Wednesday, August 27, 2008

PNE - a phone pics blog

For the first time ever, I went to the PNE without my usual posse. I missed you guys. And don't worry, I didn't eat corn dogs without you. Or wiggle chips. But I did have a caramel apple and . . .well maybe we shouldn't get into that. Anyway, I didn't feel like lugging the big camera around with me so I shot the day on my phone. Needless to say, images that look pretty great on a 2" screen lose a little in translation, but you'll get the basic idea.

I headed down to Vancouver with Lynnette and Terri from work, and Lynnette's friend Denise. We drove around for-EVER looking for parking. We should have known better, it was a beautiful day and we waited until mid afternoon to head down. Fortunately we were saved by the siren call of "you need parking?" and an offer to pay to park in some lady's driveway. The PNE has many traditions.

First pic of of a house close to where Denise lives. This is a porch I dream of spending a summer on.

First order of business, was of course, to eat. So here's Denise & Lynnette and myself & Terri fueling up for the day ahead.

After snacks Lynnette mentioned that she had never seen the Eukanuba Superdogs! So we had to fix that. Turns out, now they're the Iams Superdogs and the show was not nearly as good as last year. Unfortunately the cheese-o-rama MC (and his jokes) remained the same. Still it's glowy lights and hyper dogs, fun for a minute or two. GIVE US THE WHIPPET!!!!! <-- that was for Denise.

The PNE was packed. This photo hardly does it justice. If you don't like crowds, stay away from the PNE when the sun is shining.

In the evening we met up with some more friends from work to rock out 80s style at the free Glass Tiger concert. After a little iTunes research I determined that I knew precisely two Glass Tiger songs, "Someday" and "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)". But that's so not the point. Kim & Angie were there with Matia (fondly known to all as Boo). Kim was determined to practice his little girl's mad drumming skillz. Someday we'll be rocking out at a Boo concert, I just know it. DRUM SOLO!!!
Here's Barb in her last week as an intern, sitting with Terri & me on the end at the concert. Not long after this I discovered that I actually know THREE GT songs. Who knew "My Town" was one of theirs?

This pic just happened. I had my finger on the shutter and they hit the lights on stage. Can you feel the 80s vibe? Fortunately, I felt no urge to feather my bangs, load up on jelly bracelets or wear neon. There are definite advantages to staying sober.
All in all, it was a good day. Even without a corn dog (Shannon's home made 'dogs may have ruined me for those. MMMmmm fresh corn dogs.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I got my ticket!

I don't actually get to vote in this election, but check it out, I got my pick for the Democratic ticket! I've been saying since Spring that if I could pick anyone to join Barack Obama it would be Joe Biden and while I know it's wasn't my voice that counted, somebody somewhere had the same idea.

Love him or hate him, Obama has the sheer charisma to take this thing all the way. What he's always been lacking is experience. He's young and as a Senator hasn't had a lot of exposure to international politics. Enter Joe Biden, an elder statesman with something like 30 years experience, a large portion of it in foreign policy. It was pretty obvious back in January that Biden was a guy who would be great for the job, he just stood no chance at all of getting elected. Now sharing a ticket with Obama the country just might get his sane voice in the Oval office (even if he's sitting on the couch and not behind the desk).

I'm glad they passed on an Obama-Clinton ticket. We're already making history here, no need to turn it into a circus. It does answer a question I've long wondered: in the white, male world of American governance who would break through first -- a black man or a white woman? I never imagined we see them both sprinting towards the finish line in the same race. After almost two years of campaigning isn't it amazing to think that they're finally just a few months away from actually deciding this thing? I cannot imagine how exhausted they all must be. And to think, the winner at the end of it all has to go and run and country in the morning.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

blue sky, red tomatoes

I finally finished the dress I've been making for Corrina and since Canada Post confirms that it has arrived, I can now post a photo without ruining the fun. It came out a little larger than expected (and I learned a solid lesson in seam allowance) but since this is a summer dress and we're headed for the finish line in August it's probably a good thing that it can be let out and worn next year.Corrina still has body-worn processors for her implants so I sewed pockets for them into the back of the dress in the hopes that she'd be able to wear it without her usual undershirt-with-pockets. 'Cause man, in summertime, the fewer layers the better.

I've had a little garden going this summer and the other day when I walked past on my way in from work I knew that good tomato days were just around the corner.
Today the time was ripe and the tomatoes would wait no longer. I was rewarded for all the times I remembered to water with a full hand of delicious cherry tomatoes. They tasted like sunshine.

Growing up my Mom always planted extra cherry tomatoes for me. This is the first year I've been able to do so for myself. De-licious.

In the spirit of summer, I also decided to try something a little fancy on my nails. Why not. Summer is a great time to be silly.
And can you believe it, I took all of these photos on my Olympus e410? I am trying to take the camera out to play and not be so afraid of all the buttons. I'm looking into some kind of lessons (Even though my lesson-taking-buddy is ditching me and moving to New Brunswick -- where are your priorities???) There's a class here in Abby but it conflicts with a cake decorating class I already signed-up for so I"ll have to see what I can find. I know there's an amateur photographer's society in town, but I think I need to at least learn the basics before I screwed together my courage and attempt that. In the mean time, I'm heading back outside to see if I missed any tomatoes red ripening under the blue, blue sky.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

all sound, no fury

Is there any sound more wonderful on hot summer's day than that of heavy rain and distant thunder? It's been hot here the past few days. Hot enough that fans didn't cut it, hot enough that I had to replace cut daisies with tropicals more likely to stand the heat. (Although I can hardly blame them for wilting in it when I am doing the same myself.) The air has been thick today, the sky longing for rain like a tired muscle stretching for release. We waited in the heat and midday almost gloaming and just now, just a few minutes ago it came.

I wasn't sure at first that I heard correctly. I muted the TV (a silent gold in men's 8 is still gold after all) and sat still, listening. There is it was, unmistakable. The sound of summer salvation. Rain, cool and heavy and a distant thunder, rare in these parts. I went outside to welcome it, standing in raindrops big enough to feel each one. It was all sound, but no fury. This was a welcome break in the sky.

It didn't last long. Even now the world is quiet again. But the summer storm did it's job. I can feel a breeze cooler than before and bringing with it the promise of a cool evening.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

the livin' is easy

It's summertime and you know what that means -- visitors! This year I was really lucky and had my parents make the trek west to come and see me. Good times ensued. I know that this post is way overdue. Hopefully I can atone for that with a surplus of pics. Early on in the trip we went to Cultus Lake and then on to Harrison Hot Springs. I don't have photos from those days but I can tell you that we walk all around the docks at Cultus and dreamt of a future family summer where we rented a cottage or two and got everyone together for a week on the lake. Sounds like a great idea to me. The first round of sand sculptures was already up at Harrison so we had a great time walking around those.

I should have a photo of my kettle and teapot in this post and they both got a serious workout over the two weeks Mom & Dad were here. Thanks to an incredible roommate who willingly gave up her room for two weeks, I was able to have M & D stay with me, at my place, for the first time since I moved out west. It was pretty great to be able to spend a morning just sitting in the living room reading and drinking tea. I kept poking them, gently of course, and whispering "you're right here, close enough to touch". Nearness is uncommon blessing.

I also was able to introduce Mom & Dad to two wonders of Menno cooking thanks to my west coast family. They got their first tastes of vareneki (and schmon faht) and rollkuchen and I can say with confidence, it won't be their last. (Sidenote, do you have any idea how hard it is to Google words in plaut deutsche? Good gravy! Ok that would be the schmon faht. . . . .but anyway). Good eats in any language. I promised pics so I better get to those.

We spent a day on the hop-on, hop-off trolly tour of Vancouver. It was a great way to see the city (as long as you can get past the strangeness of authentic San Francisco trollies as a tourist attraction in BC. The Vancouver Trolly Company runs a great tour, I recommend it. (Hmm, I was told they were authentic trolleys but according to the site they're reproduction. Shifty, very shifty.) Still pretty though as you can see in the reflection below:

And as you can see, we enjoyed ourselves:

bHighlights from the tour included Prospect Point in Stanley Park and the Dr. Sun Yet-Sen Chinese classical garden -- the only of its kind outside of China. There are photos of these below, but they ended up right down at the bottom of this post and it's too hot out to take the time to move them, so feel free to scroll down. I'll wait for you.

OK, everyone back? Another outing took us to North Vancouver to the Capilano Suspensio Bridge. Like all good Vancouverites I have long scorned Capilano and it's $35 admission when all locals know that the Lynn Valley Canyon bridge just 5 minutes farther up the road, is free. But a discussion with the girls at work convinced me that Cap just might have $35 worth of extras packed in to the park, and I have to say, I am converted. Capilano Suspension Bridge should be on everyone's must see list. (And they even pandered to my sometime thrify heart by offering BC residents a year long season's pass for the price of a single addmission -- it even gets you 10% off of everything in the park, food included. Nice.)

I brought the big camera out to play at Cap, all part of my attempt to stop being afraid of it and learn what all the buttons do. On this day, I learned about countering overexposure and correcting for deep shadows in bright sunlight. Cool. And wouldn't you know it one of the best shots of the day was the quick and classic "just hold the camera at arm's length and smile" self portrait I took of me & Coli just inside the gates. Of course.

Gord caught this pic of the three of us just after we got across the bridge itself. The bridge is pretty impressive and Mom, who I forgot is not exactly a fan of heights, was a total rock star. She went across TWICE. OK I'm having trouble moving the images again -- argh -- the ones with the bridge down below should be pretty easy to pick out.

I caught Mom pulling a funny face. .. . . but also managed to get a pretty decent head shot of each of them:
Dad's is taken at Prospect Point, Mom's at Capilano:

This shot is the other reason Capliano is so very cool. They have this thing call the Treetops Adventure which is basically a series of bridges 40 feet up in the trees. It was awesome to get to be up in the canopy seeing a whole new perspective on a very old and beautiful forest. And it's totally green too, carefully designed not to hurt the trees. I felt like an Ewok. In this shot you can see almost the whole crew -- from the back, Amanda & Kendra, Shannon & Coli, Mom, Dad & me. Missing is Gord, he was behind the camera.

This one is from just outside the classical garden. They had a huge zodiac all laid out in tile, so I had to grab a pic with my dragon.
Inside, the garden was like nothing I have ever seen, just as peaceful as you would imagine. Everything was intentional from the rocks selected for their contemplative potential (there's a word for them in Mandarin that means "thinking stones" or "teaching stones" but I forget) to the little bridges and footpaths was beautiful. There were a thousand little places to just stop and be, which I suppose is the point. It was lovely.

So that brings us to the end of my long and overdue post vacation. It was a gret way to spend a couple of weeks. So all I have to say now, (in the voice of the baby from the 90s show "The Dinosaurs") is AGAIN!!!!! Bleh it's too hot to spell check, so please be kind and ignore all errors, just this once. Thanks :)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

police raid at dawn

Did anyone else have their house searched for hostages in the wee, small hours of the morning? Just me then. Here's how it happened.

It was early morning, in the still-dark when shift workers are dreaming of breakfast and the sane among us are fast asleep. I was fast asleep. I could hear someone yelling and as I came to I was confused because it the yelling person didn't sound angry and the two usually go together. I thought it was neighbours complaining about a barking dog which made sense until my sleep-addled brain remembered that we don't have a dog. I was conscious enough to hear "Excuse me sir, could you step outside please" and decided it was time to get up and investigate who was talking to my Dad in the middle of the night and why.

When I got to the door there were three police officers, uniformed and much more awake than I. Never let it be said that I don't show my parents exciting things when they come to visit. It turns out that my landlords had very nearly be the victims of a crime. Someone had stolen their car keys while they were off camping, used them to get into the car, checked the insurance papers for the address and come on over to the house, keys in hand. According to officer Too-Early-In-The-Morning-Catch-His-Name, this is very common. So next time you go camping kids, watch out for your keys.

My landlord has a job that requires some extra security measures and it turns out that when the thieves opened the car on the driveway here they set off some of these measures. When the police responded to the summons, they found the car with the door open, keys in the ignition, no one home. They came to the suite to investigate and that's how I ended up with the kindly officer explaining that he had to check my apartment for hostages. I'm not even kidding. They went through every room in the place, opening doors and turning on lights (and scaring the tar out of my Mom who had stayed in bed.) I have never been searched for hostages before, I'd be happy not to do so again although they were very polite about it, it was awfully early to be entertaining.

Within 10 minutes or so, they were off stomping through the house upstairs. I hope they were able to get in touch with Mr. & Mrs. Landlord and I am thrilled that nothing was stolen. I'm sure at some point it will all seem very exciting, but for today, I'm tired. I'd be quite happy not to repeat my police raid at dawn.