Thursday, July 31, 2003


It's bloody hot here...supposed to hit 39 yet today, and it's been in the high 30s for days. Surprisingly, it hasn't been too bad. We've been sitting in the lake whenever possible, and I've been riding my bike on the Greenway instead of sitting in the hot car. Ryan and I had a great ride in Crawford on Saturday, despite the heat, dust and some mechanical troubles -- so it is possible to stay busy.

Last night we stayed up at Mom's, and it was still 36 degrees after the sun went down. Had a beer on the deck while Ivy fell asleep in the lounger. Then Tannis and I saw the space station cruise across the sky, 400km above the earth, travelling at 17,000 miles per hour, followed by four shooting stars in the next hour or so. So mellow.

Monday, July 28, 2003


Oh, the vanity. After hearing Lisa's frustration in never getting (a California musician by the same name) and Jim's consternation over a gay-rights/wicca activist with the same name online...I broke down and reserved It seems cheesy, and I still haven't figured out why it feels important in any way, but I succumbed. It's probably partly due to my Google obsession, and I was pretty sure some of these other Jeremy Hieberts would eventually beat me to it.

The Lorax

After taking the Lorax out of the library at least a dozen times, with multiple renewals each time, Tannis finally bought the book last week. Ivy absolutely loves it, even though it's way longer than most of the books she likes. It's not particularly well-known compared to most of Dr.Seuss's stuff, but that's really a shame. Perhaps the lack of popularity is because of the strong anti-corporate stance, heavy-handed environmental message, and grim outlook for a children's story -- our Chapters rarely carries more than one copy at a time. But the illustrations are unbelievable and the story is more beautiful and polished than most Seuss writing. The '70s movie is excellent, too...on par with the classic Karloff-narrarated Grinch, in my opinion.

The coolest thing about this story is that it is almost entirely narrated by the bad guy, known as the Once-ler, so you get the perspective of corporate folk who feel somewhat bad about the consequences of their business decisions, but find their consciences negated by ambition:
"I meant no harm. I most truly did not.
But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got.
I biggered my factory. I biggered my roads.
I biggered my wagons. I biggered the loads...
I went right on biggering...selling more Thneeds.
And I biggered my money, which everyone needs."
The Lorax is the tree-protecting environmental hero of the story, and although you sympathize with his cause, he comes across like a bit of a whining irritant (from the Once-ler's perspective)...and he doesn't win the battle. I think environmentalists must often feel this way, and they often lose, even when they're clearly in the right. Interestingly, it's the Once-ler himself who approaches redemption in the end, offering just a glimmer of hope that things could get better.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Tomorrow's Memoir

On Saturday night, Tannis and I attended the premiere of Jim's short film, Tomorrow's Memoir. The event was really classy, with the film's title up on the big sign in front of the Grand 10, then the official movie poster behind glass as you walked into the theater. Apparently the room holds 250 people, and it was nearly full, just with family, friends and crew -- talk about a serious production effort! Many people were fully dressed up despite the 35-degree heat, and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

The film was excellent -- very intense and professional, not unlike the director himself. Lots of interesting shots, crisp editing and great cinematography...wonderful use of shadows and light in black and white, with some interesting colour tinting. The lead actor was fantastic. They packed a lot into 27 minutes, but it never felt too rushed -- Tannis and I both would have loved to see it again immediately afterward, partly to see some of the scenes again, and partly to make sure we had caught the hints about the twists near the end. We talked about the movie most of the way through dinner, mostly marvelling at the quality and scope of the project.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Loooong Weekend

Angelo was out here for five days around the weekend. I took Friday and Monday off, and it felt like my actual summer vacation. Highlights:
  • Bellevue Canyon was kind to us on this tour. On Friday, Tannis graciously dropped us off on June Springs Road, and we climbed up to the KVR, then across to the Crawford Trail. We hammered the singletrack down to the rim of the canyon and pondered our fabulous good fortune. I'm so thankful that they've included that whole area in the new Myra Bellevue Protected Area, even with the disclaimer that the "use of mountain bike stunt features is not recommended and they are not endorsed by BC Parks". Anyway, we took Hillbilly on the way down, then TittieTwister, and finally came out at the Crawford power station. Cruised down the road and Greenway down to Rotary beach for a swim (above 30 degrees at supper time), then all the way back down the Greenway to get home. We were totally out of steam about halfway back to Mission Creek Park, but grunted through the last few kms. Then Saturday we climbed up to Flamingo Flats and then followed the lower section of the canyon down to Bellevue Creek to soak a bit. Glorious.
  • Myron's KVR loop: Sunday brought yet another scorching hot day, but Myron guided us through an excellent cross-country tour up the road, down some fast old jeep roads, then back down the Summerland section of the KVR. Lots of good laughs, an awesome swim in the creek, then cold ones with nachos, salsa and cherries to cap it off. Epic!
  • Okanagan Mountain Park: I hadn't been riding in the park for a couple of years, and had basically forgotten how epic it is. After the first few nasty climbs in 38-degree heat, we cruised through Wildhorse Canyon, which is really impressive. At the other side of the canyon we had a snack and noticed that the light was turning very orange-pinkish. So we really hammered on the way back through the canyon, enjoying the views and gently twisting singletrack. Angelo accidentally rode over a small rattlesnake, which made it angry enough to coil, rattle like mad, and raise its head just in time for my right ankle to pass within a foot of his forked tongue. Very lucky on that one. When we got back to the car, the smoky sunset was in full splendor, staining the entire lake dark orange and magenta. We jumped in the water at Pebbles Beach to drop our core temperatures four or five degrees, then chowed down on Mom's deck...still 30 degrees long after the sun went down.
  • Beer...Angelo enjoyed some Summer Solstice Ale, while I stuck mostly with Big Rock Maibock, which became known as "Mailbox" as the weekend progressed. Also went through a six-pack of Nelson Paddywhack after returning a box of Black Bear that was past its prime...I probably won't be buying either of those ones again.
Have I used the word "epic" too many times already? Lots of talking on the deck, beaching, amazing riding and laughing. Good times, indeed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

The Greenway

Sometimes I take the Greenway for granted, but never when I'm there. Those giant cottonwoods always make me feel alive. I was a total naturalist riding home through the park last night. The great blue heron didn't catch a fish when she plunged her beak into shallow water this time (saw her catch one about 20 feet away from me a couple of weeks ago). Three muskrats dug around in the mud, and a small beaver nibbled on a branch, all seemingly oblivious to my presence...along with the usual assortment of ducks, turtles, dragonflies and birds. I kept stopping to eat saskatoon berries, so it ended up taking me 45 minutes to get home.

Friday, July 11, 2003


Armin Wiebe is one of my favourite authors, maybe partly because his stuff is inaccessible to most people. But I just rediscovered his site and found that he's got a new book called Tatsea. In sharp contrast to his hilarious and quaint stories of Mennonite village life, this new one appears to be an adventure story about a Dogrib woman in the north. Talk about a departure! I'll probably pick it up anyway. Interesting quote from the author about writers: "Asking a writer to comment on his own work is rather weird in some ways; fiction writers lie; the book a writer thinks he wrote is often not the book the reader reads."

Graduation in Powerview

CBC Radio3 kicks. If this is media convergence, keep it coming. They find wonderful ways to blend music, narraration, text and photos online. This week's issue has a brilliant feature on graduation in small-town Manitoba. If you want a glimpse into what my life looked like in 1991...that's pretty much it. Granted, it's been 12 years, and Powerview was a hundred miles away from Rosenort, but the differences are negligible.

Thursday, July 10, 2003


It's cherry season in the Okanagan, and Angelo has already questioned my obsession with the sweet red fruit. I guess I keep mentioning them in my e-mails as if they were a major preoccupation. They're a bit like Christmas oranges...they're really good, and are made extra precious by only being available for a few weeks every year. I think growing up on the prairies, you got the sense that they were something special, from the mysterious promised lands to the west (here). Maybe I've never shaken that special status, because I get stoked for cherries every year, to the point where I eat enough to be tired of them by the time they disappear. We went picking with Tannis's folks when they were out, and ate giant bunches of them straight off the tree, without having to climb a ladder...they were just hanging there.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Bike Lust

I liked two of Kona's full suspension bikes this year, but not really enough to actually lay out $2300. The Stinky had some cheesy components, including a weird 5-inch-travel dual-crown JR-T with last year's stanchions, and it tipped the scales at close to 40 pounds, which seemed daunting to me considering that I like to climb occasionally. Last year's Dawg also could have squeezed into my price range and was around 32 pounds (climb-friendly), but was hampered by a so-so fork (for the price) and some crummy components.

Ok, this is my new object of lust: the 2004 Kona Coiler. Same price as last year's Stinky and Dawg, five-inches of travel front and back, respectable 33 pounds, and it looks like a mean bastard. I want it. Now.

Unfortunately, I discovered it while going to the Kona site to retrieve a link to a very nice conservative hardtail as part of a ranting analogy comparing wannabe freeriders (like myself) to SUV owners who don't need SUVs: "Realized that me buying a Stinky would be exactly like all these SUV wannabes who believe they need four-wheel drive and major road clearance. The twice a year they take the Pathfinder on a logging road doesn't justify the $40,000 price tag and 18mpg gas mileage. A $20,000 Civic will work better for the other 98% of the driving they do in a year, pollutes less, and saves them hundreds of dollars in gas. But of course it always hinges on desire and image...people want to believe that they're hardcore outdoorspeople and their SUVs reflect their perceived lifestyle. I like to think that a Stinky will make me a hardcore rider, but what could be more laughable? Hardcore compared to what? So I figure I need to downgrade my expectations and look into a nice hardtail like..." And then I found the Coiler...shit.

Also found a sweet new version of Ryan's Kona Stuff. Maybe that would be the $1000 compromise that would make me a very happy camper?

Friday, July 04, 2003

Twisted Sister

Not that I was ever a Twisted Sister fan, but they hit it big in my formative junior high years. I mean, We're Not Gonna Take It was a true coming-of-age anthem! Jim sent me Twisted Sister Cleans It Up For Kids, which is worth reading for two quotes from an aging rocker. Dee Snider was baffled when they asked if the band would play in a family theme park with no swearing: "We want to play for our fans! We don't want to play to people in an amusement park...and they said, `Dee, your fans are in their 30s; where do you think they are on the Fourth of July weekend? They're out with their families at the amusement parks or the Jersey shore.' And that was like a real rude awakening."

Then, at the end of the article he really sums it up with wonderful honesty: "We won't disappoint. There's bad news and good news. The bad news is we look like aging transvestites. The good news is we've always looked like aging transvestites." Ahh, the days of glam and hair bands.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Ride Elemental

My good friend Shawna just started up a cool new site called Ride Elemental. Looks like it lets motocross riders set up personal web pages and includes an excellent e-zine. I opened it up this morning to find a profile of one of my childhood heroes, Kim Houde with a vintage shot from '79 or '80 and an interview with his motocrossin' daughter.

Parenting Deliberately

Myron and Tracey got me a subscription to Utne for my 30th birthday, and I've been enjoying each issue. One thing that ticks me off is that they don't have their articles online, because occasionally I'd like to link to a gem...well, actually they are online, but you have to pay for them even if you're a subscriber to the print magazine. Oddly enough, it costs twice as much to subscribe to their online version. Disappointing. Anyway, a couple of issues back, they re-published a story by Peter Temes called Thoreau in the Bronx that really resonated with me.

A couple of dads are standing around the playground with their kids, talking about Thoreau, and sort of agonizing about how they could live deliberately, acknowledging the personal compromises they make as employees, parents and husbands. I've had similar conversations and daydreams, mostly focused on the identity crisis and selfishness I experienced when Ivy was born. I could verbally obsess, Woody-Allen style, for hours on the topic, and any poor listener would want to strangle my narcissistic whining. I won't burden anyone with further description of this overanalysis.

In the article, a mom at the playground joins the conversation as her daughter runs to join the other kids. She basically sets these guys straight, and I felt like she was talking to me. Her rebuttal is four or five thoughtful paragraphs, but I thought these words really nailed what it means to be a parent: "I'm trying to say that what I do today is particularly hard for me because it has nothing to do with who I want to be. It's not a statement. It's not a lifestyle. It's a commitment to Sue."

She basically says that living deliberately isn't the point if you want to be a good parent. One of the guys objects to that implication, because he thinks he's living deliberately as a working parent. Her response: "You play your part, and if you do it well, you do it with dignity and love. But it's not deliberate in the way I think Thoreau means. It's not all about what you want this minute. You became a better person by not living deliberately every minute. You have to give that up to live with other people, or at least to live with real regard for other people."

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Day Off

Nice to have a day off yesterday to celebrate Canada, Ivy's birthday and our seventh wedding anniversary. We ended up having a glorious time at Myron and Tracey's, wading in the creek, riding bikes, and bbq'ing. On Monday night we did the birthday cake thing with Ivy and she got her kick-ass easel from mom and dad. Mom showed off freshly published copies of their Mishke book -- such an awesome job.