Art Gallery of Alberta

Drove up to Edmonton to take in the new Art Gallery of Alberta.  My first impression when I looked at the promotional materials was its similarity to a Frank Gehry like the Disney Concert Hall in L.A. and the Peter B. Lewis Building on the Case Western Reserve University campus.

A look at it in real life confirmed my thought, it sure was a Gehry style architecture.  A little googling later led me to the information that its architect Randall Stout used to work at Frank Gehry’s studio.  CLICK HERE for an extensive interview of Randall Stout and some spectacular images of his portfolio.

I don’t have any sophisticated photo software to take out the traffic lights and the sewage repair work underway, so the following picture shows the real life street scene of the remarkable structure at its most authentic.  But for some sparkling clear views and a detailed description of the architecture, CLICK HERE.

And here are some pictures of the inside, like the above, were taken by my little Panasonic Lumix pocket camera, no touch-up or editing:




The AGA is situated adjacent the Sir Winston Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton, a public open space linking the City Hall with the arts:

The Winspear Centre, home of the Edmonton Symphony is just across from the Square:

To finish off my day visit, I saw this colourful reflection of the slowly setting sun on the downtown buildings:


Of course, I didn’t drive three hours from Calgary just see the the architecture, but the exhibits.  And that has to be another post.

Photos taken by Arti of Ripple Effects, March 2010.
All Rights Reserved

Alberta Bound

Autumn in rural Alberta is immensity amplified.  Big sky and expanse of farmland is the main scenery, something what W. O. Mitchell describes as “the least common denominator of nature… land and sky.”

The air is crisp, fresh, and dry.  Colors are simple:  Big blue sky, golden harvest, even just hay rolled up in bales.  Farming against the snow-capped Rockies, rustic, serene, rejuvenating, harmonious fusion of nature and human endeavor.

Trees as windbreaks in the summer, nature’s sculpture in the fall.  So the leaves are gone, but only then can we see the beauty of the bare branches, like dancers celebrating the changing of the seasons.

The solitary figure in the field… en masse.

“Think I’ll go out to Alberta,
Weather’s good there in the fall.
Got some friends that I can go to working for…”

For some inexplicable reasons, as I’m posting these photos, a flood of nostalgia whirls up in me.  The melodies and lyrics of those songs and singers that we can claim our own keep filling my mind all day. Not too many up-and-coming like to hang around here, since all the fame and glory one seeks is down south.

But these remain our own: Gordon Lightfoot, Ian and Sylvia Tyson, Neil Young… and songs about Alberta, about heading west to seek a new life, or to escape from the pain of lost love.  Maybe the wide open country, big blue sky and wide expanse of land do have their healing powers.

And memories, forever clear, keep us rooted… here’s home.


Photos taken by Arti of Ripple Effects, November, 09.  All Rights Reserved.

From Banff to Jasper

My cousin and her husband came to visit from Ohio.  They wanted to see ‘the most beautiful highway in the world’.  Not that I’m touting my own horn, but if they didn’t mention it I wouldn’t have known of such a claim.  That’s the stretch of roadway from Banff north to Jasper National Park here in Alberta.  Since I considered that part of the country my neck of the woods (relatively speaking), I was glad to take to the road with them as a guide.  Yes, I admit beauty may be subjective, but I’m sure you’ll agree these are some of the most extraordinary sights one can behold.

Canmore, Alberta, is the gateway to Banff National Park.  This little town hosted some of the ’88 Winter Olympics events at its Nordic Centre.  Here’s a view of the nearby Three Sisters Mountain at dusk when we arrived:


From Canmore we headed to Banff National Park the next morning.  Despite the commercialized Banff Avenue, we could still get close to the wild near the Bow River. Elkie was so busy munching his lunch that he seemed oblivious to his human intruders:



From Banff, we continued on the Trans Canada Highway to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. If you happen to have an old Canadian twenty-dollar bill, take a look at the back of it.  Here’s the real thing, Moraine Lake:


From Moraine Lake, we headed north on highway 93, the Icefields Parkway, towards Jasper National Park. This stretch of the road offered some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world.

Bow Lake at the bottom of glaciated mountains.  The beautiful emerald color is the result of rock flour, moraines grounded to fine powder suspended in the water:


The Clark’s Nutcracker is a common bird in the area, among wildflowers by the glacier water:





The serene Waterfowl Lake:


After a couple of hours drive, we entered Jasper National Park.  The major attraction as soon as we entered was the Columbia Icefields, the largest body of ice in the Rocky Mountains.  It spans 325 sq. km (130 sq. miles),  with an estimated depth of 365 m. (1,200 ft.)  Elevation averages 3,000 m. (10,000 ft.)

Mount Andromeda:


The Athabasca Glacier spans an area of 6 sq. km (2.5 sq. mi), with a depth of 90 – 300 m. (270 – 1000 ft.) Its elevation about 2700 m (8900 ft).  Yes, there we were, in the middle of August in our summer clothes, thousands of feet above sea level, walking on the remnant of the last ice age over 10,000 years ago.  Here’s the magnificent view:


That was only the entrance of Jasper National Park, but more than we could fathom for our short excursion.


Header Picture:  Bow Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

All photos taken by Arti of Ripple Effects August, 2009.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Fall Fantasy

Thanks Ellen of The Happy Wonderer for the link to the Round Robin Photo Challenge’s current theme: The End of Summer.  Here are the scenes of the onset of fall in southern Alberta.  This is the time where we see golden colours and enjoy fresh and crisp autumn air.

The weather has been just wonderful this past week.  Getting 26° C (79° F) in October is a rare treat for us here.  To capture fall in its glorious form, I was planning to drive 90 minutes to Banff National Park yesterday.  But just a stone throw away from my home, I saw these views, beauty so close by that I’ve been oblivious to … Banff can wait.  Let me spend some time in my own backyard.  I know it won’t last.

Photos taken by Arti of Ripple Effects


From a Country Garden

Finding Internet access has not been easy.  But I have to post these pictures.  The log home has been vacant for almost 10 months.  So when I found what were in the garden, I was pleasantly surprised.  With the temperature reaching 30C here in southern Alberta, and the amount of rain we’ve been getting in the last month, the garden has started to grow, albeit with all the unwanted weeds as well.

I can tell from the design and the variety, this country garden wrapping around the log home was once cultivated with much TLC.  Even among the thorns and thistles now, and without human maintenance, I can see beautiful flora, ferns, and bushes blooming in resilience.  Here are a few samples from this once glorious garden.  I also must admit my ignorance in naming some of them…although the Alberta wild rose I can readily recognize…No, that wasn’t the Alberta wild rose as one commenter corrected me. These must be some kind of cultivated garden roses.

All you green thumbs, nature lovers, bird watchers, and naturalists, please help me out here.  I’d appreciate if you’d identify these other beautiful flowers and creatures:

another view here:

These look like lilacs, but I’ve always seen purple, not white:

And these lovely ones with blue petals:

Forgot its name:

And this creature…with it’s black stripes on a brown body, and the buzzing sound it gave out, I thought I was photographing a wasp of some kind.  So after a few quick shots, I stepped out of its way.  But when I saw it on my computer, I was amazed it had such beautiful wings…is it just a moth?

And this bird that gets so attached to the feeder on the fence…first the front view:

and the back:

Looking at the exuberance and beauty of life here in this derelict patch, I’m reminded of a precious quote:

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.  And how much more valuable you are than birds!


Consider how the lilies grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!


Nature Photography

For some reasons, staying out here in the country, with all the quiet and almost static serenity, does not induce me to spend more time reading, or even on quiet meditations.  I’ve been so busy commuting, and if I’m around the log home, I’d be busy observing and appreciating the natural environs here, taking it all in by means of photography. 

I have been using mainly my pocket digital Panasonic camera, haven’t even had time to sit down to learn how to use the Nikon which I’ve also brought along.  For now, I’ll have to be satisfied with some snap shots…hopefully one of these days I’d be able to use a real camera, and a zoom lens, for more serious photography.  Here are some snap shots of my surroundings.

Good fences make good neighbors: 

The shack between the wires:

A country sunset:

Rock samples:



The building material:


Golden sunset:


What I have are images, but no words came.  The literary doesn’t come naturally to me I suppose.  With these sights and sounds, I hope the poetics would come sooner or later…


More pictures from my log home can be found in these posts:  From a Country Garden, and Summer Indulgence.

Summer Indulgence (2008)

No, this is not a movie. It’s real life. I’ve to move to make way for some major renovations in our house. For a month or so, Arti the urbanite is living in the country. My summer abode is a log home amidst acres of farmland, at the foot of the Rockie Mountains in Alberta, Canada.  I have fresh air, big blue sky, quiet neighbors, and magnificent views. The following are some pictures of my summer indulgence.

The little big house on the Prairie:

Little big house on the Prairie


My view:


My quiet neighbors:



My other quiet neighbor:


My visitors:



There’s no water for me to make ripples.  I’ll have to create sketches in the wind.  I’m gratified by the views and the solitude I’m granted here in the open country.  But there are costs:  no TV, no Internet, the commuting to the City (about an hour’s drive), unwanted house guests: mice and other rodents.  As much as I yearn to embrace nature, I confess I’m no Thoreau or Dillard…I just can’t live without modern conveniences, nor can I survive without the Internet.  How can I be a recluse and stay away from the blogging community for a whole month!?

So here’s my list of survival gears:

Electronic gadgets:  A 7″ portable DVD player, a couple of cameras, my laptop, and of course, my BlackBerry.  I’ll have to drive to the nearest town to find Internet access.

DVD’s I brought with me:  Sketches of Frank Gehry, Paris, Je T’Aime, Life As A House, Fargo, The Hours, Wordplay, The Namesake…plus some titles I need to preview for a Film Festival.

Books:  My current reading list includes The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Persuasion by Jane Austen, and two books by Robert K. Johnston, Reframing Theology and Film, and Reel Spirituality: theology and film in dialogue.

Also, I intend to visit the nearest town and explore some arts and crafts stores and yes, they have a public library there…I won’t feel so alienated after all.