Monday, January 31, 2005

Summerland Citizens

I've started up an experiment in small-town web activism called Summerland Citizens. I'm hoping that it will become a group blog with several least the closest friends who can't escape my hounding: Bill, Myron and Tannis, and ideally other Summerlanders could comment or contribute as well. We'll see where it goes -- for now, the focus is on Summerland's current official community plan (OCP).

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Spanish Horses

The web is so fascinating. I was killing some time tonight and checked out some other blogs from Summerlanders. One of them was from a woman from Spain named Susana Rodriguez who breeds and trains purebred horses near here. Her training philosophy struck me:
"In my planet, the horses learn how to be horses, before we introduce them to being ridden. They live in herds, colts and stallions, sharing the pastures with pregnant mares, sometimes also with a few bulls... They share the water and the shade of the olive trees and the burning breeze that in the summer, brings them the smell of the wild thyme and rosemary. The 'vaquero' sings to them; they are used to his voice and his songs and his rhythm , they run and play with this rhythm, they follow the song and the strokes of the guitar and so, pound the ground, wide nostrils to the air, making music together."
Truth be told, I don't particularly like horses, but this is so beautifully written and it seemed to be a metaphor for education. Instead of segregating them and sorting them into age-specific groups away from their parents, who are stuck at work somewhere else...they should learn to be be people by living, playing and working alongside all kinds of people.

On a Sunday

Angelo's latest short film is screening in Winnipeg in a couple of weeks. We got a sneak preview a couple of months ago, and I had a very emotional reaction to it. It's more autobiographical than a lot of his stuff and hit really close to home for me, tapping into small-church-town outsider themes that defined the social environment of my childhood. I loved the short story too, but the director really captures the vibe and images in a powerful way.


This week pretty much sucked. I already had a cold when a stomach flu knocked me flat on Wednesday. The girls were fighting a cold at the time, and then Ivy got the same flu last night. Tannis didn't have it as bad, but she was pretty miserable all day yesterday -- thanks to my saintly mom for driving out to help so I could work and Tan could sleep. Anyway, it seems like forever since we felt good, and nobody's had a decent sleep in days. I haven't even had the chance to try my new skates yet. Whine, moan, complain...this too shall pass.

We watched an incredibly dumb movie last night called School of Rock, and perhaps it was my lingering fever, but I laughed a lot. This is not a recommendation, but there are a handful of hilarious scenes that make it worth slogging through the terrible least if you have any rock 'n roll influence in your personal history.

Friday, January 21, 2005

CBC Radio 3

CBC Radio 3 rules. Every issue has something interesting, cool music and great images. This week they're celebrating their 100th issue, and it assembles 100 Canadians to talk about what's important to them. Here's hoping for another 100 issues after this one...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Disappearing January

It's probably good that January seems to be going so fast. It would be all too easy to fall into the post-Christmas blues with the wintery, grey weather. I unfortunately broke one of my skates last week, so I'm been off the hockey train until I can get some new ones, but I did do some more tobogganing and hikeboarding on Giant's Head. It's pretty cool to have a 1200-vertical-foot backyard run, although the ratio of climbing (40 minutes in deep snow) to descending (five minutes) makes it unlikely to catch on as a popular sport. I consider it winter hiking with the added bonus of a great descent on the snowboard for adrenaline.

We're trying to make our spare bedroom more like a home office, since I spend three days a week working up there. Tannis (with new punky haircut) is scheming on how to funk it up for me, probably with some paint in spring. The sisters are doing great, with Ivy back in Puddlejumpers two mornings a week and Ella busy trying to learn human communication.

Friday, January 14, 2005

New Plett

Since it's on the web already, I'll assume it's cool to share news of our old friends Steve and Ang's newest addition to the family. Cute little guy -- congratulations to the proud parents, aunt and uncle and grandparents!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

MT Planet

I've had the link to Myron's new blog over there in the sidebar for a while, but should point it out for good measure. He didn't believe that he could create a simple web site in three minutes -- it ended up taking more like 15, but that was including setting up a Flickr account for photos and getting his domain name to point to the new site. I know I already get to see my old friend all the time, but it's great to read his writing again.


Ella is hilariously cute this week, laughing and playing tricks and learning new words every day. The word she uses the most is "unkgoo" (thank you) in a little singsong voice whenever you give her something she wants. The other night I was giving her pretzels one at a time just so I could hear it over and over.

After ignoring (or attempting to destroy) books for her first year of life, she's suddenly embraced reading. Her current favourite activity is running up to me with a book, repeating "ugk, ugk, ugk" (book, and the same gulping sound also means's admittedly interpretive) until I read it to her. Then when we finish, she runs to the bookshelf for the next one, and we repeat it until something else grabs her interest. The other night we had 14 books stacked up by the end -- she could be another bibliophile.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Music of the Year

It's the time for "best of the year" lists, right? I collected my favourite indie-rock/pop songs discovered last year -- just choose your player and click "Play Page" on this playlist. They're mostly hosted by the bands or labels, so download away with a clean conscience (no need to resort to illegal file-sharing when there's so much great authorized music available on the web already). That playlist is a decent representative sample of the soundtrack to my work life, although I sometimes crave bleepy electronic music or medieval cuts.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Outdoor Rink

Playing hockey in Summerland has been great, but I miss the outdoor rinks on the prairies. Before Christmas, I was trying to convince Myron that we should build a small one up at his place, but it was a difficult sell considering the absolute lack of sub-zero weather. Now we've got a week of cold weather, and he seems more interested in at least doing some experimentation. So we'll see.

This morning, Tannis and I were having breakfast at Santorini's and got talking to an older woman eating alone. She thought that Summerland should put in a temporary rink when the conditions warrant it and told a great story about a childhood memory. She grew up in a small mining town, and she remembered the miners coming off their shifts after dark and going straight to the rink, which wasn't lit up at that time, and they all put on their miner's headlamps to play hockey. Imagine the beauty of that game, watching the lights streaking around the ice and catching glimpses of the puck, listening to the scrape of skates, calls and laughter.

Mission Accomplished

When Ivy opened her main Christmas present, she exclaimed: "Daddy! A tent! A tent! My lifetime dream!"

Christmas Wrap-Up

Well, I had the whole week off between Christmas and New Year's, and we relaxed enough that it doesn't seem too bad to be going back to work tomorrow. We felt like we really took advantage of the wintery weather, tobogganning with the girls in three different places, going for some snowy walks, skating and playing hockey more than expected. It was also warm inside with family, old friends and some great new friends here in town, with lots of laughs and good times. Some photos from the past week:It was wonderful having my grandparents out from Winnipeg; walking by the lake with them on Christmas day before the big Christmas dinner, their quick visit to our place, and Grandpa taking us all out to Moxies on my dad's birthday.

We missed Myron and Tracey disproportionately, and once they got back from the prairies, we had a great day with them watching hockey, lounging around and making an entire fleet of pizzas. We sledded with the kids in the warm, calm afternoon. Later on, Myron and I found ourselves in the ER of the Penticton hospital to get his collarbone checked out after a high-speed collision with the end boards (following his sweet diving chip-in goal) in our late hockey game.

We also found out our newest Summerland friends are shockingly musical, with Rose singing in The Softies (sample playlist here), and Bill running the cool and independent Mint Records label in Vancouver. They graciously shared their kick-ass toboggan slope and outdoor fireplace with us and a bunch of their crew yesterday, and also joined us for a cozy New Year's Eve here.

It seems trite to talk about the devastation in Asia -- words all seem empty in the context of that scale of disaster. It felt somewhat personal to us, having a few people we know in the area, and not being sure exactly where they were. Turned out that Barb had already left India for Burma, and Trev and Candice had moved inland after being in south-east India two weeks before it got pounded. The scariest situation was following my PEI friend Rob's worry over his daughter Hope, who was in the region and hadn't checked in for a week, but turned up in Laos. It made us realize how many thousands of stories there must have been this week that didn't have happy endings, and helped us be more humble and thankful for our life of ease and opportunity.