Grass is Crispy when the Dew Freezes

Here is my Weather conversation for today: The rain let up just in time! The Bow River at The Cabin peaked just inches below most of the length of the berm. Some water did infiltrate, and for now the 9 hole golf course is a 7 hole one, but with some pumping, and some dry weather, this situation should be fixed quickly.

Here at The Red House, we woke up to … FROST!


This patch of tall lawn grass was frankly bewildered by this. Frost! It was bad enough to be covered by a film of ice, but imagine having a tiny bead frozen to the tip of your spear!

Don’t knock the weather; nine tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.
– Ken Hubbard –

Angry Bow River – 2011

A Footnote to yesterday’s post about the Weather Stone – I have one more Weather observation to add to the signage that describes the weather scenarios: If the Stone is covered with silt – it was a flood.

Our cabin is in a river valley that has seen major flooding. In 1995 the flood was said to have been a “Once in a hundred years event.” In 2005 it was far worse than that. The Car Guy’s Sisters cabin survived both events, though they lost most of the contents of the cabin in the second flood. I expect our cabin did too, but we hadn’t purchased it yet.

Yesterday morning we got a phone call saying that The River was rising, and we had best go to the cabin and secure our belongings. Which we did, thanks to the family members who came out to help us. Then we joined the sand bagging crew. By 6 PM last night, all we could do was go home and hope the River didn’t do too much damage.

The River – a month ago during spring run-off.

The River yesterday, sandbags in place.

rock wire

The Weather Stone and its shadow. I don’t know if it got packed up and put into a safe place, or whether it faced the fury of the river…

Weather Stone is Wet

Perhaps you have seen Weather Stones? They are, quite simply, weather stations for people who want a real time synopsis of what it is like outside. We have a rather elegant one at the Cabin on Antelope Street. It was constructed by the “Live on the Edge” Grandson and The Car Guy’s Sister. Normally this type of weather forecasting equipment would consist of a stone that is suspended from a rope. Our stone is far more decorative.

rock wireIt was wrapped with the aluminum wire that was discarded by the Electric company (after they repaired the lines that were brought down by a fallen tree, courtesy of a beaver that didn’t obtain a logging permit.) In addition to the wire work, various beads give the stone a very artsy appearance.

Yet to be added is the appropriate signage for those folks who aren’t fluent in the weather terminology of our part of the world:

If the Stone is wet – it is raining.
If the Stone has a shadow – it is sunny.
If the Stone is moving – it is windy.
If the Stone has white stuff on top – it is snowing.
If the Stone is hard to see – it is foggy.
If the Stone is gone – it is a tornado.

Here at The Red House, however, we use a an even more rudimentary system for determining what the weather is like. We open the front door and go outside. If we get wet, it is raining. If we see our shadow, it is sunny. If our head turns white – it could be snowing, but that isn’t always the case because our hair is white anyhow…

Today is a Very, Very Wet Day, which I could tell by inspecting some of the equipment in the yard.

rain drops fender green yellow redThe John Deere Gator is very, very wet.

rain dropsThe fender of the truck is very, very wet.

The old truck is very, very wet.

macro metalAnd the metal stand for the hammock is, yes, very very wet.

That ends the weather report from my little corner of Canada..

Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
– Susan Ertz, Anger in the Sky –

Seeing Shapes in Clouds – Tornadoes and Pterodactyls

Massive collections of tiny water droplets. This is what clouds are. I can’t say I understand the mechanics of why they stay up in the air any better than I understand why an airplane stays aloft. But let’s just say they do, and I’ll show you some of the clouds that have passed over my house.

In my part of the world, the weather usually arrives from the West, blown in by the winds that are almost always present to some degree. Now and then an East Wind will blow and it will bring in the smell of the nearby Feed Lot. Or a South East Wind will blow from, I don’t know, maybe the United States, and we will feel quite unsettled and threatened until the wind shifts and comes from the West again. Shifting winds blowing ever changing clouds across the sky.

When I was a kid, I liked to watch clouds like this drift overhead. I liked to imagine they were a particular object or animal. This group of clouds didn’t bring to mind anything recognizable, but they are what I call Safe Clouds. They don’t forecast any particularly disagreeable weather event.

This group of Safe Clouds were casually passing over when a group of darker, Angry Clouds appeared. Now, instead of looking for shapes in clouds, I looked for shapes in the remaining blue sky.

These were Popcorn Clouds. They formed quickly and were fascinating to watch, but they also told me it was time to pack up the gardening tools because a thunderstorm was on the way.

A few Wispy Clouds were being crowded out by Safe Clouds, Angry Clouds and Popcorn Clouds. This was a very busy cloud day.

Angry Clouds and Popcorn Clouds dominated this sky. The Angry Clouds were scooting over at a much lower elevation than the others, and were forming all sorts of interesting shapes, like whales and pterodactyls. These were once Safe clouds but they had crossed over to the Dark Side.

tornado funnel cloudThis was a Funnel Cloud. On a scale of 1 to 10, this cloud was at the high end of interesting, but not one I wanted to have pass over the top of my house. It was a very noisy cloud, and for a few long seconds it sounded like a train was passing right over head.

Today, well, today the clouds are a dull blanket of grey. A light rain is falling, and they say this will continue for days. Today’s clouds aren’t very photogenic.

Every cloud has its silver lining but it is sometimes a little difficult to get it to the mint.
– Don Marquis –

Draba and Daffodils are Cheery Yellow Flowers

Apparently there is more to the color Yellow than meets the eye, so to speak. While it can be a warm and cheery color, it is also the most fatiguing to the eyes. It can invoke frustration and anger, but is said to increase metabolism.  It can denote happiness and joy, but also cowardice and deceit.

In my yard, yellow means the very first flowers of spring/summer have appeared. And while this means digging dandelions out of the flower beds, it also means that the tiny Draba aizoides are in full bloom and the daffodils are boldly challenging the deer to eat them. Daffodils are fearless.




This photograph of a clump of Daffodils reminded me of a family portrait. See the one on the left. Distracted by something, it is peering off towards the fence. And the one on the far right. Heard a duck in the pond, and is craning its neck to take a look. The two in the back? They think no one will catch them sticking their tongues out at each other…

iPad 2 – A Six Day Journey

It is not that I don’t embrace new technology. It is just that I don’t adopt it very quickly. My cell phone is a good example. Sometimes I turn it on, phone The Car Guy to tell him that I survived a shopping trip in The Big City and I’m on my way home to eat the hot supper he is making. That gives him time to go get some take-away. Then I turn the phone off for a few months.

So when The Car Guy asked me if I wanted to have an iPad, I looked at him skeptically. The thing had only been out for a year. And it was an Apple. Why would I spend that much money on something that might be only a fad, and would require me to Cross Over to the Dark Side? He replied, “We aren’t getting any younger. I’ve got some extra money this month. Let’s live on the edge.”

And so it was that we made the pilgrimage to the Apple Store and looked at all the wondrous things they sell. No iPads though. All sold out. Then we tried every other store that sells them, and the story was the same. No iPads, no idea when they would get them.

The Car Guy, not easily deterred from a goal once it is firmly lodged in his mind, navigated to the Apple website and discovered he could order one online and it would be shipped for free. I would have my iPad in about a week or so if all went well. Frankly, I found this claim amazing. I once mailed a letter in the town nearest to me, and it took a week to be delivered to The Big City that is a 1/2 hour drive south of that. And Apple was telling me that my iPad would arrive at my door in about a week?

So The Car Guy filled in all the blanks on the order page, then asked me, “How do you want it engraved?” I get engraving too? I thought for a few minutes, then said,

iPod, iTouch, iPad, iBroke
The Red House

And so it was that the order was placed on the evening of May 4, 2011, with shipment scheduled for May 7. Once we had a FedEx tracking number, we could watch my little iPad make its way all the way from Shenzhen China (Map location 1).

Maps ©

From Shenzhen, it travelled through Lantau Island (2) and Chek Lap Kok (3), both in Hong Kong.

From there it flew to the United States, landing in Memphis, TN (4). And it was still May 7.

In Memphis, my iPad rested for a day. Maybe it took a trip to Graceland or went on a downtown bus tour. During this wait, the FedEx agents were busy doing all the paperwork in preparation for entry into Canada. This took until May 8. Then my iPad was on the move again, entering Canada in Mississauga, Ontario (5).

From Mississauga, my iPad headed west, passing through Winnipeg Manitoba (6) before arriving on its final flight in The Big City nearest us. Then it was loaded on a truck, and delivered right to the front door of The Red House shortly after lunch on May 10.

Six days to to get all the way from China to my door, with three of those days spent waiting on paperwork. I’m impressed… with the delivery. Not so much with all the paperwork.

How to Run in Stilettos – But Why Would You?

The truth is, you can’t run in Stilettos, or most High Heels for that matter. At least the average woman can’t. But that doesn’t stop some women from trying. There are many Stiletto Races staged around the world to raise money for charity, or to promote a product. One of the most recent ones was held in the Philippines. “Michelle Fernandez-Castillo, Maybelline New York Philippines’ senior brand manager, said they decided to bring the race to the country to help empower Filipinas. “The stiletto is the first thing that comes to a woman’s mind whenever she needs something to feel good and look good. Through this race, we hope to show the world how powerful women are,” she declared.

Yes, I can certainly see how the women of the Philippines will feel much better about themselves when they put on their stilettos. And they will definitely feel very powerful when they can run in them… Either that, or Maybelline is just using a clever marketing ploy to sell the Filipinas the same boatloads of beauty myths that they sell to the rest of the world.

The Stiletto Run is just wrong in so many ways. First, and foremost, is the fact that women wear those high heel shoes at all, and then run in them. Yes, I understand the term “sexy”. But why do women have to wear something so uncomfortable to be sexy, while the men watch in comfort from the sidelines? That, to me, says that the men are the ones with the smarts and the power, not the women.

Then there are High Heels in general. The foot, leg and back problems they cause are monumental, yet the number of women that wear them on a daily basis continues to climb. It is estimated that in the USA, one in five women suffer from foot problems due to wearing high heels.

Wake up women. If you want to feel good about yourself, put on a pair of sneakers and go for a walk. You’ve only got one pair of feet, and they have to last you a lifetime.

Courage is no match for an unfriendly shoe.
– Roger Moore, as James Bond –

What Dressing Like a Slut Says

On January 24, 2011, Constable Michael Sanguinetti and another officer from Toronto’s 31 Division came to a York University Safety Forum at the Osgoode Hall Law School. While presumably listing ways to avoid sexual assault  Sanguinetti  said, “You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

It was a choice of words he came to regret. It outraged many people including one MACLEANS commentator  who said, “A woman has the right to dress as she wishes. It is never okay for someone to take away her ability to feel safe in her own body simply because society deems her dresses provocative. A woman has the right to to say ‘no’ and have her decision be respected.”

Toronto Police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray responded on behalf of the Police by saying that cautioning women on their state of dress is not part of any police training. “They are taught that nothing a woman does contributes to a sexual assault.” Sanguinetti apologized in a written statement.

The Constable’s comments triggered a “Slut Walk” at Queen’s Park in Toronto that attracted thousands of participants. The movement has now spread to the U.S. and England. The intent of the walks is to help to remove the stigma of the term “Slut”. They also want to spread the word that those who experience sexual assault are not the ones at fault, without exception.

Which is all very admirable, but ignores the fact that the Constable was trying to tell women that there are violent men out there who target prostitutes (sluts), and in some circumstances, women will be safer if they don’t dress in the same clothing that prostitutes wear in order to advertise the sex trade.

It is the same common sense that says it is inadvisable to wear a bikini to a dinner party given by the bosses wife, or a fur coat to a PETA Rally.

One step beyond wearing hardly any clothes is Nudity. In many countries public nudity is forbidden outright on the basis that nudity is inherently sexual. Large numbers of people are, for various reasons, offended by and even distressed with public displays of nudity. Attempts to make public nudity legal will likely continue to fail, mostly because the majority of people don’t have skin that fits them all that well. That is why most prostitutes dress the way they do – it is more alluring to dress like a slut than to wear no clothes at all.

Which is likely why Mark Twain observed:

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.

So ladies, wear revealing clothing if you want to. But don’t ever think it is safe to wear anything you want where ever you want. Life isn’t about Why you shouldn’t be a victim, it is about how NOT to be a victim.