Not Your Average Ukulele Players – Ukulele Orchestra (Video)

Uke can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you just might find uke get what you need!
– uke4ia –

After this past week of destruction and immense sadness, I was ready for something uplifting. The Ukuleles were perfect – made me cry another bucket load, but for a different reason.

Here is the link to The Ukulele Orchestra of  Great Britain and to their DVD – Anarchy in the Ukulele.

Alberta Flooding – Cabin For Sale

FOR SALE:

  • one cabin in Hidden Valley. Completely renovated in 2005. Last seen on Antelope Street. Must be moved as lease will not be renewed.
  • Exterior amenities include one trampoline, numerous pieces of lawn furniture, fire pit, and several garden sheds – maybe.
  • Also possibly one hot tub, assuming the electrical cord that kept it tethered in the yard during the last flood does the same job this time.
  • Located off site are two golf carts, one gasoline and one electric. Last seen with several hundred or so similar vehicles near the Club House. Easy to identify – one is red and one is blue.
439-Deck cabin back
Back of our cabin after the flood

Alberta Flooding – Four Hours to Evacuate at the Cabin

June 20, 2013: The mighty Bow River is flooding. The Cabin and Golf Resort at Hidden Valley on the Siksika Reserve  is in danger of being inundated.

We left the cabin at Hidden Valley at about 11:30 PM (June 20) and were safely home several hours later. We had loaded our little travel trailer with as much stuff from the cabin as we had time to pack in the 4 or so hours we had to evacuate. The rest of the stuff – we either moved  to the loft, or simply put up onto the top of the cabinets in the kitchen.

No time to think much about what to haul away and what to leave. No time to take any last pictures. No time to say good-bye to anyone. Just get loaded up and out of there so that we didn’t block the route of all the other trucks and trailers that were trying to load and get out. The evacuation siren was going continuously. Unsettling.

We saw many people with big utility trailers loading up furniture and appliances. For them, these places were not just a summer cabin, they were where they lived all summer. For  a few, including some of the members of the Siksika Nation, it was their full time home. For the Siksika Nation, it was a source of revenue and employment.

The Car Guy’s sister and her husband hauled as much stuff as they could onto high ground on the other side of the river. In the morning we will head out to where they are and help them move their travel trailer, cargo trailer and motorcycles – someplace. The cabin was to be their home for six months of the year – they just recently sold their home in Calgary.

The lady we had bought the cabin from came over and asked if she could see the cabin for one last time. They had rebuilt the cabin after the flood in 2005, and she was obviously very upset that it was going to flood one last time. “This sunroom,” she said. “I had this built with the inheritance I got when a family member died. Did you enjoy using it?”

I replied, yes, very much – I’ll miss it a lot. (She and her husband had driven down from Edmonton to help the people next door evacuate.)

We didn’t even have time to sandbag as we did in 2011. There didn’t seem to be any point. The river is expected to be that much higher than previously. (See The Angry River in 2011.)

On the way home last night, we stopped in Strathmore for gas and to catch our breath. I asked The Car Guy if he had remembered to pack The Weather Stone. I had put it on the picnic table. He said yes,  he had packed it. Odd what things are the most important when you believe you are going to lose everything that is left behind.

This will be the end of the Hidden Valley Resort, I expect. This was to be our last summer there, then we would pack up what we could and move out.  I guess the River will move us out instead.

Of course, we are just 300 of the families that are affected. There are many more people here in Siksika Nation who have also had to evacuate, and of course there are all the other families upstream who have already had their homes flooded or destroyed.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada leaves us with this one last thought: “It’s important to take preventative action against flooding because damage caused by overland flooding is not covered by home insurance policies anywhere in Canada.”  (Short of not living within miles of a stream or river, there isn’t much preventative action you can take that stops water from coming in where you don’t want it – or so it seems to me.)

June 21, morning: We drove back out to the cabin and were told we had about 20 minutes to get anything else we wanted. The gas company came around and turned off all the gas. We quickly threw our last treasures into the back of the truck and left. The bridge was packed with members of the Siksika Nation who had come to watch the raging waters.

We drove to the top of the hill where many of the cabin owners and members of the Siksika Nation had assembled in the parking lot of the beautiful Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park.  The Park’s lookout platform gave us an unobstructed view of the Bow River and Hidden Valley. We stood and talked for several hours as we watched the river rise. The immense power of water – it was terrifying and mesmerizing. We reluctantly headed for home before the water spilled over the berm.

June 21, 7:45 PM: The berm has been breached (near the west end, I believe). The water has flowed over the berm in many other places including the gate by the bridge. The only remaining question is, what will be the high water mark this time?

I think most cabin owners can show you a high water mark on a window or a wall of their cabin. It is like a badge of honour. “The water came up to here in 1995, and here in 2005. But we rebuilt.” The high water mark of 2013. There will be one on each and every cabin that survives, but there will not likely be a third round of rebuilding.

June 21, 9:30 PM: The Car Guy’s sister, still camped up on the hill overlooking Hidden Valley writes: ” The river, the lake, the first hole and the beach have merged. But the red truck on the 1st fairway looks like it is still dry! And a small river is flowing from back water/mechanical gate into the Bow. We are the river now! If you are coming tomorrow to view from the Historical Park, bring DEET! Lots of it!”

Life Lessons – How Full is Your Glass


You have probably received this email several times:

“A woman was explaining stress management to an audience. She was holding a  half glass of water. Everyone thought she was going to ask the question, ‘half empty or half full?

Instead, she asked “How heavy is this glass of water?” The audience’s answers  ranged from 8 oz. To 20 oz.

She replied , “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it.
If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes – and that’s the way it is with stress.

If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.”

The email continued with the following bits of wisdom:

Accept the fact that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue!

Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.

Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Save the earth….. It’s the only planet with chocolate!

Who is the Artist of Toonaday Cartoons

For many years I subscribed to Ron Leishman’s  Toonaday Digital Clipart. I have used many of  Ron’s toons in my blog posts,  as you can see in the following gallery. Ron is  a fellow Canadian and Albertan (Alberta is a Province in Canada).  Though I have never met him, I have traded emails with him on several occasions, and he has generously created several toons that I requested.

I sometimes combine several of his toons to illustrate my story and that makes me appreciate the immense variety of topics he has covered!

I didn’t appreciate how hard it is to draw until I tried to do it myself. It is one thing to be able to say, “Of course I know the difference between a pirate and a fire hydrant.”  It is quite a different thing to remember enough detail about each to draw them well.

Which one is your favourite?

SLIDESHOW: Click on any photo to open a slide show. Press your ‘es-ca-pay’ button to close the slide show.

Cactus and Clouds – Curves

Clouds are not as common in Arizona as they are in Alberta. One day, however I saw these ‘comma’ clouds, with a trio of Saguaro cactus stretching up as if to catch the wisps!

These clouds reminded me of punctuation. Don’t they look like big apostrophes or commas except they curve the wrong way?  I think they are Cirrus uncinus clouds, but I’m not sure.

The cactus with the curved arms are Saguaro cacti.

To see how other photographers interpreted this topic: Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

PT Cruiser Gets a Short Block Transplant

For the past ten years I have been driving a 2003 PT Cruiser – the Dream Cruiser Series 2. It has a turbo engine, is tangerine in colour and has very low mileage. I call my car Pete. Up until a week ago, PT Cruiser collectors would have said it was one of the more rare and valuable PT Cruisers in existence. According to a guy who has researched these cars, there were only 2200 made.

Several weeks ago ‘Pete’s engine light came on, so we took Pete to the local Chrysler Car Hospital. We expected some minor malfunction, an hour or so of labour, a few small parts and then Pete would be back on the road again.

engine

This is a photo of Pete’s engine compartment. It is only slightly larger than the glove compartment of a big truck – at least, that is how The Car Guy describes the cramped quarters of the place where Pete’s stomach, heart, lungs and circulatory system are. Wedged somewhere under the upper bits is the Short Block.  It contains the pistons, the crank shaft and the connecting rods.

To make a long story short, Pete’s ailment was not minor. Pete was going to need a Short Block transplant. The Car Guy questioned Pete’s surgeon about this diagnosis. Surely the condition could be cured by rebuilding the block. The surgeon looked at The Car Guy, as only a Young Car Guy can look at an Old Car Guy, and said, “No one rebuilds these things anymore.”

When The Car Guy explained the situation to me, I asked him if he could rebuild it. He told me he certainly could, but if I wanted to have Pete back on the road in less than a year or two, then the transplant was probably the best way to go. (The Car Guy and his dad are good mechanics, but they aren’t fast.)

A short block was ordered and Pete was pushed out into the parking lot behind the Car Hospital. On about the sixth day of Pete’s absence from the safety of our garage, large dark clouds rolled into town. They were packing pellets and weren’t afraid to use them. As I watched the hail beat down, I wondered about Pete. What were the chances that the hail was big enough and hard enough to beat holes into Pete’s tangerine skin?

Would the Fickle Finger of Fate (the Insurance Company) then decide that Pete, (with no engine block and a pock marked body), was a complete write off? Fortunately, the hail did no damage and I brought Pete home a few days ago. Pete’s Hospital stay cost about as much as what Pete would be worth if I sold him, which doesn’t make much sense, but that is how things are with used vehicles.

No, no, no. There’s no such thing as cheap and cheerful. It’s cheap and nasty & expensive and cheerful.
– Jeremy Clarkson –

I’d show you a photo of Pete’s engine now, but it really doesn’t look any different than it did before.

Digital Marble – Polar Coordinate Filter and Planets

How to turn a photo into a ‘Planet’ in Photoshop Elements with the Polar Coordinate Filter:

Start with a true panoramic image that is much longer than it is high. The subject matter (buildings, trees) should be at least a third of the photo. (This photo was taken at Fort Zion, Utah. The buildings are at the Virgin Trading Post.)

Examples of good images: City scapes with skyscrapers; night or sunset pictures.

1. Turn your image into a square. Go to the menu ImageResizeImage Size. Uncheck the ‘Constrain Proportions’ option. (You might have to check Resample Image first.) Change the height and the width of the image to match each other. Eg. 1000px by 1000px.

2. Flip your image 180 degrees. Use the menu items Image Rotate –  180.

3. Add the Polar Coordinate effect. Use the menu items Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates – Rectangular to Polar’ – OK

This creates the Planet. You will notice a seam line from where the image has been joined. To remove this select the Spot Healing Brush and airbrush the seam out.

The ‘planet’ can be cropped into a circle and placed onto a solid background if you want it to have a more planet shape!