Whitemud Creek

Whitemud Creek

My last trip to the Whitemud ravine with my camera brought me a couple of good luck shots. The first was looking across the pond straight into the eyes of a deer. This was the second time I’ve encountered a deer there, and first time the deer was still enough to photograph.


The second good luck photo was of a yellow bird I occasionally spot, always flying away from me at top speed. This time it landed on some branches ahead of me and stayed just long enough for me to get a picture. I think it is a yellow warbler.

Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler

My third photo is kind of a bad luck shot. I was figuring out how to capture some pretty white flowers, only to realize each one had a bug on it!

White Flowers with Bugs
Arctic Wolf

Edmonton Valley Zoo Trips

I always love wandering the Edmonton Valley Zoo and taking pictures of the animals. Most trips I don’t manage to see Lucy the Elephant, so one of my trips this summer was extra special when I spotted her. I excitedly filmed a beautiful video of her walking, carefully keeping her nicely framed, but, sadly, my phone video function was not properly turned on. Fortunately, I did manage a few regular shots on my phone.

Other treats were spotting the zoo’s new baby Takin, photographing the ever photogenic Meerkats and Zebras, and seeing the Lemur’s in their tree outside.

Carrot Cake Muffins

Carrot Cake Muffins using Chickpea Flour

I’m eating a low oxalate diet and I wanted to make low oxalate muffins using chickpea flour. I also like the idea of eating food lower on the glycemic index, which chickpea flour is, so it has less impact on my blood sugar levels.

I learned as I was searching for recipes using this flour that it is being used more and more in vegan recipes because chickpea flour works well to bind food and can substitute for eggs. I also learned one shouldn’t to taste the dough (I did anyways . . .) because the flour tastes awful until it has been cooked (. . . it wasn’t that bad).

The recipes I found were all for chocolate cake (high oxalate), so I decided to adapt my Mom’s carrot cake recipe to my purposes. I substituted 1/3 cup rice flour and 2/3 cup chickpea flour for the 1 cup of flour in the recipe. I also reduced the eggs to just one to test how well the muffins would hold together with less egg and chickpea flour.

The muffins turned out really well, especially after they’d spent a day in the fridge. Once they cooled off, they held together nicely and after a day in the fridge, they were incredibly moist.

For my next version of this recipe, I’ll test using a banana instead of some of the sugar. Or maybe making a banana loaf.

Carrot Cake Muffins with Chickpea Flour

1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/3 cup white rice flour
2/3 cup chickpea flour
1 tsp each baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp chopped pecans

Shred carrots with food processor. Empty carrots into measuring cup. Process together oil and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla and process. Mix together flours and spices, then process them into the wet mixture. Add pecans and process briefly.

I baked these as very small muffins at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Test that they are cooked all the way through with a knife. Cool before removing from the muffin pans. Store in fridge or freezer, the chickpea flour probably won’t keep well at room temperature.


#AboriginalLivesMatter Too!

In the Globe and Mail, there was recently an article that brought out the racism of Canada in its comment section. This is a quote from one comment that particularly bothered me:
“And if we were to give the North Americas back to the aboriginals they would complain about their likely still stone age life style, absent  treaty monies”

My reply to this comment was:

This sentence is exceedingly condescending. It presumes that aboriginals complain more than the author. It presumes that aboriginals lived a stone age life style. It ignores the joys aboriginal people would have moving out of the confines they currently experience. It forgets that the aboriginal people once had a flourishing trade system. That aboriginal people had many clever inventions like syringes, snow shoes and canoes. That there were permanent settlements along the coast and that the agriculture practice of using the three sisters (maize, squash, beans) was spreading into Canada.

Biologically speaking, all humans are the same and thus all humans innovate and all humans complain.

Here are some links that I used when forming my reply:

(indigenous agriculture in Manitoba)


(“among humans, race has no taxonomic significance”)

(didn’t use this page, but the resource is too good to loose track of)

Alberta Rose

Setting Up This Blog

This blog entry is about the issues I dealt with getting this blog together.

I originally planned to use the domain name “lifespaths.ca” but the first web hosting company I selected wanted me to send them my photo because I was flagged for “fraud”. Since my photo was going to prove essentially nothing, I became suspicious that my photo might be put into a database of people’s images. Our pictures provide data to artificial intelligence engines for identifying people. One of these is the Clearview AI company. An article about Clearview AI says Canadians can learn if their picture is in the Clearview AI database but can’t get it removed. (do a search for “Canada Clearview AI” for more information) Until this sort of thing is properly regulated, I want no part of it.

To avoid sending my picture, I switched to the domain crookedpaths.ca using a different web hosting company (Web Hosting Canada). I quickly realized this domain name is much more fun because I can create subdomains like lifes.crookedpaths.ca or my.crookedpaths.ca. And as the coronavirus has made clear, life never proceeds in the straight path as we imagine it will anyways.

Blogging Software

WordPress is the most common platform to make blogs with, mainly because it is reasonably easy to use. There are lots of tutorials available on how to install and use it which was motivating for me. With WordPress, you pick a theme for your blog which will provide the overall layout and look for your blog. You can also install plugins that expand what your blog can do, for example sell goods or have a gallery of photos. Some of the themes and plugins cost money, but many are free.

Web hosting sites have varying degrees of flexibility for trying out different WordPress themes or other platforms. With my provider, I can create new subdomains and put WordPress on one, and for example, the Joomla platform on another. I think I can only run one WordPress site at a time because WordPress uses an SQL database and my package only allows only one SQL database to be run at a time.

There are many WordPress themes out there and one can search for reviews on themes designed for specific purposes. Many themes are designed for on-line stores or other uses, so when doing searches for reviews of themes, it is worth being specific about the type of website you want to use. I searched specifically for blogging reviews to find themes that might work for me.

The first theme I tried had a great layout, but I didn’t like the colours it used. I found a beautiful set of matching colours using www.w3schools.com, and was very disappointed when I wasn’t able to replace all the colours in the theme with my chosen colours. Since this looked awful, I kept searching.

My next and so far final choice is the “Radiate” theme. I chose it because I liked its layout and it has a built-in gallery to display photos. Unfortunately, it isn’t laying out my blog posts as I expected and the gallery isn’t as I expected either (I’m suspicious the examples I was looking at were of the upgrade that you pay money for). But it is good enough and I want to get a working blog, not spend my life searching for the perfect solution.

Changing Domains

My last challenge (up until now, anyways) is that to test my WordPress theme, I used the site name “wblog.crookedpaths.ca/wblog”. This would have been fine, except I made the mistake of putting in content once I liked what I had. So I then needed to move the blog to crookedpaths.ca, or start the website from scratch again. I got some instructions to make the move, followed them, but the move failed. I never did figure out how to make the move, thankfully my service provider made the switch for me.

Owl Obsession

This spring, when I learned about Great Horned Owls nesting in Edmonton’s parks, I immediately took interest. I’ve only ever seen owls in captivity and really wanted to see one in the wild. So I took my camera and set about finding the owls in Rundle Park. With some assistance from a person who looked like a bird watcher, I located three juvenile owls that had already left their nest in a tree with a parent hidden further up the tree. They were bundles of fluff and it gave me a lot of joy photographing them.

Fluffy Great Horned Owl Juvenile

With this experience behind me, I went looking for owls along the trail system of the Whitemud Ravine. Shortly after I entered the Ravine, I had an incredible stroke of beginner’s luck – my first time out, I actually heard an owl hooting and was led by the sound straight to an owl!

The owl I found was a Barred Owl. It is famous for its distinctive “Who cooks for you” call that I was listening to:
Over a number of visits, I learned from others that this owl had lost its mate and thus was likely vocalizing more than usual in an attempt to attract a new one. In the early spring, the owl had a couple of favourite perches right next to the trails and was easy to find. Now, it likes to hide in the bush and is more difficult to find.

Barred Owl looking down on me.

Talking to birders while checking out the Barred Owl, I learned the location of a Great Horned Owl nest along another part of the Whitemud trail system. I found the location and was pleased to find two juvenile owls still in the nest with a parent. Every now and then a little owl would very cutely pop up its head and look out the nest. The little owls grew with each visit, until I came back and they’d moved out.

Great Horned Owl Nestling

Owls and Ducklings

Owls and Ducklings

I went on a morning walk today without my camera, so naturally, I find the barred owl and the duck with ducklings I’d been looking for over the past week. So I made do with pictures from my iPhone.

The owl I listened to from the path as I walked, and when I was close, I went into the bush to look for it. I’d been hearing the owl off and on for about 10 minutes, but the owl quit hooting upon my entering into the bush. Fortunately, it was cool out and so I was covered from head to toe, since the mosquitoes were out, full force. After searching for a bit, I had pretty much gave up on finding the owl, and diverted to looking for a strange sounding bird. It turned out the strange sounding bird was a regular small bird harassing the owl. Because I locked eyes with the owl at about the same time I found the little noise maker which looked to be a nuthatch.

Find the Owl

The ducklings were almost black with spots the first time I saw them, extremely cute but in a distance and the water was reflecting so it was hard to get a picture of them. This time they were close but I only had my iPhone on me. The photos turned out poorly, but I’m posting them anyways, along with the first chipmunk I’ve ever seen in a tree.

Chipmunk in a Tree
Another Crooked Path

Hello From Crooked Paths!

I set up Crooked Paths when I realized I wanted my own blog site after listening to a popular author make a compelling argument about how everyone should have their own blog. It resonated deeply as I thought about how I’ve had a web presence in the past and I wanted a presence once again. A place to post my pictures, my thoughts and what I learn. Despite being retired, I keep reading productivity books and this will give me a place to write about what I learn and a reason to use any new insights I might have.

I chose the domain name “crookedpaths.ca” when I wasn’t able to use my original choice of “lifespaths.ca”. As this and the coronavirus has made clear, life never proceeds in the straight path we imagine it will. On further consideration, I’ve realized Crooked Paths is actually a much more fun name and I can use it to create fun subdomains like lifes.crookedpaths.ca or my.crookedpaths.ca!