Thursday, April 30, 2009

The purple one they insist on calling violet

(No one except my family is going to get the blog title, but I can't help it, it just came out). We took a trip to the greenhouse in late March when I was feeling particularly lacking in sunshine, and I bought a potted pansy. I was afraid it would get really leggy by the time we get around to planting it out, and it has, but it has also bloomed continually and brightened up many a snowy day in the past week or so. I love the startlingly deep colour. Pansies are definitely one of my favourite flowers. They're so cheery and come so early in the spring and can handle the frosty cold springs of Alberta. I remember when I worked at the greenhouse having to shovel a foot of snow off of the pansy seedlings and there they were, blooming cheerfully underneath, unperturbed by the rude awakening.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Lens

I purchased a new lens for my camera this past weekend, and so far I really like the results. We went to the greenhouse of the way home from the camera store so I took the opportunity to test it out on the plants there, here are some of the better resulting photos.

Leonard Cohen, Live In Calgary

Last night we went to a concert that I never thought I'd ever be able to see. Leonard Cohen is one my all-time favourite artists. Ever. I think it was meant to be, seeing as in all likelihood I heard him before I was born, and I do believe that my birth tape, the music my mum played while she was in labour, included songs by him. I was trying to find a video on Youtube to play to give a sense of who he is, but none of them really do him justice. So if you don't know who he is, I suggest you look him up. Maybe give a listen to "Famous Blue Raincoat" or "Tower of Song" or "Take this Waltz." Heck, it's hard to go wrong with any of his music. Cohen is in his early seventies now, and only went on tour because his manager swindled him out of his money a couple of years ago, and so Cohen had to come out of retirement. But you would never guess he was in his seventies. He was full of energy, his voice was clear, musical and powerful and the show was downright interesting. The artists he had in his band were all incredibly talented in their own rights and supported him well. He was quick to give them credit for their contributions and so was the crowd. He did THREE encore calls that added close to another hour to the show and made us all love him that much more. He sang all the old favourites. One of the female singers was Sharon Robinson, with whom he co-wrote the album Ten New Songs, and he sang some songs from that album, giving her opportunity to shine as well. The other two singers were the Webb Sisters from the United Kingdom. We're thinking we're going to have to buy an album of theirs--they have such gorgeous voices. The concert started at eight and we didn't get home til almost midnight. And then I was so wired that we had to read for a while so that I could fall asleep. It was fantastic; I'll never regret going.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lemon and Vanilla With Fresh Strawberries

The other night we had K&K over for one last hang-out night before female K moved back to Lacombe for the summer. We've had them over a number of times in the last while, once where we made supper and then went out for dessert, once where they made supper and we made dessert, and now this last time, where we made supper and they made dessert.
Fortunate for us, K&K are both really good at cooking and baking. They made chicken cordon bleu from scratch the night they cooked. AND they're particularly fond of cheesecake. So cheesecake it was early this week.
And it was good. Very very good.
Thanks guys, you can come over anytime. :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Repeat after me: "This is going to be just the moisture needed for everything to turn green. It'll all be melted soon." Sniff. It's snowing again; thick snow of giant flakes. And it's true, we need a little moisture to give the plants a kickstart. I would prefer it in rain form, but this will (I suppose) do the trick. I'm feeling rather gloomy and Eeyore-like though. A friend sent me this (Thanks L!): "It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily. "So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."
No earthquakes indeed. But I think I need a hot bath.
PS. Happy Earth Day! I had great intentions of partaking of a free cup of Starbucks coffee and picking garbage, but I think I might just walk to the grocery store and call that my carbon-emissions-lowering contribution.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Now hare this

Two days in a row we've had this little fellow visiting us around supper time. And not just for a moment. Tuesday night he stuck around the whole time we made supper and did dishes. Just sniffing through the flowerbed and hanging out. The second time he stopped by, I was surprised he wasn't wearing a little blue coat like another famous rabbit I know. That reminds me, have you seen the movie Miss Potter? I highly highly recommend it. I can't wait for the weekend. Here's what we're going to do: - Rake the gravel off the front lawn. - Clean out the flowerbeds and mix more compost in. - Trim down the perennials. - Enlarge one flowerbed so I can grow vegetables (shh don't tell the landlord) - Dump out the composter; mix it around; take out the decomposed bits; move the composter to a sunnier location; fill it up again. - Plant some seeds in yoghurt containers for later transplanting. 1) Scarlet runner beans; 2) sunflowers; 3) Forgetmenots; 4) I'm up for suggestions. - Get our bikes up and pump up the tires and dust them and clean them up so we can go BIKING. I've been waiting and waiting to go biking. - Visit the farmer's market and spend at least $20 on vegetables. I need way more vegetables in my diet. And protein, apparently. - Go for supper at some friends' house. But most of this is banking on the hope that Brent feels better by then. He is SICK. I've never seen him so sick in the whole time I've known him. He was hit really hard by this flu...way harder than me. He's been more or less on minimal input or uncontributing for three full days now. That's unheard of for Brent.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Once Old, Made New Again

There's a sign as you drive towards Radium on Highway 93 that reads "And the mountains shall bring peace to the people." I've always loved that sign, because I've always felt that to be true, the mountains do bring me a sense of peace, because they are a reminder to me of God's awesome (as in filled-with-awe) power and His role as creator of all things beautiful and wonderful (as in filled-with-wonder). Two nights ago Brent and I went for a long walk up Nose Hill in the evening sunshine. It was our first walk up there since last fall. Every spring I am caught in surprise as I realize how beautiful Nose Hill is. A giant rise sticking out from amidst busy and often mindless suburbia. Nose Hill is caught between nature and culture, with native prairie grasses and other flora as well as all kinds of traces of the glaciers that once covered the area, but also with concrete foundations, paved paths, garbage and other signs of the visits of people and domesticated dogs. But it is so peaceful. Up high on the hills you can almost forget you are in the city, with the wind whistling in your ears and the grass waving and the smell of wet spring. Just as much as the mountains, it brought to me a sense of peace and joy. I thank God for His creativity and imagination in creating this world we live in. I am thankful for the opportunity to be caught surprised by the good and beauty in our world. I hope this never ceases as long as I live.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Last week I noticed that the tulips are peeking their heads up out of the wet earth in our front flowerbed. Spring is on its way!! We can't help but smile when we hear the birds singing sweetly. We're so glad to have them back. When we went running yesterday morning in the park we discovered that the ducks are back in great numbers. I wished them a good morning and a welcome back. I feel like I have never NEEDED spring to come so much as this year. We are so glad to see it coming. Our backyard is still completely full of snow, but it was 12 degrees outside yesterday, so this will change quickly. Hello all that is green and growing and sunshiny and earthy and new. I'm so glad to see you again!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Five Years' Time

They've been playing this song on CBC lately and we're big fans. And my brother T was such a big fan that he went out and bought the album. I can't upload the official video because they've disabled it, but I suggest you head over to Youtube and check out Noah and the Whale's song Five Years' Time.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Out for Supper

Last night we went out for supper with K&K. I wanted Italian but since there are TONS of Italian restaurants in Calgary, I wanted to try something different, something less mainstream than the Olive Garden or East Side Marios. So we went to a place in Kensington called Niko's Bistro. Niko's Bistro is on Kensington Road, closer to 14th Street than to 10th. It's a tiny little space in a cute little row of shops. When we came in the door the owner met us and led us to our table--a place right at the front where we could see out the window. The restaurant was not super busy, but we were far from the only people eating there. The decor was nice and understated. Heavy curtains separated the main part of the restaurant from the entrance. The windows had funky stringy curtains in front for a little privacy. The walls were painted coffee-coloured muted tones and there was local art on the walls. The background music was contemporary folk/jazz/pop of the variety that we really like. So far so good. We got our menus and there was tons of interesting things to choose from, either pasta dishes or meat-oriented dishes to which a side of pasta, vegetables or ceasar salad could be added. The wine menu was extensive too, but K&K are not wine drinkers, so we thought we would not go for wine. I think that was our first mistake, not ordering wine. We got kind of a sneering look from our waitress as she took away our wine glasses. When K and B decided later to order drinks, she brought them AND THEN asked for their IDs. Brent hasn't been IDed....maybe ever? So strange. We had bruschetta and calamari as appetizers. The bruschetta was really good--we could have had a lot more of it, though the waitress thought one order would be enough. The calamari was...calamari. I've decided I'm not a huge fan. It was well-spiced but nothing to write home about (but maybe I'm just not a calamari connoisseur?). I had a heck of a time deciding what to order, so I asked the waitress what she thought. I didn't take any of her suggestions, which was perhaps my next mistake. I ended up ordering the chicken parmigiana with vegetables. Brent ordered another interesting kind of chicken with pasta on the side, and K&K ordered canneloni and spicy spaghetti. After taking our order, we didn't see the waitress again until she came to ask if we wanted dessert or the bill (!!). The owner of the restauraunt brought us our food, and no one ever came to see if we were happy with our food or we wanted more to drink (which we all did). Finally when I was the only one still eating, and the waitress came to see if we wanted dessert, I asked her for more water. It wasn't like the place was really busy or was really big so that she could have forgotten us, we were right there. But I guess we had offended her or broken some unspoken rule (like not ordering wine at an Italian restaurant??). At any rate, the food was quite good. But good enough to come again? I'm not sure. We had way more fun when we came back home and had tea and the dessert that K made and played a roaring game of Settlers. Relaxed and we could get up and refill our own drinks. So there you have it. Niko's Bistro on Kensington Road. Take it or leave it.