Transmogrify – The Rat Rods and Transformation

On March 23, 1987, cartoonist Bill Watterson introduced his readers to ‘The Transmogrifier’. In appearance, it looked like a cardboard box, but in the hands of Calvin and Hobbes, it was a miraculous change agent.

Calvin: You step into this chamber, set the appropriate dials, and it turns you into whatever you’d like to be.
Hobbes: It’s amazing what they can do with corrugated cardboard these days.
– Bill Watterson –

‘Transmogrify’ was a new word to me, but the dictionary says it has been with us since the 1650’s. It means ‘to change into something very different, especially in a way that is funny or strange’.

I can’t think of a better world to describe the cars below – the Rat Rods. They are built from salvaged parts and random trinkets. No two would ever be alike!

Above all, rat rods are built to be enjoyed and driven. They are a mechanic’s art form that allow each builder to think outside the box.
– Tara Hurlin –




I can’t get The Car Guy interested in building one of these cars. His transmogrify box must be broken…

555-henry garden sculpture

We have done our own small transmogrifying project though. A visit to a friends’ farm revealed a wealth of metal scraps. I chose rakes for some wings, a big spring and a length of rebar for the backbone, a hinge for the beak, some nails for a tail, and some bits that I don’t even know what they once were, for the rest of the body. Once our Friendly Farmer Friend welded the bits together for me, I decided  my creation was a chicken. I named her Henrietta. Some time later, The Car Guy and FFF made a slight modification to Henrietta. They added a bolt and a couple of nuts… and that is how my chicken became Henry.

What do you think of when you hear the word Transmogrify?

This weeks WordPress Photo Challenge is Transmogrify.

How Local is Local? Test Case – My Carrots

The movement to eat locally grown food can be relatively easy, or impractically hard, depending on how strictly you follow it. Kris Vester, president of Slow Food Calgary, describes a locally grown organic product as one that is grown locally, is free of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers and is produced in a way that does not use fossil fuels or any other matter that may affect the environment for future generations.

This definition made me think about the carrots I just harvested from my garden. Geographically, they are as local as you can get. They are free of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers. I didn’t use fossil fuels to put the seeds into the ground or get the carrots out of the ground.

But what about the seeds themselves? How did the seed company grow and harvest them? How were they transported to the stores where they were sold? I used a fossil fueled vehicle to go buy the seeds and bring them home. The Car Guy used a fossil fueled vehicle to pick up a load of mushroom compost that I dug into the garden (what was in the compost, and how was it made?). I used a fossil fueled mower to cut grass to mulch the garden. I used an electric pump to get the water out of the ground to put on the plants. What kind of fuel was used to manufacture my shovel or garden hose?

There are a whole lot of inputs to consider before you can really claim you have produced an environmentally friendly carrot!
554-carrot-songsIt is always interesting to see what the carrots have been doing under the dark cloak of the earth. While most of the carrots have chosen to grow straight and narrow, there is a surprising variance in length – the long, the short and the tall. Some clearly did it my way, and some will never grow up now.

(Did you catch the song references?  ‘The long and the short and the tall‘ is a war song written by Fred Godfrey in 1917. ‘I did it my way‘ is from a song written by Paul Anka and popularized by Frank Sinatra. ‘I’ll Never Grow Up, Now‘ is a Twisted Sister song. ‘Down the straight and narrow’ is from a song written by Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet.)

How Local is the food in your stores? Do you grow or raise any of your own food?

Carrots are a great thing to eat when you are hungry and want to stay that way.
– Author Unknown –

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Local.

Whatever Floats Your Boat – The Magic of Water

H2O – Water as Snowflakes
Autumn in Alberta. Like any other season here in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the weather can be unpredictable. The first snowfall of the season can be early, or it can be late, but it is rarely welcome for adults. It often causes a delay in harvesting. It invariably results in highway accidents – road conditions deteriorate before  winter driving skills kick in.

Our first snowfall was a few days ago. A foggy, snowy photo is not a cheery sight, but suitably moody.

H2O – Water as Ice
A few days later the sun returned and the garden was transformed into a wonderland coated with ice. You can see these photos at Frozen Leaves Encased in Ice.

H2O – Water as Water
You could also wander over to meet the incredibly cute Northern Cardinal that took a bath in my sprinkler: A Wet Northern Cardinal.

So why this new blog?
The simple answer is, I had enough material to create specialty blogs for the things that interest me the most.  So I moved a bunch of posts to this new home. The other stuff stays at my old blog, which is being renovated.

As moves go, it has been quite straight forward, though time consuming. WordPress provides an ‘Export’ tool for that. Unfortunately, the export is hit or miss in the media department, so it has taken a bit of time to move the missing photos.

Do you have more than one blog? If you were going to split your blog up, what interests would move to a new home?

All the water photos were my contribution to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge which is H2O.

Leaves in the Fall – Encased in Ice

It’s fall here in Alberta. Sunny days, temperatures well above freezing – until a few days ago. We woke that morning and greeted our first snow day. Over the next few days we had more snow, some melting, a misty rain that was almost snow and another freezing night.  The next morning it was sunny – perfect weather for exploring a garden full of ice sculptures!

I’m assuming it was slightly windy when the freezing was taking place, because the majority of ice was on one side of these upright grass stems.

The freezing pattern was the same on these leaves.

Another ice leaf.

A frozen water drop on a fall leaf.

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
– J.B. Priestley –

Do you have sudden changes of weather where you live?

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is H2O.

Northern Cardinal – Dancing in the Sprinkler

This past spring, my Blue Potato Bush needed a good watering, so I turned on the sprinkler.


This piqued the interest of a female Northern Cardinal that was lunching on the seeds of a nearby Gopher Plant.


It didn’t take her long to decide this source of H2O was perfect for showering. She flew into the Potato bush, sat on a branch under the spray and was soon thoroughly drenched.

Then she flew up to the fence for a few moments of sunny warmth…

… then back down into the spray again!

A male Northern Cardinal is also a frequent visitor to our yard, though he hasn’t shown any interest when I turn on the ‘shower’!

The Feather Files
Name: Northern Cardinal
Species: Cardinalis cardinalis
Native to and Migration: Cardinals don’t migrate. They can be found in eastern and central North America from southern Canada into parts of Mexico and Central America. They have been introduced into California, Hawaii and Bermuda.
Date Seen: April 3, 2016
Location: North of Fountain Hills, Arizona, USA

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is H2O.

American Robin – The Endless Quest for Food

A pair of American Robins built a nest on top of the electric meter at our house. For just over a month we watched (and worried) while the parents hunted for food (an endless quest), protected the nest, and raised their two chicks.

We were very careful to keep our distance for the entire time, but it soon became apparent that the robins did not fear us. Sometimes when I was waiting to photograph them, one of the robins would hop by within a few feet of me. On one occasion I put a few worms on the deck while the mother watched me. After I had returned to my camera, the female flew down and picked up the worms.

The nerve-wracking part came when the babies fledged. They were safe in the nest at supper time, and an hour or so later they were gone. I told The Car Guy that I wasn’t going to worry about them. Sure…

The next day, I spotted the male robin on the fence with a mouthful of food. It wasn’t hard to follow his movements as he flew into the caragana bush to feed one of the babies. There were hawks in the sky. A big grey cat stalked through the yard. I worried.

I didn’t see any sign of the robin family for another week or so, but was optimistic that they had simply moved next door where the food might be more plentiful. Then, the berries on one of our trees ripened, and all sorts of birds started to gorge – including two baby robins! My baby robins – or so I hoped.

Robins have an extremely high rate of nest fidelity. I know “nest fidelity” sounds like an investment group, but it actually means that robins regularly return to the same breeding site each season.
– Bird Watcher’s General Store –

Will momma robin try to build her nest on top of the electric meter again next year? If she does, can I resist the temptation to spend more time in the garden unearthing worms for them?

The Feather Files
Name: American Robin
Species: Turdus migratorius
Native to and Migration: The Robin breeds north to Alaska, across Canada, and southward to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in the United States and into southern Mexico. Northern populations migrate.
Date Seen: June, 2016
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Quest.

Great Blue Heron – At the Edge of the Water in Arizona

The Feather Files
Alias: Great Blue Heron
Name: Ardea herodias
Native to and Migration: Partial – birds leave the northern edge of their breeding range to fly as far south as the Caribbean. Birds in the Pacific Northwest and south Florida are present year-round.
Date Seen: April 14, 2014
Location: Sun Lakes, Chandler, Arizona, USA





Great Blue Herons are regular visitors to the man made lakes of Sun Lakes in Chandler, Arizona.

I’ve chosen these four photos to submit to the WordPress Photo Challenge of Frame

American Robin Look Up – Waaay Up…

… and I’ll drop bugs in your mouth.


If I had known that a baby could grow to ‘almost ready to leave the nest’ in only 13 days – by eating worms and bugs – well, I’d have raised my own children a lot differently…

The Feather Files
Name: American Robin
Species: Turdus migratorius
Native to and Migration: The Robin breeds north to Alaska, across Canada, and southward to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in the United States and into southern Mexico. Northern populations migrate.
Date Seen: June, 2016
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Look Up.

Idaho and Utah – Driving By the Numbers

Our trip home from Arizona to Alberta took 5 days (April 29 to May 3, 2016) to cover a distance of 2600 km (1650 miles).

Arches National Park Utah
This year we drove Sadie, a 2002 SL500 convertible that gets 10 L/100 km (28 mpg) and loves to gallop along at 129 km/h (80 mph) on the I-15.

Your car knows

One of our fuel stops was in Monticello, Utah – elevation 2,155 m (7070 ft) where Sadie dined on 91 octane. I bought 1 bar of dark chocolate fuel for myself – our glove compartment had 0 gloves and 0 candy bars.



804 km (500 miles) later, we were in Idaho Falls, Idaho. We stopped at the Army Surplus Warehouse (after Sadie got some more gas, and I refilled the glove compartment with chocolate.) There are many interesting things for sale there, including an M129 leaflet dispenser that is 2.28 metres (7.5 ft long) and 40 cm (16 inches) in diameter. Its empty weight is about 52 kilograms (115 pounds) and when loaded with leaflets it weighs about 100 kilograms (225 pounds).

This leaflet bomb is apparently left over from the Vietnam War.

Leaflet propaganda is still being used, with one of the more recent examples being in Syria (population 18.5 million people) where the military hoped to deter possible ISIS recruits from joining in 2015.

Iraq was another conflict were PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) leaflets were used. About 19 million were dropped in Iraq prior to ground combat. 31 million were dropped during the fighting. Also, the U.S. bombarded Iraqis with e-mails and cell phone calls.

We probably get upwards of 5 phone calls a day from Telemarketers based in the United States. (Canada’s National Do Not Call List is very effective, and we are thankful for that!) Can you imagine what it would be like to be bombarded with leaflets, emails AND phone calls?!

This week I looked for Quotations about Numbers and found:

Managers and supervisors with large numbers of people under them – each with his own ideas – must sometimes feel like Charles DeGaulle, who once lamented, “Nobody can simply bring together a country that has 265 kinds of cheese.
– Author Unknown –

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to 99 cents a can. That’s almost $7.00 in dog money.
– Joe Weinstein –

This week’s Photo Challenge is Numbers