Category: Climate Weather

I’d Rather Be… Here than There

March is a strange month.

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations –

I’d rather be here where it is warm:

Warm and sunny Arizona

Than there where it is cold:

Cold and snowy Alberta

This week’s Photo Challenge is I’d Rather Be…

These same photos with a Cartoon Filter are at my other blog, Almost Artistic.

Where would you rather be?


It was very cold here in Alberta in late December 2017 and early January 2018. The overnight low temperatures were below -20C (-4F) for 7 days straight during the holiday season. The lowest temperature was -31C (-24F). January 2018 was briefly milder before sinking into another 4 day stretch of extreme cold. When it finally warmed up to a balmy -8C we packed the Jeep and made a dash to warmer climates for a while!

As Alberta was plunged into extreme cold warnings on Boxing Day…  Alberta was about as cold as Mars’ Gale Crater, the home of the Curiosity rover. Mars is subject to pretty violent temperatures shifts, and Curiosity regularly encounters temperatures below -80 C. But this week, the highest temperature experienced by the rover were -23 C. A Calgary Boxing Day shopper, therefore, might have found themselves getting into a car that was literally colder than a Martian spacecraft.
– Tristin Hopper, National Post, Dec 27, 2017 –

Snow Flakes, sharpened and color corrected

We spent a lot of time indoors in December and January. Inconveniently, it snowed regularly. I did a lot of snow shoveling, but only for short periods of time. It was just too cold. As for The Car Guy and the tractor – neither would start on several occasions…

Canada is one of the coldest countries in the world, having an average yearly temperature of about -5C. Viewed through this lens, it is no wonder that by the New Year we start to forget that we ever had summer…

By January it had always been winter.
– Annie Proulx, Shipping News –

How has your winter been so far?

Windows – Watching a Fall Snow Storm

snow storm

A lacy pattern of ice on the window.

The first snow storm of the winter season, except it is supposed to be Fall…

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!
But furnace heat is delightful.
With the roads closed we can’t go,
Stop the wind, stop the cold, stop the snow!
– Margy, with help from the Christmas Carol ‘Let it Snow’ –

Here are some other Window posts I’ve done and a Gallery of Window Photos I’ve taken:

Reflections in a Window

Seeing Through Windows and Doors

Paths – Water on a Window

Cleaning Windows

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Windows (again).

Has the weather been unseasonably anything in your part of the world in the past few months?

Shadows on the Snow – a Mystery Shape

I call them Crystal Days. When the morning sun falls on the right kind of new snow, each snow flake glitters like a crystal.


This photo was taken on a Crystal Day, mid December, a few years ago.  The overnight snowfall had turned our yard into a series of snow mounds, each sparkling in the morning sun. The snow pattern in this photo was particularly interesting. What had been a grid, was now a geometric series of hills and valleys, with each hill casting a shadow into the valley. Nearby objects added splashes of shadow too.


Here is a closer look at one of the valleys. Now you can see the sparkles of the snow crystals on the hill surface.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember what was under the snow. Whatever it was, it had to have been a nearly horizontal surface. It was something in my yard and it was apparently familiar enough that I didn’t bother to take another photo that put this one into context. I didn’t even see the need to change the name of the photo from P1060359 to something a bit more useful. Drat…

Here are some more shadow photos. Click on any of them to open a slideshow.

If you have any suggestions as to what created my snow shadow mystery, please leave a comment!

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Shadow.

Post 565

Whatever Floats Your Boat – The Magic of Water

H2O – Water as Snowflakes
Autumn in Alberta. Like any other season here in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the weather can be unpredictable. The first snowfall of the season can be early, or it can be late, but it is rarely welcome for adults. It often causes a delay in harvesting. It invariably results in highway accidents – road conditions deteriorate before  winter driving skills kick in.


Our first snowfall was a few days ago. A foggy, snowy photo is not a cheery sight, so I made it more presentable by applying a ‘Colored Pencil’ filter.

H2O – Water as Ice
A few days later the sun returned and the garden was transformed into a wonderland coated with ice. You can see these photos at my other blog – Frozen Leaves Encased in Ice.

H2O – Water as Water
You could also wander over to my other blog and meet the incredibly cute Northern Cardinal that took a bath in my sprinkler: A Wet Northern Cardinal.

So why a new blog?
I could tell you it started, as these things do, with minor annoyances. Unaddressed, these became regular disagreements, then acrimonious arguments. When all parties were pettily pissed off, The Birds started tweeting their displeasure with being housed with Politicians. The Flowers unfriended all The Car Guys Vehicles. They all declared they were going to move out.

That is mere fantasy, of course. The simple answer is, I had enough material to create specialty blogs for the things that interest me the most.  So I moved a bunch of posts to a new home.

As moves go, it has been quite straight forward, though time consuming. The exiting parties wanted to take all their belongings with them, including all the nice comments that have been made about them. WordPress provides an ‘Export’ tool for that. Unfortunately, the export is hit or miss in the media department, so it has taken a bit of time to move the missing photos.

The Birds, Flowers and Insects  built their nests and beds at

Last but not least, The Quotations, fearful of forever being associated with the mundane topics of weather, pots and pans… and dreadful puns – moved to The Quippery.

Do you have more than one blog? If you were going to split your blog up, what interests would move to a new home?

All the water photos were my contribution to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge which is H2O.

Post 553

Wishing for Weather – I Said Rain – not Snow!

snow pink flower

Towards the end of our stay in Arizona, I saw a TV commercial that made me long for a rainy day. An off road vehicle was driving up a winding mountain road. A light rain was falling. I remembered how fresh the air could feel and how wonderful the forest could smell after a rain!  In contrast, Phoenix Arizona was dry desert heat that could possibly fry an egg on the hood of the neighbour’s car.

gnarled trees blue sky

A few days later, we were on our way back to Alberta. Our first stop was the Grand Canyon. We arrived late in the afternoon, and spent several hours walking along the rim taking pictures.

storm clouds

Dark clouds to both the east and west hinted that a storm was brewing. My rainy day was very near!

I woke the next morning (my birthday) to a steady drizzle. I marveled that The Car Guy was able to deliver such a great present on my birthday. As we drove back to the Grand Canyon, I got whiffs of fresh air and fragrant forest.

We parked the car, put on rain coats, and walked quickly over to the rim.  Surprise! The Canyon was, for all intents and purposes, gone… I was really glad I had got my vista pictures the previous day.

snow blizzard

There was no reason to stay at the Canyon, so we drove east along the rim road. The rain turned to snow. As we dropped in elevation, the snow became rain. Eventually the rain stopped for a while – then we drove through a heavy hail storm. Apparently my birthday present was a gift of all the weather I had NOT had in Arizona for several months!

snow pink flower

The QuipperyDays later in Alberta, we were greeted with an early blooming season thanks to a warm, dry spring. I threw caution to the wind, and did a rain dance…  We got snow.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Wish.

A rainy day – do you carry an umbrella? Do you put up the hood of your rain jacket? Do you just get wet, because, after all, rain won’t make you melt into the puddle.

Post 542

‘Unseasonable’ Weather, Climate Change and Forest Fires

burned sticks

What causes ‘unseasonable’ weather? According to this report in ‘theguardian’, unseasonably warm weather is an indication of climate change:

April 28, 2016, Australia – “Unseasonably warm weather a clear sign of climate change, say scientists.”

But what causes unseasonably cold weather – like this snow in the UK?

April 26, 2016, Britain – “Snow stops play at cricket matches in the south as Britain suffers unseasonable late April cold snap.” – The Telegraph –

‘The Telegraph’ did not attribute this colder weather to Climate Change (which generally means Global Warming and refers to warmth, droughts, fire, floods, melting, etc.) Instead, The Telegraph offered this tongue-in-cheek explanation:

Some (twitters) suggested the arctic conditions were a gift from the late popstar Prince, alluding to the lyrics of his song ‘Sometimes It Snows In April’.

Are you as tired of the term ‘Climate Change’ as I am? I blame the media for that. Weather (which is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere in a region and its short-term -minutes to weeks- variations) is being reported like it is our Climate. Climate is the statistical weather information that describes the variation of weather at a given place for a specified interval (usually 30 years or more.)

‘Climate change’, a concept that should have remained in the hands of scientists and been vigorously researched and debated, has moved out of the realm of research and into the political arena. The cheerleaders of alarm – the media – consistently argue that unseasonably warm weather is the harbinger of climate change.

If ‘Climate Change’ really was about science, then scientists would all be working together and learning from one another. There would be a wealth of research from a diverse number of individuals and groups who didn’t try to mold their results to fit a believer, skeptic or denier position. The ‘Good Guys’ would not be on the payroll of ‘Big Government’, while the ‘Bad Guys’ were funded by ‘Big Oil’. The public would not be bombarded with fear mongering weather stories masquerading as apocalyptic climate change.
– Margie –

Perhaps you’ve been following the story of the Fort McMurray Fire here in Alberta. Many journalists jumped on the Climate Change bandwagon, though a few paused to consider whether the timing was good. More than 80,000 people, many of them employed by the Oil Industry, have been evacuated and are temporarily homeless.

burned sticks

The rush to draw the connection between the Fort Mac fires and climate change could come across as blaming, Pike said, adding “I really personally question the timing and how best to have that conversation”.
– Cara Pike, climate communications expert with Climate Access, National Observer, May 12, 2016 –

Other reporters looked beyond the unseasonably warm, dry spring in Alberta to ask – what else is happening to Alberta’s forests?

I have been repeatedly asked: “what does it hurt to say that the fire was caused by climate change?”… As a pragmatist I recognize that we live in a world where our governments have finite budgets and need to allocate resources wisely; to do that they need good information. Bad information makes for bad decisions, and attributing the forest fire to climate change would mean advancing bad information over good.
– Blair King, HuffPost Alberta, May 10, 2016 –

Mr. King’s article points out that the larger concern in Alberta is that Wildfire suppression programs have been successful! Now we have large swaths of mature forests that present new problems:

Before major wildfire suppression programs, boreal forests historically burned on an average cycle ranging from 50 to 200 years as a result of lightning and human-caused wildfires. Wildfire suppression has significantly reduced the area burned in Alberta’s boreal forests. However, due to reduced wildfire activity, forests of Alberta are aging, which ultimately changes ecosystems and is beginning to increase the risk of large and potentially costly catastrophic wildfires.
– Flat Top Complex Wildfire Review Committee Report, May 2012 –

rain drops

Rain drops on spruce needles – my trees after a summer rain.

While it is important to recognize that Alberta’s climate may become warmer, the more critical issue is how Alberta will manage aging forests.

Canadian forest fire management agencies have, for several decades, been gradually moving away from their traditional fire exclusion policies that were based on the assumption that all fire is bad and that it was to be excluded from the forest at almost any cost – and towards the development and implementation of enlightened fire management policies. These call for achieving an appropriate balance between reducing the detrimental impact of fire on people, property and resources and letting fire play a more natural role when and where it is appropriate for it to do so.
– David Martell, professor in the Faculty of Forestry and Fire Management Systems Laboratory, UofT News, May 6, 2016 –

As wildfires increase in severity, Smokey the Bear’s legacy makes it harder for the public to get behind controlled burns. Maybe it’s time for Smokey to advocate the need for smart forest fires.

In the past 30 to 40 years, how has the climate changed where you live? Has it made your life better or worse?

Post 541

Weather – Pondering Alberta’s Four Seasons

I’m in Arizona this morning. It is springtime here and the first blooms have appeared on a few bushes. By this evening I will be back in Alberta. It has been a mild winter, but if anything in my yard has been fooled into thinking it is spring, it is sadly mistaken!

I’ve chosen the Mountain Ash tree at The Red House to show you the seasons in Alberta – which are summed up as follows:

In Canada we have: Six months of winter, and six months of poor sledding. These can be broken down into: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction season. To be more specific, the four seasons are: June, July, August and Winter.
– Author Unknown –

Here are the photos and quotes that explain the seasons:

Mountain Ash – late spring

The principal function of March is to use up the winter weather that wouldn’t fit into February.
– Doug Larson –

Mountain Ash – Late Summer

Summers always fly – winters walk.
– Charles M. Schulz –

Mountain Ash – Fall Colors

Autumn is a season followed immediately by looking forward to spring.
– Doug Larson –

Mountain Ash – Early Winter

The problem with winter sports is that – follow me closely here – they generally take place in winter.
– Dave Barry –

What season are you enjoying (or not enjoying) right now? Do you have a favourite season?

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Seasons.

Post 532

Climate Change Fear – Invoking Santa

If there was a fear mongering ‘Hall of Shame’, then the Climate Change Alarmists would hold most of the top ten positions.

Fear mongering is the deliberate use of fear based tactics including exaggeration and continuous repetition to alter the perception of the public in order to achieve a desired outcome.
– Wikipedia –

Right at the top of the list would be the most despicable example of fear mongering that I’ve seen recently – a ‘Catastrophic Climate Change’ Christmas Story that targets little children. Author Ian Irvine has released a book called ‘The Last Christmas‘ – what would it be like for Santa Claus, the elves and the reindeer if the North Pole was melting? The author says his book is “…targeted for five to ten-year-olds, helps break down information on climate change that can sometimes be too difficult for children in primary school to understand.”

Climate Change fear – I know what effect that has had on many intelligent, rational adults who are extremely fearful that we are on the fast track to a catastrophic future. They feel helpless and anxious. But, is the fear of Climate Change really something they want to teach to their little children?

… why are adults so keen to focus on children? Why concentrate on the weakest, least influential members of society and ask them to act? …Climate change makes most adults working on it feel powerless. We compare the actions we are capable of with the scale of the problem and feel weak. We look at the extent of our influence and feel helpless. We struggle to combat our contrary desires to consume and feel shame. We feel like children. Children – who are actually socially and politically powerless – are an ideal receptacle for the projection of these uncomfortable and unacceptable feelings.
By focusing on the weakest members of society and influencing them, the not-very-powerful adults make themselves feel better at the expense of the absolutely-not-powerful children.
– Rosemary Randall, Environmentalist and Psychotherapist –

In 2011, “Help Santa find a new home” was the Christmas-time plea of the biologist and environmentalist David Suzuki. Supporters of the cause were invited to save Santa from climate change by buying whimsically named contributions to support his foundation. Reaction to this fear mongering was mixed, with supporters saying it was all just humourous fun. There were many who weren’t amused and some news outlets questioned the ethics of manipulating childhood images to sell a corporate message.

How about we agree to leave Santa (and Frosty and all storybook characters) to the kids so the grown-ups can deal with real world issues, like adults?
– Stephen Ewart, Calgary Herald, November 29, 2011 –


What would you say to a tearful 6 year old child who was worried that Santa’s home at the North Pole was going to sink into the ocean?

Post 523

These Plants are Hail Survivors


Hail stones in spruce tree – ‘Hail Alley’, Alberta, Canada.


Hail stones, July 2016 – not quite as big as the golf ball.

– Hail Alley, or Hailstorm Alley, is a corridor that stretches across west-central Alberta. It reaches as far north as Lacombe and as far south as High River.
– The City of Calgary is regarded as the hailstorm capital of Canada, with more than half of the country’s severe weather insurance claims ‘hailing’ from here (according to Western Direct Insurance.)

Post 514

Snow in September – Responding to Adversity

Snow in September – once the shock and sadness wore off, I  took my camera outside to see if there was an upside to this! There is also an Adversity Story to tell.

You’d like to eat on the patio? How about this nice table for four. So peaceful and quiet you can hear a pin drop. No mosquitoes.  No chance you will get a sunburn.

You think it is a bit, well, white out?

Here – some greenery… and pinkery too.

I got a phone call from a friend today. She wanted The Car Guy’s advice about how to deal with a dangerous snow laden tree branch that was hanging over her power line.

She had phoned her hubby first (he’s out of town) and told him she wanted to knock some snow off the branch with a broom or something, and maybe even remove the branch, but she didn’t want to become an electrocution statistic.

Her husband’s response to her story was not very helpful – that is why she called the The Car Guy. The Car Guy gave her a list of actions she could take, and asked her to phone him back later so he knew she had survived the procedure.

He also offered to do the job for her. But my friend is a ‘do it myself’ person, so she proceeded to turn off the power at the pole, knock a bunch of snow off the tree branches, remove the most offensive branch and get the power turned back on.

But that was the easy part. She also had to spray WD40 on the lock on the box that housed the power switch; then use bolt cutters to cut off the lock because it still wouldn’t work; employ miscellaneous tools to straighten the thingamagig that got twisted when she cut off the lock; and clean up the pot of dirt that got smashed on the floor when she was rummaging through the garage trying to find one of the six or seven tools she needed to get the job done.

When she finally phoned us to confirm the task was successfully completed, she said, “If I had a blog, this would sure be one of the stories I would tell!”  I smiled, and thought that she would probably have to edit out a few expletives before her grandchildren could read her “Overcoming Adversity” story.

At the end of my adversity story about Hail, I said “Do you ever ask yourself why you live where you do? What roots keep you tethered to a place that seems so determined to make you want to leave it!?”

One answer is – family and friends keep us here. But it is also the adversity that makes us stay.  Each time we face another weather challenge, and we are wildly or moderately or slightly successful at coping, we are re-energized.

By trying, we can easily learn to endure adversity.
Another man’s, I mean.
– Mark Twain –

The flower I captured is a Hollyhock. I take good care of my hollyhocks, yet they struggle to survive and usually flower just before the first snow takes them out of the game. My ‘do it myself’ friend was the source for these hollyhocks. She ignores hers, and they grow like weeds at her place. I guess Hollyhocks thrive on adversity too.

Post 480

Hail – An Abrupt End to the Veggie Garden

I’ve planted a vegetable garden just about every year of my adult life.  Some years the produce is bountiful. I get so many zucchini that people who come to visit lock their car doors – they don’t want to end up with the zucchini stowaways that I slip onto the front seat when they are not looking.

Some years, though, parts of the garden go missing. The white tail deer are especially fond of beans, lettuce and carrots.  One year an underground rodent of some description ate many of the potatoes.

The most destruction, however, comes from a hail storm.

Hail! We could hear the distinctive plonk sound on the roof as each white pellet fell from the sky.  Within minutes the ground was littered with battered leaves and drifts of hail stones.

Hail stones – pea to ‘mothballs on steroids’ size.

The hail created ice dams at the bottom of each downspout.

The damage to everything green was extensive.

Shredded sunflower leaves.

hail damage

The remnants of a white lily.

Hail stones caught in the branches of the spruce trees.

And the Vegetable Garden – the photos are too gruesome to publish…

I can’t remember ever having two hail storms in one day, but four hours after the first storm, another rolled in. The sound of the hail on the roof warned us that these hailstones were even larger than the ones from the earlier storm.

Hail stones 3.175 cm (1.25 inches) across.

Hail this size is scary.  It was a relief once it finally stopped! By then it was too late in the day to go outside to assess the damage,  so we contented ourselves with merely mopping up the few spots inside the house where the driving rain/hail had entered through a leak in the roof and under one door.

The next morning we surveyed the damage. Plants with big green leaves don’t have big leaves any more. Plants with little green leaves have fewer leaves. Plants with narrow green leaves – less damage. Thistles – seemingly unscathed.

The mosquito population seems undiminished…

Our roofer will arrive eventually to fix the leak and check the shingles and eavestrough – but we are far from being the first in line. Other homes were hit even harder than us.

Storms come, and are so personal, they seem to know your address and have the key to your house.
– Reverend Jesse Jackson –

Do you ever ask yourself why you live where you do? What roots keep you tethered to a place that seems so determined to make you want to leave it!?

Post 478

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