SPUD was bad, just that sometimes they had limited selection and sometimes the quality was just a little hit & miss.

2. Meats: I will admit to enjoying Buffalo, Caribou, and other free-range animals. At one point, we wound up with chicken breasts that kept us fed for about a month – a single breast was enough for two people! Getting these non-feedlot meats at a decent price is absolutely wonderful.

3. Bakery Goods: I don’t get to eat them often, but the closest Farmer’s Market has some wonderful pie vendors for everything from meat pies to fruit pies. My grandmother absolutely spoiled me for freshly-baked pies and pastries 🙂

4. Honey and honey products: It’s something I’ve noticed here in Calgary — there are at least two Farmer’s Markets that have had large honey stands. My grandfather was a beekeeper for a bit, and our home in the Ottawa Valley had a hive of honeybees in one wall, so I’m actually quite partial to the humble honeybee. Scared witless when they get too close, but fond of them in principle. I enjoy the occasional comb, and we’ve started a small collection of mead. Nummy!

5. Crafting Supplies: Occasionally, I will find vendors with discontinued cross-stitch patterns and other crafting supplies. Oddly enough, for a “farming province”, I have yet to find any knitting or spinning supplies (DON’T get me started. It’s one of my bugaboos about the Calgary Stampede)

6. Handcrafted items: One of the Markets we visited last year had handcrafted woodwork items. I was almost tempted to pick up a new wine cork.  I may just have to see if they’re still around once I’m not on a nocturnal schedule.

7. Location: There are at least 3 or 4 Farmer’s Markets in the Calgary area. The one we go to most often is the Crossroads market just outside Inglewood. There’s another one down by Chinook that we have visited once or twice. Robin has managed to find himself at a Market with just a little wandering in one direction or another.

8. Parking: Unfortunately, not all Markets are created equal. Apparently the “big” Market was once at the Currie Barracks, but has now relocated closer to a more industrial area. From what I hear, the parking is abysmal. Not only that, but the place apparently doesn’t live up to the hype. A couple of the other markets, Crossroads, for example, have adequate parking for their demographic, with residential curbside parking not too far away. Chances are pretty good in this city that if you’re going to the Farmer’s Market, you’re doing some travelling to get there. Unfortunately more a statement about our urban sprawl than anything else.

9. Price: Part of why that oth”big” Farmer’s Market doesn’t stack up, apparently. In addition to the parking situation, they apparently jacked up the prices. I’ll be honest…I’m not going to the market to pay boutique prices. I’m going to find food and items at a reasonable price. That’s not to say “cheap”.  Reasonable. If I can get the exact same wares with the exact same quality at the Safeway or Mall for the same price or less, then why even bother going to the Market, right? Luckily, we haven’t had to worry about this quite yet.

10. Sense of Community: This is one of the more important reasons I go. I grew up in a fairly rural area. I can remember friends’ parents sending me home from their farm with fresh produce. My grandfather grew his own veggies in the back garden. My parents used to take me berry picking, and every so often…we’d wind up at a Farmer’s Market or community fair. There’s just something about wandering through the stalls on a crisp fall morning, looking at freshly harvested fruits and veggies, and making plans for the next week of dinners, or the perfect carving pumpkin. Talking with the vendors, getting to know their stock…it’s something that the local grocery store just doesn’t offer.

Out on the town!


The needles are out and the yarn is flying. The Friday Five didn’t get released before I turned in this morning so instead you get this picture of what we’re doing at Swann’s Pub in Inglewood (Thanks Chels for being my unwitting model).

Don’t you wish you were here? 🙂

Still life…with Pocky.

More updating to come on the topic of “Things I did when I wasn’t here”, but in the meantime:

Yum!I call it “Still Life, with Pocky“.

We went out to dinner at Kinjo on Friday evening, with friends we haven’t seen for almost a year. This is normal for us, and by the end of the conversation, the guys are debating comics and making plans to tabletop RPG or somesuch thing. Maybe this coming year, we’ll actually get it together enough to do it. Either way…little fishies were eaten and enjoyed by all!  Nom nom little sushi!

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A Trip to the Zoo

Also known as “Things I was doing when I wasn’t posting here”.

You see, the thing about being on vacation means that rather than being a slave to either the job or to the blog, I can go outside on occasion and do things “in the wild”. That is, of course, when I’m not being totally hypocritical and just wasting time on my Sims games.

On Thursday we decided to take a trip to the Zoo, as the last time we had gone was the beginning of summer when it had been really crowded. The weather report was calling for snow on Friday (and they were right), but Thursday looked clear and crisp. We bundled up in a couple of lined sweaters (not knit by myself – purchased) and made our way.  I’m using Robin’s pictures from the trip, by the way.  Partially because I’m feeling lazy about downloading from my little Canon, and partly because he gets some pretty good snapshots on his cell phone (about 375 in total from the trip)

Now, usually we start with the Canadian exhibit, and wind up missing the Dinosaur Park (in which you’re just following a path through an area with dinosaur sculptures). This time, we took the extra hike.

Rawr, eh! I am coming to gets you, you hoser!

The dino walk was great, but because the local river was at a low level for the season and fish are apparently spawning, they had closed the waterflow to the riverlike scenes. As a result, we saw a lot of half-dinosaurs where the water level would usually hide the missing pieces.  I think my comment was “If you’re going to close the pool, you might want to take the toys out.”

From there we headed into the Eurasia area where we saw all kinds of critters from monkeys and camels

To Elephants (easily our favourite animal at the zoo, and all of them were out and about rather than cooped up inside)

They cap Spike's tusks to protect them because he tends to break them, not because he likes to gore the keepers.

To big cats (Siberian Tiger)

And slightly smaller cats (Snow Leopard…Dude got his paw stuck in a chain holding a pumpkin that I gather was being used as a decoration / scratching toy. Looked painful!)

Once we had done that, we took a stroll through the Savannah and saw the Hippos out and about, the giraffes, and the Lions. The head of the tiny pride was pretty vocal that day. After waking up and giving a few good yawns, he started pacing the cage and roaring. I don’t think we’ve actually ever heard him speak before, so it was a real treat.

From the Savannah, we headed towards the Canadian section. We skipped the Tropical building, mainly because we were nice and cozy warm in our lined sweaters, and knew that once we got indoors, our glasses would fog up and we’d both start wheezing and overheating. We’d seen what was in the building last time, so we went and saw the bears and and I got to feed the ducks. One drake was assertive enough that he pushed right to the front and instead of waiting for the grain to drop on the ground, he was heading for my hand. Amazingly enough, he was very gentle with his bill.  No peckings here!

I had a little time to commune with my friends the Bison (I think they’re great animals. Some time I’ll tell you about my Extreme Bison Experience on the way to my brother’s Wedding in Yellowknife)

We also saw some sheep you can’t shear

And goats that you wish you could.

After all that (plus the muskox, the caribou, and more owls and raptors than you could shake a stick at), we headed out.  And warmed up in any urbanite’s natural habitat.

In my defense, our local Starbucks is in the local Safeway and we were stopping in briefly after picking up dinner to see our friend Morgan on her break

Yep. Starbucks.

This week’s work & a trip to the museum

Not too much to report on this week. I spent some time putting heels in some striped socks, so there should be a Finished-Object post on Friday (If I can remember to take photos, of course).

I love the texture, but it's taking me forever.

I’ve gotten some work done on the current design sock-in-progress. I do have another design floating through my brain, I just need to decide what colours to work with. It’s a fairly easy idea, so I’m trying to find a way to make it a little more…interesting.  Which, of course, could be my downfall.  I tend to overthink things.

I also managed to put a couple more inches on Robin’s Cobblestone Pullover.  This makes me a very happy camper. Here’s hoping that progress continues!

In other news, we got word from our friend Chelsea that a special exhibit was opening at the local museum (The Glenbow). As we had Sunday off together this past week, Robin & I decided to head downtown on the C-Train. Since I didn’t have any kind of simple socks on the needles, I cast on a plain old stripey sock on the train.

We took a bit of a walk down to 17th Avenue for a nice lunch first. On the way, we passed the railway. There are times when I love playing the tourist in this city. I have to admit that while there isn’t a ton of great architecture, there are a couple of buildings that I’d be sad to see torn down.  The CP Railway station is one of ’em. Very art deco!

After lunch, we popped around the corner from the restaurant to Pudding Yarn. Pudding has been getting some small quantities of Lorna’s Laces in the past few months.  I managed to pick up a couple of the more unusually-themed colourways in the past 6 months…”Robot Overlord” and “Zombie BBQ”. Pudding just got in some of the new Lorna’s Laces “Solemate” sock yarn, so I couldn’t resist picking up a skein to try. I’m looking forward to finding the perfect pattern to try out this new yarn!

Lorna's Laces Solemate with Outlast in colourway Navy Pier

We then beat feet up to the Glenbow and had a great look around at the exhibit.  I gather it’s one of the travelling exhibits that they get in on a touring schedule.  This one is called Cut!, and it’s all about historic costuming for movies — right up my alley. I really had to keep myself from reaching out to check seams.

Marianne's dress from Sense and Sensibility as worn by Kate Winslet

It was obvious to me that everything was machine-made (ie: machine-sewn, not hand-sewn), and much of the embroidery was also “fudged”…but you’d never know it unless you were right up and close to the outfit. The bare bones of the costuming, though, were pretty accurate. It would be difficult to get the same silhouettes as the chosen eras without them.

Chemise, 17th C. corset, panniers

I’m not going to complain too much about corners cut in favour of expediency on the movie set.  When you consider that you might need multiple costumes for the same scene, with possibly one small change…or that they may have needed to replace a costume that was destroyed due to sweat or environment over multiple takes…sometimes you have to fudge the small stuff that the camera isn’t going to pick up.

Costumes from the movie "The Duchess"

It would have been great if they had gone earlier than the 18th Century with more of the costuming. I think the closest thing that came to “earlier” was costuming from the movie EverAfter. Yes, some of the designs from that movie were based on pre-Elizabethan era styles, but it would have been really fantastic to see costumes from the two Elizabeth movies with Cate Blanchett or possibly one of the costumes from The Other Boleyn Girl with Scarlett Johanssen and Natalie Portman.

Holmes and Watson's costumes from Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law

Either way, it was an afternoon that came at me with both fun and education! I’m hoping to go back again soon with Chelsea, as she’s just as interested in the historical costuming aspect as I am.

I’d also like to thank the Glenbow Museum for labelling the exhibit as “No Flash Photography” instead of a straight-up “No Photos”.  Getting to see the garment & undergarment construction was great. Being able to to take reference photos was even better. I was a little unprepared for it, as I’d left my “good” camera in my purse (which was in lockup), so I had to use my cell phone…just like many of the other attendees.  Next time I’ll know better!