Saturday, May 31, 2014

How Lovely Are These Valleys, and Nathan's Book Launch

Road Trip. Hiking Day. Wander-down-the-Road Day.


I love to wander, to poke my nose into places, to see what there is to see.

So last Monday, when the weather was somewhat inclement, I took the loooong way around to attend to errands.


The allure of an open gate.

The Salmon River Road to Armstrong from the west is a lovely drive no matter the conditions or the means of transport. I stopped often, taking photos of the lovely views.

Dry cows on pasture at Sunnyhome Farms in the Spallumcheen Valley west of Armstrong.

I've often thought that in my next life, I want to be a cow.

On Hallam Road, looking east as the rain clouds begin to dissipate.

Armstrong is tucked down in the valley below.

Flowering Cherry tree along a street in downtown Armstrong.

Looking east to the backside of Silver Star Mtn from the Askew's parking lot.

The Old School House was one of the first schools in the province.
It was a restaurant/shop for awhile but is now left to stand unused and unloved.

Looking south along the Grandview Flats N Road,
as the rain clouds roll back into the valley.


With absolutely no segue whatsoever, I give you my former boss Nathan, now in the Southern US on a book tour.

Given the mode of transportation shown here:

Nathan flogging his book on the beaches of Charleston, SC
… he's gonna be a long time getting to Nelson BC. Heck getting anywhere close to the Canadian border.

Sales of his book have been fabulous. Order one! You won't regret it. I endorse this book.


So while we're talking about advertising, how's this for truth in advertising?


I about fell off my chair laughing.

I found it here.

Joie Farm website is here. Go visit. The photo slide show on the front page are stunningly beautiful. They're located on the Naramata Bench, just north of Penticton on the east side of Okanagan Lake.

I stole this photo, overlooking Penticton (looking southwest) because that's where The Daughter lives!
Thanks, Joie Farms.


(If you click on any of these photos, you should get a larger view of them.)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Macro Landscapes and Micro Landscapes

I went for a walk on some of the Predator Ridge - Sparkling Hill trails on a recent sunny day.


People come to the Okanagan and Shuswap from all over the world, primarily to enjoy the lakes and wine culture. There are the backcountry fans who know that the big lakes aren't everything, but still often focus on the big views.

Alongside the trail on the Commonage.

I enjoy a good lake view as much as the next person. I suppose my upbringing as a prairie farm girl and later life as a homesteader in the north country have made me pay attention to things a little more up close.

The Husband and I have been eager birdwatchers for many years (thanks especially to Grandma June who gifted us our first - and only - bird identification book:

Our copy of this exact book is less pristine … particularly after a banana
was allowed to ripen while lying on top of it. Yes, true story.


Moving to the Southern Interior has introduced us to many new species, and our combined Life List is growing. I love these showy critters, although it's difficult to get a good photo with a little point-and-shot camera:

Western Tanager
I've included the obligatory lake view photo. Yes it is a lovely lake. This pic is of the very north end of the lake (well, the actual beaches are out of view, but you can't sail much farther north than this:

Looking north-ish towards Adventure Bay subdivision of Vernon.
Sparkling Hill and the Commonage are behind me.
This is the viewpoint on Deer Trail. (see map below)

Just past this spot, as the trail began its downhill jog, I spied a flower of my childhood and was instantly entranced.

Shooting Star - Dodecatheon integrifolium
I'm always surprised to see specimens like this in places other than my native grasslands … yet I shouldn't because the are all sorts of microclimates in the mountain valleys.

Just a few steps further, and I found a stonecrop 'forest' in active growth.

Stonecrop - Sedum genus - with other lichen, mosses and fungi

Just to help put the scene into perspective, this shows the same plant group with my wedding ring set among them for scale:


 and I don't have very big fingers.

I'm willing to bet 98% of the people who walked along that trail last week never saw any of this, too preoccupied by the lake views.


Western Spring Beauty - Claytonia lanceolata
 Their loss.

Come with me and I'll show you a part of the Okanagan you might otherwise miss.

Click on the image to enlarge or click  Trail Map link to go to their website.
And no,  I've not been paid to endorse the site!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

To Bee a Spelling Bee

I don't know if you have to be a logophile (lover of words) to enjoy a spelling bee. I know I didn't like them in grade school because then the words had to be spelled without using a scratch pad.

Perhaps in this case, it doesn't really matter because the Junction Literacy Adult Spelling Bee is certainly no Spelling Bee of Canada or Scripps National Spelling Bee event.

You just have to look at the costumes to know we're in a whole nuther world here!

You've got to admire people who willingly and without threat of physical harm
dress like this to appear in public at 7:30 am.


Our arch-rivals, the Okanagan College Eggheads.

Michelle (centre) is a former Morning Star co-worker, now with Nature's Fare.
Cute word fairies!

The Queen Bees leave a delicious trail of boa feathers every year.

Members of the Perennial Bridesmaids - no costumes but
plenty o' attitude and animation. Tyler (L),  Jennifer and Roger

Roger, Glenn hiding behind him, and me. We do have a lot of fun.

See? Fun.
Jane and Katherine frame either side of the photo

The Judges - people who dress like this you gotta take seriously. Seriously.
I've attached the editorial Roger Knox wrote on Friday following the event. He is an excellent speller and a delightful writer. 

For the record, the entire team except Roger (and Tyler, because the boy really can't spell) agreed that the third last word should be spelled Monsignor - probably because we all know one, even if we aren't Catholic. Monseigneur is a French honorific, so I don't think it should be in an English spelling bee. Ditto guayabera. Roger is right - spellcheck picks it up and says "Wrong!"

Ahh. Let it go.

Bee stings bridesmaids

The Perennial (spelled correctly) Bridesmaids didn’t even make it to the church this year.

The Morning Star Perennial Bridesmaids, three-times a runner-up by one word at the annual Junction Literacy and Youth Centres’ Kal Tire Adult Spelling Bee, did not place in the top-three for the first time ever.

We weren’t even close.

The Morning Star settled for 10 out of 15, and Lord knows what place out of the record 22 teams that took part in the immensely (spelled correctly) popular event.

Winners for the second year in a row were the Okanagan College Eggheads, who, according to one team member, “has a team captain that can spell anything.” They got 14 out of 15 (and wait ‘til you see the words!)

Finishing tied for second, with 13, were the Bold ‘N’ Agers, and a team from Bannister Honda, a squad whose lineup included car seller for a day, former school district superintendent Bev Rundell, and Richard Harrison, a Grade 10 Seaton student.

You may have heard of Richard before. He recently finished 18th at the Canadian spelling championships.Yes, teams add ringers. 

The Morning Star added Fulton Secondary English teacher Jane Maskell to a stellar lineup that included me, fellow reporters Cara Brady, Katherine Mortimer, Jennifer Smith and Tyler Lowey, managing editor Glenn Mitchell and creative Brenda Giesbrecht. Teams will also stoop to intimidation tactics: 

Bold ‘N’ Ager: “You know why you guys never win? Because you use Spellcheck."

Me: “Spellcheck?”

Current superintendent Joe Rogers of the school district squad sauntered (spelled cor-rectly) over and reminded Maskell who pays her salary.

Seriously, though, the Bee is used as a fundraiser for the Junction Literacy and Youth Centres’ magnificent (spelled correctly) programs. And it doesn’t matter who you have on your roster. What matters is having fun and helping a great cause.

This year, the event with its record 22 teams raised $23,000. 

Beekeeper Betty Selin, co-host of Sun-FM’s  Sunrise Show, reads out five words in each of the three rounds. 
“You leave here so darn smart,” said Selin.

Teams get a minute to confer before the appointed team captain (in our case, the magnanimous – spelled correctly – Mortimer) has to make the final call.

The Perennial Bridesmaids were feeling like a giddy (spelled correctly) bride after a perfect first round in which we got shenanigan, persnickety, echelon, beneficiary and delirium correct.

Our downfall was the first word of round two: bouillabaisse. We left out the second ‘S.’ We got kaleidoscope and Mediterranean, faltered (spelled correctly) on belligerence and got doughty right (and no, doughty is not the last name of an L.A. Kings’ defenceman. Well it is, but not in this case).

After correctly spelling excruciating and heinous to begin the pressure-filled third round, we messed up Monseigneur (although, and I only state this being the team player I am, I got it right), guayabera (nobody on our team had ever heard of the lightweight open-necked Cuban or Mexican shirt before Wednesday and, apparently, neither had the Eggheads as it was the only word they spelled wrong) and isochronous.

“I got three words right but I still had fun,” said Bridesmaid newbee (spelled incorrectly but you get it) Lowey.


Everyone had fun. See you next year. Like the Eggheads, we’ll don guayaberas (spelled correctly although Spellcheck says it isn’t).

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Anne Crush

I have a confession to make.

I'm an essay junkie.

I know. It's not fashionable. The very word 'essay' conjures up high school nightmares for many people  "Write 2000 words about ..."

For me, essays are an extension of my particular proclivity - letter writing. It's been my habit to have one person in my mind's eye when I write, and that is the person with whom I'm conversing, albeit a one-sided conversation unless the person replies to the letter. I like to write about a topic as though my friend and I are sitting in cozy chairs with a beverage of choice close to hand, exploring the merits and idiosyncrasies of an idea, perhaps even getting into a mild disagreement. (In younger days it would have easily slid into a heated argument but I find one of the advantages of getting older is the ability to let things slide ... most of the time.)

When asked who is a favourite author, the decision is much like being asked to pick a favourite child ... it depends on the moment! There are perennial must-have's and a slowly revolving cadre of Top 5's.

Funnily enough, two of my perennials are both named Anne  - Anne Lamott and Anne Fadiman.

I've been on an Anne Fadiman kick these past few days as I recover from a day surgery (doing fine, thank you for asking. Just a little achy and hung-over from the anesthetic, but expect to be back to work on Tuesday).

Anne Fadiman is a champion of the Essay and an excellent writer who makes me weep to consider my meagre skills in comparison.

Anne Lamott introduced me to writing from life and instilled the habit of keeping index cards and pencils always at hand, to jot down those ideas and observations that can't be lost.




I look to both my Annes for guidance, for inspiration and for true enlightenment on the subject of writing. (Told you it was a crush.)


The problem is, reading these books creates an intense longing for physical companionship, the actual face-to-face conversations that far too often are limited to paper or a computer screen. To borrow from L.M. Montgomery, it begets a longing for 'kindred spirits.'


It also unfortunately points out my inherent laziness or as I prefer to think of it, lack of motivation. I have oodles of ideas, many index cards thrown in a box that has become a sort of treasure trove. Now I only need the oomph to do the writing.


In the meantime, while the skies drizzle and grizzle outside, I'm tucked inside keeping warm and dry, listening to Anne Fadiman talk to me about The Unfuzzy Lamb (about Charles Lamb, whom Anne has a monumental crush on!) and mail and coffee and all other manner of topics.

And maybe, in a hour or two when the rain clouds clear a bit, I'll go for a walk and let Anne get back to her writing.