Floral notes: July (belated).

If you’ve ever spent any time in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, you have probably visited the town of Banff, located in the National Park that bears its name.  My hubby and I don’t travel to the townsite often even though it’s not very far away, but we decided to make the trip a few weeks ago so we could summit Tunnel Mountain, which overlooks the town.  Instead of driving and worrying about where we would park in the busy tourist-filled town, we took a commuter bus operated by On-It Regional Transit.  For ten dollars each way, we were able to board the bus near our home and relax enjoy the incredible scenery nap all the way to our destination and back. The On-It buses operate between Calgary, Canmore, and Banff and have a regular weekend schedule with several routes running during the summer.  It’s definitely a great option if you don’t want to drive from Calgary and back.

As for Tunnel Mountain…we had fun doing this quick trek under cloudy conditions.  It’s a short peak, relatively speaking, topping out at 1,692 metres. (It’s a 4.3 kilometre trip return, with a 300 metre elevation gain). Despite the name, the mountain doesn’t actually have a tunnel.  When the Canadian Pacific Railway was working to push tracks through the area in 1882, they wanted to blast right through the mountain.  While it was a shorter route than what was eventually constructed, it would have been far more costly, in dollars and labour, to build the tunnel.  So the mountain doesn’t have a big hole in it…but the name has stuck. (The mountain’s Indigenous names include Sleeping Buffalo, Iinii Istako, and Eyarhey Tatanga Woweyahgey Wakân).

TunnelMrs

(I wasn’t asked or compensated to provide a review of the On-It service – we just loved it so much I wanted to talk about it!).   🙂

*

There is a brand new story up at Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction, the online flash fiction magazine I publish six times a year.  Check out Ed Ahern’s bittersweet “The Spring” here.  

*

We have a very cool art exhibit going on at the library branch where I work, a sample of multi-media work by children participating in art classes at the Wildflower Arts Centre.  These kids are aged 5 through 14 and it is amazing to see such talent!  Paint, charcoal, fibre, paper (collage and mâché)…the creativity is fantastic!

20190701_142851

*

Reading highlights for the month: the hilarious and action-packed YA novel The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, by F.C. Lee.  Think Chinese mythology meets California high school – it has Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes but it’s way loonier and, quite frankly, a bit more juvenile.  But it’s silly good fun and I can’t wait for the next book…hopefully it is published soon.

epic-crush-of-genie-lo

Another YA offering: M.T. Anderson’s Landscape with Invisible Hand. I laughed, I cried, I despaired. I think I was supposed to eventually feel hopeful, but that’s actually the point where the tears appeared.  This is a satirical (and just plain devastating) story of an alien invasion of Earth that has some startling, wayyyyyy too-close-to-home consequences.

51XPCWz6tdL._AC_SY400_

*

Soundtrack for the month: The 1990 grunge album “Uncle Anesthesia” by Screaming Trees; the newly-released single “Half-Light” by Madrugada.

*

Early in the month, my hubby and I took a tour of the Coutts Centre for Western Heritage, near the town of Nanton, Alberta.  This amazing place is the family homestead of Dr. Jim Coutts (1938 – 2013), a prominent southern Alberta lawyer, businessman, and art collector – and in addition to all the artifacts and buildings onsite, it boasts the most incredible gardens filled with predominantly native prairie plants.  Truthfully, I hope no one noticed me while I was wandering around the grounds, because I believe my lower jaw was firmly positioned somewhere around my ankles and I may have been drooling a little.  If you happen to find yourself in that part of the province during the growing season and plants are your thing, make it a must-do pit stop – it really shouldn’t be missed.  And, if the gardens aren’t enough (what!?), the place boasts what is likely the only example in Canada of a camera obscura built from a 1920’s-era grain bin.

PFPSNormandeau

These. Poppies. Seriously. 

Re: my vegetable garden.  Things are just sort of making an appearance, finally, after thousands of days of rain. I have golf ball-sized kohlrabi!  I have really diminutive turnips!  I have the smallest, most perfectly round pumpkins you’ll ever see…the kohlrabi are actually larger and at this rate, it will be about a year before I can harvest them, LOL.  The zucchini fruit might be more than five centimetres long next week…we’ll see.  I’m heartened by this new grand emergence of things but…um…cautious.  The weather has been WEIRD…it’s mid-August already and we occasionally get frost(!) at the end of the month, so you can see where I’m coming from.  I am harvesting dill and parsley and potatoes right now, which is delightful (especially as those three things go really well together at suppertime).  And these supremely pretty bush beans, ‘Dragon Tongue’, are just coming on now.  I simply want to gawk at them – they’re almost too gorgeous to eat!

DTBFPNormandeau

I was very rushed before the growing season began this year and I failed to get a handle on them as the months flew by. Next year, I am planning to do more winter sowing – it truly provides the jump start often needed in this climate.  If my personal assistant, Smudge, deigns to allow me to do so, I’ll start some seeds indoors as well…but she has an annoying habit of constantly snacking while at work.  😉

SFPPWNormandeau

Smudge’s Sage Advice: It’s important to actively track your prey in case it goes somewhere.  Even if it can’t, really.  ♥

 

 

Tuesday tidbits.

An itty-bitty Tuesday tidbits this week!  (Say that three times fast.  On second thought, don’t…just don’t).

  • On Christmas Day of last year, I heard an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful instrumental version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” on CBC Radio and after some hunting on the ‘net to find out more about the artist, it turned out he was from Didsbury, a small town here in southern Alberta. I promptly ordered Jake Peters’ CD “First Christmas: A Musical Journey,” and the musician himself sent it straightaway to me.  It is not only a musical journey, but a magical one! Peters’ website features the album in its entirety so you can enjoy it as well…and perhaps order a copy if you love it as much as I do.
  • Although I pumped out more non-fiction work than I ever have before, 2018 wasn’t the best year for me as far as my fiction-writing goals were concerned: I had exactly one story published (and only two new ones were written and are currently sitting in reading queues somewhere).  I am delighted that Canadian speculative fiction publisher Polar Borealis took on my SF work “The Heir” for their 8th issue.  If you’re interested, you can read the entire publication online here.

IMG_2481 (2)

A gratuitous photo of Smudge and her BFF, the printer.  
  • Waaaaaay back in March of last year, I claimed I was going to amalgamate my blogs The Door is Ajar and Flowery Prose and I did just as I said I would…well, insofar as my recent pretty much nonexistent posting schedule has allowed.  But now I’m going to separate them again! It probably seems a bit arbitrary but it comes down to content and I likely shouldn’t have made the change in the first place.  So…if you want to read my book reviews (aside from the select few I will still write here on FP), please head over to The Door is Ajar and subscribe…I’d love to see you there as well!  Thanks so much!
  • Finally, from the files of WHAT I OVERHEARD AT THE LIBRARY, PART 358:  It’s mid-afternoon; I’m working in the picture book aisles. A young boy of about five years old is announcing with bold authority to anyone who will listen, “I am Batman!” He captures the attention of another boy his age, and jumps up on the nearest chair so he towers over his new friend.  He squints down at him and points gleefully. “Sucks to be you!” he shouts.  Someone’s clearly filled with holiday spirit….  😉

Tell me something fun (or funny) or exciting or wonderful that’s going on in your life!  

 

Tuesday tidbits: food and other assorted ramblings.

I have realized the benefits of carrying around a couple of folded brown paper bags in my book bag. (I don’t usually carry a purse. You can’t fit enough books in the ones I own so they’re pretty much useless to me. And if you’re going to carry around a ginormous purse, you may as well lug a sizeable, sturdy book bag, right?).  You never know when you might be strolling around and see seeds that need collecting or just enough ripe rose hips for a cup of tea or a leaf that needs identifying or pressing….  I’m certain my neighbours just shake their heads when they see me toodling around. At least I’m entertaining to others!  Do you forage in your neighbourhood as well?

RHFPSNormandeau

The apple trees on the property where I live have produced like mad this year so I’ve been picking and processing over the past few weeks.  I’ve made a bunch of unsweetened applesauce, a carrot/applesauce blend, some jars of apple jelly, and infused a few slices with whole cinnamon, allspice, and anise in vodka in preparation for the winter warm-ups that will certainly be required within the next few months.  (Perhaps sooner: we have snow in the forecast for this week!).  I wanted to make this apple jam but it will have to wait until next year; sadly, I cannot hog all the apples to myself.

Juicy, sweet freestone peaches from our neighbouring province, British Columbia, have been so inexpensive this year – I suspect they had a bumper crop over there!  I mixed up a bunch as pie filling and froze them for use later in pastry or over top of ice cream, breakfast oatmeal, etc..  But I also made this peach barbecue sauce, which was fantastic!

And…I made blueberry soup.  I didn’t know that was a thing, but apparently, it’s a common dish in Sweden.  You can eat it either chilled or warm (we opted for the latter).  If I had enough blueberries in the freezer, I could see eating this every day – it’s so delicious!  The recipe I used isn’t quite traditional – I was eager to try this one because it has maple syrup and cardamom in it.  If you’re nervous about fruit soups, don’t be – this is a great breakfast meal and not too sweet. Actually, it sort of makes your tummy smile. Which is weird, but comforting. And comfortable, at the same time.

If you remember this entry I posted I about the non-book items our public library carries, you’ll recall that I mused aloud-ish about trying out a musical instrument.  True to my word, I carted this splendid item home on the train late last week:

KBFPSNormandeau

Now to find some good beginner keyboard tutorials on You Tube!  Or, I’ll just have some fun and mash all the buttons for the “crazy noises” feature that the machine sports (those are the librarian’s words, not mine, but it’s the description I would have used as well). My neighbours will be elated with my efforts to learn new skills. I can already hear the knocking on the door, the broomstick tapping on the ceiling. If I can just get them to time it to my playing, we’ll have a band and we can go on tour tomorrow.

And, in the “Endlessly Bragging” Department, I have not one, but two, articles in the Fall 2018 issue of Herb Quarterly magazine: “Rock Your Garden!” and “Dooryard Garden Design.” The magazine is out on newsstands all across North America.

Share any new recipes you’ve tried recently or let me know what new ideas or fun things you’re working on this week!  

Flowery music.

A song I hadn’t heard in eons came on the radio the other day and I got to thinking about song titles and then that somehow morphed into thoughts about the garden, as pretty much everything does…  At any rate, this post is the result of my brain meanderings, and hopefully some fun for everyone who participates.

Let’s come up with songs that have “flowery” subjects in the titles!  It’s a chance to perhaps hear some tunes we haven’t in a long while, some awesome ones and some maybe a bit more middling….  😉

THE RULES: Songs must have a variation of the words “garden” or “flower,” or the name of a specific flower, vegetable, fruit etc. in the TITLE.  (Not in the lyrics).  Otherwise, everything and anything goes (well, except the really offensive stuff – let’s keep this above board). 

Go ahead and post the title of the song and the name of the artist in your comments. I will try to track the song down on You Tube and put a link to it up on the actual blog post.  This may take a few days, especially if we get a lot of selections, but I will work on it as quickly as I can.  I think WordPress has a playlist feature as well so if this takes off nicely, I will see about setting up something more permanent to put in the sidebar at some point.

I’m hoping everyone has a “flowery” song or two (or more) to suggest – have fun submitting your choices and having a listen!

I’ll start us off:

Seal – Kiss From a Rose

Fran Healy – Buttercups

Scott Mackenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) 

Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand – You Don’t Bring Me Flowers 

Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Nana Mouskouri – Roses Love Sunshine

Tom Petty – Wildflowers 

(ADDED March 2019) The Young Gods – Skinflowers 

Bon Jovi – Bed of Roses

Nirvana – Marigold

Jeff Buckley – Lilac Wine

Your turn!  🙂

****Finally!  I’ve updated this list with all the fantastic suggestions you’ve left in the comments – have fun listening!  (And if you have any more to add to the list, please continue to share!)

The Beatles – Strawberry Fields Forever

Sammy Turner – Lavender Blue

Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill

Harry Nilsson – Coconut

Jimmy Buffet – Coconut Telegraph

The Foundations – Build Me Up, Buttercup

Black Sabbath – Sweet Leaf

Chelsea Wolfe – Carrion Flowers

The White Stripes – Apple Blossom

The Kills – Sour Cherry

Edelweiss (from The Sound of Music)

Bobby Vinton – Roses are Red

Nick Lucas – Tiptoe Through the Tulips

The White Stripes – Blue Orchid

Agnes Obel – Wallflower

Pete Seeger – Where Have All the Flowers Gone

Jimmie Rodgers – English Country Garden

Andy Williams – Days of Wine and Roses

Ray Thomas – From Mighty Oaks

Bette Midler – The Rose

Statler Brothers – Flowers on the Wall

 

August blog fun.

August-clipart-free-clipart-images-clipartcow

I haven’t done one of these posts in absolutely forever…well, since March, but I’m (only very occasionally) prone to hyperbole.  Because I’ve been kinda sorta busy, I don’t have a huge stockpile of links, which is probably a relief for both writer and reader.  Have fun with these!

History and botany…what could be better? I love this post from Lyndon Penner, detailing the life of Carl Peter Thurnberg (1743-1828) and his contributions to horticultural science.

Victorian pteridomania and all its wackiness and excitement is illustrated in this story.

If you’re interested in butterflies, the samples of illustrations alone in this article about the work of American lepidopterist Titian Peale will delight.  His biography is nearly as fascinating.

Anyone who crafts and sews might enjoy this fun article, which contains history and trivia about pincushions and pins.

The post needs an update (it was written in 2012) and it is a definite niche, but for anyone interested in children’s literature set in my home province of Alberta, this link will bring you to a list complete with short summaries of each work.

78 rpm records aren’t making a comeback on turntables in 2017 (although if you tossed out your collection of 33 1/3’s in the early ’90’s, you might be surprised to know that there are A LOT of us in used record stores looking for that old stuff…and we’re purchasing new albums on vinyl by current artists as well).  But if you’re interested in some 78 gems, this link will get you to a site where you can listen to hundreds of digitized songs, for free (and no pesky software download).  If you’re a music fan, be prepared to spend hours browsing!

Clipart credit.

December blog fun.

december-clipart-free-large-images-image

December first: the ice cleats are firmly affixed to my boots and I’m ready to take on the next ten months of winter! (I exaggerate, but only slightly).

I have a ton of really great stuff to share today – here goes:

New to me is this fantastic site: Plant Curator, a wholly-engrossing mix of botany and art.  I seriously could spend hours going through the entries.  This link takes you to some floral-themed art from M.C. Escher, but if his work isn’t to your taste, click on the menu headings at the top of the page to see everything the site has to offer.

The New York Public Library has digitized over 700,000 items, including photographs, maps, manuscripts and video – and it’s all free to everyone with Internet access.  Click over to the site to enjoy this treasure.

Another amazing treat: the over 10,000 cylinder recordings that have been digitized and are available for free from the University of California-Santa Barbara Cylinder Audio Archive.  These are priceless recordings from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s and include music, speeches and readings.

These “shadow” drawings by artist Vincent Bal are just plain clever.

A huge shout-out to some amazing bloggers:

Laurie Graves, of Notes from the Hinterland, has just published her YA novel Maya and the Book of Everything – congratulations, Laurie!  Read about the book and how to order it here.

Have you ever felt this way about a book?  Yeah…I thought so.  Read Margot’s post on Death Defying Acts of Living – I know you’ll agree.

Adrian Thysse has posted some incredible footage of honeybee hive activity – while you feast your eyes on his work, remember that he wasn’t wearing any protective gear while filming!

A fantastic find:

Paul Martin Brown’s book Wild Orchids of the Pacific Northwest and Canadian Rockies (2006, University Press of Florida).  Truly, a valuable resource if you want to ID and learn about western wild orchids.  The keys are easy to use and Brown offers all the botanical info you need, plus notes on history and naming, as well as decent photography and excellent botanical illustrations by Stan Folsom.  Not a book everyone is going to have a use for, but if this is a topic you’re interested in, I’d highly recommend it.

And, finally:

I started a project over at Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction that may interest you if you write flash fiction stories.  There is an open call for submissions now until December 25, so send in your work as soon as possible.  (If you’ve never written flash fiction before, give it a try – it’s a great way to have fun with really short prose).   Please pass along news of this call for subs to any writers you know!

Clipart credit.