Force of Nature 3: Elk Sightings Near Lloyd Hall plus Robert Falcon Scott’s Diary

Self is still in the Canadian Rockies.

The cold isn’t so bad, but it’s the unpredictability, the sheer unpredictability of the weather, that gets to self.

The weather pattern this time of year in the Rockies appears to be thus:

Cold/Wet/Snow/Hot/Chilly/Breezy/Hot/Cold/Wet

All in the same day.

This afternoon, self essay-ed one short walk out, with a group led by geologist Jim Olver, and wouldn’t you know, the day that had been dry as a whistle began to get wet. And wetter. And wetter. The wet building in increments. So it was not a sudden torrent, but a tickle. A reminder. Of the cold that is growing in self’s head.

She said to herself: I’ll be damned if I’m the first person to chicken out because of this rain! I’m staying outside here (despite bare-headed), come hell or high water! Because I am tough! Tough! Tough! I am the woman who endured electricity failure in the month of January in Dharamsala. I had no coat. My teeth were chattering. Do dear blog readers know what chattering teeth sound like? Self was sure she was cracking all her molars.

Today, self was wearing a turtleneck. And a jacket. And jeans. And sturdy sneakers. And knit fingerless gloves. But damn, her hair was getting wet.

This Elk was ambling around in between Lloyd Hall and the Bentley Chamber Music Studio.

This Elk was ambling around in between Lloyd Hall and the Bentley Chamber Music Studio.

And then came ambling along two elk (Is self beginning to sound very Yoda-ish, dear blog readers?), and then someone was asking if self was going for dinner with the Writing Studio group, who were heading downtown, and self wanted to say, seriously? Do you see how wet self’s hair is at this very moment? Need I remind you that my country of origin is the Philippines? Where it is NEVER cold? Even when rainy? And that self’s current abode is listed as CALIFORNIA?

But, anyhoo, ELK SIGHTING! Near LLOYD HALL!

Finally, she gets to post something somewhat related to FORCE OF NATURE, this weeks’s WordPress Photo Challenge!

Just Outside Bentley Chamber Music Studio, Today

Just Outside Bentley Chamber Music Studio, Today

In order to feel less peck-ish, self is reading published excerpts from Robert Falcon Scott’s diary, which he kept all the way till the very end, when he and his party of four other men died in a raging blizzard, just 11 miles from the shelter of base camp. Scott reached the South Pole only to find the Norwegian flag already planted, by Roald Amundsen. Then he and his men had to make the arduous slog back, knowing that they were beaten. Scott’s last conscious act was to make a diary entry. (It suddenly occurs to self that 11 miles is no mere walk in the park. Back in California, self would be hard put to walk 2 miles on a daily basis. And just imagine having to negotiate 11 miles in a blizzard! And weighed down with piles and piles of clothing! Must have felt like swimming through a sea of muck!)

The Canadian Rockies, seen from the 6th floor of Lloyd Hall, the residence of all the Writing Studio participants, including self

The Canadian Rockies, seen from the 6th floor of Lloyd Hall, the residence of all the Writing Studio participants, including self

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Forces of Nature 2: Around Banff

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is FORCE OF NATURE. Since arriving in Calgary several weeks ago, self has been truly awed by, to borrow a phrase from The Daily Post prompt, “the sheer scale and power” of the physical surroundings. And even more since getting to Banff, which is in the Canadian Rockies.

Self had signed up for a one-day tour to Lake Louise, today. But she got the meeting place wrong, and by the time she found the Eric Harvie Theatre, the tour was long gone. Anyhoo, self was all right with that, because she ended up doing more work on her novel-in-progress (Working Title: That Wilderness).

Apologies for her photographs being smaller in scale than she was expecting to post today. But the human imprint is also a “force of nature,” isn’t it?

A path leading to the Eric Harvie Theatre

A path leading to the Eric Harvie Theatre in The Banff Centre. Well-traveled. Clearly.

Bridge Over a Gully -- Stumbled Across During A Walk This Morning

Bridge Over a Gully — Stumbled Across During A Walk This Morning. Puts new meaning into the phrase “river of stones.”

And this was the view yesterday, from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. One of the other writers, Sheila Stevenson, asked if she’d like to go there for a fancy drink. We were joined by writer Jill Frayn. And self had her first Canadian beer. The three of us shared a huge appetizer of Nachos with Flatiron Steak. The beef here in Alberta is really good.

from the Rundle Lounge of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

from the Rundle Lounge of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

The hotel was crowded yesterday: full of families and wedding parties. There was live music. And many Asian tourists.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Forces of Nature: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is FORCES OF NATURE.

Woot Hoot! Self has many pictures that fit the theme this week. Because it just so happens she is in Banff, Alberta, participating in the Banff Literary Centre’s annual Writing Studio (with 23 other writers)

Last Wednesday, she signed up for a tour called “Banff Hot Spots” (only 5 Canadian) which turned out to be a very ironic title for the tour, as it snowed. And snowed. And snowed.

But, as the tour van was barreling along the Trans-Canada Highway, what should we encounter but a herd of elk, meandering by the side of the road. Serendipity, much?

A Surprise Encounter

A Surprise Encounter

The tour stopped at one of the Vermillion Lakes:

Vermillion Lake

Vermillion Lake

Overcast, snowing, freezing, but hey, at least self got these fabulous shots!

Vermillion Lake, From Another Angle

Vermillion Lake, From Another Angle

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Intricate 5: The Landscape of Trees, Rivers, Mountains

Banff was chilly today.

Here are some shots of the river. Actually, tour guide and geologist Jim Oliver took the shot for her (of the Hoodoo Trail), as self was freezing and it was raining and she elected to stay inside the van. Jim leads all the tours around The Banff Centre and knows everyone and everything.

She thinks the fretwork of trees can be suitably regarded as INTRICATE:

DSCN9611

This second shot, self did take herself. From the van. She rolled down her window, and the elk was very obliging. Lifted its head and stared straight at her. The fretwork of snow (it alternated rain and snow, all afternoon) makes this shot INTRICATE.

This young male elk is just starting to grow its horns.

This young male elk is just starting to grow its horns.

DSCN9605

Self just heard on the weather report that it’s going to be freezing tonight: Banff and environs are expecting temperatures below zero. There’s a reading tonight of Writing Studio faculty and participants, so self will just have to bundle up.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Snowing! Heavily!

Yesterday was bright and sunny.

Today, the weather is this:

DSCN9561

Self feels not the slightest inclination to step outside.

DSCN9557

She signed up for a tour of Banff, later this afternoon. But it’s too tempting to just sink into her bed and spend the rest of the day reading.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Intricate! Dinosaur Bones

The Daily Post Photo Challenge this week is INTRICATE.  Self will focus on fossils. Something about these long-lost creatures fascinates her.

Alberta has a great dinosaur musem in Drumheller. Cousins took her there, a few weeks ago.

Dinosaur Fossil, in the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum, about an hour north of Calgary, in Denheller.

Dinosaur Fossil, in the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum, about an hour north of Calgary, in Drumheller.

Tiny dinosaur on rock faces stiff competition

Tiny dinosaur on rock faces stiff competition

These little dinosaurs fascinate self.

These little dinosaurs fascinate self.

Quite an interesting display of dinosaur fossils at the Royal Tyrrell Museum. It’s astonishing how scientists can stumble across fragments of dinosaur bones, then painstakingly piece them together to come up with real facsimiles of what the creatures must have looked like.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Intricate 4: A Walk

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is INTRICATE:

What does the word “intricate” mean to you? It could be the deep, fibrous bark on the ancient oak tree in your yard. Maybe it’s the robin’s nest under construction near your window — that ornithological engineering marvel of mud and twigs.

It was another gorgeous day in Banff. Self took a walk, and here’s what she found.

Each thing is intricate in its own way. What’s important is to gaze. To pay attention to the smallest detail.

There are two of these things in front of the Kinnear Centre.

There are two of these things in front of the Kinnear Centre.

Strange things. Don't know what they are.

Strange things. Don’t know what they are.

Self also dropped by the Walter Phillips Gallery to explore the current show, Séance Fiction, a multi-media installation.

In a dark room, there were two huge screens, showing clips from old movies featuring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Self took a quick snap of one screen. It’s layered with other images (accidentally, but self kinda likes the effect):

A Still from

A Still from “The Time That Remains,” which consists of found footage from old Bette Davis and Joan Crawford movies. The work is by the Australian duo Soda_Jerk.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sunday: Tomas Transtromer Again

In lieu of a really good cup of coffee — self too lazy to change out of her pajamas — this

(That’s the beauty of being a writer. One can indeed “live vicariously” — lol!):

ESPRESSO (an excerpt)

The black coffee they serve outdoors
among tables and chairs gaudy as insects.

Precious distillations
filled with the same strength as Yes and No.

It’s carried out from the gloomy kitchen
and looks into the sun without blinking.

In the daylight a dot of beneficent black
that quickly flows into a pale customer.

Self is the pale customer. She is so pale because she has been holed up in her room for approx. one week!

Stay tuned.

Intricate 2: Balboa Park, San Diego

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is INTRICATE.

Krista explains:

Visiting the Alhambra is something I’ll never forget. To this day, when I think of the beauty and majesty of that massive palace, I wonder about the people who inhabited this stone fortress high on a hill above Granada, so many centuries ago. I think of the craftsmen who worked magic in stone, in metal, and in tile, in intricate color and texture.

So far, self has been posting mostly about buildings. The San Diego Museum of Man, self thinks, is very rococco. She visited last year, with one of her former classmates from Assumption Convent in Manila. The museum and the California Tower next to it are in Balboa Park.

The California Tower is Next to the San Diego Museum of Man.

The California Tower is Next to the San Diego Museum of Man.

Here’s another view of the California Tower. It is open for public tours.

The tower can be reached through a climb of seven floors. It is open to public tours.

The tower can be reached through a climb of seven floors.

The California Tower's Spanish Colonial Facade was the design of Bertram Goodhue, who was inspired by Spanish churches in Mexico. It was built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

The California Tower’s Spanish Colonial Facade was the design of Bertram Goodhue, who was inspired by Spanish churches in Mexico. It was built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

Dear blog readers can find out more about artchitect Bertram Goodhue here.

“Art pre-existing in Nature, and Nature Is Reproduced in Art.”

(Written above a dormer in Goodhue’s attic room)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.”

Things Self Is Learning About In Canada 2: BEARS

There are two kinds of bears: grizzly bears and black bears.

Self has been told there are grizzlies in the area around Banff, so she decides to do some research on the animals.

There is tons of useful information in the National Wildlife Federation website.

  • Grizzly bears can stay in their dens for up to seven months.
  • Grizzly bears begin to look for mates in the spring and early summer.
  • When a female grizzly becomes pregnant, the development of the embryo temporarily stops for several months, a process called “delayed implantation.” If a female bear is unable to gain enough weight during the summer and fall, her body will tell her not to proceed with the pregnancy and the embryo will re-absorb.
  • Grizzlies are known to congregate at rivers with many fish and at improperly fenced garbage dumps.

The garbage bins in The Banff Centre all have lids and are somewhat tricky to open — that’s for the precise purpose of discouraging bears.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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