Friday, February 27, 2004

The Weakerthans Tour

I didn't get to see the Weakerthans on their recent swing, but the last tour was amazing. Luckily CBCradio3 has a great feature on them, including excellent live versions of some of my favourite songs.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Cartwright Mountain

Art at the Bike Barn in Penticton tipped us off that there was an excellent trail network just on the other side of town from where we live, so Tannis and I both checked it out on our bikes this week. It's called Cartwright Mountain, just a few minutes of pedalling past the Beanery.

There's packed snow on the old access roads, which made for fine mountain biking. According to the
map of the area, there's a huge network of jeep roads and trails in the area. We're so excited to be able to get on our bikes at the front door and heading out riding sweet trails without having to load up and drive somewhere first. Art also confirmed the existence of great riding on Giant's Head, right across the road from us. Once he sells me a new bike, I'll be ready for summer in a big way.

Vanilla Pod

I went looking for any online references to the Vanilla Pod, a great little gourmet restaurant here in Summerland. Instead, I found the Joie Gastronomic Guesthouse and Farm Cooking School in Naramata, which looks like an amazing concept and location. What a cool idea to offer lodging and cooking lessons together. I also bumped into the site of a winery around the corner from us. There's a great little cycling loop around the base of Giant's Head Mountain that takes you past a couple of wineries -- looking forward to a tasting tour or two in summer.

We hit the Vanilla Pod last night with Myron and Tracey, to sort of celebrate the waning days of their pre-children lifestyle. Ironically, we had both of our rugrats along, which made for a challenging outing. The restaurant seems sort of out of place along the quaint Swiss-village-style main street -- it's almost too hip. Supper is too pricey, but the food is excellent. If you're up for some amazing, adventurous eating and don't mind spending extra for great flavours, it's worth checking out. We're realizing that we have simpler tastes, demanding kids, and less disposable cash these days, so it wasn't as good a match as we had hoped.

I had the pasta special with a creamy white-wine sauce and delicious sea bass. None of the entrees really suited Tannis, so she ordered two amazing appies: yam fries with mushroom gravy and lamb skewers with two outstanding sauces. A couple of Nelson Pale Ales and suddenly we were in the $50 range. The service was a bit uneven -- our waitress was accommodating enough, but Tracey's food came five minutes after everyone else's and she spilled My's beer without bothering to clean it up. I think next time we'll try one of their cheaper lunches, maybe without the kids along. Anyway, we were extremely glad to have this kind of upscale eatery in town for the couple of times a year when we've got urban-chic friends in town.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

All Work, No Updates

I was back at work full-time this week, which apparently left little time for posting updates here. Working at home has been great, giving me the flexibility to break up my days a bit, and we were in Kelowna twice during the week. A few fun photos:
We're getting a bit sick of winter, especially when we see how amped Ivy gets when we attempt to play outside. Not that it's been a horrid winter, just more like real winter than we're used to in the Okanagan. Nothing like the east coast this week, which got a meter or so of snow. Anyway, we're looking forward to the beach, mountain biking and playground-o-rama.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Winter in Summerland

We're enjoying some very unwinterish weather in the Okanagan this week. We all went to the beach this afternoon and tried to imagine that it was summer. I took a few photos that show how nice it was, with a bit of snow around for the reality check:Eventually we couldn't sustain the summery illusion and Ivy got cold, so we headed back home to make some gourmet pizza. Later on Ivy and Tannis hit the Summerland pool for the first time while Ella and I walked over to the library.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Summerland Sunday

Myron joined me for another pilgrimage up Giant's Head this afternoon. It's been warm, so the snow was really too sticky to get any decent rhythm going, but coming down with a buddy was cool. We'll need more snow to get the really sweet turns in again. Seems unlikely -- this much snow in town is already an anomoly.

Tannis and I haven't had many dates since Ella was born, so it was a special treat tonight. Mom and Dad came over and watched the girls while we tried a restaurant in Summerland called Zia's Stonehouse. Cozy fire, friendly folks, cool ambience, local microbrew and absolutely excellent food. Pretty amazing to be able to live in a smallish town and walk over to a top-quality eatery.

Home Stretch

I've become keenly aware that I've only got another week of parental leave left, and it feels more like a vacation than real life...which is great. Ivy's been more social the last week or so. Tannis has had clients with kids over here a couple of times and Gwen brought Hannah over for an excellent play session on Friday. She's been playing really well with new kids, but she does seem to get frustrated when they want to get busy doing stuff, rather than discussing everything before, during and after.

I hiked up Giant's Head again yesterday morning. I realize this will start to sound boring and meaningless to everyone else, but it makes me so happy that I feel I should record it, if for no other reason than to remind myself to get my butt back up there when I'm busy and working again. The climb in the sunshine is so beautiful and exhausting, and the ride down is exhilarating. I got a photo of a nice turn track from earlier in the week, and took some video of the beginning of the descent. Myron's joining me for another run this afternoon.

In the afternoon yesterday, we all walked over to the library and museum. The curator at the museum ran the model railroad for us and explained some of Summerland's history -- the town's centennial is in 2006. We also saw an old bicycle from 1905 with rear suspension in the frame and a sprung seat -- not exactly new technology.

Friday, February 06, 2004


I just picked up a video at the library called Microcosmos. Why would anyone choose to see a documentary about bugs? After seeing the film, I'd answer like this: to help us understand the nature of life itself. The cinematography is stunning, with the closest closeups of beautiful tiny things trying to eke out their unique forms of existence.

Politics and Poetry

Pretentious title. First, the politics. We don't watch much TV, but we're currently hooked on Rick Mercer's Monday Report. It's not all political humour -- much of it might fall into the category of Canadiana, like the intro last week that had him knocking on the doors of ice-fishing huts on the Red River near Lockport, MB.

CBCradio3 also did a great feature on the same topic in Issue 19. It's quite the prairie subculture, I think. Sort of an attempt to cheat winter, being almost outside but not having to suffer much. It astounds me that any fish actually survive in that river, never mind a population high enough to be caught by these hosers from Selkirk. I just hope nobody eats them -- I've seen too many unsavory things floating in that brown sludge. Unfortunately my inside knowledge comes from years of waterskiing in the same polluted water. But this was supposed to be about politics.

I felt like I was doing some kind of civic duty by watching the Throne Speech, and then enduring one of the National's town hall meetings with the prime minister this week. I'm not apathetic about politics at all -- I've always liked the tagline (actually the whole publication is great) for This Magazine: "Because Everything is Political". But listening and watching those two examples of national political posturing would make anyone feel disconnected. Paul Martin is obviously very slick and smart, but most of his answers didn't seem very believable.

On a happier note, reading with Ivy has helped me appreciate poetry again. I've read all of the poems in Dennis Lee's Alligator Pie over and over and over. On our last roadtrip, we found that we could recite most of them from memory without ever attempting to memorize or even remember the words.

Ivy's also quite fond of A Visit to William Blake's Inn. It's an odd book of poetry modelled after Blake's writing, using some of the same language and imagery. One of my favourite pieces is called "Blake Tells the tiger the Tale of the Tailor":
There was a tailor built a house
of wool of bat and fur of mouse,
of moleskin suede, the better part
of things that glimmer, skim and dart.

Of wood and stone the man professed
his ignorance. He said, "It's best
to work with what I know.
Shears, snip. Thread go.
I'll have a house in the morning."
It's kind of a creepy poem, with the tailor's house ending up haunted by the spirits of all the creatures he used to build it. There's something about good poetry that can capture a concept or feeling without the burden of explanation and wordy backup.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Trains and Caves

Keeping up with Angelo and Esther's adventures has been a constant source of enjoyment for us these past weeks. In the midst of our mortgage-signing, furniture-buying, truck-packing and home-making, their wonderful writing transports us to truly exotic places outside of real life. Not that I'd necessarily rather be there, but it's great to be along for the ride.

Back Online

I was suffering minor online withdrawal already, but we finally got our net connection this afternoon. So this will be another hodgepodge post, trying to catch up with photos, mostly:
  • I'm glad we got at least one picture of packing day, which eventually turned into this.
  • Thirty-one years old with two daughters -- who'dda thunk it?
  • Ivy and her mom showing off their moves
  • I was back on Giant's Head Mountain this afternoon, and I wisely brought my snowboard to the top this time. Hiking up 1200 feet of vertical over three kilometers through deep snow in snowboard boots is not generally recommended, but the workout was great...and coming down in the powder was pure bliss. I saw the moon rise and the sun set, enjoying the trees and looking over our part of Summerland (our place is just visible in the bottom right).
  • The townhouse is starting to feel like home. The living room is great, although we've had it in a state of chaos the whole time.
One of my online friends congratulated us on the new place this week and said that the whole thing "vibrates exoticism" to him in suburban Conneticut. I laughed when I read it, thinking that this sleepy little town in the interior of BC is anything but exotic. But when I was carving big swooping s-turns through the powder this afternoon with the mountains to my left, the town down below and the glassy lake stretching out to my right, I was wondering how a life like this is even possible.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Happy Birthday

Last year was one of the big birthdays, although it didn’t stress me out like some people had warned me it would. Today was very mellow. Ella and I started the day with another exploratory walk around town, checking out the pool and arena before swinging through the downtown while she slept.

I tested my 31-year-old bones in the afternoon and hiked up Giant’s Head Mountain. It was calm and around the freezing mark, with the sun poking out of the clouds once in a while. I crossed the street that runs behind our new place, then walked up the steep slope on Milne for a block before starting up the park road.

The narrow gravel lane zigs and zags up the side of the mountain in many switchbacks, cutting across open meadows and through glades of pine and spruce. Climbing up there on our bikes will be somewhat punishing. It’s often quite steep and relentless, but it looks like there are lots of trails branching off for detours. I’m so excited to explore the riding potential in spring -- it seems like the perfect backyard playground.

The view from the top is stellar – looking south, you can see miles down the lake to Penticton. There’s a monument up there with a time capsule that will be opened in 2067. I decided to try to live long enough to witness that event. Below the cliffs, orchards and vineyards make a patchwork quilt around the base of the mountain.

On the way down, I wished that I had been dragging my snowboard along – there’s probably enough snow to have a nice cruise down. Perhaps I’m still stinging from missing that 44cm powder day at Big White while we were moving. The girls slept most of the time I was gone and I started making supper right away. Enjoyed a couple of new beers to celebrate my birthday – Big Rock’s Kold (recommended by Ryan), which is a cheap lager that doesn’t taste at all cheap, and a seasonal ale from Nelson Brewing called Faceplant. I couldn’t tell that it was any different from their After Dark, but I like both.

In quiet moments today, I read bits and pieces of Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance. I loved Such a Long Journey, but for whatever reason had never started the newer one. Esther’s post about reading it while in India inspired me to pick it up, and it is outstanding. Grim, but so very human. I can’t imagine how cool it is for Angelo and Esther to be experiencing life there – we check their blog daily for updates.

Only a couple more weeks of parental leave and then I’m back to work. Four months has disappeared like a few weeks. Ivy has started to hit her stride in the last two days…thankfully. She was pretty grouchy for the first couple of days after the move, with good reason I suppose. She’s really a terrible roommate when she’s in that mode, so I was incredibly grateful to see her relax and switch to happiness. On Sunday night, I was pretty sour myself…crashing from the stress and fatigue of the move, disoriented and blah. Feels great to turn the corner and live again.