Friday, February 29, 2008

The Newest Member of ZZ Top

I sent Bill this awesomely heavy video yesterday and commented on how hardcore the singer looked in the preacher's suit with that fantastic beard. His rejoinder was this little gift of photoshopped magic, making real my long-time fantasy of having voyageur-like facial hair.

My 74 chin hairs might be inspired by this swarthy vision and begin multiplying rapidly. Tannis is sincerely hoping that they are instead shamed into never showing their pathetic selves in public again. Their 41 good friends on my upper lip form the perfect St. Jean'r after a couple of weeks, which that guy from 21 Jump Street manages to pass off as high style. Hmm....

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Goodbye Winter

It's one of those days when I'm extra thankful for where we live. February has been really warm and sunny, and today is gorgeous. I was thinking of playing noon-hour hockey, but seriously, when my bike's tuned up and the sun is shining, why would I want to be cooped up in a smelly arena?

Also, a big happy birthday to Grandma Pearl today, who's enjoying really warm temperatures and sunshine in the Dominican Republic right now.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


In some future life, I might get to go to South by Southwest, one of the best indie-rock festivals (and film and other awesome stuff) ever. For now, I content myself with downloading and listening to the songs bands put on their pages on the festival's incredible web site. The other day I assembled 20 songs I liked and added the mp3 links to my neglected music blog.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Catch Up

Not sure if I'm just too lazy to blog these days or what, but I have been taking some photos, so here's a set of random ones from the past two weeks (slideshow here). Unfortunately I immediately forget anything I don't photograph, so although I'd like to record some of those moment now, the memories have already gone missing. These catch-all posts so suck, I realize. Anyway, a few highlights:
  • Lots more fun on the Dueck's backyard rink, both last weekend and this weekend, and an amazing night session on the evening of the eclipse. Sunday morning we met them for breakfast at Tim Horton's before skating -- nice sunny spot and everyone was happy to fuel up.
  • It's been above seasonal temperatures for a couple of weeks, with highs between 5 and 9 degrees, but the snow seems to be taking forever to melt. It's still been too cold at night, I guess. I've been riding my bike again, but the trail conditions are still pretty bad. The girls have been riding their bikes; Ivy shifting from her old classic to a sweet new ride this week.
  • Ezra's been coming into his own the last couple of weeks, sleeping a bit better (or at least more consistently, usually getting the bottle around 2am, then nursing at 4:30ish) and asserting himself. Tannis has cut the dairy from her diet and his eczema is improving. A few recent photos of His Royal Cuteness: not so sure, big tear, jolly jumpin', and getting a ride from Ivy
  • Lots of art going on around here. We stocked up on supplies at Opus in Kelowna last week and dug into them a bit. Tannis has been experimenting with really cool Chinese calligraphy and watercolour styles, even applying them beautifully to the outdoor rink scene. Ella admired Tannis's trees and made a similar attempt; Ivy also gave it a try. I laboured over my first attempt at drawing a more realistic human figure (nudity warning), and didn't hate the result. I was working from a very small photo of this sculpture.
  • Most of the rest of the photos in that set are artsy or scenery shots I took, including a few favourites: shadow sisters, orchard birds, and lakeview orchard.
  • Last weekend Mom made us a feast and we stayed overnight in the Big City. In the morning we explored some old haunts, hitting Mission Creek Park, Opus, the downtown library and the Bohemian Cafe. Felt like a great little mini-vacation.
  • Mom also made these incredible valentines for the girls this year, mailed to them in fancy envelopes with beautiful stamps.
  • Hung out with the Hildebrands a few times; good visits in their hot tub and up here. Finally had Robin, Kaili and Jaia over here for dessert one night. Also, I've been enjoying hooking up with work friends for lunches at Mon Thong when I go into the office (once every couple of weeks, lately). Ivy still has a busier social schedule than I do, though...playdate after playdate, it seems.
  • My mom's Uncle Henry died last week. I didn't know him very well, but I cried and cried when I found out. Just seemed so sad, and I guess I was pondering mortality. I kept playing Night Windows and feeling melancholy. Tannis and I sat with Uncle Henry and Aunt Hilda at a wedding a few years ago and liked them very much. He was one of those real zest-for-life types, and someone you thought should live to be 100. Cousin Nicole had a nice reflective post about it as well.

Update: Forgot to note the nice little trio of Ella photos: hangin' with the alpacas, being chased by her shadow and fooling around on the run-bike because I didn't have time to help her with her "real" bike right at that moment. Also, a rare pair of photos of me looking totally hockey-hoser, and proof that I put the girls straight to work when they think they're going to get to do some fun skating.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New World Order

We stumbled across an amazing exhibition of Bill Featherston's paintings at the Art Gallery of the South Okanagan. Apparently this BC artist is 80 years old and seriously pissed off in a punk-rock sort of stick-it-to-the-man way. The present, past and future depicted in these paintings is dark and intense and bleak, like they'd fit into the angriest issue of Adbusters.

I thought it was incredible, powerful stuff, but Ivy walked into the gallery ahead of me, promptly turned on her heal and marched straight out saying that the paintings made her "feel trapped". She didn't want to go back in either.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Summerland Mountain Goats Threatened

Some of you might remember the photos I took of the herd of mountain goats that live on the rocky ridges just north of Summerland, BC. I got an e-mail from a local friend yesterday telling me that the proposed widening of the highway between Summerland and Peachland will likely be pretty tough on the herd:
"Over the next few months, the female mountain goats will be having their kids –- they will be at their most vulnerable. Mountain goats are sensitive to human disturbance, especially during kidding season.

This summer, the province is planning to widen the highway through that stretch, requiring extensive blasting. The BC Ministry of Transportation and Contractor Arthon Construction Ltd. (Kelowna) are ignoring professional advice to protect the mountain goats. They are moving ahead with blasting and construction when goats are present, and at their most vulnerable."
They really are incredible, unique animals and I sincerely hope that the province makes every effort to minimize the impact of the construction. If you're concerned about this issue, please contact these decision-makers and let them know:

Steve Diamond, Arthon Construction Ltd. -- 250-764-6144

Kevin Falcon, Minister of Highways –- 604-576-3792

Barry Penner, Minister of Environment -- 1-866-553-5537

Rick Thorpe, MLA Okanagan-Westside -- 250-404-3008

View Larger Map

Update: Yesterday (March 3, 2008) I was in the area to the south of the goat's main habitat and suddenly came across a huge new clear-cut gash that must have been at least a mile straight east (and up) from the highway. The digging around that area looks pretty devastating -- why on earth they'd need to clear-cut a mile-long swath of trees in a line going away from the highway is beyond me. A few articles from the local media: Update: (March 22, 2008) We drove through that section of highway on Wednesday and the goats were fairly low down on the slope, not far above the very active construction area. I wasn't sure whether to take it as a good sign (they weren't bothered much) or a bad sign (they have nowhere else to go).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday's Weekend Wrap-up

I'm going to go ahead and pronounce this past weekend top notch. We were coming off a bit of a blah week (sick Ivy, restless Ezra, sleepless parents) and needed a stellar weekend. Bill came up Friday to begin the festivities, and Lorne joined us later for a very cozy session of catching up by the fire. You'd think we were living in the 1800s or something, but it was fantastic. Good laughs and everyone humoured me when I started making obscene gestures to illustrate a point with melodramatic flair.

Saturday morning saw us enjoying coffee and scrambles at the Beanery while Sam and the girls coloured. At noon Richard and I headed out for the first mountain bike ride of the season and had a total hoot, despite there still being several inches of snow on the upper part of the loop. Later in the afternoon, we all went out tobogganing and had a fire -- the photo below is Bill and Sam with their race faces on, ready to decimate the competition. Super fun and warm, with the snow disappearing fast.

Sunday morning we bade farewell to the Baker Boys and then scooted up to Faulder for some skating action on the Dueck's Best Backyard Rink Ever. It was just cold enough to keep the ice from turning into a giant grey Slurpee, so the kids were happy to play around on the ice and we didn't bother with a fire.

Update: Forgot to record the Mennonite feast on Thursday night with the Hildebrands, featuring vareniki my mom made special for us. Lorne was in his glory.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Listening To

  • Boxer by The National; check out the video for Mistaken for Strangers for a slice of audio genius. It's not so very innovative or cutting-edge, but somehow they've captured my imagination.
  • Wintersleep and most of the new Radiohead is amazing, and I've been finding all kinds of cool (and weird) stuff from Magnatune.
  • Borrowed the latest from the Foo Fighters and The New Pornographers from the library -- gave both a couple of listens and haven't warmed up to either. The NP's Challenger has a few brilliant songs (check out an odd video for the best of the bunch), but other stuff I can barely tolerate.
  • Long-time readers already know I'm a big Weakerthans fan, but I just haven't been able to get into their latest album. You can download the free mp3 of "Night Windows" on that page -- one of the best songs they've ever made -- but I guess I should keep trying the rest of the album too.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Birthday Weekend

35 years old -- can't really claim "early 30s" any more, so now I'll attempt to milk the "mid-30s" label until the day before my 40th birthday. I don't have much age angst, but these milestone birthdays do get you thinking about mid-life; crisis or not. A great weekend kept me from dwelling on any potential regrets or missed opportunities.

Lorne, Andrew and Peter took me out for beers at the Perch late on Friday. Although the closed kitchen couldn't bake us any nachos after 10, they at least didn't kick us out at 11. This is a group of guys I don't often talk about, but every couple of months we hook up for what usually turns into a couple of hours of intense conversation, and it's become something I value a lot. Andrew's wickedly smart and insightful, Peter brings a very grounded, straight-up perspective, and Lorne would probably say something about how much he relishes the fellowship of his friends -- it might be his ideal setup, and he's the point-man for the whole operation.

I got to sleep in on Saturday, a rare treat for sure. We hung around with the kids through the morning, and Lorne and the girls came over for a quick toboggan session later in perfect weather. My mom and dad came to take care of the kids while Tannis and I zipped out to Theo's in Penticton for some great Greek. Sunday I drew with the girls, and in the afternoon we skated at the Dueck's perfect Faulder rink. A few beers, watched some hockey, and then I guess we stayed long enough that they made us supper...pretty ideal for me.