Monday, September 29, 2008


Oh my, the beauty. I seriously struggled to pick between three amazing photos of this amazing kid to grace the top of this post. I went with the mischievous one, but any of these could melt the hardest of hearts:I've been chasing other kinds of beauty lately too, deciding (at least temporarily, anyway) that it's a shame not to use that sweet 30D, and perhaps not selling it after all. A few pretty things seen through the lens this week (in addition to the Ella pics above):

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What a Difference a Year Makes

On the left you see me shlepping a car seat along the path at Hardy Falls, carrying two-month-old Ezra like the lump he was. The picture on the right is the two of us walking along the path together on Saturday, almost a year later. The transformation humans go through in their first year of life is just unbelievable. A miracle, really. I still carry him sometimes, but that lump of a year ago is now a walking, self-feeding, communicating, cup-sipping, giggling, raspberry-poaching, ball-throwing, power-tripping kid.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

How Homeschooling is Going

Tannis: Ivy, what do you want to do this afternoon?
Ivy: Hmmm...reading, writing and drawing....but no school.

So maybe that doesn't actually reveal too much about how it's really going, but I thought it was hilarious. I think Tannis is doing an amazing job with the balancing act of keeping them focused at times, and following their leads at other times. They're plowing through the "school" parts, and seem to have lots of time to follow their own rabbit trails and interests. The one-day-a-week classes in Penticton are going well, including Ivy's school-provided violin lessons while Ella's in class. And they've both started gymnastics, so it's not like we're all stuck in the house all the time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I got another film developed this week, and it yielded some gems:

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Media entering my brain these days:
  • Finished another YA novel that I loved: Belle Prater's Boy ...took a little while to get into it, but so worth the effort.
  • Also read a grown-up book: Running With Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs. I picked it up for a superficial reason -- vague association with Tegan and Sara -- and it was sort of painful to read, but compelling enough to keep going anyway. If nothing else, an exercise in thankfulness because his childhood was so messed.
  • Thanks to Vicki, we got fantastic tickets to see Nine Inch Nails, playing in Kelowna in December...I've been a fan forever and never seen them, so it was overdue. Sounds like cousin Richard should be flying out to join me, Andrew and Robin for the experience.
  • Finally watched The Story of Stuff online, long ago recommended by The Log Driver -- only 20 minutes, and not exactly uplifting...but important.
  • Finished reading The Dragon of Lonely Island with the girls -- we had read it before with good success and they loved it again.
  • I've been listening to old Metallica again and may even pick up the new Rick Rubin-produced album.
  • We've been going through old art books I had with collections of prints, pulling out classic paintings to discuss and use them as inspiration for drawing our own pictures. I got to play art teacher, and even did some learning myself.
Here's a 3-minute video of their first three "art inspirations", which we'll include as part of their learning portfolios:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Social Lite

Sometimes, I'm as prickly as that thistle over there, but thankfully people still choose to spend time with me. Just wanted to record a couple of fun social things that have kept me sane this week.

On Wednesday we brought wood and a picnic down to Sunoka and the Hildebrands joined us for an early-ish supper and campfire. I swam, and the water was still surprisingly nice. Calm, smooth lake reflecting pink sunset, crackling fire getting brighter as dusk settled, waiting for the moon to rise in the east. Kids running free, eating smores, digging in the sand.

I'm Mr. Single Dad this weekend, with Tan hanging out in Vancouver, but Lorne and Andrew came over last night to keep me company after the kids were all asleep. Beautiful summer evening; likely the last one of the season. Another crackling fire, some beers on the deck and the harvest moon hanging over the lake. Best way to start the weekend.

The common thread to those two get-togethers is Lorne, and I had already mentioned Sunday night's ping-pong with him and Myron (and the fish-fry at their place the night before). We've been talking a lot about their imminent departure to Manitoba, which is always a bit depressing, but also having plenty of fun and embracing the time we still have.

And finally, this morning I took the kids into town with the bike train (me on the bike, Ella on the trail-a-bike, and Ezra in the trailer behind her) and Ivy riding hers. Not social in the normal sense, but nice to get out of the house together when we don't have the car. The outing was somewhat marred by me sticking my thumb into Ivy's eye (in a botched attempt to catch her as she fell from the monkey bars), but we did have an outstanding lunch at the Victoria Road Bistro.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Undecided

There's a disturbing lack of political content on this site. It's not that I'm a closet political junkie, but I keep up with the news, following federal politics with some interest, and that's never reflected here. Unfortunately, election years are always an exercise in frustration for me, because we're in a riding with mostly conservative, elderly transplants from the prairies, and these people apparently love our illustrious MP and his Republican-lite party.

So a vote for anyone else feels futile because it's never even close, but I'll likely do what I do every election and choose between the NDP and the Green Party, depending on the quality of the local candidates. Last time around I sort of wished that I had voted Liberal, only because the Liberal was the distant second-place finisher, and anything to make it closer would have been preferable to lodging my usual protest vote.

Anyway, I didn't start this post to whine about my disaffection. I found this online tool extremely well done and an easy way to get a sense of how your values match up to the platforms of the main parties: The Undecided. You take your stand on all the issues, then rate the importance of each issue with a little slider that helps you calculate the best matches. My results: 32% Green, 27% NDP, 19% Liberal, 19% Bloc, and 3% Conservative. I'm surprised to have even that tiny amount of alignment with our ruling party -- it's shocking how strongly I disagree with nearly everything in their platform.

This must be how 100 million Americans have felt every morning for eight years, when they wake up to realize George W. Bush is still their president.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Photo Roundup

Ivy busted out this awesome drawing last week. Not to be outdone, Ella created her own fairy masterpiece. I haven't even been close to keeping up with their prolific artistic output. Anyway, a few photo highlights from the past week:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

September Sunday

Like I said the other day, our weather was blah in August, but there seems to be some karmic balancing going on, because September has been fantastic. The days are warm, but with a cool breeze from the north (unlike the prairies, the wind is mostly north in summer and south in winter) -- so a north-facing beach like Powell is a bit cool for swimming and lounging...but south-facing Sunoka has been hot and calm each afternoon between noon and supper. Yesterday we loaded up at the farmer's market in the morning, then I went for a great ride on Mt. Conkle just before lunch before we eventually hit Sunoka. Fish-fry feast at the Hildebrands later to cap off a stellar day.

My folks are taking the kids off our hands for lunch today, and then we'll likely meet up at the beach later on with some snacks. Sunday goodness.

Update: Tannis and I walked over to the Cellar Door Bistro at Sumac Ridge, our closest winery. Tasty lunch on the patio with a flight of white wines, and a chance to have an uninterrupted conversation! I had a nap later, and then we all went to the beach in the late afternoon. Hot enough to enjoy the water, and we stayed until almost 7pm before hunger won out. Tonight I picked up Lorne and we went up to Myron's for some ping pong and beers. Good times.

Weather Update: (because you've all been waiting anxiously) It was nice while it lasted, and in fact ended up even warmer than the original forecast...but now it's over. Next few days look more like this:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Lovely Fall

The weather in the last two weeks of August is always amazing here -- hot, calm, mellow and with fewer tourists crowding everything up -- except this year. It was cooler, windy, and we had more thunderstorms than I remember since moving to the Okanagan. So far, September has been a nice turnaround, and we've been back to enjoying the beach, despite the chilly water. A few notes and newish pics:
  • Had a great visit with Bill and Sam and inexplicably took no photos. We hung out here Friday night and let the kids stay up late, hit the Beanery for breakfast and kicked around the yard most of Saturday. The Hildebrands hosted us that night, too.
  • We're careful about what Ezra eats, but it would seem cruel to deprive the guy when there are fresh-baked cookies on the counter.
  • We regularly haul in a modest pile of veggies like this from the garden in the afternoon and turn it into a nice soup, wrap filling or pasta dish. Potatoes are coming out now, and carrots aren't far behind. We've got some very pretty pumpkins too.

  • The canning effort has continued: more peaches, peach chutney, a batch of fresh salsa (frozen without cooking), a batch of cooked salsa, a couple of batches of plum jam...will have to do an inventory yet, but the freezer and pantries are getting full.
  • Many of our flowers are in decline now as the nights have cooled, but there are still lots of pretty spots on the yard.
  • I re-read The Chrysalids on the weekend -- fantastic novel, quick to read and pretty intense. Couldn't believe we had studied it in fundamentalist-Christian territory in Grade 8. Mom says she thought maybe one parent had complained the whole time she taught using it...couldn't believe more hadn't objected, but I guess most never bothered to actually read it.
  • These sisters are still wicked cute.
  • Ezra's recent milestones: being weaned and not taking a bottle at night, throwing valuables into the garbage can, attempting to eat non-valuable semi-edibles out of the garbage can, saying "no" while shaking his head (whenever possible), regular escape attempts from the house (he appears to be heading toward town), and occasionally following simple instructions. Poor dude has been sick this week, stretching our patience further than normal.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Home Learners

Somehow I missed Tannis's excellent post about our decision to not send the girls off to school this fall. She's pretty much said it all, but I needed an excuse to post this ridiculously gorgeous photo of Ella sitting at her desk, eagerly digging into her new math book (or was until I interrupted her with the camera, that is).

Maybe the only thing to add is a quick account of our experience on Friday. I brought both girls in to the home learners program so the teacher could test them -- getting them to read to her, do some quick worksheets, some math exercises -- so she could see what level they should be working at. Then she put together a package of customized curriculum (textbooks, activity books, etc) for each of them, mostly ignoring their age and expected grade level in the process.

This means Ivy will be studying novels she would have been reading anyway for fun, rather than the usual Grade 2 readers. And Ella won't have to sit through months of ABCs when she can already read perfectly well. Maybe this wouldn't be a big deal for everyone, but for me and Tannis it's HUGE. We both remember being bored in school and never feeling like we really learned anything new, developing bad habits and losing our love of learning over time.

Anyway, I love the program so far. It's publicly funded through the school district, the materials look decent, the kids can go to class one day a week, they've got fun field trips, we get funding to spend on outside lessons and materials, and we love having them at home with us during the day. No more fights in the morning over getting up too early, lunch contents, impossible clothing decisions, lost papers, missing books...never mind the constant driving. I know this kind of learning wouldn't be for everyone, but for families like us who can and want to do it, it's a dream.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Wild Horses

I've had a couple of great rides this week, one with Richard and one alone where I took some photos. This is the best time of year to mountain bike, with the trails in perfect shape, and the temperatures not so hot.

Richard had me howling with laughter through one section -- laughing so hard I nearly crashed myself out. Usually I struggle to keep up with him on the climbs, and then he follows me at a distance on the descents, but through this section I pursued him through a nice long, twisty downhill with lots of tricky bits. His Cannondale was in the shop, so he was rockin' his old Kona titanium hard-tail with cross-country tires pumped up to about 60psi for the road. And he went flying into this section with way too much speed and just kept it right on the edge the whole way down; rocks making his wheels ping and pop as he pinballed through them, steering more with body language than conventional steering, both wheels skidding into the turns counter-steering like an old-school flat-tracker, covering territory like a terrified jack rabbit. A memorable performance indeed, and reminiscent of my brother Ryan's rank downhill attacks on his old clapped-out Norco.

The solo ride was fantastic too, but for different reasons. Perfect 24 degrees and sunshine, trout creek rushing below, apples ripening in the orchards, touches of vertigo looking down into the canyon...I was in a thankful space and loving life. I also ran into a small group of wild horses and got some photos of a beautiful mom 'n foal pair. This guy wasn't so sure about me. Anyway, wild horses had me thinking of one of my top-five songs off one of my few desert-island albums:
"Who's gonna ride your wild horses?
Who's gonna drown in your blue sea?
Who's gonna taste your salt water kisses?
Who's gonna take the place of me?"

Wild Horses, U2