Friday, February 25, 2011

TGIF Grateful List

What a week!  I have so much to be thankful for... and besides that it's Friday!

I am thankful for my sweetheart!  Shirley Ann is the happiest person I know... and she is always so encouraging to everyone.  She can find something good in almost any situation.

I am grateful that Shelby and family were home last weekend... we had such a good time together.  They had never been to Edith Point, which is one of favourite places to go hiking.  It was cute to see how Lucy could use a sore elbow to negotiate a free ride on her dad's shoulders!

I am always grateful for a picnic lunch... and on this sunny but chilly day we found a sheltered spot at Edith Point where we made almost all the food disappear.  Even Beatrice helped... with her longing eyes she wooed us into compliance and was generously rewarded.

I am grateful for photography.  Isn't it wonderful how today everyone has a camera.  If you have a phone today, you almost always have a camera.  And it is so easy now to share our photos.  Here Shelby is doing a semi-professional photo shoot of his eldest daughter, Maizy... while Beatrice is nudging up with her request... "Take my picture too!" For more photos and humour check out Shelby's blog.

I am grateful for Maizy, our eldest grand-daughter.  She is growing up so quickly!  And what a talented artist she already is.  I bet she drew a dozen pictures while she was with us last weekend.  There were so many on the floor at one time we considered how nice it would be to paper the floor with them.

I am grateful for Lucy, who is now seven years old... and so full of life and energy.  There is never a dull moment when she is around.

I am grateful for the snow... grateful that it was on Mt. Baker and not on Mayne Island.  This past week I was able to use the power washer on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to take the moss off the driveway.  Wednesday my power washer was frozen and wouldn't start, so I just pulled it into the workshop and put a little cube heater on to it for an hour while Shirley and I had our walk.  When we got back it started with no problem and in spite of it being minus two C. I power washed another section.  

Meanwhile just 18 miles away in Victoria they got six inches of snow and traffic was snarled up on the Pat Bay Highway.  We never got a flake!  Mike at Trio Gravel Mart told me today it took him two hours to drive six miles to work yesterday. 

I am grateful for the curiosity of young children.  Would it be that we would never lose this quality.  Here our grand-daughters are peering with wonder into a hole in the base of an Arbutus tree, wondering if Mr. Racoon or Mr. Rabbit might have it's home there... careful if per chance they might fall in and have an "Alice in Wonderland" experience.

I am grateful to have my MacBook Pro now operating with Windows 7!!!  Rob, the Apple rep at Future Shop help me with the install today.  When we finished I was so happy to see the Windows log come up on the screen... but the Rob didn't want me to make to big a deal about it... he didn't want me drawing the attention of nearby customers to see such an aberration in their store. 

So why did I do it?  The stock trading platform I use is only available for a conventional Windows operating system.  The final straw in making the decision to go with a Mac this time was it had to be able to run the trading system software.

I am grateful for the way MacBook handles photos... and now that I have got used to it I am just delighted how slick and quickly one can crop, straighten, edit and fix little things on the photos.  Anything with photos is a dream to work with now... it makes doing slide shows a delight.  As my kids would say, "I've been drinking the Kool Aide too long."

I am grateful for a delightful afternoon in Victoria.  After getting my computer set up with Windows, Shirley and I went to IMAX for a double feature Arabia" and "Horses."  Since we have seasons passes, we just have to get our money's worth, right?  Both were awesome photography and interesting stories.

There was just enough time to go out for a special three-course dinner before catching the last ferry home.  This was our first Groupon Coupon that we have used... and at a very nice place... the Black Olive on Pandora Street.  

The trip home was longer than usual... the route tonight went to Galiano first before coming to Mayne.  But the time went fast when you can spent it on the computer.  I am very grateful for having 3G sticks... both Shirley and I were able to do a lot of blogging as we travelled home.

The Quote of the Day:  

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy: they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." -Marcel Proust

Tell me... what are you grateful for today?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Michael Palin... A Travelling Entertainer

Thanks to NetFlix we have become raving Michael Palin fans.  It started by viewing his Pole to Pole BBC series.  We loved it so much we hated to see it come to an end... so we then went with him on several more travelling adventures.

This 8-part series starts at the North Pole, and follows the line of longitude 30 degrees east as close as possible all the way to Antarctica.  Filmed in 1991 Michael uses every possible different form of transportation possible, starting with a ski plane, then an icebreaker, trains, ferries, buses, taxis and ending with a dog sled trip to the south pole.

It is interesting to see all the different cultures, in Finland, Russia, Turkey and the Mediterranean.  In Africa down the Nile... the pyramids, Ethiopia, Lerata, Kenya and Lake Tanganyika.  A witch doctor warns him of an "evil shadow" following him and shortly after he cracks two ribs whitewater rafting and misses the only boat from Africa to Antarctica.  To what lengths will he have to go complete his trip from pole to pole?

Michael sets himself a daunting challenge to circumnavigate the world in less than three months without flying.  It is amazing the cultures and frustrations he goes thru, missing travel connections and getting a week behind in the first three weeks.  The trip is plagued with problems, as well as fun stuff, like the unforgettable ceremony when crossing the International Dateline.  This 7-part series made me want to try to do it too... except take a little time to enjoy more details along the way.

We have seen several Everest expeditions... and in fact just saw a 6-part Everest -Beyond the Limit series with Russell Bryce that was exceptional.  But Michael's Himalaya includes more than just his trek to Base Camp One.  You get a real feel for the magnitude of this highest in the world mountain range as you travel with Michael thru Pakistan, India, Nepal, China, Tibet, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.

How much Michael Palin can a person take?  When we finished this incredible circle trip around and thru the Sahara I made a few mental notes of incredible architectural masterpieces I would like to personally visit... and I would think one could get some pretty good prices on hotels right now with all the unrest in that area... not to mention the free live entertainment and strife in the streets.

Michael Palin is such a gentleman in the travelogues it is hard for me to recognize him in his early days with the Monty Python boys.  So we dusted off a VHS relic and watched "The Meaning of Life."  I can see why it was such a hit with Shelby!  It fulfills every teenage boy's fantasies.  How can one understand the meaning of life without sex education?  There is a lot in this movie that challenges what you believe about life... and death.  Why are we here anyway?

I love the creativity of this piece of work.  Truly a classic!

I think this quote sums it up very nicely:
"Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My End of the Week Grateful List

After a week with very few sunsets, several snow storms, twice with hail... we were grateful to see even a modest sunset Friday evening.  I kick myself for not taking any photos of the snow this week, which melted almost immediately upon falling.

I am always grateful for the opportunity to be able to do rock work... and this week I was able to work outside four afternoons and complete facing some ugly concrete sono-tube post foundations for our sun deck. Again I regret not taking photos of the work in progress, but I took footings that looked like this...

and made faced them with sandstone to hid the round concrete footing.  It bothered me that the post did not sit in the center of the round foundation, so I cut part of the front edge off before applying the rock.

Here you can see all three posts that I did.  The rock curb in front will contain a planter with soil that will fill up the base of the middle post footing.  It was one of those fiddly little jobs that take a crazy amount of time to produce such a small area of rock facing.

This is my neighbour Jack's driveway off Heck Hill... where I have re-shaped it so the water now runs off it into the ditch instead of all coming across the intersection.

I am grateful to have a sweetheart who isn't afraid to drive our truck with a load of gravel... and this week brought two more loads back from Victoria for this driveway.

I have been keeping an eye on our neighbours place... Jack still lives mostly in Bermuda.  This week the  ramp onto the front step was replaced by a couple of small steps.  Later Jack plans to have a larger landing/step that will sit on the concrete house foundation and hide it.

Update on the Artichoke War... we are grateful for a victory!  Shirley picked up artichokes again this week at SaveOn Foods and at last the price has been changed... now $1.99 for the smaller artichokes... but not for the grand size that is in this photo!

We are grateful to have our son Shelby and family home for the long weekend.  Monday is Family Day here in Canada... except in Prince Edward Island it is called "Islander Day."  Check it out.  I like that... I think we could call it Islander Day too, don't you?

I am grateful for my daughter Sherilee and her faithfulness in consistently posting her Friday Night Grateful Moment every week.  I always look forward to reading it.

"Its funny that those things your kids did that got on your nerves seem so cute when your grandchildren do them."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My UnGrateful List... Artichoke War Declared

I am always grateful for artichokes... and at our house it is a Friday evening tradition to enjoy this delicacy.  This week they tasted even better.  But it had nothing to do with their size... and all to do with the price!  Several months ago we used to get absolutely gorgeous artichokes at Sav-on Foods and we did not mind paying $3.59 each for them... they were huge and really good eating.  But then they got smaller and smaller and the price didn't change.  Six months ago we paid $1.59 for the small ones, about the same size as the ones in the picture above.  To see a big one click on this link.

For several weeks I begrudgingly paid $3.59 for these wincy little specimens... but it bothered me so much I quit buying them... and wished everyone would quit as well.  But the stupid people must have kept buying them anyway.  So a couple of weeks ago I talked to a guy in produce about it.  I asked him if they had any large artichokes?  He said that these were all they had.  So I told him I would not pay $3.59 for a tiny, little artichoke and walked away.  I wanted to make a statement.

This past Thursday when I checked on the artichokes it was the same song, 14th verse.  So I waited around for a produce guy to show up and went thru my same story with him.  He gave me some excuse that it wasn't easy to change the bar code price thing.  I asked him if he remembered what a large artichoke looked like and he said he did... but they haven't been able to get them now.  He said they were about the size of three of these.  So he grabbed three of these little guys in his hand and asked, does that look like about the same amount as a large artichoke?  I said that was more like it... so he put them in a bag and tagged the price of one artichoke on to the bag so we would pay $3.59 for all three.

I appreciated what he did, but was still not satisfied that nothing was being done to change the price, and that anyone who wanted to buy artichokes would still be ripped off... paying for large artichokes and only getting small ones.  So I went off to find the manager... who happened to be off that afternoon.  The best I could do was to talk with the Operations Manager.  I went thru my story of how I had been  buying artichokes here for years... and had watched the artichoke get smaller and the price not change.  And how the produce guy seemed helpless to change the bar code pricing... he just stocks the produce.  Could he help to resolve this?  He spent five minutes trying to fix it but couldn't even find the bar code for artichokes. So he called a cash register girl who said they manually put in a number to get the price.

So, the Operations Manager gave me a run around answer... how the prices came down from head office and they were not able to fix the problem in the store.  He would see what he could do.  Now I had the feeling that something really smelled bad here... but I thanked him and we were on our way.

While I was doing my thing with the Manager, Shirley was across the store getting "what for" icy looks  from the check out girl, who did not like it at all that we were getting three artichokes for the price of one.  Like what is it to her?  You would think she was working on commission. 

This is not the end of the story... but you will have to wait until next week for the sequel... after we go back on Tuesday and see if the price has been fixed.  Maybe we will need to get W-5 or 60 Minutes to do a story on the Sav-on Foods Bar Code Rip-offs.

This morning there were three freighter ships in navy Channel.  This past week Shirley saw some letters from cranky old people complaining about how those ships make noise and light pollution.... and couldn't something be done to get rid of them?  

What is a thing of beauty to some is a pain in the neck to others.  Quite frankly, we enjoy seeing the ships.  They are not on our Ungrateful List.

Now since bad things often happen in threes... let me tell you about our parking ticket.  We stopped for lunch on Thursday and paid for our parking at the kiosk... only to find a parking ticket on our windshield when we returned. 

So we phoned the number on the ticket to complain and told them we had paid for the parking... the machine did not record the 4-digit parking space number... only showed three of the numbers.  The guy told me to just fax in a copy of the parking ticket with our receipt.  We expect the problem will be resolved for us... but I suspect that there is a problem with that parking kiosk.  Of course I am not to blame!

So that is my gripe list for today...

Here is my Grateful list.

I am so grateful that my daughter posts her Grateful List every Friday evening so faithfully.  I have come to count on seeing it and really appreciate reading it. 

I just now stumbled onto Good List Daily and was grateful to see Sherilee's name on the list of contributors.

I am grateful for photo memories... and this past week have had more than my share, as Shirley has been going thru old printed photos and stacking them on the table in the appropriate decade... '60's, 70's, 80's, etc.  Every now an again she pops into my office with another photo saying, "Do you remember what year we...?"

I am grateful to be married to the ultimate "Good Finder."  I think it is a good quality for a photographer to have, because Shirley is always observing something and saying, "Isn't that wonderful?"  She notices beauty in so many places where others never see a thing.

I am grateful to have a wife who is a wonderful "nest builder."  Some guys never come home to find the furniture re-arranged... like happened at our house yesterday.  Some guys wish that they could come home and see things cleaned up and tidy... but no.  They come home to a mess.

I always complain about the changes... but really deep down inside I am happy to have a wife who cares about how things look and is endlessly looking for ways to improve our home.

Enough already.  Give the folks a break.  There will be another day.  Get on with it.  Nudge, nudge.

"Is your wife a..."goer"... eh? Know what I mean? Know what I mean? Nudge nudge. Wink, wink!  Know what I mean? Say no more...Know what I mean?"  -Monty Python's Flying Circus

Key Question:  Have you had a bar code problem with pricing on something you purchased? 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jack's New Handrails

As we were out for a walk a couple evenings ago, we had another fantastic sunset.

We noticed someone working on Jack & Shirley's house next door... putting up new handrails.  The tradesman commented on how late he could work.  The sunset seemed to linger a long time.

I couldn't resist taking another shot of the sunset from beside their house as I left.  What a lovely evening!

Last evening as we headed out to walk again, I went past their house again and the job was all done.

What a beautiful, maintenance-free clean look!

The side deck.

The stairs coming around from the front side.  It looks really good.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Save a Tree

Did you know that 100 million trees are needed to produce the annual supply of junk mail?  That is the equivalent of deforesting the entire Rocky Mountain National Park every four months!

You can take action and with a simple phone call to the post office you can save a tree.  Cut out the waste.  Take action and tell the post office you don't want any more junk mail... and they will stop stuffing the junk into your mail box.  If everyone did this we could save a huge forest of trees!  We did this a few years ago when we were away in Mexico... we cut out the extra clutter and haven't turned it back on.

I just did the same thing with my cel phone.  Here in Canada Cell phone numbers went public in January... so all cell phone numbers can be released to telemarketing companies... and they will try to have their way with you if you don't stop them.  Don't you just hate to pay for a cell phone call you don't want or even know the caller?

To prevent this, go to the following web-site for Canadian Telephone Numbers:  It will only take a minute of your time and it will block your cell phone number of five years.  

Here are the phone numbers you can call  888.382.1222 or TTY 866.290.4236 to put an end to this.

Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain's majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.

~George Carlin

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spring is Here!

While the news channels are talking about record snowfalls and massive airline cancellations due to heavy snowfalls, come and stroll with me thru Butchart Gardens and smell the flowers!

I had no idea the extent that these people would go in order to provide a year around venue here... even in January and February.

They have taken all the tables and chairs out of the Blue Poppy Restaurant and made the entire space into an amazing exhibit.

To build this waterfall and pond is no small job.  In another month or so they will remove all the rocks, gravel, pipes, pumps and plants and return the space back to the Blue Poppy Restaurant.  This pond is even stocked with some beautiful sizeable fish.

With my sister Rose and her husband Morian, Shirley and I made our first visit to Butchart Gardens in 2011.  

The smell of the Hyacinths filled the air with the most pleasant perfume... which hit us the moment we entered the place... long before we actually saw these flowers.

We hope to use our seasons pass a lot this year and see the gardens every month or two.  Can you tell me the name of the next few flowers?

"Spring is a heart full of hope and a shoe full of rain."

"Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come." -Robert Schuller

"I stuck my head out the window this morning and spring kissed me bang in the face." -Langston Hughes

"Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!" -Robin Williams

"In spring time, love is carried on the breeze. Watch out for flying passion or kisses whizzing by your head." -Emma Racine deFleur

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." -Anne Bradstreet

This classic view of the sunken gardens in February, without leaves and blossoms, is still very interesting.

I saw this utility cart with my initials on it... so had to stop and take a photo of it... not realizing at first my shadow.  We had a little discussion on what the SG stood for. Something Good? or maybe Sunken Garden.

We enjoyed the sun that graced our day... and so did all the plants!

There were several robins also enjoying the sun.  This was the only one who stood still for 1/125th of a second.  We could hear the worms crying, "Look out!"

Here is the first daffodil I've seen blooming this year.  There are many more nearly ready to burst forth, but someone had to be first!

As we completed our visit to the Gardens, Shirley was drawn to Gift and Seed Store... where she could not resist purchasing some hope.  There is a lot of hope in a package of seeds.

"The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring." -Bern Williams