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.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

1. arrival

A week ago Friday I took off for Canada. You might remember last summer I went to the Oregon coast for a week with some women friends, some of whom I had spent a week with at the residency in upper state NY the previous summer and some of whom I was meeting for the first time. It was originally just a one time thing but we had such a good time that we decided to do it again this year. Denise and Natalie, who live in Calgary Canada, volunteered to host the horde.

As it turned out, the Group of 7 became the Gang of 4. Leigh from Australia couldn't swing the trip this year, Abi from Portland had a job come up at the last minute, and Terry from Portland was still trying to sell her house.

I arrived a little after noon (Catharine, several hours later) to joyous hugs. On the way back to our command center, Denise's house, we stopped and had Korean for lunch. While Denise was preparing for the small welcoming party she had planned for that evening, Natali gave me a quick tour of ACAD, Alberta College of Art and Design, where she is a tenured instructor in the glass department. 

It's really an awful building, all gray and concrete inside with long hallways from which windowless classrooms sprout. (I wish I had thought to take pictures but as it turned out, I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I did last year and many of those didn't come out well.) Nat says she hopes the drab surroundings inspire her students to greater creativity.

After Catharine arrived, she and I finally tossed a coin to see who would get the guest room and who would get the basement room, both equally fine accommodations, because neither of us would make the first choice. Then we settled in and relaxed with martinis while the guests, friends of Denise's and all very interesting and talented women, arrived.

Sitting on the patio as the guests arrive while Denise slaves away in the kitchen.

Catharine, Denise, and I

I am so happy to be with these amazing women again.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

she's back!

Returned home about 7:40 PM on Friday. Got up early the next morning for a 2 hour drive to Galveston to meet out of town family for lunch celebrating a birthday and then a day at the beach. Brought grandgirl Robin back with us for her week. On top of that, I'm a week behind in my chores. Re-entry is a bitch. Working on posts about the trip in between grocery shopping and housecleaning.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

she's off

I'm headed to Canada today for a week with the girls. You might remember I went to Oregon last August for a week on the coast, an outing with some women friends, some of whom I knew and some of whom were, at first, strangers. We all had so much fun that we decided to get together again this summer. Natali and Denise, the Canadian contingent, are hosting this year, thus I am off to Calgary.

See you in a week.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

there's some training going on but I'm not sure who's on the receiving end

It's been a long time since I had a puppy. This little thing is funny, energetic, fearful, uppity, timid, brave, exuberant, sweet, happy, so smart, and runs like the wind (it's a good thing she wants to be here because there is no way I can catch her even now when she is running full on). She's learning that you don't bark at the cat or even get too close. The cat on the other hand seems to be adjusting. Her panties aren't completely untwisted but I think she's getting there.

She has been here just over a week now. Still working on the no biting thing, well, no biting people thing, she has plenty of toys and chew sticks to bite, and the house training. She's good during the day as I take her outside often but she is still unreliable at night. She sits with us during the day and evening but she's good about sleeping in her bed all night though she has definitely had an effect on what time of the morning we rise and that doesn't mean we're getting more sleep.

She got her first visit to the vet, who says she may be full blooded rat terrier or possibly some chihuahua in the mix and his best guess as to her age is 10 – 12 weeks, this week which started out fine and dandy as the techs were just all over her with hugs and kisses and then they put us in an exam room to wait for the doc which was all fine too while she explored the room until a dog in the back started crying and yelping and screaming bloody murder (they had to do a blood draw I found out later), then the little Minnie dog wanted to sit on my head let's go let's go let's go!!! NOW!

She climbed up and rode on my shoulders between the back of my neck and the seat back on the ride home. Then she had to be strongly coaxed out of the garage the rest of the day because...the car. So yesterday I took her for a car ride with no destination.

Today I'm packing for a week away with the girlfriends. Canada this year. Tomorrow evening the puppy goes to spend the night with my sister and her two little dogs and we must get up at the butt crack of dawn to get me to the airport an hour and a half away in time for my 8:55AM flight as we don't want to leave her in the house alone yet. More trauma. Then it's Marc and the puppy and the cat on their own for a week.

Just call me Ringleader,” he says.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

there's a new thing at the house and the cat is pissed

Tuesday afternoon when I was out in the yard a little puppy ran up and started dancing at my feet.

Yes, you're cute,” I say, “but go home.” And I went inside.

When I got back from yoga Tuesday evening, Marc was out in the yard.

Look what's out here,” he says as the little puppy is dancing at his feet.

Yes, I saw her earlier and told her to go home. Later he came in and said, “Don't touch her or she'll pee all over you”. That night when I went to close up the garage, she was laying on the mat behind the door in the garage.

Scoot, little dog. Scoot!” I could not shoo her out of the garage long enough to get the garage door down. Stomps into the office, “I can't get the dog out of the garage to get the door closed”.

Well, leave it open”, he says, “not like it hasn't been left open before”.

Next morning, skinny little dog is still there following me around while I water the flower beds. She ran into the hose and started lapping the droplets. OK, get water for the little dog for which she is oh so grateful let me lick your face waggy tail.

No no no no no. We don't want a dog and if we did want a dog it wouldn't be a little nervous energetic rat dog. It wouldn't be a puppy even, probably. Besides, we have a cat and she doesn't play well with others, she's an only cat thank you very much and she wants to keep it that way.

A phone call to my sister about seeing if our boss wanted to take on another dog or get the local S.P.O.T involved and a bag of food later, the little dog is doing her best to worm her way into our hearts. She already made it into the house.

You can see where this is going right?  

bed and toys compliments of her auntie

Her name is Mini-Merlin, or Mini-Mer, or just plain Minnie. Because she looks like a miniature version of my sister's little dog Merlin. She's about 2 months old.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

bird business

I might have mentioned that a kildeer made a nest in the gravel of the driveway to the shop.

I had seen her hanging around and on May 30, I noticed she had laid two eggs.

The next day there were three,

and the next day, four. 

I consulted the All Knowing Oracle and found out that the eggs would take 22 – 24 days to hatch. The little kildeer mom endured long days of hot sun and torrential rain and high winds from tropical storm Bill which blew in June 16th.

It took a few days longer than 24 but they did all hatch. Thursday evening the 25th, no babies. Friday morning, three babies.

By Friday evening, all four eggs had hatched. Mom jumped up and ran in one direction and the babies ran in the other. Then she got nervous that I was between her and the babies and moved over to call to them.

Unlike babies born into nests in trees, the kildeer are born fully feathered with long strong legs and they are up and running within hours. They are so cute, like little mini-mes running and bobbing and peeping. I had to use my zoom to get these pictures. The fourth egg laid was the last baby hatched and while it did eventually get up and move off as I was taking pictures, it only ventured about 6' from the nest on weak legs.

Saturday morning they were nowhere to be found.


The mississippi kites summer over here and the other day I saw one fly into the top of the tallow tree in the Little Back Yard where she has a nest.

Today I was checking on it and there is a fuzzy white chick sitting up keeping a watchful eye out for mom and dad.


Earlier today, Emma the cat wanted out into the Little Back Yard and soon a pair of cardinals were chirping and agitated. I looked up to see a fledging in the shrub behind the teacup.

OK, Miss Emma. Back in you go. She made a big show of sharpening her claws on a tree root that emerges from the ground before she consented to be picked up and carried in.