Saturday, June 23, 2007

On a roll

Would you call a middle aged woman who is in-line skating for the first time in over 4 years, praying fervently for her life at the top of every slope to Jesus, Buddha, Allah, and the Virgin Mary....

An old holy roller?

Here is my darling husband, who also has not been on his roller blades for over 4 years, showing off how good he is. And of course being a guy, refusing to wear a brain bucket.

Today's dream travel destination: The The 10 km Seymour Valley Trailway, a little-advertised gem in north Vancouver. Running up the Seymour valley, it is a wide, paved trail, excellent for bikers and rollerbladers. We used to rollerblade it regularly, and are getting ready to again this summer.

Of course Holland would be great too. Flat. Flat is good.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The 1969 science fair

" I can't decide whether to take the money or the prize."
"Take the prize" Dad advised. "The money will be spent next week, but this prize is something you will use forever."

I thought longingly of the five dollars. I could buy this new stuff that had just come out, shiny lip gloss. And some aqua blue eye shadow. In 1969, in grade 7, these were precious items. But in the end I took my Dad's advice, and chose the prize. Sophia Caccione, the third place winner, got the five bucks. I had won second place in the Junior High science fair. Well, actually my Dad did.

My science fair project was grandiosely called a "base-2 computer". Weeks earlier, when I was struggling with ideas for a science fair project, my Dad had asked, "Well, what are you studying right now in math class?"

"Um, binary numbers. I don't really understand it" I said. (I said this about math class often.)

"Well, that's great," said Dad. "We could make a kind of counting computer that displays numbers in binary code, base-2."

I had no idea what Dad was talking about, but I liked the sound of "WE". My Dad is a civil engineer. "Let's sit down and draw up some plans" he said. We sat. He drew. The next weekend, plans in hand, we went to the hobby store and bought meccano stuff: gears, wires, little levers, lights and a battery. I could not have put these together to make a base-2 counter any more than I could have ridden my pink banana bike to the moon.

We spent many evenings in the basement workshop, putting this marvel together. I watched a lot, or occasionally held something steady, while Dad bolted parts, connected wires, and patiently explained the concepts as we progressed. By the end of this project, I actually understood how binary code worked. And still do. When it was finished, it was amazing. You could press a lever marked 1 through ten, and the number would be displayed in binary code in a series of lights that went off or on to represent zero or one.

Dad I should have won first place. Instead of Danny Finkelstein's stupid exploding volcano. Anyone can mix vinegar and baking soda and put it under a paper volcano. Dad I had made a freakin base-2 computer. How cool is that!

There were other projects my Dad and I did together over the years. (Remember the huge plaster model of a glacial valley Dad? You I got an A in geography that year because of it.)

Thanks for that Dad. Those hours in the workshop working with you were special. Your patience and help were priceless. I love you for it. So in honour of Father's Day, I am passing on to you the prize you advised me to take at the 1969 science fair. The one you said I would use forever. The one I gave up lip gloss and blue eye shadow for.

The slide rule.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It's not all about me. This time.

This post is related to the "Eight Random Things About Me" meme. Except I am bending the rules (whaddya mean you're not surprised?) I'm writing eight random things about B. My Beloved. My man. The one it took me 45 years to find.

So, here are eight random things about B:

1. He rescues spiders from the bath tub and gently carries them outside to the yard. (Where Snuffy the cat hunts and eats them for snacks.) But it’s the thought that counts. He also rescues them off the boat, so they don’t blow away and drown. I’ve seen him wade through icy water to deposit an eight legged stowaway back on shore.

2. He finishes my abandoned projects. I am good at starting various endeavours, but I get bored easily, especially when it becomes apparent the job will not look as perfect as I hoped. With only minimal eye rolling, to which he is surely entitled, B picks up my discarded paint brush, or hedge trimmer, or chain saw, or rake, and quietly finishes what I started.

3. B gets cranky as a grizzly bear with a hang over when he is hungry.

4. So it is a good thing he can cook. He does wonderful curries, especially Thai.

5. He no longer writes “don’t buy any of that low fat shit” on our grocery list. But when I’m not around to make gagging noises and pantomime heart attacks, his favourite meals are cheese perogies with bacon and sour cream, or greasy fish and chips from the local take out.

6. B is a very good hockey player. But he prefers playing on mixed teams of men and women “because it’s more civilized that way”. He always says something positive about my play, and believe me it can’t be easy. In my best season I got two goals. One was in my own net.

7. When we got together 5 years ago B took on the old bitch without complaint. No not me, Tika, my huge, smelly, lab/shepherd cross whose personal mission is to annihilate motorcycles, skateboarders, and most other dogs. I’ve even caught him hugging her while cooing “How’s my special big brown girl?”

8. B is convinced he is a better driver than I am (and most everybody else). While I know for sure that I drive better than he does (and most everybody else). It makes road And sometimes loud. And then icily silent.

Today's dream travel destination: Costa Rica. We are planning a trip there in the fall. Where we may, for the first time in our travels together, rent a car. Or maybe one each.

Friday, June 08, 2007

You can get to heaven in a boat

B and I have a summer weekend special place. The kind of "happy place" you go to in your mind when the dentist is drilling, when you're walking home from work in the dark at 4:30 on a November evening, or when cold rain is dripping down your collar on Groundhog day.

We were there last weekend, for the first time this year. It will be repeated as often this summer as time and weather will permit. And providing B has not already made other weekend plans. (But if you are a regular reader, you know how I can get B to change his plans.)

I'll take you on a tour. Follow me. First we rush home from work on Friday afternoon and drive 20 minutes to launch our boat in a side channel of the Pitt River.

Then it takes about 20 more minutes to get to Pitt Lake. From here on there are no roads, it's boat access only. The stress and cares of our everyday life start to blow away behind us.

We arrive at one of of several small secluded beaches that dot this 20 km long lake. There are 4 or 5 spots that we go to, depending on tides (this lake is one of few lakes in the world affected by tides from the nearby ocean) and the weather.

A glass of wine by the camp fire as the sun sets dissolves all trace of stress:

For the rest of the weekend we play, read, and nap:

And we hike up to a waterfall, picking salmon berries on the way.

Have you ever seen a five star hotel this inviting? I don't think so:

Sunday afternoon, we head home sun kissed and happy, rejuvenated by the mountains, water, and solitude.

A busy Canada Goose and her family accompanies us the last 100 metres to the boat ramp.

Hope you enjoyed the tour. Thanks for coming along.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Wherein B changes his plans

"What a gorgeous day!" I say to B while we are getting ready for work. "The radio said it could go up to 29 on Sunday. Let's go camping."

"But we already decided to only spend a day at Pitt Lake this weekend," said B.

"That's what we talked about, but we didn't know then how hot and sunny it would be. This is the first hot weekend this year, let's go!"

"But I only planned on going for the day, I was going to do some work around the house too."

"It can wait, there's nothing urgent. Give me one good reason why we shouldn't enjoy this incredible weather and camp for the weekend."

"Sure it would be nice, it's just not what I planned to do, my head isn't there. I can't change plans at the last minute."

The "last minute" is still ten hours away. But B has trouble changing plans. His proposed course of action gets burned in his brain, and he suffers the pain of unanaesthetised neurosurgery if made to change course. Oddly, he has no problem going with the flow when there are no plans, and loves to travel with no set itinerary, just letting each day unfold as it will. My mistake was even mentioning weekend plans a few days before. But all is not lost.

I wrap my arms around him, and whisper in his ear: "If we go camping I'll.... [censored]."

B pauses for a millisecond, then starts to do a little jig. "We're goin' campin', oh yeah, goin' campin' tonight."

There's a lesson here women. If you can't bring your man's brain around to your way of thinking, bypass it. Go straight to command central.

We're off to the lake! Back Sunday night. Have a good weekend everyone.