Wednesday, August 31, 2011


31/365 by gina.blank

Yup, today was about that interesting.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


A PJ's-by-6pm and cuddle-with-the-cat kind of evening. :)

30/365 by gina.blank

Monday, August 29, 2011

All in the Timing OR 29/365

In every car, there is a timing belt. And every 100,000km or so, you are required to change it. And it's not one of those things where you can ignore the gradual build up of wear-and-tear until you can't take the rattles and bumps any more and decide to bite the bullet and replace it. No. You just replace it every 100,000km, because if it breaks on you, your engine's pretty much toast--or, as Wiki states, you experience "catastrophic engine failure" (why, yes, that would be a justifiable use of the term "epic FAIL").

So my timing belt came due for a change. My car is driving strong at 222,000km, so if you do the math you will quickly deduce that this is, indeed, the second time I've changed the timing belt. I must really love my car.

The guy who works on my car left the timing belt (and some other worn-out parts that were due for replacement) in my trunk for me to take to the eco-station. To this point, I had never actually seen a timing belt. Perhaps I should have wiki'ed it earlier and saved myself some of the shock. But when I opened the trunk and pulled out this:

All in the Timing OR 29/365 by gina.blank

I must say I was a tad disappointed. Timing belts are not cheap (really, what car part is?). And given what it's responsible for under the hood, and the damage it can cause if broken... well, let's just say I expected something a little more... industrious looking. Not this thin loop of rubber.

Don't I continue to be surprised?

Sunday, August 28, 2011


28/365 by gina.blank
I waited so long for the garden to come up. I planted the weekend before the May long, and with our late start to spring, it seemed like everything was slow to make an appearance. The potatoes and the rhubarb were fluffing out nicely early on, but in my most concerned moments as I glanced over my rectangle of dirt, I wondered if I'd have produce at all. How easily we doubt. How patient we are not.

It was after a stretch of rain in June that lasted five days, followed by some solid sunshine, that the garden exploded. Leafy and green replaced small and sparse, and--could it be--were those the start of actual vegetables? I got very excited.

The rest of the summer was a daily check to see what was ready, what was almost ready, and what needed to be tended to so it could get ready. The peas and rhubarb were ready first. Soon I was enjoying many a spinach salad with my own spinach. And shortly after that, zucchini and beans became part of my supper routine.

Now here we are at the end of August. The peas were done last week. The beans finished out this weekend, and the rhubarb is not far behind. The cucumber is appreciative of the extra space it has to sprawl, now that I've pulled the unproductive pea and bean plants from the ground. I am expecting several more zucchini before it's decided it's had enough. The tomatoes are exploding, and make an excellent part of my daily lunches. I have enjoyed some carrots and potatoes, but am pretty much leaving the root vegetables as late as possible.

I have definitely come to appreciate the varying life cycles of different vegetables. It would have been impossible to deal with all of them at the same time. Instead, each became ready for harvest at a different part of the season. It kept my garden responsibilities from becoming overwhelming, and it gave me a chance to enjoy each item in turn, rather than madly trying to cook and create meals with all the vegetables at once. I seem to have planted just enough for me and a bit to share. .......And I was worried my garden wouldn't even grow!

There is some awesome Creator working those vegetables. It has been a blast to work along side Him.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


The one time I park outside of my 'regular' spot...*

27/365 by gina.blank

* and no, I did NOT realize it was a paid parking lot; otherwise, I wouldn't have parked there.


There are only so many days left for this sort of thing.

26/365 by gina.blank

Thursday, August 25, 2011


25/365 by gina.blank
Potatoes: mine
Dill (on potatoes): mine
Chicken: not mine
Lettuce: not mine
Carrots: mine
Cucumber: mine
Celery: not mine
Tomatoes: mine

Satisfaction: mine!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Collecting stones in the River Valley; this was work today.

24/365 by gina.blank


On a photo walk around the UofA campus.

23/365 by gina.blank

Monday, August 22, 2011


22/365 by gina.blank

Mmm... just five more minutes...

Sunday, August 21, 2011


It's hot and sunny in Alberta. Where would you be?

21/365 by gina.blank

Sunny Summer Weekend AND 20/365

It has been a strange summer, weather-wise, in Alberta. Really, it's been a strange year, weather-wise. A lot more 'wet' than we are used to, primarily. As well, we have not had a good, solid stretch of heat this summer at all. While we normally get a straight week or two at 30-35C (85-95F), we seem to have topped out at around 25C (75F), and generally never longer than a three-day stint of such before it cools off again (often with rain involved).

I'm not complaining. 25C and sunny is great! Plus, the amount of rain has meant that I haven't had to water my lawn, and I haven't run out of water in the rain barrel for my garden. And the fluctuation between warmer and cooler days has kept my house comfortable, too. Still, it's unusual. Us Albertans know what to expect out of summer, and we've been thrown some curve balls the last few years. This year was the wet curve ball, apparently.

After cooler weather this past week, the forecast for the weekend was gorgeous. Sunny skies all around! Those kinds of weekends send all manner of Albertans outdoors at the best of times; even more so this summer, it seems, as we try to take advantage of every warm ray, every minute of clear blue daylight, every remotely warm body of water, every summer-only activity. For myself, it was a girl's weekend at a friend's cottage. I don't think we could have chosen a better weekend!

Saturday started with breakfast outside, followed by a trip into town to check out the local farmer's market. I supported the Alberta economy with the purchase of a bottle of honey mead. Then, because it was hot and sunny, and because we were in a small town, a trip to the local ice cream shop was in order ("this is lunch"). Delish. With ice cream in hand, we meandered to the edge of town, enjoying the prairie along the edge of the highway.

20/365 by gina.blank

As we returned to the cottage in the late afternoon, we started unfolding plans for the rest of the evening: a card game, a camp fire, marshmallows, chocolate, and tasty drinks. Does it get any better than that!? ...Yes, yes it does.
I popped away from the camp fire briefly to capture the golden prairie sunset--whenever possible, I always try to capture at least one sunset when I am camping, traveling, or am otherwise vay-cay-ing away from home. The draw of the red-orange light is hard to resist.

Later that evening, after the sun was long gone--and I don't know what prompted it--we found ourselves laying in the lane in front of the cottage property, gazing up at the stars. We don't see much more than the Big Dipper in the city, and we found ourselves a bit awash in awe: " expansive..." "Some of these stars don't even exist by the time we see them." "...Hands which flung stars into space...." "I feel small. ...In a good way."

A warm sunny day and a cozy summer evening. We all slept well that night.


Plaid throw blankets, cozy hoodies, drinks in memorabilia glassware, myriad of art on wooden walls... I must be at a cottage for the weekend. :)

19/365 by gina.blank

Thursday, August 18, 2011


This day brought to you by the colour red.

18/365 by gina.blank

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


A rainy Wednesday. Not much interesting on the go today. Not sure what activity I'm supposed to take a picture of myself doing today...

17/365 by gina.blank

I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up to No Good OR 16/365

I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up to No Good OR 16/365 by gina.blank

"Of course it's happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

-- Albus Dumbledore

Monday, August 15, 2011


It appears I have acquired fish.

15/365 by gina.blank

Sunday, August 14, 2011


A sorting and organizing kind of afternoon.

14/365 by gina.blank


Back in May, I had a camp fire to officially celebrate the arrival of warm weather in Edmonton. Turns out the day I chose was one of the windiest we had ever seen in quite some time (ripped the siding off my house later that evening), and we were "enjoying" the fire with blankets and hoodies before eventually moving the socializing indoors.

Tonight, the girls and I lit up the campfire again. After a lovely August Saturday at 26C, with no breeze, the evening afforded a lovely campfire, tasty beverages, marshmallows, and lighthearted conversation.

13/365 by gina.blank

Friday, August 12, 2011


A quiet Friday afternoon at the office.

12/365 by gina.blank


Four days. I've been back to my regular work and extracurricular schedule for four days, and already the place is a disaster.

It is generally the pattern that my place starts out really well on Mondays after cleaning and tidying over the weekend. As the week progresses, however, I tend to be less interested in keeping clutter off the kitchen table, sweeping crumbs from the floor, washing the dishes, moving items downstairs... anything that requires more energy expenditure after a long day than I'm willing to give. By the end of the day, I generally want to engage my brain in things like photos, reading, Facebook--the fun stuff; the easy stuff.

Given the copious amount of time I had on my hands this summer, my place was kept pretty clean all the time. I would make a good housewife. I knew my priorities would shift again once I started back into my regular routine; still, I thought I'd be able to hold out for at least a little longer!

11/365 by gina.blank

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Of Cars and Blessings

Once upon a time there was a girl who spent a summer roaming the prairies. She spent many hours capturing the beauty of it all in her camera, and embracing the relationships at each destination she visited.

The girl loved to drive, and she loved her car (Aubergine). While aesthetically, its decade of age was visible, the girl was always cognizant of Aubergine's well-being underneath the hood, and took care to keep it running properly.

Before departing on a Saskatoon adventure for the weekend, the girl thought it wise to top up Aubergine's engine oil for the long drive--the fourth long-distance trip her car had made that summer. Aubergine performed beautifully, as always, throughout the trip.

Several days later, the girl and Aubergine found themselves at a stoplight. The girl noticed a smell like gasoline. She presumed the source to be the car beside her and thought nothing of it, until she found herself alone at a red light moments later and noticed the smell again. Upon arriving at her destination, she sniffed briefly around the front of her vehicle, but could detect nothing. Not having the time to look at things closely right then, she made a mental note to check under the hood upon her return home.

After cooling down back in her own garage, the girl popped Aubergine's hood. The problem was immediately apparent: the engine's oil cap was gone. There was oil residue all over the inside of the hood and most of the engine. The girl immediately had flash-backs to the week before, when she had added the oil to her car. She saw herself set the oil cap beside the engine while she added oil, and knew that in her haste and excitement to get on the road, she had most likely forgotten to put the cap back on when she was done.

She stood, staring at the engine, her brain taking in the realities of the situation:

I have driven over 1,000km without an oil cap.
I have driven for almost a week without an oil cap!
That cap is so gone; I can just see it, lying at the side of the highway near some canola field.
Or maybe it fell out here? What are the chances of that?
Holy crap, I can't believe I didn't ruin the engine.
I don't think I've ruined the engine...
How much oil did I lose?
I can't believe my car is still running.
Great, now I have to get a new oil cap.
When does the Honda parts department open? Should I go in the morning or after work?
I hope duct tape will seal it enough until I get there.
I should probably add more oil.

As the girl headed into her house for duct tape, she could only reflect on how lucky she was to have not--seemingly--damaged the engine.

Before applying duct tape, the girl poked around under the hood with a flashlight in the hopes that the cap had fallen in amongst the hoses and wires and gotten caught before it had a chance to hit pavement. It was a slim chance, but she had to try. Nothing. Still, she felt grateful that all she had lost out of this experience was some oil and the cap--a cap that would probably be less than $10 to replace.

The girl checked the dipstick to see just how much oil she had lost. Wipe, dip, check. The oil level showed to be fine. Pretty much right where it had been when she'd topped it up last week. No way. Wipe, dip, check. Still good. She hadn't lost that much oil after all. Now she felt extremely grateful that all she had lost out of this experience was the cap.

She cut a strip of duct tape and sealed it over the hole. As she picked up the roll of tape to cut a second strip, she happened to glance down through the car, and noticed a black, cylindrical object sitting on the undercarriage of the front bumper. She nearly dropped the tape. You have got to be kidding me. It was the oil cap. It could have been the holy grail with all the awe she gave it as she pulled it up through the hoses and wires.

Over 1,000km.
A week on the road.
That cap should have been gone.
That oil should have been gone.
And, consequently, that car should have been broken.

But it wasn't. With the exception of a greasy engine and hood, all was fine. She had been spared from learning the hard way--not the first time this summer. The experience of walking through the situation cognitively had been enough brain work for one night. A bit dumbfounded by the blessing, she nevertheless thanked God for it as she closed up the garage and went into the house for the night.

"Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn." — C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


First day back to work today. Lookin' good.*

10/365 by gina.blank

* I think I've discovered that I don't particularly like taking my picture at 7:45 a.m. Aside from trying to set up a tri-pod in a small bathroom and work a photo composition before my morning coffee, there's the issue of top-down lighting on sleepy eyes... let's just say that what happens in Photoshop, stays in Photoshop.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011


A Monday morning must.

8/365 by gina.blank

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Went to the air show in Saskatoon today. Not something I'm generally into, but not a bad time at all; sunny skies, great picture opps, and hangin' with great people! P thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, too. (We also learned today that she is a Twizzler thief!)

6/365 by gina.blank

Friday, August 5, 2011


5/365 by gina.blank
10:45 p.m. and I hadn't managed to capture a picture of myself yet, despite all the day's great activities. But hey, someone's up [way] past his bed time. "Want to take a picture of Aunty Gina?"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

On the Road Again OR 4/365

Off to Saskatoon to visit some of my favourite people!

4/365 by gina.blank

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I am at the climax right now of a very good book. If you're into CSI-type material, I highly recommend this one. If you'll excuse me, now, I'm about to find out whodunnit (and I hope my guess is right)!

3/365 by gina.blank

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's Just Better Literature

I have read the entire Harry Potter series (more than once!). Sadly, I also wasted part of a summer reading through the Twilight series. It just didn't compare. While I know that many people enjoy the Twilight series--books and movies alike--the sensationalism that surrounds Harry Potter is not just because of great special effects and good-looking actors. It's because those excellent movies have been created from excellent literature. While I felt Stephenie Meyers wrote emotion into her books quite well, I was continually disappointed with the weak plot (that got weaker with each book), and overall lack of... substance (resilience? initiative? maturity?) in the main characters.

Let me show you what I mean.

"Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend." — Stephen King

Well said, Stephen. Well said. 

The Grass is Always Greener... OR 2/365

I don't mind mowing the lawn. I wouldn't say I love it, or look forward to it, but I don't mind it, either. Especially on a sunny day with my iPod going. There is something satisfying in the freshly trimmed rows after you mow the lawn. And of course, the smell of fresh cut grass!

The Grass is Always Greener OR 2/365 by gina.blank

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Year in Pictures OR 1/365

I have spent a lot of time this summer honing my photography skills--in the field, in the literature, and through a wide array of photography websites. I stumbled upon something called Project 365 last week. Back in 2004, some guy took his picture every day for a year to chronicle life's happenings, and the idea became a hit. I like the idea, too.

As someone who takes photos on a regular basis anyway, one may wonder what attracted me to engaging in this specific creative activity. Well, as every shutterbug knows, the one taking all the pictures is rarely the one in the pictures. This will get me a year's worth of current portraits, if nothing else.

Also, while I shoot regularly, I don't necessarily shoot every day. I am generally shooting specific events or locations. And when I am shooting people "in the everyday", it's rarely my "every day." So this will encourage me to think of some creative ways to get my portrait captured each day.

So. Today is Day 1. Why not wait til the New Year? you ask. Makes sense to begin something at the beginning of the year. That being said, I don't want to wait that long. Also, starting in August is me already starting to think creatively. It would be predictable to start January 1. There's more of a story behind August 1. And the story is this:

August 1 marks the half way point of summer. There is a subtle transition in the way one engages with summer between July and August, I feel. As we move through summer, it seems the harvest has begun, both literally and figuratively. After a crazy, often wearisome winter, I have noticed that I am well-rested and pretty much fully refreshed. I needed the break, and am thankful for it. I am experiencing harvest in regards to my time, my relationships, and my experiences. As August has approached, I look forward to what my work and social life has in store come the fall.

More literally speaking, I have started pulling vegetables from the garden, and picking berries before they drop from trees. It has been such an exciting experience! I'm not quite sure what will happen when I do go back to work next week and don't have nearly as much time to weed, pick, wash, bake, freeze, etc., but I have been taking advantage of the time I have currently, and I am enjoying every step!

August 1 to August 1. Harvest to Harvest. After a very emptying winter, and even spring, I feel that's a positive way to track the year ahead.

My Year in Pictures OR 1/365 by gina.blank
Today, my mom took me to the Rochon Sands beach. It was plus-twenty-something celsius, and not a cloud in the sky. And by Alberta standards, the water was warm (although clearly, from the picture, still a bit 'refreshing' with that first dip!). A blanket, a book, a picnic lunch, our favourite hobbies (photography for me, knitting for her), a dip in the water, and sunshine. Rest. Peace. Harvest.