Monday, November 29, 2010

Good morning purple sky!

Walking out the door this morning, this was the view I was greeted with. I was hoping for northern lights, but I'll take a nice sunrise if that is what is being offered.

I'm just watching the news clip from Pat Burns funeral. I have to admit that I think that the Stanley Cup shaped urn if fitting in this case, although in many cases it would be tacky. You have to hav a certain amount of credibility to merit it. Its interesting to hear various peoples' viewpoints of what makes someone a good leader - they don't all highlight the same ingredients - but there seems to be a consensus that he was a good leader and that his caring and integrity (not to mention grit and a loud voice) were all part of the formula. There seems to be a lot of celebrity (of the Canadian variety) funerals this week (2). Leslie Neilson (whom I remeber most fondly as Buck Frobisher) has also passed away. I hope that his ride to the other side doesn't have any "Airplane"-like complications.

I can't believe it is the end of November already. Seriously, I sweat that Halloween was just a little while ago. But into the Christmas season we go.... Before I know it I'll be eating turkey with the people who've always been there for me no matter what and wondering where the time went...
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Northern Lights Pale Glimpse

After weeks of cloud and quiet skies I finally got a glimpse of the northern lights, but just as I finally got my camera fully set up the clouds rolled on in. I might get a second chance this morning. Here's hoping.
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Sunday Sunset

I managed to get this as sharp as it is by using a half buried stop sign as a make shift tripod. Not perhaps the most unusual sunset, but for once the sky is clear (the cost being chilly temperatures) and there is actually a sunset. The boxy looking building in the background is the "12-plex" and this is one of the few shots I have of the back of the building.

I've had a productive evening, but I was shocked to note that the "witching hour" as Em would call is upon us and it is time to curl up and go to sleep.
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Here comes "just another manic Monday"

On the other end weekend, I'm glad to say that my dishes are done, the laundry put away and I've made time to paint 3 pictures and spend an evening playing Settlers of Catan (a board game) with friends. I made Pesto Pasta and Couscous Salad - enough to keep me fed a few days and I've done a fair bit of the ever accumulating marking while watching the Maple Leafs get pummelled by the Senators. I guess I can be slightly mollified that at least a Canadian team won that game. Today will be a mostly work day - hopefully with a bit of time for exercise and talking with family. I'm not complaining. For one thing, I have a job and for another, I enjoy the work I do, so even though it might not be my first choice for Sunday afternoon - making slide shows and planning lessons is more pleasant than many other types of work. For the other thing, the more work I do today, the more I will enjoy my job next week. I just sometimes wish there were a few more hours in a day and a few more days in the week....

I wish too that I could also go cross country skiing. I suppose I could, although at -30 with the windchill that isn't exactly the safest idea... and its not the same without trees, mountains and groomed trails and my skis are currently living in the mountains. Ah well, I hope that those of you who can go skiing do and have a great time. Maybe its just as well that there is one less option of things I could do with my time.

Ah well... nose to the grindstone..... only 3 weeks until the break.
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday Goals

Operation Dishes is nearly complete.... and operation laundry is next. You have to admit that Saturday looks to be exciting. Next will be operation tidy, organize and mark...... along with operation make potato salad. If I'm lucky, I might find time to get my paints out, since I think I've used up the last semi-decent watercolour in my collection, and there is only one way to get better, which is practice.

I do really enjoy painting and I find that its one of the most relaxing activities I can do. Most of my stuff turns out kind of so-so, but once and a while I get it right or right enough for something that is a hobby.

Still, I hope that its sunny and not too cold tomorrow. It would be good to get a little fresh air or a nice sunset today. Otherwise, I'm going to be hard pressed to find material for my blog, since this is more of a photo blog than anything else. (Can you tell how uninspired I am about writing this morning?)

As for the picture, I can't remember where I took the photograph, but I think it is either Georgian Bay or Lake Superior. I did this one quite a while ago. It reminds me of summers camping, in fact, it could just as well be an evening on some wonderful interior Algonquin Park Lake. One of my goals for this summer is to get out on at least a short canoe or backpacking trip. Its been way too long since I've done what is my favourite activity in the world.... so hopefully, that gets corrected. Hard to say, there just seems to be things that need doing and its easy to suddenly find that in spite of good intentions about spending time on hobbies the have-to-dos have sucked up the time that there is.

I've heard its even worse when you have kids....

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Smelly Truck Shadows

The Leafs appear intent on losing this game - I may know even less about NHL hockey than I do about politics - but who elbows a guy in the face when you still have over 2 minutes of time left in a penalty. Versteeg better make it up with a goal or he'll but up there with the smell of the not so shiny truck in my books.

Grrrr. I just accidently erased the last paragraph... and I can't seem to undo it. Ah well, the gist of it was that time is flying and I can't believe that its the end of November. Its been busy, but good, and before I know it... it'll be Christmas.

I was reading the other day that they've changed the ceiling and visibility rules for landing flights. This will not help with weather delayed/cancelled flights here. Of course, I want it to be safe, but travel delays in one part of the trip, can result in disaster in other. Particularly with connections. Its always especially nervous around Christmas - when flights are booked pretty solid. If your flight is cancelled, you can end up stranded for days waiting for another shot. I guess I can but cross my fingers.

I should check up on the spaceweather, although it was snowing earlier this evening, so, it may not matter what is happening. I think the sky is expected to be quiet. Have a good Friday night.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Grumble grumble comments on municiple politics

I know this is a bizarre and stupid idea, but honestly, I don't care what end of the polarized and polarizing political spectrum my municipal politician (or any other politician) has for that matter. I believe that every voter should take up the time to size up their local candidate, the same as they would if they were conducting a job interview. They should look at their experience, past record, their vision, their ability to communicate ideas, their trustworthiness and their skills, and vote for the guy who has the ability to lead, create policy, work in a team, and who really truly cares about doing the right thing for the people he is representing, even if it means changing his mind. Its nice when the package of ability of a person I trust to make decisions about my life happens to share key philosophies with me, but I'd rather have a competent leader that I occasionally disagree with, then an incompetent one that spouts what they think I want to hear, but doesn't have a clue what they are doing. The only thing worse is one that is only their for wrong reasons.

Where is this rant coming from? - yet again this post is brought to you by the dangers of reading the comments on political newspaper articles. Although, perhaps its as much in response to the content as the comments. I think that for the most part the comments were actually generally well thought out although partisan. I think we'd do well to get past the concept of left and right and focus on a shared vision of success and happiness for our country, province or community. Sadly, federal and provincial politics have degraded to the point where you wonder why we are paying these guys to spend half their time calling the other guy a moron-liar-thief-incompetent and the other half of their looking for dirt to back up their raving.

The gist of the article is that Rob Ford, the proudly-right-wing, newly-elected mayor of Toronto has selected a cadre of like minded folks to fill key leadership roles on city council. I hope, that regardless of their political stripe, he has chosen people who are competent rather than just greasily cooperative and like-minded. The person running public works should in my admittedly biased opinion know something about public works - a civil engineer would be an ideal candidate. The politician keeping track of the budget and book keeping should have some kind of business or accounting background. These people should be leaders, set the standard for work ethic, and be able to create an environment of collaboration on their committees so that the city benefits from the abilities of all 44 councilors working on their behalf (ideally). The minute you have your municipal councilors identifying themselves as being liberal, conservative or NDP then council will quickly degrade into a lot of time wasted on partisan nonsense.

The counselors loyalty should be to their riding, the people whom they represent, not to some political gang more interested in its own survival than their real job. While I see the obvious efficiency of having parties, the fact that the concentration of the decision making in the party leader and their cabinet and too often their unelected policy advisers rather than have to everyone make a decision and do the research individually. This fact is why armies have generals and schools have principals. The failure to do this results in events like the 2-hour scrap paper drawer debate of '96 when a simple decision that just should have been made by an administrator (because honestly the location of the scrap paper drawer is so inconsequential that it does not merit discussion in a team meeting nor a vote) turned into a painfully lengthy debate including ruffled feathers and a good deal of time wasted. Still, it does reduce the say of members who are not in the cabinet even though they may represent a large area or a large number of people.

I don't really have any background in political science, so I may not know a thing about what I'm talking about and I'm not pretending that I do. Still, as I see it, municipal politicians are more or less running a business that delivers basic services to people with a smattering of policy, thus the ability to get the job done has a major direct impact on the lives of people in their community and I don't care whether they like Stephan Harper's sweaters or not, I just want them to be able to efficiently run the city and not make too many expensive mistakes even if they have to change their mind from their original stance after learning that its not a good idea (called flip-flopping by the opposition) because only a moron-liar-thief-incompetent would do something they knew was the wrong thing to do, just because that was the thing they said they thought they should do originally. So, I really hope that Rob Ford picked his leaders based on their merits and not just because he thought they'd tell him what they thought he wanted to hear.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Calm Blue Day

The cold has settled in, but truthfully - cold and calm is quite bearable and a little cold and windy is plain brutal. If you can see the almost verticle column of smoke on the right edge of the picture - thats proof that for the moment the wind has stopped howling and in another miracle (this picture was actually taken about 3 weeks ago) the sun is shining.

I'm fresh out of pictures at this time. I keep remembering my camera on boring days and forgetting it when the sky is unforgettably beautiful. But, somehow, I'll manage to pick up a few pictures. The weather forcast has the sun appearing at least briefly on 6 of the next 7 days. What that actually means is hard to say, but hopefully, it means that we'll get some nice skies.

I am finding that the days are just whizzing by. The last few weeks have been full of holidays and disruptions, but here we are entering the final unit of the term - with the christmas concert looming and me being woefully behind on even thinking about christmas shopping. Of course, after a life of spending christmas somewhere that was more than 1000 km from where I've lived nearly every year (save one) in the last 15 plus years, the art of doing all my christmas shopping in 4 days (thus avoiding carrying gifts all that distance) is well practiced, but I need a plan... but I think it can wait a few days.

Already, the gain of light on the way to work from daylights saving time is succumbing to the shortening days, and the final period of the day is nearly dark as well. I don't find the short days bother me - and thus far there have only been a few days where teh wind-cold combo have force me to wear my real coat. There is something magical about the crispness of a winter days - and yesterday, when passed on the way to the store by a snow mobile, the unique smell of the exhaust coupled with the crunch of the snow and the sound of the 2 stroke engine suddenly left me thinking of my first visit north in Repulse Bay. The magic of discovering another kind of world so different from my youth in the 'burbs of Toronto and even my experiences in the city of Thunder Bay, that while north contains more than 100,000 people and several walmarts, restaurants and grocery stores - while still being cold and snowy at times. I don't think I saw a snowmobile once, while living there, though I know there were plenty around.

My last bit of excitment was the arrival of my Rocky Mountain Soap Company order - a little whiff of the best smelling store in the world. I'm currently trying out the "Northern Exposure" soap. Not really very scented, its supposed to be good for dry, cold exposed skin and being oatmeal based, shouldn't bother my skin at the very least- so far I like it. I also got vanilla-candy cane scented lip gloss and you truly can't complain about that.

Monday, November 22, 2010

5 Year Bloganniversary

I've been blogging at Blogspot for 5 years today. Although, I've moved twice and my blog changed its name when I moved north - all 5 years of blogging are still archived here. Actually, my blog has also moved off and then back on to Blogspots server in this time - the move off causing me to have to go back through all of my posts and reattach the pictures and the move on giving me a scare although my web-master managed to save the day. I technically still have a private Myspace blog that I started 5 months earlier - but I haven't even been there in months.

I might have missed the anniversary had I not been curious yesterday - looking up to see when my first post was. This is an attempt at painting the sky the morning that the photo that has been my banner for this blog for a couple of years. I suppose on day I'll have to change it. But in the era when I was not on Blogspot, it was a bit harder to change requiring me to organize myself not only to fight with my ancient copy of Photostudio (pre-Adobe Elements) to produce said banner and then email it to my webmaster at Araska and edit the template - because I'm afraid to change to the new-fangled Blogspot template - I'm still on the classic version. The ominous warning about losing changes you've made worries me. I've kind of got things the way I like them, and I don't want to have to fix things that aren't broken. There are a few gadgets that would be nice to have - like the list of blogs that I read with most recently updated first. But several of the blogs I check have that and a similar blog reading list. Maybe this will be a project for the summer, unless Blogspot discontinues there old template - in which case I guess it would be sooner.

Its been said that blogging is slowly fading. I've been more prolific this year compared to last year - although things could slow down with cold weather limiting my desire to get out and take more pictures. But lots of folks are turning to twitter and Facebook and Google buzz. I find that I spend less time on chat programs than I have in years past and I talk to a very small number of friends and family members. I also have spent a lot less time on Facebook. I know that a few blogs I used to read regularly are posting more and more rarely - although partly because the folks writing those blogs have mostly obtained children and families and careers in that time span, impinging (I'm certain) on their time to write blogs. My solution has been to allow questionable grammar and sometimes post pictures with short blurbs rather than real posts. It is rare that you'll find well organized essays here. But I've managed to write regularly. Its something I'm still obviously bothered by, but I don't like the alternative, rarely writing, but every piece of writing being some kind of meaningful essay. I guess I should just accept it. I'm sure my readers are sick of the twice yearly posts (like this one) where I ramble on about it... I'm sure that my pickles on ham and grilled cheese rice cake is far more interesting than angst about the quality of my writing.

So on that note, I'm going to run and get a bunch of the things that need doing done this morning. The weather looks okay, so hopefully the air travel will get back on track and everyone will reach their destinations.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Grilled Cheese and Ham on a Rice Cake with PIckles

This is my favourite snack/meal currently. Well, I guess favourite is pushing it, but it is quick, realitively healthy and warm. Rice cake, add slice of cold cut ham and thin slices of cheddar cheese - put in the toaster oven. Pull out before the rice cake burns and then top with sliced pickles.

Also of note, my mug from "Of Cabbages and Kings", created by Katie Borrowman of Canmore, Alberta. This isn't the most flattering angle. I might have to take another picture from the angle I'm looking at now. I have a tea pot in Ontario that matches the mug. Its my favourite mug for drinking coffee in right now.
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Snow Sculptures

It appears to be blizzarding again, although this one is supposed to be good by morning. I hope so for the sake of all those traveling. Its definitely be a weathery year. I heard last night that the failure of pack ice to start forming on time is becoming an issue for the embattled polar bears. Even the lake ice has been slow to form due to a combo of warm weather and wind - which opened the lake back up after it froze initially.

I baked pumpkin chip muffins yesterday. The first baking I've done since the pumpkin cheese cake I make for thanksgiving. I'm tempted to make bread, but its likely that baking bread will just mean eating bread that I probably shouldn't eat... so I'm going to focus on the other things that need doing.

I met up with some friends last night for board games. We played skip-bo (which I haven't played in a long while). At first we tried to play it so we only put numbers of a matching colour together into the piles - We decided that since it was the first game in a while we'd allow mixed colours as it had gotten slow. Then we realized that 1-4 were purple, 5-8 were green and 9-12 were all pink. Making the game difficult to play if you are playing all one colour. I've come to the conclusion that skip-bo is just a version of Dutch Blitz, and that I think I like Dutch Blitz better for its chaos. I also ran into a friend who has left Baker and got to see some pictures of Grise Ford (such a beautiful spot) - its left me hoping that I find a way to do some travelling in Nunavut. Finally, this morning I got to meet Clare from "The House and Other Arctic Musings". For those of you not familiar with the Nunavut blogosphere - Clare is the (un)official leader of the blog community up here and one of the first Nunavut blogs I started following. He keeps the blogs of nunavut site going and runs the Nunavut Blog Awards (aka the Nunies). Definitely, being part of the Nunavut Blogging has enriched my experience in the North - I've built connections with bloggers in communities across the arctic - and better still been able to see pictures from all the communities that I wish that I could visit, but can't afford to yet. I'm still in touch with several bloggers that have since left Nunavut. Its been definitely a hobby that has help me to keep writing - and even sometimes try writing in full grammatically correct sentences - when the mood so takes me. In fact, tomorrow is the 5 year anniversary of the first post on the original incarnation of this site: The Blog Bog of Jennith - changed to the Blog Bog of the Tundra when I moved north. Apparently, I haven't changed much, in spite of following teaching rather than engineering. I still have a scientific calculator with-in arms reach and I still have things I should do because they are due tomorrow.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Calm after the Storm

The first day back to school after the storm - a clear, calm morning...
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Fresh out of pictures

I sadly don't think I have any new pictures... but then as I type this I wonder if I did take some the other day. I missed a gorgeous sunrise this morning. Its cold, but calm. I should be out going for a walk or something. I also missed some northern lights the other day. I guess you win some and lose some others.

I might just have to get out the paints for a bit... although I'm not sure if I'm in the right mood. I feel just a little bit like going to sleep.  My students wanted to know today if I'd ever played a video game.  I said I'd played with a Nintendo 64 back when I was in high school - to which my student replied.  "My grandfather had one of those."

I miss the days when I had time to play so much Tetris that I dreamt I was playing Tetris.  The only other activity that I've ever continued doing in my sleep was tree planting.... and well after doing but nothing but step, step, drive the shovel in, wedge open the hole, reach for the tree, tuck the tree in and stamp - repeat for 12 hours straight, 6 days a week for 5 weeks - this is not surprising.  At least there weren't any blackflies around when I planted in my dreams.  But we are now in danger of me launching into a full blown retelling of my days planting trees... like walking out of the block after my lass shift in sock feet because the boots hurt my heels too much or putting on boots with frozen liners.  It wasn't all bad.  I learned how to play pool, and I saw leather leaf in flower for the first time (and labrador tea) and I once found a stunning orchid (not a bio student, were we) and the food was mostly good save the sausages.. they were only edible when doused in ketchup and on that note I'm going to stop thinking about being wet and cold and sore because its friday night and I have a warm dry couch and lots of books to read - and stories about other people being wet and cold and tired and sore.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Water and Sewage Trucks Cancelled

I don't think anyone has tried to leave, but this is as far as the door opens. Not that its exactly inviting outside,  but I think its just enough that I could squeeze out.

This is the school from the doorway away - faintly in the distance. No sign of the blizzard sign - that is the sign on the front parking lot of the school with our town's sport mascot.
This is the co-op - I'm pretty sure its worse than yesterday - even the front of the building is shadowy.

View to the west - the visibility is definitely looking worse.

So - no school and no water or sewage service. Hopefully, everyone in the building conserves water. I think I'd better fill a juice jug or two just in case for drinking water. Although, worst case scenario - there is plenty of snow to melt, but I'm going to have to dig out my real parka to get it. The temperature has dropped and there is a concern that the heat in our building is off. Its about 18-20 C in here. It may be a good thing that I haven't sold my little space heater yet.  Hopefully not though - its not a good day to run out of heating fuel.

Visibility Still Poor

It looks just as windy out - the snow is moving fast and even the streetlights seem to flicker as the wind gusts. I think it might be less gusty - the building seems to be shuddering less often and the visitiblity is maybe a bit better - mostly because it stopped snowing. At one point I could see the moon - but not northern lights - so that it reducing the snow in the air somewhat.

I opted not to go outside to check for northern lights - there hasn't been any spikes worth pulling out my full winter gear for investigation. The temperature has dropped a lot since the last pictures I took.

In other excellent news..... The Toronto Maple Leafs won!!!
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More Blizzard - 4:50 pm

The dark isn't helping, but basically you can see some lights, even the houses just behind me are fuzzy looking. The alien spaceship looking picture is the school. I can also feel the floor of the building shanking and the gusts are rattling the windows - the wind whistling shrilly.

Tragically, they stopped observing weather locally - so I can't follow the wind speed - unless I want to go borrow the annometer from the science lab, but I'm not sure it does windspeeds of this magnitude. But, its definitely windy and the visibilities are probably worse than earlier.
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3 pm - Nov. 16th Blizzard - Baker Lake

You  should be able to see the arena and the small iqlu-like church from here.. but they are lost in the snow.
The view from here is pretty limited..... "its a small world after all, its a small world after all... its a small, small world."

In the picture above.. that building, namely Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary School,  is less than 50 m away and it looks like a ghost.
The co-op is fading into grey and you can't see the road or the buildings behind it - I wouldn't normally bother getting too bundled up to walk here - there are literally 2 small parking lots between the window and the entrance to the store.
So... you can see as you get further alone the line of sheds the dimmer they look..... and the blizzard is just starting now.
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A flower in a time of wind and snow

Here are some warm and calm thoughts - visual coziness as a wicked blizzard descends on the Kivalliq. The weather hasn't updated in over an hour - but needless to say - visibility is somewhat less that 50 m - I can just make out shadows of people walking down the road and even this solid box of a building is rattling with the gusts. There is a lot of loose snow on the ground and plenty more to come if they weather-folk are telling it right. They are also saying that there will be 90 km/h sustained winds with gusts of up to 120 km/h. The weather is bad enough that I wouldn't venture out into it. Even people with proper northern parkas are hunched against the wind - makes it extra nice to be inside and sipping tea - a good day for a fire place if I had one. I recall reading stories about blizzards in the Little House on the Prairie books. The kind where you had to run string from the barn to the house so Pa wouldn't get lost when he goes to milk the cows. I grew up in a treed part of the world, so the only time visibility was poor is when it was foggy. I have no childhood experience with true blizzards, and I don't think I'll ever call a snowstorm a blizzard again..... sort like how 8 summers at Doe Lake changed my criteria for what constitutes a downpour. This however, looks to be the most severe blizzard I've experienced yet. We don't usually have winds this strong or so much falling and fresh snow. We are going to have some wild drifts I think by the time this is done. I am suffering from just a bit of that childhood wonder at storms - curious to see what that mix of snow and wind will do. I guess the ability to still feel wonder is a gift as is the ability to be warm and dry in wild weather and a blizzard of this scale makes up just a bit for the fact that I'm not going to see the spate of wicked northern lights they are promising, although thus far I haven't missed anything as far as I can tell.

I promise to take some pictures in a day or two showing what 100 km/hr wind does to loose snow.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Still Cloudy

Its cloudy, snowing lightly, and altogether not much good for sunrise or northern lights photos. Maybe tomorrow or even tonight the sky will clear, although the weather office seems to be suggesting that there is a better chance that we'll end up with a blizzard than clear skies.

In the mean time, another week is starting and I can't seem to stop yawning yet and I'm down to the last gulp of coffee...... oh dear.
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dreams of Northern Lights

I don't get to see them for real, but maybe dreaming of seeing them will convince the clouds to clear up some opportune time just for me......

Here's hoping....
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Sky Watching Warrented

Anyone (in Canada maybe even) with clear skies in the next few days should look up at night for the Northern Lights - is predicting close to 100% chance of something as we are due for 1 or more CME hits and there is a coronol hole aimed at us for Tuesday. (In high latitudes their breakdown is 30% active, 50 % minor storm and 20% major storm for tomorrow - for tonight it is 40% active, 10 % minor storm and 5% major geomagnetic storm. Still very good.) Of course, the weather office is calling for clouds and snow - but I"m still hoping for clearskies - not for the least reason that I'm sick of overcast skies - nevermind that I wouldn't mind seeing a nice show of the aurora borealis.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sunset several minutes later

It may be more like half an hour later as I came back in, read the news for a bit and then dumped the first set of pictures off my card. Then, wondered what it looked like now. Pretty, but different.
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Woven Colours

Again, the camera just doesn't do it justice, I'm not getting the smoky pinks that are actually there and the clouds look green, but the colours really are that complicated.
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