Tuesday, September 30, 2008

DNCL

Today is the day you can register for the 'Do Not Call List' By 1:30 this afternoon, more that 230,000 people had registered and at one point in time more that 18,000 people were trying to access the website. The system jambed up but is now running again. I know because I just registered our phones. Thirty days from now, I will no longer get those supremely annoying calls at dinner time telling me I have won a cruise.
Go now and do it. http://www.dncl.gc.ca/. It is quick and easy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Market Freefall and Other Woes


If you are not watching the TSX in turmoil, it probably means you do not have RRSPs that are market based. But you should be paying attention anyway. We are in historic times. Today the TSX fell farther in one day than it has in 8 years. The world economies are thrown into turmoil over the refusal to bail out Wall St. It is fascinating to watch! My post today is a short quote from a long and insightful editorial by Bill Bonner regarding the peril that the USA finds itself in. It looks like we are about to see what it looks like when a country, the most powerful country in the world, goes bankrupt.
Here’s a sobering detail: For the last 15 years, the U.S. money supply has grown about twice as fast as GDP. Federal government liabilities, meanwhile, have grown three times as fast. It now has more financial obligations than assets. It is, effectively, broke.
And here is another cup of strong coffee: U.S. debts are now compounding negatively like a Neg Am mortgage, that delightfully fatal confection invented at the height of the housing bubble. Some house buyers didn’t even pay enough to cover the interest on their mortgage; the missed interest payments were added to the mortgage itself, causing it to grow automatically. Exponentially.
We don’t know what Professor Chris Martenson is a professor of. But he has done the world a favor with his description of what happens when things grow exponentially, rather than arithmetically.
Imagine you could make a football stadium watertight, he writes. Then, imagine that you put a magic drop of water in the center...a drop of water that doubles every minute...so that after six minutes or so, you’d have about enough water to fill a thimble. Now how long would it take before the stadium filled, he asks?
We’re not going to leave you in suspense. For the first 45 minutes, you can walk around the stadium and barely get your feet wet. But in the next 4 minutes the stadium fills and you drown.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My View


When I look up from my computer, this is the view I have. However, if you believe the rainbow is real, you don't know Adobe Photo Shop. I have seen many rainbows in the proximity, but usually by the time the camera comes out, the magic is gone. The rainbow is a symbol of hope, but its appearance is usually only fleeting, and sometimes only barely there. As humans, that is sometimes all we need to keep on going.
Today I ask a favour of my many readers. If you are a praying person, would you please pray for little Anika who only a few days ago acquired a mysterious blood disorder and is in danger of coming to great harm from bruising, both internal and external. Her mom and dad and many family and friends are hanging onto the hope that she will be rescued from this grave problem. May your prayers be the rainbow of hope that will sustain them.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Of Tolls and Taxes


The excitement of the last two days has died down a little now that the grandsons have gone back home. My daughter is home after only 36 hours in hospital! To calm myself down and get back to reality, I want to comment on a surprise announcement I heard on Friday.
At noon, Gordon Campbell announced that the toll was coming off the Coquihalla highway at 1 pm. That highway was paid for many years ago and as we all know, once a tax is implemented, it stays in place in perpetuity. This is the first provincial tax that I can recall being re-called. Don't get me wrong. I am delighted, but there is something puzzling about this. Is not the carbon tax supposed to encourage us to use less fuel, take less trips, etc.? Removing a toll does the opposite! We are getting mixed messages from our Premier and the only explanation is his fall in the polls and he is trying to buy our vote. So what else is new?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Worth Waiting For


Little Liam is fresh out of the oven and these pictures are hot off the press! He is a keeper for sure. Everything progressed really well and baby and Mom are doing great. He has impressed us all in his first few hours of life, as being a very healthy and content baby who already has a good appetite and knows where the cookie jar is and how to get the cookies.
For those into statistics, Liam was born at 8:33 am and weighed in at 7 lbs. 6 oz.

Here is the new and improved Dyck family, better than ever.


After 'carrying' him for 9 months, Rachel is content now to hold him.


Nathan's comments on the way home from the hospital: "I feel happy, excited, curious, and just good all over. This is the happiest day of my life!"

I must say that it is pretty hard to beat.

What's Under The Leaf?


This is a huge day for our little family. It will grow by 17% in a few minutes, as I write this entry. We already know that it is a boy but somehow the excitement is not diminished by this knowledge. Full report with pictures to follow.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Little Surprises


I found a patch of deep blue sky the other day and took advantage of it. It will not be long and the only colour in our lives will be the pictures we took in summer. I saw this picture on my computer screen and discovered a surprise. If you click on it and see it large, you will see a spider. We often undertake projects and tasks without realising that there will be unforeseen consequences or perhaps rewards. They often come unexpectedly. It is very useful and rewarding to examine our lives regularly for these serendipities. They are there if only we look.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Changeover



New evidence that Autumn is here and winter not far behind. Our house is not the most energy efficient one around, but we have managed to avoid turning the furnace on until now. There is a very characteristic odour the first time it comes on after a summer hiatus. It is the smell of the dust that has accumulated on the heat exchanger over the last 5 months, heating up. After several minutes, the odour dissipates and only leaves a reminder of larger gas bills and now carbon taxes.
More evidence is that I have now watched my first two hockey games of the new season. Now that really feels like winter. The Canucks are on their way to the Stanley Cup now that they have won their first two exhibition games. Do I hear you laughing in mockery? Oh, that's me laughing.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Election Gem #14

I seems that none of the parties are vetting their candidates with any thoroughness. At last count, the Conservatives let one go, the Liberals one, and today, the NDP let their third one go in the last week. It seems that all three candidates are party animals, two of them having a history of dope smoking, and one who likes to skinny dip. Dipping has always been an integral function of politicians, but not in the skinny. You need your pockets in which to stash the cash.

Cody


As I have stated before, I am not a great animal lover, but on occasion I meet one that grabs my heart. Like with humans, I suppose that first impressions are important. The minute Cody came to me with tail wagging and eager eyes telling me he wanted his ears scratched, I liked this dog. After he and I got acquainted, he obediently posed for his photograph. It is one of only a handful of dog pictures in my files.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Summer is Over


Today, summer is officially over. We were having a wonderful BBQ dinner, in July, with some dear friends, at their home on Cultus Lake, when I took this photo of a sail boat skimming across the whitecaps at the end of a warm summer's day. Of course, it did not look exactly like this, but this version represents the fading memory as the days shorten, the nights cool, and the first leaves begin to fall. From full colour, to faded greys, not only our memories, but our lives.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Angel Trumpets


Just outside our front entry, stands this magnificent Angel Trumpet Tree. It is around six feet tall and has, this year, about a dozen blossoms. The heat of the last several weeks has stimulated its growth and now with the coming cool weather, we hope the many buds that are hanging down will also bloom before winter. There is nothing quite like the lovely fragrance that comes from this plant, but it only is apparent in the evening. When we step out of our door, we are greeted with a flood of sweet floral essence. But, it reminds us that Autumn is around the corner and with the socked in weather of yesterday and today, we don't really need a reminder. We are invited to a BBQ for this afternoon which will either be cancelled or will be decorated with a myriad of umbrellas.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Avoiding the Inevitable?


This has been a truly historical week and a major financial disaster has been avoided, but perhaps only temporarily. If any of you do not know what I am talking about, you have been under a rock, but I must tell you that it is not safe there either.
In 1929 when the economy was in crisis, the US government did not intervene and the result was the crash of '29 and the subsequent ushering in of the Great Depression and the 'dirty thirties'. Today, the powers that be have intervened and in a purely socialistic fashion, have nationalized some of the biggest US players in order to bail them out and avoid an international crisis of confidence. The alternative is too scary to contemplate.
The question now is, when will the massive (and I mean MASSIVE) debt that the government has incurred come home to roost. The mortgage defaults in the US are running at one in nine overall! The sub-prime mortgages have not yet all hit the fan. The next tier of mortgages, the ones where some money was put down and the borrower lied about income and promises of getting a job, is about to come up for renewal. It is predicted that 60% of these mortgages will also go into default.
So the interestingness is not going away any time soon. Hang onto your hats. It will be ride to remember.
Has the lesson been learned? We shall see. Oh, what is the lesson, you ask? An economy cannot be built on spending and credit. It is built on savings, wealth accumulation, and avoiding risky debt at all costs. That may mean living within one's means, which is vastly unpopular in today's society.






Friday, September 19, 2008

Election Gem #13

Stephane Dion is busy on the campaign trail and for the second day in a row, he has not even mentioned the Liberal Green Shift, the plan to introduce carbon taxes. But a quick check with the Liberal website shows that the Green Shift is central to the Liberal platform. What accounts for this mystery? Well, well, well! He is in western Canada! The Green shift has been compared to the NEP (National Energy Program) of Pierre Trudeau's era when huge transfers of money and oil went to Eastern Canada at Alberta's expense. It put a deep and lasting division into our country. If Mr. Dion is not being forthcoming, it does not bode well for his credibility as a leader. Come on, Mr. Dion, are you going to shaft us with the shift or not?

Sky


I have many more photos of our time in Oroville but we will say goodbye for now. There may be a time after we stop working that we will spend much more of our lives there. It will always be a family property but some of us will have to be more involved in upkeep than others. In the future, my experience there will probably be more a working one than a vacation one, but there will always be time to sit back and admire the mountains and the dramatic skies, both ever changing as the day slips by. I will probably eventually take the view for granted and will put my camera away and just enjoy stopping, staring, and thanking God for his creation and for giving me good eyesight to enjoy it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

War


As all young boys, my seven year old grandson has a vivid imagination and lately he has had a fascination with war games. I believe this is normal for little boys and I will not discourage it because he is not an aggressive or rough child, but simply intrigued with the struggle between good and evil. Because of his familiarity with The Chronicles of Narnia, his perception of 'bad guys' is that they are all Germans. If I were a politically correct person, I would take offence at this, but because his war figures are WW II characters, and because WW II was a conflict against the Nazis, who happened to be Germans, I let it pass because it is history and it is truth. So be it. (I am of German/Dutch descent)
On our family vacation, he had set up his battle scenes with great care when his Great Grandmother came upon his little game and I was very curious to see what her reaction would be. She is a Mennonite pacifist, but also, a survivor of WW II and first hand witness of the horrors of war.
She stood looking for a short time and then told her great grandson a story that related to the planes and artillery and the soldiers that were lined up in front of her. The story was of hiding, of bombers, of artillery shells bursting all around and a fire that erupted. The struggle to put the fire out with pails of sand, as no water was available, made an impression because the great grandson's father is a modern day fireman. He stood perfectly still as she told the story. His eyes were wide, and I was wondering if he believed her.
We hope our children will be capable of distinguishing between fantasy and reality and this could have been a struggle he had with her story. Surely this only happens in books, movies, and video games. Some day he will be able to tell his children and grandchildren the time his great grandmother told him eyewitness accounts of a war long ago. Not many his age will be able to do that.

Great News!

I would like to announce that my new Grandson has arrived, but that is not happening until next week. This news is nowhere on par with a new addition to the family, but is nevertheless exciting if you are like us, being constantly interrupted by phone solicitors. The DNCL (Do Not Call List) will be up and running in a few days and you can register on line on Sept 30. by simply entering your phone number. http://www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca/ Once you register, the only time your dinner will be interrupted will be when I call you to see if you have registered yet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Election Gem #12

A general observation: The election spending promises by all parties are starting to mount. Two things. Election promises are are just that. They often have no reality in the world of governance once the election is over. In other words, the promises are made to be broken.

Also, in light of the collapsing economies around the world, who can promise what they will spend a year, or two years from now. We may be in survival mode and all bets will be off the table, as well as all promises. Come on boys (and girl :Elizabeth May), just show me that you have integrity and leadership skills. That will pull us through tough times in case the money is not there.

The Gate


There is a wall of green running along the south boundary of our property. On the south side of this wall is heat and blinding bright sunlight. There are two gates leading through the wall of trees, vines, and shrubbery, each guarded by a bell atop a wrought iron hinged gate. Stepping through the gate in either direction on a blazing hot day is an experience. Being on this side of the fence is much more desirable as it is cool and shady, a refuge from the desert sun. Sitting on the fence is not an option. This is a little like politics at election time. Look at both sides, choose the side you like, and get off the fence.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Priorities


I just came off my favourite news site where the top five stories of the day are posted in headline form. There is an election campaign going on in both the USA and Canada, Hurricane Ike has left utter devastation in the state of Texas, and the fourth largest American Financial Institution has just filled for bankruptcy sending repercussions throughout the world, and sending the TSX and The Dow into free fall. Then what is this headline doing in the top five?
"Family's puppy shot outside home." And why "puppy' instead of "dog"? This is not 'news'!
In case you had not noticed, animal stories such as this get a lot of press. It is part of the trend to elevate animals to almost human status. It is a much more serious offence today to kill a puppy than to kill an unborn child. Did you ever read a headline that announced how many babies were aborted at the local abortion clinic today? I am by no means advocating cruelty or inhumane treatment to animals (something which is not well defined) but rather drawing attention to priorities in today's culture. Affections are misplaced and will probably lead, some day, to more rights for animals than humans.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Election Gem #11

Today's gem is about media bias and how 'spin' can skew perceptions in any desired direction. Here is the lead line in an MSN News story today:

Roughly a third of voters in 45 battleground ridings believe Stephen Harper is the "nastiest" party leader of the election, according to a new Strategic Counsel Poll.

Now let's look at what 'spin' can do in the other direction, using the same polling numbers and almost the same words.

Roughly two thirds of voters in 45 battleground ridings believe that Stephen Harper is the "least nasty" party leader of the election, according to a new Strategic Counsel Poll.

Interesting that one of the partners in the Strategic Counsel is Peter Donolo who from 1993 to 1999, served as Director of Communications in the Prime Minister's Office and was chief communications strategist for Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his government.

So, you see, my friends, consider the source and consider the spin.

Horsing Around


I love my Photo Shop program!
The horse, as a pet or recreation, is a very recent phenomena. They have, down through the ages, been used primarily as instruments of battle or as beasts of burden and hard work. There is a fascination with them today that I cannot fully understand. I will be unpopular saying this, especially in my own family where there are numerous horse owners and horse lovers. I admire them from a distance, don't mind their smell too much, and marvel at their strength and grace. They also serve to enhance the appearance of an otherwise very dull looking pasture. Lucky for one of them to find a good and faithful owner, but I will not ever be one of them.
This post is a test to see who in my family is reading my blog.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Election Gem #10

Jack Layton: "I (also) hear a certain type of determination ... the sense that real change is possible."

Come on, Jack. Can't you come up with something original? Don't you think Canadians are watching Obama enough to realise that statement is his trademark?

Highway 97

This is the last thing the snake saw before he had the encounter with a Kenworth. It is a snake's eye view of the new rumble strips that were carved into the highway in Spring. Generally speaking, we cannot hear the traffic noise at night, but every so often, when the atmospheric conditions are just right, we hear what sounds like a bull frog, off in the distance. It is the traffic either passing or wandering over the centre line.

Election Gem #9

LIBERAL LEADER STEPHANE DIONE TOLD A GROUP OF ABOUT 500 MOSTLY INDO-CANADIAN SUPPORTERS IN SURREY HE WOULD ISSUE AN APOLOGY FOR THE 1914 KOMAGATA MARU INCIDENT IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.

Mr. Harper apologised a few months ago in front of an Indo-Canadian audience in Surrey. It was not good enough for them and they wanted to see the apology done in Parliament. How better to buy votes than for Stephane to now promise them what they wanted, only this time doing it their way! We have all been wronged by our government at one point or another in our lives and maybe we should all get an apology. I have decided I will vote for the party who apologises for perpetuating income tax when it was originally introduced as a temporary measure to help out with the WW II effort. I am deeply and profoundly offended.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bullrushes

It is strange that here in the desert, where things are only green because of man's intervention, there should be a swamp with Bull Rushes. And stranger still that because these are the primary source of building material for Humming Bird nests, that these Bull Rushes would be growing only several feet away from the Humming Birds favourite source of food, the flowering bush, the Trumpet Vine, in the previous post. It reminds me of a Bible verse ..... Matt 6: 26

Election Gem #8

This morning Jack Layton is promising to 'beef up monitoring of fuel prices'. We do not need government to monitor gas prices. Each and everyone of us does this every time we pass a gas station. What we need is for the price of gas to accurately reflect the real cost of exploration, production and supply of petroleum products. I have no doubt we are being gouged but it will never be corrected by simply monitoring prices. It will only be corrected when there is real competition in the oil industry. As it stands now, the existing oil companies are all in bed together, not having a romp, but deciding what the price at the pump will be tomorrow morning. Monitor that, Jack.

CKNW Breaking News.. 8:52 AM
A new poll suggests the Conservatives could be headed for a majority government.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Trumpet Vine


Trumpet Vine (Campsis Radicans) also called Trumpet Flower, Devil's Shoestring, or Foxglove Vine. It is drought tolerant, winter hardy, blooms profusely in the sunshine, and is a favourite of Hummingbirds and Butterflies. The wind was waving the branches so it was difficult to take a focused shot, but finally I got lucky and with the sky as a backdrop, the colour and shape of the blossoms shows up well. The plant it self is very dense and green and isolated blossoms are difficult to find. Just another flower that does really well in desert conditions. There is so much beauty around us if we only take the time to open our eyes.

Election Gem #7

"Dion had his own problems with a candidate Thursday and he fired a Quebec City Liberal candidate for controversial comments about natives.
Simon B├ędard, 65, made the comments while he was a radio host in 1990. He called for the killing of Mohawks during the 1990 native stand-off in Kanesetake. "

Now just one minute here! This little gem was literally a footnote in a long article describing the back-stepping Mr. Harper had to do in the last two days regarding the 'pooping Puffin' and his communications guy who he had to suspend today. Now if this Simon Bedard was a conservative contestant, this would be front page, scream in your face, headline grabbing news. But this guy is a Liberal Candidate so the media is going to go easy on him and Mr. Dion. This is called media bias and it is not the last time we will see it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mail Box


The sleepy rural roads on the outskirts of Oroville are perfect for walking. There is always something interesting to see and rarely does one encounter a vehicle. The quiet morning air is disturbed only by the occasional whirring grasshopper and the flutter and scurry of a family of quails that seek shelter in the thorny underbrush. The air is cool, early in the morning, but the heat of the sun reminds us that it will indeed warm up as the hours pass by. At walk's end, the inviting shade of the Russian Olive tree beckons and we stretch out in the waiting lawn chairs, sunglasses and a good book in hand. The pages turn slowly because of the distractions out on, and over the lake. Passing ski boats, a family of Canada geese, a loon, a looming storm cloud, or the sudden change in direction of the wind, followed by whitecaps where moments ago there was only calm water. This is peace and contentment.

Election Gem #6

I love waffles. Slap on some fruit and whipped cream, or pour on the maple syrup, but any way you serve them I love waffles. Now we have our first waffle of the election '08 campaign. It comes from both Mr. Harper and Mr. Layton. It seems they have bowed to public pressure and threat of law suits from Elizabeth May so they have allowed her to participate in the televised debates. It should not matter to Stephen Harper as probably all or most of Green supporters are left leaning and she will not steal any conservative voters. But Jack Layton will water down his base by allowing Ms. May to talk NDPers into voting Green. I suspect the end result will be fewer NDP seats and perhaps a seat or two for the Greens. Inconsequential, really. Let the debates begin.

Election Gem #5

The former NDP leader, Alexa McDonough's riding in Halifax had a Conservative candidate quit the race yesterday. Rosamond Luke, a native of Sierra Leone, stated that pressure at work has forced her to withdraw herself from the contest. What pressure would this be? It turns out she has a criminal record. My,my, Mr. Harper. You should check out your recruits a little better than that before you invite them to your team. But, I suppose politics has an attraction to the criminal element.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Election Gem #4

Now we have Green Party Elizabeth May screaming that Harper has a total disregard for Democracy. The sin? She is being shut out of televised political debates. Just a minute here. The rules state that only political parties that have at least one elected member of parliament may participate in these debates. She is obviously and conveniently forgetting that the Reform Party a few years back had to wait in the same fashion, until they had their first elected MP. Harper was a Reform Party member at the time and his recollection of the rules is better than May's.

The Well is Running Dry



I have been keenly watching the markets for many years and the activities of late are a little frightening. This is only partly because some of my RRSP's are invested in TSX related funds. In years past, fluctuations did not bother me because I had time on my side. "Ride it out and in the long run, it will be alright." This just has not been true. It bothers me now because I am running out of time, but more so because it signals significant struggles in the economy, which means that all will suffer, not just those invested in mutual funds. Individuals and governments can only live on credit so long and something has to give. Those with no debt, a solid business or job, and some cash on hand, will be just fine, but I am afraid that describes only a small minority of people. The good times may be coming to a halt because the well is running dry.

Election Gem #3

The Tories promise:

The excise tax will be cut from four to two cents a litre -- a savings of about $600 million, CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported Tuesday from Winnipeg.

The Liberals Promise:

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion announced Tuesday that his party will double the Harper government's $1,200-a-year child care allowance.

The promises are now beginning in earnest. Take note, my friends, how many of these carrots will not amount to a hill of beans when the election is over. And never forget, this money they throw around is our money. The government has no money of its own.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ho-Hum


Yes, all that build-up for this, just a garage full of junk. So next time your curiosity is getting the best of you, remember the old window in Oroville and that sometimes there is no payoff for curiosity. At least save it for something really 'big', like peaking in somebodies diary, or reading somebodies blog. Oh, you are already doing that. Yeah, well, no big payoff here either.

Election Gem #2

Jack Layton says: "The issues that people deal with at the kitchen table with their families... are the ones that I think Parliament should be debating right now,"

This morning we discussed the choice of cereal and the strength of the coffee. What issues are you discussing at your kitchen table?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Canadian Election

The announcement today that there will be a federal election on October 14th was anti-climactic. We all knew this already, right? Being a bit of a political junkie, I thought I would incorporate a few tidbits now and again regarding the election. Today's gem is a quote from Stephane Dion, the leader of the Liberal Party.

"I love it," he said. "I love being the underdog. I love being underestimated, but don't say so, because then I will stop being underestimated."

And he is a former University Professor?

Curiosity



It can sometimes overwhelm you and compel you to do something you could be sorry for later. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but on this overcast warm day, 'the curious one' survived her mighty urge to snoop. What would be on the other side of this old window pane? Would it just be a pile of junk? Would it be a well kept little apartment? Would someone be staring right back at her as she inched her face to the window? Would a bat or an owl fly out at her and teach her a lesson once and for all? Would an alarm sound, warning the nearby owners that an intruder was at hand? I suppose that is why the urge is so powerful in some. You just do not know what you are going to get. How exciting! Tomorrow we will see what 'the curious one' saw. Can you wait?
Posted Monday Sept 8 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Window



An important part of our routine in this vacationland is our daily walk. There are only two directions, like the wind, north or south. We are limited on our northbound walks by the international border, but there are some interesting side roads that we like to re-discover every year. There is always something to photograph and this old weathered storage barn had never really caught my eye before. I find that when I travel with camera in hand, I see different things and see things differently. An old building becomes a new photo for my collection of barn pictures. Maybe in years past, the boards had not yet weathered to the point of being photo worthy. The window is inviting 'the curious one' to peer through its broken panes, as we will discover in the next post.
Posted Sunday Sept. 7 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

Landscaping Tools



Down the road and around the corner is this little toy, lying derelict and subjected to the harsh elements. I am sure it has pushed its share of dirt over the years, probably carving orchard terraces on the hillsides. Life is slow here, lacking the sense of urgency that we are so used to. Change comes slowly, development is resisted, and yet there are things happening. Huge excavators have transformed the shoreline, across the lake from us, and there are now several new resorts trying to fill the demand for lake shore vacation homes. Change is inevitable but we see the detrimental effects on the water quality and we hear more loud partying drifting across the waters on the calm night breezes. There will soon be no places left to escape the multitude of pollutions that plague our busy lives. The relics, as long as they remain untouched, will at least remind us that it was once a quiet, laid back refuge.
Posted Sept. 6 2008

Drive-In Theater



Another old relic is this roadside sign. Not far from us is an open field that used to be a drive-in theater. As the years have drifted by, the outdoor projector hut, the tattered old screen and then the dirt mounds topped with speaker posts eventually disappeared. Horses now graze where we once sat under the skies on the hot July nights watching old westerns on the patchwork screen that was in bad need of repair. All that remains is this sign, which I am sure is a perplexing thing to most people who drive by it today. I am surprised the political correctness Nazis have not had it removed.
Posted Sept. 5 2008

A Bit of History



This area is dotted with relics of times gone by. Immediately above our property is one of the last remaining stretches of the old wooden water flumes that used to service the entire Okanagan Valley. They carried irrigation water down the valley and were an amazing engineering feat because of the very gradual and consistent slope in their construction. When I first climbed to this structure in the late 70's, there was water gently coursing downward to bring life to the orchards on the hillsides. Today, this 100 metre section is still standing proud and strong, but is the last of its kind and is as dry as the bleached bones found just above it along the old cattle trails.
Posted on Sept 4, 2008

Reflections



The lake has a dual personality. This photo shows its calm side. A canoe, straying far from shore, is not a wise idea here, especially when there is a lone paddler. When the wind picks up, and it will, the waters can become angry and unforgiving. The surface turns a dark grey-blue and quickly becomes dotted with whitecaps. Sailboats, catamarans, and windsurfers show up almost immediately. Bucking wind and waves in any water craft is rough going and the only consolation is that if one ends up in the water, is not in the least bit cold. But this, ultimately, only means that there is no urgency for rescue. Life jackets are the order of the day and for good reason.
Posted Sept 3, 2008

Morning Storm Passing




Living beside big water and big sky forces a person to watch for patterns and rhythms in the weather. Naturally, as a new day breaks, the question is one of temperature and wind as those two factors will dictate the activities of the day. There is only North wind and South wind here, each bringing their own unique set of conditions. The lake is a like a large conference room where weather systems of divergent views meet to discuss who will rule the day. During the discussions, the heavy clouds seem to dissipate and although overcast may prevail at times, rain seldom does. The real action takes place all around us and we have a good view, especially of the electrical storms. At night, the winds often calm down and the sky clears up giving us a spectacular light show of stars with clarity that is seldom seen anywhere. Indeed, there are several astronomical observatories in the area. The one constant is change. At all times, we have one eye on the windsock and the other on the big outdoor thermometer. They are both fluctuating continually.
Posted Sept 2, 2008

Snake


I am back and it was a good little vacation. Why would I start with a snake picture? I suppose my mind is all over the place today trying to re-organise for a busy fall so I took the first picture off my memory card and went with it.
Our vacation spot, being the only true desert so far north, one would expect snakes and cactus and there were plenty of both. On a cool day they try to warm their bodies on the fresh black pavement on Highway 97 and rarely take into consideration the fact that there are deadly tires rolling in their direction. There are quite a variety of creatures on the road between here and there and some are very wary, others not. It is the deer I worry most about because of their size and the fact that they often only look one way before crossing the road to the proverbial greener grass.
The value in taking a vacation is that it forces one out of their routine and offers a chance to make a shift in outlook and thinking. Routine may be good for the physical workings of the body, but a divergence in everyday life is good for the soul and the mind. It refreshes, rejuvenates, and gives new perspective to the routine that is again inevitable and necessary.