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.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Spring Throwback

I think it's safe to say that spring is here (ssshhh).

I was digging through photo files last night, looking for one specific photo (which I didn't find because my photo file system is abysmal). Some interesting pics came up on my screen during the hunt.

Want to take a little trip down memory lane? Sure, come on. It'll be fun.

The Daughter on my Suzuki Intruder 800, when she was about 14 years old.

The Son on his Ninja when he was about 16 years old, and
The Daughter behind her dad on his Triumph Trophy, about 15 years ago. 

The Son and Daughter playing in spring melt water, dragging
wood 'boats''through the current. Late 1990s on the ranch in Northern Alberta.

As you can tell, the north country can get a lot of snow.

The end of our driveway, the culvert unable to handle the volume of
melt water coming down the ditch from the north. Spring floods are a common occurrence,
due to both the volume of snow melt and frozen culverts. 

I'll see what else I can find.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Do I Love Him? The Proof

The Husband is in the throes of a head cold. Far be it from me to point out that it's been perhaps a bit cold to be out on the motorcycles (yes, plural). I gauge rideability by the time it takes my finger and toes to freeze, not by the date on the calendar.

But do I still love him - stubborn attitude, head cold and all?

I give you Exhibit A:

That is me, doing accounting. Or rather, me taking a photo of work in progress while I take a break.

Yes, that is a half-full glass of wine. Don't judge. It's accounting, not rocket surgery.

Let me give you Exhibit B, the fuller view version:

Yes, that is our dining room and dining room table (with four leaves removed). Since I've been working from home, there have been tense negotiations over who has custody of the desk with the other computer.

I lost.

We are talking about a re-drawing of the lines of scrimmage. I think the TV and DVDs (because we don't actually watch TV but we do watch DVDs) may be moved downstairs so I can set up my office in the small den off the front entryway. That was my initial plan when we moved here but I was unable to get our large vintage teacher's desk through the doorway.

There may be a way. 

And thanks to Friend Karen, we have a smaller teacher's desk that currently resides in the sewing room, which The Husband can use for his computer.

That fact that he's willing to undertake this not-small upheaval, and that I'm still willing to do his company account books for over 30 years says a lot. If you knew just how much I loath accounting, then you'd really know how much that says.

The fact that I'm also the community association treasurer may indicate that I've also lost a few brain cells over the years.

C'est la vie.

Besides, it's raining. Again.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Big Lakes Country

When I first moved to the North Country back in 1980, it was to Grande Prairie. The place was in the throes of boom-town live, rapidly transforming from a sleeping northern town to a hectic small city. Oil and gas development was at an all-time high and there was zero vacancy for rental properties.

I had taken a job up there and told my family I'd stay for two years and then return south.

It was 28 years later when The Husband and I finally said goodbye to the Peace country, and moved not to the southern prairies but the Southern Interior of BC.

We loved it up there, and still carry it in our hearts. It's just not the place for us anymore, although The Son and his family still live there, as do many dear friends. And The Husband goes up in spring and fall to work for a few weeks for long-time customers. So we do visit regularly.

One of the children of close friends works for Big Lakes County, whose administrative offices are in High Prairie. She posted this video on her Facebook page today, and I thought I'd like to share it. It's a promotional video, obviously, but it does showcase the area where I spent a lot of time for many years.

If the video doesn't work (I'm not sure of the technology here - let me know) I've added the link to Vimeo just below it.

PS - just checked it out and it works but it's low resolution (limits to how much I can upload on this site apparently) so please also go to the link for the high-resolution video. It's quite nice.


Big Lakes video link here

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Bean Feed - an 81 Year Tradition

European occupation in parts of Canada is very recent when compared to other 
places in the world - like Europe. I read once that North Americans think 
100 years is a long time and Europeans think 100 miles is a long distance.

Very true.

Having said that, we still have traditions that we can be proud of.
 In our small town it is the annual Bean Feed.

The Bean Feed started 81 years ago to celebrate the opening of the 
Community Hall in March 1936. It is the building we still use today, 
although there have been some modifications
and improvements made to it over the years.

Some of work crew: Amanda, a reluctant-to-be-photographed Gail, and Tammy.
It was called the Bean Feed because it was the middle of the depression and
 times were lean.The community association provided the meat and beans 
while each family brought a dish - a vegetable or dessert.

We still do it that way. There is no cost to attend. 
How many community events do you know that like anymore?

Brian getting ready to carve meat, Valdine and Larry - hard workers in the community.

There is never any shortage of food, even if you don't bring your dish! 
The variety is amazing, something for everyone.

Time to serve
Volunteering is at the heart and soul of every small community. 
With no local municipal government (we are part of a 'regional district') 
things only get done when community members get doing.

Serving up.
 Looking to the back of  hall, the kitchen (yellow light) to the left and the bar
 to the right, the balcony (not used any more) and meeting room
behind the windows; the main entry in the middle going out to the main street.

This is a family event, and don't think the kids make it noisy because 
the sound of the conversation while everyone visits is a veritable roar!

Everyone pitches in to help. When people are done eating, they come into
 the kitchen to help with the dishes. More hands = less burden on a few, 
with the bonus of a quieter opportunity for conversations.

And of course there is dessert.

It is a nice opportunity for friends to gather after a long winter...

and children learn to be social creatures in the greater community. Look - no electronic devices!!!

The community has Coffee House music events the last Saturday of each month 
from September to April. The march Coffee House is held in conjunction 
with the Bean Feed, a win-win for everyone.

Jamie, one of the technical guys for the Coffee House, and his lovely wife Kelli.
As owners of the Falkland Store, they also donated all the meat for the supper.
That's what you call community support!

Musicians come from surrounding communities to perform three selections each.
 It's always interesting to see who shows up and what they perform. 
There is now a well-established Coffee House circuit established in the region, 
a great venue for amateur musicians.

View of the stage from the balcony.

The lighting adds a nice atmosphere, I think.

Waiting to perform.
Another successful community supper followed by good entertainment. 
Small town life at its best.