Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'm in a State ...

... of pi$$edoffedness this morning, partly due to the H1N1 clinic fiasco and partly due to melted butter.

How are the clinics going in your locale? Here, they're nuts: people line up and pass their germs back and forth for hours and hours and then they are sent home with their shot because the vaccine has run out. What a mess! That's in the city, but the thing is, there's going to be a local one here in the boonies next week, and we'll have to be part of the chaos, and that doesn't make me happy. This round will be for the younger kids like Nikki Dee and Zachary, who are considered to be a priority. While I'd go to the wall for these two, it still irks me that I have to. Around here, doctors give the normal flu shots in their offices: a rather sane solution where appointments can be made and lineups avoided. But that's not the way the H1N1 is being handled, at least at this point. Sigh. Grouse. Fume. Sizzle.

However, of much greater significance (kidding) is the fact that I melted butter in the microwave this morning. I couldn't remember how to set both the power level and timer, and I reduced the butter to oil in my vain efforts. I don't really care about a quarter block of melted butter, but I do care that I couldn't figure out how to set than infernal machine. My stupidity drives me crazy sometimes — er, crazier.

That's it: two irks for this jerk this morning.

Oh ... and did I mention in passing (well, I am now) that it's raining again? Thesha posed a question on Twitter, "When was the last day that it didn't rain?" My answer: "Last winter, on the last day that it snowed."

Friday, October 30, 2009

BC Birthday

Another memory from the recent BC trip, rather out of sequence (ie earlier in chronology than the mountains and Hope) with the most recent trip posts. Since I discovered it partly begun as a draft, I decided to finish it. I had probably abandoned it out of boredom because these chronological posts don't inspire me very much. And you too, I imagine.

As many of you know but may have forgotten, Althegal (D2) and I share the same birth date, early in September. Although we came within a few days of celebrating togther last year after the wedding, I don't know when we were last together on the actual day. We weren't able to be together again this year either, but on September 20, we able to celebrate what we couldn't on September 02.

This year she is exactly one-half of my age, and we started the day with a few gifts (L to R: D2, Althegal of shared birthday and D3, Pufferpoo). I am wearing the t-shirt and holding the little Superman light with which I was gifted.

Later D3 prepared a most excellent breakfast that included cheese blintzes and mimosas. Yum.

The girls planned a surprise afternoon for me at the Vandusen Botanical Gardens. Beyond my interest in flowers and gardens, the Zimbabwean Sculpture Exhibition (Zimsculpt) was also being featured. Since we were to see the Chainsaw Carvings at Hope later in the week, I guess carvings of one sort or another became one of the themes of this trip.

Here we stand at the gate, trying to mimic the faces on the picture of the sculptures behind ...

... and then I couldn't resist a little smooch with Cuppa, this trip being in celebration of our 40th after all.

The grounds and gardens were quite wonderful ...

... and the sculptures, interspersed throughout, were very impressive. They were offered for sale, but even if I could have afforded one, which I couldn't, getting it on the plane would have been highly problematic. Looking was good though.

As you know, Vancouver will soon be hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, and there are constant reminders throughout the city. As we exited the gardens, Cuppa and I couldn't resist getting in the spirit even though it was a rather warm summer day.

Althegal and I tried to snow ... er ... grassboard. Unsurprisingly, her technique was much better than mine.

We ended the day's events with a bbq on the beach, a stone's throw from their front door ...

... after which Cuppa and I stared into the sunset ...

... together.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Raining Perplexities

We need a new roof and have been on the list for months now but have continuously been put off due to this year's seemingly interminable rain which put the roofers way behind schedule. As November loomed, we were within an inch of cancelling our order, but the workers finally arrived this morning with a promise to make everything hunky-dory again should we experience any sort of roof damage because the shingles didn't have time to set properly.

Amidst much noise, they were able to re-shingle the garage and porch this morning, but it's all quiet overhead again because they quit by lunch time ... because ... because ... you guessed it — RAIN.

However, that gave me enough time to wonder about two things.

  1. When did roofers stop carrying shingles up the ladder in favour of trucks craning them up? It had to be within the past two decades because we last had a roof done within that period.

  2. When did everyone under the sun (or clouds more likely in our case) stop using hammers? I can't remember exactly when I saw my last one, but I'm sure it wasn't that long ago. Pop, pop, pop.

HOPEful Salmon

(BC trip recollections continue)

After appreciating the Hope chainsaw carvings and some of the scenery, we followed directions to the creek where salmon were said to be currently spawning. Having never thought that I'd ever see such a sight, I found myself thrilled and mesmerized. It was certainly a trip highlight for me. I took some photos, none of which worked, but the following video clip is more or less viewable.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Touring Hope

After finally (one month later) posting photos of our trip through the mountains to Osoyoos yesterday, I think I'd like to reminisce a little more. Perhaps, it's the reminiscing that's actually the best part of trips.

It seemed that not long after we were definitely in the mountains, we stopped in the town of Hope for gas, both the automotive and human varieties. (I jest: the food was fine.) Outside the restaurant, I had my picture taken beside this fine wood carving (more information to follow).

After breakfasting at lunch time and pumping both our waitress and the nearby tourist centre attendant for information, we walked across the street for a view of the Fraser River, the mountains, and more wood carvings.

Here the girls play the roll of hobbits beside a Gandalfianesque figure.

A few views from the park.

We had been told that the salmon were spawning at another nearby site, so we left to park to try to find them. On our way, we saw quite a few more wood carvings, and it is at this point that I should reveal what is extra special about these works of art, for in addition to being wonderful in their own right, I was astounded to learn that they were all carved by chainsaws. How incredible is that?! Here is a link to more photos.

Before we leave these incredible carvings behind, however, I present one of those stereotypical touristy shots. Who's that silly guy in the bonnet and the frock?

One more anecdote for the day: at breakfast/lunch, when discussing tourist options with the server, she asked if we had the book of hope. Some wiseacre at the table (guess who?) asked her if she meant the Bible. Considering where they seated us, it wasn't such a bad question (see photo below).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Through the Fuzzy Mountains ...

... and into the Desert

When Cuppa and I visited Vancouver and British Columbia two years ago, we rented a car for the whole time and got around quite a bit. This time, we decided to stick close to home base for the most part and limit ourselves to Shank's mare and public transit. However, with the girls, we also took a quick two-day trip into the dry interior and back.

It's a 400 km trip from Vancouver to Osoyoos (see blue squiggle on map below) and a total change in geography. Right on the Pacific, Vancouver and the windward slopes receive abundant precipitation, but the interior, leeward side is in a rainshadow to the point where parts of it can be considered desert or near enough.

While travelling, especially in scenic BC, one wants to take many pictures, but there are very few opportunities to stop. So, we made the most of our situation and snapped away to our hearts' content whilst travelling at speed, which is why I called them the Fuzzy Mountain in the title. Taking photos became even more problematic on return trip with the windshield liberally bespattered with bug carcasses. Nevertheless, I'm going to inflict some of my attempts upon you.

The mountains are never far away in Vancouver, but I'd say we were definitely in them somewhere around Abbotsford or Chilliwack (click on the map to enlarge it). At that point they looked something like this: heavily forested with trees from the summits to the valleys.

The next two photos were also taken in the windward, rainier regions.

Soon, however, perhaps somewhere between EC Manning Park and Princeton the vegetation changed noticeably with trees becoming sparser and the surroundings beginning to look dry.

Of course, this change continued until we were in a desert or extremely close to such as we neared Osoyoos, which is about a stones-throw to the America border. We picked Osoyoos because we wished to visit wine country and heard that there was a unique native-run winery there. Perhaps, I will say more about Osoyoos at a later date. In the meantime, Cuppa has mentioned it here and here.

While I have known about windward and leeward slopes and rainshadows for a long time and always seemed to be referring to such in my geography classes, it was quite interesting to drive through the transition myself.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Silent Sunday

My goodness: what a long time since my last SS post. With Mom in Vancouver for the past few days, we've been very busy babysitting, even sleeping over there. Cuppa has posted quite a few pictures already (here and here), but I dusted off my camera again yesterday for few. Almost as soon as she got home from Music Together with Daddy, she settled down to colour. Perhaps, we have another artist in the family — so far I'm the only one who doesn't qualify.

Time to Colour 1

Time to Colour 2

Time to Colour 3

Sorry, can't help myself: two more photos — Nikki Dee at lunch.

Life is a Slice 1

Life is a Slice 2

Thursday, October 22, 2009

There Goes My Baby ...

... Here Comes My Gal

She's just turned two and a half, but she's also become a little girl. I don't know when the metamorphosis from baby to girl occurred exactly, but I've become aware of a change in her over the last week or two.

Suddenly, she's taller, and that baby tummy has all but disappeared.

Her verbal skills are growing although she has never had any trouble in letting me know exactly what is expected of me ... like helping her spin on the playground spinner thingie ...

... or letting me know that it's time for another push.

While I'm not claiming that she's really able to do Sudoku's yet, she sure tries to help.

She knows that I have trouble keeping a steady rhythm and does her best to keep me on track.

I have to admit that I miss the baby a little bit. I mean, transitions can be difficult.

But I do love my little girl.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Belated Thanksgivings

Thanksgiving weekend recedes into memory, and I wonder whether even to bother trying to pen (as it were) a belated thankfulness post. However, since I've been pondering the topic off and on for a week and a half already, I'm going to try to put a few thoughts out there. I hate to waste ponders after all. And there is a saying: "Better late than never."

When I was thinking about thankfulness at the time of the Celebration of the Turkey, of course, Cuppa was at the top of my list, with kids and grands not too very far behind. But I'm not a listy kind of guy, and rather than continue to itemize, I soon realized that it was okay to come to the general conclusion that my life has been good.

Because I do feel very fortunate. I really appreciate and enjoy my life, and it seems just as worthwhile for me to put it in that summarizing sort of way than to try to list many specific items. Sometimes, I think that I have been lucky in life, luckier than many. Family has been great, and despite my minor physical limitations (eg back problems), my general health has been remarkably good. It must be a lot harder to enjoy living if you don't feel good, and I can only imagine how difficult it must be to be forced to face each day feeling punky or a whole lot worse.

One might opine that it's easy to love life when it's been so good to me, and it has certainly seemed that way in many respects, but it's also been a very ordinary life, the kind of life that might have left many fellow sojourners dissatisfied. There are those who might even feel dissatisfied and hard-done-by over the same lot in life that leaves me feeling privileged, so, it comes down, at least partly, to attitude. I seem to be able to move on more easily than some. If it wasn't for that almost innate ability, I might be a less content sort of guy because, by many measurements such as wealth, for example, I have not been particularly fortunate. I haven't exactly been rolling in clover all of my life.

However, when I say that the ability to accept and move on is somewhat innate, I must also mention that making the choice to be happy is rather important. Indeed, I was fortunate enough to discover quite some time ago, after a somewhat bleak period, that happiness is a choice. It sounds facile, but, for me, it's almost been that simple. However, although I've also been breathing oxygen long enough to be able to comprehend that it's harder, less natural, for many to make that same choice, I can't see a viable alternative to choosing that outlook.

Oh, I confess to doing my share of stewing when life goes sour, but I try to let it go sooner rather than later. Having written that, I cross my fingers in the hope that the universe decides not to put me to the test with a slew of Job-like trials because I'm afraid that I might fail, and I'd like to keep on enjoying in the decade or two, give or take, that remain.

But really, despite the slight but related tangent that I have taken, I just want to say that I'm thankful that, so far, life has been so good.

I hope that I can say that again next year ... and for many after that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Grands

I haven't posted much about the grands lately, so especially for family, here is a little video. Zach and his getting up and down are featured in part 1, while Nikki Dee has a solitary tea party in part 2. It's pretty funny when she demands more water (for her tea) from Buppa who is really just an innocent bystander working in the kitchen.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Feeling Punky

AC is feeling punky today and has for the past several, as a matter of fact. No, I'm not going to paint my scalp orange and try to spike my side tresses as the modern usage of the word might imply. Rather, as I use punky in this context, I am referring to the way my father used to employ the word. I had forgotten about it until it edged its way into my consciousness this morning.

You see, Dad would say he was feeling punky when he wasn't feeling up to par. He didn't feel very good: maybe not sick, but not great either. Webster's Online defines punky as being an adjective deriving from the word punk or punkie which in 1872, apparently referred to the state of being soft or rotten. I don't know if that relates to Dad's use of the word, but I would think that it could.

I have never heard this usage from any source other than Dad, something like his Dan to Beersheba saying which I blogged about almost five years ago. I had come across that saying in Bill Bryson's history of the English language, Mother Tongue and had also encountered what, for me, was a strange use of the word, toboggan. Rather than repeat that post, I'll leave it to you to click through if you are so inclined.

This entry was going to take a different direction: more in line with thankfulness, which I should have posted about a week ago, at Thanksgiving if you please. I was going to say something like, "Despite feeling punky today, I am thankful for ..." Perhaps I'll get around to the thankful aspect in another post, but since this entry took a different direction that intended, I think I'll leave it here.

In the meantime, I am appreciative of recalling this fairly unique saying from Dad. It kind of gives me a warm feeling for some reason, and I would like to try to keep the word alive in my own lexicon if I can.

I know; I'm strange.

Put it down to the fact that I'm feeling a little punky today.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Autumn Colours at Thanksgiving

I took my old DSLR out of storage on the weekend and have uploaded a slew of photos to Flickr (slideshow below). These were all (but one) taken at or near Riverwood. We saw many great scenes on the trips to and from, but there's seldom a place to stop, so I just try to enjoy as I drive. Cuppa did snap some from the moving car and has and will be posting some on her blog; part 1 is here.

It's still best to watch the slideshow larger, but the smaller version is embedded below.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Here I Go Again

And so it begins ...

We're back home from a long weekend away at the cottage. We consumed our turkey, saw lots of autumn colour, and enjoyed our first snowfall. Actually, we didn't enjoy the actual fall because we were asleep at the time, but it was there greeting us in the morning. Now, I'm okay with snow; it has its place — but not on October 13th. No, not then.

We took life pretty easy over the weekend: watched season three of Dexter, all twelve episodes, and two movies: Benjamin Button and Revolutionary Road. My often faulty memory informs me that they were both hot movies last year, but my reviews are so-so. I'll go along with Rev Road, which was really well acted and well done IMO: my totally ill-informed and worthless opinion. It's outlook was rather bleak, or is that black, but it held me. However, B Button was weird for me. Perhaps, I had heard too many good things and expected too much, but I really found it draggy. And the premise was ridiculous.

Oh, I don't really mean the main premise of being born old and becoming younger until death takes Benjamin — mercifully ends — cue credits and turn the video player off. What I mean is that you can't have Bennie Boy being a little baby twice. If his life is to be the reverse of normal, he can't both begin it and end it as a baby, the first time old and the second time young. Somehow, he either has to enter the world large, or end it as a big baby. We're only babies once, blast it all, so they have to pick at which end it will be. Duh.

Dexter was great though. even season three kept me on edge. I keep cheering for that sweet, little serial killer and body dismemberer. I'm like that.

But I'm not really writing at almost one o'clock in the morning to either kill time (so to speak) or to review movies.

No, I'm here to moan, groan and generally complain like the pathetic person that I am. So help me Rhonda, I just want to sleep. Since I didn't get much last night and drove for hours today, it doesn't seem too much to ask, but alas ... the sweet and tender arms of Morpheus elude me. I have even been listening to that incredibly boring book, The Hour I First Believed. Sorry Wally, but it does go on, especially the aural version because one can't revert to speedily scanning the more tiresome parts — of which there are many. Whatever! As plodding as it gets, it doesn't put me to sleep. Not tonight anyway. Sigh.

Except for last night, however, I did sleep well enough at the cottage. I get no credit for that though because I took sleeping pills. They're not all that strong, but they help. But at home, I refuse to rely on them on a consistent basis ...

... so here I am ... whining and whinging to you ... in the wee hours.

Maybe I'll write a post about being thankful sometime. It seems like the proper thing to do after Thanksgiving weekend here in The Great White North. I do have a lot to be thankful for. I know that; I really do. I'm just not feeling it tonight though.

So, I'll just sit here and continue my Pity Party.

But I do have one question: why am I more cramped in our queen size bed at home than the double at the cottage? It's crazy, but I am. And it's not just down to sleeping pills either.

It's nuts I tell ya.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Oui ou non?

I thought it might just be me, so in some trepidation I asked the ever-lovely Cuppa: Do you ever search for now but with an old picture in your mind?

I had just looked in the basement for the little heater that we keep in the bathroom in winter. We use it when we step out of the nice, warm shower into what would normally be a cold room. It's just not a nice feeling to step into the cold, so we try to remember to warm up the room a little ahead of time.

Anyway ... when I was in the basement, I found that my old brain wasn't looking for our current heater but my seeing on my mental screen the one that we used to have but relinquished about seven years ago now. I'm thankful to say that my feeble mind readjusted itself just a soon as it saw the current model and trust that means I'm not too far gone.

Similarly, for one of our recent trips, Cuppa sent me downstairs to fetch (good dog that I am) our suitcases. Instinctively, I began thinking of the big brown one that we passed to Goodwill at least a decade ago.

Finally, just yesterday (hopefully several days ago by the time you read this, assuming Google and I can get together on post-dating this time), when I was out torturing my leg muscles in the garden, I came in looking for our orange weed whacker. The trouble with that is that our whacker is yellow, as was our previous one. It was the one before that one that was orange. It's been gone for probably two decades now. Sheesh!

Thankfully in answer to my question (see paragraph one), Cuppa agreed that it had happened to her, and I felt better. Or maybe she was just being nice.

How about you? Oui ou non? If you're of an age, I surely hope that it's a oui because misery and/or brain cramps love(s) company.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Down and Up, Up and Down

This is what my eight month old grandson will do for hours at a time, or so it seems. He must have legs of steel. After suffering from gardening-induced, very very very stiff legs, maybe I should start doing this too.

Down, Up, Down, Up ... on and on and ...

Friday, October 09, 2009

A Walk in the Park, Part 3

In part 2 of this continuing narrative, which is becoming longer than the marathon march itself, I promised to bring you to Prospect Point and then home: should you still be with us, that is. I can't and won't blame you if you're not. Please recall that we had ascended up into the park at Third Beach and decided to trek back to Prospect Point. That walk, often upslope, through the trails is highlighted by the black line numbered 3 on the ever unfolding map. There is an arrow at each end of line 3 because we returned via the same route to Third Beach before continuing along the seawall to home (see line 4 — red).

Much of the way to Prospect Point was uphill, but it was a nice change to be treading, shady soft forest paths. The vegetation was interesting ... big trees ...

... and big leaves ...

... and company of big and fine company (not vegetation and not big but give me a break, I'm slogging here as this length of this account is beginning to rival the length of the actual walk).

After climbing up one steep grade, we found a nice spot to sit and rest before proceeding ...

... and peer out.

We eventually made it to The Point where we were able to find refreshment and rest our weary limbs ....

... and enjoy the view ...

... as well as a little more of the food that I had been backpacking. Don't I look peaceful? However, this is the very spot where we were swarmed by raccoons just several minutes later.

Then (and we are almost done, believe it or not), it was back to Third Beach where we picked up the seawall once more. As we finally put Stanley Park behind us and headed toward English Bay and Sunset Beach, many pedestrians were also strolling along ...

... and the setting sun was spectacular once again as it once more extinguished itself in the Pacific Ocean.

Because I like to know how heroic we were, I did some calculations the other day. It's slightly more than 8km around the park's seawall, but we had to get there via a detour to the grocery store, and then we had to return to the apartment via English Bay, and we also had to the extra hike to and from Prospect Point. So, I think, that by estimating our pilgrimmage to be 17km/11mi in all, I am not exaggerating, except perhaps for rounding miles up a bit.

Next time, should there be one, I vow to borrow or rent a bicycle. Really: there is a separate cycling path around the seawall that parallels the pedestrian path. There are even separate lanes for both directions. What a concept!

The End ... promise