Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fire Trail

A controlled burn was done in the West Country this past summer. There were several reasons for it including an attempt to stop the mountain pine beetle.
The forest regenerates all on its own after a fire, but years of fire suppression messed up the cycle. Another reason for the burn was to sort the cycle out.
Life has started again out west and in respect of this, and to explain why fire is good, an interpretive trail has been set up at the start of the Landslide Lake hike, about an hour and 45 minute drive west of Rocky, or just a few minutes east of Saskatchewan Crossing along the Icefields Parkway.
Two trails, one 400 m the other 2km have been built. We took the shorter one on Sunday.
Here's what it looks like.

 The start of the hike.

 It looks eerie, but it has a good feel to it.

 This is what you see on the way back to the parking lot. The trees are touched by fire, some killed, others charred. Either way, it's closer to natural than not having fire.

 A moody, almost ghostly look.

 Life comes back for a brief moment. This blossom to the right is paint brush.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Heading to Fall

The yellows this season really stand out against the Rockies.

We went for a drive out west of Rocky on Sunday to have a look around.  I thought the contrast of yellow and green was quite striking.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday -- Celebrating Banned Books Week

It's still Banned Books Week so I thought I'd rail (shameless previous blog plug ahead) a bit more.
Here's the list of Banned and Challenged Classics and I'm pleased to say I've read several of them.
Here's why these fine books got picked on.  Some were sexually explicit, others satanic, and some like Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird were for uses of a word common to the day they were written or era in which they were set.
Writers deal in real life, even when we're making things up. In fact, especially when we're making things up. If we all set our books in Happy Fuzzy Bunny Universe where everyone loved everyone else, but at a respectable distance, then there would be no point to writing or any other kind of artistic expression. And if Happy Fuzzy Bunny Universe reflected real life, then we wouldn't have much to express anyway.
I live in a free country and can write what I want and read what I want and say what I want and so can everyone else here.

Freedom of expression is black and white: it's there and it's for everyone on all sides, or it ain't there at all.

This includes the right to complain and to try to get books banned. Fortunately, it also means we have the right to fight back. Repugnant as it is I'd rather hold my nose and let the right to attempt to ban a book stand because if we start dictating what we can't do, then we will soon start dictating what we can do.
In honor of the banned classics:
" 'Ah's sceered of cows, Miss Scarlett. Ah ain't nebber had nuthin' ter do wid cows. Ah ain' no yard nigger. Ah's a house nigger.' '
-Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind (Avon, 1973)
I've managed a bit of writing though nothing that will get my WIP, The Legend of Shallal, banned. Dammit.
Here's a taste:
"She bent down and met the wide eyes of a six-legged rodent. One of its tiny claws clutched the bottom of her robe."
Thanks for being here. For more or to get in on the fun please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gratitude Monday -Ban My Books!

It's Banned Books Week.
This Gratitude Monday I am grateful for the books that have been challenged and /or banned. Some, such as To Kill a Mockingbird are favourites.
Others, like Catcher in the Rye I despise, but I had the freedom, the choice to read it. Well, to read it again.  The first time was in school and I had to read it then. But the book has remained out for public consumption and that meant I had the choice to read it again to see if I still despised it.
I do, but the point is I was free to find that out.  No one told me I couldn't, and neither should anyone ever be able to tell me or anyone else what he or she can't read.
The list is here.
I note with a delicious sense of irony that it includes Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.
So, why am I grateful?
Because every time someone challenges a book many others rightfully get their backs up and challenge the challenger.
Generally, we win and the book remains available. It gets some press, it piques the interest of someone who might not notice it any other way and a new reader finds it.
That a challenger might someday win, that a book could be removed from circulation due to the misguided whim of a self-appointed protector horrifies me, but for right now, I say books need our help and if that comes in the guise of a challenge, then bring it.
As long as I live and breathe and can string a sentence together I will fight for everyone's right to read any book and love it or hate it or not care about it either way based on  his or her own opinion and not what someone else has decided.
Perhaps the day will come when one of my books is challenged. I'd be grateful for the publicity.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Near Autumn at the Lake

Jackfish Lake, near Nordegg, Alberta

The leaves start to turn before the calendar does out here. This photo was taken a few days before autumn officially started.
I used the colour extraction filter on my camera to enhance the yellow of the leaves. I thought it underscored the changing season.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday - Honest Labour Edition

Cuba Labour
Hard work under the sun outside a sugar cane plantation historical site in Cuba.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Firing Up The Foursome

Now that I've got your attention I must apologize. The following post will not live up to your expectations.
Fall is a magic time of year. The leaves turn, the world cools, and Nature snuggles down for a long winter of sleep.
My mind does the same thing as it is also the time of year when the new television season starts. Favourites return and shiny new shows are trotted out for all to enjoy. Or not.
Last night The Tudors returned for its final season, The Defenders premiered as did Undercovers, all at 9 p.m. A new comedy Better With You also started, but at 9:30 p.m.
I never know my husband's schedule so the safe thing to do is record all of them. This meant firing up both DVRs and both VCRs. The old VCR is 20 years old and has served me well. Usually it is dedicated to taping newmagazine programs for my FIL. Last night it got reassigned. I hope I remember to switch back the tape so he isn't stuck watching a show I know he will not care about.
Why do we have four recording devices?
Because we wanted to have two DVRs that we could use at the same time. Each DVR requires its own host VCR. I believe the VCRs have a patch cord between them in order to feed the cable to them. Two other boxes let us switch between the two systems.
We've had the set up for two years. I think last night was the first time all four were recording together.
Tonight The Mentalist is back and so is Fringe. We can watch the first one live, but Fringe will be taped. And recorded. I've messed up a few times with it and on one occasion only got half an episode. Another time I missed the memo that some channels had been re-ordered. That hurt.
So tonight it's being collected on a DVR and a VCR, one set to Fox, the other set to CITY-TV.
Eventually I'll weed out some of these new shows and the old VCR can go back to its sedate life of taping news shows.
Meanwhile, my mind is spoken for until further notice.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Time To Every Purpose

We wave good-bye to summer.

As autumn comes around the corner.

Happy change of seasons everyone.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday - Getting a Bit Done

I've managed to get a bit done on the WIP though nowhere near as much as I thought I would. Husband ended up not working a few days last week, one of which was our anniversary. That worked out well.
Other days I have no excuse beyond getting easily distracted. I've decided to simply go with it and see what it brings me. There really is no point fighting it.

Meanwhile I read Life of Pi.  I closed it for the last time on Sunday and still haven't decided what to make of it. I liked it. I honestly don't know what else to say about it right now. I'm hoping if asked that I can string a few intelligent thoughts together to make a conversation. Right now I'm still processing it.

Two lines from Yann Martel's Man Booker Prize winning novel Life of Pi (Vintage Canada 2001) :

"To be continuously outside, exposed to sun, wind, rain and sea, was exhausting, and not only to the body but also to the mind. Hadn't I just read that exposure could inflict a quick death?"
From my current WIP The Legend of Shallal:
"The mountains dropped off into one of the coldest, wildest stretches of water on the planet. They went underwater and then rose again on the land at the extreme south near the topside entrance tube leading to the library."

Thanks for being here. For more or to join the fun, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gratitude Monday --By Way of Illustration

I am grateful for the trip to Yellowstone. I am happy I got the chance to see Old Faithful, and I am very grateful that I finally sorted out about some of the camera settings on my Pentax.
At the risk of this getting old:

And now a similar shot after the illustration filter:

I originally didn't care for the illustration filter, but I've got to say it's growing on me. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday -- Words and Pictures Edition

Most of the past week has been devoted to playing. I've been experimenting with the various colour filters available on my cameras and am torn between my enduring love for black and white and a newfound crush on sepia.
The Pentax offers a few more things to play with like colour extraction and illustration than the Olympus does. There's a lot to learn, but that's good because it's fun.

Two sentences from the Pentax K20D Operating Manual (Pentax Corporation 2008) about the illustration setting:
"Creates an image that looks as though it was drawn with a pencil. The setting cannot be adjusted."

A waterfall in Yellowstone after some playing.

I've managed a bit of writing in between the pictures. I'm rewriting my first manuscript and it's coming along slowly as I want to give it some thought and do as adequate a job as I can muster.
It may not ever be send-out-worthy, but when someone finds it languishing on the hard drive after I'm famous and gone I want it to be as unembarrassing as I can manage.

Two recast lines and and extra from The Legend of Shallal:

"Her hand was tingling. High tones sent her thoughts dancing. She felt her exhaustion racing away like a wave headed back to the ocean. "
Thanks for taking the time to read me.
For more or to get in on the fun please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gratitude Monday --Play

A little while ago I discovered some settings on my camera that let me play with the colours.
I am sure I read about them when I read the manual when I got the camera. Absorbing the knowledge is a whole 'nother story.
I'm so happy to have these settings.  I really like B&W, but I've got to say sepia has its moments.
I'm grateful for these settings, for finding them, and for the fun I'm having as I play with them.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday - Less Steamy Edition

Here's another picture of Yellowstone Lake.
By way of comparison, here's a similar scene covered in steam.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Extracting Fun in the Rain

It's been raining most of the day and that's great for writing. It can also make for some interesting pictures. I was enchanted by the droplets of rain clinging to the mountain mahonia leaves out my writing window and thought they'd be a good way to show the weather.
It also seemed like a good time to play with some of the settings on my Pentax K20, the bulk of which scare me.
This is the color extraction setting. I found I really liked the effect.
What does the effect do for you?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday --First Draft Done

It's done. The first draft of Dead Broke is currently fermenting in a dank back corner of the hard drive. In a few months I'll haul it out, clear away the mildew, and very carefully open the file lest it explode.
More likely it will whimper and fizzle, and that's fine, too.  As long as something is left to work with I'll be happy.
Once it was done I took a few days off from writing. I wandered around the house bumping into furniture I'd forgotten about while trying to decide which of the other three novel manuscripts needed my attention.
They all do.
I finally decided to go with the first one I'd written. It hadn't been touched in so long it screamed when the mouse clicked over it. I'm pleased to say it's calmed down and I'm able to work on it.

Before it's too far gone in the fermentation here's a bit from near the end of Dead Broke:
"He glided out of the room. His bare, brain-burdened head cocked to one side to avoid the lintel."
Not writing means more time for reading. I just finished Pharaoh by Italian author Valerio Massimo Manfredi (first published in Italian in 1998. English translation by Christine Feddersen-Manfredi, published, in 2010 by McArthur and Company).
The author is many-times published and an archaeologist whose specialty is the ancient world.
The book is a thriller set in the middle east with plots to cripple the US and take over Israel while a tomb is discovered that could rip the faith from the three major religions.
It's a good page-turner, good for taking readers away, and bits of it read like a reasonable echo of  9/11 despite being put out three years earlier.

Two lines:
" 'Please allow us just a few minutes," said the man with the coat. 'You'll realize that we had no choice.' "
Thanks for being here. It means a lot to me.
For more or to get in on the fun please see The Women of Mystery.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gratitude Monday -- Faery Tale Edition

Mountain Mahonia takes over.

Every year my husband cuts back the mountain mahonia we have growing along the south wall. Every year it comes back bigger and better.
This year he cut it back around the south window in July and by last week it had grown back and then some.
I sit at my computer and look out the window as the leaves hang down obscuring the bird feeder.
It is private, it speaks of resilience and the will to survive, and it suggests many of the old stories where someone rests in an enchanted sleep for years and the world grows around them.
It allows me to suspend this world and enter a different one as needed such as for writing, and for that I am grateful.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday --Wheeling Through Time

My husband and the world's largest wagon wheel and pick axe at Fort Assiniboine.

Fort Assiniboine, Alberta, is my hometown and the second oldest Fort in Alberta. The wheel was put up a few years ago as a tourist attraction and to drive home the fact that the Fort is on the Klondike Trail.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hey Big Deal Retailers Get Out of Alberta

Some big deal stores are boycotting Alberta oil due to our oilsands. The GAP, Levi Stauss, and Timberland are among retailers who've decided to jump on the big green bandwagon and put on a show for their customers.

You make me sick.

You won't use our oil, but you'll take the money from the people who work in the industry.

Put some spine into your boycott retailers. Close your stores here. A huge percentage of your Alberta customers make their money from the oil and gas industry. If you won't use the product, then you're nothing but money-grubbing hypocrites for taking the money from the people who do.

C'mon big retailers. Prove you mean it.

Get out.