Monday, August 30, 2004

Storyteller

My mom has invented a sort of writing workshop with Ivy lately. She shows Ivy a picture on the screen, then asks her to describe what she sees. Mom types it all in and then they print out a bunch of these short stories into very cool little anthologies. Here is a sample of a three-year-old's storytelling, after seeing the picture of the mammoth above. She calls it The Mammal.

"He’s kinda thundering towards me. He looks kinda angry and kind of happy at the same time. What is between happy and mad? You know what I think he’s stepping on? I think there’s a sandwich and then maybe that mammal is stepping on an ice cream sandwich. You know how I can tell that? Because his paws are squishing on the ground. Whatever it is he’s stamping on, he’s making big scrunches in the middle. Maybe he’s going with his herd. You know what would make a big smoke? Lots and lots of those big creatures. That would make a big cloud of that smoke. Imagine how tall it would be and how poofy. That would also make a lot of noise and that time, people would think there was a thunderstorm, but there wouldn’t be. The sun was up and there’s big things clomping on the ground."

Today's Quotes

I thought this quote from Ivy at supper really summed up her current mood: "Anything you want me to do, I don't want to do." A clear blanket statement covering nearly any guidance or instruction we might offer.

And a minute later, Tannis looked over to see what Ella was doing in their little house in the backyard: "Ella is actually using a spoon to eat dirt. Should we be alarmed?"

It's only a matter of time until social services comes calling.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Whistler's Daughter

Ivy's learning to whistle, all on her own. Today she got a couple of nice clear notes and even tried to vary the tone a bit. My dad is an excellent whistler, and some of his talents passed on to me. I was waiting for my ride at our new office last week and enjoyed whistling in the big new concrete lobby -- amazing reverb, enough that you can harmonize with yourself. I was thinking that it's the ultimate intuitive musical instrument, requiring no conscious thought to create new melodies. I've been playing bass for 15 years, but I still have to think hard about what I'm trying to play and what my fingers should be doing all the time...with whistling, it's just an extension of your creative mind. Too bad it tends to be irritating to everyone else.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

End of Summer

After weeks (months) of heat in the mid-to-high 30s, we finally got a break last week. Cool, wet weather with clouds shielding us from the solar onslaught. I'm only being slightly melodramatic. I wish we still had our digital camera, because I'd love to post some photos from the last month...but it's still getting fixed. Some nice moments that pop into my head:
  • We hiked two sections of the Trans-Canada Trail last week. The first one was a rugged section out past Myron and Tracey's place, really in the boonies and very beautiful alongside Trout Creek. Later in the week we did our usual walk to the gazebo overlooking Prairie Valley. After threatening to dripple on us, the clouds cleared off and lit up Giant's Head Mountain behind us. On the way back to the car, we heard a pack of coyotes yelping and howling. Eerie and wonderful.
  • I've been doing some work on my "backyard" jump trail again. Tonight I decided to ride it a couple of times instead of dragging Ivy and a shovel up there and it's working really well. Four little kickers and some new trail to link them up in a very fun way. As I was walking up for my second run, I got to watch a huge owl swoop down between the trees.
  • ...and lots more stuff. Need sleep badly.

Film Anti-Buffs

We are so uncreative with our entertainment. Chalk it up to parental exhaustion, or maybe too much time spent watching The Magic School Bus, Rolie Polie Olie and all the other three-year-old fare. In the past month, we escaped into some movies, which is rare for us because two of our family members have a seven-minute attention span, and we usually collapse into bed shortly after they go to sleep. But we did manage to free up some time for some...umm..."film" experiences.

So what did we do with our precious 30 hours of life force? We chose to watch popcorn-friendly fare, mostly movies that we had already seen. I can hear Esther shuddering 350 kilometers away. Our choices, all in the most-watched-of-all-time lists:
  • The entire Lord of the Rings series yet again, with extended versions when possible. In our defense, we had only seen Return of the King once in the theater, so we really, really needed to see the DVD, which Myron graciously lent us. I watched my favourite scenes many times over, often late at night when I should have been sleeping, especially the final charge of the Rohirrim, and the beginning of the seige of Gondor. Wonderful.
  • The whole Matrix series. I really loved the first one, laughing hysterically through the over-the-top action sequences and digging the discussions of destiny, but the second one sucked so bad that we just hadn't ever bothered to see the final installment. So we rented Reloaded again to get back into the groove (even worse the second time), then dove into Revolutions hoping for some resolution to the story. We had been warned that it was not a satisfactory ending to the trilogy, which helped us enjoy it a bit more than if our expectations had been high. It was certainly worth watching for a few outstanding scenes, but the grim darkness of it depressed me and some of the scenes were so pathetic that it pretty much negated the good stuff.
  • We had followed a similar pattern with the new Star Wars installments -- after the disappointment of Episode 1, we didn't go see Attack of the Clones. We finally rented it a couple of weeks ago and sort of got into it again, watching the entire original trilogy immediately after and actually caring about going to see Episode 3 next summer. Not that Episode 2 was that good, but despite how cheesy most of it was, it did rekindle our interest.
Tonight I went into the video store to return a kids' movie with the girls and wandered around trying to find something we might enjoy that they might also tolerate. No luck. Any suggestions from out there in Web land?

The Funk

Posts have been few and far between, although I've occasionally been dropping things in my lifestylism blog. It's been a weird summer for me in many ways. I've been emotionally up and down, with the downs being deeper than I've experienced before. The ups have been high, leading to a sort of mild schizophrenia that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

I've been reluctant to post anything really negative in this blog over the past year and a half, partly because I don't think it would make very interesting reading, but mostly because writing about the dark times feels like a public admission that you don't have your shit together. Tannis interjects: "or it just sounds like whining." I've done a fair bit of thinking about my funk of the last two months, and I've boiled it down to a few key things:
  • I've got a fantastic job working with great people, but I've been solving the same kinds of problems now for years. My creative initiative seems to be drying up, which is not really ok. Working 40+ hours a week on anything is starting to strike me as an obscenity. As a corollary to this issue, commuting really sucks, even when it is just 45 minutes and only twice a week.
  • Doing a masters degree while working full-time and trying to be a good dad (never mind personal interests) was probably foolhardy. Stupid, even. My last course starts next week, and after that I could conceivably drag my thesis out over a year or more if that helps maintain my sanity.
  • Having two young kids may suit some people, but it just about drove me nuts this summer. I wake up angry every morning...I hate being woken up. I'm also quite sick of cleaning up other people's shit and attending to their needs ahead of my own. I love my kids, and I think we're doing great with them, but I spent too much of this summer feeling selfish and just a little bitter. Luckily, they will get older and more independent, and hopefully I'm growing up too.
  • I missed Tannis this summer. We're a great team, and we've perfected the method of handing off the kids to each other so we get each get some individual time to do what we actually feel like doing...but the net result is that we don't get to spend time together like we used to. Our childless weekend tour down to Chilliwack a few weeks ago was a joy, and a real confirmation of this issue, and we're looking forward to getting to know each other again (thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for keeping the kids, and to Angelo and Esther for everything else).
  • I need something active to do in winter. Last year was the first year I didn't get a season's pass at Big White since we moved to the mountains in 1996. Snowboarding is not very compatible with our life stage, but I really, really missed it, and I felt that sense of disappointment carrying over into spring (yes, I take my recreation too seriously). I'm thinking of playing hockey this winter if Myron and I can find a team in Summerland willing to take us.
So this is a post unlike any other in Headspacej, but probably more accurately reflecting the headspace than the usual "this-is-how-great-our-weekend-was" blather. Maybe I'll have to make it a New-Year's resolution or something: be real in blog.

Ski Lodge Dream

Last week I was fairly sure that I wanted to buy a beat-up old ski lodge on ten acres, ten minutes outside of Princeton. I'm not sure where the money was supposed to come from, but $107,000 for the top of a mountain with a lodge that could be made funky with minimal cash seemed to be an unbelievable bargain. Even the ski shop was still intact.

So aside from the obvious coolness of owning your own ski hill, I did do some thinking about other benefits. It would seem like a wonderful place for a bed and breakfast or eco-tourism home base, near the Trans-Canada Trail and Manning Park. The lodge itself is smack-dab in the middle of a trail network, which certainly enhances the lifestyle/tourism factors. In my dream, I saw us converting most of the lodge to a living space with two suites for visitors and paying customers, living in paradise with no neighbours, and riding various recreational vehicles every single day.

The downsides? No power or phone lines, although it has cellphone coverage. Converting the lodge into something livable would probably be a huge project. But the real problem was that the property already had two accepted offers on it, making it highly unlikely that a new bid would be successful. Never mind the logistics of figuring out how to pay for it while working in Kelowna and living in Summerland. We should probably still go see it...I think this one is going to haunt me forever.

Next Day's Update: I guess writing about it yesterday pushed us over the edge, because this morning we drove the hour and a half out to Princeton to visit the lodge. It's about five km's up a twisty gravel road from the town, pretty much at the top of China Ridge. It's really gorgeous and quiet up there, with a panoramic view, clean air and trails everywhere. The lodge itself was pretty ramshackle, showing signs of having been hastily assembled without much care, but it was still oozing with potential and I had no trouble envisioning an extreme makeover on the property.

It was fairly clear that it would have to be a recreational purchase, though -- you wouldn't want to live there until it had been significantly overhauled -- and we're not exactly in the market for a 2500-square-foot cabin on an acreage, no matter how cheap or cool it is. And the sold sign out front helped give me some closure.

We made a decent Sunday road trip out of it, meeting my parents for lunch at a neat little cafe/deli in Princeton and stopping at Bromley Rock to wade around in the Similkameen River and have a snack. Tonight we made a pasta feast, and I took the girls to Powell Beach for a sunset swim while Tannis tamed Cartwright Mountain on her bike.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Little Walker

Ella just took her first two steps. The beginning of the end of the baby days...

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Current Favourite Tunes

The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
Shoot...this one went dead. I added Still in Love by the Stills as a capable replacement with a great '80s new-wave vibe...but I'm bummed about losing that Postal Service tune.

The Transplants - California Babylon
These guys make hilarious music...very upbeat with lots of energy. The "woo-hoos" in this one always make me smile.

The Russian Futurists - A Telegram From The Future
Great band name, I thought. I have no idea how you'd classify this music, but it's really fun and well-crafted. The bouncy intro alone will hook you.

Lake Trout - I Was Wrong
Nobody likes admitting when they're wrong. This one channels a bit of Radiohead, perhaps, with an interesting mix of sounds and unique vocals.

The Blam - Various Disgraces
The happiest song in this bunch, it has a sort of Brady Bunch feel. The harmonies really make it work, sounding a bit like Weezer if they turned down the amps and relaxed.

Ill Lit - In the Thick
A haunting, mellow acoustic song with vulnerable singing and nice backups. Perfect moody music, but still hopeful.

Bishop Allen - Busted Heart
The most interesting tune here. You'll get used to the hillbilly and a bunch of girls yelling "did ya ever think?" at each other in the chorus, and it's so worth it to experience the beautiful sounds in the verse.

Communique - Evaporate
I've got a weakness for good old-school organ work in a pop song -- this one is a master of the genre. It could have been a hit in 1984, but with way more class.

Sh├Ądel - Kid You Killed
No singing here, but the repeated movie sample meshes beautifully with the haunting music.

Listen to these tunes as a streaming playlist, or download the ones that look interesting.