Archive | June, 2011

It’s the crazy season!

30 Jun

Yes, I know I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been busy. My Dad used to say, “that’s not an excuse”! No, it’s not, but it is an explanation.

We’ve been Grand parenting. Never heard of it? It’s what all retired folks with children do when their kids, have kids. It requires vast amounts of patience, good humour, and most importantly, poor hearing. Kids are noisy, no doubt about it. What do you think? Do we go deaf after years of listening to loud music, cars and kids, or is it a defence  specifically for older folks so they can continue to spend time with very small children? I’m going with the latter, never mind all the concerts I attended in my youth that were in excess of 100 decibels.

What’s that? Speak up I can’t hear you!!!!

It’s interesting, visiting only every 6 months with our daughters and their growing families. We get to watch the grandkids grow up literally by leaps and bounds, and we get to spend the summers with them, when there is always so many more things to do. Now, there is a down side to this, we miss things, like birthdays (at least we call), first steps, first teeth, but we hope the quality time we do spend with them more than makes up for it.

A June Baby! The one birthday we'll never miss!

One of our daughters and her husband, moved to Penticton, which is in the southern interior of the province in an area called the Okanagan. It’s a desert area that specializes in wine grapes, tree fruits and tourism, with high temperatures and low rainfall. My kind of place after living on Vancouver Island for 35 years. This is currently where we call home.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we love to visit our youngest daughter and her family on Vancouver Island, but she has her husbands Mom and Dad around a great deal of the time.  They help the kids out around their house, they babysit, give them advise, even take them on holiday, something Richard and I could never afford these days. So we visit, at least 2 or 3 times over the summer, but we don’t spend large amounts of time there as we feel they are being well looked after and we just kind of get in the way.

The other daughter only has one child, but her in-laws live a long ways away and her husband is estranged from them, so we feel we can be of more use here. That’s one of the reasons, that plus we just can’t afford to be going back and forth on the Ferries anymore, not when a one-way fare for us, Grummy and our car is almost $200.00. Not to mention that the average summertime temperature is around 25-28 c, while Victoria, on Vancouver Island is around 19-20 c and I like it warm!

So we stay in beautiful, sunny Penticton, a tourist destination.

This truly is a place that relies on tourists and to keep them and their dollars flowing, there is a festival of some sort or another every weekend. Not to mention that within 50 kilometres of Penticton are many more towns and cities that also offer tourist entertainment.

One of the many Kid's Festivals in the area.

It’s a grab bag of things you would like to do, with virtually something for everyone thrown into the mix. Like Elvis? There’s the Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival, where impersonators vie with each other for the title of Best in the World.

Interested in classic cars, then just for you we have the Peach City Beach Cruise, not to mention all of the other Show and Shines that take place in the area over the summer.

1 of more than 800 classic vehicles on the beach last weekend.

Want something for the kids to do? Then take them to the Kids Festival in either Penticton or Kelowna, or the Action Festival in Summerland.

Do you enjoy lifting weights and looking at ripped bodies? Come on over and see the Mr. and Ms. Muscle contest.

Are you a runner, biker, or swimmer? Maybe you’d enjoy seeing the Ironman Triathlon that Penticton has hosted since 1983.

There are rodeos, bike races, and festivals for just about anything you can think of, and some that would never occur to you. Most importantly though, there is something to do every weekend, even if it’s just going to the local Saturday Market.

And if you don’t want to do any of those things, there are the wineries, lots and lots of wineries, many of which are medal winners, whose products are sought after by those in the know. You could spend days just visiting and sampling, while enjoying the warm temperatures and beautiful scenery.

How about just hanging at the beach,  sailing, fishing, kayaking, or swimming? Did I forget to mention that there are more than 30 beaches in the Okanagan area from Osoyoos to Salmon Arm, with Okanagan Beach at the north end of Penticton, considered to be the very best?

We’ve been busy with both of our kids, helping with the chores on the Island when we first got back, then helping with the same things in Penticton. I’ve been back to the island, and stayed for 2 weeks helping my daughter while her husband was at a conference in the States, and just visiting.  We even managed to do a few touristy types things while I was there.

Feeling cold and wet? Depressed? A visit to Butterfly World in Brentwood Bay will cheer you right up!

Right now, we have the house to ourselves as the eldest and family have headed over to the island for a camping holiday!  Ah blissful quiet!!

Next week we are heading out on our own to see the Arlington Air show in Washington State, then it’s back to the Okanagan for a while. We’ll see the Island kids once we get back as they will be up this way for some holidays with my son-in-laws parents and if I know them, they be visiting some of the local wineries. I can hardly wait.

In the meantime, I’m cranking up the music,  pouring some great Pinot Grigio, and waiting for the cherries to come ripe.

Mmmmm!

God, come October, we’re really going to need a vacation!

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HOCKEY MADNESS AND THE BEST JAMBALAYA OUTSIDE OF NEW ORLEANS!

17 Jun

When we arrived home in Penticton, it was right in the middle of the hockey playoffs. Now, when I was a kid, my parents were sports mad, they watched and listened to just about every sport there was, even golf and bowling. I can remember one night sitting in the living room with my parents watching a hockey game on TV, while my father had the radio in the big stereo console  beside his seat tuned to an at home Lions game, and on top of that he had a transistor radio up to his ear, listening to a boxing match.

A future Canucks fan?

My parents were also very vocal when they watched sports, especially football and hockey. I was sitting on the front stoop one day, when the next door neighbour approached me and asked if everything was OK, were my Mom and Dad fighting? It took me a moment, but then I laughed when I realized he could hear them yelling at the TV from the house next door, and this was from inside a very well built, sturdy old farm house. I never realized just how loud my parents could be.

I’m one of millions of kids who grew up watching the original 6 teams of the old league. I’d have to admit that I wasn’t that interested until 1970 when the Vancouver Canucks became part of the league. I have always believed in supporting my home town so regularly attended Canucks hockey and Whitecaps soccer whenever I could scrape the money together. The league was strong with 8 teams and provided  hours of entertainment, I mean when one is poor, watching a game with a room full of friends is almost as good as being there.

Then the expansions started. By 1993 there were 24 teams, including the Disney owned, Anaheim Mighty Ducks. I watched the 1994 playoffs, and cheered mightily for the Canucks, but my heart really wasn’t in it. Richard was not a sports fan and still isn’t, so I watched less and less and as the teams multiplied, I could no longer keep track of all the teams and their players. With so many teams including the Disney one named after a kids movie, I gave up. Like many hard core fans I couldn’t believe how diluted the play had become . It had simply, in my mind, become a money making scheme for Gary Bettman’s wealthy American friends, so I stopped watching.

Over the ensuing years I kept track of the Canucks through my daughters and other friends, but until coming home this spring, I had never been drawn back into the craziness. This year it was impossible to ignore. I mean we live with our kids when we come home and not having a TV of our own, we end up watching what they want and what they wanted this year was HOCKEY! So I watched and I got drawn back in. I believed, just like I did in 1994 only once again, it wasn’t to be. As a true fan my reaction was, “Oh, well, there’s always next year!” Then, all hell broke loose.

The game wasn’t even totally over and the morons had taken over the downtown of my beautiful home town! I watched in horror as these brain dead excuses for human beings rampaged and destroyed everything they could get their hands on. At the same time I saw ordinary heros stand up for Vancouver and try to stop the stupidity, only to become victims of the violence. I hope the city recognizes these folks and the ones who turned up in the immediate aftermath, to try to fix and clean up the mess, trying to repair our cities reputation. These are the real heros and they show the true face of Vancouver.

As to those who participated in this wanton destruction, Let’s hope that the Judiciary finds some really creative ways to make them pay. I think having their faces posted on the front page of the Newspapers with a $10,000.00 fine, 2 years in jail so they end up in a Federal Penitentiary, and at least 1000 hours community time with a large sign around their necks while doing it that reads, “I AM A TOTAL MORON”. Sign not to be removed until all 1000 hours are completed,  a complete prohibition on consumption of alcohol and a mandatory  alcohol treatment program, paid for of course by the idiots themselves.  Oh, and with all photos and information sent to their families and employers.

Vindictive? No, I don’t think so! This type of stupidity needs to be stamped down on hard, just like you do when confronted by a cockroach. I could speak about why this attitude exists amongst some of our young adults, but as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter. Whatever is the root cause of this malaise, is something that can be looked at, at leisure by the experts, but in the meantime, those who think they can behave any way they like and were responsible for this, must be smacked upside the head just as hard as possible. Is this what we get when we teach our children they can do no wrong, are THE most important person on the planet, there is no such thing as failure, and there are no consequences for their actions? Does giving our children a steady stream of ultra violent movies, TV shows and video games warp some of them? I don’t know the answers, though like everyone else I can speculate.

Just a few minutes more cooking time and it's thick and ready to eat!

Now this is going to sound really odd, but my first thought at seeing the burning cars was “Mmmm, Jambalaya” It was only a passing thought and vanished almost as fast as it arrived, but as I started to write I realized I wanted to include my recipe for it. It’s really tasty and I have the assurance of a man who has travelled extensively through the southern United States that mine is as good as it gets. Give it a try. It might not defuse your anger, but it will make you feel just a little  bit better.

Here’s to the Canucks team and to the REAL Vancouver Hockey  fans!

All the proteins.

3 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 red pepper
3 or 4 dried Spanish Chorizo
300 grams fresh or frozen prawns, cleaned and deveined
1 whole (both sides) chicken breast, cubed and browned
2 - 14 oz(398ml) cans, diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons Cajun spice
What can I say? I like my Jambalaya hot and spicy!
Saute bacon until just crisp, add onion, celery, and pepper. 
Cook until onion edges are browned. Add spices, chicken broth, 
canned tomatoes, chorizo and chicken.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer stirring frequently. 
Cook until desired thickness is achieved.

Add prawns, cook until pink and curled, serve over rice.
Enjoy and keep your fingers crossed, maybe next year
the Stanley Cup will come to stay in Vancouver for a while!

The lazy, hazy days of summer?

10 Jun

I know, I know, I’ve been remiss. I haven’t posted anything for  a while and I’m feeling guilty, but I haven’t really done anything of note or gone anywhere except back and forth to the island. I’ve been busy, helping my youngest daughter with the kids while her husband is away at a conference.   Richard has stayed behind in Penticton helping  the other daughter to build a new fence. We’re kind of boring right now, though we are having fun playing with the grandkids!

Don’t worry though, I’ll be posting next week. I’ll let you know my views on the ferry system, what one does all day long to entertain a 12 month old, a 18 month old, and a 3 year old, plus I intend to do a little flitting about while I’m here, so I’ll post a few shots of the beauty of Vancouver Island.

Talk to you soon! Keep your chin up, Summer’s got to come eventually!

The Illusion of Time

1 Jun

Out on a drive today, on our way to return a borrowed item, we started to talk about how much time we had left up here and how it should be parcelled out. Wow, who knew how busy our lives would become, after we retired!

Yeah, I know how trite that sounds. You’ve heard it said on a thousand ads aimed at the retired crowd in hopes of separating them from some of their money. But it seems, in our case to be true, even when we strive to reach the exact opposite. Life conspires against us, or so it seems. Or maybe it’s just our desire to spend as much time as possible with each of our daughters and their families.

Just another Island lake.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the Island, most of the people I love  live there.  It’s beyond beautiful. I just can’t take the climate anymore. It rains a lot, that’s why it’s so verdant and green. It’s also cold; coastal influence, you know. This makes me sad as I grew up and spent the better part of my adult life on the waters of the Northern Pacific Ocean, but when I say I can’t stand the cold anymore I mean it. If the temperature drops below  21C or 72F and the air is damp, I start to seize up and suffer from pain in my joints. Hence the reason why Baja was a no brainer when it came to where to spend our winters. The problem comes with where to spend our summers and what to do while we’re back in Canada.

Me, back in my working days.

I miss not seeing views like this regularly anymore!

Our kids and their families are very important to us and we want to spend as much time with each one as we can, but therein lies the problem. One lives on Vancouver Island, in the temperate rain forest, the other lives in Penticton, an arid, fruit growing area, in the desert interior of BC, about 400 km from the island. Plus it requires a ferry ride every time we wish to get on or off the island. A not inexpensive ferry ride, especially when we’re towing the dingy.

Our doctor also lives on the island, so we spend a lot of time going back and forth, visiting with our relatives and friends and lately, seeing the doctor a little more often as minor and a few major medical problems have crept up, lo these last couple of years.

We also eventually, go a little stir crazy. We’re used to being on our own a lot, way down the path less travelled, so getting back to civilization,  all the people and noise start to wear after a while and we need to get away. A couple of years ago, it was a trip around Alberta, this year we’re heading to the Arlington Air Show, just south of the border in Washington State. That’s after I go to the island for 2 weeks to help my youngest daughter while her husband is at a conference, get a medical test done, see my doctor, visit with my sister and maybe get up island to see a few friends. Then back to Penticton, where Richard will be in the process of building a wooden privacy fence along the back of the kids yard.

Some of the land around Penticton

We will then get into Grummy and head back over to the island again so Richard can have a visit with everyone, then back to Penticton as it’s easier to get to Arlington from there.

While we’re doing all this to and froing, there are repairs to the Grummy and our little Asuna that must be undertaken, plus re-provisioning of supplies and spare parts that we can’t get in Mexico. There are jobs we undertake for the kids, that they don’t have the time or expertise to do, as well as babysit once in a while to give the kids a night out, alone. Add in when we light out on our own for a while, and the time seems to fly. There never seems to be enough to go around before we realize it’s time to start thinking about heading south again.

According to Einstein’s  Theory of Relativity, the passage of time in a faster moving reference frame is slower than the passage of time in a slower moving reference frame. That means that if you were standing on the event horizon of a black hole, even though movement of energy is tremendously fast, time for you would be passing very slowly. Now I don’t have the qualifications to argue with Einstein, but it always feels to us as if the exact opposite were true. Time spent in civilization where everyone seems to be moving at the speed of light, moves so fast for us, that we feel like we’ve only just arrived somewhere, when it’s time to leave again. Time spent on the beach in Baja, where civilization such as we know it seems to be a million miles away, slides by  so slowly  that when it’s  time to leave, it almost comes as a surprise.