Three Moose Parade Behind my Alberta Yard

My home office, the place where I write all these pithy posts, is a recliner in the living room. My laptop sits on a board that straddles the two arms – my desk. The chair faces the windows and patio door and I have a clear view of all that is happening to the east and the south of The Red House.

One recent morning, just as the sun was painting the horizon a reddish orange colour, a flash of something light caught my eye. It was the bum end of a white tail deer, then another one, bounding out of the woods. Odd to see them in such a hurry. Then, close behind them, I saw a large dark form, then another and then a third. As they all cleared the woods and headed into the field, I saw that the dark forms were three moose.

I leaped out of my chair and grabbed my camera. “Wait Moose! Please Wait!”  But they were in a hurry, and by the time I got to the window they were almost out of view. I ran outside, crossed the yard and then stopped to make sure the moose weren’t close enough to be dangerous. Once I knew their whereabouts, I made a dash for the edge of our property.

three mooseBy now the moose were specks in the distance, so I zoomed the camera in and hoped for the best. The result was this rather grainy picture, but at least it shows the three moose, and one of the surprised horses who was also watching the Moose Parade.

While I was working with this photo in Photoshop Elements, I wondered what would happen if I cropped out just one moose.

I was pleased to see the result. Looks rather like an impressionist painting, don’t you think?

Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. In fact, a moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old.
– Bill Bryson – Notes from a Big Country –

Comment Etiquette – Do You Reply to All or Just Some?

Google the topic of Comment Etiquette, and even if you spell etiquette wrong (which I did – it is a very tricky word to spell), there will be quite a few sites to check out. WordPress weighs in with ‘Are You Well-Versed in Comment Etiquette‘.

I’ve learned a few things about making comments by observation of results. One of them is ‘don’t ever leave a comment on a vegetarian blog if you are not one’. Carnivores are generally not well received, even very polite Canadian ones. Actually, a general rule of thumb is to be very cautious about leaving a  comment anywhere if you realize you are going to be the only one with a dissenting opinion. It is like responding ‘Yes’ when a friend asks you if she looks fat in her new tight jeans. Some things are best left unsaid.

I have a large pile of Blog Ideas that result from comments I refrained from making…

I read quite a few blogs, and often I would like to leave a comment. But if there are 30 or 100 comments there already, I realize I have absolutely nothing new to say. So I click the Like Button. To me, the Like Button is my way of saying ‘This is very good! You are a very talented blogger, and I thoroughly enjoyed this post!” Only it is a lot briefer, and the blogger doesn’t have to say anything back.

I know there are two schools of thought on how bloggers reply to comments:
– Some bloggers think each and every comment should receive a reply, even if all they say is ‘Thanks”.
– Some bloggers think that some comments clearly lead to replies, while other comments are more like someone pushed the Like Button, and no reply is necessary.

Which brings me to the meat of this post which is, how do you reply to comments on your blog? Are you an ALL person, or are you a SOME person? I would really like to know what my readers think, because it will help me to decide whether I am going to continue being an ALL person, or whether I will become a SOME person.

Hiding Places Thanks to Nature

Scientists have found the gene for shyness. They would have found it years ago, but it was hiding behind a couple of other genes.
– Jonathan Katz –

A single leaf isn’t very big, but when a bunch of them work together they are very good at hiding things.

wood rail fenceA large shade tree is a good location to hide out from the heat of the sun.

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rain dropsThe cabin is well hidden behind the Saskatoon bush.

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grey paperBut once the leaves have fallen, this football size wasps nest is hidden no more!

Wasps construct the nests out of paper made from wood pulp. In the fall, all of the wasps will die except the fertilized queen. She’ll overwinter somewhere, and start a new colony in the spring. The old nests will fall apart before the winter ends – they aren’t made of the most durable of construction materials!

Hoverfly – Animated GIF

This post is for Mark Armstrong who introduced me to the creative possibilities of Animated GIFs. He suggested I try making a GIF of a bee landing on a flower (he must have seen the photos I did of bugs after I got my macro lens!). The bees were too busy to become involved in this project, but I did have a colorful Hoverfly on a nice yellow flower and it said it would might be interested in participating.

30-hoverflySo I stuffed the Hoverfly into a 295X200 pixel file in Photoshop Elements (it took a lot of  pushing and shoving to get what was actually a big hoverfly into such a small space!) Then I extracted the Hoverfly and saved it as a separate layer.  I did a bunch of other things until I had five layers, four with a Hoverfly in different positions, and one with no hoverfly. Finally, I saved the whole thing as an animated GIF.

TaDa – The Hoverfly visiting a yellow flower, over and over again. Of course, if I was going to do it right, I should have moved the wings and legs a bit to enhance the feel of movement. But at this point, the hoverfly was quite tired of my demands, so I called it a day.

Hoverflies are common throughout the world, and are important pollinators of flowering plants in a variety of ecosystems worldwide.

This is just a simple example of what can be done with Animated GIFs. Much more intricate results can be obtained by manipulating a video. These are called Cinemagraphs,. Some wonderful examples are at From Me to You.

Button Up for Winter – Closing Down the Cabin

I stayed at the cabin for most of the first half of October.  Besides spending many hours taking fall pictures and listening to the sound of crunching leaves beneath my feet, I got everything ready so that when The Car Guy arrived we could Button Up the Cabin for Winter.

The shut down process isn’t complicated, just time consuming. Anything that won’t survive six months of freeze is packed up and taken home.  Anything that we might want at home during the winter is packed up too. Lawn furniture, bikes, golf cart and toys are put under cover. Water lines are drained. Anti-freeze is poured. The blinds are pulled. The door is locked. I cry a bit, and we go home.

The cabin won’t be without occupants, however. As we moved things out, the two spotted ladybug was moving in. Our province is host to many species of ladybugs, but the native one, and the bug least frequently seen, is the two spotted one!

Spiders will move in too. I’ll find their webs everywhere when we open up the cabin next April. We’ll move back in, and the bugs will  move outside. The cycle will start again.

What bugs do you share your home with?

Alberta – Land of Opportunity

Alberta prairie clouds100 years ago, my great grandparents arrived in a place much like this, and declared, “This is the Land of Opportunity.” With little more than determination, they made Canada their home.

Alberta riverIt wasn’t easy to live in this land of vast prairie grassland with howling winds year long. But the pioneers knew that this land would give them a life that was better than the one they left behind. “This is the Land of Opportunity“, they said.

This week my grandson, Curious George, looked out over the river valley near the cabin. He stood still for a few moments and scanned the vista for signs of wildlife – a fish jumping, a bird flying, a bug crawling. This is a Land of Opportunity for his generation too.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
– Winston Churchill –

What is your heritage? Do you know when you ancestors arrived in the country you now live in?

Carrots that Rebelled – Oddly Shaped Roots

Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.
– Jim Davis –

I’ve finished harvesting the carrots, and found a few rebels in the bunch:

29-carrot-twist

This one had two roots and they kept spiraling around each other down the entire length of the carrot. Does it remind you of any real life situations? I’m drawing a blank here…

29-carrot-multi-root

This carrot decided, late in life, to send out roots in every direction! It kind of reminds me of The Car Guy. Once he was retired, he headed down all sorts of paths that he hadn’t had time to explore before!

Everything you ever wanted to know about carrots is at a website called World Carrot Museum. You really should visit this site. It is informative, well laid out, and a lot of fun… at least I think it is, but I’m knee deep in carrots right now.

Large, naked, raw carrots are acceptable as food only to those who live in hutches eagerly awaiting Easter.
– Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life, 1978 –

What about you?  What vegetable can you simply not fathom eating?

Fall Foliage – Something that is Orange

Each fall, when the vegetables have been harvested, I swear I am NEVER going to plant another garden – too much work! Early each spring, when I dig the compost in, I say “I am going to plant the whole thing in poppies and never plant another vegetable seed.” Late each spring, well past when the job should have been done, I dig deep holes and plant a few of last fall’s potatoes which have sprouted in the box in the cold room. Then, realizing I have some carrot and romaine seeds left over from last year, I plant those too. A few packets of beets or peas will have been donated by family. Their gardens are too small to use all the seeds they buy. Before I know it, the garden I swore never to plant again, is planted.

28-carrotsWhat’s Up Doc?
The past few days I have been harvesting the garden. Bugs Bunny would be happy – the Carrot crop is good. They smell so wonderful when they are just pulled from the ground! I eat a few right away (after a quick rinse with the garden hose.) The Car Guy, and his dad, simply rub the dirt off with their shirt sleeve.

28-fall-leaf

Things I Didn’t Plant
Right next to the garden are Cotoneaster bushes that have sprouted from the berries that the birds pooped out. The leaves are more red than orange and lend quite a dash of color in amongst the aspen, willow and spruce forest.

28-fall-poplars

For truly magnificent fall leaves, though, we head out to the cabin. The trees that line the roads are majestic old poplars that drop enough leaves to blanket the whole resort. This results in a flurry of activity on the part of the people who prefer to keep their grassy areas leaf free. They spend weeks blowing and raking the leaves into piles, then bagging them. I prefer to leave the leaves where they lie – let nature do the work.

Who, in the rainbow, can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blendingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity.
– Herman Melville –

Now it is your turn – What is on your list of things you do every year, even though you say you aren’t ever going to do them again?

Seeing the Possibilities – Seeds, Rocks and Sunrises

close up

These are the seeds of an Allium flower  (a decorative relative of the onion.)  Is it possible that birds and mice feed on these seeds? Perhaps, but some of the seeds will make their way into the ground where they will germinate and make more allium plants.

This is a small Rock Cairn I built on the back deck at the cabin. When it is done it will honour a friend who recently passed away. I’m going to have to glue it together though – the rocks are precariously stacked right now. Can you see the work of the spider that has started to stitch one rock to another? Webs are strong, but I don’t think it is possible to hold this cairn together with spider webs!

This was the sunrise I captured a few mornings ago. Such a nice start to a day – makes me feel the day is full of possibilities!