Archive for the ‘Volume 5’ Category

Wow, life is really challenging lately, isn’t it? Reports of violence, war, and of course the oil spill now seem to test our faith, our belief in each other, and our religious faith if we have one.     

I can hardly watch the news right now and still jump up to finish the dishes during the commercials because there’s such a lot of mayhem out there. (Actually there can be a lot of disorder in the kitchen as well! So maybe it’s just the housework that is the problem.)  

Anyway, my simple-minded idea is, maybe if we’re kind to the gal at the convenience store and the guy at the gas station, because there are a lot of nice people in this world, we can at least not take part in this hostility. So many people go to work, try to do their best, and then sometimes take flak from people who are just wa-ay stressed.    

Gosh knows I’m capable of picking an argument with my partner because someone in traffic upset me, but that ain’t fair. So I’m familiar with the impulse to strike out because you’re upset about life in general. I’m not proud of that; nobody should be.  

We’re all worried about the problem in the Gulf; jeepers, I don’t know whose fault it is, but I feel really horrible when I see the TV coverage. This debate and this damage will apparently go on for years.

It’s so disturbing, but let’s not forget that there are people who are up at dawn every day trying to repair this damage to the environment. What’s more important – whose fault it is, or who’s suffering?  

Or maybe the important thing is, who’s helping?

Betty White (you remember “Mary Tyler Moore” and “Golden Girls”) has been on talk shows lately because of a sudden resurgence in popularity. Amazing woman. She’s lived to 88 years and is still sharp as a tack. I think she has the right attitude from what I’ve seen. Do your best to care about all living creatures, laugh when you can, and treat others with respect. 

She’s not just a showbiz person; she’s worked for 45 years in animal rights groups. She’s lived through a couple of wars. She’s dealt with tragedy, of course, but it just struck me that this world might be a kinder place if  we would all emulate this grand old gal in her acceptance, humour, and gentility.  

Let’s not let the bad stuff win, darn it!  

Let’s at least go with “kind” in our day-to-day dealings; let’s go with “Hi, how are you?” and then actually listen to the answers we hear. Maybe we can help.

You can reach Barb by email at barb-wright@hotmail.com


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The great Pretender

Yes – this is a hummingbird feeder. Instead of my usual tiny feathered friend, I was quite surprised to see this male Downy Woodpecker! I had removed the bee guards on the feeder to make cleaning easier.  This made it just the right size for a bigger bill.

Worried that sugar water (4 parts boiled water to 1 part sugar) might be harmful to woodpeckers, I phoned the Wild Bird General Store for their expertise. The gentleman who answered had never heard of woodpeckers at a hummingbird feeder, and promptly checked his resources. Acorn Woodpeckers were noted at hummingbird feeders in the U.S., so we assumed no harm would be done. 

I added an Oriole feeder to my yard last year after a bright orange/black male and yellow/black female appeared.  Oriole feeders are orange, use the same solution as for hummingbirds, and have larger holes that can accommodate the beak of this robin-sized bird.  

This season – the feeder is visited by Orioles, Downy Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and, not be outdone, my Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds. The feeder now rivals the black oil sunflower feeder for popularity.

Story & photo
by Vicki Lawrence

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Don’t despair! The days are growing shorter daily with more hours 

of darkness. But in perfect balance we are in the midst of long evenings 

of sunshine and warm weather. That’s the Yin and the Yang of Canadian 

summer nights.  Celebrate that balance and enjoy everything nature has to offer. 


Like comets, asteroids travel through the universe and are visible from Earth periodically or sometimes are visible only once in a lifetime because their orbits are too vast.

Asteroids differ from comets in that they are made of rock while comets have been described as “dirty snowballs.” They often have a rock core encompassed by layers of ice containing rocks.

This month’s asteroid is called Ceres and it will be passing through the constellation Ophiuchus the Serpent Holder. You can locate it in the northern summer sky on the opposite side from the constellation Orion the Hunter. Orion is a popular shape in the night sky and many people can locate that stick-figure shape containing three belt stars.  


Woohoo! We have a comet in the neighbourhood. But you will require a telescope to see it when it visually peaks at 8th magnitude. In English that means the comet is too faint to be seen without visual aid such as a telescope. 

Under pristine dark sky conditions, the limit of naked eye seeing is in the 6th magnitude range. But at a star party I attended a few years ago, a lady from Manitoba spotted a 7th magnitude star with her naked eye. 

By the way, a “star party” is an event where astronomers camp out in a dark site and stay up all night observing. The events usually include speakers on various topics, door prizes, telescope judging, astrophotography contests, binocular sky walks, and lots of recreational activities. Last year at the Saskatchewan Summer Star Party there was an exhibit of celestial-themed quilts. From a comet to a quilt!


(where and when to find them)

Evening (west): Mercury, Venus, Mars & Saturn (all visible with the naked eye)

Midnight: (east): Jupiter (visible with the naked eye) and Uranus (need visual aid)

Morning: (south): Jupiter (visible with the naked eye) and Uranus (need visual aid)


July 3: This conjunction or close pairing of two celestial objects is perfect for early risers. About 90 minutes before sunrise, since you’re already awake and keen for an observing opportunity, locate the moon with the nearby bright planet Jupiter approximately 7 degrees to the lower left of the moon.  

Seven degrees is estimated by holding your closed fist at arm’s length and sighting past it with one eye.  Seven degrees would represent the width of 70 per cent of your fist. It’s just an estimate since everyone has different-size hands. But there will be no mistaking the bright planet Jupiter. Note that Jupiter is also obvious because it glows but does not twinkle. Remember: stars twinkle but planets do not. All this time, Jupiter is spending time within the constellation Pisces the Fish. So if you’re looking at Jupiter right now, you are also looking at the constellation Pisces.  

For those early risers owning binoculars, locate Jupiter and you may be able to see the much fainter planet Uranus only 2 degrees to the right of Jupiter. Two degrees is the width of two fingers held at arm’s length. If you are able to detect colour, Uranus has always looked blue-green to my eye.  

Before I move on, here are some final considerations about measurement in the night sky. A fingertip at arm’s length covers approximately 1 degree. Both the sun and moon are each one half degree wide. NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN. But do look at the moon. Holding out your thumb at arm’s length, one can easily cover the moon. Try this when the moon is rising from the horizon and appears huge and try it again when the moon is riding high in the sky. You thumb will easily cover both objects even though they seem disproportionate. And the Big Dipper is 25 degrees across. Finally looking from the horizon to the point straight overhead (the zenith) is 90 degrees.

July 14: Looking west (W) toward west-northwest(WNW) about 40 minutes after sunset, locate the waxing crescent moon along with the very bright planet Venus about 7 degrees to the moon’s upper right. Your eye will be looking pretty close to the western horizon with Venus being about 10 degrees above it. Here’s another observing opportunity: Venus is bright and obvious but tiny, star-like Mercury is sitting not far above the WNW horizon and resembles a star but not a twinkling star. That’s one way to identify it. Starting at Venus, look down toward the right at a 45 degree angle and visually continue in a line until you spot Mercury. Back to Venus. 

Try the same visual exercise but take that same line in the opposite direction up and to the left. You will be able to locate the red planet Mars because of its colour. Mars is red and does not twinkle.

Continuing upwards and left of Mars you will be able to spot the ringed planet Saturn. Again, it’s significantly bright and glows steadily. Like the other planets, no twinkling.

Saturn is a visual treasure in a telescope and even moderate-sized telescopes will reveal the magnificent rings. So this opportunity is there for the taking but if this is your first attempt at sky watching, don’t be discouraged if you are not locating the celestial objects. You certainly won’t miss the moon! From the upper left, about 20 degrees above the W horizon is Saturn, next down to Mars, then bright Venus and finally tiny Mercury at the WNW horizon.

July 15: Again looking W around one to two hours after sunset, locate the moon down near the horizon. This time we have grouping of three planets with brightest Venus to the far right of the moon. The red planet Mars will appear 7 degrees above the moon while Saturn will be 10 degrees to the upper left of the moon.

Don’t be afraid to try measuring these distances with the arm’s length technique previously described. You won’t look too silly in the dark, right?  Amaze your friends with your new knowledge.

July 30: Ah, fresh crisp morning air. Around one hour prior to sunrise, Mars and Saturn will be found near the W horizon. This event is an interesting one in that Saturn will appear less than 2 degrees above Mars. Don’t forget your finger measurement! If you own binoculars, this conjunction will make a fine view.

July 31: Not requiring sleep would be an asset in astronomy but we’re all human. Again one hour before sunrise you can look to the south, find the moon and bright Jupiter will be 7 degrees below the moon.

METEOR SHOWER               

Yes, we have one this month. Let’s take a moment to remember what a meteor shower really is. People sometimes call meteors “shooting stars.”  When a meteor survives passing through Earth’s atmosphere and lands on Earth, it becomes a meteorite. A meteor shower is observed when the planet Earth passes through the remnants from a comet’s tail.  The tail is a debris trail of particles that ignite upon contact with our atmosphere. Unfortunately for us this month, the peak of the shower occurs only three days after a full moon & bright moonlight will wash out good viewing opportunities. The Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower peaks before dawn on July 28. The name “Aquarid” refers to the home constellation of Aquaris the Water Bearer. 

Within that constellation will be a Radiant Point or point of origin for the shower. f you want to have a look anyway, look south at the moon and you’ll also see the planet Jupiter to upper left of the moon.

A final comment about future meteor showers. When you know a shower will  peak on a certain date, consider watching for a couple of nights before and after the peak date. “Peak” simply means the date of maximum activity but the Earth passes through the comet debris over several days.

But wait until next month for one of the best meteor showers of the year


This event is not in North America but can be seen from Easter Island and southern South America. I mention this to remind people that events happen all the time, day and night.  We all appreciate the sunlight and warm temperatures but don’t necessarily receive sunlight from the same position of the globe upon which we all exist. 

This event happens because the moon passes in front of the sun and blocks it from sight as seen from the Earth. This blockage is a small shadow along a strip of the Earth’s surface.  The strip is called the path of totality and means that the view of the sun will be blocked for small period of time.  At the maximum point, the sun will be blacked out for over five minutes. One can expect the temperature to drop, and stars and planets may be seen in the “sudden” night sky.

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A client called me the other day upset that I had not referred her to her own pharmacy sooner for the purchase of Fido’s heart medications. According to my client, the difference in cost was quite significant. You may also be wondering:

Can I purchase my pet’s medication at my own pharmacy?

Yes, many of the drugs used in our pets have also been approved for use in humans and may therefore be available at your pharmacy. In Fido’s case, because he had a history of being difficult to pill, I started him on a beef-flavoured pill (not found in your human pharmacy).

I certainly had no idea what my client’s pharmacy charged for an unflavoured form of the drug. Also, and unbeknownst to me, the owner had solved the problem of giving him pills. Fortunately, during one of Fido’s follow-up visits I became aware of the situation and suggested the switch to her own pharmacy.

It may be advantageous to purchase medications from your own pharmacy. Unless your pet is in very poor health, you likely take more trips to your grocery store – many of which have a pharmacy – than you take trips to your veterinary clinic. 

Especially if your pet has been prescribed lifelong medication, ask your veterinarian about filling the prescription at your own pharmacy. Be aware that some drugs have no human equivalents. And even if there are human equivalents, finding the appropriate dose, that doesn’t involve splitting a pill 10 times, may not be possible.

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Hello everyone, my name is Lilly, and I am a six-month-old, spayed, female Rottweiler Mastiff cross who is in need of a new home.

I am a good puppy and have very good manners for a dog my age and my size. I am gentle and get along with everyone. In my foster home I’m living alongside a cat and three other dogs. I would love to play with the big German Shepherd but he isn’t really interested in a young pup like me!

Luckily, the little Boston loves to romp around the yard with me and play tug-o-war with the rope toys, so I’m not bored and it’s really a lot of fun here.

I sleep on the floor of my foster mom’s bedroom at night time, on my special bed. I will go in a crate if I have to and my foster Mom does leave me in one when she goes out. Not that I have done any damage or chewing but my foster Mom says “better safe than sorry!”

I am already a big girl – about the size of a German shepherd and I’ll get bigger yet before I’m done growing. So if you are in the market for a large, gentle dog who aims to please and who loves people, then please call NASAP at 780-922-0250 and ask about Lilly.

I am being fostering in Beaumont and you can come see me anytime and bring your kids and your other dogs and just see how we all get along! 

Thank you for reading about me and maybe we’ll meet soon…

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10th Annual Friends Water Garden Tour

Plan on attending the 2010 Friends Water Garden Tour, organized by the Friends of Strathcona County Library, Sunday, July 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

As a self-guided tour of 11 water gardens – five in Sherwood Park, three in rural Strathcona County, two in south Edmonton and one east of Beaumont – this event is in its 10th year as a fundraiser for Strathcona County Library.  

Eleven visitor favourites over the past nine years are featured. Take in the pleasures of lush acreages, rock gardens with water features, small ponds and cascading streambeds, and enjoy visiting the special features at the four sponsors’ gardens. You’ll be inspired by these gardens!

Ticket booklets ($12) are on sale at Strathcona County Library in Sherwood Park Mall (2020 Sherwood Drive), or at sponsors Aqualine Aquatic Plant & Water Features, ABC Tree Farms, Country Roads Greenhouses and Salisbury Greenhouses.

Ticket booklets include all you need for your tour – addresses, directions, and a map, as well as sponsor coupons. Along the way, pop into one of the sites and buy a hot dog and drink, thanks to sponsorship from Nottingham Sobeys.

Proceeds from the tour will go toward expanding the collection in the new library, scheduled to open in November 2010 in the Community Centre in Centre in the Park. Join us for a delightful day and support a good cause.

Call 780-449-7329 or 780-449-5812 for more information.

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A few weeks later and we would have missed it, which would have been a shame because Stockholm Cathedral is something to see. 

Soaring limestone ceilings and stately red brick columns set the interior tone of this majestic building that is officially titled Saint Nicholas Church, but more commonly known as Storkyrkan, or The Great Church. 

A seven-branched giant candelabra and a detailed circular stained glass window draw the eye to the front and the black and silver altar found therein. To the left of the altar stands the most famous of the cathedral’s treasures – a dramatic statue of St. George and the Dragon, carved from oak and elk horn in the fifteenth century. Cherubs and other ecclesiastical figures fashioned in Italian baroque style embellish the balconies that overlook the nave, where golden crowns mark the pews set aside for the Royal Family.  

Old blends with new: the magnificent sculpted pulpit (under which lies the tombstone of the Swedish Reformer Olaus Petri) dates back to 1700 while the sparkling Light Globe, which serves as an assembly point for lighting candles and saying prayers for the world, was installed near the entryway in 1972.  

The exterior is surprisingly low-key, fitting in so well with the surrounding red, tan and yellow brick buildings of the city’s Old Town that we needed a sign to confirm the cathedral’s identity. So we weren’t surprised when a young couple stopped us a few steps down the street after our visit and asked: “Can you tell us where the cathedral is?” 

Since it was Yuletide when we visited, we had an additional benefit – the lovely Nativity scene extending along the left side of the nave. Shepherds tended their flocks at one end and at the other the three kings stood in the background behind the donkey bearing an expectant Mary and led by Joseph – one of the most beautiful such scenes I’ve viewed anywhere.

A busy place it was that early Sunday morning when we stopped in before the regular worship service. This was our second attempt to see the cathedral. The previous afternoon we viewed the outside of the Royal Palace next door and toured the Nobel Museum along Stortorget (Old Town’s main plaza) just steps away. We were all set to take in the cathedral then, but arrived to have the door shut in front of us with a “Sorry, we’re closing early for concert practice” from one of the church staff. 

Out timing was fortuitous. Early in January, a sign reading: “Closed to the public for renovations” would have greeted us. For four months crews of tradesmen of all sorts were busy turning out the cathedral in a big way for the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria to her longtime love, Daniel Westling, on June 19 – the first royal nuptials since Victoria’s parents, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Silvia Sommerlath (Queen Silvia) were married there on June 19, 1976.  

I thought the cathedral looked fine when we viewed it but now it’s even better. The altar, made of ebonied wood with sculptured reliefs in silver showing the Last Supper and the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Christ, is glittering thanks to a painstaking polishing. Likewise St. George (St. Goran to the Swedes) and the Dragon are shining again. The detailed ceilings are much lighter having been cleaned and touched up. Along with that, the massive wall paintings, which include the famous Parhelion Painting, one of the oldest depictions of the city, have been taken down, restored, and re-hung.   

Not just for the royal nuptials was this mega-project undertaken, Cathedral Dean Ake Bonnier told the media after the cathedral re-opened in early May. The place was due for it being as it was 50 years since similar work was done last. Moreover, such restoration is important for the cathedral’s preservation as a cultural heritage site. 

Dating back to the 1200s, the cathedral is the oldest church in Old Town, Stockholm’s original settlement, which lies on three of the 14 islands that make up the Swedish capital. 

Originally a small Roman Catholic church, it was rebuilt after a fire by Christians dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of shipping and trade, which no doubt explains the large-scale model of a ship hanging over one side of the nave. Along the way it also became Lutheran and mother church of the Church of Sweden Diocese of Stockholm. It is commonly known as The Great Church as it was the only parish church in the city for almost four centuries. 

Storkyrkan is a significant example of Brick Gothic, an architectural style common in Northern Europe and regions around the Baltic Sea that lacked natural rock resources. Buildings of this style are constructed almost totally using bricks, thereby lacking the ornamentation found in other forms of Gothic architecture; rather they are distinguished by their creative subdivision and structuring of walls, using built ornaments, and the colour contrast between red and glazed bricks and white lime plaster.

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