Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wrong. Just, wrong!

Originally uploaded by amkb

Anna: It's been a long time since I've posted a photo for the "Love My Parts" flickr group. For those unfamiliar with it, this is a group promoting body acceptance, encouraging people to post photos of those body parts they find a bit harder to love than others.

This morning, I just had to ask my husband to get this photo for me when I saw it. This rather horrifying photo is the back of my right heel. I don't have cracks in my heel. I have canyons. With little mysterious black bits in them. And pieces of fuzz caught on the rough edges.


Ew, ew, ew.

I'm kinda glad I can't see that backs of my heels very often.

Though I have to wonder, which is worse. That fact that I asked my husband to dig out the macro lens and take the photo - or the fact that he did it! *L*

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Everything and Nothing!!

Philippe: - The geometric Nucleus; only the geekiest of you will get this. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Christmas celebration, and a year of health and happiness in 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Baby, it's c-c-c-cold outside!

Anna: After being spoiled by a long and mild fall (extra appreciated, after our extended, cold spring and early summer), the cold has finally hit. This is the view off our balcony this morning.



It was still -27C at the time I took these photos, though it's warmed up to -24C. We're supposed to go as high as -18C today.

I don't think I need to worry about the meat pies I set out on the patio swing to freeze last night.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

In the Christmas spirit

Anna: I recently joined a local crafters group's email list. It's a very friendly and active group that gets together IRL (In Real Life) regularly. For Christmas, a bunch of us signed up for an Advent gift exchange. How it works is, the organizer partners up the participants, and we all had to get 24 small gifts (maximum $5 each) and one large gift (maximum $25) to exchange with our partner. I thought it was a really fun idea. Keeping in budget was an interesting challenge. On the one hand, it's really hard to find nice gifts for under $5. On the other, it's amazing what nice gifts you can find for under $5! Of course, being a crafter's group, we were free to make the gifts, too. :-D

Today's gift was a set of giant jingle bell ornaments for the tree. I happened to be sitting with my daughter's cat on my lap, and she thought they were quite interesting. LOL

The blanket under cat and bells is a crochet blanket my younger daughter is making. It's not done yet, but it is more than big enough to sling over my lap. She could have finished it off already, but decided to add another bulk ball of yarn's worth to the border. This cat LOVES the blanket, and immediately climbed onto my lap when I was done covering my legs. I got my older daughter to get this picture for me.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Originally uploaded by amkb


Lately, we just haven't been taking a lot of pictures, and the ones I've been taking have been for my crafting blog. I figured it was about time. ;-)

We're slowly getting prepared for Christmas, including making tourtierre, the traditional French Canadian meat pie. Normally I use the blend of meats my MIL taught me, but not all of them were available, so this year is going to be different. Which is fine with me. I like experimenting.

I'd ordered 24 pounds of ground meats for 2 dozen pies. We ended up with a bit more than that, as the game meats come pre-packaged and frozen to the butcher, and they don't have control over the weights. I also bought a new pot, just for cooking the meats, as there is no way we could do it using the roaster like last year. We did only 12 pounds and it barely fit - stirring as it cooked was very messy. The roaster doesn't exactly fit on the element, either, and isn't long enough to fit over two. So I got this 16 quart capacity stock pot. It'll fit on one element, hold all the ingredients, and still have room for mixing.

I hope.

Tomorrow, the frozen meats should be thawed out enough for us to start cooking in the evening. Sunday, we make the dough and set up the assembly line. I've done very little baking in this oven since we've moved, but I know that one side of the element doesn't heat up properly. We'll have to make sure to work around that.

I'm really looking forward to making our pies!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's looking at me...

Anna: It's been a while since I've posted, so I went back to some of the photos we took at the Muttart Conservatory.

These fish-like orchids are in the tropical pyramid. I loved how they seem to have these geat big eyes, watching passers-by.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Myster photo solution: farm implement

Anna: So, did anyone figure out what the farm implement I'd posted about was for?

Farm implement - front view

I still don't know the name of it, but it's a tool for picking up hay bales on the fly. If you look at the bar around the front of the contraption, there's a piece turned inwards. That's the piece that attached it to a fitting on the hay rack. As the tractor pulled the rack and this thing along, the guides on the bottom would put the bales into position for the opening under the tall, rectangular metal piece.

Farm implement - back view

From the back, you can see the chain, which has regularly spaced teeth. These would pick the bale up, lifting it in between the chain and the metal panel. When it reached the top, the bale would tip sideways onto the platform at the top of the ladder. From there, I would take the bale and stack it onto the rack.

Before we got this thing, someone would have to walk alongside, picking up the bales and tossing them onto the rack, where someone else would take them and stack them. As you can imagine, that would get pretty tiring, not to mention difficult as the height of the stacked bales increased. As my older brothers grew up and moved on, there were fewer and fewer bodies to get the job done. With this thing, my dad and I could do the work on our own. My youngest brother had worked out a stacking system he showed me that was very efficient; like building an interlocking brick wall, with each layer anchoring the layer below. I had a method all worked out, ensuring a space around this thing had open floor as long as possible before I had to start putting bales under my feet.

I remember one day my dad and I decided to see just how many bales we could stack on the rack with the help of this thing. We'd never pushed the limit before. In the end, I had to get him to stop, not because I couldn't add any more bales, but because it was so high, the swaying back and forth at the top was causing motion sickness. Normally, when heading back to unload the rack, I'd ride at the top. This time, I had to climb down and ride on the tractor because I was ready to hurl up there!

We calculated it out afterwards, and it worked out to be about 500 bales in that one load. Each of those bales ranged from 55 to 75 pounds (the setting on our baler was broken, so the weight would change on its own, and my dad would have to stop and re-set it every now and then). We never tried to do it again, but were really impressed with how many we were able to get on there.

I used to really love throwing bales!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mystery photo - with a difference

Anna: A slightly different mystery photo this time. Nothing is hidden or cropped. Also, I don't actually know what this thing is called. If you happen to know the name of it, please tell me. Otherwise...

Farm implement - front view
Originally uploaded by amkb

Can you figure out what it's for or how it's used? Click on the picture for access to a larger image, as well as a back and top views. I'll give it about a week before I explain it, unless someone figures it out before then.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The pump shack

Originally uploaded by amkb

Anna: Another photo from the family farm.

When I was quite little, we didn't have running water or indoor plumbing in the house. What we had was this pump shack. It was located outside the fence around the house, as we used it to water our cattle, too. The unpainted area used to have an opening on the side with a water trough by the wall. A special metal pipe could be hung from the pump's spout, redirecting the water through the hole and into the trough. There was also a long handle that could be attached to the pump to get water manually, in case there was ever a power failure. We had quite a few of those back then. From here, we hauled water for use in the house, the chicken coop and the barn, as needed.

Inside the shed, on the side the pump was at, was an old wood cookstove we used to heat up water for baths. There was a claw-foot tub we'd take turns using, filling with more heated water as needed. There was a drain in the concrete floor, so when we were done, we'd just pull the plug and let the water drain onto the floor and into the drain. We always made sure to take baths on Saturday night, so that we'd all be clean and shiny for church in the morning. Being as little as I was at the time, my sister would carry me from the pump shack to the house, so I wouldn't get my feet dirty. I still remember one very dark night, looking over her shoulder as she carried me, and seeing a lightning strike somewhere off in the distance.

The shack was also a workshop. The other half of the shed held all sorts of tools and work spaces. There was even an old fridge were we kept the cream we collected for sale to the local creamery, which has long since been closed.

Then one day, someone flicked the switch to run the pump, and no water came out. We had to attach the handle and manually pump and pump and pump until we finally got some water going, but it was the end of our well. I don't know exactly why, but it had gone dry and we needed to dig a new one. My father chose to have a well dug near the house. He also had an addition added to the original part of the house, which was made of logs, building an indoor bathroom in the original part of the house and having running water installed in the new kitchen. My mother got an electric stove out of the deal, too - I don't think the wood cookstove we'd been using could be moved anymore. My dad even had trenches dug for pipes to a couple of fountains installed for the cows that would automatically maintain water levels, and even added a pump right in the barn.

Ain't technology grand? ;-D

Friday, October 23, 2009


Originally uploaded by amkb

Anna: Another shot taken while visiting the family farm. I have no idea where this old car came from, but it's obviously been there a while!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Originally uploaded by amkb

Anna: Another photo from the family farm.

When I came upon this contraption, I didn't recognize what it was at first. Then I realized it was upside down. These are the teeth from an old binder - the machine that would cut the wheat stalks, tie them into sheaves, then drop them on the ground behind. My dad would pull it with the tractor while one of my brothers operated it. The rest of us would follow behind, picking up the sheaves and stacking them into stooks. I was so small, my youngest brother and I could both fit into the middle of a stook together! I don't imagine I was much help with the work, but I still have fond memories of it.

Barbed wire and lichen

Originally uploaded by amkb

Anna: During our visit to my family farm, I had a chance to wander around a bit. There's an area that's a sort of graveyard of old cars and farm equipment. I found this roll of barbed wire there. Interesting to see it's been there long enough for lichen to start growing on it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Frost thyme

Anna: It's been a long time since we've posted photos. We have them... we just haven't got around to posting them. :-P

We've had huge amounts of fog in the last couple of nights. That left for some lovely frost on the remains of my herbs on the balcony. More than enough incentive to break out the macro lens.


The frost-kissed remains of thyme blossums.


And a few remaining leaves of parsley.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Originally uploaded by amkb

It took me a week, but I've finally uploaded some of the photos I took during our visit to the Devonian Botanical Gardens. You can see the rest of them here.

This passionflower was in the butterfly house. I only saw two butterflies this time around - wrong time of year to be visiting, I guess. These were blooming on one of the pathways along the wall, giving me better light and access with the macro lens.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Philippe: framing- I never know where to draw the line; the three shots below are at near-full, mid-range and close-in. Personally, I prefer the mid one but that's just me. Feel free to chime in on preference and composition. :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Playing with Light

Philippe: So we're out playing with sunsets, as displayed below. Both my daughter and I want to catch the sunset, and the cloud flash that happens immediately afterwards. We get the sunset, and wait... About ten minutes later, we conclude the after-light fizzled, so we pack up and start to head back to the van. Not 2 minutes from the van, the clouds turn a brilliant purple, just magestic lighting... I'm *SO* going back again :P

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Road Trip

Philippe: While Anna and the kids were busy getting wet, I looked around ;)

Just a little road trip...

Originally uploaded by amkb

Anna: Today we headed West out of the city, in the general direction of Jasper National Park, just because we could! :-D We ended up stopping in a town called Evansburg and visiting Tipple Park, then went on to the Pembina River Provincial Park before heading back to the city.

These are my daughters. They decided to cross the river to climb the cliff and so my older daughter could take some pictures. They had such a blast! I only walked half way across to take photos. The water was pretty cold and, after a while, it got pretty painful, so I didn't try going all the way.

You can see more of the pictures I took in my flickr set.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

NBTS Picnic

Anna: It's been a long time since we've posted! Time to make up for it. ;-)

Today was our annual NBTS (Not Back To School) picnic at Emily Murphy Park. There were a lot of new faces this year, and it was a beautiful day for it, if a touch hot. We even had a cameraman from the CBC filming and doing a couple of interviews, though from what I've heard, very little of the footage made it onto the news.

This year, we were treated to some fantastic demonstrations by performer Brandon Tyson. He's available for performances and classes at


Between people in the shelter, where we had sustenance provided, and the playground, I'd say this is about half of the people who were actually there at the time. This group is watching the start of Brandon's demonstrations.


He started off with contact juggling - the manipulation of acrylic balls with the body. I love the floating illusion here. Brandon had some volunteers from the group come up and try their hand and manipulating the balls under his instruction.


Watching contact juggling is quite mesmerizing! The acrylic balls can actually get quite hot, acting like a magnifying glass. Brandon demonstrated on one of the picnic tables, which you can see in my flickr set.


He also demonstrated with his practise poi. His performance ones can be lit on fire!


Before he had to leave, Brandon brought his buugeng out for me so I could get some shots. The spinning blades produce fascinating fractals.

It was a great demonstration, and Brandon is a very entertaining performer!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A moment..

Originally uploaded by amkb

Anna: I got a few good macro shots of this shield bug on my thyme. I caught this shot a moment before it flew away.


Originally uploaded by amkb

Anna: My daughter forgot her empty milk glass by the couch. The cat discovered it. She'd dip her paw into the dregs of milk on the bottom, then start licking it off. She wasn't quite sure if me with the camera was a good thing or not. *L*

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Foggy Morning

Philippe: Love foggy mornings..

This one is a stitch of three shots, just for fun

the fact that you can see the moon in the top right, and the sunrise in the bottom left is just fun :D

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Davis Concert Organ

The Davis Concert Organ
Originally uploaded by amkb

Anna: The girls and I were able to take in a free concert put on by the Winspear Centre for Music today. It was the first time we got to hear the Davis Concert Organ. It's also the first time I've seen a pipe organ that had the keyboards/stops/etc. section seperate from the pipes! That section was on the stage below. (You can see the other photos here.)

The performers were Duo Majoya, with Joachim Segger on grand piano and Marnie Giesbrecht playing the organ. They played Pictures at an Exhibition with ESO Principle Trumpeter, Alvin Lowrey. During the performance, the pipes were lit up in blue, red and purple, which made for some very striking photographs.

The last concert we took in, there were signs all over saying no photographs. I didn't see any this time, so I was glad I brought my old Sc along - though I did have to take the shots at 800 ISO. The images are quite grainy, but I'm still happy with them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Morning rewards

You know, Anna thinks me a little strange for liking mornings so much... All I can say, is that they *do* have their rewards :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cariwest Parade

Cariwest Parade
Originally uploaded by amkb

Anna: Philippe got some really amazing shots of the parade (see below) using the 70-300mm lens. I used the 18-55mm lens to get the distance shots he wouldn't be able to get. I've got mine uploaded here, if you want to see the rest.

Keep in mind when looking at these photos, we were near the very end of a long parade route. Not just in distance, which would have been enough to tire participants out, but in time. The police were able to close the main route to traffic, but there were a number of cross streets they couldn't close completely. Every now and then, between floats, they had to stop and let the traffic through. The parade was supposed to start at 12 or 12:30 (depending on where the info was coming from) but it was past 1 before we saw the start. It was past 2:40 by the time we packed up our chairs and headed home, so it would have been closer to 3 before the tail of the parade reached the end, a few blocks away from where we were.

This is one of the few decent frontal shots I managed to get. It was a fantastic parade with amazing costumes, but I wasn't able to get many clear shots, and those were almost all profile and back shots. Mostly due to one particular old woman who kept blocking my view, though she wasn't the only one. We were near an intersection, and whenever a new group drew close, a surge of people would step into the crosswalk area, taking pictures. Some would take their shots and step out, but a couple just stayed out until the group had passed, blocking everyone's view. By the end of the parade, people were actually walking into the parade, following people around, blocking any chance I - and others around me - had of getting a clear shot. It was very frustrating! I found myself glad I thought to bring my old S3 along and took some video, allowing me to catch the costumes in the gaps.

CariWest parade

Philippe: I got about 225 shots total, but only about 30 or so that were worth posting; here's a few of them :)