Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Truly a stargazing mermaid

I don't make resolutions. But after I started photographing the Northern Lights, I realized that it has been a long time since I saw the Milky Way with my own eyes. What with living in a city and all. I decided that I was going to see and photograph the Milky Way at some point in 2014.

I've actually made camping plans for later this year to address that. But that wasn't my only plan.

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - Calgary chapter held "Milky Way Nights" last week during the new moon. It was at the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory. I went there as part of a meetup, but due to circumstances, only met one other person. It's okay. Because the event itself was awesome. There were astronomers at all three big telescopes, plus lots of others at smaller telescopes, and a guy with a laser pointer pointing out constellations and planets and stars. I saw Saturn. And a double star that's part of the Big Dipper. And globular clusters. It was fun and I would totally do it again.

And I saw the Milky Way.

Milky Way over Rothney Astrophysical Observatory

Milky Way

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My long-lost sister

This story was a long time in the making. When I first found out that I had a half-sister, in 2009, I didn't have all of the pieces of the story. There are probably still pieces yet to be revealed, and there is a huge chunk that can never be known because our father has passed away, taking his point of view with him. But on the fifth anniversary of discovering her, our "sisterversary", I thought I would share what I have. Many people have heard the story in person, but there are many more from school and previous jobs that have never heard it. And heck, it is a story with a very happy ending. :-)

My sister, Mary-Anne, is on the left and I am on the right. This was taken at our first meeting.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Test knitting

My friend Susan from Crescent Moon Collective is now selling patterns on Ravelry. For the last couple of months, I watched her knit a new scarf and loved it - I wanted to be notified as soon as she'd written out the pattern.

And that's how I ended up as a test knitter. :-)

I've gone from this:

To this:

Row 2 was the worst - I had to redo it 5 times because I kept getting tripped up on how the instructions were written out. But I finally got it done and am still on speaking terms with Susan. ;-)

Now I'm in a groove and am loving how quickly this is knitting up. The call for testers is still flagged as open, if anyone wants to sign up.

A dish so nice I made it twice

I like to bake and try new recipes. Last week, I tried a a brownie recipe and brought it to lunch with friends. It was a smashing success. So I made it again yesterday, for a girls' gaming night, and it also got rave reviews.

gluten-free turtle brownies

Betty Crocker's Gluten-Free Turtle Brownies
This is super easy with minimal ingredients. Don't let the gluten-free label scare you away - it's moist and delicious.

I made two changes to the recipe:
  • I couldn't find the GF brownie mix, so I used Betty Crocker's GF cake mix instead
  • I added 1/8 cup milk because I worried that the cake mix might be too dry

Recipe link. For those who can tolerate gluten, you might prefer the Ultimate Turtle Brownie recipe instead.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


Congratulations to David B, who won my giveaway! He chose this as his art print!

Sell Art Online

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

How to become a famous blogger, in the bad way

I'd never even heard of the blog Halfway to Fearless until the author created a thread about it at Get Off My Internets, intending to increasing her web presence. She achieved her goal, but in ways she probably never expected.

Get Off My Internets is a snark site. The forum posters are highly trained to sniff out BS. So they glommed on fairly quickly that the person who started the thread, was actually the author, Beverly Stevens Peevyhouse. They called her on it. Beverly created some sockpuppet accounts* to cover her trail, and even created one for her husband claiming that Beverly died. Yes, she faked her own death when her lies were exposed. In the meantime, forum posters discovered that Beverly had been stealing recipes and photos from other blogs and posting them as her own. She even watermarked the stolen photos.

Bev keeps popping into the thread under different accounts, not realizing that the site administrator was tracking the IP addresses, and the email addresses used to create each account. Partypants, the site admin, had little patience for this BS and went public with the story, thus guaranteeing lots of publicity for Beverly. The bad kind.

As of this writing, Beverly has deleted the blog, her Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts, and is now back on the thread as yet another sockpuppet.

So - this is how become a famous blogger, in the bad way:
  1. Steal recipes and photos from other bloggers and post them as your own.
  2. Create an account on a snark site using an email address easily linked to your blog.
  3. Start a thread about yourself on a snark site.
  4. When creating sockpuppet accounts, don't change your IP address or email address.
  5. Repeatedly threaten to leave when your lies are exposed but don't.
  6. Fake your death.
  7. Finally admit you started the thread but deny the sockpuppet accounts.
  8. Post in a thread where people have discovered your plagiarism and have no problem calling you on it.
  9. Don't know when to stop.

* Sockpuppet accounts are accounts created to be deceptive. Typically, they're created to praise or defend another account or to carry out a hoax. It was determined that Emily Dirr of the Warrior Eli hoax created 71 sockpuppet accounts on Facebook.

Update - congratulations Beverly Peevyhouse, for winning "Best Flounce" in the 2015 GOMI Awards!

Figure Drawing

I was supposed to go to figure drawing Friday night, but after the Eye Drama, felt that I should really just rest.

(The eye is feeling better and the blurry spot has faded to the point where I just notice blurriness when looking at high-contrast lines. I haven't heard from the retinal specialist's office yet.)

ANYWAYS. There was a photographer at the last event I went to. He blogged about the experience - link is very much NSFW.

You may find the post interesting - I know I did! You'll see what the models look like, see different interpretations, photos of the band. There's even a photo of me sketching away with others.

Friday, 11 July 2014

One of these things is not like the other

I noticed some strange blurriness Wednesday and chalked it up to extra knitting this week. Last night, while driving home, I noticed that traffic lights were blurry - and I'm farsighted, with excellent long-distance vision.

I went home and realized that my left eye has a blurry spot. I Googled and the Internet said "Get thee to an emergency room". So I went to the one at Rockyview, because that hospital has an eye clinic and an ophthalmologist on call.

I didn't see an ophthalmologist but I got an appointment at the eye clinic this morning, after ruling out glaucoma and cornea damage and checking to see that my eyeballs have the same pressure.

3:30 am is not a good time to be scrounging for cash and driving around a parkade looking for a pay station, by the way. I finally got myself free of the parkade. As soon as I got home, I put a credit card in my wallet.

I wasn't told to have someone drive me in case my pupils were going to be dilated at the clinic so ... only the left one was dilated, so I could drive myself home after:

One of these things is not like the other

After being examined and scanned and having a lot of bright lights shone into my eyes ... in my left eye I have vitreomacular traction. And the blurry spot is a little bubble. I'm being referred to a retinal specialist to decide if we should wait and see, try medication, or go the surgical route. I have decided that the tissues in the back of my eyeball are going to separate on their own without surgical intervention.

The good news is that they also scanned my right eye for comparison, and it is exactly as it should be. The posterior vitreous detachment is complete

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Grief and heavy appliances

Day 127

I bought an air conditioner today because of an OMG heat wave and I thought it would be good for my allergies. There was nothing on the box that said it had to be installed in a window and I have never bought an air conditioner before. I hauled it home, hauled it upstairs, unpacked it, and then I discovered that it had to be installed in a window. It has to vent the hot air outside.

In some ways, I was reminded of what happened the day before the first anniversary of my father's death. A little early for Throwback Thursday, this is what I wrote on July 28, 2007:

I came home to a London's Drug flyer. Advertising countertop dishwashers. I have wanted one for a while. So I thought to myself that I would get one. Even though I'm planning on buying a condo, hopefully one with a built-in, or room for a built-in. I wanted a dishwasher.

I got up this morning and sprayed Raid on some ants on my living room carpet. Then I used the SpotBot to clean up. I played LOTRO (Lord of the Rings Online). I went to Wal-Mart first for comparison shopping. They don't have any.

It was hot. The whole day has been hot. The whole week has has been hot.

My inner voice questioned whether I really wanted to do this. Was this a way of not thinking about July 28, 2006? The day my father was removed from life support? The day I thought he would die, not knowing it would take him 18 hours to die?

I went to London Drugs and picked out the dishwasher. First I had to go to the camera section to get someone to come out with a cart to get it. Then we went to the cashier.

My Mastercard, the one with a $3,000 increase in my credit limit, popped up "Call for authorization". The cashier was flummoxed. She called someone. The someone said to ask me if I have another card, because otherwise I'll probably have to call Mastercard and it will take about 10 minutes. I do not have another card - well, a Sears card, but London Drugs does not take those.

My inner voice asked if I really wanted to buy a dishwasher. I have no clean spoons. I wanted a dishwasher.

The cashier called Mastercard - first she had to find their merchant number. Then she didn't know the actual physical address of the store that she works in. While she was waiting for the stock clerk to find it, I pointed out that it is printed on a sticker on her phone.

Mastercard said I had to call. They pointed me to a phone - which does not permit long-distance calls, not even 1-800 numbers. I used my cell phone.

I've been using my card more than usual. Well duh. You gave me an increase in my credit limit. Yes, the charge yesterday at Michael's was a purchase that I made. And the online fee to LOTRO. And iTunes purchases ($1!) We went through my last ten purchases. And then my purchase was approved. I do appreciate that Mastercard wanted to make sure my card wasn't stolen or compromised. I do.

The dishwasher wouldn't fit in my trunk. The stock clerk went and got someone to help her load it into the back seat.

It was very very hot by then. I drove home, struggled with the box up the five stairs to the apartment building door (and Lightly Swarthy Guy held the door. Didn't offer to help with the heavy box. Pig). I struggled to get into my apartment. I cleaned off a counter, struggled to get the dishwasher out of the box and onto the counter. I dug out the instructions and doodads.

The stupid thing doesn't work with my faucet. I dismantled the spray nozzle to see if it would fit. No.

The sweat was pouring off my face as I tried to Make It Work. My inner voice said I should have a cool drink and go play some LOTRO. So I did.

I did and I didn't want to go see my father as he lay dying. I was very squicked out at the thought of seeing him. But there was an amends I had forgotten to make the night before, when I thought I was seeing him for the last time. So I went. And I gave him my amends. I don't know if he heard. He was on morphine. And his body was fighting for life. His body was making horrible sucking sounds. On July 28, 2006, I was supposed to be in Calgary. Registering for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer, an event I'd trained for and raised $2,000 for. I wasn't supposed to be standing in the ICU at the Dr Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton. Watching my father's body struggle.

I decided to see if there was an attachment I could buy, to make the dishwasher work with the faucet. I took a picture of the faucet. I put the doohickey from the dishwasher in my purse. I went to Home Depot. The clerks told me I needed to buy a wrench and remove the bottom part of the faucet.

I rent. I had looked at that bottom part of the faucet, and it looks like someone glued it in there. I went and looked at the wrenches anyways. The cheapest is $39.

I realized then, that I was trying very hard to pound a square peg into a round hole. I started to tear up, so I got the heck out of Home Depot and went home. And had more cool liquids and played more LOTRO.

It's going to be a pain in the ass to put that dishwasher back in the box, take it to my car, and take it back to London Drugs, but it has to be done. Maybe I'll borrow Amy's boyfriend for that. Their house is a mess, so he can't say anything about the state of my place.

I was thinking of going to Johnston Canyon tomorrow. My inner voice says I can drive all over Alberta if I want, but I can't hide from the fact that tomorrow marks the first anniversary of my father's death. So I have no idea of what I'm really going to do.

Seven years later, I know better than to try to Make It Work. The windows in my bedroom are casement style and it would cost a lot to seal in the air conditioner. I don't feel it's worth the bother to install it in the office, a room that doesn't need an air conditioner. I'm returning it tomorrow morning when it will be cooler.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Incoming storm

I caught this incoming storm yesterday - I put my camera in Sports mode, because I was actually a passenger in a moving car when i took the photo.
f/8 1/800 ISO 100


Sunday, 6 July 2014


I've been putting some postcards online for sale, and I ordered a bunch to check the print quality. In fact, I ordered extras to give away. Now, Rafflecopter will run the contest for a week, and I thought that postcards wasn't enough of a prize. So I will also throw in an art print of one my photos on FineArtAmerica, 24"x16".

The prize package includes:
  • An art print of one of my photographs, no larger than 24"x16"
  • Two sets of five postcards, for a total of 10. Featuring my youngest kitty, Hermione.


Here is an example of an art print that you could win:

Art Prints

Entry is super-easy - you get entries for liking my Facebook page, or leaving a comment on this post. This is my first contest, let's not over-complicate it. :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Bad and good kitties

Charlie spends a lot of time running back and forth, monitoring the backyard and the front sidewalk for intruders. He'll get agitated and chatter, but normally I don't see anything.

Last night he was extra agitated - his tail sticking out from the curtains was three times its normal size. I turned on the light for the backyard, and spotted a cat by the back gate. I've seen it before - grey and white, always leaves when I spot it.

So this evening, I heard noises in the back yard and thought that the cat was back. I looked into the backyard and thought, "Oh there's a kitty. That kitty looks like Chloe. THAT KITTY IS CHLOE HOW DID SHE GET OUT?!?"

Perhaps I didn't close the screen door enough, perhaps Charlie figured out how to claw it open - but Charlie AND Chloe were in the backyard. She immediately came back in once she'd been sighted, Charlie was meowing about something so I scooped him up and brought him back. Fortunately Hermione was napping in the living room like a good kitty so ALL KITTIES PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR.

Now I'm going to have to be extra careful with the screen door, and maybe close the patio door if I'm not in the immediate vicinity - which is not easy to say when we're in the middle of a heat wave. I could leave the kitchen window open for a cross-breeze if I have to.

Because this post needs a picture, here is Miss Hermione.
Adorable cat named Hermione

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Baby you're a

Yesterday I went to Heritage Park with a friend, for their Canada Day/50th anniversary celebrations. I stayed all the way to 11, for the fireworks show. It was a fantastic show to top off a great day. Here are three of the 770 pictures I took:

Canada Day fireworks at Heritage Park 2014

Canada Day fireworks at Heritage Park 2014

Canada Day fireworks at Heritage Park 2014