Thursday, March 26, 2009

Souris Treasures - Agates

This week, instead of getting more spring-like, the weather reverted back to winter. As I watched the snow fall, I thought back to last summer. In particular, my treasure hunt to the Rock Pit in Souris, Manitoba last July. The pit is a working gravel pit. After paying a daily fee, I drove the short distance to the pit and parked in a designated area. With a squirt bottle of water, a bucket and a digging tool, I scrounged the pit.

Click on any photo for a wonderful close-up showing the waxy texture that makes an agate easy to spot amongst all the other rocky material.

Pictured in this main photo are 4 agates I found while exploring the pit. Some were lying at the bottom of rock slides, and others I dug for in the soft walls surrounding the pit. Agate is a microcrystalline impure form of quartz (silica), chiefly chalcedony, characterized by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. The following photos are close-ups of the above agate

Top left in the main photo, this chunky agate has 2 indentations or holes on one side.

Top right in the main photo, this egg shaped agate looked like it had a small piece of moss or insect stuck in the middle.

Bottom left in the main photo, this is probably the clearest agate I found last summer. If you look on the photo at the top of this post, this agate is on the bottom left. It looks like it has a white spot. But when you hold it to the light, even the spot is translucent.

Bottom right in the main photo, the lines on this agate show it to be an agatized piece of petrified wood.

The indentation in this agate was formed by a steady drip of water over many years. We're talking hundreds of years here to carve a bowl shape like this out of the agate.

Do you like rockhounding? Do you go out for a walk and return with 'treasures' in your pocket?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Called Up for a Shoot

I'm hyped!

I've been called up to work as an extra on a new movie that's being shot in the city. This is my work other than writing, and since I haven't worked since last summer, I have to haul out my work bag and ensure all my clothes are clean and packed. And not just any clothes:
- solid colors (no prints or patterns)
- tops can't be black, white, red or yellow
- no logos or other identifiable markings including footwear

Then of course, it's the 3rd week of March. I need to be prepared for all types of weather. Oh, I sure hope we're not doing a summer scene. Brrr.

Tomorrow night (Wed) I'll receive a phone call and someone will tell me:
- my call time (start time)
- the location (I believe this one's in Regina)
- the season (I wore a parka in hot Aug weather once)
- the 3 changes of clothing minimum I'm expected to bring (business clothes, casual, jammies or swimwear) :)

Now this sounds like fun and sometimes it is, but usually, it's 3 hrs of sitting around waiting and then 20 mins on set. Still, I get paid from my call time until I'm done.

Last summer, I had to be in Rouleau, SK for a 0700 call time on a Corner Gas shoot which meant leaving home at 0430 which meant getting up at 0330 am. That's real early to someone who writes until 2 or 3 in the morning.

Money-wise, this is great. But, it's a full day out of my writing schedule.

However, considering that my acting paid for me to attend the 2008 ACFW conference in Minnesota, I think I'd better go check my clothes and quit whining.

Oh - and look for a book. Lots of time to read while I'm waiting to strut my stuff...

Have you ever worked on a movie or TV set? Which one? What was the weather like? Did you enjoy it?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Snap, Crackle and Awe

So there I was answering my email and I heard these noises outside as if someone or thing was running through the bushes on the other side of the wall. Last fall the neighbor's pigs escaped and were running amok in the same spot. I grabbed my camera, slipped into my boots and charged outside, still in my fleecy jammies. (yes, again)

And I stood there in awe. In a white world, a fog bank caused the world outside the yard to just disappear. No wind. The temp is sitting at -2C/28F causing the fluffy coating of overnight snow to melt and drop from the trees in small patches. As the snow dropped, the branches snapped back into place.

Snap. Crackle. All over the yard like an orchestra. And every once in awhile, the crack of a rifle shot.

As usual, I headed to my favorite viewing area along the driveway. As I stood near our farm sign and looked up to take a photo, the clouds slipped off the sun. Oh, the warm sun, gorgeous after our long, cold winter.

While I trudged back to the house, the sun glistened off a few last icicles hanging from the eavestrough. Melted snow dripped from the new green tin roof into the metal trough, tapping a steady beat like a lone drummer. I wanted to linger out there, listen to nature shed her winter apparel...

...but I have to get back to my Genesis contest entry. The deadline's approaching... time's running out... I just wanted to let you peek into my world if only for a minute.

Happy first day of Spring.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Draper's Acres Photo Fun

Welcome to Draper's Acres - our official farm name. You can see our farm in the middle of this photo - behind the shack. Yes, right in the middle of that copse of trees.

I took this photo yesterday - March 19th because it proves that there is grass beneath all that snow - can you see the grass in the foreground of the photo? It might be brownish colored at this time, but trust me, it is definitely grass.

During winters of heavy snow cover like this one, many farmers feed the wild deer population. You can see them in herds up to 40 strong just standing in the pastures munching. But as soon as the van stops, they take off running.

This is Chapters, a book store in Regina. I took this photo to show efriend Stephanie Newton where her new Love Inspired Suspense book - Perfect Target - was located. If you look close - real close - in the middle of the pic, you can see my daughter pointing to it. :)

Here's my daughter, Jessica pointing to Perfect Target among the rest of the Harlequin category books. By this time, there were only 2 of Steph's books left on the shelf in this huge book store. Yay!

I took this one around 7 pm last Sat as we were heading home from the city. I was trying to read and the sun kept glinting in my eyes and being a general nuisance until it dawned on me what a beautiful sight it was. If the pic looks streaky, it's because it is - from a whole lotta mud splattered up.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Skunks, Fog and Coyotes

I’m supposed to be working on a newsletter right now but when I went to get my breakfast, I looked out my kitchen window and my writing faded into the fog I saw outside at the edge of the yard. Now you have to understand that although most people see fog as this dense impenetrable mist, I see it as another photographic opportunity. So, I grabbed my camera, slid my bare feet into my boots, my arms into my ‘walking coat’, and my hands into my gloves.

A smile was already on my face as I clasped the door knob and twisted. Just before I pulled it open, I glanced at the clock. Did I have time before the bus came? It wouldn’t do to be caught outside in my navy, pink and white striped velour jammies because well... you know... kids talk. And the bus driver ‘s our male neighbor. But, the school bus wouldn’t be rumbling up the driveway for another half hour. Good. I stepped outside and stopped smiling.

Now I can’t tell you the exact sequence of events, but I realized two things immediately. The fog had left. And the unmistakable odor of a skunk.

Although the fog had receded into the distance, it still hovered in the east below the rising sun. Like a horse drawn to the barn after a long trail ride, I walked towards the sun, aware of the snow cracking below my feet. Cracking? Usually it crunched. A look at my van revealed it covered in shiny ice. Ah.

And as I cracked along, a dog barked in the east. The nearest farm in that direction is 2 miles away. I could hear the dog because the wind was non-existent. We get maybe 3 days a year without wind and this was one of them. I started clicking pics of the sunrise, the fog, the snow. I even took one of the old shack across the field because it looks like the one we use for our group blog, Prairie Chicks Write Romance.

The temp was only -6C/19F but after awhile, the cold seeped through my skin. I pulled the mitt portion of my gloves over my exposed fingers and went inside the house. The kids were getting ready for school so our little porch was crowded but a few mins later, I stood in my kitchen window and stared.

The fog was back at the end of the yard! I told my kids about it and my 13 yo son said, ‘Maybe the window’s fogged up, Mom.’
Smart kid.
But it wasn’t.

As I got dressed again, my breathing came faster. What if I missed it again? Almost bowling the kids over, I dressed in record time and scooted outside, careful not to slip on the icy steps. There... the prairie disappeared beyond our yard. Again, I clicked. I took shot after shot from every angle, close and far as the sun slowly rose. Breathtaking.

When the sun seemed to stand still and there was nothing new to take, I started walking back to the house, mindful of the bus on its way. But halfway back, Anna, our dog, snapped upright, looked to the south and barked. A lot. I stopped to listen. Coyotes. In the fog-enshrouded hills that covered our fields, half a dozen voices yipped together. I closed my eyes. Cold brushed my cheeks. Skunk odor filled my nose. And coyotes sang in the hills.

It was as if God had reached down and personally touched me. What a beautiful day.

When you walk outside first thing in the morning, what little treasures puts a smile on your face? And I've lived in 3 cities so you can't tell me God's wonders are only in the country.