Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jim and Mel

Some of you may have heard me talk Jim and Mel from work. They've been loyal friends of mine even as my time in the office dwindled to almost zero, meeting me for lunch and laughs and work gossip whenever I did make it in. This summer they both moved on to work on their film script together, and to get married in Austria later this week. I'm missing them, but so glad they're starting a new chapter of their lives.


No coherent thoughts to craft into a proper post, but here are a few notes:
  • I've been adding photos to my film set on Flickr -- enjoying the old Minolta and getting some great shots out of it. I'm trying not to use the fisheye lens for every single picture.
  • Totally got into Saints of Big Harbour by Lynn Coady. Small-town-coming-of-age story set in the Maritimes, maybe a bit like A Complicated Kindness, but written powerfully through several characters instead of just one. I don't spend enough time reading fiction.
  • Enjoying Far Flung Adventures, three fun chapter books for kids. I got them for Ivy but we're all plowing through all three...sometimes out loud, and sometimes on our own. 50 books out from the library right now, which although excessive, is normal for us.
  • Our good friends the Hildebrands are moving back to Altona this fall. I'm not ready to say much about this yet, but I'm grieving. Sucks when friends move away.
  • Nine Inch Nails are coming to Kelowna in December. Stoked.
  • We dug our first potatoes out of the garden today, preparing to devour them for supper.
  • I got flat tires on three rides in a row. Usually I might get three in an entire season. I finally broke the streak yesterday with a flat-free ride up and down Giant's Head at lunch. Tannis and I rode in Crawford on the weekend, which was surreal and kinda neat -- unfortunately a couple of hundred blown-down trees made the downhill trail almost impassable...not so fun.
  • We're homeschooling both girls this year. This will require a separate post next week, but we're pretty excited about it.
  • Hit Pioneer Market for spudnuts and lunch on Saturday, then Bliss Bakery and finally Greata Ranch for some wine on the patio (photos in that same set) -- fun drive home from my folks' place.
  • I'm struggling to get back into the groove at work. No surprise, coming back mid-summer.
  • Missing the prairies, like I always do this time of year. Would love to spend a couple of weeks puttering around back roads, Milt's motocross track and Corydon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Powell River Dreams

My favourite living artist, Meghan Hildebrand, has updated the paintings section of her site with all kinds of gorgeous goodness. When I got into her stuff, it was her unique take on the industrial environment that hooked me, somehow pulling beauty out of images that evoke urban wasteland. Many of her recent paintings seem to have a more whimsical quality, with natural landscapes and fantastical creatures and wonderful owls creeping in or defining the images. Turns out, some of her older paintings had a similar playful vibe, but I hadn't seen those until recently.

The paintings from the last couple of years still include built environments, recognizable as urban areas, but they look lived in, rich with experience, detail, depth and bits of wildness -- trees and water and birds. They're warmer, more welcoming. Many make me think of transitions; thresholds between town and country. Anyway, I'm probably overanalyzing, but it's fascinating to see an artist's progression over time.

As Steve and Ang have now moved away from Powell River, I've had to give up my fantasy of visiting them there and then dropping by Meghan's studio with a suitcase full of cash. Which reminds me...another super-cool thing on the site: a new comic called Powell River Dreams. This woman's so talented, it's not even funny.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Maybe not the best productivity enhancer to have my bike visible from my office window. On a Friday. In August.

Other essential information to be gleaned from this terrible photo:
  • I love having a second monitor and our work techie was nice enough to lend me one. This actually does help productivity. Blogging about it does not.
  • My mom bought me this awesome Bodum coffee mug for Christmas that has two very thin layers of glass to trap air in between. It's feather-light and I didn't expect it to last more than a month before my normal clumsiness shattered it. Of course now it's doomed.
  • There's a Wocket in My Pocket is now entertaining the third Hiebert child in seven years. An admission: I've read it so many times that when I'm reading it to Ezra in this chair, I can (and do) check my e-mail without missing a beat.
  • That mousepad is probably five years old and beyond disgusting. SO glad you can't see the details.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Not-So-Good Anniversary

Five years ago today, I started a post with this sentence:
"Okanagan Mountain Park is on fire."
That was a bizarre few weeks, watching the fire rage closer to Kelowna, forcing a huge evacuation and eventually sweeping into my parents' neighbourhood with 70km/h winds pushing a wall of fire. We didn't know if my folks' house would survive that night (the yellow circle in the photo above was their house). A week later, they returned to their house (w/photos) to find charred holes where their neighbours' houses had been.

The whole thing was traumatic. Since then, we've had parts of every summer when the smoke from surrounding fires blows in and stinks up the valley -- water bombers fly over, helicopters dragging buckets -- and it always recalls the feeling of being in a war zone, under attack by a powerful force. I still grieve the loss of many special places that burned, and have never gone back to ride the Crawford trail system since it was mostly incinerated. I've also realized that our move to Summerland was at least partially motivated by Kelowna becoming sort of damaged goods in my mind.

It sounds like there were some lessons learned about how to fight these fires, but it still feels like a real danger here in the heat of summer. Just on Sunday, we watched lightning fires start across the lake again.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


We joined a gazillion people on the beach in Penticton a couple of weeks ago to watch the Snowbirds fly. I was wrangling Ezra most of the time, but managed to get a few decent photos of the planes: leading the S.S. Sicamous into battle, curling above the paddleboat, cool formation, and impressive smoke trails. Ezra was terrified of the loud noise, but the girls were pretty into it.

Update: Who knew? My cousin Nicole is a Snowbird pilot, but never told anyone until now. I had the pleasure of hanging out with her folks on the weekend, and her dad told me this excellent story.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Her Royal One-Eyed Madgesty

Lots of cool people represented in the links over there on the side, and I've been meaning to collect a few pointers to recent blogging goodness.

One link I have not yet added came out of a recent Facebook connection: Her Royal One-Eyed Madgesty sits up in the branches of the venerable Reimer family tree, two generations up from my dear Great-Aunt Helen, the benevolent and hilarious matriarch. Fearless Madge is putting Marj's sweet old Nikon to incredibly good use, firing through film and developing her unique (and retro-cool) photographic style. The writing is great too -- personal without the narcissism, warmth and authenticity shining through. I don't remember being that self-aware and creative in my early 20s...oh, that would be because I wasn't.

A few other bits from friends that stood out recently:

Friday, August 15, 2008

August and Everything After

Hot evening, crickets chirping, fire crackling in the chimenea, girls snoozing in the tent, glass of wine for Tannis, glass of beer for me, nearly full moon rising over the lake...back from Sunoka Beach where we brought fish 'n chips and met the Duecks. Bliss.

Next Day Update: Really, what could be better than hot August nights? Another one tonight -- the girls are in the tent again, and Lorne, Myron and Andrew came over to hang out on the deck and have a few beers. Myron and I even ducked down to the beach for a night swim. Our good vibe from yesterday continued into today, and we did a great little day-trip.

We took the back-road from Summerland to Princeton, an interesting route we'd never tried before with about 35kms of gravel. Met up with the Corrigans in Princeton and caught Chris's performance at the Traditional Music Festival -- very fun.

Nice lunch at a good restaurant that even had Tin Whistle Black Widow on tap, then ice cream on the way out to Bromley Rock. It might be my favourite place to swim on a hot the crystal-clear Similkameen River, with a swift current that lets you glide downstream past steep rock cliffs and an inexplicable sandy beach. Awesome. Two photos from there: me and Ivy and Ezra. Then samosas, amazing curry and fresh fruit/veggies from Sanderson's in Keremeos...and finally home. Stellar day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

On Beauty

Lost in the mundane here's-what-we-did-this-weekend blogging I've mostly reverted to lately have been a hundred thousand moments of beauty. I managed to capture a few of them with various cameras (see post below), and for those of you who appreciate beauty in flowers and weeds and the skies, there might be some gems here. For me, recognizing and recording beauty is a way to train myself to be thankful. And I just like it for its own sake.Update: How rude of me to make everyone click into individual's the set and the slideshow. I thought this video was gorgeous too -- not mine, but it gave me goosebumps:

Tell me this isn't beautiful.
Originally uploaded by .schill

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I've had a weird little journey with photo gear these last four months or so. I was blathering to my friend Andrew about this earlier in the week and thought I'd turn it into a post for posterity (can't imagine why anyone else would want to read it).

For the last few years I've mostly used our Canon S2 IS point 'n shoot. It's smaller than an SLR and a few years old already, so I never hesitate to bring it everywhere without worrying about damaging or losing it -- it also has a ridiculous 12x zoom, fantastic video capability (stereo sound!) and great macro. It's the perfect family camera. In spring I also started using my old film SLR again, really enjoying the nostalgia and quality of it (both photo quality and the equipment itself).

Then in May I succumbed to a form of technolust and picked up a Canon 30D that was almost brand-new, and a couple of zoom lenses (one 18-55mm kit lens, and a better quality 28-105mm f/3.5). Thinking it through now, I was keeping up with the Joneses, because I was paying attention to the photos other people were taking (on Flickr, mostly), and of course they seemed so much better, so it was easy to rationalize the "need" for new gear.

And of course the 30D is an amazing camera. It does take better photos than my old S2, and is way more convenient and easier to use (digital, autofocus!) than my old Minolta manual-focus. It works better in lower light and snaps instantly when you hit the shutter, and fires off five frames in a second if you want it's a serious piece of photographic genius. A few of the photos in that set make me melt.

But for whatever reason, I wasn't having more fun with it. Initially it was frustrating because I had to relearn everything, but even after my photos were getting pretty good and I was finding it easier to use, I kept wondering why I had spent $900 for a small improvement in picture quality. I realized that I'd have to spend another $1500 to duplicate the lenses I loved from my old kit, and just wasn't willing to spend that kind of money. So yes, part of the problem is that I'm cheap. I also found that I was leaving it at home and wasn't taking it out biking with me, both because of bulk and not wanting to damage it.

Anyway, I've decided to sell the 30D and go back to my old tandem. Myron may take it off my hands, or we may arrange a trade of sorts that lets me keep one toe in the DSLR world. But if someone has $800 burning a hole in their pocket and wants a complete digital SLR kit in perfect condition, let me know. That's it in the photo up top...

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Ezra took his first single stumble steps right at the end of June, did a few sessions where he strung together four or five steps a couple of weeks ago, and the last couple of days he's been on the verge of some longer cruises. About five minutes ago, he just started given'er. And so it begins...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Sun Peaks

We wanted to have one more little getaway before my last (ever) parental leave ended. We considered going back to Nakusp, but thought that might be more fun in fall. Silver Star was a nice closer option, but something prompted me to check out the web site for Sun Peaks, a ski resort north of Kamloops that does mountain biking and golf in the summer. It looked pretty cool, and we had never been there, so we booked in for a couple of nights at Nancy Greene’s Cahilty Lodge (even rode the elevator with the namesake Olympian). It was fantastic to get two adjoining rooms, one with a full kitchen – we’re a full-sized crew these days and needed all the space.

I guess I was most excited about the mountain biking, and it didn’t disappoint. Tannis and I traded riding and childcare days so we both got a chance to ride exclusively downhill as much as we wanted. Quite a luxury to be whisked up to the top of a mountain with your bike without the cardio pain of climbing. The trails are rated like ski runs so you can choose the right level. Ideally, that would mean that you’d start out a bit easier and work your way up in difficulty, but I’m apparently not that smart.

I started with a black diamond called Sweet One. Most of it was sweet, too, but much of was brutally steep, rooty and nasty. Later I figured out that I could have more fun on the less-nasty blue runs, one of which (Route 66) was groomed with huge berms and mellow tabletops. At one point on that first run, I came around a corner and passed within eight feet of a black bear sitting right beside the trail. I had no choice but to keep rolling, but it gave me a bit of a scare and I was shaky – so a couple of corners later, I came into a steep, rooted section way too fast and did a classic Superman endo, pretzelling my seat and landing hard on my shoulder. My first thought was, “I don’t have time to be injured. Better get further away from that bear.” Had the iPod cranking, and just gave ‘er…

Anyway, it was seriously fun, and I pushed myself pretty hard. By about 3pm, I was completely shot, having done maybe eight runs. We headed to the pool with the kids and put in a two-hour session, well pruned by that point. We went out to eat a few times, cooked in the room a couple of times and brought in pizza one night. Pretty relaxing overall. Tannis put in her day of mountain biking the next day and had a run-in with a bear on her first run too – it forced her to climb back up to the last branch in the trail to avoid it. Other than that, sounded like she had a blast.

Ezra was ok overall, not much enjoying the drives, but game to do his thing on foreign ground. The girls rode their bikes in the village with mixed success – there were some ups and downs and their lack of gears was a minor issue. They were good sports, though, and Ella pronounced the trip the “best ever”. They both got to try the bungee trampoline near the bottom of the main chairlift, which seemed to be a thrill. Of course the pool and hot tubs were highlights as well. I didn’t bother to do much documenting for a change, so there’s not much to show for it except some nice memories.

The place itself is nifty, and the village has been beautifully built around a cobblestone pedestrian walkway, with restaurants, cafes and shops along the ground level. We liked just walking through to get what we needed from "town" and not having to get into the car for a few days.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


It's not every day that a guy has his first birthday. We celebrated Ezra's yesterday, and Tannis wrote up a great post about what's going on with him lately: Ezra's one year list. I threw together a video medley of Mr. Milagro, compressing the experiences of one year into about three minutes, going purely in chronological order with sub-10-second clips...and beginning with Ezra's creepy alien-like movements visible from outside of Tannis's belly: