Wednesday, April 30, 2008

62:365 Aquarium

Anna: Philippe and I aren't actually sure which of us took this picture! Philippe had expected to be able to come home and get his camera before going to an appointment, but things didn't quite work out that way. The girls and I ended up picking him up from work to drive him, so we only had my camera. His appointment was in a mall with these huge saltwater fish tanks across the hall. I keep trying to get pictures of the fish, but it's such a challenge! I got a couple of shots in, then Philippe borrowed the camera to try for a few shots before he went in for his appointment, then I took a few more. Since we both tried for this fish, neither of us remembers who actually got the shot. *L* I tend to think Philippe got it, though.

At least with this one, I *know* I'm the one that took it. :-D

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

61:365 Henna

Anna: The girls and I have been having a bit of a henna party today. These are my youngest daughter's hands, after I finished doing the vine design on her right hand.

We're all sitting around, watching a documentary dvd, with henna paste drying on our skin. If we can figure out how to wrap them for the night, we'll take the paste off tomorrow. The hands are rather easy, but my elder daughter's scalp is a bit more of a challenge...

Monday, April 28, 2008

60:365 A day at the park

Anna: The girls and I made it to park day today. It was actually hot and sunny this afternoon, though the lake is still mostly ice. At least it's got a ring of open water around the edges again. I got quite a lot of shots today, and here are some of my favorites.

Growing Eggs.

One pair of Canada Geese made a nest in a planter next to the parking lot. Today, there was no sign of Mama or Papa, but the eggs were there to be seen. We stayed well away. Zoom is a wonderful thing. :-D

A Special Scent.

Next, we passed this goose on guard. I was surprised to find a nest here, but I guess geese aren't as bothered by smells like we humans are. See that pipe sticking out of the ground? The most awful smells of sewer gas comes out of there. I have no idea what's in this building, or what's under it to emit those smells, but I always find myself rushing to get past it.

Loaded for Bear.

Some people take their photography much more seriously! *L*

I had a chance to chat with this guy later on. He wasn't too happy with the photographic opportunities of the day. No birds! Of course, there were Canada Geese and seagulls everywhere, but with equipment like that, I don't think those were what he was after. :-D

Up Close and Personal.

Still no leaf buds anywhere, but we do have catkins!

Checking Things Out.

There's a spot where, on pleasant days like this, we all tend to gather. With a small grove of spruce trees nearby, there's always at least a few squirrels. Curiosity seemed to get the better of this one. :-D

Ball o' Fluff.

I happened to walk around the back of a building when I saw something move across the grass. At first I thought it was something blown by the wind. Then it stopped by a pillar and waited, watching to see if I were a danger. I was able to get a few shots before it dove into the crack in the concrete right at the corner at the base of the pillar. If I hadn't seen it go in, I wouldn't have believed it could fit!

Feed Me!

There's always food to share with the group of us, and the seagulls know a good deal when they see one. This one seems to be demanding another Cheezie. *L*

Sunday, April 27, 2008

59: 365 - Nature Centre

K.. You know the old adage that goes "If you can't say anything nice..." ? Well, we went to the John Janzen Nature Center. The birds they had on display were all injured in some way and would die in nature; instead of having them euthanized, it was decided to care for them and allow people to see them up close.

Philippe: I actually got lucky with this shot since I'd forgotten the camera on a setting of F:20, so *all* my other shots were blurry :(.

Philippe: This guy had the camera with proper settings, so I was able to get a wack of absolutely crystal-clear shots. The down side is that with my slower lens, I had to F:4 the shots, so the base of the bird is somewhat blurred.

Anna: Today, we decided to take in a local nature centre, as I'd heard good things about it. Even taking into account that the trails would be in poor condition because of the weather we've been having, it was a real disappointment. Somehow, I just expected to see... well... more than a bunch trees with signs (This is a spruce tree. They grow slowly...) and one squirrel. The ravine and parks beside our apartment are a lot better. :-/ It wasn't until we'd finished the short trail (no attempt to take the long one in current conditions) that we saw birds, and they'd been brought in by the local zoo for today's events, all of which were aimed at indoctrinating really, really young kids ... but that's a whole 'nother story, and a huge pet peeve of mine.

This is Mariah, a peregrine falcon. She's been with the zoo for 16 years. It's believed that she'd injured herself by running into a power line during her first migration. She can fly, but only for very short distances before she's completely exhausted. Today was her first trip out for one of these events this year, so she was a bit skittish. Especially when some kid's animal balloon suddenly popped! *L* Poor thing just about jumped out of her feathers.

This is Meg, a kestrel. I'm really happy with how this picture turned out - enough that I just cropped it, but didn't reduce the size like I usually do. It's still hard to see, but it you look at the picture full size, you can sort of see her damaged foot. You can see it better in Philippe's picture, above. She was found injured and brought to the zoo. The damage was permanent, and she's unable to fend for herself. She's about half the size a kestrel would normally be, due to malnutrition before she was found and cared for. They chose not to kill her off, but kept her for their education program. Her handler mentioned that a lot of people object to this. Apparently, this bird would be better off dead than being "used" by humans.

Meg in particular seemed just as curious about the people gathered around as we were about her. :-D She was constantly bobbing her head around, looking at everyone with intense interest while her handler told us about her and answered questions. All the more reason I'm glad I managed to get this picture.

Besides some good pictures of the two birds, we left with a few freebies. We didn't get a chance to look through everything until we got home. They passed out cloth bags with some glossy pamphlets, bookmarks, fridge magnets and removable tattoos in them, most promoting 2008 as the Year of the Frog, but also reminding people to leave baby animals alone, because they're not really abandoned.
The bag was some sort of unbleached cloth - possibly cotton, but I'm not sure - with a design screen printed on one side. Inside, I found a label that read "Made in India" on one side and "do not wash" on the other.

I found that remarkably funny, for some reason.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

58:365 Escape!

Anna: It's alive - and trying to run away!

My sourdough has reached young adulthood. Rosencrantz is still unsure of what he wants to do in life, and wishes to explore his options.

This is why a sourdough must never be in a sealed container.

And yes, we name our sourdoughs.

When I lifted the lid to feed the started today, I could see it had expanded to just under the lid after yesterday's feeding. I didn't need to add water this time, just flour and a bit of sugar, but I knew I'd need to keep a close eye on it. I checked it several times as I cleaned the kitchen, and it was slowly coming to a bubble. When I was done cleaning, I sat down for a bit - and promptly forgot all about it.

Finding this changed my baking plans considerably. *L* I hadn't intended to use Rosencrantz until tomorrow, at 7 days old. Instead, I started on it today. I made plain white bread for hamburger buns in one batch, then oatmeal, flax and honey dough for a second. Then I went out and bought more loaf pans and a much needed cookie sheet. By the time I came back, they were ready to shape, so I've got two sheets of hamburger buns on sheets rising with two loaves. As soon as I finish posting this, my scalded milk should be cool enough to do another 2 loaves of milk and honey bread.

Even with two cups of starter taken out, rose again to the top of the container, though not quite enough to overflow, while I was gone. It's all frothy now, too.

I'd say this starter is doing just fine!

Friday, April 25, 2008

57:365 - Morning Haze - Afternoon Treat

Philippe: Though I've blown the sky out, The shot still captures the light misty haze that was hanging over everything this morning in the valley.

Anna: The girls and I are in "fine" shape today. I'm full of aches and pains from my shift last night. While I was working, our elder daughter started feeling under the weather, and by this morning her sister wasn't feeling too good, either. So our weekly library trip was short and missing a person, as only our younger daughter was feeling well enough to go. We made it a short trip, then stopped by at the Second Cup that's in the same building as our library. We haven't been there in ages, so it was a nice treat. My daughter was initially going to order a chilled drink, but I pointed out that a cold drink wouldn't help her stomach any. So she ordered a white hot chocolate, instead. Ah, the magic healing powers of such treats. Within minutes, her stomach had completely settled and she was feeling much better. :-D

Thursday, April 24, 2008

56:365 Toes

Anna: The cat sometimes likes to sit with her front paws together oh-so-precisely. I decided to see how co-operative she would be with the super macro setting on the camera. This is the only photo that turned out. *L* I even tried a few of her face, which she's let me do before, but today she kept rubbing her cheeks on the camera and moving around. So, I had to be satisfied with my one good picture. And clean my lens of cat smears. ;-)

Today, I also got a special crock pot, just for the sourdough. Actually, it's a pottery cannister. I needed something small enough not to take up too much space in the kitchen, with a wide open mouth big enough for us to scoop in with a 1 cup measuring cup, and a lid that doesn't seal air tight (wouldn't want it to explode...). So now my baby sourdough is an adolescent sourdough, with a very thorough feeding. A few more days, and we'll test it out. :-D

Philippe: Well, since we're doing kitty shots, I'd like to say that, for *this cat*, being spoiled rotten would be a major step down for her. We are *all* private nap areas, nose wipe (she calls it nuzzling) areas, and climbing posts.. and she will *not* be dissuaded when she wants someone for one of those roles.. She's jumped up on Anna when she was putting on shoes, she's jumped on my shoulder *as soon as* I've put on my shirt in the morning (she tried once without the shirt and won't do that again, I d0n't think.. Too noisy).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

55:365 Three Days Old

Anna: This is our sourdough. It's just a baby sourdough right now, at only three day's old. It's a tiny one, too. Just big enough to have room to expand in an old POM juice jar.

It's been a long time since we've had a sourdough in the house. They need tending and care, and sometimes they go bad and can only be thrown out. My husband and I still talk fondly about our first sourdough, made when our eldest daughter was just a toddler. I'd found a book, called Alaska Sourdough. It was a great read, with plenty of stories and history to go with the hand written recipes. The starter used potato water (which was an actual potato cooked and mashed in its water, not just water potatoes were cooked in), and we gave it a try. It said in the book that the sourdough could be used at 3 days, but it was better to wait a week. Well, we were eager to give it a go, so I made up a flapjack recipe from the book. Holy Moly! Talk about strong! They had an almost alcoholic flavour to them, and eating them felt a lot like drinking cognac. Those things would sure put hair on your chest! They were delicious, though we did wait until the week was up before trying again. *L*

We kept that sourdough in a large Tupperware Thatsa Bowl, and used it frequently. Breads, cakes, pancakes, muffins - there were so many things made better with that sourdough.

We kept it alive and thriving for almost 2 years. By then, we'd moved from BC back to Manitoba. We had moved into a house we rented from one of my brothers, and it wasn't unusual for him to crash at our place if he was working very late. When he did, he usually brought along some of his own foods or drinks - like coffee, as we never had any in the house. One time, he'd left something wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge. I never looked into it to see what it was, since it was his and I won't go into other people's stuff.

The following weekend, we were invited to stay over at my in-laws. At the same time, my mother was in the city to take in a weekend event. So she was going to stay over at our place while we were gone. The first morning there, she made herself some tea, then went looking into the fridge to see what there was to go with it. She saw the bag, looked inside, and found some donuts. She started to have one with her tea when she discovered they were moldy. She was, understandably, disgusted and threw them away.

Later on, however, she looked under the lid of a large bowl we kept on the counter. Well, if you've ever had a sourdough, you know that they can have a distinctive and powerful smell. They also bubble and froth, then dry along the sides as they recede from the newest feeding. My mother thought it was something else that had gone bad. When we got home, we found she'd filled it full of water to soak away the dried stuff, but hadn't thrown it out yet. It was unsalvageable.

Sadly, we've never been able to duplicate the success of that first sourdough. We've tried the same recipe again. We've tried other versions. We've yet to have one that lasted more than a few months.

Perhaps this baby will make it. :-D

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

54:365 Still coming down and Cute stuff

Ok, so we over did it a bit on pictures today... ;-)

Anna: After being stuck in the apartment for several days, we all headed to the 4th floor lounge to get a bit of physical activity on the squash courts. Here, you can see the door onto the 4th floor patio.

I wonder how they're going to open it to clear the snow away? In the winter, the staff will bring snow blower right through the lounge and through that door.

Remember this picture? It's the same window. Actually, the drift is a bit taller than it looks, as there's a bit of a gap, then the drift peaks a few inches higher. It's higher than I am tall, so it's over 5 1/2 feet.

Did I mention we were on the 4th floor?

We did get some interesting sculptures again. There was one corner drift this is part of, where the wind was constantly whirling around, then up and over to the other side, to be dumped onto the drift in the previous picture.

Philippe asked me to post these next ones for him. He *really* liked using my monopod to take the shots. Her Royal Highness was being cute again. :-D First, she claimed our younger daughter's lap again, preventing any further work on the scarf.

Then she decided to look down upon her subjects while perched on the back of the computer chair.

She hates flash.

Monday, April 21, 2008

53:365 - Winter Woes

Philippe: This was a common site today.. I had to go downtown and the bus I was on decided to sideswipe a pole.. Second bus I got on got stuck in drifts.. Overall, it was a really lousy day for driving.

Anna: Today was supposed to be park day. Instead, we woke to the sounds of engines revving as people tried to get out their cars out of the drifts. So we puttered around the house, with our younger daughter doing more work on the scarf she's crocheting for her sister (who decided to do with straight purple instead of striped) - at least until the cat decided it was much more important for her to be a cat bed. *L*

Sunday, April 20, 2008

52:365 Storm warning

Anna: We've actually got a winter storm warning for our area right now. It's only -9C, but it's blowing like crazy. I went to our 4th floor lounge area, intending to get another picture from the same spot I took yesterday's shot. Instead, I found this. The door to the patio is blocked by this drift.

We're not getting a lot of snow, and it's the kind of snow with tiny flakes that are more like ice chips. The wind has been sculpting some interesting drifts along the glassed in hall leading to the lounge area.

We *had* been warm enough for the grass to start turning green.

I phoned my parents in Manitoba this morning. They're expecting +20C today.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

51:365 It's global warming, I tell you! (sorry, I couldn't resist...)

Anna: Last weekend, we hit temperatures above 20C. Today, we hit a low of -11C with wind chills of -19C. As I write this, we've got -9C with a wind chill of -16C.

Perhaps spring will finally arrive some time next month.

Friday, April 18, 2008

50:365 Lunch and Pink

Anna: Friday is the usual library day for the girls and I. Once done at the library, we like to go someplace at least for drinks. If the budget allows, we'll do lunch. Today, the budget allowed. ;-) We stopped at a place called The Three Bananas Cafe, where we got to sit and look through our library selections while waiting for our food. My younger daughter ordered a 3 cheese pizzette, while my older daughter and I had bowls of Boston Clam Chowder and shared a traditional (mushroom and pepperoni) pizzette. The crusts on the pizzette are a multi-grain flat bread I can't remember the name of, but really like. The grilled flatbread that comes with the soup is really nice, too.

I posted the blue building a couple of times. I posted the gold one. Today, I was after pink. After lunch, we headed for this nearby building, with its distinctively colored windows. I admit to a bit of photo manipulation, here. There are power lines all over the place and, even after cropping, I still had one running across the top left. So I got rid of it. :-D

The inside is also very interesting, and I've been wanting to get pictures. Especially in the food court area, where the pillars have murals of local wildflowers. The one time I did go in with a camera, I had a security guard come up and tell me pictures weren't allowed. I'm guessing because of all the government offices in there. Ah, well.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

49:365 - Reflections - updated - Almost Done

Philippe: You know, I think this is my favourite tree in Edmonton. :). Took this shot twice; first at F1.8 (what you see here) and again at F: 8.0. I figured, since this is a scenery shot, it would benefit from a deeper depth of field, but the F8.0 shot slowed the shutter speed down to the point where the sky blew itself out.

Oh.. and in case you were wondering, I'm a morning person. :)

Anna: Our younger daughter does crochet, and she's been working on a scarf for her dad for some months now. None of us can remember if she started before or after Christmas, but it was around then. See that mass of yarn on the side? That's all that's left, and she's finished! The scarf itself is carefully rolled up so it's easier to flip. It's about 4 feet long now. We'll have to measure it when it's done.

Funny thing is, although I'm the one who taught her how to crochet, I can't duplicate her method. She holds her hook differently, which gives an extra twist of yarn. I hadn't actually noticed the difference in how she holds her hook for the longest time, but the result is a very solid fabric, with smaller gaps between the stitches. I rather like it, but it took me a while to figure out why hers looked so different.

When this is done, she plans to make another for her sister, who's already chosen purple and green colours for it. :-D

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

47 - 48:365 Yesterday and today - Updated

Anna: I did take pictures yesterday, but never even uploaded them off the camera before I had to leave for my first shift at the new job (which went well, by the way). I didn't even see them until today. *L*

Yesterday: Our elder daughter was on the hunt for sidewalk chalk. While chalk like what these folks use is more what she'd like, anything with a variety of colours was welcome. She found some, but it turned cold again. Yesterday, she and her sister decided, cold or no cold, they were going to use the new chalk on the balcony! *L* They both went on an eye theme. Our elder daughter drew this one, while our younger daughter drew 3 in another corner.

This concrete, though, is really rough. The walls work much better. :-D

Today: We have a weird cat. That's all there is to it! Mind you, I think all cats are weird. *L*

This can't be comfortable. :-D

(All shots below are Philippe; but he gets tired of typing his name.. )
You know, Blogger is just sucking right now, so you get top comments :P.. This one is a fuzzy on a tree, taken with my 18-55 (at 55) but in good light so it turned out nice.

There are a number of nice houses overlooking the river valley, and this one happens to have a neat fence.

This was what appears to be frost-damaged bark on one of the trees at the end of our walk. The light was a little wonky, so I've got my 50mm at F1.8 to get a hand-held shot.

K.. I'm forcing myself to stop here. I liked the fact that I could actually take this shot (it was getting a little dark) with my 50mm.. I *LOVE* my 50mm.. I can't afford the good version, but this one will do for now :D.

Monday, April 14, 2008

46:365 - Morning - updated - Afternoon

Philippe: This is one of the paths we trod down :)... Though frankly, at this stage of the game, by the time we hit this path we're mostly walking; getting back into running might take a while before it's smooth ;)

Anna: The girls and I left early for our weekly get together at the park so I could see what photos I could get before things got busy. It turned out to be one of those great days where photos I wasn't sure of, turned out to be fantastic once loaded on the computer. I managed to reduce my favorites to only 4 photos. *L*

This time of year, the geese have chosen their nesting spots, mostly on one of two islands on the lake. Some, however, choose busier locations. Like this planter next to the parking lot.

This is one of those situations that remind me why I love digital photography so much. Although the goose let me come quite close, I didn't want to disturb her, so I stayed back and used maximum zoom. Once uploaded, I found details I simply couldn't see otherwise, like the droplets of water on her back.

Normally, I don't really try for seagulls. Not my favorite bird. When this one obligingly posed for me on one of the rails, I gave it a go, and was really surprised by how well it turned out. Again, I found details I couldn't see as I took the picture, like the bright red around the eye.

As I was getting pictures of the gull, a pair of mallards swam by. Right now, the only open water is all along the edge of the lake, so they didn't have too much choice but to come close to me. I love how the colours in the feathers showed up, and being able to see her legs in the water.

As we were leaving, we found another pair of birds. I'm told they're called Common Goldeneyes by my kids. They know these things better than I do. *L* I was really tempted to post a picture of the female glaring at me, but in the end, it was the male's "expression" in this photo that won me over. The head isn't as clear as it could be because of the movement, but gosh he looks funny!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

45:365 The eyes have it...

Anna: Today was a very productive photo day.

Since moving to our current city, one of the things I quickly discovered is that there's a *lot* of public art. I've been slowly working on what I've creatively dubbed "The Art Project," getting pictures of as much of the public art that I can find. This afternoon I went for a walk towards the downtown area and finally got photos of a bunch of murals I've been meaning to get for almost 2 years now. This is one of them. It's called the Moseyeic Mural, put together by a team of youth street artists (I'm not sure what that means) for a 2002 art festival.

Sadly, it's not on the best of areas. This wall is the side of an empty pawn shop, one of many in the area (though most of the others are still running). It's an area of contradictions, actually. It includes Chinatown, some beautifully well maintained homes, modern office buildings, the local police station, 24 hour XXX peep shows, run down buildings, both private and commercial, a great many boarded up businesses, some wonderful murals, and a couple of blocks so questionable, even the two tattoo parlors left, though the murals where they used to be still remain. There's also a mission, a Chinese Christian church, and The Church of Scientology, with its windows filled with giant posters advertising how Scientology will answer every problem a person might have.

A truly colourful area.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

44:365 - Morning run - updated: Reflections

Philippe: I think this is my favourite shot, then again, I've got a thing for sunlight and water. This one is simply a closeup of the sun shot below.

Philippe: This is by far, one of my favourite benefits of morning jaunts (in this case, a run). I've lucked out in that the sling bag I've got for the camera has a waist strap as well and, when tightened properly, doesn't hinder the run at all. :)

The 'saucer' effect is a known issue with the D70 and direct sun shots.. I don't mind it too much as it adds to the mood :P.

Philippe: This one would need trimming to make it pretty, but I like the wide feel of the shot.

Anna: One of the interesting things about our city is the pedway system in the downtown core. Pedestrian walkways run through buildings, below street level and, as in this picture, above street level. This picture was taken from a 4th level pedway, which is actually 3 floors above street level. There's another pedway directly below us, similar to the one visible in here, running from a parkade to a shopping mall. The mall is actually in two buildings, joined by above and below ground pedways. With the exception of 1 or 2 blocks, a person can travel through the major downtown complexes and LRT stations without ever stepping foot outside. A handy thing in inclement weather!

Aside from it being really neat to watch traffic pass below us, I like the reflections in the blue glassed building.