Saturday, June 25, 2011

Double rainbow

Taken east of Foam Lake.


Thunderstorms all around us. Taken east of Clavet, Saskatewan.

On the road

Let's see how this mobile blogging works with a photo attached.

We have been driving for about 2 hours now. This photo is taken from a mall are we stopped at to get gas, on the west edge of Lloydminster. Time to stop for lunch, too.

No matter how often I take this trip, I am always struck by the beauty of our countryside.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Just a test to see if i can blog from my phone. My younger daughter and I will be heading to Manitoba tomorrow morning. Hopefully I will be able to post some photos while we are away.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Out for a walk.

Philippe and our older daughter went out for a walk this morning, and she got some photos she said I could post here.

We've had a lot of rain in the last few days - with more rain while they were walking. Edmonton is split by the fast-flowing North Saskatchewan River. The last few years have been quite dry and, other than spring run off, the river is typically rather low.

Not at the moment!

High Water

Here you can see some of the taller bushes barely visible above the water's surface. The river valley is enjoying the moisture, though, looking like a lush, green jungle.

While crossing the bridge the above photo was taken from, my daughter also found this.


A pigeon nest with two chicks. The mother was nearby, keeping an eye on things. They were quite surprised by the next being in such a relatively exposed area.

Gosh, baby pigeons look... alarming! *L*

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lookin' good!

Got a huge job done today. We made the mistake of replacing our apple snails with black snails. Unfortunately, the type of snail we got was a pest variety (how nice of the pet store to be selling those...) and before long, there were hundreds of tiny snails. It turns out they don't need to get very big before they can start laying eggs, either. Those hundreds of tiny snails laid thousands of eggs. When I took the decorative items out to clean them and change out some of the water, they were slimy with eggs, inside and out, and minuscule snails layered the inside. Thousands more began to emerge from the gravel. Since our pleco, Boris, had so enthusiastically eaten our apple snails, I thought he might eat these, but I guess they don't taste good or something, as he ignored them. Even when they crawled all over him.

Today, we put an end to it (I hope!). We fished our Danios and Boris out and into a bucket. Boris was not happy with this. It's remarkable just how far he could splash water while trying to not get netted! When I put him into the 10 gallon bucket, there was just enough room for him to sorta rotate on the bottom - he's bigger than the diameter of the bucket!

Next was getting the decorations, filter, thermometer/heater and aeration stone out and into another bucket. Everything was slimy with eggs. Even the suction cup holder on the thermometer had to be taken apart for cleaning. The filter we were using was a type that had most of it in the water, and snails were actually getting inside it. I couldn't touch anything without hearing little crunching noises as tiny snails were crushed by my fingers. Gross!

Then there was the fun job of emptying as much water as I could before I could bring the tank down to the floor from its pedestal so I could reach the bottom - ours is a tall and narrow hexagon, rather than the usual rectangular tank. After scooping out even more water, I reached down to start scooping out the gravel and stopped in horror.

I could actually hear all the snails moving around in the gravel!


The gravel got scooped out into a water proof bag, double bagged, sealed tight and thrown away.

Yes, I am a snail murderer!

Then it was time to clean everything. Lots of soap, scaling hot water and scrubbing! The tank had to be washed out twice, and everything got an extra rinse in scalding hot water. That all took a couple of hours.

While my older daughter started setting up the aquarium again, my younger daughter and I headed out to try and find filters. Among the stuff we got with our aquarium, which we bought second hand, were a couple of pumps of a different type, with only an intake pipe going into the water. I had no idea if they worked or not, or if the filters for them were still available. Since I needed some chemicals for the water anyhow (and more gravel, it turned out - we went colourful this time), my younger daughter and I visited a couple of pet stores to get what we needed and look for more filters. It turned out they were easy to find, so it was just a matter of testing the pump to see if it still worked.

By the time we got back home, the tank was half re-filled with water. Little by little, everything got put into place and more water was added until we could safely put the fish back.

Oh, dear.

The Danios were easy enough, but Boris was not a happy camper! I ended up having to use both the net and my hand to get him in, though he left us with quite a lot of water to clean up in the process!

Boris, I discovered, has very course scales, like very rough sandpaper.

When I finally got him into the net and into the tank, I found another problem. I couldn't get him out! At first we thought he'd managed to tangle himself somehow and get stuck, or had hurt himself somehow. After several attempts to swish him gently out of the net, I finally had to use my hand to get his body out of the net. I couldn't get his head out, though. It turns out he'd bitten onto the net, and wasn't letting go!

No, they don't have teeth. They do have grasping mouth parts, though.

Once his body was free of the net, Boris finally let go and dashed off. He is one ticked off fish! As I'm writing this, I can see him now, with his sail and fins in full aggression mode.

The tank looks good though! And so does Boris! :-D


I just love his markings! See those barbels on the sides of his mouth? That's what he uses to grasp and manipulate his food (and grab onto nets!). They're surprisingly dexterous.

I couldn't resist. He was posing so well! I got some more detailed shots. Check out this sail!


You can also see the spiky ends of his scales. No wonder he was so rough to the touch!


He was watching me the whole time I took the pictures, too. His eyes move almost like chameleon eyes.

Did you know plecos can blink? It's only about once every minute and freaked the heck out of me the first time I saw it. I had no idea there were fish that could blink!

So now our tank if finally all clear of snails. I hope! It's still possible we missed something and they could come back. If they do, we'll invest in an assassin snail. They eat other snails and nothing else.

If we'd known about them earlier, we could have saved ourselves - and our fish - a lot! You'd think, with all those snails, the tank would get really clean, but it got really disgusting, instead.

Live and learn!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Checking out the museum

The Royal Alberta Museum opened a new temporary display this weekend, Creatures of the Abyss (pdf). This is a favorite theme for us, and my older daughter and I both really enjoy the museum, so we made a point of checking it out. We like to head over on the weekends (half price admission before 11am on the weekends), hang out in the displays until the cafe opens, have a delicious lunch (very reasonable prices and generous portions - almost too generous!), wander around some more, checking out any new stuff, then hit the gift shop before we leave. A lovely way to spend a few hours. :-)

Today was a bit of a surprise, just as I drove into the parking lot. Some time ago, I'd found myself driving behind a vehicle with the back end painted. It rather perplexed me. When the vehicle turned, I could see it had paintings on the doors, but I couldn't make out what they were (one side was just a glimpse in my rear view mirror). It was a bit of a surprise to pull into the parking lot and see it again - with more paintings added, since I last saw it, including one that was unfinished. I couldn't resist getting photos.

If the owner of this vehicle happens to read this, I'd love it if you'd leave a comment explaining what it's about.

This is the view I had when driving behind the vehicle, the first time I saw it.


Click on the image to go to my flickr page and see the other views, including the writing at the top.

None of the others are giving the finger, except the one showing the top of the trunk.

Based on the photos, I get the impression the driver 1) hates cell phones, 2) hates God and 3) hates people.

But I could be wrong.

As for in the museum itself, we had a lovely visit. Here is what greeted us when we went into the new display.

Deep ocean

Except there's a side view on entry.

The eye on this guy moved. :-D

Once again, click on the image to see more.

I have to admit, we were a bit disappointed in the display. With how much there is to explore in the deep oceans, we really expected more. There was a lot of open space around the displays, and a fair number of hands on stuff. Parts of it were preachy in an eyerolling sort of way. We think it was really aimed more at young children, and it seemed rather dumbed down to me.

We loved seeing the hagfish, though. That's one of my daughter's favorite creatures.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Our crazy cats

What is is about cats? They are just so weird sometimes!

Take our Crack Kitty, otherwise known as Harley.

Our crack cat

Every now and then, my daughter plunks her down on her lap like this, and the cat just stays there.

Sometimes for hours.

My daughter doesn't get cuddled by her cat very often. Harley is more likely to suddenly attack. Not in any serious way, but in a very crazy way. Or she stares, with wide, insane, slightly murderous eyes. Hence her alternative name, Crack Kitty.

Other times, she suddenly runs throughout the house before using one of the walls as a brake. Which seems to work fine, as I don't think she has bones. Just cartilage. There's no other explanation for the way the turns into a black, furry puddle when she lies down.

Then there's my other daughter's cat.

Our adorable cat

This cat is much more dignified. No furry puddles out of this cat. She is very particular about how she tucks her feet under her, making this elegant little package of composure. She's a total Queen. Unfortunately, she's also half deaf and insanely loud. Especially in the wee hours of the morning.

She also loves to cuddle. Even if it's a pillow. Then she does that thing with her head, exposing her chin. I couldn't resist... after taking this photo, I just had to scritch her chin. She didn't even wake up.

Cats are crazy. Maybe that's why I've come to like them so much! ;-)