Flowery Prose

Growing words….


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Alberta Snapshot: Middle Lake, summertime.

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This is one of my favourite places to photograph:  Middle Lake, in Bow Valley Provincial Park.   I always love how moody this little pond appears, depending on the cloud cover – you can see another shot of it here, snapped when my hubby and I stopped there after an ice walk in February.   These particular photos were taken earlier this month, during a fun, but rather wet camping trip in the Park.  We tent, so rainy conditions are always a bit of a challenge.  It’s really the clean up afterwards that doesn’t hold any appeal for me – we don’t have a balcony or deck attached to our suite, so I usually end up drying the tent in the shower, which means for the next few days, I’m scrubbing tag along spiders and beetles and other assorted creatures off of the walls and ceiling.  Okay, that’s a lie – it’s more like I stand as far away as possible (another room, preferably) and point nebulously and scream hysterically while my husband cleans up the wayward travellers.   ;)

Apparently the rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of a truckload of teenagers, who stopped to take a swim in the cold water as we were leaving the parking lot.  The lake is a bit sludgy and wouldn’t be my first choice as a swimming hole, but the nearby Bow River was running too fast for a safe dip.  According to interpretive signs, Middle Lake is shrinking every year and will eventually dry up to become part of the meadow surrounding it.

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My brother spotted this impressive old specimen of a balsam fir just off the beaten path.  Wonder just how long it’s been since it was a seed?


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Blog Hop Around the World!

When I received the invitation from Johanna to join the Blog Hop Around the World, I didn’t hesitate to jump on board! And you shouldn’t hesitate to hop over to her blog Mrs. Walker Goes Back to School - it’s a marvellous place to see her delightful illustrations and photography, and read about her travels and the books and antiques she loves and the knitting and other crafting she does.

Before I get started on the “nitty gritty” of the blog hop, I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who reads Flowery Prose – you’re seriously the best! Give yourself a big hug from me. (Or, if that feels awkward, then hug someone else or your cat or your dog or your goldfish instead. It will be like paying it forward.  Maybe a little wet in the case of the goldfish, which may lead you to reconsider).

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THE NITTY GRITTY:

What are you working on?

As a part-time freelance writer, work comes and goes with the successful queries and the horrible, shameful, soul-sucking rejections, so sometimes it’s really slow, other times very hectic. At the moment, I have a couple of articles due up very shortly, so I will have to finish up the research stage and get cracking.

Besides writing non-fiction articles, I’m trying to work on more short fiction – I’m particularly keen on the micro and flash stuff right now. I am a big fan of flowery prose (see what I did there?) so to compress a story into 1,000 words or even 100 is delightfully challenging.

Oh, and I’m also trying to learn how to knit. I’ve been trying on and off for a year now (more off than on). If anyone has any tips, please feel free to share. Looks like we’re in for a long winter and I’m determined to get that scarf pattern accomplished. ;)

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How does my work differ from others?

I have a goofy sense of humour that often escapes into my fiction. (I reign it in when I’m writing about compost or winterizing ponds or designing living screens, although I really do think those subjects would benefit from some hilarity). I love fantastic stories and surprise endings. I like to have fun with words and push the English language around just a little.

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Why do I create what I do?

The freelance work aside, I do some writing as a volunteer, to educate others about various gardening topics. I have nearly completed all of the requirements for my master gardener designation and after I have received my certification, I will continue to write as a garden educator. Helping others sort out what is eating their delphiniums or cabbages or causing the foliage to fall off their mature spruce tree is quite rewarding, and not just for the gardener I’ve (hopefully) assisted. It helps that I’m an obsessive researcher and fact finding makes me happy.

As for the fiction writing, that’s my BIG DEAL. There is no feeling in the world like getting lost in a story as you’re writing it – it is even better than reading an amazing story by a brilliant writer.

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How does my creative process work?

Organization is not a foreign concept to me, but I prefer to operate using the Little Note Method ™- which means I have scribbles of very important information on a zillion little pieces of paper lying all over my desk. I don’t outline anything unless someone tells me I have to. It makes things so much more interesting. Or panic-inducing.

As for inspiration…I like to go out for walks in the mountains, on the prairies, in a city park. That’s where all the best thoughts are.

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***

And now I’d like to encourage you to check out the amazing blogs of two fellow Albertans, Deb and Thea! Deb divides her time between three blogs: h…the blog, Island Home, and Hunter Photographics (for her photography business). In h…the blog, she showcases her incredible artistic talent: she primarily works with paint and fibre (and she dyes all of her fabric and wool using plants she’s gathered in the wild and from her garden). She also shares photos and stories about her travels across Alberta and British Columbia and gives us a glimpse of cottage life and the great outdoors. With Island Home , she focusses her camera on Pender Island, in B.C., where she and her family have a vacation residence.

Time with Thea is a fun, informative blog chockfull of great ideas for organizing your home and life – and there are tons of awesome craft projects and recipes as well! (Plus, Thea has a gorgeous garden and she often shares maintenance tips and delightful decorative touches). She loves holidays and is always designing something beautiful for every special occasion – there’s always something fabulous and interesting going on if you follow her blog.

Deb and Thea will post their entries for the Blog Hop Around the World on or about Monday, August 25 – please look for them!

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Fireweed jelly.

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We recently travelled to northern Alberta and on our return trip, we stopped to harvest some fireweed flowers - I’ve had it in mind for a few years now to make jelly with them and finally had a chance to collect some nice bunches. Fireweed grows prolifically here in the south, as well, but you don’t often see it in the city – it seems that I spot it most regularly when it’s in a national park or on private land. Up north, it’s…free range. Or something like that.  ;)

We have had the longest heat wave I think I can ever remember here on the Prairies, so to drag out the boiling water canner and make jelly in an already scorching kitchen wasn’t a prospect I was terribly keen on, but this jelly was sooooo worth it! I daresay I love the flavour more than the rose petal jelly I made a couple of years ago (do you remember that?). The fireweed does indeed taste a bit like roses, but it’s far fruitier – and how can you match that incredible colour? I was very impressed – this will definitely be on my list of must-makes every year from now on. The recipe I used may be found here; you have to make the juice first before getting started on the jelly.  Don’t omit the lemon juice, as it contributes to the vibrancy of the colour.

Have you tried any new canning recipes out this year? (Jam, jellies, pickles, chutneys, salsa…etc.). And if you don’t can, have you grown or eaten any new types of fruits and veggies that you’re now a big fan of?


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Saskatchewan snapshot: Sunset.

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Photographed 11 July 2014.

The field featured is almost in Alberta – it’s actually in Saskatchewan, at a place called Alsask (fitting, if lacking originality).  I initially thought that Alsask was like Lloydminster and Cypress Hills, and was partly in Alberta and partly in Saskatchewan, but apparently, only the former village’s cemetery is in Alberta.  Alsask was the site of a military base between 1959 and 1987 but it no longer even holds status as a village; rather, it is considered a “special service area” incorporated within the nearby town of Milton.  I rather wish we had stopped to explore; according to Wikipedia, most of the original buildings are gone, but one of the military radar domes and an indoor swimming pool (used in the summer to this day!) are still there.

Forest fires were burning throughout Alberta and the Northwest Territories at the time, so the smoky air lent an eerie glow to the sun.   I just loved the way that power lines looked against the sky; there’s something vaguely alien about the landscape to me, it’s a bit like something out of a science fiction novel.

Speaking of novels, what is currently on your reading list?  Anything that stands out for you – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, whatever?  I’m dividing my time between several excellent cookbooks (including Karen Solomon’s Asian Pickles, and Small Adventures in Cooking by James Ramsden) and Kimberly Elkins’ debut novel, a fictionalized account of the life of Laura Bridgman called What is Visible?.  (I’m barely into it but it’s captivating so far). 

 


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Honeysuckle, University of Saskatchewan campus, Saskatoon.

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Smooth bark is soooo overrated these days!   How’s this for “interesting bark texture”?


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Hesitation.

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For a pelican, he sure looks a little hesitant about getting into the pool….

Photos taken 10 July 2014, on the South Saskatchewan River near the CPR Bridge, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – something I was more than a bit hesitant to cross over on. It would be an understatement to say I’m not good with either heights or bridges and this old pedestrian bridge adjacent to the rail bridge completely unnerved me. Built in 1909, it felt decidedly creaky to me, although everyone else seemed blissfully unaware that we were all going to fall off into the river below if, for a split second, I took my white-knuckled fingers off of the oh-too-short railing or stepped on the wrong wooden board.  ;)

 

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Do you have any phobias or fears that make you hesitate?


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From Patterson Garden, University of Saskatchewan.

My hubby and I spent a few days earlier this month in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, so I could attend some workshops during the University of Saskatchewan’s annual Hort Week.  I had such an amazing time and met so many nice people, plus I learned a lot about plant diseases, insect pests and controls, and Prairie-hardy trees and shrubs.   Over the next few posts, I’ll share some pics from the trip – this was our first time to Saskatoon and I was impressed with the beauty of this city on the South Saskatchewan River.

One of the stops we made was to tour the University’s Patterson Garden, a public arboretum.  We actually went there over two evenings because (a) it has so many trees and shrubs to explore and (b) the mosquitoes chased us out the first night!  The mozzies were INSANE while we were there – I’m not one of those people who are typically bothered by them, but I was practically eaten alive this trip.   One of the participants in the insect pests workshop worked for the City of Saskatoon and he said that according to tests they had done, the mosquito population hadn’t yet reached a record peak, but it was close.

Here is more information about Patterson Garden, from the U of S’s website:

The University’s Arboretum was established in 1966 and contains one of the most diverse collections of trees, shrubs, and vines in the Prairie Provinces. Species from northern regions of the world as well as historic cultivars developed by pioneer plant breeders are on display. All specimens are labeled with common and scientific names. An invaluable reference for horticulture and botany, the picturesque site is also used for photography, field trips, and strolls.

The Arboretum is located in zone 2b of the hardiness zones of Canada, experiencing a sunny continental climate with cold snowy winters and hot summers. Despite climatic extremes many woody plants thrive here, responding to well-defined seasons and long hours of summer sunshine.

Patterson Garden Arboretum is a garden attraction of Canada’s Garden Route. It is nearby to the campus area and is open to the public throughout the year, free of charge, from sunrise to sunset.

We came across this beautiful rose with fading flowers near the end of the second evening – it is not a named cultivar, at least not according to the plate, which read:  Rosa 73846001 (J5 Rose).   Most of the plants had their planting dates marked on the plates, but not this one, so I’m not sure how old it is.

Gorgeous!

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I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  What plans do you have (gardening or otherwise)?

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