Saturday, August 1, 2015

5. second lay-over day...hanging out

Tuesday was our second lay-over day and we just hung out at Denise's house enjoying her garden and patio, and picking the nanking cherries from the heavily laden branches to make syrup.

anybody know what this is?

Long about lunchtime we went down to the city center so Natali could pick up her renewed passport since she is leaving the end of the month to take a group of students to Caithness, Scotland for a session at the North Lands Creative Glass Center there. I mentioned that Natali is a tenured instructor at the Alberta College of Art and Design there in Calgary which in itself impresses me but she is also on the board of the Glass Art Society. She is well traveled and knows just about everybody in the art glass field in Canada, the US, and Australia, maybe even the UK, at least it seems so to me and if she doesn't know the answer to whatever question has just slid off your lips, she'll have it for you in a flash. And she is so full of laughter and so easy to be with. 

And then dosas for lunch at an Indian restaurant. If you don't know Indian food or dosas, they are giant thin pancakes with a potato base filling and an array of condiments. And by giant, I mean it was at least 12” in diameter.

Later Natali, Catharine, and I took another walk around the neighborhood looking at all the houses and their yards. Denise's neighborhood is undergoing upscale gentrification so there is a mix of older homes, modest newer homes, and then the big McMansions. A lot of houses have really nice gardens out front.

Then it was time for martinis and guacamole.

A watched pot never boils and an unwatched pot boils over.

Dinner was homemade personal pizzas (and Denise made the pizza dough).

Did you know it doesn't get dark in Calgary til after 10 PM? And dawn comes about 4:30 AM?

Friday, July 31, 2015

4. road trip continued...gopher hole museum, badlands, and dinosaurs

After leaving the Custom Woolen Mills we headed for Torrington to see the Gopher Hole Museum which was high on Natali's list of things to show us. This is a small building full of dioramas of taxidermied ground squirrels dressed up in costume to represent the industry and activity in the Torrington area and gets 10,000 visitors a year. This is a must see my friends. Well worth the $2 price of admission.

outside the Gopher Hole Museum, Catharine, Denise, Natali, actual real people, not stuffed

From there we headed out to find the road to the Dry Island Buffalo Jump where the First Nations would run the buffalo over a cliff, one of several in Alberta, but we couldn't find it so we pulled into Torlen Campground for a picnic lunch. While Natali and Denise set out the fare, Catharine and I moseyed along the bank of the Red Deer River looking at rocks.

wheat, flax, and canola

After lunch we headed into the Bad Lands, a transition so abrupt that we turned a corner and went from green fields to raw rock and hoodoos.


This area is famous for it's dinosaur fossils and so we headed to Drumheller, home of the Royal Tyrell Museum (which we didn't actually go in) where we walked around on one of the interpretive trails

a living ground squirrel

and then to see the biggest dinosaur in the world.

On our way back to Calgary we made one last stop at Horse Shoe Canyon.

Back at home base, we settled in with martinis, dinner, and a Skype call with Leigh, our one from Australia.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

3. road trip...canola, custom woolen mills

Natali arrived after coffee and a quick breakfast the next day for the first of our road trips. She and Denise had planned a tour of NW Alberta Province so we loaded up and headed out driving through the rolling countryside. Coming from the truly flat coastal plains, I was a little amused at their description of the province, the north end of the Great Plains, as being 'flat'. Also their remarks about the humidity while I was liberally applying lip goo to my chapping lips.

Flat or no, it is a beautiful countryside. The canola fields, which were abundant, were in full yellow bloom interspersed with the occasional wheat field. Denise told us this was the first time in weeks that the skies had been clear enough to see the Rocky Mountains in the distance from the wildfires elsewhere.

Natali, chauffeur extraordinaire

Our first stop was the Custom Woolen Mills, truly out in the middle of nowhere.

This is a small factory where farmers bring their raw wool to sell.

They use machines all manufactured in the mid to late 1800s to wash and dry it, card it, comb it, spin it, dye it, and roll it into skeins and on spools. We weren't there on a day that they give tours and because all the machines were running on the factory floor we weren't allowed to get close and watch but they did let us up in the loft where they store the bulk product which had windows overlooking the factory.

They also make cotton or wool filled comforters. The quilting is automated, with the sewing arm following the path created by the nails in the overhead board.

And of course they had a shop where you could buy the yarn. Natali knits, which for some reason I find incongruous with her, and she bought several skeins to make some socks.

barrels of dyed wool for felting

to be continued...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2. lay-over...Calgary

The next day, Saturday, was the first of our two lay-over days.

Denise is an amazing person who has lived in Guatemala, been a teacher, paints, does collage, photography, was props (most of which she made herself) and stage manager for several theatrical groups (her basement is filled with shelf after shelf of materials and tools), does fusing and lampwork among her many talents and she talks about it all so nonchalantly...well, you know) and I can't even imagine the things she has done that I don't know about yet and lives in a wonderful old house 

that she had remodeled and added onto and did much of the work herself including making the decorative tiles in the kitchen and she gardens with a sweet garden in the back. And she cooks. And she has amazing friends. I am seriously in awe of this woman.


We lounged around in the morning with coffee and crowned Catharine with sticky weed  

Denise, Catharine, and Duffy

while we watched the sparrows, who were totally unconcerned with us, flit about and dine on the nanking cherries which were so profuse they weighed the branches down.

Then it was off for Duffy's walk through the neighborhood (I'm always surprised when I go up north during the summer to see so many things blooming since by mid-summer here, that's all done with) and to the park that overlooks the river and flood plain and an incredible view of the Calgary skyline.

that's ACAD behind the silver parking garage that is reflecting the clouds behind me

Natali, who lives nearby, arrived for our breakfast of waffles and a champagne toast

Cheryl (friend of Denise who slept over and who writes and performs jazz), Catharine, Natali

and then we four took off for a driving tour of NW Calgary which has a huge hill (whose name escapes me) in the middle of this clean and pretty city. 

A stop at Peter's Drive In for milkshakes was also on the agenda.

On our way back to the house we stopped by the house of Natali's friend Jill who was in the middle of putting up 40 pounds of peaches in various ways and she sent us off with a bag of our own.

Then back to Denise's for an evening of martinis, dinner, and companionship.