Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have a Happy Holiday!










And in case you haven't seen enough snow where ever you are tonight . . .


























From our house to yours . . .



Have a safe and happy journey. See you in the New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Wunderland or "It never snows in Victoria"





































Sunday, December 14, 2008

Winter Wonderland


No need to dream of a white Christmas.



After shoveling the deck you can see how deep the snow was.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Salmon Running

Last weekend, Diane and I took our little dog Scout to Goldstream Provincial Park to watch the salmon run. It is literally minutes away from our house. We kept looking at each other and saying, “Yes, we live here!” I’ve included some pictures.


Everyone here is all abuzz about the new Coalition Government. It looks like it is going to happen!!! Say good-bye Stephen Harper!

We have moved our office. As of tomorrow, I will report to work in a new building that has never been used. Our furniture will be on the new carpet that has never had toner spilt on it or paperclips worked into the mat. I’m the printer room will have that ‘new car smell’. I will get to unpack the boxes I packed up last week. I will take in cookies I baked on my day off and peanut butter truffles to try and sooth the group. Even office moving can be stressful. I still remember what real moving stress is. Remember the boxes, bubble wrap and list of goods to follow? Seems like a long time ago.

It is a foggy, misty day. A very nice day off day. Magical. For some reason, the antique mantel clock above the fireplace that has not worked for several years decided today that it now works.

I just got a call from my boss. We have the green light to go into work tomorrow and start unpacking our boxes. The fun begins.

Friday, October 31, 2008

US Presidential Race




Just because we need a laugh, a preview of next season's Dancing With The Stars.





Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ann Mary Burger (April 6, 1923 - October 20, 2008)

Diane’s mother died on Monday in Baltimore, Maryland. Diane had flown out there on Friday and got to spend a very nice day with her mother Saturday.

Along with the pain of losing her mother, her brother, who was her mother’s legal representative had Diane’s visitation privileges revoked. Why? Because he could. Because he asked her not to show up at the hospice until noon on Sunday, which she did wait until noon, but she failed to call him on his cell and ask his permission to enter the room before she walked in. He told Diane she would be subordinate to him or not see her mother at all. After Social workers stepped in and tried to mediate a workable situation an attorney friend of Diane’s in Maryland advised her to “Kiss his ass or you will not see your mother at all”. Her last visit on Sunday was a supervised 1 hour visit to say her goodbyes. Her brother informed her that her visitations would be terminated altogether on Tuesday. Diane’s mother died the next day, on Monday. Her mother’s services are private (read: Diane is not invited) Given all of this, there really was not much point in staying in Maryland so she flew back home to Victoria late last night. Diane’s relationship with her brother is strained to say the least. A lot of it is the gay thing. Diane’s brother does not hesitate to tell her how much he hates her.

Now, take a moment to imagine if Diane and I had stayed in the States and something had happened to Diane. What do you think he would have done to me?

Reason number 1909 we are glad to be living in Canada is, families are often ugly and they can not touch us here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thanks Giving
I’ve been very negligent in blogging lately. I have lots of material in terms of social events (i.e. Oktoberfest party, Thanksgiving, etc.) but somehow I just don’t have the levity of spirit to post these events. I read WMTC and WEB’s blogs daily and feel that I really don’t have a lot of relevancy to add comments about the current politics in the US and Canada. I seem to be glued to the financial news like watching an automobile accident out the window of my vehicle as I pass it by. It doesn’t help that financially we still have a leg in the States and one here in Canada. We still have to be concerned with every bounce and fall in the exchange rate. At the Thanksgiving dinner table of dear friends who were gracious enough to include us, we all went around the table and said aloud what we were thankful for. All of the statements that were made I could identify with. I am grateful we got out of the States when we did. My good friend N. has been trying to sell her house in Las Vegas, the worst depressed housing market in the States, to move back to Connecticut to be with her mother who has Alzheimer’s and her brother with cancer. I received an email from her last week that her mother had died and she was taking her house off the market. No hope left for N. No time to get back with her mother. I have another friend in LV on a Social Security disability with a maintenance problem on his trailer. He can’t get anyone to extend him credit to get it fixed and allow him to pay it back in small installments. Winter is on the way and he will have no heat. I have made calls and I do what I can from afar, but it is difficult. I know someone else who pulled their college aged daughter out of University because they can’t afford to keep her there. The father has lost his job and the mother was a stay at home Mom, now of course a luxury they realize they can no longer afford. She now is trying to get a minimum wage job in place where the unemployment is at 11 percent and she has no job skills or experience. There is still part of me that grieves for the America that is dead. Not just as in dead Capitalism but dead as in the dreams of friends we left behind. It is a grieving process. I have a general feeling of discontent. Nothing I can point my finger to and say, ‘Aha, that is the culprit’. Just an overall uneasiness that nags at me constantly that I should be doing something, something more than going to work and coming home to do the cleaning and cooking, necessary things for sure, but lacking in that complete feeling of accomplishment. And yet, those simple tasks are what make up the complexion of my days. That and watching the stock tickers and the political pundits scoff at the idea the sky is falling one minute and then do their best Chicken Little impersonation the next. Some of my Canadian friends believe that Canada is immune to a US style meltdown. I don’t think anyone is immune, we are possibly better positioned. But it doesn’t make me feel any better to have security in the short term while people down South are struggling so much. I watch CNN report that even though the polls have Obama so far ahead of McCain that most people polled are lying. They are just saying they are for Obama and they will actually vote for McCain once they are in the booth.

Really?

That sounds awfully convenient as a reason for stealing another election. You know, the exit polls are just a bunch of Americans lying.

I took today off work to watch the election returns. I will take of November 4th, as well. I have the banked flex time at work, so why not.

The weather here is wet, misty and so fall like. I will sign off now, as I’m going to get gas for my vehicle at 1.21 a litter. Oh yes, and be thankful for everything that Canada has provided us. We are thankful and fortunate to be where we are.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Naomi Wolf
It takes about 26 minutes to watch but it is well worth it.


Monday, September 22, 2008

In case you didn't see this yet . . . a little bit surprising.


School cuts gay, lesbian issues from elective

Canwest News ServicePublished: Monday, September 22, 2008
VANCOUVER --Abbotsford high schools have been prevented from teaching the controversial new Social Justice 12 course because the local school board wants to review its content.
The elective course, which deals with issues ranging from homophobia to animal rights, has caused controversy among religious groups that worry it's too malleable to the individual beliefs of teachers.
One school -- W.J. Mouat Secondary -- scrambled to modify the course, removing content about homosexuality, after the board said it couldn't be offered this semester. Mouat began promoting the course early this year during course planning, said social studies department head Leanne Abrey. Ninety students had signed up for it.
It wasn't until the beginning of the summer, she said, that the board told the school the course couldn't be offered until the final version was approved.
The school rushed to take out parts of the course and expand on others, creating a new course called "Global Studies and Active Citizenship," Abrey said. She said the course no longer contains sections on homosexuality and gay and lesbian rights.
Abrey said she's been saddened and frustrated by the board's intervention.
"I kind of questioned why a ministry-approved course would need to have board approval," she said.
"I don't think it reflects well on our community. It sort of defeats the purpose of a social justice course when it can't be offered."
Abbotsford school district superintendent Des McKay said the board has put Social Justice 12 on hold because it has not yet had a chance to review the final version of the course.
"We're just trying to follow good process," he said.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Cowards?

I watched the speeches of the Democratic National Convention. All were quite moving in some way. Hillary and Barack both made gratuitous mention of GLBT issues. As Barack spoke, I knew that whether he is the perfect choice for President or not, he is the only choice for a chance for the US to take some power back from the Decider and his regime. McCain seems like a foot soldier for the same government that has been in power for the last 8 years.

I have read the criticism that US to Canada immigrants are cowards. In moments of self doubt, it occurs to me that maybe I was a coward. It didn’t feel very cowardly at the time. We left the best jobs we have ever had to move to a new country with no means of employment and the expectation that when we did find employment it would be at about half the amount we had been paid in the States. We left the friends and connections one makes after 50 plus years of life. That is perhaps the hardest thing. We left our comfort zone. We left everything we knew to be true for the complete unknown. Cowardice?

Every person who knew us and our plans as we were in the process of leaving the States to move to Canada remarked on what a brave a thing it was to do. I didn’t feel brave, I felt like it was the only reasonable thing we could do. We are in our fifties. We didn’t feel like fighting for the rest of our lives to be recognized as equal citizens. We wanted a quality of life that we could only have by leaving. We wanted to know for sure that if either of us was in the hospital we could make decisions together or for one another. We wanted to know for sure that if either of us died it would not leave the one remaining destitute. Some of our family members are not supportive, nice people. We didn’t want to leave each other an unwinnable legal war in the event of one of ours demise. It didn’t feel cowardly or brave. It felt like the only reasonable alternative we had.

As I watched the speeches and felt my twinges of cowardice, I knew that we did the only reasonable thing we could. We stepped out on the precipice and jumped into the void. Depending on your motivation I guess that could be interpreted as either bravery or cowardice.

To totally change the subject –

Last Christmas Diane and I gave each other a gift of a donation to the Pacific Northwest Raptors. I have an irrational fear of birds, even a sparrow (thanks Alfred Hitchcock?). We went to visit the centre in Duncan BC and were able to go out on a hawk walk with a Harris Hawk named Annikin. I’m including some pictures because for me this was the ultimate bravery.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We have returned from our holiday and go back to work tomorrow. We had a fantastic time visiting the Okanagan. We stayed in Summerland, centrally located between Kelowna and Oliver close to Penticton. It was our anniversary on 08/08/08 and wanted to do something special. We drove the Coquihalla Highway to get to Summerland. It is beautiful scenery and a very pleasant drive. The most disturbing thing about the drive is to see the damage the pine beetle has done to the trees. The mountains are covered with dead, brown pines. It is really sad. Global warming is helping these beetles to get a strong foothold in the BC forests and it is very hard to get rid of them.

We had a great time on the Kettle Valley Steam train. It is a turn of the century locomotive complete with a bank robbery and bar-be-que. Very touristy and I loved it.

We visited all of the wineries in Penticton, most in Summerland, Peachland and Oliver and several in Kelowna. So many good experiences, I can’t recall them all. I’ll include some pics.

Of course, we went golfing at 1:16 in the afternoon of the hottest day of the year for Summerland. It was 39 degrees. Diane’s truck temperature gauge registered 108 Fahrenheit. We golfed with a friendly couple who were visiting from Toronto. What do you do when you leave the golf course? Stop at more wineries on the way home.


I loved Kelowna. It is a great town to visit. It is so much like Nevada, though. A little too hot. But I really liked it there. As we drove along the highway looking out at the Okanagan it reminded me a little bit of the Laughlin/Bullhead run but on a much larger more lovely scale.

We rented a little villa with our own swimming pool. I loved this since it is one thing I miss from living in the desert. I swam everyday. It was great to come home at the end of the day, swim, bar-be-que and drink very nice wine. We ended up bringing home 74 bottles to add to the cellar. Very special occasion wines. We said before we left that we might bring back a case or two. But knowing us, and remembering our trip to Paso Robles that one or two case thing was a fantasy.

On the way home we took the southern route through Keremeos to hit all the fruit and vegetable stands. We brought home peaches, nectarines, apricots melon, cherries and blueberries. Corn, squash and tomatoes. And in case I forgot to mention. More wine. We found and vineyard/winery/fruit stand. It was really excellent wine.


Well, I treated myself to a going back to work massage today. All the stress of wining and dining to work out of my muscles.

Thanks to Doug and Dixon for the moon :) and the singing.


Thanks to Bob and Dave for the calls and well wishes.

I guess it’s time to get my clothes ready for work tomorrow.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Death by brownie. A little Sunday humor.


video

Friday, July 18, 2008

This just in . . .

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- A measure seeking to commemorate President Bush's years in office by slapping his name on a San Francisco sewage plant has qualified for the November ballot.
The measure certified Thursday would rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.
Supporters say the idea is to commemorate the mess they claim Bush has left behind by actions such as the war in Iraq.

Local Republicans say the plan stinks and they will oppose it.

Finally a fitting tribute!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A message from her majesty
to all ex-pats :)



To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.
Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).
Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.
Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.
A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.
To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:
(You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)
1. Then look up aluminum, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.
2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour', 'favour', 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise'. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').
-----------------------
3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as US English. We will let M*crosoft know on your behalf. The M*crosoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize.
-------------------
4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.
-----------------
5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not ready to shoot grouse.
----------------------
6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
----------------------
7. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables.
Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
--------------------
8. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.
-------------------
9. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.
-------------------
10. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting Nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
---------------------
11. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in
Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.
---------------------
12. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body Armour like a bunch of nancies). Don't try Rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.
---------------------
13. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.
--------------------
14. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.
-----------------
15. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).
---------------
16. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.
God Save the Queen!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Canada Day!!

Friday, June 20, 2008





The money is in the bank.
The champagne is on ice.
Today is my birthday.
Happy birthday to me.
The house was on the market (20 months) for longer than we had our applications in to become PR's (18 months). We got the perfect buyer (good karma), loves the house, totally renovating the inside, didn't want any systems inspections as they were taking it down to bones. The property is totally what sold it. We know how lucky we are.
The celebration begins. Birthday. Permanent job. House sold, money in the bank. One less mortgage. June has been very good to us.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Friday the 13th was a very good day for me. I had an interview for a permanent position doing the job I have been doing on a temporary contract basis. I wore the power suit and everything. I ended up being offered the position. I am the Senior Accounts Payable Technician and backup to the Supervisor at the University of Victoria. Of which I am very pleased. It offers a lot more security and benefits.

So, in celebration, Diane and I attended the wine and oyster festival at the Harbor Coast Hotel in downtown Victoria on the waterfront. It is our favorite annual event here in Victoria. They had 135 different wines available for tasting. Thank goodness, I only tasted the reds. The first oyster I ate, I felt a rock in and almost spit it into a garbage bin. Then as I rolled the rock around in my mouth it felt pretty smooth. Upon further inspection, I had found a pearl! A very small, but very lucky, Friday the 13th pearl.


Then on Saturday the 14th we hosted a Mexican Fiesta at the house. It was not surprising to find after several Margarita’s how much fun adults could have playing pin the tail on the donkey.

And, yes, there was a piñata. You can see the writing on the wall in the piñata photo. Half the contents were sprayed into the forest. Diane climbed down the hill, and threw the goodies up to us.



The highlight of the evening was Rock Band. This is the most fun game! Joe and Karen brought their Xbox 360 with the drum set, guitar and microphone.

This is the new addiction. Hours passed as we played and sang the songs. I know what I want to get next!! Add a few drinks, very few inhibitions, and great party people and voila you are a rock band. It is not as easy as it looks. But OMG, how much fun it is!

Well, it is another shitty day in paradise. About 75 degrees, sunny and gorgeous! I think I will go out and enjoy some of the sun before its back to work (my new job!) tomorrow. Next weekend is my birthday, so I get to take Friday off. A short week ahead and another spectacular weekend coming up! (I sound a little happy and like I’m enjoying life.:)