Thursday, June 30, 2011



This is from five years ago, while celebrating Ivy's birthday on the beach in Penticton -- I love her little smile as she eyes her cake and listens to us sing. In retrospect, five-year-old Ivy provided plenty of clues about who she'd be at 10, but of course that's difficult to project into the future. Fun to check out past birthday posts with that in mind: nine, seven, five, and four.

Maybe high expectations come with the territory when you speak and read like someone much older. We often have to remind ourselves that she's not simply a miniature adult, especially when she's emotionally distraught about something we'd never worry about. I know the "gifted" label is problematic, but it shows up repeatedly in the literature on high-achieving kids that many have asynchronous development -- often with academic or creative skills far outstripping their ability to process emotional situations that we think they should be able to handle. That was certainly Ivy at five...and at ten. I love seeing her progress through the tough stuff; even more than seeing her thrive in the pursuits that are easy for her.

She goes through times when we frequently remind her to "take off the black hat", a reference to the critical, skeptical, analytical thinking processes from de Bono's six thinking hats. She comes by it honestly, as I occasionally wonder whether my own black hat is sewn onto my scalp. Perhaps we'll share the blessing/curse of the INTP personality type, prizing our mutual independence, creativity and problem-solving while trying to cope with the prickly traits in the package. I already find myself astounded at her personal creative outlets, leaps and projects, mostly hatched and incubated without any outside assistance -- when she gets an idea, she can be a real force of nature.

So now Ivy heads into her 11th year, with plans to keep learning at home -- so far it has not been easy to tempt her to try school again, which is not surprising. She's planned a small (but lavish and high concept) Greek-themed birthday party the week after her official big day. This week we'll celebrate with family, fish 'n chips and a favourite dessert. Last week Ivy finished up her violin season with a summer recital -- it's worth watching the video just to see her come flying in with her fiddle group about 30 seconds in, and then smile...

So we've got an incredible ten-year-old daughter and we're so proud her. What I wrote five years ago still applies perfectly:

"Like all of us, she also has her moments where it's not all good, and we're probably too hard on her sometimes, but overall it's an amazing honour to spend time with this precious creature. Happy Birthday, Ivy Jane."

Update: Birthday party video posted...





Monday, June 20, 2011

Ella Pearl

Marj used to pester me if it had been a while since I had made a blog post full of pictures of the kids. "Enough with the ice and weeds already! Where are your gorgeous children?" Not that those posts were only for her, but she was a big fan of the kids and reminded me often a result, I haven't had the heart to post them since November. Time to get back on the horse, and of course there's a treasure trove of photos of the kids since then -- I know she would have heartily approved. Many made it into the book I made for the grandparents for Christmas:

I wanted to start with Ella, our fascinating seven-year-old. It's hard to get a read on where she's at these days, as it seems like seven is a transitional year for her. Transition to what? We're not sure yet. On one hand she's still silly and fun-loving and carefree, but there's also been a darker, more intense edge to her personality. Not that's it's necessarily negative -- although it can include anxiety and melancholy, it also shows itself in ambition and focus, maybe even enhanced creativity.

I've been blown away by her drawing lately. Sometimes she draws out of books, but other times the characters are straight out of her head, and they're often hilarious, like this evil genius shown here. A few more:
It's been great for Ella to get back into gymnastics after a break. She's back to cartwheeling as transportation, and she seems stronger and more confident. She was flying on her skates this winter, and thrived as we switched to riding bikes. It's fun to see her so busy and confident -- will be great to get her back in the lake as things warm up a bit (my first swim is usually in May...this year, late June!).

Socially, it's been harder for her to plug in with friends. She spends a lot of time with her siblings, which is great, but we'll have to get her together with her buddies more often this summer. Oh, and she loves her new room too. A remarkable kid, this one...few more pics:



Sunday, June 19, 2011

Life According to Facebook Part 2

I tried this back in March, and I like having my own copy of all these little updates from Facebook -- even though they're mostly mundane, they include memory triggers and references I find interesting later. This batch is from about March 20-June 20, 2011, with decorative photos taken from the more recent shots in my Trees set, which I think is coming along quite nicely.
  • amazing father's day, lots of warmth and fun
  • Downhill action with bro way over our heads on the Gillard trails, and in the like being 10 years old in the mud.
  • From Richard: "Congrats on winning the pool. I'll do the logistics after school tonight and send you the winnings."
  • ‎6am trail work: best way to start my day
  • $1500 for one seat in the upper bowl? And the price keeps going up.

  • ghost-ridge
  • The only good news to come out of the Canucks' loss last night was winning a $40 ($80, actually!) gift card at Local Lounge...for predicting that Daniel Sedin would get the most points for Vancouver. I've picked him again for tomorrow, hopefully in a winning effort this time.
  • Only Myron Dueck can turn pizza night into a relay-sprint grudge match between families, with kids and dads pitted against each other in fierce laps around the house. So fun, and so sore...can't believe I didn't pull out a camera.
  • Amazing morning ride with Lorne Hildebrand and Andrew Vandersluys, exploring the incredible craftsmanship of the Smith Creek trail in Westbank.
  • Jeremy Hiebert attended the event Father's Day Mountain Bike Ride.

  • brushstroke-pines
  • thumbs up for the new Penticton
  • stellar day off with the kids, mellow and fun
  • Any Canon users out there looking for a good all-purpose lens?
  • has a blood-chocolate level of 72% cocoa
  • From Sara Heinrichs: "I was just checking out some pictures of your kids. I completely understand why my mom loved them and ate them up! They are gorgeous!"
  • five rides in eight days makes for a happy mountain biker (June 6)
  • Metallica Vs The Prodigy - Battery Thunder This remix rocks...Tannis found it a few weeks ago and I put it in every playlist.
  • sold his camera
  • thankful for two nights of hanging out with good guys
  • Beautiful, simple guide to the trails around Westbank...a good reminder that they're not far from here.

  • sunset-branches
  • inexplicable morning anxiety/gloom
  • excellent new trails on Cartwright
  • beef-barley-lentil stew and peach cherry crisp
  • Ella's gymnastics performance
  • pink bitterroot and purple lupins blooming in meadows
  • Spy Porter
  • failed photo outing yesterday
  • has been enjoying Ted Logie's account of growing up on Jones Flat Road a hundred years ago...hilarious and fascinating. (May 28)
  • didn't expect to have lunch with the pastors of the Summerland Baptist Church
  • Ivy's fiddle group recorded their first CD last night...pretty cool experience.
  • For the girls' home-learning program, we make some effort to document their "active living", as if it was something they wouldn't be doing if it wasn't part of the curriculum. I put together these clips from the last few months.

  • ponderosa-dream2
  • rainy and cool
  • I just finished Essex County for the second time. Masterpiece of Canadiana!
  • steve plett in the house
  • Two firsts for Ezra today: riding his bike on singletrack and helping me build trail.
  • took the day off
  • It would have made a better story if the nude hikers I encountered on the trail this morning hadn't been old fat guys.
  • Metallica at the height of their powers in to cousin Jason for convincing me to go see them on this tour. Tonight's soundtrack.
  • Pretty amazing to be able to translate easily between dozens of pronunciation, entire pages translated, alternate translations...we take it for granted, but this is Star Trek tricorder tech...Google translate
  • Irma Voth
  • My kids' favourite musical artist: Weird Al.
  • pulled the first spinach and chives out of the garden for sauce (May 14)

  • birch-reach
  • Fridays after work should always be this nice: a ride up and down Conkle Mountain, supper at Local Lounge (w/Backhand of God Stout) with two special girls, an hour of bed-time reading...
  • Anyone out there have daughters between six and 12? I highly recommend the Penderwicks series as read-alouds. Classic stuff, warm and wonderful.
  • accurately predicted the final four in the NHL playoffs...we'll see about my call for a Vancouver-Boston SCF
  • Ezra goes hard on his bike for a three-year-old. Now I'm pondering upgrades to the bike track to keep up with his desire to do more. We've already put him on a bigger bike since this video was taken, and that's apparently sped him up even more. It's only a matter of time until our first hospital visit.

  • woven-branches-frost
  • From Tannis: "Jeremy Hiebert is a bit shy about it but if all goes well, his "Seasons" quartet is going to be played in Manning Park in August, at "Art In The Park", an event to celebrate BC Park's 100th anniversary.(May 10)
  • Serious bike shuffle for summer...Ezra got Ella's, Ella got Ivy's, and Ivy got a new (to her) blue BMX that she pronounced "the ultimate bike colour". After breakfast I got them all adjusted and set up for their new riders.
  • Skipped watching the game, but glad to see the Canucks advance. I'm thinking it should be San Jose up next, a team they played well against this year (especially the Sedins; 11 points in 4 games)(May 9)
  • This event looks fantastic. Tannis Hiebert and Kim Lawrick rode the course on the weekend and loved it. Some generous trail gnomes have been hard at work on Cartwright Mountain connecting and crafting a very fun loop -- almost all singletrack, and nearly 10km. Looks like the race is a worthy cause too -- they're welcoming donations and pledges. Test of Humanity

  • ghost-trio
  • arrowleaf balsamroot, purple shooting star, sagebrush buttercup...the meadows are alive with colour again
  • has satisfying calluses from the hoe handle this weekend...first on the Conkle Mountain trails, and then in the garden.
  • Listening to the new Beasties album; pretty kick-ass.
  • This week's Focus Friday on Awesome Okanagan -- a few of Andrew's shots from our outing to the observatory south of Penticton.
  • checked out the BMX racing in Penticton...Ezra was itching to get out there
  • Any party in power will resist change to our voting system, making change nearly impossible...but awarding seats on the basis of the popular vote would seem to make more sense.
  • Usually we get bland editorials that appear to be focused entirely on not offending anyone. I wish they let Wolf write more of them...

  • three-ponderosa-pines
  • so thankful for pub nights
  • My vote for the most awesome invention of the last couple of centuries: the bicycle. So amazing to pedal away from home, ride to the top of Conkle Mountain several kilometers away, fly down on trails through the forest, and then zoom back home; all in 90 mintues after work.
  • didn't barf during Harper's nauseating victory tiny personal victory on a frustrating night
  • This film looks excellent -- can't believe it's playing in Summerland next week. I guess the filmmakers' dad (John Topham) is a local resident.
  • Why the surge of support for the NDP? I think their platform is pretty smart, covering most of the things I care about most in a way that makes sense. Please vote today, as long as you're not considering a PC vote, in which case I hope you forget to go -- really, we've had enough lies, embarrassing foreign policy, corporate handouts, eroding democracy and the dismantling of our environmental regulations.
  • Great Saturday: cruising all over Conkle Mountain scouting and buffing trail, sushi from Just Delicious Cafe, hanging with the kids, and now a Canucks game.

  • red-leaf-buds
  • couldn't believe the bargains on good microbrew in Penticton...$8 for a six of Spy Porter, $16 for an assorted Phillips 12-pack, and even less for a Tree 12-mix. Stocked up for summer... April 28
  • needs to spend more time on Conkle Mountain
  • Oh no. Not sure I can handle the stress of a Game 7. April 24
  • delectable early easter feaster last night with the Hieberts...thai wraps with peanut sauce (my request), homemade chocolate eclairs (Ryan's request) and good things to sip.
  • great date with Ivy at Theo's Restaurant before our violin lesson. Liz and I tried out my newest composition, a viola duet to play at a recital in June...exciting to hear it coming alive. April 18
  • I got this documentary from the library and really enjoyed it this week...didn't realize that I could have just watched it online. RIP! A remix manifesto

  • sumac
  • Yes, I've had too much time on my hands with the family in Manitoba. Instead of just cleaning up the rink, I did a time-lapse of the process, then decided to turn it into a kids' bike park. April 14
  • Another month, another photo feature for Awesome Okanagan. This time around I focused on Jason Drury, a local student with an interesting approach. Definitely worth a look (and a Like, if you do).
  • ‎Andrew Vandersluys and I saw this guy a couple of months ago, and he really was fantastic. The next night, they recorded his show in Kelowna -- it sounds great (listen free, download $10) and I'm thinking we may have to go see him again when he rolls through next week. Pat LePoidevin
  • thanks to Lorne Hildebrand for the bike ride and supper feast
  • won my hockey pool
  • Maudite

  • winter-trees-red-white
  • Sure, the playoffs will be tougher for the Canucks, but no matter what happens, this was a great season to be a fan of the team. President's trophy with 117 points, most goals for, fewest goals against. And Daniel Sedin wins the Art Ross Trophy for scoring the most points. A moment of celebration, and tomorrow we'll see who they face in the first round.
  • started and finished Swing Low by Miriam Toews last night...a devastating read
  • Wonderful author, one of my favourites...who also happens to live in Summerland.
  • pizza and ping-pong extravaganza with Jim Friesen and Myron Dueck
  • Is this a good photo? No, it is not. But it was a great night, zooming to Kelowna with Myron and hanging out with old school friend Jim.
  • ‎Lorne Hildebrand and I biked over to see the mountain goats this afternoon

  • winter-forest
  • Taking a few days off last week got me composing music again. This viola duet was the result, and I'm hoping to talk Liz Lupton into trying it with me. Could be fun to perform at the adult recital in June. (The link goes to the online sheet music, which does let you listen when you hit play, but the sounds are like a crappy old organ...still, enough to get the idea)
  • What's on my mind? My grandma's not doing so good. March 30
  • So many amazing things on this planet...this makes me want to take the next few years off to wander.
  • listening to the new Alela Diane album...more folk/country than my usual tastes, but I think her voice is magic
  • feels recharged after five days off
  • thrilled to be out on the trails again with eagles and deer
  • is happier when he spins pedals
  • Great night out with Bill, Lorne Hildebrand and Andrew Vandersluys...frosty pints of Crannog's Backhand of God contributed to the joy.
  • a good strong coffee made in the french press often makes me miss Angelo Eidse
  • Enjoyed the excellent photo exhibit of black and white portraits by Rick Gray at the Summerland Art Gallery (show runs through April) March 22
  • Mexican feast with Bill (March 21)




Friday, June 17, 2011

reading watching listening

Perhaps this is the fate of my blog -- to record my consumption of media five times a year. Better than nothing, I suppose. As usual, decoration provided by some of my recent photos.


  • Essex County -- I put it on hold shortly after I finished it the first time, during the later rounds of Canada Reads. Still awesome...a masterpiece of Canadiana, and the best graphic novel I've read.

  • thistle-pair
  • Irma Voth -- I probably wanted to like this book too much. There was much about it that I loved, and I laughed out loud several times...but unfortunately I just didn't "buy" the voice of the main character. To me it felt like Miriam Toews tried shoehorning her own world-wise, middle-aged, brilliant self (along with her entire vocabulary) into a the shell of a naive, messed up, deprived 19-year-old Mexican Mennonite girl. She continually says (and thinks) things that didn't fit, and it constantly got in the way of my enjoyment. The story itself seemed silly to me at times too, with characters making bizarre decisions I couldn't go along with somehow. I was probably cursed by my adoration for A Complicated Kindness and Swing Low.
  • Closer -- as with the entire Tunnels series, this is total escapist fluff; a literary guilty pleasure that I very much enjoyed. My expectations for this were very low, and they were wildly exceeded.

  • evening-grasses
  • Ted Tells (Okanagan) Tales had me howling over and over. Hilarious stories of growing up in Summerland in the early 1900s, and it really couldn't get more local for us, as the author grew up almost exactly where we live right now. This book is a real treasure. I also read Summerland: In Celebration of 100 Years, which was much more of a straight-ahead community history, but also interesting enough.
  • What the Dog Saw -- I had ignored this book of Gladwell's despite enjoying all his other writing, at least partly because the title and cover was so uninviting. However, it's one of those books that really got its hooks into me, and I keep thinking about the stories. It's a wide-ranging collection of essays previously published in the New Yorker -- very high quality.

  • surface-texture2
  • Savvy and Scumble -- Excellent bedtime reading with the girls over several weeks. I hadn't read the second book, and although it was entertaining enough, it couldn't really compete with the wonderful first one.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians -- We're not too far into the first book yet, but I'm really enjoying it. Ella had requested it, and Ivy consented to listening, even though she's read the entire series several times already. Should keep us busy well into the summer.

  • wet-grass
  • The Pink Refrigerator -- We've had dozens of good picture books for Ezra of the last few months, but I keep taking this out again and again. A simple story of a guy who needs to get off his ass and engage in life, especially creative pursuits.
  • Some of the best writing about hockey this season came from legendary NHL referee Kerry Fraser, in a regular column on TSN. Fascinating glimpses behind the scenes. Reminded me that reffing hockey was one of the most difficult things I ever attempted...
  • Not many people are going to watch an hour-long university lecture about mental illness, but I thought it had terrific impact: Stanford's Sapolsky On Depression. He weaves together the two main threads of brain chemistry and psychology in a way that made sense to me -- one of the most fascinating examples of the interplay of nature/nurture that I've encountered, and with a focus on stress. Thanks to Rob for the pointer.
  • Liberia '77 -- It was pretty cool to have this documentary screened in Summerland -- the filmmakers grew up here, or we'd never get a chance to see it locally. Very well done; lots of food for thought.

  • impressionist-grasses
  • Iron Giant -- Ezra picked this one again, and I ended up getting hooked (yet again). So good.
  • NHL playoffs -- Despite the loss and the stupid riot, it was a great year to be a Canucks fan. Much of the hockey was incredibly entertaining, especially in the series against the Sharks. Kudos to the Bruins, who totally deserved the cup -- we watched Game 7 at Myron and Tracey's, and the loss didn't ruin a great evening. I managed to correctly predict the final four teams, which gave me the win in cousin Richard's playoff pool. I should probably retire after this season of hockey pool domination.

  • David Comes to Life by F***ed Up -- I've shunned this band because of their ridiculous name, but this album just sounds too fantastic to ignore them any longer. They released four songs for free, and I like them all. Thumbs up for rollicking Canadian rock 'n roll.
  • Lament in the Trampled Garden by Marjan Mozetich -- my fave Canadian composer, and this disc is amazing. I'm especially fond of Angels in Flight...all three songs, but the last one blows me away.




Friday, June 03, 2011

Conkle Mountain Trail

Tannis and I don't get to ride our bikes together very often, but my folks took the kids last weekend and sent us out. I got to show Tannis the trail on Conkle Mountain that I've been working on this spring, and the balsamroot was still blooming in the meadows up high. Tannis shot this little video of me in my happy place:

It's good for my soul to get up there, and I've probably put in 20-30 hours with the clippers and hoe. The trail work I've been doing isn't really building as much as it is way-finding, connecting, fixing and marking existing deer paths and old trails, which already cover the mountain. It's been really exciting for me to hook up one good route from top to bottom. With another 10 hours of "work", I think it could be an excellent route, with a challenging 45-minute climb, an incredible ridge-line section with 360-degree views at the top, and some really fun, swooping singletrack through the forests and grasslands on the way down. Tannis's smile is a good sign:


Speaking of smiles, the forecast for this weekend has me smiling. We've had so little of this kind of weather so far this spring: