Category Archives: Commentary

Penticton Winter

December 31, 2021

Penticton (and most of British Columbia) has had a much colder winter than usual. Heck, over the last six months, it’s had unbelievably bad weather, period.

First there were heat waves (referred to as “heat domes” by the media). No matter what they were called, they were bad. I will never forget seeing on June 28 a temperature of 46°C (115°F) on our deck. In the shade.

Then there were the fires. Almost all of the town of Lytton was consumed by them. Throughout British Columbia, the air quality was terrible and the heat unrelenting.

Then autumn brought intense rain accompanied by high winds. The rain saturated the soil, the wind pulled the fire-dead trees from the ground, and this lead to extreme flooding and landslides, especially in the lower mainland. Dozens of landslides swept vehicles from the roads and trapped people and communities in isolated pockets.

British Columbia’s Coquihalla Highway
Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Hayward/ The Canadian Press

The Coquihalla Highway, a main four-to-six lane artery that carries supplies and people through the mountains, was seriously damaged in 20 separate places. The community of Abbotsford, a major supplier of dairy and other agricultural products and situated in the lower mainland, suffered extreme flooding and enormous economic damage.

Now we’re being hit by record-breaking cold temperatures with freezing rain, snow and slush. The media are doing reports on how people can help to save the non-migratory hummingbirds from freezing to death. According to the scientists, this is the tip of the (melting) iceberg because these “weather events” are going to get worse.

Question is, what are we doing to mitigate this situation? And, what are we doing to get ready for what’s coming?

Night Ship

This lovely old stern wheeler used to travel to the remote communities around Lake Okanagan before there was a network of roads. Launched in 1914 and owned by Canadian Pacific, it was considered a luxurious vessel and transported travellers in style. Its schedule and docking in Penticton dovetailed with the nearby CP owned railway and hotel, allowing its passengers good travel connections for the time.

SS Sicamous

Once reliable all-season roads were built, the paddle wheelers eventually fell out of favour. This one, along with a couple of other boats from the period, now form a museum commemorating that earlier, slower time.

Happy mid-week.

Penticton’s Public Art Walk

Penticton has a public art walk that tends to receive additions every year. One of this year’s is of a playful little dachshund who (as is their nature) will jump on anything, no matter how unbalanced.

Sculpture by Joanne Helm

The artist, Joanne Helm, not only celebrates this dachshund characteristic with a sweet and whimsical sculpture, but reminds us that we could all do with a little joyful unbalance in our lives, with living in the moment just for the sheer fun of it.

Sometimes, life is much too lifelike.

Autumn Colour: Orange

Although Halloween has gone by for another year, the mountain ash with its orange berries and green leaves certainly wears distinctively Halloween colours.

Right now, there are many of these fully loaded trees here in the Okanagan; I hope that doesn’t mean that we’re going to experience a difficult winter as I just came through one! Snow at the end of May, anyone? No thank you.

Mountain ash berries have for many years been used as a treatment for diabetes, gout and heart disease, but there hasn’t been enough research completed to indicate just how effective they might be for combatting these conditions. They are also very rich in vitamin C.

One thing is certain though, consuming uncooked mountain ash berries will cause issues. They won’t kill you, but you will experience very significant tummy troubles such as intense pain, vomiting, diarrhea and bloating.

So if you’re interested in trying them, be sure to stew them, turn them into a jam, or juice them after they have been cooked. When I took survival training in the army, we were very specifically warned not to eat raw mountain ash berries.

Happy Tuesday. 🙂

Happy Halloween

Walking through the crunchy leaves has been an enjoyable autumn experience accompanied by strong childhood memories of playing in the leaf piles.

I’ve always liked this Bugs Bunny cartoon; another enjoyable childhood memory associated with this time of year. After all this time, it still makes me laugh. https://youtu.be/NoSVnc-7eTk

I hope you have a little chocolate and enjoy the day, perhaps with some crunchy leaves to walk through. 🎃

A WP Anniversary

Yesterday WP sent me this.

I forgot that it was my anniversary. For the most part, blogging has been fun and I have “met” many great people, some of whom I feel as if I know.

A flower from my M.

Unfortunately, only a very few of the bloggers that I started following in those early days are still here, but others have come along, and the life wheel has continued turning.

An Okanagan willow tree.

I have also changed. I started out (very rustily) writing about narcissism, but over the years I gradually dropped it and now haven’t written about it for a long time.

Lots of other changes occurred during these years. My M and I had some significant career changes, we moved from one province to another, and I took on a last big career job in the north while maintaining our Okanagan home. M retired. We will be moving again next month, but this time, only to the other end of town. We have been busy!

Flying. It’s the best.

I will soon be retiring myself; in fact I am in my last 18 months of formal working time.

So what’s up 18 months from now? We’ll be starting work on a book about local wine, and I’ll spend some leisure time in a Cessna. It’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to the next chapters. 🙂

Bill Murray Came to Visit

On Monday we had a snap federal election. Our fearless leader, Justin Trudeau, thought that his popularity could secure him a majority government, so he called for a quickie. “I have to do it fast,” he thought, “before I act like a bonehead again and people change their minds!”

Justin Trudeau

Actually, I don’t blame him for wanting a majority. That way, he can move more easily to carry out his government’s platform without deferring to the other parties. Any other leader would have, at the very least, thought about doing exactly the same. I believe that most would have seized the opportunity.

But two things really irritated me. The first is that he wouldn’t admit to the simple fact that a majority would have made governing a whole lot easier, and the second is that he went ahead with the election despite Canadians’ express desire that he not do so, and especially not with the pandemic still going on. Given that he had two more years left in his mandate, there was absolutely no need to put us through it, including having to pay for the costs of it.

So we slapped his hands, and deservedly so. We gifted him with his very own version of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day in the form of another minority.

Trudeau and one of his children.

The new seat distribution in Parliament is almost identical to that of the 2019 election. There was little movement at all, although there may be some slight adjustments given that mail-ins are still being counted.

The cold hard fact is that the public has spoken, and we want a minority government. We are not going to turn over the shop to one party. In the end, we don’t trust any of them enough to do that. We have given them their marching orders: an expectation that the parties will work together to represent all of us and will stop trying to do what’s in their best interests instead of ours.

Good. They need to pay attention and go to work. All of them.

Do not Feed the Birds

I saw several of these signs when I stopped for lunch at Vancouver’s Granville Island.

On the other side, the signs say this.

Very true. As M and I sat on a bench overlooking the water to drink our coffees, a mom with two young daughters arrived to sit on the bench next to us. The youngest one, who is about 5, began to take a bite from her sandwich but within seconds, a gull flew in and ripped the whole sandwich practically out of her mouth.

In the blink of an eye, there were no less than five or six gulls aggressively fighting over the sandwich in the small space between me and the little girl. I would not have wanted to get in their way!

The little girl was scared and her mom shocked. I wondered what would have happened if they hadn’t quite gotten the sandwich; they might have swarmed the child.

So I agree with the BCSPCA. Feeding the birds is not healthy for them, in more ways than one.

Sylvia Hotel

The Sylvia Hotel is a Vancouver landmark. Built in 1912 next to the waterfront and Vancouver’s iconic Stanley Park, it was the tallest building in the area and originally contained swanky apartments for the affluent. It became a hotel after World War I.

Circa 1920

It went through a short period of decline but was designated as a heritage building in 1975. Since then its fortunes have increased.

The Sylvia as it looked today.

After a long walk through Stanley Park it was a great place to stop for some lunch and a break.

Greetings from Vancouver. 🙂