Monday, July 27, 2009

Mandy the awesome

Andrew and I looked after our friend Mandy's apartment (i.e. picked up her mail and watered her plants) while she attended conferences/vacationed. While away, Mandy spent time in North Carolina, Woodstock (ON), Toronto and her parents' cabin located in the vicinity of Timmins. In total, she was gone for around a month. As a thank you, Mandy gave us this bag. Her mom did the sewing, Mandy did the decorating.

Andrew is even wearing his trademark beret and Tabitha is following happily behind us.



Sunday, July 26, 2009

Garden balcony 2009: Day, lots.

Quick update: We have blossoms on our strawberry and tomato plants. We might get all of one strawberry, but we're growning these things on the 12th floor of an apartment building in downtown Edmonton, so I call it a success. All of the tomato plants (there are 3) appear to have blossoms. I might be able to make some tomato sauce yet!



Monday, July 20, 2009

Harry Potter and the inclement weather

Oddly enough, I find myself unmotivated to blog about the two major events of Saturday night.

1) Andrew and I and a friend when to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince; and
2) The massive thunder/wind storm Edmonton suffered.

I think my lack of motivation is also twofold.

1) I feel busy (work, school work, editing); and
2) I suspect there are many other people out there who will summarize these events better.

I will give a brief account of the two experiences for prosperity's sake anyway.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
The extra-long wait for HP6 to be released was worth it. Although it's been quite some time since I read the 6th book (I actually held out for over a year after the book's release before reading it) it seems to me that much of the first half of the movie was completely re-written. Normally I don't like it when movies veer-off drastically from the original book plot, but I didn't mind it here. This may be because I have often complained that HP6 was lacking a little in the conflict/plot department. The movie was also quite light and funny, especially given how it ends. The scene where Ron was under the thralls of the love spell was delightful as were the scenes of Harry while he was experiencing the effects of the luck potion.

Perhaps one of the best parts of the movie was the vast improvement of the portrayal of Dumbledore. I think many people were unimpressive with the Headmaster in HP4 (i.e. when he grabs Harry by the lapels and demands to know if he put his name into the goblet of fire). In this movie he was gentle, a little whimsical and kooky (he took a knitting magazine from Slughorn's bathroom) and wise--just as readers of the series have come to expect from Dumbledore. Overall, HP6 was an enjoyable movie and I'm definitely looking forward to the last installment. Andrew commented to me several times yesterday about how much he liked it.

A major wind/thunderstorm trampled through Edmonton Saturday night. We had just left the movie theatre (around 10:00 pm) and were on our way home when we noticed a bad patch of weather moving in. I don't recall noticing anything unusual for the first few blocks. The sky was still light, although it was noticeably cooler than what it had been when we arrived at the movie. After a couple of blocks I started to notice it was really windy. So windy, that as the dust and dirt from the streets swirled around us it hurt when it made contact with our bare skin (I had to shampoo twice to get all the junk out of my hair). Not long after that we noticed the huge black cloud hanging above much of downtown Edmonton. We were blown sideways a couple of blocks later. Not long after we were running through the wind and rain to get back to our apartment.

We spent the better part of the next hour keeping track of the storm's progress on twitter (Lisa's idea), other websites, watching the lightening out of the balcony window and eventually CTV news at 11:30. A good chunk of the city to the west and north of us was dark due to power failures. By 11:45 the rain had stopped and the wind had died-down considerably. The next day CBC reported the winds had reached up to 106 km/hour. Trees, either in entirety or just branches, are down everywhere. It's shocking how big some of the downed trees are. The whole experience reminded me of my family trip to Boston in 1991 when Hurricane Bob rolled through. We spent the entire afternoon trapped in our hotel room watching weather reports.

Much of the city seems back to normal now, aside from the trees. I don't think I heard any reports of deaths or even injuries.



Sunday, July 12, 2009

We have worms and yes, we're happy about this

Aside from attending Green Day, this week has been a quiet one around the Milne household. I was worried I would have to dredge up some whimsical blog ideas (such as my life's ambitions--I'd thought up three) just to post something. Instead I'm going to briefly blog about our newest addition to our apartment: worms.

That's right, you read it correctly, worms.

I received a call on Friday from the Earth's General Store to inform me that our vermicomposter had arrived. We picked it up on Saturday. Once home, we filled our bin (a large Rubbermaid, I'm not sure what the capacity is, but it's probably 1m x 0.5m x 0.75m) with soil and worms, and installed it into our storage closet that afternoon. So now we have worms in our apartment, munching on our produce scraps. We've already set aside a couple of litres of scraps to feed them throughout the week. I'm hopeful that the worms will help us cut down on the amount of garbage we produce. We expect to have fresh, nutrient rich soil in 4 to 6 months. We'll use it in our balcony garden next year.

A note on our balcony garden: It's Our peas shot up very quickly, but many of the plants were baked in the sun. We've been eating the occasional pea off the vines that have survived, but we don't feel it's worth it to plant them next year. I had to re-start the carrots about 3 weeks ago. We think we started the first batch too early and weren't getting enough sunlight hours to thrive. Hopefully the new plants will fair better. Our tomato plants are full and healthy, but I've yet to see any tomatoes sprout. I think this may be due to the cool temperatures we've been having this year. Our strawberries are much they same. We've got several large plants, but no berries. I think its unlikely that any will be produced either. We'll try again next year.



Tuesday, July 7, 2009

First real rock concert: Green Day, July 6, 2009

I realize that for a 28-year old I'm a bit odd. The number of Symphony-Orchestra concerts I've attended greatly overshadows the number of rock-popular music concerts I've attended. I can count the latter on one hand: Paul McCartney (awesome), BNL (loved), Sarah Sleen/Rufus Wainwright (I'd never heard of either of them before I was invited, but highly enjoyed) and now Green Day. Andrew and I are not, in particular, Green Day fans. I like the songs of theirs that I know (mainly those played on the radio), but the only album I have is Warning, which is definitely not their best work. We were offered the tickets by one of Andrew's prof's (who's also the husband of one of my co-workers) as they were unable to use them.

And so we went. And we enjoyed ourselves. I'm not going to dive into an in-depth description of the night's events, since as I've already mentioned, neither Andrew or I are Green Day aficionados nor do I expect are any of my readers. Just a few words:
In general: lots of fireworks, flame bursts and lighting changes. Very cool light-up city scape backdrop.
Green Day itself: Billy Joe Armstrong has a crazy amount of energy and spent a good deal of time running and jumping around the stage and working the audience. He used a little more profanity than I care for, but whatever, this was Green Day, they're supposed to be punk. I also think Billy Joe actually has a pretty good voice with an interesting tone. It's really noticeable in some of their slower songs.
Overall: the atmosphere in Rexall was great. I was a little concerned things could get out of hand, but everyone around us seemed to be enjoying themselves. We were on our feet the whole time and I danced for much of it. Ages ranged from little kids (say 6 years old?) to adults (probably around 40 to 50 year olds).

Finally, some fun things. Several people got pulled up on stage. A couple of little kids came up on at separate times. One led the crowd in hand waving and the other got to squirt people in the mosh pit with a huge water gun. Three people got pulled up to sing different verses of Longview, unfortunately they didn't all sing terribly well. Green Day performed a 50's rock medley including: Shout, Earth Angel and Stand By Me.

We didn't stay right to the bitter end. We decided to leave halfway through the encore in favour of catching the LRT home before the masses descended. Consequentially we missed Good Riddance, which would have brought the total of songs I knew all the words to, up to 2. If given the chance, I would be happy to see Green Day again, although perhaps I'd brush up on their catalog a little more thoroughly before going.

Us waiting to catch the LRT to take us to Rexall Place:

The stage when Green Day first came out.

These pictures were taken off of Andrew's palm, which doesn't have a very powerful camera. Unfortunately we don't have a tiny digital that we could have brought with us.



Monday, July 6, 2009

Balloon Bling from the Busker Festival

Andrew and I finally hit up the Busker (or Street Performer) Festival in Edmonton. I incorrectly tweeted on Saturday that we'd been living in Edmonton for 4 1/2 years and hadn't managed to check it out until this weekend, but we've actually only been living in Alberta for 3 1/2 years. We walked down to Winston Churchill Square after dinner and caught a couple of acts, enjoyed some fried snacks and I got a fantastic balloon bling bracelet.

The first act we caught was a comedian, who described himself as a cross between Mick Jagger and Luke Skywalker. If you can imagine those two mixed together you can pretty much figure out what this guy looked like. His gimmick was that he caught a cabbage launched from a catapult on his head (while wearing a spiked helmet) but that only took up 2 minutes of the show. Mostly he told jokes whist having children race for a dollar (where the game is always the same and always fair) and bribing a couple to come up and answer yes/no questions about their relationship. Overall, he was pretty funny and displayed a lot of energy.

Having heard there was an acrobat show warming up, we immediately left the first preformer (once he was finished) for a dance/acrobat group. The troupe was made up of two men and a woman. The older of the two men, and the "leader" of the group reminded me a little of Al Pacino. The second, younger man was from Venezuela, had impressive guns and was a huge ham. The woman was very expressive and had clearly had ballet training (she was flexible and always pointed her toes, etc). They performed several choreographed numbers, some to music, some not, displaying strength and balancing moves. Toward the end of their time they performed an audience participation number during which the two younger cast members piled onto Al Pacino along with 3 young girls from the audience. They had to do it twice since they lost balance the first time.

After this performance we hit up the food vendors. Andrew picked up some fries and I went for a bag of mini doughnuts, or as we like to call them mini doughnus (Arrogant Worms concert). Then we joined in for the last 10-15 minutes of another comedian/musician/huge unicycle riding act. Once he was done the action seemed to lull a bit (it was 9:30). We checked out the balloon artist at work, it was impressive how fast he moved and how intricate his animals were. I kinda, sorta wanted a balloon, but I didn't know what kind of shape I would like and I didn't want a hat. Eventually Andrew convince me to get something. I ended up letting the balloon artist pick what.

We headed back after I received my balloon bracelet. The temperature was cooling off and I didn't want to be out too late. Andrew expressed an interest in returning next weekend to check out the "Midnight Madness" show on Saturday night. Our busker fun might not be over just yet.