Northern Leopard Frog

The Amphibian Notes
Name: Northern Leopard Frog
Species: Lithobates pipiens
Native to :  Canada and the United States. Only isolated populations in the southern grass and wetlands of Alberta. The grandchildren used to find them in the creek and the golf course water hazards near where our cabin was. Hard to say where the frogs ended up after the area was flooded out in 2013.
Date Seen: September 2009
Location: South Eastern Alberta near the Bow River

Notes: One of the largest frog species found in Alberta, they vary in size between 2 and 5 in (5-13 cm); green or brown in colour with numerous dark spots. Fairly easily caught by young boys – who release them a short time later.

Photos: Northern Leopard Frog in a bucket of water with photo filters applied in the program Topaz Studio:

After the flood:

LEGO – Antelope Street Cabin

Our cabin, along with 305 other residences in Hidden Valley Alberta, was destroyed in the flood of June 2013. All that is left of it is rubble, but we have many wonderful memories and hundreds of photos taken by our family – Antelope Street Photography.

I chose the name Antelope Street because that was the street where our cabin was. It was a gravel road that branched off the main drive. At that intersection it was a broad thoroughfare lined with grand old poplar trees and pretty little houses. By the time it got down to where our house was, however, it had narrowed somewhat. Past our place, it rambled on a bit further, then turned into a path that wandered down to the river.

I can’t begin to count how many times we all walked that road, either westward to the privacy and serenity of the river or eastward to join family and the community.

The spirit of the cabin lives on in the LEGO world, thanks to the thoughtful creativity of my youngest daughter! She has not only recreated the building,  she has captured the essence of the forest and of each of the five people who are our immediate family.

Meet the people: On the far left is our Youngest Daughter. With her nurses scrubs and hairless hairstyle (she survived chemo, but her hair didn’t) she was, and always will be the go-to gal for all our owies. Next to her is The Car Guy. Master of the BBQ,  he has a hot dog ready to grill. In the doorway of the cabin is our Eldest Daughter. With a Chef’s hat and a measuring cup in hand, she is the Queen of the Kitchen. The light haired lady is Me – note that my legs are shorter than any of the rest of the family. My wheelbarrow is nearby. To the far right is our Middle Daughter. Her long hair is in a pony tail and she has a cup of cabin coffee in her hand. She knows what fuels some members of this group in the morning!

The trim color of the cabin was a beautiful blue. The main entry into the cabin was a sliding patio door. Surrounding the cabin were huge old poplar trees – many with bare broken branches where the Canada Geese landed in the spring. A few brightly coloured LEGO bricks and simple minifigures have captured the essence of this special  place in a way that all the photos never could. Thanks so much J!

A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.
– Swami Sivananda –

Have you ever built a diorama and if so, what part of the great big world were you trying to capture?

In Hidden Valley – A Remembrance Poem

In Hidden Valley the sunflowers grew
Between the poplars, fresh with dew.
They marked our divots; and in the sky
The crows, still cawing as they fly,
Break the calm that lies below.

We are the scattered. Short days ago
We laughed, played late, watched bonfires glow.
Then the river rose and now our homes lie
Silent in Hidden Valley.

__________________

Dedicated to the 305 Hidden Valley families who lost their homes in the flood of 2013. For further information about this disaster, go to the website Hidden Valley, Alberta.

Inspired by the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by the Canadian WWI soldier, John McCrae

Alberta Flooding – Unplugging from the Web – Flowers Help to Heal

It’s called ‘The Web’ because once you’re in it, you are stuck.
– Terry Hall –

I’m going to take some time off – see if I can find a new Happy Place.  I know it exists somewhere here in my mind, but I’m not having much luck finding it right now.

So, I’m going to unplug for a while. I hope you will come back to visit my blog when I return!

Before I go, here are the photos I took the last time I was at the cabin. It is quite remarkable what is blooming out there. All 305 homes were destroyed, yet the flowers are cheerfully acting like nothing happened!

columbine

A yellow Columbine or Aquilegia.

A pink Rose. It is a hardy bush rose, but I don’t know it is called. I wish I had one in my yard!

white

A white Shasta Daisy. These grow like weeds at my place.

orange

An orange Daylily. I have these in my yard, but they never look this good!

white

A white Mallow or Sidalcea. I’m really guessing on whether that is what this is.  It has leaves like a cranesbill geranium, but flower buds like a little hollyhock.

false sunflower

An orange Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Asahi’ – commonly called a False Sunflower. I’m guessing that is what this flower is called…

I hope I’ll be able to return to Hidden Valley next year to see what is blooming – but I don’t expect the Siksika Nation will allow us to enter once our buildings have been demolished and removed, and our lease has expired.

Before I go, please  tell me if you have ever taken a blog holiday. How long did you leave your blog to fend for itself? Did you find what you were looking for while you were gone?

Alberta Flooding – Foreshadow of a Flood

Sometimes clouds, not fluffy ones like these, but dark, rain filled ones – settle in over the Rocky Mountains and dump buckets of water. If they do this when these mountains are still covered with their winter coats of snow, then disaster will follow.

448-hidden-valley-at-lake

Frozen little mountain streams turn into torrents which then fill the rivers they feed. As the rivers flow east, they merge – creating even more powerful forces. By the time the Bow River got to where this picture was taken at the Community of Hidden Valley, it was flowing faster and higher than it ever had in our lifetimes. This photo foreshadows  what was to come.

Edward VIII replaced his fly buttons with a zip, a revolutionary move; and his Fair Isle pullovers, shorts and Windsor knots were considered by some to foreshadow the end of Empire.
– Angus McGill –

To see other photos from this Challenge: Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreshadow

Rubber Boot Puppies

Recycle old rubber boots by making them into these adorable puppies!

Rubber boot puppies or dogs

How cool would it be to have a few of these in your yard! Here are my thoughts on how to do this!

Instructions:

I haven’t been able to find any instructions on the internet for how to make these puppies, but this is what I surmise from the photo:
– you need 7 boots – 4 are used for the legs, one for the back and tail, one for the lower jaw and neck, and one for the upper jar/head and ears.
– you would use a pair of heavy cutting shears to split the legs of the boots as needed.
– maybe you would use a bolt to hold the upper jaw to the lower one.
– perhaps you would fill the legs with sand to keep them from falling over.

What a happy way to remember the not so happy activity of slogging through the mud in our flooded cabins!

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!”

Pronunciation Test: Escape or Es-ca-pay?

There is a hill behind the cabin and at the very top is a huge pasture. We often see horses up there, yet we never see them down in our valley. I don’t really understand why they don’t escape from their confines – the fence is down in many places.

Alberta

I suppose, to the horses, the grass is simply not greener on the other side of the fence. They do not want to ‘es-ca-pay’!

Dory: [Reading a sign on a door] Hey, look. “Es-ca-pay”! Hey, it’s spelled just like escape.
– Dory the Blue Tang fish in the movie ‘Finding Nemo’ –

I always thought that Ford Motors should have used Dory’s mispronunciation of ‘Escape’ to promote their Ford Escape.  ‘Es-ca-pay’ sounds so much more daring than plain old ‘escape’.

When we were living in the Middle East, I drove a bright red Jeep Cherokee. One day a British women approached me (and my Jeep) and said, “Oh, I just love your Chur-o-key!” It took me a few seconds to realize that she was referring to my car. (Cherokee, to me, starts with a ‘chair’ sound, to her it starts with a ‘chur’ as in church sound.)

The lesson I learned from my years overseas is that there is more than one way to pronounce a great many words, and the sooner you accept that, the more fun language becomes.

I can ‘es-ca-pay in my chur-o-key’ – what words are you willing to liberate?

Other Photos for this Challenge: Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

Close One Door, Open Another

December is a wicked month – at least it is in our family. Nearly all our great tragedies, the ones that will dwell in our memories for the rest of our days, have happened in December. Illness and death are the standard fare, but now and then December shoves us through another door and we mutter, “I sure didn’t see that one coming.”

Close some doors today, not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they lead you nowhere.
– Paulo Coelho –

This December has been no different – two family health issues have arrived. I can’t begin to predict the outcome of either of these – there are too many possible scenarios when the human mind and body are concerned. I have no doubt though that some doors will close and some doors will open and we will all move on some how.

wooden doorDecember also brought the opening and closing of two very literal doors. One door is to the house we now own in the desert country of Arizona. We opened the door to this ‘new to us’ abode about a month ago. Setting up shop in a new country with a husband who is still recovering from a brain injury – it has been challenging. But every time I check the weather report and see what the temperature is back in Canada – well, I feel a bit better about walking through this new door.

One door will probably be closing, however. Our Cabin Community is on land that is leased from a Canadian First Nation. The lease will expire at the end of the 2013 season. We had thought the new lease was a done deal, but it turns out it wasn’t. The Nation’s Economic Development Committee and the Chief and Council had all signed an agreement, but they did not foresee the power of a group of malcontents who (depending on which one of them you listen to): hate the Canadian Federal Government and all white people; want all the cabin owners gone but would welcome ‘rich Arabians’  who might want to lease the land; don’t trust the government of their own Nation;  think the land is worth much more than the lease was giving them … the list goes on and on.

Through the power of Facebook, they were able to defeat the lease referendum. So, at the end of next cabin season the First Nation staff will be out of jobs and the Cabin owners will kiss their leisure investment goodbye. Within a few years a vibrant 39 year old community, where ‘Two Nations‘ worked and played together, will disappear under the foliage of Mother Nature.

How naive and trusting I have been.

I went down the street to the 24-hour grocery. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, ‘Hey, the sign says you’re open 24 hours.’ He said, ‘Yes, but not in a row.’
– Steven Wright –