Monday, May 31, 2010

Squirrels Being Squirrely

I was playing with my new toy - a Kodak EasyShare Z915 - last week in Laurier Park. When I saw a couple of squirrels playing around a tree, I thought this would be the perfect chance for me to test out the 10x optical zoom of the camera. Alas, my subjects were too far away and the sun shining on the LCD screen made it impossible to see if anything I shot actually turned out. When I came home, I popped the SD card into the card reader on my computer, and nearly hit the floor laughing when I saw this. I had to crop it a bit to bring out the subject, but wow - I understand this sort of photo is difficult to take because squirrel love action only takes a few seconds. And here I got it by accident! Adding more humour is the photo I took right after the, ahem, dismount. The look on the female squirrel's face says it all.

No Mining in El Salvador

Members of the local Salvadorian community came together with activists today to protest the actions of Canadian mining company Pacific Rim. The company wants to expand its operations into El Salvador to develop a large gold mine. Metal mining is currently not permitted in El Salvador. Here is the full set of photos.

Two Rainy Weekends

The last couple of weekends in Edmonton have been quite rainy. Although we desperately need the moisture, the weather has put a damper (no pun intended) on some of my outdoor activities. However, I still have managed to make it around to some events.

Hip Hop in the Park took place on May 22, and featured live, local hip hop music and graffiti artists. I could not stay long as it was very chilly, but here are some photos, including some shots of the surrounding downtown area, Shaw, and Hotel MacDonald where I escaped the cold and enjoyed a latte.

May 23 was opening day for the 2010 season of Fort Edmonton Park. One of my favourite Edmonton attractions, I decided to head down there. A lot of the events planned for the Victoria Day long weekend were postponed to the next day due to the weather. However, it was kind of nice having almost the entire run of the park to myself. I started a photo gallery for 2010 and will add to it with each visit.

A couple of days later I decided to take advantage of the fact my multi-attraction pass kicked in. I headed to the Valley Zoo to photograph the animals and test out my new camera - a Kodak Easyshare Z915. I needed a point-and-shoot with good zoom (it has 10x optical) to travel more lightly when I ride my bike. I am thrilled with the results. I got some excellent shots, and have started up a photo gallery for the season. I have to add that I am not a big fan of zoos, but it's there and I may as well go and see how the animals are doing.

It was quite the shock when I found out the guinea pigs were poisoned that night. The CBC asked if they could use a photo I had taken that afternoon. It was one of my favourites and has taken on an entirely different meaning to me in light of what has happened. Here is the story at the CBC's website.

Prior to going to the zoo, I pedaled my way through Laurier Park. I took a few photos, the most interesting of which involved a couple of squirrels, shot at a distance. But I think that is fodder for a separate blog post!

That same afternoon I also decided to cycle over the pedestrian bridge to Hawrelak Park, where I could not believe the blankets of baby Canada Geese to be found! I got some incredible photos.

I spent some of this past rainy weekend delivering the June issue of Boyle McCauley News to our volunteer carriers. On Sunday, I went to Make It Edmonton: The Handmade Revolution. Although I did not buy anything, I enjoyed looking at the beautiful, independently-made arts and crafts (especially the jewelry). Here are some photos.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blooming Events in Edmonton

City Centre Market
Originally uploaded by raise my voice
The City Market opened on Saturday. I took a stroll along 104 street and enjoyed checking out the fresh fruits, veggies, and flowers. This year, I am going to cave and get some jewelry - the rings of Munro Jewelry Design really knock my socks off. Except I don't usually wear socks in he warm weather. But I digress. A Chinese cultural festival was a highlight of the day, with dragon dancers and other performances. Here are some photos.

On Sunday, a gardening festival called Primavera took place at the Santa Maria Goretti Centre in the McCauley neighbourhood. Tomato plants and marigolds were flying off of tables, as well as other kinds of plants and flowers from Zocalo and a host of other vendors. The Italian Centre Shop had a table, as did numerous community and health organizations. Over 800 people attended - a huge success for a first time event. I took some photos here

It looks like spring in Edmonton is off to a blooming start!.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Exploring: Paul Kane Park

Paul Kane Park
Originally uploaded by raise my voice
I've lived in Edmonton my whole life, but there are still nooks and crannies here and there I have not yet visited. Paul Kane Park is one of these places. I must have passed it dozens of times riding my bike north on 102 Avenue. It is tucked away behind the Anglican Parish of Christ Church, which I always pass on that route.

Instead of continuing to head north I turned left and entered the park. I was surprised at how big it actually was, with a huge decorative pool. Right now, the pool was filled with stagnant water of meltage from a recent spring storm, but I look forward to how it will appear when it is cleaned up. I also loved the landscaping - lots of trees and benches, and the long, paved path that runs throughout. Someone else on a bicycle was doing laps around the pool (and getting in the way of my pictures!), while couples strolled along.

I am not sure how much of a destination Paul Kane Park is in and of itself, but I will definitely take a few detours through it this summer.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Weekend of Giving: Shine Youth Clinic & Homeless Connect

I had another busy weekend. On Saturday, I gave two hours of my time performing with Music is a Weapon as part of the organization's Busk for a Cause. The cause this time around was the Shine Youth Clinic. The clinic operates on Saturdays out of the Boyle McCauley Health Centre and provides services free of charge to underserved youth up to the age of 25. On the corner of 104 street and Whyte Avenue I belted out some songs and even did a little bit of juggling. This was my first time busking and I have a lot more respect now for people who do this for a living. Over $1000 was raised for the clinic! Since I was busy performing, I was not able to take photos. Good thing that @sirthinks showed up and took some shots.

The first ever Edmonton Media Camp was also held on Saturday. It was an "un-conference" bringing together people from the worlds of traditional and new media, including journalists, PR people, and bloggers/social media folks. I was only able to make it to the last few discussion sessions, but it was great seeing some old friends and finally meeting a few people in person from Twitter and Facebook. Here are a few pictures I managed to grab.

Sunday was Mother's Day, but it was also Edmonton's fourth Homeless Connect event. Homeless Connect is held at the Shaw Conference Centre and brings free services, support, and supplies to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. A lot of volunteer power goes into making the event happen, and although I was not able to volunteer on the day of, I did help with some preparations beforehand like sorting coats and supplies for the care packages given to all of the guests who attended. More than 1200 guests visited the event and I was able to come down to the Shaw for a while to take some pictures. There is going to be another Homeless Connect event this October - please consider volunteering.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

First May Weekend

Welcome to May (although by the weather outside today, you would never know it). Here is a quick look at how today's snow storm looks from outside my back door.

Fortunately, over the weekend we were a lot luckier weather-wise. Saturday, May 1, was International Worker's Day (also known as May Day) and Edmonton's march and rally started in Giovanni Caboto Park in McCauley, headed through Chinatown, and finished in Churchill Square. This year's march was organized by an ad hoc group of individuals, since the official May Week Labour Arts Festival was on hiatus this year. Still, the attendance was great (around 150 people) and the spirit was high. Here is a look at some photos and a short video.

While I was in Caboto Park waiting for the May Day march to get started, I got recruited for a drum circle. There is an organized drum circle that meets and practices regularly in the park. I started out on a large, Latin American drum that I had strapped around my shoulders, then switched to a cowbell - not just any cowbell, one with a long metal rod extending from it, with a thigh stirrup. We learned some basic drum patterns, as well as corresponding dance moves. It was a lot of fun, and I hope to do it again soon. Here are some photos of the rest of the troupe in action.

Sunday saw some rain off and on, but it stayed sunny long enough for me to check out the opening day of the Callingwood Farmer's Market. Located in the west end, Callingwood is the only Sunday farmer's market in Edmonton. A lot of children enjoyed the petting zoo. I thought there was a good variety of crafts, but did not see as many plants and produce as at other markets. I do plan to return, so maybe that will change as the season progresses. Here are some photos, which also include a few shots of The Dancing Guy, spotted as I headed for a quick shopping trip at WEM.

Yesterday, I decided to go on a little local adventure by taking the LRT for its entire route, back and forth. We parked at the Stadium, took the train to the new Southgate and Century Park stations, then went all the way north to Clareview, then back to the Stadium. I took a few pictures along the route, mostly shot out of the window, catching some interesting reflections. I especially found the north part of the city to be interesting, with its old buildings, junkyards, and street art. Here is a look.