Wednesday, June 26, 2013


The flooding is over in Alberta now but the aftermath is quite distressing.  It'll be months before things are back to normal throughout the province.  This month's flooding is the worst in Alberta's history, with many thousands of people still out of their homes, many who don't have homes to go back to anymore.  The estimated cost of clean-up and property damages tops $5,000,000,000...that's five Billion...dollars.  Stretches of major highways have disappeared and need to be rebuilt, downtown Calgary will be a long time digging out from under the mud and sludge brought by the Bow River thundering through the streets. Many, many volunteers have come forward to help with the massive clean-up and Calgarians vow that the annual Calgary Stampede will go ahead as planned in a couple of weeks in spite of the stampede grounds sitting in the middle of all the water and mud and mess.  Albertans are nothing if not resilient.

With the North Saskatchewan River rising in Edmonton, we were under a flood warning, but it abated.  Then two days later there was a huge downpour of rain all day which clogged the water drainage lines in the city so many streets were flooded that way, and the river rose enough to become a major issue. For the most part, Edmonton was lucky and came out of the flood situation better than most.

Two days before yesterday's rain, Lloyd and I went out to see just how much the river had risen.  It turned out to be a lovely day.

Our first stop was a local off-leash park for dogs and their owners.  We didn't have a dog but we knew it was right on the river so we wanted to have a look.

This sign had been put up while it was still on dry ground.

The river flooding created a little calm cove where some dogs enjoyed swimming.
We made friends with the white retriever named Layla and her owner.

Edmonton has a beautiful river valley with a number of bridges spanning it.  This is
one of the newest.  It was built for or rapid transit trains to carry people from the
north side of town to the south.  The blue part underneath is a pedestrian lane.  That's
where Lloyd and I went to take pictures.

Lloyd is becoming the photographer of the family but I haven't figured out how to
get  his pictures from his iPhone to my PC.  It's a shame because his are actually
better than mine.  We've never walked across the river before so this was an
especially fun thing for us to do.  The river below us was flowing quite rapidly and
contained trees and other debris from the flooding further north.

This is looking on the south side of the river.  

The old and the new.  The bridge on the left is the High Level bridge, over
a hundred years old...a very busy traffic bridge.  The one on the right is the one
we were on, one of the newest bridges, the Dudley B. Menzies bridge, built in 1989
for LRT and foot traffic.

You can see how far over its banks the North Saskatchewan River
is here.

From our vantage point downtown, far above the river, we were able to see
the Edmonton Queen, our city's riverboat, complete with water paddle.  It's used
for special events and groups can rent it for parties, receptions, etc.  It is
safely tied up at the river bank in anticipation of the rising waters.

The next day Lloyd and I headed down to Lethbridge again.  Remember in my last post when I said that two of the bridges we would have used to get home were flooded so we had to be detoured through Calgary?  Well this is the one we usually take, at Carseland.  The water receeded rapidly and it's hard to imagine that it was completely under water at the height of the flooding.  In all the years we've crossed the bridge, we've never seen the Bow River without dry sandbars down the middle of it. There was no sign of dry anything there on Sunday.
The Carseland Bridge over the Bow River.  It was the Bow River that was
responsible for all of the destruction in Calgary, Bragg Creek, High River and Canmore/Banff.
The town of High River, by the way, is a disaster area.  It is completely evacuated
and will be awhile before residents are allowed in. They've lost
everything and there's still no power or water facilities.  I guess it's called
High River for a reason.

We stopped to look around at Carseland.  The river in the background had risen beyond the
point here where I'm taking the picture.

This farm was badly hit by the water.  You can see where a portion of his
grassland was washed away.

Downed trees were scattered like toothpicks along the ground.
It's hard to imagine all the damage that was done over the space of 24 hours.  Clean-up is well under way now and the human spirit is reasserting itself, a bit bruised, and a lot humbled by the force of nature.

And that's all I'm going to post about Alberta's floods.  Happier stuff next time.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wild and Wet

It's been a wild and wet week in Alberta.  A combination of a long winter, lots of snow, a heavy snowcap in the mountains, and extraordinary amounts of rain in a small amount of time have caused flooding in much of the province...the worse anyone has ever seen in what used to be a dry sunny province.  It happened so quickly and without much warning that towns and cities were caught by surprise.

I didn't get any pictures but the news is full of them.  Calgary seemed to be the hardest hit with a large portion of this large city flooded...many neighbourhoods under mandatory evacuation notice.  Small towns for miles around suffered huge flood losses.  In Canmore, near Banff, whole sections of the main highway were washed away along with a number of houses.

In Lethbridge, where we were all week, we had lots of rain, hail, thunder storms and more rain, but the city is largely protected from the rising floodwaters by the coolees - steep high banks that separate the city from the river.  Luckily our house remained watertight.

We drove back to Edmonton (500 kilometers north) yesterday.  Following our usual route, we were forced to detour through Calgary as two of the bridges we needed to cross were under water.  There was evidence of flooding wherever we went.  In Calgary itself, the highway that fast tracks traffic through the city was closed and flooded in the southbound lane, but luckily for us, the northbound was still open and dry, although in places the water was right up to the shoulders of the road.

I haven't heard any counts of damage costs but it'll be in the millions.  There have been no reports of loss of life yet either, thank goodness.

Just when we think we're safe in our lives and homes, Mother Nature decides to remind us that we are merely passengers on this planet and not as nearly in control as we'd like to think.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Day With the Woolf Cubs

Last week I spent a day with two of my grandkids, Tate and Sydney.  We had a good day together.  Technology makes babysitting easy these days.  Tate just turned three last month and already he can maneuver his way around my iPad like a pro.

Because I have so many grandchildren, and they all like to play with my iPad, I have a forder on it named Kid's Stuff so it's easy for them to find the games and kids' activities they like.  Also, because they're sometimes not as careful as they should be, I have a heavy duty frame/holder on it which makes it waterproof and also protects it when it is accidentally dropped.

Tate and the iPad

My daughter, Amy, has the largest bunch of rhubarb growing in her back yard.  She doesn't like it very much so it doesn't get picked and is allowed to go to seed.  I've never seen so many seed stems on a rhubarb as this one has.  The kids and I went out to do something about it.  Armed with a large sharp knife (which the kids weren't allowed to touch) and a big bag, I hacked away at the plant, getting rid of all the seeds and filling the bag with lots of rhubarb which I brought home with me.  It's all chopped and bagged in my freezer now waiting to be made into rhubarb crumble, rhubarb pies, and anything else I can think of to make.

Every time I opened the front door my senses were assaulted by the heady sweet fragrance of spring lilacs in full bloom.  Heavenly.
Sydney and Tate by the lilacs
 While Tate had his afternoon nap, Sydney and I practiced a new craft I have recently discovered - Zintangles.  Basically, it's the art of doodling.  I printed a coloring page from the internet and we filled our owls in with freehand doodles.  A lot of fun.

And then when Tate got up, we went out to the backyard so the kids could show me their moves on the trampoline.   Syd wanted me to take pictures of her 'in the air'.

There were about three flowers in the back yard.  The best was this sunflower.

And that was my day with the Woolf cubs.  No stress, fun, creative and active.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Spring Things

This time of year sees the school kids winding up their year with a flurry of activities, field trips and special events.

Aidan's kindergarten class held it's annual Strawberry Tea last week.  It was very informal and fun.  I went with his parents, Amy and Curtis, and watched Aidan's class perform a few action songs for their guests, and then each child served his guests a piece of strawberry shortcake which they all had a hand in baking, slicing berries and whipping cream.  It was fun to see them hurry to serve parents and grandparents before they helped themselves to a piece of delicious cake and berries.

The room was decorated with large handprint flowers with a picture of a child
in the center.

Aidan's picture flower is the purple one to the left of his head.

He was very proud of himself for serving us without spilling anything.

And here we all are posing while his teacher took our picture.
School seems to be a lot more casual than when I was a pupil.  Aidan has the most wonderful kindergarten teacher - the same one as his two sisters before him had, so she was quite familiar with the family.

And in Lethbridge, my lilies are in bloom and the grass has had it's first mowing.  Lots of work to do there yet with the yard, but it's coming along nicely.  It's amazing how quickly the snow goes once spring sets in.  I'll have to get out and take more pictures.

Enjoy your spring weekend.