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I Concede: Fall is Here

September 2, 2016

The kids are in school and what’s that strange sensation? Oh… time to myself. Delicious.

Things Crossed Off the Summer Bucket List:

  • Throw an over-the-top Amazing Race birthday party for 8-year old boy
  • Repair broken hard drive containing decade of family photos
  • Connect with family
  • Connect with nature
  • Connect with friends
  • Paint Living Room & Ceiling
  • Over-the-top camping trip to multiple National Parks with family of 5 in 15-foot trailer
  • Still like each other after said camping trip
  • Ride the Pipe Mountain Coaster
  • Explore the East Kootenays
  • Grow approx. 6 inches in height
  • Swimming lessons
  • Eye exams
  • Train at 5K run
  • Start a Novel
  • Watch the kids’ sibling relationships grow and flourish when they have nobody to play with but each other

Things that Unexpectedly Arrived on the Summer ToDo List:

  • Flood Remediation
  • Funeral for a mouse
  • Camp next to a badger
  • Bottle feed a baby goat named Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Things Moved onto the Fall Bucket List:

  • Replace 1950’s windows & front door
  • Flood Remediation
  • Annual haircut
  • Declutter
  • Either delete blog or post something there

Things Scribbled off from the Summer Bucket List because they are Unachievable:

  • Date night
  • Find the One Ring to rule them all
  • Invent a word to describe the grief that accompanies a Northern Summer plunging into Fall before you’ve done all you want to do and seen everyone you want to see

sand castle


365 Snaps: a digital story

August 31, 2015

A digital story combines images (moving or still), narration, music and text.  Here’s one I crafted this summer at a digital storytelling workshop in Berkeley:

365 Snaps from Marlene Flurfel on Vimeo.

Baby Whitetail Jackrabbit

May 2, 2015

This photo was taken by our 9-year old daughter in our neighbourhood schoolyard.  Edmonton is populated with Whitetail Jackrabbits which are snow-coloured when there is snow on the ground, and brown forest-floor coloured in the springtime when they are born.  Can you spot it?

Baby Whitetail Jackr

Camouflage is their game — Mother Jackrabbits leave their babies hidden in spots like these all day long so they don’t attract predators to them.  In the city, people who find the babies worry they are abandoned and one of the big dangers is being “rescued.”  The Edmonton Humane Society and Alberta Fish and Wildlife ask us to leave wild animals alone — the mothers know what they are doing.

Urban Wildlife: Great Horned Owl

April 24, 2015


I photographed this Great Horned Owl just across the street from us in Parkallen, Edmonton, Alberta. The crows on our block were upset about this visitor and screaming bloody murder, which drew our attention to this bark-coloured and silent raptor high in a mighty, old blue spruce.

Baby Moose

April 18, 2015

Baby Moose for Web

This photo was taken on a road trip to the Badlands, just outside of Drumheller, Alberta. I’m using a telephoto lens to take the picture from our van window.  I’m saying, from far away, “Hi, Sweetheart,” to the baby moose and s/he is looking to see who said that.

Introducing My Podcast: Tales from the Lilypad

April 17, 2015

I’ve been podcasting at

At the Lilypad, I am a frog, I live in a pond, my name is Lily, and I love to tell stories. That last part is true.

It’s an experiment in storytelling in the 21st century. It’s an experiment in building a digital audience and connecting with them. I’m not sure what will come of it, but I plan to stick with it to the iTune of one story a month for a couple of years. Why?

Well…one reason is that I think kids deserve access to stories that aren’t told by the companies that sell them toys. I believe wholesome, imaginative bedtime stories are a fundamental human need and a right too. Kids need stories.

I’ve also noticed that stories need kids. When I have an audience for stories, the stories come to me. If I don’t have a home for stories, the stories don’t come a’knockin’.  The podcast is a doorway with a welcome mat set out for stories.

It’s quite quickly moved from being “my podcast” to being “our podcast,” as my 5-year old is very keen on contributing, and the older kids are beginning to move from the role of “critic” to “contributor” as well.

My favourite so far is The Polka Dot.

Easter in Alberta

April 5, 2015

Happy Easter from the Flurfels

I Heart Podcasts

April 3, 2015

They’re like on-demand radio blogs. Like radio, they’re free listening. Like blogs, you can subscribe to them. And anyone with an internet connection can make or listen to them.

I listen to podcasts when I can’t sleep because I’m suffering from what I would call an over-active mind. Know what I mean? Sometimes I get so sick of hearing my own deep thoughts tumble around in my skull, and I’d just much rather hear someone else’s deep thoughts tumble around in there.  That’s when a well-crafted lecture from the comfort of my own pillow is ideal. Jane Goodall doesn’t mind if I fall asleep while she’s talking about the lessons learned in a distinguished career.

Some people love music podcasts. Some love interviews with great people and some love conversational banter between great friends. Podcasts are good at that too.

If you’re not already too jaded by the 21st century to listen to TED talks, in fact if you’ve NEVER listened to a TED Talk, start there. I dare you to not find someone with something interesting to say.  My favourite is Brene Brown on Vulnerability.

lpodcasts_app (2)

If you have an iPhone or some other iThingie, look for or install this app.  Poke it with your finger. Add some search words for things you like. Listen.

If you don’t have an iThingie, the easiest way to find podcasts is on iTunes.

Here are my favourites:

TVO did a Big Ideas podcast with lots of deep thinkers thinking lots of deep thoughts.

Grammar Girl is great for sleeplessness. I’ve seen it put a tense 9 year old to sleep in under 10. The bonus is, if you can’t sleep, you learn something about participials or some such.

I’m smitten with This American Life. (So is everyone else).

Stop Podcasting Yourself almost always makes me laugh though it’s not for everyone. This is That makes me laugh too, and I think it is for everyone. And by everyone I mean most Canadians, probably.

My favourite single podcast episode of all time is Mooallempalooza by 99 Percent Invisible. So good.

Do you listen to podcasts? What do you love?

Lunar New Year

February 28, 2015

I’ve been meaning to tell you, dear Reader, “Happy Lunar New Year.” Goodbye Year of the Horse, Hello, Year of the Sheep and / or Ram / and or Goat. That it’s unclear whether it is the year of the sheep or the year of the goat is very non-Western, isn’t it?

When I think of sheep I think docile, I think consumer-culture, and I think Jesus:

Jesus and sheep

Baaaaah.  When I think ram, I think Rocky Mountains, I think aggression, and I think trucks. Don’t you?


Throwing goats into the mix, oh man:


Goats have long been associated with demons in Western culture. As Cake succinctly put it,”Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell.” Goats have a really bad rap in the Bible.


But think of our mountain goats in Jasper National Park. I’m going to wish you that kind of a Happy Year of the Goat.

What I mean is this:


I wish you the courage to take a few great leaps this year.


I wish you grace and strength in the difficult spots we invariably find ourselves in.


I wish you wisdom in choosing your battles. (Not like goats.) And strength to fight the ones you do choose.

baby goat jumping

I hope you remember to be playful and kid around, at least some of the time.

bateman goats

I wish you the kind of pleasure that can only be got from doing something difficult and challenging.

And I hope you find yourself ascending to heights you hadn’t thought possible:

Mountain Goat (Oreamos americanus) on rocky outcrop, western montana.

House of Flurfel