Category Archives: Commentary

Remembrance Day

30 Days of Gratitude- Day 11

30 Days of Gratitude- Day 11 (Photo credit: aussiegall)

I first published this post on November 11, 2013, a second time in 2015 and again today. As a tribute to my family’s veterans and all those many, many others, I think it holds as true this year as did when I first published it nine years ago. Thank you for your service. We will remember.

In Canada, today is Remembrance Day. Today, we remember those who have given their lives to preserve the greater good, those who gave us what we have today.

Both my parents were veterans of World War II. My dad escaped from Dunkirk and later, in 1944, helped to liberate France and the Netherlands. He went all the way to Hamburg, Germany, before being sent back to England and to my mother.

My mother served in the British army as a radar operator during the London blitz. Her father, a World War I veteran, was a “spotter” who alerted higher command that enemy planes were coming across the channel.

One day, a fighter saw him and killed him.

Three of her brothers served in the army, one of whom was captured. He spent four years in a prisoner of war camp and was finally liberated in 1945. According to my mother, he was completely changed and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for the rest of his life.

Another brother died during his service to the navy, and a third in France. A sister-in-law died in a bombing raid.

My parents worked hard while escaping attacks and facing every kind of rationing imaginable, to say nothing of the constant fear of death. This left them with an enduring determination that their kids would never face the same fears, privation, or responsibility. There had been no guarantees that they would be successful with the task they were given.

But they were successful. And we enjoy the benefits of that success today, a success written in blood.

In Canada, the following excerpt from For the Fallen is recited at Remembrance Day services around the country. Here, this recitation is known as The Act of Remembrance.

For the Fallen ~ Laurence Binyon

They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old:

age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

Yes.

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. It was originally held in November but the date was changed about 60 years ago so that it wouldn’t conflict with Remembrance Day which is held on November 11.

The history of this day of thanks, while related to British and European harvest festivals, is also said by historians to come from the first celebration of Thanksgiving in North America during the 1579 voyage of explorer Martin Frobisher while he was in the Arctic looking for the Northwest Passage.

Another explanation is that French settlers, having arrived with Samuel De Champlain in 1604, held a thanksgiving feast with the neighbouring First Nations.

Whatever the history, the point is that we should recognise and appreciate the advantages that we have in life.

Many thanks.

Evening on the Lake

After a mostly sunny day, the weather became overcast, but it was still about 20C (68F) and very comfortable for an evening walk.

We saw this sailboat heading into the Penticton marina for the night, which seemed a good idea to me as the wind was coming up quite strongly. It seems we are getting some residual effects from the typhoon that just crossed the Pacific and bumped into the coast. That interaction is much farther north in Alaska, but apparently, this is leading to significant weather impacts in the south, wind included.

Happy Sunday.

The Queen Is Dead

The world’s longest living monarch (and queen of Canada) passed away earlier today at the age of 96.

The Queen always wore a her famous maple leaf pin and dressed in the national colours when visiting Canada.

Although I am not a monarchist (and frankly would like to see us give it up), I have long admired the Queen’s prodigious work ethic and commitment to duty. She passed away today. Two days ago, she was still working.

She did a job that was unexpectedly thrust upon her, no doubt upending all the plans she had for a much more conventional life. I hope she rests well.

Good-bye.

Harry and Meghan … Again

I am quite tired of seeing these two – whatever they are calling themselves – the Royal Formerly Known as Prince? the Fresh Princess of Montecito? – in the news, especially her.

The constant harping on their vacuous, shallow self-victimisation is so annoying, but for Meghan to make the claim “that a cast member from South Africa [an actor in The Lion King] pulled her aside to tell her … ‘I just need you to know: When you married into this family, we rejoiced in the streets the same as we did when Mandela was freed from prison’ ” [The Cut: Meghan of Montecito, by Allison P. Davis https://www.thecut.com/article/meghan-markle-profile-interview.html ] is ridiculous. In fact, Mandela’s own son has come forward to deny that Meghan’s claim is true.

They’ve been living and working (do they work? I’m not sure what they do.) in the U.S. for longer than they lived in the U.K. as working royals, but they Just Can’t Stop Complaining about how awful it was and how much damage they suffered.

Or maybe that’s the point.

If the griping and whinging stops, people might forget about them and they might face … yikes! … anonymity. But isn’t that what they wanted? No, wait, maybe what they’re really concerned about is irrelevancy. So I guess the plan is to constantly remind everyone of how hard it was, how bad it was, how tooth-grindingly nasty it was to work as a member of the royal family, with ever more tales and howls of woe, racism, and bullying. Wait! Wasn’t it Meghan doing the bullying? Oy. This is giving me a headache.

Next up will be Harry’s book. I understand that it’s going to be a real doorstopper … er … showstopper. No doubt full of breath-taking and tear-jerking accounts of his life of deprivation and want. Maybe Meghan will interview him for her podcast series so that they can do some more public communing about extremely personal details in order to further finance their life of privileged “total privacy.”

Why should anyone listen to anything either of them have to say? Take away the royal fripperies and what are they? He’s a former second-rate prince who served in the military. Many, many of us have done that. (Not the prince part. The military part. 😉)

She’s a second-rate actress who, while she no doubt worked hard, got paid to pretend to be someone else. Most of us work pretty hard, and frankly, at jobs that are a lot more important – especially those of us who were uncomplainingly run ragged through a pandemic.

Why are they in a position to hold forth on anything? The fact is, they aren’t. Who cares what Meghan thinks about women’s issues or parenting? Her opinion is not worth any more or any less than anyone else’s, and given that she’s not really accomplished anything extraordinary, (is marrying a famous person extraordinary?) why should anyone listen?

Harry thinks his family is dysfunctional and that they all need to be freed from their royal shackles. Oh boy, where should I start? Ahem, Harry? We knew that about your family long ago. But you know what? It’s their choice, not yours. You made your decision, now stop complaining about theirs.

I really felt sorry for Harry and William when they lost their mom. It was heartbreaking and terrible watching those poor kids walk behind their mother’s coffin. But many, many kids have lost a parent, or both parents, or live in tragic, dire circumstances.

Eventually, excusing Harry’s behaviour because his mom died when he was young becomes an excuse in itself. Amidst the trappings of the Sussexes’ luxurious lifestyle – a conspicuously direct result of their royal family antecedents – their constant carping is wearing thin and is beginning to sound more and more angry and vengeful. It seems that they want the public to side with them against the nasties across the pond. In doing so, they are invading their own privacy (isn’t privacy largely the reason they quit?) and showing themselves as selfish and self-absorbed.

So, Harry and Meghan, listen up. Stop using your connection to the royals to make money off them while you complain about them at the same time. Stop giving people advice. You don’t know any better than most of us and a lot less than many of us. Stop yipping about privacy as you constantly stick yourselves in front of the cameras and microphones and then whine for the British taxpayer and/or UK police to provide a protection detail. In fact, just stop. Go live the ordinary life you said you wanted. At the very least, give it a good try. Most of us like it. We like it very much.

Summer Fun

With school holidays drawing to a close, I decided to post a second photo of this lovely sculpture on Lake Okanagan’s shoreline in Penticton. (The first time I posted a picture of this sculpture was about five years ago.)

I remember well those seemingly endless summer breaks when all you had to do was play intensely and be sure to arrive home – during my childhood, at least – when the streetlights started to come on. I think this sculpture captures well the childhood sense of freedom that many of us were able to enjoy and is perhaps gone forever, replaced by caution and organisation.

Happy Monday.

Museum Ship

The SS Sicamous is a museum ship that is permanently grounded at Penticton’s Okanagan lake front. It’s a steel hulled, stern wheel steam ship that used to carry passengers, and later in its life, cargo, to the communities on the shores of Lake Okanagan.

Photo courtesy of B. Murphy

It was apparently quite luxurious for its time, but once roads were built, the Sicamous wasn’t needed any more. Its state began to decline but it was rescued by the SS Sicamous Restoration Society.

It’s now a museum and events facility, but you can also simply sit next to it to enjoy good weather and brunch, which is what M and I did on July 15.

Happy Monday.

What Does the Nose Know?

At present there are a number of public art installations throughout Penticton as part of a rotating exhibition. Below is a picture of one of them.

Sculpture by Ronald Simmer

When I first saw it, I thought the intension was to emphasise fun on the sunny beaches, that sort of thing. However, once I read the signage, I saw that the point was much more serious.

Is Big Brother spying on us? What do you think?

Coquihalla Connector

M and I have travelled the Coquihalla Connector highway between Kamloops and Peachland while on our way to and from the Okanagan Valley and the Northwest Territories many times.

Coquihalla Connector into the setting sun.

This four to six lane mountain superhighway at an elevation of 1240 m (4100 ft) is in many ways an engineering marvel. Its posted speed is 120 km (74 miles) per hour and access is extremely limited, so once you have set your cruise control, you are very efficiently traversing an area that was once the bane of early travellers. The railroads of the early 1900s failed frequently due to winter storms, avalanches and washouts and the population of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley was fairly isolated from the rest of the province with only lengthy and circuitous road routes at lower elevations.

Even now, it’s not all smooth driving, however. This highway experiences severe winter storms with low visibility and nasty icing conditions. “Runaway lanes” are available in case you lose control on the extreme downhill portions of it. In fact, a reality program called “Highway thru Hell,” detailing the challenges of operating tow trucks along the Coquihalla and Coquihalla Connector debuted in 2012 and is still very popular today.

When M and I travel this highway in December and January, we are careful to do our homework first and to only drive it in the daylight hours. Nevertheless, it’s an amazing highway and well worth the drive if you find yourself in the area; the views are spectacular, especially as you start nearing Okanagan Lake.

Cumulonimbus Clouds

These pretty cotton-ball clouds arrived on the horizon while I was enjoying some deck time. Although they look harmless, cumulonimbus clouds can pack a very serious wallop, especially if they get together in a group or start growing vertically. These clouds are doing both, and a bit later we had an enormous thunder storm.

Because cumulonimbus clouds are formed by rising water vapour droplets, powerful upward air currents can develop and possibly lead to unstable and turbulent air that could become seriously problematic for aircraft. In their most severe forms, cumulonimbus clouds can lead to massive thunder storms or tornadoes.

So when your flight is delayed because of summer weather, just remember that although these clouds look like harmless powder puffs, you probably wouldn’t want to fly through one.

Happy Saturday.