Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Small Town

Overheard between two good 'ol boys in the local coffee shop:
"Cracker Barrel's old Mustang had all the power of my lawn mower."
Update: This evening we were eating supper outside and the fence kept me from getting a look, but I heard the rumble of eight cylinders and the distinctive "bong, bong" at the beginning of Hells Bells by AC/DC, pumping out of the speakers. Perhaps it was Cracker Barrel.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Vacation Wrap-Up

Perhaps it's too recent for true historical hindsight, but I'm willing to pronounce my week of vacation as excellent. Maybe not off-to-Scotland-for-a-week-out-of-the-blue excellent (Angelo and Esther seem to be pulling off an unbelievable lifestyle), but this week off was just what I needed.

When last we left this riveting holiday tale, there was much loafing, lounging and slacking. The last three days were a little more intense, but not much more. Friday morning we loaded everyone up and cruised over to Kelowna, where we had breakfast at the Bohemian Bagel Cafe, one of our old favourite downtown spots. Then off to the downtown library where the kids ran out of patience surprisingly quickly. A quick refuelling stop at Sev (pretzels and slurpees) set us up for an hour of swimming at Sarson's beach, and we finally rolled into my folks' place in the mid-afternoon.

Ryan and I set out on an adventure of sorts, borrowing my old bike from Jason (thanks, J), then assaulting the punishing climb up McDougal Rim, which I last did two years ago with Myron. It was a truly epic ride this time around, climbing in the heat of the afternoon and going to the very top around the alpine lake. Ryan showed remarkable determination and fortitude, then totally ripped it up on the descent, which is probably one of my favourite all-time trails. Incredible views, fast, challenging downhill with lots of variety...and great company. Ryan had one crash that took some skin off his chin, but he didn't seem too worse for wear. We ended up recovering, pigging out and laughing on my parents' deck with a couple of boxes of Okanagan Springs lagers while my dear folks kept the kids busy. An outstanding afternoon and evening...outrageous even. Can't believe I didn't take a single photo.

We all slept over and headed out in the morning, Ivy still buzzing about Grandpa taking her to Athans Pool the night before for a 20-minute swim (she had woken up the previous morning and written a note before we woke up that said something like "plz tak me" and was asking us for help with "to the swimming pool" to complete the instructions). Coffee at the Laughing Moon, goodies of all kinds at Pioneer Market (but sadly, no spudnuts), then off on the scenic route home.

We stopped by Mission Hill Estate Winery...it's unreal. The architecture alone made it worth the visit, but it was too overwhelming to be welcoming or comfortable. It's more like a cathedral than a winery. We didn't even do a wine tasting, opting instead to have a little picnic at Hardy Falls, where the salmon were already running upstream.

Home for naps, which I skipped to ride down to Rotary Beach to hang out with the Duecks. The girls met me down there later for a swim of their own, and we decided to check out the newly re-opened (again) Shaughnessy's Cove waterfront pub for supper. Still the best view around, the food was good, and they've really made the place nice with the renovations to get ready for the opening of Summerland's new resort. We felt rich and happy again to be able to hang out down there, and eavesdropped a bit on what appeared to be Summerland's Class of 1995 enjoying their class reunion on the patio next to us. Ice cream at Dino's with the Hildebrands, and then I was down to one last day of freedom.

So Sunday we did a picnic at Dirty Laundry, sharing a bottle of Riesling, pulling huge bunches of grapes off the overhead arbour to devour on the spot, and watching the steam train puff past the bottom of the vineyard. Then off to Powell Beach for the afternoon, where a mean south wind whipped up whitecaps offshore, but we basked in the heat and cooled off in the sparkling water. After another round of naps back home, we headed up to Myron and Tracey's where we finished off the week much like we had started it -- eating and drinking with old friends, watching our kids fart around in the yard, and marvelling at just how lucky we are.

Ella Bella

I think I've tended to post more photos of Ivy in the last couple of months, so in the interest of fairness, here's a little album's worth of Ella from the past week or so:
  • After one of her many dunks underwater...she apparently has no healthy fear of deep water
  • This one shows a bit of her crazy edge...she's got some attitude for sure
  • Getting cozy in with a towel and her "ni-ni" on the beach
  • Buried alive with her sister yesterday at Powell Beach
She's a real character these days, stringing together four or five word sentences and figuring out how to make the most effective demands. Lots of laughs and cuddles from this kid. She rejected her crib last week, and seems to have adopted the futon in the office, but we don't much care as long as she actually sleeps.


I'm a total fruit fiend. Berries and cherries in June and July were great, but right now we're in full-on bounty mode with local peaches, early apples, apricots plums and grapes -- I'm barely keeping up. It's amazing to have access to a cornucopia like this every year...perhaps I'm just gearing up for my Thanksgiving thankfullness.

Tannis had the foresight to buy us a freezer this year, and it's nearly full up with glorious frozen blueberries, cherries, peaches, and black beans...we eat a lot of black beans. We've borrowed the gear to do some canning this year too, so I may still be able to experiment with some of the interesting canning combinations I was scheming on this spring, like cherries and peaches in gewurtztraminer wine

Update: Almost a year later, we sampled one of the experimental jars of peaches, cherries and gewurtztraminer -- sadly, the results were very disappointing. Unpleasant alcohol flavour like a flat cooler left out in the sun, mushy brownish peaches...lesson learned.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Tourists in Your Own Town

For whatever reason, this year we've been more keenly aware that we live in a place where thousands of people visit from elsewhere to spend their vacations. So although it may seem supremely uncreative of us to not travel somewhere during my week off, it has been superb. Highlights so far:
  • We had an excellent time with Bowen Islander Chris Corrigan and his wonderful family yesterday -- we enjoyed their company on a beautiful patio at the most kid-friendly winery ever (Elephant Island) before coming back here for a modest Mexican feast and then watching the sun set from the top of Giant's Head Mountain.
  • I already blathered about how great it was to have Mark and Joel here, but it is worth repeating -- the blasting hot beach weather was perfect on those days, too. We're oh-so-happy that the stuck cruise control on the Tercel didn't land them in the hospital on the way home.
  • Two mellow backyard beer sessions with Bill at their place overlooking the lake, with our naked hippie kids wandering and splashing freely, many laughs and one of Rose's Italian feasts tonight.
  • The Vanilla Pod for lunch -- this place seriously makes the best food within a hundred miles, I swear.
  • Granny's Fruit Stand for breakfast, fresh corn, Sunrise apples and peaches
  • Wandering around Summerland like tourists, buying used books, picking up the odd magazine and a slurpee, fresh bread from the bakery, digging through the thrift shops, exploring the import shop, hitting the museum and reading with the girls in the library because we have time and it's cool in there.
  • Swimming. Everyone already knows we love the beach, but this time of year is glorious because the water is so clean and warm -- Myron's been trying to teach me to swim properly, but mostly I just love floating around.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Vacation Weekend

I managed to not take a single photo during our excellent weekend. Mark and Joel were out and we really took advantage of the hot weather, hitting various beaches four times in two days, taking in a couple of winery patios, wandering through Summerland's first folk festival, going for fish 'n chips...all very mellow and fun. We even went for another night swim and were treated to the most incredible moonrise I've ever seen. Ivy and Ella were in love with the guys, of course.

This morning our guests departed and I kicked off my first official day of holidays by doing a two-hour ride to the top of Rattlesnake Mountain and back, which I had last done in March. It's a brutal, nasty climb (vultures circling my overheated carcass, pretended commiseration with climbers on Everest, psychological games to continue dragging a 40-pound bike up loose rock, visions of Sisyphus, etc.), but the rewards were truly outstanding. Cold beer afterwards didn't hurt either.


Well, I kind of botched our trip to see Friday's scrimmage in the olympic mens hockey orientation camp. It was a work day for me, so I just wanted to sneak away for maybe 45 minutes of the scrimmage. What I didn't find out until it was too late is that they bumped up the time by an hour, so we arrived at the arena with only about 15 minutes left in the game. Argh!

Disappointment aside, I was stoked to see guys like Iginla, Thornton, Brodeur, Lecavalier, and Pronger flying around the ice. The point was really just to see them in action. We were right at ice level, a few feet from the boards, so we got a sense of how huge and fast some of them are. At the end of the scrimmage they did a shootout competition, which gave everyone a better look at the skills of the goalies and the best stickhandlers. Overall, a very cool experience, and a great way to kick off my week of vacation (well, after my last afternoon of work, anyway).

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Yay! CBC Radio 3 put their old magazine archives back online. The podcasts are humming along, too and I've been adding them to my CBC Radio 3 podcasts playlist when they come out -- just choose your player and hit the big play button. They even played my request for Christine Fellows last week, which reminds me that I MUST get tickets for her Kelowna show in September, just down the road from my folks' place.

Rocket Scientist

My old buddy Greg spent the last century or so in school getting his engineering degree. Throughout that ordeal, he managed to mostly keep the faith that it would pay off for him evenutally. Well, I think it's safe to say that it has.

This photo depicts him monitoring satellites from a base in Australia, where he and Sophie are enjoying the laid-back beach culture for a month or two before returning to Ottawa. It's not rocket science? Wrong...he's dealing with launches, satellites and all kinds of techie geekery that I'll never understand. Too cool.


Many, many galleries of photographic inspiration. This guy takes unbelievable people pictures.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Missing Pics

I uploaded some new photos the other day and then forgot to link to them:
  • Ivy is growing up so fast these days, even offering to do chores lately
  • Tannis is such a babe. She was very happy to finally check out a building (winery, in this case) made of plastered straw bales, an area of interest of hers for the past year or so. Sitting at Orofino sipping wine wasn't so bad, either.
  • As further proof of my complete bike geekiness, I take photos like this.
Last night after supper it got kind of cloudy for the first time in about a month, tricking us into thinking that it would cool off and we shouldn't go to the beach. Ella and I went out for groceries while Tannis and Ivy made muffins, but if anything, the clouds trapped the heat of the day and it got warmer as it got dark, so at nine o'clock the four of us found ourselves floating around in the lake with a beautiful yellow moon hanging over the valley. Ivy had her beloved swimming goggles on and splashed around wildly for about 20 minutes, practicing her swimming (proudly, without water wings) and laughing out loud at the excitement of swimming in the dark.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Another happy result of our late night hot tub conversation yesterday was that I finally finished A Complicated Kindness when we got home, after having stopped inexplicably six months ago about halfway through. It may not be The Salvation of Yasch Siemens, but it's still outstanding! I think everyone finished reading it last year already, so I shouldn't need to recommend it. I found it psychologically exhausting and even disturbing in its unflinching portrayal of the difficulties surrounding coming of age in southern Manitoba. A bit too close to home for me occasionally, but oh-so-wonderful at the same time.

Apex Experience

Epic weekend! Friday after work, Nada and Tannis biked over to Dirty Laundry for some wine 'n patio time -- the dads and our combined posse of kids met them there a bit later and we all soaked in the scene under the ripening grapes overhead. Then back to our place for a giant pot of soup, beer and conversation (ok, and some kid-induced chaos).

Saturday morning we dropped the girls off with my folks for their first overnighter in the new house, packed up our gear and headed up to Apex Resort to meet Angelo and Esther at Saddleback Lodge. As we found out a couple of weeks ago, it's beautiful and mellow up there, with clean, cooler air and outstanding potential for good times of all sorts.

We split our afternoon and evening into three distinct phases: four hours of mountain adventure (downhill singletrack for me, Tannis and Joe; hiking/running for Esther), and hour or two on the patio of the Gunbarrel Saloon, then three solid hours in the lodge's hot tub before crashing out. The riding was fantastic -- I could get really spoiled by not having to climb for all that glorious descending -- and the other two components were top-notch as well...ridiculously fun. Some photo highlights:

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Hockey in August?

I'm a bit of a hockey nerd, so I'm excited to have the chance to see a few dozen of the best hockey players in the world in person, on the ice in Kelowna this week.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Headless Jumper

Sometimes I feel like a ten-year-old kid. Last weekend, when normal dads were mowing their lawns and fixing sqeaky hinges around the house, I was puttering around on Giant's Head Mountain, pulling out and chopping weeds that had the audacity to grow on or near the main trail. Skewed priorities?

Later I went for a ride and set up our hobbled digital camera to capture the scene (3.3mb video), which is essentially a middle-aged geek playing outside on his bike, with a bucolic small town stretched out below. I find it hard to explain to people why it's so important for me to be able to do this stuff, but why should I have to? It clears my mind, makes me feel young, keeps me in shape and gets me out into nature a few times a week. Good fun.