Wednesday, July 30, 2014

AC Addendum

After a promise that the air conditioning problem was solved, we were dismayed to find that at 9 pm the system again shut down. It seems that the hallways outside of our work area were cool all night, but inside, it was warming up quickly and the humidity was increasing. I think that what happened is that they tinkered with the wrong zone on the main control panel.
After more complaints, we hope that it will have been rectified for tonight's job.
On the bright side, there is no shortage of fans on the premises. Downside to that is the fans makes us comfortable but the application process is greatly hampered by too much air movement.
So I like things perfect.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

G B and U

We started something I have not done in many years, and that is a night job. We enter the vacated physiotherapy clinic, after a 45 minute commute, after closing hours and then worked well into the wee hours of the morning.
After a brief walk-thru, we got right to it and by 9 pm were ready for a coffee at the adjoining Tim Horton's. There we assessed what we had done so far, how it would play out for the next 8 days, and then rejoiced in the fact that the working conditions were great, especially the air conditioning on a 30C night.  That was the GOOD.
Little did we know, but soon found out, that the whole building air conditioning system was on a timer and it shut off at 9 pm.
With no windows to open, and the humidity increasing together with the heat, it became an endurance test. Not only that, but I had forgotten my work glasses at home and my progressives were murder on my neck as I strained to see things above my shoulder height. That was the BAD.
By now my circadian rhythm was obliterated and I got home at 3 am tired but wired. I went to bed after a cool shower and then lay there, waiting, in vain, for sleep. I think I dozed from 5am to 7 am and after that a road crew began working on the sink hole on our street that has been tagged for repair for the last three years. Jack hammers, dump trucks, backhoes, and backup beepers, not to mention the ground shaking, prevented any further sleep. That was the UGLY.
It may get uglier when, a few hours from now, we go back to put in another night of work. There was a hope and promise that the air conditioning situation would be rectified. That remains to be seen.  

Friday, July 25, 2014


We have Hollyhocks growing on the south side of our house where they do very well. The stalks are about 10 ft. tall! Here is a photo I took just before the rain beat them to the ground the other day.
These flowers remind me of my mom who loved them and planted them all around our house in Lanigan Sask. We did not have enough water for them and they were stunted, but did add a bit of colour to the drab browns of a hot, dry Saskatchewan summer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Garden Goods

I have been busy working lately and have been quite tired in the evenings so not much motivation to blog these days. I just thought I would say that for those of us who have veggie gardens, this is a great time of year. We have been harvesting carrots, beets, peas, cucumbers, and the zucchinis are coming on strong.

This is the second crop for these ever bearing strawberry plants we have.
The money tree we planted is not doing so well. I guess we need to spend a little more on it to get it going.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Water Water

On Thursday I renewed my home owner's insurance and the saleslady told me of her recent experience with her city water bill. It seems she got a letter from city engineering stating that she had a leak in her line and her water bill for that month was $11,000.00!  Yes, you read that right. It was a long story and a few years ago my neighbour had the same experience.
24 hours later I get a letter in the mail from city engineering saying I had a leak in my water line. I immediately checked all my plumbing and then went to the meter and removed the cover. The meter was not moving at all. I then turned on the hose and watched as the meter crept forward. I turned off the hose, the only water running anywhere near or in my house, and again the meter stopped dead.
I then called city hall and as it was a late Friday afternoon, there was no help there. I then went to city hall and found someone (yes a real person) in the engineering department and we looked at the computer record of my address. Yes, there was heavy use in the evenings, but it has been dry and we have been watering the garden and flowers. The early hours of the morning showed zero consumption.
Deduction: If there is, at times, zero consumption, how can there be a leak. They were puzzled and did not know why I received the letter. The person in charge is supposed to call me, but so far, no call.
False alarm? I certainly hope so.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Travel Book

This is a book for someone who wants to travel but needs a little encouragement and a bit of advice. "Off The Map" is a collection of 25 true stories written by mostly very young women who have experienced and enjoy travel. Some of the stories are nothing to write home about, and some are not well written, but there is enough good to glean from the pages that it was worth reading.
Some of my favourite chapter titles were "How to survive a night in the Malaysian jungle", "On being a traveller and not a tourist", and "Our mountains, our struggles ... Mt Kilimanjaro" . Many stories are not stories at all but lists of advice and things that people have learned through and from travelling.
It is short book, and a bit disappointing as I was expecting more adventure as opposed to advice on how to get children to be your tour guides.
This book was in the top 100 Kindle bookstore free downloads.
1 Star

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Just Another Day at Work

After doing some work in the builders home a few months ago, he asked me if I would like to hang some wall coverings in the show home of his new townhouse development in Langley called "Walnut Ridge".

Most wallpaper jobs these days only involve feature walls and bathrooms, powder rooms, master suite bathrooms and the odd entry. This was no exception and we did a feature wall in the master bedroom and the powder room off the kitchen on the main floor.

These new non-woven fabric backed wall coverings are wonderful to work with and look great when they are up. They seem to be coming down in price a bit too, but only on select brands.

This wall took only about 1/2 hour to do. I paste the wall, like painting, and apply the material to the paste. Works like a charm with no bubbles or lifting seams. The edges are accurately cut and the seams are almost invisible.  

All done. We also have photos of the powder room but they did not turn out well and I do not know how to  turn them and 'save' them when they are on their side.  
A nice little job, a quick commute and home to a cool house to beat the heat of the afternoon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Forever Young

In 1891 Oscar Wilde wrote his one and only novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray". It caused quite a stir at the time, and because it first came out serialized in a magazine, there was ample opportunity for the censor's knife to chop away at it. At the time it was considered indecent, but, believe me, it is extremely tame and leaves almost too much to the imagination.
The story is about a young man, strikingly handsome and full of youthful charm and vitality, who has his portrait painted. While sitting for the artist, he got to know a friend of the artist who happened by. After much conversation, the young man was smitten by the idea that youth and beauty were the only thing in life that was important. When he was given the masterpiece, he fervently wished and prayed that he would keep his youthfulness and that the image in the painting would age with time.
He discovers, much to his delight, and then later much to his horror, that this is exactly what is happening. He finds true love and then cruelly rejects his bride to be. It is the beginning of the fall. His moral values deteriorate and he begins to lead a hedonistic life, jumping from one sensual experience to the next and as he does this, the face on his painting takes on a sinister and evil look, while he remains young and handsome.
The drop into moral decay becomes swifter and things come to a head. Without giving away the plot, I can say that things end badly, but the reader could see it coming.
The book is social commentary more than anything. Moral duplicity and self-indulgence are not exclusive to the late 1800's so we today can learn lessons from this novel. We have the choice between spiralling upward or spiralling downward. It is up to us which path we choose in life. In every action and decision, we should be looking forward to future ramifications or outcomes. The consequences are part and parcel of the decisions we make and the actions we take.
Which journey do we take. There is no neutral ground. We do not want to end up like Dorian Gray, a wreck of a man, so aptly portrayed in this book.
3 1/2 stars

3rd Annual Mill Lake Cruise In

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Super Moon

I took one of my Grandsons with me to the High Street Mall on Saturday night to photograph the Super Moon that was hyped in the media. There were a few other photographers out with their iPhones and Tablets but none with any serious cameras.
We set up the tripod and fixed the settings on the Nikon and then waited. It was 20 minutes later than the night before but well worth the wait.

These next three photos show the slow progression, some zoomed in and others zoomed out.

At one point I just stood away from the camera and stood in awe of the moment, drinking in the warm night air and watching the moon visibly rise above the mountain ridge.

Next time I will try a different location, a bit closer and a bit further south to get the moon rising over Mt. Baker.

One last photo to share and that of the evening light kissing the glaciers of Mt. Baker before the moon made its appearance.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Time Machine

"The Time Machine" by H.G.Wells  (1898)
This is one of the first novels to explore the idea of travelling through time. After a lengthy discussion on the 4th dimension, with several friends, the time traveller proceeds to announce that he has indeed built a machine that will transport him through time. He is met with raised eyebrows but sets out soon enough to prove his theory.
He pushes the lever to fast forward and lands in the same location as he left, but more than 200,000 years in the future. What then begins is the story of what and who he discovered. The future becomes a platform for some philosophical ideas on mankind, civilisation, as well as talk about political models. What he discovers, and I will not give it away, is that mankind has degenerated.  He observes that there is no war, sickness, disease, want or hunger. There are no weeds, etc. etc. But what has happened to mankind as a result of all this security? I quote
"This has ever been the fate of energy in security. It takes to art and eroticism and then comes languor and decay."

It becomes evident that the struggles that mankind and civilisation encounter are the very things that draw out new ideas and innovations. Struggle, as in the case of the metamorphosing butterfly, gives it strength. This is also true on the individual level. We should not disdain struggle but embrace it, for without it we atrophy and weaken.

The ideas put forth are worth reading, but the story, of course, is pure fiction. It is pessimistic in its outlook for the future of our world, and we are left hanging at the end of the book by the disappearance of the time traveller. (Temporarily or permanently?)

It is a topic that tickles the fancy of all of us, but at least in this life, there will probably not be any time travel for any of us.

                                                 2 1/2 stars of  5

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Most Interesting Life

Revolution in Mind  a book by  Roger Brian Neill
The last two books I have read are both autobiographies, that of Roger Neill and of Bill Vanderzalm,  but the two lives and the two books are worlds apart. What they do share is their Christian faith, but even there we see how divergent that can be. I was given this book by a friend of his and because he lives locally I thought it might worth my while to read it. It was!
Mr. Neill starts his autobiographical journey with a picturesque description of him, as a young boy, growing up in the Maritimes. His love of nature and outdoor adventure are nurtured early on and remain with him throughout his life. His schooling takes him to university but along the way he has numerous adventures as he finds employment on the ski slopes and on the trains.  
The mind revolution that the title refers to begins in University at the very left leaning Simon Fraser University in Burnaby BC. He paints a picture of revolutionaries and radicals and his temptations to follow that path.
He came from a family of achievers and after doubting he would fit the mould, he does achieve his degrees and establishes himself in a career in social work where his efforts are very successful, working with the mentally ill, something that would help him to achieve a very fulfilling task later in life in, of all places, Jamaica.  
His life is a series of adventures, both in outdoor activities, service opportunities, and inner discoveries, always interesting and always prompting the thought in me that I have lead a dull life.
Mr. Neill's writing is very articulate, and he particularly excels when he is describing nature, whether camping at Green Drop Lake in the dead of winter or scuba diving in Jamaica. I believe he would be a wonderful adventure writer. His descriptions are poetic and have the ability to draw the reader easily into the situation.
His desire to be of service leads him to unlikely places such as Kosovo, Jamaica, and a few stints in the Israeli army. I was hoping for more insight as to how these assignments appealed so greatly to him and what was the motivation to take them on.
I was also hoping for a some additional insight as to how his radical ideas were transformed into his desire to follow Jesus.
One other minor criticism is the fact that I found the flow of the book a bit jagged, a bit of jumping back and forth with some minor repetition and events happening out of sequence. At the end of the book he reveals that he has been journaling almost all his life. Perhaps he has taken many journal entries and tied them together.
However, this does not distract from the fact that Mr. Neill has led a most interesting life and has written a most interesting book about it. The final chapter entitled "The Hurt Locker" brings together the philosophical elements of his life and I found it to be an integral part of understanding this most interesting man.  
3 1/2 stars out of 5 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

BC's 28th Premier

My good friend Ray Hall gave me an autographed copy of Bill Vanderzalm's autobiography and I could not wait to get at it.
Bill starts right at the beginning and chronicles his life as a boy growing up in Holland. It moves rapidly at first and I enjoyed hearing about his exploits in my home town after he and his family moved to BC.
It is interesting throughout and for different reasons. How does a young man with just a basic education establish what becomes a thriving business and eventually leads to the world of politics? His good looks, sunny personality, and optimistic attitude were definite assets, but his work ethic, creativity, and honesty were keys to his brilliant future.
He leads us through the days of municipal politics and his being wooed (and lied to) by Prime Minister Trudeau to run for the federal Liberals after being such a popular mayor of Surrey. It seems that he was successful at almost everything he put his hand to but he gives ample credit to both his wife Lillian and to God. 
The book gets really fascinating when he recounts the Social Credit party's leadership convention in Whistler in 1986. I remember it well as it was the time in my life when I was starting to get really keen on the political scene both federally and provincially. He tells of the handshakes and deals, the jealousy and backbiting, the subversive pranks and manipulations of the power brokers and the media. 
Bill, at all times, was honest, above board and was what is known as a populist, an advocate for the rights of the common man. He was not manipulative, wishy-washy, or duplicitous, but was honest and forthright, and you always knew where he stood. He was not afraid to make a stand based on his moral convictions even if it was not popular with the media or his enemies. It was refreshing and he was enormously popular. BC had some of it very best years under his premiership.  
But for this very reason, he was made an enemy of the establishment and the media was on the side of the establishment, or at best on the side of left leaning policies, something Bill would not tolerate. The book becomes a diatribe against the media who eventually destroyed him. 
As I observed the Victoria actions and reactions, I sometimes thought that Bill had a sour grapes attitude toward the media but after having read his book and the record of how he was hypocritically treated by print media, TV and radio, I must agree with him. The attacks were at first subtle, but became blatant, biased and fabricated as time went on. There was almost a race to the bottom to see which reporter could dig up the worst dirt and lie to spew in order to drag Bill's name through the mud. 
It all reached a climax during the Fantasy Gardens affair when Lillian sold the gardens when it became too stressful for her to see protesters day after day plugging up her parking lot and driving business away. The Vanderzalms were treated horribly and the media were having a heyday. 
It did not stop there but continued until his resignation and even into his later years. There is no shadow of doubt that the media were very biased against him, labelling him with negative epithets at every turn.
Bill's very strength became is downfall. He was too trusting and took advice from people who were out to get him. He thought everyone was honest like he was and he thought that all politicians had the good of their constituents at heart, when it seemed at times that all there was, was a struggle for power and influence. 
If ever I was disillusioned about politics, I am even more so now. That which I always suspected has been confirmed by this revealing book. But unlike Bill, I have a difficult time putting a happy face on in spite of it.  
When one clearly spells out where he stands on every conceivable issue, he will make wonderful friends but will also make bitter enemies. This is the story of Bill Vanderzalm in a nutshell. I suppose it is why one encounters so few principled people in these days, especially politicians. When you try to be all things to all people, for the purpose of pleasing all people at all times, you become like jello and keep sliding off the plate. Soon you do not even know where you stand and everything you say and do is irrelevant because it does not come from firm convictions. 
Late in the book, Bill gets into his own personal convictions and beliefs on a variety of issues. He leaves no stone unturned and there is nothing ambiguous in what he says, but the reader knows exactly where this man stands, whether you agree with him or not.  
I find this an admirable characteristic and one lacking in our leadership today. 
4 1/2 stars      

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Deja Vu

Sorry for the poor arrangement of photos but 'Blogger" does that every so often and I cannot move the photos around.
We took a day trip to Keromeos on Sunday to 'get out of town' and to purchase some cherries. It was a good trip, overall, and our objective was achieved. We even found a few Saskatoon Berry bushes on the Old Hedley Road. By the time I thought of photographing the purple ripe berries, I had eaten them all and there were only these red ones to photograph. These were the only wild berries I ate as a kid. We would scour the country roads for them, pick for hours on end, and then my mother would bake a pie for us. Every time I bite into one of these berries, the nostalgia overwhelms me.
Every few years we take the Old Hedley Road, either east or west, and always enjoy the fresh view of the river valley east of Princeton.

Monday morning we got to work to can most of the 50 lbs. of cherries we bought at our favourite orchard on the Upper Bench Road in Keromeos. They had been picked only hours before and they were fresh and ripe. Plucking stems, sorting out the very few bad ones, and canning them was an all morning project for busylizzy, mostly. I was able to help but I had a major setback in my battle against gout.

Here is the story. We get the cherries because over the last year, I have had the occasional bout of gout. (I like the sound of that) On Sunday I ate at least several pounds of cherries. These are Vans and they do not at all cause an adverse reaction in my digestive system. Eating cherries in the past has always given me very quick relief from the painful gout so I should be good, right? I had a hamburger (beef, which I am supposed to stay away from) on the road and that is the only thing that might had triggered the gout. But all those cherries??
Anyway, at 3 am on Monday I awoke from the pain. I have been eating cherries ever since.
This was our first trip together, to the Okanagan, since we stocked up on apples last September. I blogged at that time about the traffic tie-up we had between Hope and Chilliwack. Wouldn't you know it. It happened again. It was at almost the same place on the highway and the time spent was almost as long. The Rosedale overpass was barely visible in our rear-view mirror and it was highly entertaining watching the vehicles try to turn around on the two lane highway and then proceed the wrong way on the shoulder, only to wait in a traffic tie-up at the overpass as they thought they would motor through Rosedale and back onto the Freeway. We stuck it out and it was fine, even though we were quite low on gas.
The traffic was very heavy, as it is every weekend, and we do not usually travel that way on the weekends. We were reminded again why. We also wondered if the newly raised speed limit was a contributing factor to the big truck roll-over.

On a side note, our peas from our garden are delicious this year. We have a bumper crop from one small row (maybe 8 ft. long)and we harvest this much every day. Yes, we are entering the fresh local food season.