Saturday, February 27, 2010

Random Ramblings and a Few Olympics

Just a few thoughts about the Olympics, because I'm quite weary of the continuous media bombardment about all things Vanoc and O.

The men's hockey game against Slovakia last night was ho-hum until the last five or so minutes and then!!! Oh my. Bryan and I were at the Falkland Pub watching on the TV by the bar. I thought Sylvia was going to go into cardiac arrest. She was already highly agitated when we walked in because our girl Cheryl had screwed up her last rock, losing the game but still ending up with silver - not bad for their first time in international competition and against a reigning medalist.

The women's hockey team trounced the US but good. Wished I'd seen the game.

Of course, today's it's Kevin Martin up for his gold medal game, and seeing as it's a heavily overcast and raining day, sitting in the pub watching curling will be no hardship.

Then there's the Canada-US gold medal game on Sunday. And then the 2010 games will be over.

Canada's done well, both in competition and as hosts. Notice, anyone, the bulk of Canada's medal haul has been by women?

On non-things-O observations made recently, there's a tremendous storm that's walloped the Maritimes and New England states. I read yesterday that over one million people were without power. (Olympic sneaky thought: if people were critical of snow conditions at the sliding venues, what would they have said had it been in a location hit by this storm?!).

The scale of the storm brought a memory of a movie I watched with mom many years ago - perhaps you remember it as well? "Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?" with Doris Day and Patrick O'Neal, I think from the late 1960s, based on a true story about the 1965 storm that hit the same area in the same way, and resulted in a baby boom nine months later.

Also in yesterday's new, a chunk of ice half the size of PEI broke off the Antarctic shelf, heading for Australia. Wasn't there another such piece of ice not very many months ago? Those who believe in the theory of global warming (and I'm not showing my hand on that one) take this as further evidence supporting their position.

This morning as I purused the news on-line, I saw the tragic news of an 8.8 magnitude earthquake that's hit Chile, the epicentre south of Santiago.

There are always minor shakers occuring around the world - friends and family in New Zealand and Japan can attest to that - but the magnitude of these recent ones makes me think that perhaps we're wasting our time worrying about global warming. The earth is busily tearing itself apart at the seams, and all the carbon-credit bullshit in the world isn't going to affect that one iota.

I have enough on my plate within a 100km radius to keep me amply distracted or otherwise mentally occupied, global catastrophes notwithstanding. (Another 'notwithstanding' clause? Sorry! Canadian in-joke. The weavers will laugh.)

The newly implemented server system at work ruffled more than a few feathers, especially Monday morning when everyone booted up their computers to find nothing the same. In a business such as ours where deadlines are an ever-present sword hanging over our heads, fumbling through an unfamiliar file system makes for serious angst.

This is the fourth new system/protocol for me in just under two years (indoctrination as a newby, then changes in my work assignments), so my tolerance for change is very high. Those who've been around for awhile longer, and especially those who don't do change well, were totally exhausted by the end of the day.

Add to that the virus that's been making the rounds of the building, dropping people like flies, and you have an unhappy, baggy-eyed crowd. Gradually, though, I saw glimmers of hope as some people realized the potential good in the change, including an opportunity to seriously purge files that everyone had been afraid to touch.

I snuck a peak at the Yarn Harlot's blog Friday afternoon and she wrote a comment that pinned the situation neatly: "Is that a light I see at the end of the tunnel, or the light of an on-coming train?"

Speaking of other blogs, have any of you stumbled across a truly bizarre one called Nic Cage as Everyone? It's both weirdly fascinating and disturbing at the same time.

So, I was at the local Tim Horton's Thursday afternoon for my After-'B'-Section-Plateroom-Deadline break and needed to use the women's restroom. Much as I like Timmy's (although not as much as Starbucks - my heart will always belong to you) the smell in that restroom bothers me. It's not a stink, because the facility is very clean, so much as an offensive fragrance. And on Thursday I finally nailed it down - it's the same nasty room 'freshener' that my Grandma Gieck used in her bathroom, Glade or some Avon aerosol spray. It gagged me then and it gags me now.

Not all grandmother-related childhood memories are pleasant ones.

And hey, why is a food service establishment using air 'freshener' anyway, in this age of perfume-free zones? Especially a place that's essentially a bakery, filled with yummy smells.

My daughter remarked during her last visit that my purse (yeah, a purse - my kids still think that's totally hilarious) smells like grandma's (adding insult to injury re the whole purse thing). She assured me that was a good thing, because the smell was mint gum.

The Falkland Visitor Centre and Transit Station is taking a hiatus before the summer onslaught. It was lovely to have everyone here-through-to-and-fro. It was also nice to sit in complete solitude and silence Monday night.

Becca arrived Sunday, Bryan departed Tuesday, Fay arrived Thursday afternoon, Becca departed Thursday evening, Juliette arrived Saturday evening, Fay and Juliette departed Monday morning, Bryan arrived late but intact Wednesday night.

In between were lovely moments of laughter, wine, good food, intense game play, a fabulous guitar concert (Michael Friedman was in Vernon) and good conversation.

Bryan had a frustrating trip home from Phoenix, about a 5 on the Trip-From-Hell scale. Departure from Phoenix was delayed by fog in San Fransisco; once loaded at SF, they had to deplane and find another bird because of mechanical problems on the first one, which made him miss his Vancouver to Kelowna flight. Air Canada, bless their hearts (NEVER thought to hear that from anyone, eh?) high-speed shuttled my gimpy ol' man across Vancouver airport to snag the last seat on the 7:05 flight. And so he arrived only 2 hours late.

It is a funny feeling, however, watching a plane-load of people come through the arrivals gate, pick up their baggage and then leave the terminal empty while you're still waiting for someone to arrive.

I went to the AC counter. "Excuse me, was that the connector flight from SF?"

"Maybe. Why?"

"Because my husband didn't get off. What have you done with him?"

"Just a moment. Ah. He's on standby."

"And when will be land here?"

"Maybe at 7:50pm. Maybe the 10pm flight. Come back at 7pm and I'll tell you."

At least I had opportunity to watch the Canada-Russia hockey game in the airport lounge.


KEVIN WON!!!!!! Gold in men's curling!!!

Silver in women's!!!! Gold & silver in women's 2man bobsled. Bronze today in men's 4man bob. Gold in men's pursuit longdistance speed skating.

12 gold medals for Canada and still the men's hockey against USA tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Delight for the Senses

There's a new shop in Revelstoke that I've fallen in love with. It's called Crescendo, and the photo below should give you an idea about its appeal.

Daniel and Elvira are the proprietors. The link below is to an article published in the Revelstoke newspaper upon their opening. It tells everything about the store, the products and the people.

I mention it here because I was just there on Saturday. I already have a set of oils, a Christmas gift from Bryan's mom: chili oil, lemon oil and pumpkin seed oil. The pumpkin oil is pure oil, the other two infused olive oils. The pumpkin oil especially is lovely on vegetables and salad.

You just don't walk into Crescendo and look around. Daniel takes you on a tasting tour, and it becomes almost an intimate conversation. I didn't much look at the spices, salts and peppers - there are enough of them and fresh in our pantry. I did, however, fall in love with porcini oil. I also had a hard time deciding between several balsamic vinegars, settling on pomegranate balsam. (this time!)

Sunday night, I made risotto with green onions and cashews, then added a generous sploosh of the porcini oil just before serving. Mmmmm........

I also tried the pomegranate and porcini together as a dipping combo and was very pleased with it.

No doubt about it - when the weather is grey and damp, good food is a tremendous comfort.

I have the backside to prove it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Trivia Time and Scheduling Challenges

Pop quiz time, kids. Do you remember Harvey Kirk?

Do-do-do-dah, do-do-do (the little theme from 'Jeopardy').

No, this is not Harvey Kirk. This is our attractive daughter Becca after a muscle-melting sauna and a reinvigorating shower. She arrived on our doorstep just around suppertime, driving from Edmonton via Jasper and Hwy 5 today. The plan was to go from her friend's place to Airdrie and the relatives there, but weather conditions weren't favorable so she did the marathon route.

As I type and sip hot chocolate, also blissed-out from the sauna, she's already crawled into bed, poor thing. Her notebooks are spread across the kitchen table, studying already underway for her upcoming mid-term exams.

Bryan and I spent most of the weekend over to Revelstoke, visiting his mom. Well, visiting and also watching endless hours of Day 2 of the Vancouver Olympics. It's times like this when I both wish we had television and am glad we don't. It would be so easy to succumb to the temptation to vegetate slack-jawed in front of the boob tube watching endless sports coverage.

Quite frankly, I don't have that kind of time to waste.

Finally, finally I have my hands on one of the manuscripts and photo material that Val has been working on with a 'difficult' client. I'd like to get a rough layout of the book done this week, perhaps Wednesday.

I've already said that the house is a mini transit terminal this week. Well, that got a little more complicated and it's entirely my fault.

Bryan was on the phone with friend Gerald, currently lounging at his place in Phoenix. He was very wistful at the end of the conversation, looking outside at the gloomy rainy day, and I felt badly for him because he'd had complete faith that this was the year he'd finally get down to Baja with David and their bikes. Of course, his AS blow-up ended that.

After my curling game on Thursday (we won, thank you for asking, and I made some tremendous shots - not bad for an old birthday girl), I got on line and looked up possible flights to Phoenix from Kelowna. Westjet has direct flights but they are very dear. I then looked at Air Canada (I know, but must needs) and found some great deals: $200 down, $80 back via Vancouver and San Francisco. Bought tickets for departure on the 16th, return on the 24th and felt quite good about it. Bryan was all excited.

Then laying in bed I remembered: I have people coming and going all week and he was to be the taxi service!

Thank goodness for Rebecca's arrival!!!

She's taking her dad to Kelowna on Tueday, picking up Fay on Thursday (if you read this before you leave home, Fay, SURPRISE) and studying in between. Juliette doesn't arrive until Saturday evening, by which time Becca will be on her way back to Vermilion.

All is well.

Despite reports that there is snow in 49 of the 50 US States (no report on Puerto Rico), Gerald assured Bryan that Phoenix is snow-free, that Arizona has only been snowy at higher elevations. All that snow in Florida and nothing at Whistler - go figure.

So anyway, back to Harvey Kirk. Last weekend at the Super Bowl party, some CTV network commercial with Lloyd Robertson came on and I wondered aloud, "Who was that enormous old guy who was the late evening news anchor when Lloyd started? What was his name?I remember he had a drinking problem."

A week later at Mom G's last night, watching the freestyle ski event, the same question came up. It took me all evening to dredge the name Harvey Kirk from the musty cobwebbing basement corners of my mind.

Aha, had you wondering too. Well, only if you're a Canadian over the age of 45.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Meet Bob

This is Bob the Big Bad Burgundy Beta, the newest member of the family. He's lived in a former flower vase on the breakfast bar for a week or so now.

Bob's a pretty cool customer. He likes to hide out in the roots of the bamboo currently sprouting in his 'crib'. Doesn't eat much, doesn't shed hair or scratch at the door. On the other hand, he's not much for curling up in your lap in the evenings.

Upon downloading pics of Bob, I found the following pictures from last Wednesday that I'd completely forgot about. Never mind the short memory of a fish.

Last Wednesday was a dull kind of day. Bryan still wasn't up to par but we thought we'd take a drive up to Silver Star and check out the snow sculptures from the weekend competition. They would have been nicer on Sunday but who wants to jostle in the weekend crowd at the ski hill.

This was the first place winner.

I kinda liked this one.

The White Elephant was my favorite.

Amen, brother.

Sorta sounds like the Campbell government, doesn't it?

We wandered down towards the other entries, and then on the way back noticed this little fellow holding up the elephant on his back! Thinking BC taxpayers ...... you do know BC stands for Bring Cash, don't you?

On the way back down the mountain, we detoured over to Sovereign Lake, the cross country ski venue. Teams from Norway and other countries are training here for that little party to the west of us that kicks off on Friday. There were some athletes in the target range of for the biathlon event when we drove in.

Given the snow conditions over to Whistler-Blackcomb, they should move the Olympic venue to Silver Star I'm thinking.

On the way down, Bryan stopped so I could try to get some photos of the valley. Vernon is just to the right, out of sight, way down below.

You can see where the snow line tapers off as the trees get darker low on the slopes. There is no snow on the ground in town or here in Falkland.

I'm slow to get working today. Off to town shortly to run some errands and meet with Val.

Next week promises to be interesting.

Daughter Rebecca will be arriving sometime after the weekend, to spend part of her Reading Week with us.

Friend Fay will be flying down from northern Alberta on Thursday en route to spend next week with her youngest daughter during her Reading Week at Trinity Western. Fay's eldest daughter is flying over from southern Alberta sometime Saturday to meet Fay here, and travel together onward to the lower mainland and out to the Island for family visits.

It doesn't take a psychic to see Nerts and other nefarious card games in our future!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What a Game!

Wow! Wasn't that a great game on Sunday?!

And no, I don't mean the Super Bowl (even though that interception & TD by New Orleans was pretty cool, and the Colts' screw up on the one yard line cost me $30 in the pool).

No, I'm talking about the final game in the Tournament of Hearts before the football game. Now that was a game, PEI coming up from nowhere, giving Jennifer Jones a run for her money.

Armchair coaches all agree that PEI lost the game when they decided against peeling the guard in the eighth end. From there, Team Canada managed steals and benefited from PEI's inexperience at that level of competition. Or at least that's how I think it went.

No matter. They'll be back next year and on home turf as the tournament moves to the Island. How much sweeter when they win the title on home ice.

Back here in the southern interior, another battle on the ice took place, our curling club's annual Tuff Spiel. And what an event it was. There were 42 curlers entered, up considerably from last year. Play began at around 4pm Friday, continuing well past midnight and then resuming at 7am Saturday with another midnight finish.

If you haven't read previous emails or blogs, I'll explain that the Tuff Spiel is a one-on-one curling event. No skip, no sweepers, six rocks per end, four ends per game, minimum three games. So that works out to a minimum 72 rocks thrown. Or as Nancy more precisely put it, a minimum 72 squats (unless you're one of those *&#*^*!# stick curlers).

I tied two games, which meant extra ends, and won two of the three. I was properly thrashed in my fourth game but that's ok because my hips and left knee wouldn't have lasted another game! I threw 102 rocks. Small game compared to Chris and Tom in the final (and eighth!) game, which had them throw 200 or so rocks in a 36 hour period. Brutal.

I was subjected to considerable ribbing when I lost the fourth game, but when I was lying in bed later that night I thought: wait a minute. None of them got that far, and the local curlers who did play lead, second and third. Where were the high-flying skips?

And another observation. While playing my second game, against a curler whom I have a healthy respect for, he looked down the ice at the beginning of the second end and said, "Wow. That empty house is an intimidating sight." I considered that for a minute and then laughed. That's what every end looks like for leads like me.


Strange mood at work today, and I haven't quite figured it out. I keep feeling like I've said or done something (oh, like I'm the centre of the universe). Could be just a weird juxtaposition of a lot of things, not the least of which the anxiety over the new server system, as well as the upcoming budget. This is one time I'm not completely upset about losing my Wednesdays. Possibly it will be a happier place on Thursday.

Well, I was looking for a job when I got this one, so if things go tits up....

Tomorrow I meet with my publishing partner to review a (finally!!) completed MS. I'm designing and laying out the book. Val's just happy to be through this stage with the client. We still have a ways to go - I don't think the final verdict is in on the photos to be included, but at least I can get started in the layout and she can turn her attention to other sadly-neglected projects. We're way behind schedule on one of them but the client is (so far) quite patient.

Thursday is my birthday. I'm a blizzard baby - so was my mother, born on Valentine's Day in the farmhouse with her father getting instructions from the doctor over the party-line telephone (remember party lines? We still had one at our homestead up north until the early 1990s) because the weather was too frightful for them to get to the small town hospital. I was born in Calgary General, I think just barely. My memories of the event are a bit fuzzy.

Lots of February birthdays in our circle of acquaintances: mom, Oma Plontke, drinking buddies Roland Cailliau and JoAnne Gardner (on the same day, one week to mine), Christian the Dane, Uncle Richard, Candace Harnack (who will always be 9 days older than me), sister-in-law Dianna, former boss Joan. I'm sure there are others who don't immediately come to mind.

To all of you, and to other fellow Aquariuses, Happy Birthday and best wishes for the coming year!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cows in the Mist

With apologies to brother Scott who coined the phrase long before me.

Winter fog is rolling through the valley. The grouchy neighbour's cows are grazing in the pasture next to our road, and I watched them through the mist as I savored the first of this morning's coffee.

I love cows. I don't miss feeding them in -45C or slogging behind them in a sorting pen with liquid shit hovering on the brink of overflowing into my boots. I do like cows, though, and one of the nice things about a small place like Falkland is that one is never very far from the sights and sounds and smells of them.

Being able to see them from the veranda is nice. Bonus points for the fact that their owner hates me. Nothing personal - heck, the only thing she knows about me is that I'm originally from Alberta but that's enough for her. That's the entire point, in fact. Alberta = enemy.

I wonder where Saskatchewan ranks in her universe?

The eastern edge of Tuktakamen is just visible at this point. I'm hoping the sun will burn off most of it today. Several fogged-in, grey days have made for foggy grey minds. My get up and go has got up and went.

Work is a matter of going through the motions right now, for everyone it seems. The 2010 budget is coming up fast, and when management has a worried look, everybody best be treading cautiously.

New things are coming down the pipe. The fox of change is again hovering 'round the henhouse, making for fluffed feathers and nervous clucking. The entire way the creative department does business is about to be turned on its head and that's always an anxious process. That our paper has often been the subject of several recent innovations introduced by Black Press, and has the scars to prove it, explains the nervous atmosphere.

The fact that I've had to learn several new systems in the past 18 months allows me to look at the situation with some amusement. I've already told myself to keep tight-lipped and not let slip the observations spinning in my brain. Starting now (never know who's reading!).

On a completely different train of thought, Bryan and I did a little grocery shopping in Askew's Sunday afternoon, more to get out of the house than for an actual need of supplies. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the new crop of blood oranges is in the stores - with Bryan home, I seldom do the shopping. In fact there were lots of new choices other than the ho-hum navels. I picked up two or four of several varieties including

Seville blood oranges - always a seasonal fav
Moro blood oranges - really red, freaked out a co-worker!
CaraCara navel oranges - big 'n juicy
Minneola - haven't peeled one yet

Nothing like fresh juicy aromatic oranges to lift the mid-winter gloom. Well, sunshine helps but sunshine in a rind does in a pinch.

Some housekeeping matters:

I misquoted a blog find a week back in some emails I sent. Please omit whatever I wrote and go visit

Another one I'm just exploring is

Winter Carnival is in full swing in Vernon, consuming the city. The editorial department is competing in the noon broomball tournaments, beat "some pasty white tree hugging engineers" yesterday (says one of the sports writers, but don't quote me on that). And still got their copy to me on time, which impressed me more.

One of the evening events was the Snowed In Comedy Tour on Saturday night. I got a set of tickets and as Bryan was still indisposed (incapacitated, immobilized, sore as shit) PK was my date. It was a blast - four of the best comedians in the world on the stage up close and personal. We laughed 'til the tears ran down our legs.

It's the carnival's 50th anniversary this year, so everything is extra special. I was thinking of going up to Silver Star to see the snow sculptures but.....

Bryan's 100% better than he was a week ago. When breathing or eye blinking qualifies as an extreme sport, any improvement is a major event.

Thankfully he found a doctor in Vernon who is familiar with ankylosing spondylitis and is anxious to help him any way he can. Bryan's also got a message therapist/chiropractor (trained in both) who keeps him moving. And the now fully-functional sauna here at home is a total bonus.

Unfortunately, his long-awaited motorcycle trip with David in the Baja is once again cancelled. The thought of his back going into spasms while in Mexico doesn't appeal much.

Well, the fog hasn't lifted so much as shifted. Tuk is now completely hidden from view - you'd wonder how something that big and close could become invisible. The sun is bravely burning a wee hole in the clouds to the east but there's neither light nor warmth from it, only hope.

Oops, there, it's gone.