Tag Archives: canmore

R is for Red (AtoZChallenge2018)

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Kiki de Montparnasse in a Red Jumper and a Blue Scarf, by Moise Kisling, 1925

It’s one of the first colours we learn to identify as children. Our eye is drawn to the red smear in a visual composition. It’s the symbol of blood and of love, anger and the universal color of stop signs around the world. Associated with the Red Cross, the red sun on the Japanese flag (it’s actually the most popular colour used in flags with 77% of all flags including it somewhere…), red is also the least common hair colour in the human population (only 1-2% of the world’s population can lay claim to red hair).

 

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Moise Kisling obviously liked both Kiki and the colour red… (this portrait is called Kiki de Montparnasse in a Red Dress)

 

Red is one of the primary colours – the others being yellow and blue. In theory, if one mixes two primary colours you get secondary colours (green, orange and purple) and then, if you mix primary and secondary colours you wind up with tertiary colours. If you know what you are doing and have a bit of black and white you should be able to mix any colour you can imagine.

 

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As a kid, I was totally intrigued by the magical paint-mixing that went on while Dad was working. Even now when I visit his studio this process seems like a strange kind of alchemy, capturing light and form, shape and shadow by smearing colour on a flat surface… 

 

 

 

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By contrast, Piet Mondrian seems to have gone to great lengths to keep his colours clean and separate. This is Composition C (No. III) With Red Yellow and Blue, 1935

 

Also keeping it simple (colour-wise) is Roy Lichtenstein and this pop art portrait.

 

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Head – red and yellow (1962)

 

 

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This pensive child caught the eye of Mary Cassatt. Little Girl in a Red Beret dates from 1898. 

 

Would you call the child’s smock pink? Salmon? When you think about it, there are many, many words describing ‘red.’ Ruby. Carmine. Fire engine. Crimson. Rusty. And, plenty more… What’s your favourite shade of red? In case you are wondering, today’s artwork effort on my part was completely the wrong palette (greens and blues) so I won’t post here and spoil the word of the day…

 

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I went for a long walk this evening and took a ton of photographs. Scrolling through them there was a shocking dearth of red anywhere to be found. Except, in this photo which I snapped of a hula hoop hanging from a tree at the side of the trail. Who knows why a hoop should dangle just there… is it possible to drop your hula hoop and not notice? I thought the diminutive splashes of red were a lovely contrast to the more muted palette of the mountains before spring has fully sprung… 

See you tomorrow…

 

Q is for Quarry Lake (AtoZChallenge2018)

 

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Quarry Lake Park near Canmore

 

Well, sometimes the stars align, hey? I was wondering what on earth I’d dredge up to talk about when Q rolled around. After I picked A. up from a dentist appointment, we headed up to Quarry Lake for a stroll and a pizza-themed picnic. Because it’s so close (about a five-minute drive from downtown), it’s a pretty popular spot and even though the trails are  soggy at the moment there were lots of people out and about enjoying the spring sunshine (and, yes, it is very strange for me, a Vancouver Islander for so many years, to consider a snow-covered landscape to be in any way related to the word spring).

The views here are terrific – Ha Ling is one of my favourite mountains (we can see it from our condo, just across the valley), but up close and personal, it’s an impressive peak. Quarry Lake Park is also a designated off-leash dog park, which makes it a great place for pup-watching.

 

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Quarry Lake Tree (bark detail)… Keep an eye on the blog for a pastel interpretation of these great colours and patterns!  

 

The lake was still sort of frozen (everything is quite slushy this time of year) and overed with snow, but in the summer should one try to swim out a bit and dive down (good luck – it’s cold no matter what time of year you visit…), you’d have to hold your breath a loooong time before you reached the bottom as it’s over 100 meters deep in its deepest, darkest corners (if a lake can have corners…)

Once a quarry (surprise, surprise), the park is slowly reclaiming land once used for mining. And, yes, I do mean the park is doing the reclaiming. Picnic tables and toilets aside, large areas are just being left alone to slowly return to their natural state.

 

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Ha Ling from Quarry Lake Park, Mixed Media Experiment (yep, I touched Deb’s pastels… living dangerously! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Visit P is for Pastels)

 

See you tomorrow! I wonder if I’m actually going to make it through the R-S-T-U -V-When-will-the-alphabet-ever-end doldrums this year?? So far, so good… it’s looking promising!

 

 

C is for Community (#atozchallenge2018)

 

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Carmine’s downstairs… the pizza joint in the ‘hood

 

It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote a post over on my author blog about this year being all about community. It is, after all, the year in which my book Better Together: Creating Community in an Uncertain World came out so the subject has been on my mind. But it struck me, during this past week or so in France, that creating and maintaining connections has never been easier. Yesterday I was lucky enough to share a lovely lunch with writers I met during last year’s visit. The plans were formulated while I was in Canada, the host was in Paris and one of the attendees was in Menorca. Others who couldn’t attend touched bases, someone new to me joined the group – new connections were forged while others were strengthened.

Though this type of thing is passé for young ‘uns it still strikes me as slightly miraculous that a quick bit of typing and the goodwill of friends makes it possible to enjoy a chat over cheese as we swap stories in Paris before scattering again.

What is also interesting in this new, fluid, international world is that it was in an apartment near the Bois de Vincennes (location of said lunch and gathering of friends) that I first heard of the Canadian mezzo soprano Marie-Nicole Lemieux from a choral music enthusiast (and our gracious host) Anne. Granted, Marie-Nicole Lemieux is from Quebec and sometimes I think Canada is really bizarre in the way in which we in the west remain too often are ignorant of the talented musicians, singers, and writers who do amazing work in Quebec… Anyway, for your musical edification, here is Ms Lemieux singing L’amour est un oiseau rebelle from the Opera Carmen…

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Today was my last day in Paris where it has been a delight to plug in to the local community for a short time. In the morning (way too early) we begin the long journey back to Canmore and my lovely community there. Which, as it turns out, is more accurately described as a series of overlapping communities – the mad band of climbers who help keep me fit, challenged and engaged with endless problems to solve on rock, in the gym, and less often, on ice. I’m just beginning to dive into the theatre community, which has been a fantastic way to engage with a whole new circle of friends and explore another dimension of my creative life.

 

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Theatre selfie – Ally Lacentra playing a heroin addict, me as a grumpy old woman during Theatre Canmore’s recent 10-minute Play Festivus (can’t wait for next year!!)

 

Alas, it’s getting late and I have yet to pack, so that’s where I shall leave the letter C (there were actually a bunch of them sprinkled throughout the post… go count if you don’t believe me). More tomorrow as I wend my way back to my home in the mountains!

Ciao!

Ruts are for Wimps (or, old dogs and new tricks)

Just when I thought I was more or less settling into a pleasant groove (the politically correct term for rut), life sort of took a turn. First, there was the big move from the coast to the mountains followed closely by the unexpected trip to Paris. Then there was the addition of a teenager into the household. Then there was the edict from my doctor to stop baking bread every day and give gluten free a try. A new bicycle (a very fast, very smooth bike…). A new phone (it was great for three days before I lost it overboard while sailing). A new iPad. And, a new backpack. The latter items were procured as I start my serious preparations for the Camino trip later in the fall. Actually, next month. And, if you’ve ever prepared for a big trip you know that can blast you out of even the deepest of ruts. These days, it feels like pretty much everything is up for negotiation, adjustment and change.

Dani, Dad and I are writing a book together about this Camino trip (Dani and I doing the bulk of the writing and Dad providing the artwork) and I have decided to finally ditch the kitchen sink from my must-take packing list. My goal is to take only the bare essentials needed for the walk. Given that I usually travel with laptop, reference books, a couple of notebooks, a small stationery store, camera, phone, go-pro, tripod, external hard drive, digital audio recorder, charging brick, cables to connect all of the above, plus multiples of all clothing options for any possible weather event plus a deck of cards, snacks, water bottle, and several hats and pairs of sunglasses, you can imagine this whole ‘packing light’ thing is quite the challenge. I’m even leaving my favourite pillow behind!

Given that this is a working trip, I do have to take some version of my office along with me. I bought a case with a built in keyboard for my iPad which, though fiddly (the whole setup is half the size of my MacBook), seems to function well. Yesterday, I slipped it into my tiny new pack and jumped on my bike (a great find by Fabio on the local used stuff website) to test out the equipment. Not only was I able to sit on a bench and type my observations and reflections on the spot (something I need to be able to do while we are en route), I even managed to insert an image snapped while sitting on said bench. Wow. Technology. When it works, it’s so COOL!! Then I fired off an email (yes, with an image attached) all while resting on a bench facing the mountains and felt rather proud of myself.

One of the things we want to try to do is send regular updates (Instagram, Medium Series, my Patreon blog, Facebook) while we are out there to try to share some of the experience with folks back home. I guess it’s a sign of my advanced years that I am still marvelling at how it’s possible to conceive of such magical computing and communications power contained in something smaller than a paperback.

I also find myself re-grieving the loss of my precious duffle bag containing all my trip journals and some unprocessed films when I was on my way back home from Greece back in 1981. Foolishly, I had left the bag in the baggage shelf at the back of the train car I was travelling in and some opportunistic moron (nope, forgiveness and acceptance remain elusive on this one) swiped my bag. Sadly for them (and for me) the bag contained only memories – souvenirs, the journals, the lost-forever films.

Options for protecting the data were limited back then. I could have made a parcel and shipped everything home, but packages can get lost and films were not always that robust), never mind the matter of cost for someone travelling on a very skinny budget. Even photocopiers were rare and expensive back in the day, so making a copy to put in another bag (or strap to my body under my clothes) wasn’t all that practical.

This piece of sculpture outside Elevation Place in Canmore is Touchstone by Peter Powning

Yes, I know that it’s entirely possible I could drop my iPad off a bridge (my recent iPhone/sailing disaster was a very good reminder of that) before the day’s images could be launched up into the cloud, but I’d be missing only a day’s worth of stuff and not several months worth of notes, laboriously hand-scrawled in a series of tattered notebooks.

Today’s post (created 100% on the WordPress app on my iPad) is another step in this ultra lite mobile direction. So far, I’m loving this latest aspect of my new normal. What about you? Have you ever had a painful loss of data (analog or digital) while travelling? How portable have you managed to make yourself these days? If you are a digital nomad (or even if you aren’t but your head is overflowing with good ideas), what’s the most valuable piece of advice you can give me before I set off on my next journey?

Unexpected Colour

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On the walk to town…

At first, it seems as if the world has gone all monochromatic on you… And then, the subtle splashes of colour appear…

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Pinecones

 

Winter Walk – Canmore, Alberta

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When the temperature shoots up to a balmy -16C it’s time to bundle up and head outside! It’s strange how the body remembers things from childhood…

  1. How snow squeaks underfoot when the temperatures dip
  2. How hard it is to get the scarf just right – too high, your glasses fog up, too low, your nose and cheeks freeze.
  3. How you feel like the Michelin Man with all those layers on.
  4. How cold your fingers get when you take off your gloves.
  5. How your lungs cringe when you sprint for the traffic light.
  6. The perpetually runny nose.
  7. Stepping inside and instantly being bathed in sweat under all those layers.
  8. The speed with which your glasses fog up when you come inside.
  9. The brilliant burn of sun on snow.
  10. Those mountains, in their fine white cloaks.
  11. The sheer delight of being out there when it’s really too cold to be out there.

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M is for Munter (how to tie one), Mountains, Lady Mac, and Mixed Climbing

M is for mixed climbing, Munter and … and maybe mountains… and what about multi-pitches… Keep scrolling down if you want to get to the good part (the Munter video!)

On the first day of this challenge I was pretty sure I could dredge up something to say about climbing for each day of the alphabet… on about day five (E is for whatever E was for… M might also be about memory, or lack thereof…) I was feeling pretty panicky. I mean, you can only say so much about going up and not falling off, right? Well today I’m sitting here looking at my shortlist of M-words and I’m thinking that if I’m not careful this could develop into a long blog post!

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Me trying something waaaaaay too hard in the mixed climbing department. Sometimes you have to go past your limit to find the line in the sand… rock… ice… wherever. In this case, the line was about as high as you see here – just low enough, in fact that each time I fell off (many times) the rope stretch allowed me to gently hit the ground. With my backside.  

I’ll start with mixed climbing, a sub-genre of the climbing activity about which I had no idea before this past winter. In the vertical world in the dead of winter two solid forms (ice and rock) come together in the mountains. Climbing when you wind up transitioning from one to the other (and sometimes back again) is known as mixed climbing. The tools used are similar to ice climbing, but look closely and small difference begin to emerge.

Crampon points, for example. On a straight ice climb two front points give you a wider, more secure base upon which to perch (though, there are those who climb ice quite handily with mono-points). If there’s going to be a lot of rock on the route, though, it’s actually easier to climb with a mono-point, a single front prong. This is because the plane of the rock is very rarely exactly perpendicular to your foot placement. Unlike in ice where you can kick your foot in to create a more or less even distribution of weight over both points, on the rock, more likely you are going to carefully place your single point into an indent, small hole, or on a modest lip of rock. The chances of said placement point being exactly wide/deep/level/spaced to accommodate two fixed points on the front of your boot is slim.

Likewise, the blades of your ice tools can be swapped out with sturdier, less razor sharp options being better for rock than for ice. Fabio has a tool kit in the car especially for the purpose of swapping out pointy bits to best suit conditions.

Though both sections (rock and ice) of a mixed climb can be hard, sometimes the transitions between one and the other provides a particularly tricky challenge.

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Me transitioning between rock and ice at Haffner Creek earlier this season…

 

The Mighty Munter Hitch (Or, Italian Belay Knot)

A Munter hitch is named after Werner Munter, a Swiss mountain guide born in 1941 (though, the Italians were using it before Herr Munter, which is why it’s also known as an Italian hitch or Italian Belay). The knot is a bit like a clove hitch and can be used to belay a climber if you have a handy carabiner. What’s coolest about the knot is the way it’s sort of reversible – flipped in one direction it can be used like a brake (say when your buddy has fallen into a crevasse, you’ve stopped the fall by walloping your ice axe into the glacier and then throwing your body weight on top of the ax, and then you need to stop your friend from slithering deeper into said crevasse… After quickly building an anchor – and the thought of having to do this with gloves on and while sitting on my ice axe is nothing short of horrifying – you would then use a Munter to secure the rope leading to your fallen friend… well, not exactly – first you have to take the weight off the rope by transferring the weight of the climber to the newly built anchor… gads. That was meant to be a simple aside. Turns out it might need to be a whole other blog post.) Flip the same knot upside down and you can use it to belay your friend, letting out slack to lower her to a handy shelf or taking in slack as she climbs up and out of the crevasse.

Here’s my handy dandy how-to guide (and specially produced video!! Thanks to Fabio for being a Munter model…)

How to Tie a Munter Hitch

Step 1: Make a loop in the bit of rope that leads to the fallen climber. The end leading to the climber goes underneath.

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Step 2: Make another loop in the end of the rope that leads to your excess pile of rope (the end away from the climber). The excess end goes over the top.

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Step 3: Fold the rope in the middle to bring two loops together.

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Step 4: Insert a carabiner (preferably a nice big pear-shaped carabiner) through both loops.munter 4.jpg

Depending how the knot is oriented (which was much easier to show in the video), you can either belay (play out rope) or stop the rope from running. Now you have to watch the video, to see what I mean about flipping the knot’s orientation… Trust me. This will be the sexiest 90 seconds of knot tying you have ever had the pleasure of watching… there’s even music.

 

Mountains: I’m just going to throw the word in here because the entire world of rock climbing would disappear without them…

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Here’s one of my favourites, the iconic Mount Rundle in the Rockies. The first mountain I ever lived on was the more diminutive Tunnel Mountain, which reminded me of a round-backed hedgehog-like animal sleeping in a bucolic valley surrounded by unfriendly giants. As a kid I hiked up the Banff side of Tunnel on various occasions and, because our house was on the lower flank of this modest lump, spent many hours building forts, exploring, and playing hide and seek in the forest behind our house. It wasn’t until last summer, though, that I had the chance to climb up the steep backside of Tunnel and quickly realized that, in fact, even though it’s dwarfed by much bigger neighbours, Tunnel is still worthy of its mountain moniker.

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Mount Lady MacDonald is a popular hiking destination near Canmore. Here, she peeks over the trees at Grassi Lakes, where we were climbing yesterday afternoon. How handy that her name begins with the letter M.

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As for multi-pitches… well, another blog post, I guess! I am out of time… making that video was exhausting.