Moose on the Loose

These images were taken about 10 minutes ago as my son’s had to abandon their badminton game due to a rather large visitor! What luck to see such a big animal up close. He also had the courtesy to trim my crab apple tree for me.




Cash Cow??????

100 dollars
Well I had my “Ah-ha!” moment last night. Do you remember my post titled “A Learning Experience?” ? It is subtle little blog post that may have alluded to a teeny tiny issue with my son’s Grade 9 math class and teacher.

Soooooooooo……………………… that whole episode, at approximately 4:37 pm (didn’t check how many seconds!) on June 25th “School Principal” called us;  we had called to find out our son’s final mark hours earlier. In that little conversation she indicated that we could put our son in St. Gabe’s for High School Math Prep even though both “School Principal” and “Superintendent of Schools” are adamant our son Alex received appropriate instruction.

Sooooooo………..let’s analyze this…….the “officials” declare appropriate math instruction is given in the grade 9 math classes………………………however…………………..this very same division offers a Math 10 Prep Course through St. Gabriel’s Cyber School which is part of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools school division.

Mixed messages? You decide.

By the way math prep costs a COOL ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Real cash money.


So let’s do a little basic math. Now I should warn you I myself am a product of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools. I attended the very same schools my children are attending. So clearly don’t expect a whole lot from my math skills either. (Hey, by the way did you read my blog post about math in the school system?!)

Please solve the following math problem: (showing your work is not necessary)

My son says he had 32 students in his class.  Assume 50% of his class population were male (were, as in school is over, not that they had sex-change operations!) . Assume 10% of his male classmates are math genius’. Assume the balance of male math students fit “math teacher’s” description of “most of the boys are struggling in math” (as seen in my blog). There were 4 classes of grade 9 students at St. Thomas Aquinas School for the 2012-2013 school year. Let’s say, hypothetically, every parent of these resulting BOYS was brain-washed or bullied (see the comment by a reader in the previous blog post ) by the administration, principal or teacher to put their child in Math 10 Prep Course through St. Gabriel’s Cyber School. What do we end up with? (multiple choice of course, it takes too long to mark it otherwise!)

a) 42 (hitch-hiker anyone?)

b) union sanctioned stress leave

c) a profit of $5,760

d) a giraffe

………… oooh, aaaah, soo hard to work this one out………shoot

Well I will give you the answer, if you haven’t guessed…..d) a giraffe ……hey, I told you I was a product of this school system.

When we break it down, on the above guesstimate, based on BOYS only, we have the potential for 57.6 grade 9 BOYS being affected by the situation this year only.

The real number to look at is the cash revenue this creates $5,760.



Let’s do the recap:

1) the “officials” declare appropriate math instruction is given in the grade 9 math classes

2)  “math teacher” says of “most of the boys are struggling in math”

3) Math 10 Prep Course through St. Gabriel’s Cyber School is offered

So could someone tell me why a Math 10 Prep Course NEEDS to be offered if the “officials” declare appropriate math instruction is given in the grade 9 math classes.


Cash Cow?

You decide.

I just present what is possible or maybe not. Maybe it’s fiction or maybe its real, and for those who are in the know the answer is of course 42.

100(Has anyone EVER heard of a sport’s team throwing a game? Usually happens when there is cash to be made.  OOPs….not a sports blog!!! Can never keep these blogs straight. LOL!)


pelicans, lake isle, albertaWe were out at the cabin again this weekend. We glanced out to the lake just at the right moment to see two pelicans gliding by. We always think it is such a treat when we come across them as they are so different.

A cropped in image of the pelican.

A cropped in image of the pelican.

The next day we were out and I noticed my husband was driving a rather odd route to our destination. I asked him where we were going, and he said he wanted to take a quick look to see if the pelicans were still around. We stopped at the part of the lake where we expected to see the birds, but not a single pelican was on the water. Then, by chance, we looked up to see pelican after pelican flying overhead. What a sight!

pelicans in flight


A Finished Canvas

Yarrow at Hamilton Beach, Pender Island (2013) 24x36 web

“Yarrow at Hamilton Beach, Pender Island”

I have finally finished the canvas that has been on my easel for months. It is a painting inspired by the yarrow that grows wildly along the banks of Hamilton Beach on Pender Island. The painting measures 24 inches by 36 inches, and is acrylic on canvas.

Hamilton Beach will lead you along to the marina and pub at Port Browning. The marina is a great place to check out all the boats while the pub has fabulous fish and chips. Trust me, there is nothing better than eating fish and chips on a beach after an afternoon of kayaking.

The inspiration behind the painting.

The inspiration behind the painting.

The above photograph is what inspired the painting. Of course the painting is far from a photographic representation with my love of pattern and bold color. I am looking forward to finally hanging the painting on the dining room wall in our place on Pender; it will add a lot of color to a very beige wall.

I am also sharing finished art and photography pieces on my other blog Debra Hunter – Photography & Art

Island Home is where I share my images and experiences of Pender Island, British Columbia.

Hey, what’s up?!

funny face blogNow that I have your attention! LOL!

This is just a quick post for those who follow and . In the next few days a few posts that have already appeared on “H……the blog” will be appearing on “Debra Hunter – photography and art”. I thought I would just give everyone the “heads up” rather than leave you thinking “Hey didn’t I see that before?”.

This just seemed to be a sensible way to set up the framework for the new blog and give it a bit of a kick-start.

Within a week or two it should be all new content!

Thanks for reading!

Lake Isle – After the Rain

Lake Isle, Alberta

Our mid-week get away let us experience a windy and soaking rain storm. Once the storm moved to the east we were left with stunning colors and wildlife popping out all over. In addition to many types of birds, we also managed to see a muskrat, two deer and a fox….all in a matter of a few minutes. We were thrilled to see the fox, unfortunately he was quicker than the camera!

muskratmuskratLake Isle, Albertadeer

11:40pm and still light in the sky at Lake Isle, Alberta

11:40pm and still light in the sky at Lake Isle, Alberta


I’ve decided to start another blog to focus on my art and “serious” photography. I will continue to blog all the fun stuff here at H….the blog. Feel free to pop on over and visit the new site. I aim to get some fresh content up on it very quickly.

Special Siting

red necked grebe

We had an unusual opportunity to go up to the cabin, in the evening, mid-week. Our cabin is on Lake Isle, about 45 minutes west of Edmonton , Alberta. An opportunity like this almost never happens, but it is great when it does. This area is so quiet when it isn’t the weekend, no boats on the lake, almost non-existent traffic, very few people out and about. When we first arrived we were fortunate to see a blue heron flying overhead and pelicans flapping in the distance over the lake.

As the evening went on we decided to stay the night at the cabin instead of heading home late, and thought an evening drive would be nice. On our drive we spotted this pair of birds, my son tells me that the are Red Necked Grebes.

red necked grebeAs we watched the activity around the nest from our car, we noticed one bird stayed close to the nest either sitting on the eggs or what appeared to be checking on the eggs. The other bird was constantly swimming back and forth collecting bits of plants and adding them to the nest.

red necked grebeI was thrilled when I looked at the images and saw that the eggs were actually visible in the pictures. I can honestly say I only have one other set of pictures with eggs in a nest  so this is pretty exciting for me.

red necked grebeThe opportunity to watch such activity never would have happened on a busy lake of roaring boats and loud beach goers, luckily our little lake is quiet and allows us a glimpse of the natural world.

red necked grebered necked grebered necked grebered necked grebered necked grebe

A Tour Through Lac Ste. Anne County Alberta

This should be a different style post for all my readers. I haven’t done anything journalistic on this blog before, however I have to admit it is an interesting way to shoot so it is possible many more of these styles of posts will be popping up in the future.

We were out at our cabin in Lac Ste. Anne  County (Alberta, Canada) on the weekend. With recent events in the area I thought taking a tour through the county might be a good idea. It has been a while since I had been out to see any of the developments in the County, and I wanted to see if my memory had recorded the situation accurately.

View over Lac Ste. Anne from the pubic beach at the town of Alberta Beach. Sunday June 2, 2013.

View over Lac Ste. Anne from the pubic beach at the town of Alberta Beach. Sunday June 2, 2013.

We decided to head toward the Alberta Beach area. Here we visited the development named “Windmill Harbour”. According to the County, Phase 1 was registered in 2009, which seems about right as the last time we were out there was about three years ago. It was as if time had stood still. We were greeted by welcoming open gates and a sign promising “new ownership”. I have heard rumours of the past of this development, but that really isn’t that important to this post, what is important is what we witnessed this day at the site. My husband, always one to be interested in real estate, decided to call the number. “Ring….ring…..ring………” No answer. No machine. Nothing.

So we progress in to see a closed Sales Office. This is Sunday afternoon. This is cabin country. This is when deals are made. If you are selling recreational property Saturday and Sunday are the days you make the sales….trust me…we own a couple of rec. properties.

At a closer look we see the sidewalk is shattered with no attempt for repair, trim is off the mobile used as a sales office and the development’s mail box has been thrown behind the mobile home. My observation is perhaps this development isn’t exactly up and running, even though it has been three years since I last drove past its gates.

I look down the deserted streets that are framed with flat bulldozed land. The land is decorated with weeds, poop and surveying flags. A lonely rusted fire hydrant stands at one end of a street with a suburban dream. An unfinished show home greets us with a ramshackle wooden walkway and a dumpster. My husband surmises as to what the fate of the show home was, he is in the construction industry. My observation is it isn’t finished. It isn’t open. It is as if NOTHING has changed in three years. Everything in nature was flattened for this “Florida-style” design. Habitat didn’t matter.

One person involved with a development just to the east of Windmill Harbour informed me that “birds will nest anywhere” and that he was the one with “logic”; apparently his deserted (kind of ) inland fake beach wasn’t attracting customers on this June afternoon….yet another well thought out development. I guess this is a consistent way that developers think, “birds will nest anywhere”, after all they have all the right in the world to annihilate the natural world in the pursuit of a fast buck. But my perception from this afternoon is the “fast buck” is perhaps not happening. Ringing out phone lines, closed sales offices, partially finished show homes (after 3 years!) and no sign of an actual customer’s home being built (again after 3 years) is not the sign of a development that is working. Was it really worth destroying the landscape and the natural world for this?

It’s funny, the first time we ever drove past this sign I knew the place would never make it. There was no way they were going to sell the lots. This is cabin country. People own out here to escape suburbia, to escape parking lots, to escape home owners associations, to escape a cookie cutter lifestyle. People in cabin country are there to watch nature, sit on a deck, listen to the birds, watch the stars and perhaps get away with wearing the ugliest t-shirt they own. I can not imagine what these developers are thinking. They have no clue of the market or why people are out in this area. They think “build and they will come”, but in Lac Ste. Anne County it isn’t exactly working out in favor of the developer. The fancy proposals and all their “tip toe through the tulips” wording really doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day it isn’t what people want. People don’t want the developments; it isn’t what this neck of the woods is about.

We have to ask ourselves, “Was is really worth destroying nature to end up with empty streets, bulldozed fields, a broken Sales Office, shattered sidewalks, a half-finished show home and a rusted fire hydrant?” But this is development here in Lac Ste. Anne County where my lovely little cabin is.

End of the road.

End of the road.

We decided to carry on to the town of Alberta Beach which is just minutes away from the Windmill Harbour development. Again it has probably been about 3 years since visiting the town even though it is reasonably close to our cabin. Alberta Beach fell off our radar a few years ago when we decided to do a walk or hike each weekend we were at the cabin. Walking or hiking just doesn’t happen in our county so we head to Parkland County, Pembina Provincial Park, or even as far as Edson, Hinton or Jasper. We love to hit the trail and our children love interpretive walks so we try to find places to go that keep everyone happy.

Alberta Beach was a shock. Everything was for sale……..cabins, land, businesses, buildings. Sign after sign after sign. It summed up the economic activity in the area. It summed up that money wasn’t being spent. It really made me wonder ” Why is the County allowing huge amounts of natural land to be ripped up when it is obvious to anyone who walks down the main road of Alberta Beach that there is no money to be spent here?” Senseless. If people aren’t buying a coffee, people aren’t going to buy a luxury gated community home. It was so obvious.

The town was empty. Sunday June 2nd, 2013, middle of the afternoon. One lady sat on a bench  at the far end of the grassy public beach area, otherwise the whole area was deserted. The pier that I remember walking with my children no longer exists. Gone. Quiet. Empty. Sad. Confusing to think how anyone, developer or County, thought a development in this area could ever work. Well it didn’t….and the wildlife paid for such poorly made decisions.

My true highlight of the afternoon was the mini golf course at Alberta Beach. Perhaps it is the photographer in me, but there was something so enchanting yet sad about the mini golf course. Over grown. Speckled with weeds. Clearly no customers, no money, no hope. Why again are they building developments that are going to die in a place where no money is being spent?

We left Alberta Beach shaking our heads. A completely stalled development that appeared to my eye to be abandoned. A town for sale with no customers. A feeling that it will be at least another 3 years before we roam in this direction again. I wanted to see the development Windmill Harbour. I wanted to see if my memory had recorded it properly. My memory had clearly been wearing rose-coloured glasses. The way the development had wasted the landscape and then seemed to abandon all they had done was astonishing. Why start a project when the money in the area to spend is clearly not there? Senseless.

HWY 633

HWY 633

We carried on out of town and hit Highway 633, the road that runs almost directly from our cabin. I wasn’t expecting it, but we came across another development. (Okay I really wasn’t expecting it as my husband had to do a quick and fancy flip around turn when I shouted “Did you see that?……….STOP!!!” We have very different driving styles, but that is a whole different post, but I will say the score is equal when it comes to receiving out portrait in the mail.)


We stop in front of the sign and it says “Alberta Beach Estates”. We see bulldozed land, weeds, a pile of junk, a funky light post, a farm gate, a billboard and a show home located just next to Highway 633. The billboard shows a picture of a lake even though we are a considerable distance from the Lac Ste. Anne; the development is right on the side of the highway. No trees, no bushes, flat bald bulldozed land.

My husband can’t resist the temptation and instantly starts dialing on his iPhone. He is greeted by “Hello”. Nothing indicates he has reached “Alberta Beach Estates”, just “Hello”. My husband asks about details regarding the development, all he is given is that they will be “city sized lots with no overhead power lines”. No lot size is given. No price. No offer of a package of information. No request to get my husband’s details. Puzzling. At the end of the very quick conversation my husband is told the lots will be ready in August or September. That is in as little as 9 weeks. Wow. Surveying done and all utilities in, in as little as 9 weeks. I am amazed. It took six weeks to have a sub-floor, laminate and trim put in my basement, so I am stunned by the time frame. However my gut feeling isn’t so good. If people will not buy lots on a lake, why would they buy them right off Hwy 633? Why was this development given permission? More bulldozed land and another potentially bust development.

I am sure you are at this point thinking “What a weird way to spend a Sunday.”. You see there is a development proposed for our little cabin area so I wanted to do some research and see what success developments have had in Lac Ste. Anne County.

On May 16th, 2013 Lac Ste. Anne County sent a letter to us with a very brief description of the proposed development. The below map was also sent to us.

map from the county blogI knew that development on a natural lake was a bad idea, however I will just link you to my Western Grebe post if you want to get up to speed on that portion of the story.

However at around 1 a.m. on Friday May 31st, I was snooping around the County website where I stumbled across this detailed map of the development, plus all the details of the development.

island view resort map blogThere is a slight difference. None of the property owners (except for 3) that I spoke to had any idea of what was going on. Out of the three that knew, one was a real estate agent, one was selling their house with the agent I just mentioned, and one was a fellow that I could only describe as being explosively angry over the whole development. He was, shall we say , very, very unimpressed with the proposal.

Now I am not sure if you can see a slight difference between the two maps. I’ll give a quick outline. The top map shows three red dots. The detailed map shows 448 RV sites, 1.5 km of habitat ripped out, all dropped on the door step of the Summer Village of Southview , Alberta.

Now do you want to hear the punchline…………SOUTHVIEW WASN’T NOTIFIED. Convenient loophole to sneak something through…possibly…..but Southview wasn’t told because they are a “summer village” and not “county”. It doesn’t matter that they will be able to stand at the towns edge and see the RV park, hear the RV park, have their traffic diverted because of the RV park, have  taxes go up because of the RV park (sewer lagoon and roads, infrastructure is a real concern), plus a whole list of other issues.

Now at this point I must declare I don’t own in Southview, but I am appalled that this community was not notified of what was proposed for their doorstep.

I am going to provide a quick visual version of the proposal:

Field to be destroyed and turned into an RV parking lot.

Field to be destroyed and turned into a 448 unit RV parking lot.

Trees to be removed for a sandy beach and marina.

Trees to be removed for a sandy beach and marina.

Shoreline and vegetation slated for destruction upon proposal approval.

Shoreline and vegetation slated for destruction upon proposal approval.

The development's vision is beach to the left and RV parking lot to the right.

The development’s vision is beach to the left and RV parking lot to the right.

The road in to the proposed resort, also "Phase 1" which amounts to an RV parking lot right next to the highway.

The road in to the proposed resort, also “Phase 1” which amounts to an RV parking lot right next to
Highway 633.

Protecting their investment but not the environment.

Protecting their investment but not the environment.

I look at all this beautiful landscape, the life filled habitats, and the rural fields that define this part of the world and realize we are facing Lac Ste. Anne County making one more bad mistake by allowing another failing development to proceed. The County will give permission, the bulldozers will destroy, everything will be gone, and then the developers will discover that they have no customers and that the project is over budget. Here will be yet another space resembling Windmill Harbour. Seriously, if Windmill Harbour thought they could have bailed themselves out by changing the vision and going the RV park route they would have. But they haven’t.

This is cabin country. This is not a resort. We do not have sandy beaches like Mexico or Florida or California here. We have a natural lake. I am tired of developers sitting in their little offices looking at Google Earth for an untouched lake to destroy….yes, the word is “develop”. I am sorry, our lake, Lake Isle, is nicely “developed” already. It is developed with habitats that support 100’s of species. It is a scummy, slimey, smelly, weedy lake and it is fabulous for wildlife. Wildlife and nature is why ALL of us own in this area.

Developers, the first thing anyone does when they start a business is they IDENTIFY THEIR MARKET. None of you are doing it. None of you get it. You will go bust. It is proven, look at all the photographic evidence above, and I barely touched the county.

Now I am going to pass on a little F.Y.I. to any developers (or smart assed real estate people) that come across this blog post. The people who own and will invest out here love nature, love quiet, don’t want to be regulated, often have been coming generation after generation. If they want to stay in an RV they park it in a friend’s or family member’s driveway, because being out here is about family, friends and the experience. They are not going to park their RV in something that resembles a Walmart parking lot. Everything the Island View development states in their proposal is completely against what the people who own and invest in the area stand for.

The water welcomes all swimmers.

The water welcomes all swimmers.

I met some wonderful people this weekend and I wanted to share some of the most memorable comments:

“Ewwwwww the water is so gross, I wouldn’t swim in that!”

“The blue-green algae should be back pretty quick…shouldn’t it?

“Remember the e-coli scare.” (fond recollections)

“It was so cool the year we had the total fish-kill, the mother bird brought the dead fish up on my lawn so the babies could eat. It was soooooo sweet!”

and my all time favorite (love this one!!!!!!!)

“Remember when all the cow shit washed into the lake! They’ve fixed it now……………….I think.”

Photographers…Love Your Birds!!!!

bird on lake isleEvery photographer loves to photograph birds. They are interesting. They are beautiful. But they are also fragile. We need to take care of our little feathered friends if we want to have them to photograph in the years to come.

I was recently  chatting with a biologist in Southern Alberta where a very sad event happened with an irresponsible “person with a camera” and a nesting area. He asked me to post the following information. It is always good to use common sense while out in nature.

birds - lake isle, ab

North American Nature Photograph Association – Principles of Ethical Field Practices

North American Nature Photograph Association (NANPA) believes that following these practices promotes the well-being of the location, subject and photographer. Every place, plant and animal, whether above or below the water, is unique, and cumulative impacts occur over time. Therefore one must always exercise good individual judgment. It is NANPA’s belief that these principles will encourage all who participate in the enjoyment of nature to do so in a way that promotes good stewardship of the resource.

Environmental: Knowledge of Subject and Place



Learn patterns of animal behavior – know when not to interfere with animal’s life cycles

Understand which wildlife species are most sensitive to disturbance and when they are most sensitive to disturbance (i.e. nesting season)*

Respect the routine needs of animals – remember that others will attempt to photograph them, too

 Use appropriate lenses to photograph wild animals – if an animal shows stress, move back and use a longer lens

 Acquaint yourself with the fragility of the ecosystem – stay on trails that are intended to lessen impact

Social: Knowledge of Rules and Laws

When appropriate inform managers or other authorities of your presence and purpose – help minimize cumulative impacts and maintain safety

 Learn the rules and laws of the location – if minimum distances exist for approaching wildlife, follow them

Understand the provisions of the Alberta Wildlife Act, and federal Migratory Bird Convention Act and Species At Risk Act related to the protection of wildlife and their habitats, including nests, dens and hibernaculum

Understand the setback and timing criteria for activities in the vicinity of key habitats of sensitive wildlife species in the prairie and parkland region of Alberta (


Understand the status of wildlife in Alberta as outlined by the Alberta Endangered Species Conservation Committee ( , the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species, the

Alberta Wildlife Act and the federal Species At Risk Act.

In the absence of management authority, use good judgment – treat the wildlife, plants and places as if you were their guest

 Prepare yourself and your equipment for unexpected events – avoid exposing yourself and others to preventable mishaps

Individual: Expertise and Responsibilities

Treat others courteously – ask before joining others already shooting in an area

 Tactfully inform others if you observe them engaging in inappropriate or harmful behavior–many people unknowingly endanger themselves and animals

 Report inappropriate behavior to proper authorities – don’t argue with those who don’t care, report them.


Violations of the Alberta Wildlife Act, Migratory Bird Convention Act or Species At Risk Act should be reported immediately to:

Report A Poacher (1-800-642-3800)

Be a good role model, both as a photographer and a citizen – educate others by your actions; enhance their understanding


Adopted February 3, 1996 by NANPA Board of Directors

*Bolded sections added to make the principles more applicable to Alberta and Canada

bird - lake isle, ab