Sunday, August 21, 2011

Balcony Garden: Inside Edition

I have a new addiction: buying houseplants.

I have been enjoying my balcony garden a ton. Now that I own a condo, I really wanted to get some house plants to make the place cosy and green. Apparently I'm nesting.

Remember, I don't have a green thumb. In the past I've killed every spider plant (undestructable, yeah right, though a colleague is currently propagating me one) I've ever owned. The only plant I've had is various sticks of bamboo (one of which is currently dying in my windowless office).

So what house plants have I acquired? Take a look at my current roommates:

Dracaena marginata (dragon tree): the first tree I bought. Apparently it's toxic to cats but Molly leaves it mostly alone, now that I've put sticky tape on top of the soil. It's one of the plants listed on the NASA Clean Air Study list.

Golden Pothos (devil's ivy): This is also toxic to Molly, but looks like it's growing happily on top of my bookshelf, and is starting to trail over the side nicely. This is also on the clean air list.

Orchid: It's still blooming beautifully, though I have lost a flower and two more have started drooping. I hope it reblooms and doesn't die, because it's my favourite.

Peperomia: Fits nicely in the spot where my Galileo Thermometer used to be. Molly broke it trying to get to the Jasmine (see below).

Jasmine: It blooms on occasion, and then my living room smells nice. 

Areca Palm: Another plant that's supposed to be good for the air, plus it's not toxic so Molly wont die if she nibbles when she's not supposed to. I think it makes the condo look cosy.

Peperomia: Another one, with different leaves.

Exacum persian violet: This was a cute plant with nice smelling purple flowers, but a couple days after I took this picture it started dying. I think it's too wet (my fauly) but my mom said she could never keep violets alive (so it's my genes fauly). I don't expect it'll last out the week. Which means I have another empty pot and get to go buy more plants!

Echeveria: I think this plant is just so cute!! Like a flower made of leaves.

My balcony garden is doing well too. The swiss chard and zucchini continue to multiply faster than I can eat them! The beans blossomed but it's unlikely I'll get any beans because the leaves are small and not overly healthy. The peppermint has exploded - I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. 

Blueberries: They're trying to multiply, but I'll get a hand full at most.

Strawberries: Finally! I'll probably only get a couple hand fulls, and the leaves are dying. I wont waste my time with strawberries next year.

So all in all things are going well. I've only lost one house plant and nothing really from my garden. This is proving to be a nice experiment!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More King Ralph Graffiti in #yeg

First, catch up on yesterday's post: Graffiti on #yeg: King Ralph x3

My colleague emailed me this photo this morning. He spotted another King Ralph near a church downtown:

Are these old? Or new? Curiouser and curiouser...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Graffiti in #yeg: King Ralph x3?

Who is King Ralph? I bet if you lived in Edmonton or Alberta about the same time I grew up you'd know.

King Ralph is the nickname of Ralph Klein, Alberta's premier from 1989-2007. Why King Ralph? Because he ruled ruthlessly for what seemed like forever. Ok, so it wasn't that bad. He did yell at a homeless man, had a reputation for being a drunk, slash health care/education/everything-good funding and cut 1000 teaching jobs in the province the year I graduated with my Education degree. I always tell people I was one of Ralph Klein's teachers: he got rid of all the teaching jobs in the province so I had to go to England. I vowed never to return until he left office, which ended up happening a few months before I moved back. I once saw him at a Dim Sum restaurant in Edmonton while I was in high school too. He was a Conservative. I disliked him. Apparently he now has dementia, which is sad.

Imagine my surprise last week, when while walking downtown through my Oliver neighbourhood, I spotted this:

Yep. Looks like him. 

And then last night I saw this downtown in the Grandin neighbourhood: 

And then again last night, this time across the river near the High Level Bridge path:

That's a lot of King Ralph sightings in one week! I wonder where these came from, and how long they've been there. I wonder if there's more?

I don't condone graffiti. I don't agree with defacing public or private property regardless of the statement you're making. Yes, I think Banksy is brilliant, and sometimes local graffiti is intriguing, but it's just not right. Even if it does mock (I think, I don't know of any other King Ralph) one of the arguably most hated (depending on your viewpoint) man in Alberta politics.

I also saw this last night:

That's our prime minister.

Ok, so local graffiti artists don't like politicians.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Another 4 Days On The Hill: Folk Fest 2011 Wrap Up

Another year, another four days spent on the hill at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. This year marked my tenth Folk Fest anniversary!

And as usual, it was an amazing!

My Top 3 Folk Fest 2011 Memories:

1. Delhi 2 Dublin - I picked them as one of my top 2 pre-festival, and they did not disappoint! They played one session which included a lot of jamming with Gough, Clancy, Bracken and McCarthy (otherwise known as the founding members of the Irish celtic band Danu) and JP Cormier (who picks a mean guitar), but the highlight of the entire festival for me was their concert on Saturday afternoon. They absolutely killed! There is just something about dancing your heart out with complete strangers that is so special - I love when the music moves the crowd to join in together. I danced so much my knees are still hurting. I think they made some new fans for sure, and I hope next time they get booked for the folk fest it's as a main stage act because they would rock the hill! They are coming back to Edmonton September 10 for the Kaleido Festival on 118 Ave, so definitely check that out if you can.

Delhi 2 Dublin rocks the crowd.

2. De Temps Antan - I always stalk the Quebecois bands and this year's was as charming as ever. I saw them do three sessions. I reckon when you book a traditional Quebecois band you can assume they'll jam with any band you put them with, as was the case this year again. I think the ability to pick up and play another acts song is the mark of a good musician, and the guys of De Temps Antan joined in brilliantly with whoever else shared their stage. In one particularly memorable session which also included The McDades, Fearing & White and JP Cormier, Jeremiah McDade introduced their next song as being borrowed from La Bottine Souriante (a favourite band of mine that got me into Folk Fest AND Quebecois music in the first place), an interesting choice consider De Temps Antan members Andre Brunet and Pierre-Luc Dupuis are former La Bottine members and Eric Beaudry is a current La Bottine member! It was at this point I noticed The McDades guitar player (a roving position, never the same guy twice so far as I've seen) was Simon Marion from another Quebecois band I love, Nicolas Pellerin et Les Grands Hurleurs (please book them next year!). They all joined in and it was awesome! The De Temps Antan concert was great as well, it's just so fun to watch them play!

De Temps Antan had everyone's feet tapping.

With Simon Marion and The McDades

3. k.d. lang - I can't believe I saw k.d. lang live, that's awesome in an epic sort of way. I was looking forward to seeing her, as though I'm not a huge fan I do like a bunch of her songs and I even remember this song when it first came out. Her voice is amazing, and she dances around and is generally entertaining. Everyone stood for Hallelujah, and with the evening sky and candles glowing, it was magical.

k.d. lang closed out the festival with her powerful voice.

Honorable Mention - James Keelaghan, Mighty Popo, De Temps Antan and Deep  Dark Woods played a session (including a young singer, Brittney Grabill, who was invited on stage) and this happened...

Check out the 6-7 minute mark if you've only got a minute.

It was lovely. You can catch a quick glimpse of me in that video. I love singing and dancing along. It makes my day.

I do have a few grumbles this year though.

The weird thing about the festival this year: it made me feel old, out of shape, and unfashionable (which are all true characteristics actually, but I don't need to be reminded of them!). After four days of waking up early after 3hrs sleep then sitting in a low chair and walking up ski hills, yeah, I'm exhausted today. Also, I think the beer tent hipsters are taking over the festival, and I most certainly will not be buying into their fashion sense because I'm not a sheep! I do think I'll be training for next year though, a July's worth of being a temporarily unemployed couch potato did not work in my favour.

Also, it seems Folk Fest is now seeing the consequences of its own success: it's too big and popular. There were a lot of people roaming around this year and the line ups were long. There was a whole ticket snafu, with passes being sold out in 90 minutes. I worry about not being able to attend in the future. If one of those people who sits in the beer garden for four days who doesn't care about the music gets a ticket over me next year I will weep on the festival office door step for the entire summer. I'm not sure what the ticket sale answer is, but it's not fair that veteran die hards can no longer get tickets because people who don't really care beat them in the online ticket queue.

And while I'm ranting, the north gate tarp lotto mob was atrocious. I'm not going to go into the nuances of the tarp line up, but this year's was just plain unsafe and not fair.

Ok, I'm done whining now.

All in all a fantastic festival again this year, full of old friends and new friends and fabulous music. I hope/pray/cross my fingers I'll be able to get tickets in the future, because it will always be my favourite four days of the year.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Music Monday: Who I'm Stalking at Folk Fest

It's my favourite time of year again - 3 days until the Edmonton Folk Music Festival!

This is my tenth year. And I'm just as excited as I was back in the day.

So. Who am I stalking this year?

De Temps Antan: Of course. I always stalk the Quebecois bands. This year's is a gooder (and not just because two of the guys are brothers of two of the guys in my favourite Quebecois folk band, Le Vent du Nord). Each Quebecois band has a particular quality to their music, and this band is quite peppy and fun. I'm really looking forward to hearing them (often).

Longer, live video - watch/listen to it, that's 15mins well spent!

Delhi 2 Dublin: I saw this band back in September and they were awesome! Think Bollywood meets Ceilidh meets Techno dance pary. I can't wait to dance, especially to Tommy (see the music video below)!

Longer, live video - watch/listen to it, that's 22 mins well spent! Or check out their newest music video called Tommy - it's one of my favourite songs:

I'm also looking forward to seeing: Baka Beyond, Amelia Curran, The Deep Dark Woods, Etran Finatawa, Mary Gauthier, Gough, Clancy, Bracken & McCarthy, Kila, kd lang, Lyle Lovett, The McDades, and The Once. Check out the full performers list, and the schedule. I'm getting giddy just thinking about it!

Due to the trouble we had getting tickets, I fear this might be my last year for awhile. It's great the festival is growing and new people are discovering its awesomeness, but if that means diehards can't get tickets, well, next year we might have to try out Canmore instead (sniff, sad, cry, fingers crossed).

Until then though, I will thoroughly enjoy my tenth festival. Bring it on!