30 December 2015

Candy Cane Lane

Candy Cane Lane is a 40 year plus tradition in the city of Edmonton. Thousands of people take to the streets of the west end neighbourhood along 148 Street during the three week period it is available.  Several homes along this stretch of about eight blocks are lit up in festive finery.  One even had a nativity sculpted out of ice this year.  It is best to walk the route for best visibility as the street becomes rather congested with vehicles.  

We went on a Tuesday evening and it was close to -20 Celsius that night which didn't deter the visitors.  All that is required for admission is a food bank donation for which there are several drop boxes available along the route.   

Here are some highlights of this year's showing.

@CandyCaneLane   #Christmastraditions  #Christmas2015  #familyfriendlyeventsinEdmonton

29 December 2015

Christmas Time is Here

Muttart Conservatory

Christmas has come and gone with all its bows and trinkets and lights and merriness.  I hope the season has found you warm and full of the spirit of the season.  Working in the floral design/green goods department of the greenhouse has been a great deal of fun and some of that translated to some decorating around the house too.  

at home

We've been a very good kind of busy this year from the 19th on at home with the arrival of my son, daughter-in-law and grandson.  We decided to focus on making memories this Christmas and remove the gift-giving pressures which I think went very well.  Try as we might, not everyone could attend everything.  Some of us attended Candlelight Christmas, went to a live nativity pageant, and everyone went to Star Wars Thursday night.  Going to a movie is a long-running Christmas tradition and this year our eldest chose Star Wars as the must-see movie.  We were all together for Christmas.  Then yesterday four of us went to Muttart Conservatory for the Snowflakes are Falling exhibit in the feature pyramid.  It was a  Christmas wonderland.  The perfect place for family photos. (yet to come)

at work

at work

at work

at home

Tonight we are driving to Leduc for Leduc Country Lights.   

Hoping you had a joyous Christmas, Happy Hanukkah.  Season's Greetings to all.

Muttart Conservatory "Snowflakes are Falling" Feature

November 21, 2015 - January 3, 2016 The feature pyramid of Muttart Conservatory portrayed a vision of Christmas with a sleigh of polar bears, a giant nutcracker and a large child's rocking horse nestled in hundreds of poinsettias. The glass ceiling hung with stars and snowflakes, large and glittery.  This pyramid feature "Snowflakes are Falling" appeals to young and old alike.

Monday, December 28/15 my son, daughter-in-law and grandson visited Muttart Conservatory.  The feature pyramid is the perfect location to take those precious family photos.  I've included some for you.  I regret that not everyone could have been here with us.

23 December 2015

Nativity Pageant in Spruce Grove

In this post I continue to highlight some of the family friendly events available during the Christmas season in the Edmonton Alberta area.  Running for only two nights, December 22 and 23 this year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints presented a live nativity pageant in the town of Spruce Grove.  There were two showings per evening with an intermission during which time the public was welcome to enjoy hot chocolate and cookies in the warmth of the church building.  Yes, the annual pageant is held outdoors, complete with actors and animals in a life-like set.

Here are a few photos from the evening we attended.

From my house to yours, Merry Christmas one and all!  
May the spirit of the season linger in your hearts.  

21 December 2015

Candlelight Christmas with the McDades

Terry McDade's harp.  Photo taken 2013

This has become our family Christmas tradition....an evening of music in a pioneer setting with the musicians the McDade family.  Two years ago (2013) a friend introduced me to Candlelight Christmas at the John Walter Museum in Edmonton.  Last year I took my husband and this year we tried to take all the family.  Unfortunately one son and his wife couldn't make it and another son was out of the country.  Those who did attend this delightful festive evening were all in agreement that this must become an annual event, forever.  I'm so glad!

Here are a few photos of the evening.  It's difficult to capture the sheer magic of a concert held in pioneer houses through photos.  You miss the smell of the fresh baked cookies and hot chocolate and apple cider.  The ambience can be vaguely captured but until you experience the candlelit houses packed with enthusiastic attendees seated before the McDades, it's only an image in your mind initiated by the photos and words I portray here. Ah, if ever you are in Edmonton during mid December, you must go but tickets go quickly. They begin selling in July and you're lucky if any are available after October.

The McDades have three Christmas albums, all available on iTunes and the official McDade website The McDades.  Little Drummer Boy from the Noel 2004 cd is one of our absolute favourites.  In this version, Jeremiah throat sings the intro. It is amazing!

The McDades' Celtic roots are evident in their music selections and presentations, playing Celtic carols mixed with a few from Canada (the Huron Carol) and some French as well.  If the spirit of Christmas is what you're looking to capture, this is an excellent place to start.

#McDades  #Edmonton  #Christmas  #CandlelightChristmas  #JohnWalterMuseum #Christmastraditions  #oldfashionedChristmas  

18 December 2015

In Three Short Days ... Winter Solstice

It's beginning to look a lot like winter here. Today we had a mild blizzard which required me to shovel the walks twice this afternoon. Not too bad but it was a bit chilly. Christmas is fast approaching and I'm excited most of the kids will be home for Christmas.

I've had the pleasure of working in the floral department at the greenhouse the last few weeks. It's been fabulous. I hope this note finds you well and the spirit of the season dwells warmly in your heart.

26 November 2015

24 November 2015

If You Look the Right Way, You Can See That the Whole World is a Garden

Photo taken during Strathcona County Garden Tour

If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden. 
~Frances Hodgson Burnett
Frances Hodgson Burnett (born November 24, 1849) wrote the lovely children's classic The Secret Garden. Sadly, the book didn't receive the accolades during her lifetime that it does now.  
How wonderful it would be to have your very own secret garden.

11 November 2015

Leonard Cohen recites In Flanders' Fields

Today we remember to remember

It's the 11th day of the 11th month and fast approaching the 11th hour, 
the moment of silence...
the ceremonies....
lest we forget.  
At the time of this writing Eastern Canada has witnessed the 21 gun salute in ceremonies to commemorate those who gave their lives to protect us, to ensure our freedom. Here's a link to one broadcast of such an event:  glbn.ca/UwqtX.

The poem In Flanders' Fields was written in a moment of anguish and frustration by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD. He had just performed the burial service, in the chaplain's absence, for a young friend and student who had been killed by a shell burst in March 1915. As he sat there in the back of the ambulance the next day after the service, looking out at the scene of poppies growing amongst the headstones, he vented his anger and frustration in this poem. Today it is one of the most well-known poems written during war time, a legacy of the battle of Ypres salient, spring 1915. 

November 11 is Remembrance Day in Canada (Veteran's Day in the USA).  The day we commemorate in solemn remembrance  those soldiers who fought for this country, who died for our freedom, and we express gratitude to those who continue to do so.  

The poppy - a symbol of remembrance day.
Poppy seeds can lay dormant for years at a time, only to begin to grow once the soil is disturbed.  In cemeteries, amidst the graves, the freshly dug soil yielded the beautiful simple and vibrant red poppy (papaver rheas - red field or corn poppy).  Thanks to John McCrae's poem, it became a symbol for soldiers who lost their lives.  

In 1918, working in a canteen of the New York City YMCA, Moira Michael came across the poem of Major John McCrae and it touched her insomuch that she began to wear a poppy in remembrance of the thousands of soldiers who gave their lives for their country.  She vowed to continue to do so as a sign of remembrance.  Moira wrote a poem titled "We Shall Keep the Faith."

Three men attending the conference where Moira was attending the desk saw the flowers she had brought in at her own expense to brighten the place and gave her $10 in appreciation of her efforts which she then used to buy 25 silk poppies, one of which she kept for her lapel.  She distributed the other 24 to delegates from the conference who expressed an interest.  This was the original impetus behind  her letter campaign to have the poppy adopted as the country of US' symbol of remembrance of the deceased soldiers.

In 1920 the American Legion adopted the poppy as an emblem of remembrance for the nation. Two years later Madame Guerin learned of the custom while visiting the United States and took the custom back to France using handmade poppies to raise money for poor children in war torn areas of the country. Distribution of poppies in Canada began a year later.

Lest we forget....

06 November 2015

Remembering, lest we forget

Next week Canadians set aside a day to pay our respect to those who have battled for freedom on our behalf.  So on that note, I took a drive recently to an area that once housed the army barracks.  Some of the old homes still stand but there's a lot of new development with beautiful houses.  I'm happy to note that the tributes to those great soldiers, marines, etc. remain intact and that in fact there is a new plaque that I have yet to find.  

Overlooking the lake pictured above is the plaque and sculpture, below

and in a roundabout is this incredible statue of a larger than life horse and soldier.  

November 11 at 11am we will take a moment of silence across the land to offer our deepest thanks and respect to those who fought valiantly and still do for our right for freedom.  Let us not forget it came at a great cost.  We are so blessed.

23 October 2015

Zimsculpt at the Muttart Conservatory

My daughter is learning to drive. So, last evening we went for a drive to practice parking and traffic circles.  It's not a secret that I don't like traffic circles and go out of my way to avoid them, even going as far as Googling alternate routes!  But she has to learn it to so I decided we'd practice another one, this one on the way to Muttart Conservatory. And, you know what?  She did just fine!  Just like I knew she would!!

With so many traffic circles to practice on, why go all the way to the other side of town?  We had to, you see.  Zimsculpt is on display in the feature pyramid at Muttart Conservatory only until this coming Sunday, October 25/15 and we hadn't yet gone.  I'd made a vow to myself to go each time the feature pyramid had a new display so time was ticking.

After missing the turn off to the conservatory (I've missed it before so I wasn't surprised), we managed to work our way back which, really, is just good driving practice.  Good thing her boyfriend was with us because he's the perfect navigator. It was rather dark by the time we arrived but we had plenty time as the conservatory closes at 9pm on Thursdays.

In the foyer, arranged on tables was a display of sculptures, each a nod to African culture.  In display cases on either side of the hall leading to the four pyramids, were more sculptures, as seen in this photo.

We saved the best for last, being the feature pyramid and strolled through the tropical, arid and temperate pyramids first, each had some smaller sculptures tucked in here and there but the largest and most impressive sculptures were saved for the very last in the feature building.

To the left are some of the fine pieces of art found in the tropical pyramid. Clockwise, beginning at the left: pregnant woman with hands in her pocket, leaves, elephant and a woman kneeling to bathe in the stream.

It's the first time I've gone late in the day and the lighting is subdued, up lighting and spotlights focus on the art and plants.  There were a lot of red spotlights which is a bit challenging for an iPhone camera yet it created such a great ambiance to see it in person.

The tropical pyramid is toasty warm and somewhat humid but it felt cozy and inviting on this cool autumn evening.

Next we visited the arid pyramid. Many people, including myself, think of arid as desert but it isn't necessarily so.  Arid simply means little rainfall. Here you find drought tolerant plants including many cacti, agave, and more.  It was lit with white and blue lights (it seems) and was much cooler in temperature but not cold.  The lighting contributes to the atmosphere, creating the impression of being in a desert at night.  

The temperate pyramid contains plants that grow in regions like most of North America.  It is a comfortable temperature in here most of the time and last evening it was somewhere between the cool dry arid garden and the tropical garden.  Red spotlights were mixed with cooler whites.  Take a look.  Clockwise, starting at upper left corner:  Japanese maple, gingko biloba (maidenhair) tree, mums and pampas grass.

The feature pyramid greeted us with dark cool paths, cool white lights highlighting the features, a waterfall and several sculptures.

Zimbabwean sculptors source the stone locally, the majority of which are a form of Serpentine.  The hardest stone is sought after by serious artists.  The most dense have very fine grains with a uniform structure which is ideal for sculpting. Springstone is an example of what would be considered desirable to create their art free-form.

The faces are exquisite - the chiseled baboon, the elongated arched necks, the expressions.... 

A little history about Zimsculpt seems to be in order.  Zimsculpt was established in 2000 by Vivienne Croisette in Zimbabwe to assist Zimbabwean artists achieve credibility and exposure through world wide exhibits, some of which in botanical gardens.  Each piece exhibited is chosen by Vivienne as she selects promising artists to be featured around the world.  Their travel and lodging are provided for them as they tour with their art.  At the conservatory, Edmonton has been fortunate to have artists in residence (Passmore Mupindiko and Aron Kapembeza), demonstrating their craft.  

Three of the four pyramids light up the river valley in this photo with the city lights behind just breaking the skyline.  And that, my friends, was a good night.


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