Sunday, August 12, 2018

Lost, lost, lost, lost... somewhere on Highway 533.

Lost, lost, lost, lost... somewhere on Highway 533. 

On the way to the Brooks Medieval Faire I missed my "short cut" turn onto Highway 22x in Calgary that would take me through Gleichen to Brooks. I keep forgetting the 22x sign was replaced by Stoney Trail. No problem. I'll just go down Highway 2 instead. There's got to be a parallel road that links to Brooks, right? Not so much. Realized by Nanton that I was not getting to Brooks by 9:00.

My wayward travels were even more interesting by the forest fire smoke settling in from BC, Washington, California, and Ontario. Could barely see a kilometre ahead. Feeling safe inside my air-conditioned rent-a-car, kind of like a space-traveller who doesn't leave their ship until they're sure of the air quality, I took a few photos of some of the landscape. There are also quite a few old and abandoned buildings in the area. And wildflowers. And a hawk or two. It might be worth getting lost there again.

After going through Vulcan and Lomond (who for a small town know how to do road signs properly!) and coming into Brooks from the south end... I got lost again. [sigh]

Eventually, I hooked up with my brother and his friends at the Faire grounds.

As usual, there were lots of vendors, medieval costumes, sword-play, and Knights of Valour. I even managed to almost not notice the heat wave (+34) while shooting the knights jousting. When I got home, the cool, breezy thundershower was wonderful!

I discovered it's difficult to edit the pinkish/green smoke hue so that it looks nice. So I decided to go b&w for most of my photos.

Click on the little photos to get a bigger one.

A piper wandered and played throughout the grounds. Made the place seem more authentic.

A maiden and little owl from the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre.

Medieval village resident.

More medieval village residents.

A couple more medieval village residents.

My brother and his friend trying to score bullseyes at the axe throwing display. It wasn't as easy as they thought.

Sword play.

A squire tends a jousting lance.

Even the kids had fun in battle. Yes, the little girl hit her opponent.

Lost knight searches for his peasants. "Bring out your dead."

Sir Knight.

Squires holding rings that knights have to capture with their lances.

Got one, three to go.

Just one more.

A gallant knight shares his gold covered chocolate winnings with the common folk.

Squire braking system.

A barn owl from the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre was one of six live raptors on display at the Brooks Medieval Faire this year. [Kind of reminds me of a high school portrait.]

Knight entertaining the crowd.

Suiting up for the jousts.


Monday, August 6, 2018

A four day Blues marathon with the little brother... done!

Popa Chubby

A four day Blues marathon with the little brother... done! Might sleep for a week. 

As usual, the festival acts I was most excited to see were not my favorite performers by the end of the Festival. I wanted to see Jim Byrnes and Sue Foley, my brother the headlining BB King's Blues Band with Russell Jackson. While they were good my brother wound up buying two Popa Chubby CDs and I fell in love with Duffy Bishop.

Best act = Duffy Bishop. In the pouring rain Duffy was entertaining, verging on quirky (with the voices) and her voice amazing. Duffy's rendition of "Insane Asylum" was comparable to Kathi MacDonald's, but also loved "Change Your Address" and  "Boom, Boom." Tried to find a CD of her doing "Boom, Boom" but it appears it was an improvised add-on to the show, it's not on any of her CDs which sold out pretty quickly.

Most intriguing = Popa Chubby. Self-described as "the Stooges meets Buddy Guy, Motorhead meets Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix meets Robert Johnson" he was a force to be reckoned with. Loud, powerful, and popular.

I asked the volunteer at the Information tent if the photographers were also volunteers and was told that they were all professionally paid. So, I have only one nit-pick about one of the "professional" photographers. Ages ago I was told by a long-time wedding photographer and SAIT photography instructor, who also did events, that a photographer should be practically invisible and not intrude on the concert goers good time. For the most part, all the photographers at the festival were, except for one. There were times when you couldn't see the musicians in the BB King Blues Band, even if you were standing in front of the stage like I was, because this photographer was so eager to get her shot. Guess which one...

The next day the white fluffy sweater was replaced with something more low-key.

Otherwise, everyone was great! Thanks, Calgary International Blues Festival for a good time. 

I left the big camera at home so I shot half of these with my cell phone and half with my point & shoot.

Click on Popa Chubby, or any, to see larger sizes.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Getting to know Lana

Confession - since well before Kit passed away, probably during the year she was ill, I really did not feel like taking photos.  There was nothing interesting or compelling about the festivals or street images around me. After she died I stopped doing volunteer photography for non-profit organizations. My heart wasn't into it.

After Kit died it was an effort to take my camera out.  I even tried buying a new camera, thinking to spark the creative juices with a new learning experience. Not a good idea. I understood that I needed time to grieve, but I couldn't show that grief in my photos. I didn't know how.

Well, there was that time with the squirrels and the birdfeeder, but that joy was short lived come spring when I had to bleach their pee off my patio furniture.

I'm still not doing the people-thing at festivals, protests, or on the street much. (Or the squirrels.) Not as much as I was. Seen it. Done it. Not interested. Except maybe when I don't have a camera on me, of course. What photos I have taken seem blah.

It's not that I haven't tried, though. The two community events I dropped in on were more self-promotion for local business; one winter doo was for a dance school and the other (a supposed flea market) was for two Asian restaurants that just opened.

Even the Kensington Fantasy Faire I attended last Sunday was a dud. I got there just after 2:00 thinking lots of fantasy and a faire.  Added with the big success they had with their previous Diagon Alley events = big fun, big crowds, lots of cosplay, right? Nope. There was not much in the way people participating or entertainment. A couple buskers, a warrior woman sword fighting with Beetlejuice, a couple wacking each other with padded clubs while balancing on a two by four, and what looked like tables set up to do Beakerhead science projects. Didn't see any quidditch games - maybe they ended early because of the heat (+31). Not many local businesses really got involved, either. Big meh!

And I missed a powwow!! Double crap!!

Parked and the non-parks.

Magic, muggles, and music at the Kensington Fantasy Faire, Sunday, July 29, 2018.

Since meeting Lana I'm back to taking my camera out almost every day. Lana sleeping. Lana eating. Lana looking really fat. Lana playing. Lana stretching like she's trying to look skinny. Lana with her wacky eyes. And of course, Lana looking cute. Not all of them work out. For a chunky kitty, she can really move fast.

Who knows maybe eventually I'll get back into the other stuff if the other stuff is worth doing.

But right now I'm getting to know Lana. And annoying her and probably everyone who visits my Flickr page and this blog.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Macro Lana

There's something relaxing about watching a cat wash.
No rush.
No other obligations.
A nibble between the toes.
A lick and swipe over the ears.
You can feel your heartbeat slow.
Tension eases away.
There's something relaxing about watching a cat wash.

This afternoon I pulled out my favorite lens (100mm macro) and caught Lana as she was grooming herself, in dappled light -- the sun filtered through the trees in the yard. Beauty.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Meeting Lana

In one of Lana's three online photos, it looked like she was puckering up to give the photographer a kiss. It made me smile. I had to meet her.

Lana is a beautiful ten-year-old brown tabby. We met, or I met her, online through the Calgary Humane Society adoption website. I requested more info by email and voicemail and received the following answer.
Thank you for your interest in the Calgary Humane Society! I left you a voicemail so hopefully you received that message. As of now, Lana is still available for adoption and can be visited here at our shelter. She has been here twice, it looks like the first time in 2011 as a surrender due to an eviction and then this time in 2018 as she was waking up the new baby in the home every morning at 4am! It seems like she was kept as an indoor only cat and likes to remain on people’s laps. She is very friendly and sweet. She has lived with another cat before so most likely will adjust to another cat in the home with a slow introduction. She needs to lose a little bit of weight so a summer weight loss plan between you and your vet will be recommended!
When I phoned I asked how loud Lana was and was told she could be heard from her little room to the other side of the shelter. Still, I wanted to hear her for myself. I met Lana that Friday (June 29th) afternoon.

At first, I couldn't find her. The Humane Society shelter is a maze of rooms and cat chambers. There were two other Lana's looking for homes, too; a spunky little grey kitten and a sultry black queen. 

My friend spotted her in a little room around a corridor we had missed. Through the glass door window, I could see the tiny room was cozy with benches and blankets, toys and dishes of food, and a tidy litter box. Lana peered tentatively from under a blanket covered bench. 

I kneeled down and said, hi. 

She said, hi. 

Then she popped out of hiding and quickly walked to the door window, chattering. 

Maybe she was explaining her situation, maybe she just needed someone to talk to, but she seemed keen to meet me. I pulled out a piece of string that I had brought and held it up to the window for her to see. Lana's eyes widened and her head bobbed up. I slid a part of the string under the door and she pounced. Lana might be an older lady (10 years) but she still liked to play.

We found a staff person to let me in Lana's room. Lana's meows and purring intensified. I kneeled down to chat back and received a couple concussive head-butts. I cried and kissed her on the head. I heard a woman standing outside the room say, "That looks like a done deal."

Three hours later, Lana was on her way home with me.

Lana is every bit as sweet as her kissy photo and is settling in amazingly well.  Her first night, after exploring the apartment thoroughly, Lana and I played off and on for more than an hour. Lana uses her litterbox (both poop and pee) with no problem and is eating well. Maybe too well. The only downside, if you can call it that, is that she might eat my spider plants down to a nub. So today I seeded a big pot of cat grass for her.

Lana is still a chatterbox - chirping and softly meowing her own complex language. I figure she was probably loud at the shelter because she was really upset. Wouldn't you be if you just lost your family? The previous family claimed that Lana woke their new baby up at 4:00.  I suspect the baby woke Lana up first. 

So far, I wake up before Lana does. The first night, sometime before dawn, she heard me from wherever she decided to spend the night and came to my bed for a snuggle. We both got up later, around 8:00, for breakfast.

Now we begin to learn about each other. New languages and habits. Eventually, I will introduce her to our forested yard so that she can walk off some of her extra pounds (on leash). 

Lana and I are off to a great start. I'm already totally smitten with her, like a new mommy. So far, she even doesn't mind having her photo taken! So, of course, Lana already has her own Flickr album, just like Kitlyn did!

Kit passed away last winter after a year-long illness typical in older cats, kidney failure. She had stopped eating and drinking water longer than usual. She sat in my bathroom sink and looked very sad. By New Year's Eve, her little body said it was time to go. My best friend drove me to Kit's vet and waited for me as I gave Kit her final kiss goodbye.

I understand it will take a while for Lana and me to reach the same level of love that Kit and I had; we were together for a little over 17 years.  Lana is nine, but she is healthy, playful, and very affectionate. And I love her chatter. I expect we will have a great life together.

Lana and Kit