Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Diner en Blanc Kelowna

Some call it pretentious or elitist. I just call it a lot of fun. 

And in the case of the 5th Annual Diner en Blanc Okanagan - hot.

Shannon's crew from the McCurdy Corner bus,
set up and ready for the napkin-wave to start the diner.
Diner en Blanc seems to have become the event that people love to hate.

You know what? You don't have to go. No one is forcing you to take part. So if you don't like the theme, the idea, the 'rules' (oh, the whining about the rules), then don't register.

Those who do attend, for the most part, are those who love a theme event, and have a great time.

Post meal visiting, as the dancing is about to start.
Yes, you bring your own picnic (but boy, is that open to interpretation!) and table and chairs. 

I've seen more hoopla over a trip to the beach with cranky relatives.

This was good-natured, everyone (mostly) knowing what was expected, and the venue was pretty nice: Quail's Gate Winery, in the vineyard overlooking Okanagan Lake.

I was a little worried earlier in the afternoon. While driving through Lake Country on my way to Kelowna, the little thermometer in my car registered 41C. A bit hot. 

When we arrived at the vineyard, people were melting in the heat. I thought there might be some heat exhaustion emergencies, but then oh then blessed relief came from a light cloud cover.

There were entertainers, a photo booth, free gelato, and music.

Many people came with groups of friends, but it doesn't take long to make new friends at an event such as this.

Some of the outfits were stunning, and the white dress code was no constraint to imagination and style.

The accessories were wonderful, and everyone was lovely in their own unique way.

There were a few faux pas, such as forgetting one's table ... 

... and some great innovations such as made-on-the-spot creme brule.

The table centerpieces that people brought were amazing (did I mention that everything is brought and taken back by the participants? Nothing but the DJ and wine service is onsite.).

Some people had an interesting style!

Would I do it again?


Of course.

Why not?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Oh Summertime

I think summer has finally decided to visit the Southern Interior.

Vernon weather forecast for this week.

Kelowna weather forecast for this week.

I'm going to the Diner en Blanc in Kelowna on the 6th. Don't think I'll need a brolly.
Perhaps some sunscreen, though!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Beautiful, Entertaining and Just Fun

It's been a cool, rainy day - the kind of day when one is tempted to troll through the internet.

I was looking at what TED had to offer, and the short video linked below was one of the 2017 TED film festival shorts. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Wouldn't it have been grand to be one of the passersby who saw these performers 'in their natural environment'?

I'm hoping this video link worked; if not, go here.

Reminds me of a scene from 'Northern Exposure' (how I loved that show) when Chris and Ed teach Ed's sandhill crane how to do the cranes' mating dance: "Dance with abandon." is Chris's instructions.

Dance with abandon indeed.

Live like there's no tomorrow. Love like your heart will never be broken. Dance like no one is looking.

Travellers and Stellar Advertising

Summer has finally decided to visit us and the heat is much welcomed. Those getting hay crops off the fields and those growing silage corn will be especially pleased. (You can take the kid off the farm but you can't take the farm out of the kid!)

And of course, summer brings visitors to the Southern Interior. It's been quite busy for us lately, with guests from Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, Illinois, Thailand, England and China. July will be just as busy, so I've blocked off the calendar for the first week of August, just to have a breather.

We did have a special visitor last week. Friend Steve is on his way home to the north country, after 17 months on the road and over 75,000 km travelled. He's gone all the way to Ushuaia, the furthest south you can drive to in the world, at the tip of South America, and criss-crossed South and Central America, Mexico, some of the islands and the USA.

Almost home - first stop back in Canada.
The riding jacket and pants were black 17 months ago,
now a bit weathered and faded!

It was nice spending time, hearing about his travels and experiences.  As he has been a faithful correspondent with friends and family throughout his journey, I found it more interesting talking to him about what impact the trip has had on him emotionally and spiritually. He summed it up when he said, "I am now comfortable in my own skin, for perhaps the first time in my life."  And the humorous observation that was both literal and metaphorical: "I've been lost for a year and a half!"

And off again.

All the rain of the past few months has made the area lush with growth. Now, of course, I'm constantly watering the yard to keep it from burning up, but it's still looking pretty nice.

Jing and her husband are from China, visiting their daughter who is studying in Vancouver. They really enjoyed being outside in the front yard, basking in the morning sunshine, so I told them to take their breakfast out there ... and they did. Apparently they live in some enormous city in China (they're back tonight, returning from a few days in Banff) so I'll find out exactly where on the wall map) so being out in the fresh air of our mountains is quite a change.

I've included this for no other reason than I saw it while flipping through news sites this morning. With a long former career in advertising, I'm drawn to good ads, and this one is stellar on many fronts. If you're attuned to the current political scene in the USA, you'll get it.

Currently reading "Whirlwind" by James Clavell and "The Red Queen" by Margaret Drabble.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

2017 Falkland Stampede

The 99th annual Falkland Stampede was held May 20-22. Yes, it was a few weeks ago, but it's only been a few hours since I've been able to see the top of my desk again, so bear with me.

Now that I've had time to go through my photos, let me share a few with you. These have a unique angle because I'm up in a room beside the announcer's booth, above the arena. And not all the events are represented because I can only take photos when I'm not working ... which is why I'm there in the first place, as rodeo cashier.

The weather was perfect. The crowds were great. The volunteers are mostly rested and recovered. Here's a little bit of what happened in the arena.

The Falkland Stampede is a three day professional rodeo.
Some of the competitors you'll see competing here - and even some of the animals -
 will also be in the Canadian Finals Rodeo, the National Finals Rodeo and
the Calgary Stampede.

The action is fast and furious.
And lest you feel sorry for the animals, remember that most of them
work less hours in a year than regular ranch horses do in a month.

... and oftentimes, the rider doesn't win the contest. 

Calf ropers waiting for their turn.

... and watching how the other guys are doing. 

The stands were full to capacity on Sunday. Great crowd.

Trick riders entertained each day during intermission.

And then came the calf scramble, where sheer numbers of kids
finally win against the long legs of the "magpie" calves.

Three dairy calves have ribbons tied to their tails, and the kids
try to grab the ribbons for prizes and glory!

"It's all good!" says event co-organizer Stacey.

Bull riding is the last event each day of every rodeo.
It's the main event for many folks.

Again I say, if you were ever to feel sorry for the bull,
check his size against the kid on his back.

These bulls are serious athletes, and they generally win.

The longhorn blood in this fellow adds to his spunk.

The kid is giving it his best ...

... but he's down ...

... and that bull wants to eat him up.
The bullfighter coming up on the left keeps that from happening.

It's not all rough-and-tumble.
Early Monday morning, the heavy horses come into the arena to compete.

They work hard and are lovely to watch.
Most of these teams are working teams, on ranches or in hand-logging operations.

It's sometimes hard to figure out how these cowboys stick to the horses.

Makes for very dramatic photos!

Especially when they explode out of  the chute.

Rodeo manager Jason Churchill with this year's Life Membership honorees:
CPRA rodeo secretary Marion Pippolo (my hero), and local long-time
volunteers Gayle Carson and Dari Churchill.

Time to go home. See y'all next year!

Next year is the 100th rodeo. Not bad for a place with less than 1000 people. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Anne's TED2017 Talk

I have adored Anne Lamott from afar for many years, dating back to when I first read her book "Bird by Bird."

So when I learned that she was a speaker in April at TED2017 in Vancouver, I was delighted. And then waited not-too-patiently for the video to be posted. If I'd been paying attention and knew she was in Vancouver I would have moved heaven and earth to get there.

This is actually better in some ways because I can listen to it more than once.

So here it is. PLEASE watch. It's only 15 and bit minutes, and might be the best thing you do for yourself today.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Belligerent Spring

Saturated soils, above-normal rainfall and a higher-than-average snowpack set to melt - it all makes for some scary conditions in this part of world.

Rivers have broken their banks, the lakes are at 1-in-200-year flood levels, and let's not forget the many mudslides and landslides that are blocking highways and threatening property.

Young apple orchard in bloom. Enderby Cliffs in the far background.
Cro might remember a photo of this orchard that I
posted a few years ago, when it was newly-planted.

In the midst of all the nuisance and heartache, spring struggles along. Young calves frolic in the pastures that are high and dry. Grape hyacinth and periwinkle brighten my front yard. The orchards are in full bloom. And yes, the hummingbirds are back in full force.

Torrential rainstorms have been hard on the little hummers, so when it does abate, they swarm to the feeders in astounding numbers, all species working together to satisfy their voracious appetites. Even the aggressive Rufous males have to let up on their dive-bombing tactics, as the Anna's, Calliope, Broad-back and Black-chins all outnumber them.

Twilight with rainbows and hummingbirds. A lovely gift bestowed in dismal times.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Spelling Bee 2017 Edition - the Word Nerds

To bee or not to bee. A Word Nerd, that is.

I was a bee again this year, after missing last year due to previous commitments, and it was grand.

On the down side, we lost; on the up side, we only lost by 1/2 a second. Literally.

There are three rounds with five words in each round. The Word Nerds and our arch nemesis the Queen Bees came through the preliminaries with 100% accuracy. Indeed.

Katherine, our "Captain, my captain" (centre) watches the results tensely while
Jane and I (in the background) are a little bit calmer.

The playoff round included three words, and I can only remember the first one because both teams got it wrong: mnemonic. What sort of word, that means a device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something  doesn't have its own mnemonic???!!! Only two of the eight at our table had a clue (I was one - ha) but got the first two letters backward.

Betty Selin (local morning radio host and Spelling Bee MC) and
Wendy Aasen (Junction Literacy head honcho).

That meant we had a word scramble tie-breaker: first person on either team to figure out the scrambled word was to jump up with the answer. I was 1/2 a second behind someone from the Queen Bees. *insert big groan*

"What were the words?" you ask. Fairly reasonable ones, sez I.

Warm up (no points):  poinsettia, Ucluelet (a community on Vancouver Island), braggadocious

Round 1: debilitate, borscht, vermilion, thesaurus, mahogany

Round 2: logarithm, prerogative, deferment, psoriasi, etymology

Round 3: disingenuous, intermittent, dinkum, asphyxiate, dilemma

Play off: mnemonic and two others I forget

Good thing it's a team sport!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Entertainment Beat

In the past few months, since I returned to freelance writing, life has had some interesting moments. The past two weeks, I've been invited to no less than four events: the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, two dinner theatre shows and a masquerade gala for Opera Kelowna.

Yes indeed, mixing with the cultural crowd!

And what a hoot it's been. The Husband came to the Symphony with me but then decamped to the North Country to work for a few weeks. So I've had various friends come as my dates - might as well share the fun with people I enjoy.

"Tony and Tina's Wedding" was a 1980s off-Broadway production that became a world-wide phenomena. A local events centre held the Okanagan debut in mid-April, and added a few twists. The families are a bit different: the bride's family is still a Mafioso-style black suits and body guards crowd, but the groom's dad is a washed up bull rider from a boisterous redneck family.

The best twist of all - the wedding itself was real. The bride ('Tina') and groom ('Tony') were a local couple who were actually married in front of a Justice of the Peace. 

And it was pretty much as awkward and funny and chaotic as many a real wedding I've attended over the years, including the Chicken Dance. (If you're not familiar, check it out here, and move the time slider to 1:42.)

The Cow Boss and Vinny - welcome to The Wedding!

Guests came dressed as either members of the Ricardo or Wayne family (as indicated on the 'invitation') and expected to participate accordingly. It was hilarious.

The Vows - while a real wedding it taking place, the "Bride's Maid" is enjoying herself
while the "Best Man" is pouting cuz he's in love with the bride.
Guests enjoying the show while Elvis looks on. Yes, Elvis was in the house.
Momma and Pappa Ricardo
Lovely Italian-style meal
Spontaneous dancing throughout the reception.
The John Wayne 'Cousins"
and a good time was had by all.

A week later to the day, I was at the Kelowna Actors Studio for a more traditional Dinner Theatre production, this time the Canadian classic "Anne of Green Gables: The Musical" based on L.M. Montgomery's beloved novel. This particular play has been part of the Charlottetown Festival on P.E.I. since 1965, and it now recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest continual stage performance in the world. Cool.  The KAS cast did a fabulous job. I was thoroughly entertained.

"Anne of Green Gables" at Kelowna Actors Studio
Ron Green as Matthew Cuthbert and Kate Hammer as Anne Shirley
And now the glitter and glitz event: Opera Kelowna's "Bohemian Masquerade." This was a fundraising event, based loosely on a 19th century Parisian street festival. Funds support free outdoor opera concerts this coming summer as well as a summer training program for students and the Opera's main stage production of La boheme in August.

It was fabulous. The food. The costumes. The music. The performers.

Alexandra Babbel, Opera Kelowna Artist Director and
Katherine Mortimer, Vernon Morning Star Lifestyles Editor

Performers from Kinshira

Attentive guests

Lovely tableau seating for cozy visits.
Fabulous street performers

Katherine learning to salsa dance!

 I think my 'date' Katherine had more fun than I did! And that's OK because she's one of my favourite people and deserved a night out on the town.

 It's going to be an exciting summer! Come on over and share the fun.