Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just for fun?

I found this on Oreneta Aground and thought "What the heck, why not?" so here it is. Let's see who has some time on their hands to read this. HAHA!

Things I’ve already done: bold
Things I want to do: italicize
Things I haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font


1. Started your own blog. Yes.
2. Slept under the stars. Slept in tents and on boats, but never out in the wide open with dew on my face in the morning.
3. Played in a band. Never.
4. Visited Hawaii. Yes, a one week cruise around the Islands and it was fabulous. The most memorable moment was walking through the air terminal in Honolulu, after arriving, and all of a sudden this breeze of the most wonderfully scented fresh air swept in through the open walls of the concourse! It was incredible!!
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland/world. Yes to World, no to Land. I was at Disneyworld when they were breaking ground for Epcot. HA!
8. Climbed a mountain. I would certainly like to and, living in British Columbia now, find there are many more opportunities to do so than there were in Wisconsin.
9. Held a praying mantis. No, I don't do bugs.
10. Sang a solo. Not while there is breath in my lungs will I EVER sing a solo!!
11. Bungee jumped. No.
12. Visited Paris. Yep, and want to go again, some day.
13. Watched a lightening storm at sea. I love thunderstorms and I think this would be cool. Unless you get hit, then not so cool.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. Macrame, many years ago. Gee, should I admit that???
15. Adopted a child. Are you CRAZY!!???
16. Had food poisoning. Not that I am aware of. Maybe a mild case.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. No, but I sailed past it.
18. Grown your own vegetables. Yes, tomatoes this past year and who knows what for 2009 when the greenhouse is up and running!
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. Yes, on my one and only (s0 far) visit. It was a MOB scene!!
20. Slept on an overnight train. That would be SO much fun, traveling by rail.
21. Had a pillow fight. Yeah yeah yeah.
22. Hitch hiked. No way.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. Um MANY times years ago.
24. Built a snow fort. Of course.
25. Held a lamb. Nope, but they are all over the place in the area where I work so who knows.
26. Gone skinny dipping. That might be fun but the water around Vancouver Island is a bit chilly.
27. Run a marathon. No desire to do that.
28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. Some day.
29. Seen a total eclipse. yes.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. Almost daily sunsets from home.
31. Hit a home run. Nope, never was any good at sports. Go figure.
32. Been on a cruise. Three so far:Hawaii, QE2 from Southampton to NYC and the Carribean.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. Yup, and liked the Canadian side MUCH better.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. That would mean going to Russia.
35. Seen an Amish community. Yes, in Wisconsin. They made wonderful oak furniture!
36. Taught yourself a new language. Getting close to taking French!
37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied. Yes, I think so. I have simple tastes.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. Some day I will get to Italy.
39. Gone rock climbing. No desire to do that. I'd probably fall.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person. On that future trip to Italy.
41. Sung Karaoke. No. I know better than to do this.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. Nope, maybe some day.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant. Nope, but that might be kinda neat to do.
44. Visited Africa. Maybe some day.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance. Once, in High School, when I ran into a car and snapped my leg in half. My foot was facing the wrong way. OY!
47. Had your portrait painted. WHY would I want to do that. It's not like I'm Brad Pitt or something.
48. Gone deep sea fishing. Not a big fisherman.
49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Yes,almost. I did not go to the very top level, just the one below. I was afraid I would miss my bus because we were on a time deadline. Arrgh.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. Snorkeled in Tahiti and loved it. Except for being chased by a giant jellyfish!
52. Kissed in the rain. Hmmm, sounds fun.
53. Played in the mud. As a kid.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater. Loads of times in the 1960's when I was a kid. I could never stay awake for the whole movie.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia. Maybe some day.
60. Served at a soup kitchen. Nope.
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies. Nope, just bought and ate them.
62. Gone whale watching. YES! Twice this year and it was incredible!!!
63. Gotten flowers for no reason. I wish!
65. Gone sky diving. Nope. And I plan to keep it that way!
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. No, might one day.
67. Bounced a check. MANY years ago, in my reckless youth.
68. Flown in a helicopter. Waiting for that one.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. Yes of course.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial. Nope.
71. Eaten Caviar. Yes, on vacation once. It was OK but not something I'd rush out to purchase. I'd rather have escargot.
72. Pieced a quilt. Nope, that's a girl thing.
73. Stood in Times Square. Nope.
74. Toured the Everglades. On a guided tour. We did see some 'gators and I found out later that I got WAY too close to one while we were waiting for our tour to start. Ooops.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London. Yes, during the summer of record heat. It WAS HOT!!
77. Broken a bone. Yes, Tibia and Fibula snapped in half when I was 14. PAINFUL! Pinky finger on right hand a couple of years ago.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. Never ever want to.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. Yes, at sunset and it was fabulous!!
80. Published a book. Nope.
81. Visited The Vatican. No desire to go there.
82. Bought a brand new car. Three, if I remember correctly.
83. Walked in Jerusalem. Nope and not sure I want to go there.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper. Not that I am aware of.
85. Read the entire Bible. No.
86. Visited the White House. No and not sure if I'll ever do that.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. NO WAY! I am a city boy.
88. Had chickenpox. I think so.
89. Saved someone’s life. Not that I know of but that would be cool to do.
90. Sat on a jury. Got called for jury duty years ago but never on a case. Whew!
91. Met someone famous. Just saw Phil Donohue at O'Hare.
92. Joined a book club. Yes but had to stop after a few years.
93. Lost a loved one. MANY!!!
94. Had a child. Not physically possible for me.
95. Seen the Alamo in person. No desire to go to TX, sorry.
96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake. No. The Dead Sea? Yes.
97. Been involved in a law suit. Thankfully, no.
98. Owned a cell phone. Ummm, yeah.
99. Been stung by a bee. Never.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ramblings

The holiday time gets me thinking about the move to Canada just over a year ago, and how my life has changed so much in that time. Large holiday gatherings with family have not happened for me in a while, due to the distance now and the fact that many of those family members are no longer alive, and that is one thing I really do miss. I guess that comes with the territory when one has a large extended family. Even though I am an only child my mother was the youngest of 15 and my father was the youngest of 9, so there are relatives all over the place! It's funny but when we were deciding to make the Big Move I really didn't think of it as starting over, and I still don't. It was more like something that we HAD to do and I view it as a new chapter in my life. Same book, new chapter, new country. Christmas was kind of a non-event for us this year. The excitement over finding just the right gift for all those relatives and friends is not there anymore for me. The excitement over putting up a tree was not there. I was hoping this year would be better, mentally, but I think the weather, and being snowbound at home, kind of did me in. I was off today and tried to hunt for some after Christmas bargains but I just don't have the patience for the crowds, and not being able to find a parking spot in the haphazardly plowed lots did not help either. Funny thing tho...I have heard from a few friends/relatives who kind of had the same kind of Christmas - sort of ho-hum. Some blamed it on the economy, others had no explanation. Maybe with the state of things people are perhaps reviewing their priorities? Could it be the start of something? I was raised Catholic but drifted away from that years ago so Christmas for me is more of a generic thing - practicing good will, appreciating people in my life, that kind of stuff - nothing really religious. Maybe next Christmas will be on track for me. I did manage to bake a lot of cookies though, which I have not done in ages!

In the meantime I am really looking forward to going to work on Tuesday, after way too many days off, and I am really excited about 2009!

I wish you all a healthy, peaceful and prosperous New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

My random thoughts.

I must confess that I pilfered this idea from another blog. I thought I'd give it a shot.

My list of random thoughts.

1. Glad to be safe and warm at home, not trying to get through an airport or two.

2. The cat is snuggled up warm on the chair behind me.

3. Low key Christmas.

4. Anxious for rain to wash away the snow from the past week and a half.

5. Missing big family holiday gatherings.

6. Feeling guilty for missing three days of work lately due to snow and crappy roads.

7. Missing a car with winter Blizzak snow tires.

8. Do we NEED a 4WD vehicle for a few days each winter??

9. Glad the cat likes her Christmas treats and scarfs them down, something kind of unheard of from her.

10. I wish I had some seed catalogues to review on these cooler winter nights.

11. A wood burning stove might be nice.

12. I have more cookies to bake.

13. We should start upgrading our home lighting fixtures.

14. Will be glad to see my car up at the house tomorrow after a week at the nieghbors' below.

15. I wonder if family and friends in the US had a nice holiday.

16. I did a dang good job on Christmas dinner!

Eartha Kitt.



Eartha Kitt, sultry 'Santa Baby' singer, dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Eartha Kitt, a sultry singer, dancer and actress who rose from South Carolina cotton fields to become an international symbol of elegance and sensuality, has died, a family spokesman said. She was 81.

Andrew Freedman said Kitt, who was recently treated at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, died Thursday in Connecticut of colon cancer.

Kitt, a self-proclaimed "sex kitten" famous for her catlike purr, was one of America's most versatile performers, winning two Emmys and nabbing a third nomination. She also was nominated for several Tonys and two Grammys.

Her career spanned six decades, from her start as a dancer with the famed Katherine Dunham troupe to cabarets and acting and singing on stage, in movies and on television. She persevered through an unhappy childhood as a mixed-race daughter of the South and made headlines in the 1960s for denouncing the Vietnam War during a visit to the White House.

Through the years, Kitt remained a picture of vitality and attracted fans less than half her age even as she neared 80.

When her book "Rejuvenate," a guide to staying physically fit, was published in 2001, Kitt was featured on the cover in a long, curve-hugging black dress with a figure that some 20-year-old women would envy. Kitt also wrote three autobiographies.

Once dubbed the "most exciting woman in the world" by Orson Welles, she spent much of her life single, though brief romances with the rich and famous peppered her younger years.

After becoming a hit singing "Monotonous" in the Broadway revue "New Faces of 1952," Kitt appeared in "Mrs. Patterson" in 1954-55. (Some references say she earned a Tony nomination for "Mrs. Patterson," but only winners were publicly announced at that time.) She also made appearances in "Shinbone Alley" and "The Owl and the Pussycat."

Her first album, "RCA Victor Presents Eartha Kitt," came out in 1954, featuring such songs as "I Want to Be Evil," "C'est Si Bon" and the saucy gold digger's theme song "Santa Baby," which is revived on radio each Christmas.

The next year, the record company released follow-up album "That Bad Eartha," which featured "Let's Do It," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy."

In 1996, she was nominated for a Grammy in the category of traditional pop vocal performance for her album "Back in Business." She also had been nominated in the children's recording category for the 1969 record "Folk Tales of the Tribes of Africa."

Kitt also acted in movies, playing the lead female role opposite Nat King Cole in "St. Louis Blues" in 1958 and more recently appearing in "Boomerang" and "Harriet the Spy" in the 1990s.

On television, she was the sexy Catwoman on the popular "Batman" series in 1967-68, replacing Julie Newmar who originated the role. A guest appearance on an episode of "I Spy" brought Kitt an Emmy nomination in 1966.

"Generally the whole entertainment business now is bland," she said in a 1996 Associated Press interview. "It depends so much on gadgetry and flash now. You don't have to have talent to be in the business today.

"I think we had to have something to offer, if you wanted to be recognized as worth paying for."

Kitt was plainspoken about causes she believed in. Her anti-war comments at the White House came as she attended a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson.

"You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed," she told the group of about 50 women. "They rebel in the street. They don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam."

For four years afterward, Kitt performed almost exclusively overseas. She was investigated by the FBI and CIA, which allegedly found her to be foul-mouthed and promiscuous.

"The thing that hurts, that became anger, was when I realized that if you tell the truth — in a country that says you're entitled to tell the truth — you get your face slapped and you get put out of work," Kitt told Essence magazine two decades later.

In 1978, Kitt returned to Broadway in the musical "Timbuktu!" — which brought her a Tony nomination — and was invited back to the White House by President Jimmy Carter.

In 2000, Kitt earned another Tony nod for "The Wild Party." She played the fairy godmother in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" in 2002.

As recently as October 2003, she was on Broadway after replacing Chita Rivera in a revival of "Nine."

She also gained new fans as the voice of Yzma in the 2000 Disney animated feature "The Emperor's New Groove.'"

In an online discussion at Washingtonpost.com in March 2005, shortly after Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman won Oscars, she expressed satisfaction that black performers "have more of a chance now than we did then to play larger parts."

But she also said: "I don't carry myself as a black person but as a woman that belongs to everybody. After all, it's the general public that made (me) — not any one particular group. So I don't think of myself as belonging to any particular group and never have."

Kitt was born in North, S.C., and her road to fame was the stuff of storybooks. In her autobiography, she wrote that her mother was black and Cherokee while her father was white, and she was left to live with relatives after her mother's new husband objected to taking in a mixed-race girl.

An aunt eventually brought her to live in New York, where she attended the High School of Performing Arts, later dropping out to take various odd jobs.

By chance, she dropped by an audition for the dance group run by Dunham, a pioneering African-American dancer. In 1946, Kitt was one of the Sans-Souci Singers in Dunham's Broadway production "Bal Negre."

Kitt's travels with the Dunham troupe landed her a gig in a Paris nightclub in the early 1950s. Kitt was spotted by Welles, who cast her in his Paris stage production of "Faust."

That led to a role in "New Faces of 1952," which featured such other stars-to-be as Carol Lawrence, Paul Lynde and, as a writer, Mel Brooks.

While traveling the world as a dancer and singer in the 1950s, Kitt learned to perform in nearly a dozen languages and, over time, added songs in French, Spanish and even Turkish to her repertoire.

"Usku Dara," a song Kitt said was taught to her by the wife of a Turkish admiral, was one of her first hits, though Kitt says her record company feared it too remote for American audiences to appreciate.

Song titles such as "I Want to be Evil" and "Just an Old Fashioned Girl" seem to reflect the paradoxes in Kitt's private life.

Over the years, Kitt had liaisons with wealthy men, including Revlon founder Charles Revson, who showered her with lavish gifts.

In 1960, she married Bill McDonald but divorced him after the birth of their daughter, Kitt.

While on stage, she was daringly sexy and always flirtatious. Offstage, however, Kitt described herself as shy and almost reclusive, remnants of feeling unwanted and unloved as a child. She referred to herself as "that little urchin cotton-picker from the South, Eartha Mae."

For years, Kitt was unsure of her birthplace or birth date. In 1997, a group of students at historically black Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., located her birth certificate, which verified her birth date as Jan. 17, 1927. Kitt had previously celebrated on Jan. 26.

The research into her background also showed Kitt was the daughter of a white man, a poor cotton farmer.

"I'm an orphan. But the public has adopted me and that has been my only family," she told the Post online. "The biggest family in the world is my fans."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Our snow.

Here is a quick view of the snow coming down in our front yard the other day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Challenges make us stronger.

So, here we are on Christmas Eve day and guess what?? We are stuck at home yet again due to overnight snowfall. Now, back in WI, a little overnight 4 inches of snow would hardly warrant a second glance. BUT, here on The Island, it is a major event, yet again. It started last night with a few big flakes fluttering out of the sky but when we got up this morning - WHAM! - another dumping on top of what we arleady have. My car is still down at a neighbor's house because I can not get it up our common drive because there is no plan in place, apparently, for snow removal. Plus people have told me that it's not like that many people have plows anyways, because "this hardly ever happens"! If I had a dollar for each time I heard that, or the reference to the last Big One, of 1996, I would be much closer to my retirement fund goal.

Now, in addition to the snow, which is now the heavy wet stuff due to the temps being at or just above freezing, the power went out this morning at around 8am. I called BC Hydro and their estimate for it being restored was 8pm tonight. We decided to fire up the generator and hook it up to the house, which has a special set-up to take the house off-grid and plug into a generator to run certain circuits in the main living area. Hmmm, guess what? The plug at the end of the cord that goes into the house does NOT match the receptacle on our generator!! Figures! Thankfully the generator has 4 regular grounded outlets so we were able to run heavy duty extension cords into the house and up to the kitchen, to power the fridge and a small space heater. Oh, and the hot pot for Dixon's tea. (my coffee was brewed into the carafe at 5:15 am, well before the power outage). We managed to get the fridge going and brew some tea when, at about 10:40am, the power suddenly was back on. Of course you may have figured that out already, due to me posting on here. LOL!

So, the car remains at the bottom of the hill, safely off the road. Power is back on. The generator/plug situation will be addressed, when we can get out of here. Now it is warm enough that it is raining! I am not back to work now until Tuesday, as we were given Monday as an additional holiday and they are keeping that. Hopefully it will keep raining and melt the snow on the drive so we can get the car up the hill. (damn summer tires!)

At least we are home, safe, warm and fed. We are looking forward to a quiet Christmas at home with a few gifts to open. The snow even prevented us from getting each other something - nothing like waiting until the last minute! But of course we have gifts for the dog and cat! LOL!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, for those of you who celebrate that. For those of you where Christmas is not a part of your culture, I wish you a Happy Holdiay, which I will have to read up on. Give thanks for what/whom you DO have in your life, not what you think is missing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

YIKES!




Gee, talk about karma coming back to bite you in the butt!

I've tried to be not too in-your-face with friends and family back in the US, with regard to our mild weather here on Vancouver Island, but now Mother Nature has smacked me one upside the head. Or I should say all of us in the Victoria area.

We've been on the cold side of things for a couple of weeks now, locked into some misguided arctic cold air mass that just won't MOVE! It has wreaked havoc, I am sure, on some of the plants in the garden that are not really set up for frigid temps for an extended period of time. Even the greenhouse, which is not heated yet, has felt the pain of the coldness. We discovered some louvres on the side had blown open and frozen, creating a opening for cold air to just pour in. There are a couple of palms in the greenhouse as well as some Cannas that I had dug up and placed there to winter over. We found it so cold inside that there was frost on the INSIDE of the glass! A few strips of duct tape later problem is solved and the louvres are secured, somewhat. Finally today we had SUNSHINE so I am hoping it warmed up in the greenhouse sufficiently to prevent the plants from freezing out.

Then, on top of the cold, we have been getting SNOW! And quite a bit of it too! Victoria and the neighboring towns don't seem to be too well set up for snow removal so we have to just kinda wait it out, I guess. My car has been down at the main road since Friday evening because the paved road up the hill, that we share with seven other homes, is snow packed and passable only if you have four wheel drive, which I don't. We tried in vain several times to navigate the road and I can make it up maybe half of the first incline, which isn't even close to the house. A neighbor graciously offered a spot to park on their drive down below so we have been there for a few days. We were even home today because the roads were just way too slick to attempt to get to work. There was a lot of melting this afternoon and we are planning on work for Tuesday and hopefully we can get up to the house Tuesday night. There is snow but the tracks from folks that are getting up and down the road have worn down to pavement most of the way so I am hopeful. Now we have to find chains for the cars so we are ready the next time. Although I am told by various sources that the last time they had this much snow here was 1996.

Here are some pics of the yard after the snowfall.

My advice if you are moving here from a cold climate - don't be too hasty to get rid of the snow shovels/tires/blowers. You just might need them when you get here. Even Vancouver was not immune and got hit with the snow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A teaser for some Christmas fun!

You can go to YouTube for the rest of it. I just wanted to get you started!

Hmmm...what do you think?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Food for thought? YOU BET!!

Found this online and thought I'd share. It really is something to think about. I know WE have changed some food habits since moving to the West Coast but you can do this no matter where you live. It's all about being a better informed consumer and making the right choices!

The 5 Dirtiest Foods

How would you rate your food-safety IQ? I know someone who never washes their fruits and vegetables after bringing them home from the market because he believes that they're washed at the store. Um, no. Read on to learn about what some call the "5 dirtiest foods" and for a food safety wake-up call...

****
The dirty food list, according to this fascinating piece I found over at AOL Health include the following:

Eggs: While most eggs aren't going to make anyone sick, experts estimate that more than 2 million germy eggs (as in Salmonella infected) get into circulation each year, sickening 660,000 people each year and killing as many as 300. Um, maybe we should think twice about eating that cookie dough (or, judging by our conversation on Vitamin G, perhaps you'd rather take your chances?). How to buy cleaner eggs? Make sure the carton says they're pasteurized and never buy a dozen that contains any obvious cracks or leaks.

Peaches: They're pretty, but that's just skin-deep. Health experts warn that peach skins are doused in pesticides before they make it to grocery store to prevent blemishes. On average, a peach can contain as many as nine different pesticides, according to the USDA. This is one fruit you might want to buy organic (which may have blemishes, but won't have pesticides). (Here's How Peaches Can Help You Build Muscle.)

Pre-packaged salad mixes: Surprise! "Triple washed" doesn't mean germ-free say experts. Pathogens may still be lurking so be sure to wash your greens before tossing in your salad bowl. (Don't make these salad mistakes!)

Melons: Get ready to be grossed out. According to the article, "when the FDA sampled domestically grown cantaloupe, it found that 3.5 percent of the melons carried Salmonella and Shigella, the latter a bacteria normally passed person-to-person. Among imported cantaloupe, 7 percent tested positive for both bugs." Ewww. Your best bet: Scrub your melons with a little mild dish soap and warm water before slicing. (Stay healthy with these delicious winter fruits!)

Scallions: Blamed for several recent outbreaks of Hepatitis A, and other bugs like the parasite Cryptosporidium, Shigella and Salmonella, scallions present a food safety problem because of the way they grow (in the dirt) and lack of proper washing. While you can't control what happens in restaurant kitchens, you can give them a super-duper washing at home before cooking with.

Other dirty foods in the article include chicken, ground beef and turkey, raw oysters, and cold cuts. Click here to read 5 more.

The bottom line: Don't be afraid to eat these foods, just be aware of the precautions you need to take before enjoying them. Most food-borne illnesses are the result of hygiene carelessness somewhere in the food chain. Protect yourself!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hmmmm....

So, I'm reading other blogs, comparing them to mine, sorta, and I feel like I am SO out of the loop on how to communicate on my blog. Other people either lead VERY interesting lives or just have a knack for describing everyday things in the most colorful way. I gotta work on my technique.

And maybe add some relevant Canadian stuff, as my header above would indicate is contained herein but one has to really search for it.

Crazy day at work today. The Jan/Feb issue of Small Farm Canada is set to mail at the end of this month. I am taking a crack at getting the mailing lists of active subscribers ready to go to the printer. I've only done this once before so I still need assistance. All went fairly well and Thursday the info will be off to the printer, first thing in the morning. Then it's back to normal, for a while.

The weather lately has been cool and gray, temps mid 40's F/8-9 C. Today it turned sunny in the afternoon and got up to 54 degrees F at the house - WONDERFUL! But - you knew there had to be a but, right - the forecast for the upcoming weekend is calling for much colder temps with SNOW in the forecast. Of course that was a Vancouver station, and they tend to get a LOT more precipitation than we do on the Island, so I'm crossing my fingers that we avoid the Snow Monster.

I started to bring out some of the Christmas decor. The mantle is now set up, sorta, and I decided we need a bigger mantle. HA! For a few years we had been buying yearly specialty ornaments from HRC in the US (Human Rights Commission). Sad news, so far, is that I can only find four ornaments - two each of two different designs. That means we are 'missing' 2 or 3 others. At almost $40 each that is not good. I'm hoping they are 'buried' in one of the boxes yet to be opened - NOT left back in the US and off to Goodwill in the Christmas stuff that didn't make it here. One of my Hallmark muscle car collector ornaments also went missing last year so the search will be on for that one too. If there remains a gap in my string of 18 years then it will be off to e-bay. Gee, how I miss e-bay.

LED holiday lights are all the rage here in Canada and at 95% less electricity usage it's easy to understand why. We bought one set last year and it illuminates a curio cabinet all year long. They give off a great sparkle and even after hours of being on there is no heat off the bulbs to speak of! They really are amazing. I think we are off to purchase more this weekend, to outfit the tree. Saves on the electric bill and no heat means less danger of the tree catching fire. Now we just have to find what store will take our old sets in as trade and give us $$ off new sets.

On the LED topic we are searching for LED track lights to replace some old ugly halogen models we have in the kitchen and dining room. Halogens give off so much heat and use so much electricity that we really want them gone. Problem is finding LED track lights. OY!

Even with Winter coming the garden still looks fab - all lush and green with a bit of Fall color on some plants tossed into the mix. I found someone in Sooke that is closing out shrubs for the season and they still have a great selection, and at really good prices. Skimmia is on the top of my list to buy. I saw some in a public garden, in full bloom, and the smell was absolutely intoxicating! Maybe by the front door, to greet the occasional visitor. Our Fatsia Japonica is yet to bloom. The flower stalk just keeps reaching higher but no flowers are open yet. The rhododendrons are looking very good, all setting up buds for Spring. Two dwarf models, near the front door, were very yellow and sad looking when we moved in. I've given them a few shots of Mir-Acid over the summer and they are now a gorgeous green with buds all set to go in the Spring. I guess I'm doing something right, eh?

Thanks for tuning in and please click on the button on the left to Help the Animals.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Some holiday entertainment.

I just found this and had to share! I can not even imagine the amount of energy needed for this, but it sure is fun to watch.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

All is well.

We recently had the 'children' to the Dr for their annual checkups. The first one here, Bitsy, seen lounging in her new favorite spot above a heater, weighed in at a whopping 5.9 pounds and, due to her age of 13, we decided to have a blood workup done for her. The Vet called with the good news that she is in great shape and all the internal organs are functioning just fine. Cats can tend to develop kidney issues late in life and that is one thing that was on my mind. We were quite relieved at the good news that all was well.




The second shot here is of Sydney. She has been losing some weight since we changed her food back in May, to an all natural food from right here in BC, and the Vet has been a bit concerned, especially when you factor in her Addisons disease. Apparently the food is much better for her and has caused her to drop some of what little fat there is and develop more muscle. The medication she is on has worked wonders at managing her Addisons, and with just five little pills a day. Of course that is for the rest of her life but she is very happy and energetic, a far cry from when we almost lost her at the onset of the disease. We just have to make sure she has plenty of water, and no more bananas for her, seeing that they are high in potassium and her system does not process that quite the way it should. Instead we treat her with an occasional egg and some canned tuna, which is high in salt - something she is lacking.


This is a shot I took from the deck just the other day. I got home from work in the afternoon and was just rummaging around the house when I glanced out a window and saw this beam of sunlight piercing the cloud cover and shining down onto the water. Of course I grabbed my little digital camera and clicked off a few pictures. Even with Winter approaching it seems there is always something different to look at out on the water. Most days we don't even see the mountains across in Washington, a drastic change from the clear days that are strung together to form Summer. When we do see across in the Winter it always brings a sort of sense of relief and wonderment, especially when we see all the snow that has fallen in the higher elevations. Better there than over by us, but then again we are just a couple of hundred feet up from sea level so we really don't worry too much about snow. Wind is more the threat during the intense Winter storms that blow in.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

B-day update.

Well, yesterday was my birthday, number 48 to be exact.

It was just a regular workday for me, BUT, I was treated to pizza for lunch, by a co-worker. I've been wanting to try MyChosen Pizza, because their exhaust vent air always smells SO GOOD! We got a regular with artichoke hearts, spinach, red onion, feta and parmesan cheeses. It was VERY good!

Last Saturday D and I were invited to the neighbor's, for a curry dinner. I had never had curry before and was looking forward to a new culinary experience. Jane, our neighbor, did a stupendous job and all the food was first rate! Don't ask me to list the dishes because I can't recall them, but they were delicious.

Sunday I was treated to dinner by my other half, D, at the new Thai place in Sooke - Nut Pop Thai. I've heard mixed reviews, ranging from great to not intense enough for one's palate. Having never had Thai I was excited and I found the food delicious, the staff fantastic and the ambiance very nice. I'm not sure if everyone would go for "We Are Family" as background music, but I was loving it. Reminded me of Robin Williams in The Birdcage.

Today I was treated to lunch at MyChosen Cafe, by my generous employer. The whole office went out, all seven of us, and the fish and chips I had was great. For a belated birthday I was awarded a grand slice of Skor chocolate toffee cheesecake, which just about put me into a food coma, it is THAT GOOD! This cafe has huge protions of food, is very reasonably priced and every time I have been there I have not been disappointed. I would highly recommend it if one is in the Victoria/Metchosen area. It's only about a half hour from downtown Victoria and well worth the drive.

Seeing that it was 50 degrees and sunny today I spent the afternoon planting some Spring Bulbs when I got home from work. I managed to get 40+ grape hyacinth bulbs in the ground and worked in some frisbee throwing for the dog too. That leaves me about 30 taller grape hyacinth varieties to plant but I have to find a spot that is protected from the wind off the ocean so they don't get blown over in the Spring.

That's about it for now - I have to go make supper. Thanks for tuning in and don't forget to click on Help the Animals on the left side.

How about an Apple??

I just found this on another blog and found it very comforting. Apparently it was on Apple's website, leading up to Nov 4th. Of course we all know how THAT turned out, don't we? But we can still show Apple some retail love this holiday season. I know I'd buy an i-Phone if I could, but my cell phone usage is SO minimal that I just can't justify it at this time. Oh well.



"Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fabulous holiday decor!

OK, this isn't totally my idea, but I thought it so clever/funny that I had to post it. I placed the items but it was my other half that pointed out the holiday side effect.

One of the most neglected areas for Christmas decorating has to be the inside of the loyal refrigerator. WELL, we seem to have solved that problem and I want to pass this handy tip along to the masses. If you want the inside of your fridge to bask in a lovely holiday glow each time you open the door, and thereby perhaps putting one in a better mood, just buy a couple of half gallons of cranberry juice and put them in from of the light. You'll be amazed and how lovely it makes even the most bah humbug of leftovers look and it's like looking at a giant glowing Christmas ruby each time you reach for something to gnash on. Laugh if you will but suffice it to say that the D&D household is a much happier place since grocery shopping this past Friday.

Thanks for tuning in to my handy household tips, and don't forget to click on the left to Help the Animals. I'm off to find cheap online DVD's in Canada, and bulk daffodil bulbs (I have a plan that will be stunning!).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Recent pictures.

Fatsia Japonica getting ready to bloom in the shade garden.


The front garden with some Fall color, as seen from the stairwell.


One of the more interesting sunsets as seen from the house.


The 'kids', in a moment of togetherness brought on by sunshine.


The Galloping Goose Regional Trail in some Fall splendor.


Here are some recent photos I've taken, mostly from our yard. The Fall sunsets are so much more colorful than Summer. Today we are in and out of sunshine and it is around 14 degrees? (still getting used to metric) OK, around 50 degrees.

Tomorrow we are off shopping in the city, getting some Christmas things purchased and I want to find a lot of Spring bulbs to plant around the yard, before it gets too late. The ground here does not freeze but the bulbs need X amount of cold weather to 'set up' for Spring blooms. I have rescued a couple of Cannas from the garden that did not really do much this year. They DID winter over in the garden and maybe that is part of it. They are now potted up and resting in the greenhouse, along with a potted begonia from the front porch and an Avacado pit that is rooting! We are still harvesting tomatoes although the bounty that we had over the Summer has waned but there are just enough for a fresh treat once or twice a week at dinner.

I recently relocated some lilies that were in the back of a border, under some large spreading cedars that form a hedge, to a more prominent area in the front of the garden. In the process of taking stock of what I dug up I found many baby bulbs from the large parent bulbs and now have 11 babies in pots, hopefully growing over the winter so I can plant them and have a lovely lily colony in a couple of years. I also recently cleaned out an overgrown bed in the lower garden, which is mostly wild growth of grasses, and I moved a Sedum and some other plants that local butterflies just love, when in full bloom. The plants become covered with light airy wisps of pink bloom and butterflies and hummingbirds just go bonkers over it. It is not Butterfly bush because we have like 10 of those and I know what that is. This is a plant that forms a large cluster and dies back to the ground in Fall but then starts growing again right away. It is also very prolific and self seeds all over the place, especially in the gravel driveway, so I figured the wild garden was as good a place as any for it to establish itself and go crazy.

With the cooler Fall/Winter weather I am doing less outside and getting the bug to do more indoor gardening. I have two Christmas Cactus plants that I got last year for half price at RONA, after Christmas. (the garden center at RONA is really quite good, with a great selection and reasonable prices) One is white and is bursting into bloom now, the other being pink and on a slightly later bloom schedule. There were some leaves that had fallen off the pink plant this past Spring so I stuck them in a small vase of water and forgot about them for w while. They root up very easily and I 'found' them about 6 weeks ago. They have now been moved to individual pots, two, in a potting soil mix and both plants have little pink bus on them which should be in bloom in maybe 7-10 days. I have to be careful what I bring into the house for not only keeping the kids safe from ingesting poisonous plants but also to keep certain kinds away from the cat, who likes to 'nibble'. Dixon has a small palm that I bought him a while back, to replace one left in the States, and if we had it in a public place, instead of the master bath, the cat would be snacking like there is no tomorrow. She LOVES plants with long grass-like leaves and for that reason the Christmas cacti are quite safe - she does not bother those at all.

That's about it for now. Thanks for tuning in, and don't forget to click on the left button to Help the Animals.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Off to prison.

Yes, you read that correctly - prison! William Head prison is about a half hour from our house, and actually a few minutes down the road from where I work. It is on a rocky peninsula with water on three sides, water with voracious currents that make escape about as possible as escaping alive from Alcatraz. Anyway, we were there Saturday evening for a PLAY - Animal Farm by George Orwell. You see, this prison has a resident theatrical group and they put on a play once a year, or maybe twice now, I am not 100% sure on that point. Some friends of ours are 'regulars' (for the plays, not the accommodations) so we thought we would give it a try. The evening was warm, by November standards - about 50 degrees, and there was fog coming in off the ocean, just enough to give the setting a somewhat eery appearance with the street lights casting their orange tinted light downward into a cone shape through the fog. We arrived after meeting at a local eatery, where I had a piece of carrot cake that could have fed a family of four, and stood in line to enter the prison grounds. As we waited I took in the rows of razor wire along the top of the very high fences, glistening in the glow of the lights, the banks of computer monitoring equipment I could see through the windows, various screens showing closed circuit TV images that I could only imagine were from high risk areas inside. We had to sign in, lock up any valuables, which included purses for the women, proceed through a metal detector and the men then had to get the back of their hand stamped with a secret invisible ink, to be scanned upon our exit at the end of the evening, just to make sure you were not a resident trying to walk out with the show crowd. We were then loaded into a van and driven down the street to the gymnasium, which serves double duty as the theater. Inmates greeted us with friendliness and big smiles, wishing us a pleasant evening and thanking us for coming. Inside was a 'lobby' for assembly before you entered the seating area, with tables of free coffee, tea and cookies. There were also tables displaying wood craft projects that could be purchased and picked up at a later date. Most of these were small wooden boxes best used for jewelry or other small trinkets. All were done quite nicely with wonderful craftsmanship and at what I thought were reasonable prices. There were also some very nice wall plaques and stained glass items. Inside was seating for what I overheard to be a sell-out crowd of about 170 people. Dress was very West Coast casual and ages of the attendees ranged from teens to what appeared to be folks in their 80's. Then again I am always a bad judge of age so it could be that everyone was in their 40's!

The play was done very well with good acting and an imaginative set design. No set changes, no costume changes and it was all quite easy to follow, even factoring in that the actors were working without microphones. There was a 10 to 15 minute intermission, at which time you could enjoy cookies, refreshments and shopping, and at the end of the play the cast offered up a question and answer session, which nobody in the audience took them up on, much to my surprise. I find that people here can be very participatory in things like this and quite anticipated hearing an interesting session of interaction between cast and audience members, but such was not to be this night, so we then loaded into the vans and proceeded back through security, scan of secret ink (I passed) and out to the parking lot for some discussion time about what we had just seen. We had wanted to meet afterward at a local coffee place or restaurant but with the location of William Head Prison there is nothing like that around that would have been open when we got out of the play so the parking lot discussion would have to suffice. I found a lot of the lines and situations in the play could have been applied to present-day US policy, even though the play was written in 1945, I think, and reflected communist Russia at the time. Kinda scary, I thought.

We enjoyed our night out, got to see some friends we had not seen in a while, and thoroughly enjoyed the play. It certainly was not something I ever thought I'd be doing but it was interesting and a bit of a learning experience.

Thanks for tuning in...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I could not have said it better myself!

Actually LISTEN to what this man says here. Put aside religion, because that is NOT what it is all about.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Finally!

The American citizens finally got it right - electing Barack Obama as the next President of The United States!

Tonight was a very emotional time at our house. The only thing I can think to compare this to is perhaps when Kennedy was elected - what I am feeling right now must be how people felt in 1960, the year I was born.

May the road to healing the wounds of the last eight years be swift and I wish President Obama the best for his first four years.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Just for fun.


I got this from a friend today and thought it so funny that I had to post it. We need a chuckle once in a while, especially these days, eh?

Un-freaking-believable!!

I just found this story through another blog called The Galloping Beaver.

I am just stunned that something like this could happen! I really don't know what else to say.


Boy, 8, shoots himself to death at Mass. gun show

WESTFIELD, Mass. (AP) — With an instructor watching, an 8-year-old boy at a gun fair aimed an Uzi at a pumpkin and pulled the trigger as his dad reached for a camera.

It was his first time shooting a fully automatic machine gun, and the recoil of the weapon was too much for him. He lost control and fatally shooting himself in the head.

Now gun safety experts — and some gun enthusiasts at the club where the shooting happened — are wondering why such a young child was allowed to fire a weapon used in war. Local, state and federal authorities are also investigating whether everyone involved had proper licenses or if anyone committed a criminal act.

"It's easy to lose control of a weapon like that ... they are used on a battleground for a very good reason," said Jerry Belair, a spokesman for Stop Handgun Violence, based in Newton, Mass. "It's to shoot as many times as you possibly can without having to reload at an enemy that's approaching. It's not a toy. It's not something to play with."

Police said Christopher Bizilj (Bah-SEAL) of Ashford, Conn., was pronounced dead at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., on Sunday afternoon, shortly after firing a 9mm micro Uzi submachine gun at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club, co-sponsored by C.O.P. Firearms & Training.

"The weapon was loaded and ready to fire," Westfield police Lt. Hipolito Nunez said. "The 8-year-old victim had the Uzi and as he was firing the weapon, the front end of the weapon went up with the backfire and he ended up receiving a round in his head."

Nunez said the investigation is continuing.

Christopher, a third-grader, was attending the show with his father and sixth-grade brother, Colin. Christopher had fired handguns and rifles before, but Sunday was his first time firing an automatic weapon, said his father, Charles Bizilj.

Bizilj told the Boston Globe he was about 10 feet behind his son and reaching for his camera when the weapon fired. He said his family avoided the larger weapons, but he let his son try the Uzi because it's a small weapon with little recoil.

"This accident was truly a mystery to me," said Bizilj, director of emergency medicine at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford, Conn. "This is a horrible event, a horrible travesty, and I really don't know why it happened."

Police are calling the shooting an accident but are investigating whether everyone connected with the incident had proper weapons permits. Massachusetts requires licenses to own firearms, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issues different licenses to possess machine guns.

The machine gun shoot drew hundreds of people from as far away as Maine and Virginia. An advertisement said it would include machine gun demonstrations and rentals and free handgun lessons.

"It's all legal & fun — No permits or licenses required!!!!" reads the ad, posted on the club's Web site.

"You will be accompanied to the firing line with a Certified Instructor to guide you. But You Are In Control — "FULL AUTO ROCK & ROLL," the ad said.

The ad also said children under 16 would be admitted free, and both adults and children were offered free .22-caliber pistol and rifle shooting.

Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. It is legal in Massachusetts for children to fire a weapon if they have permission from a parent or legal guardian and they are supervised by a properly certified and licensed instructor, Nunez said. The name of the instructor who was with the boy at the time was not released.

"We do not know at this time the full facts of this incident," Nunez said Monday.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is it me, or is this just wrong???

WHY would the US government have to borrow $5billion to GM/Chrysler when Chrysler is sitting on $11billion in THE BANK, which is most likely what GM is after?? I realize the US auto industry employs a lot of people, but shouldn't the car companies have been designing fuel efficient cars by now, instead of pouring so much of their resources into SUV's with up to 340 horsepower V8's?? (Cadillac Escalade) I say let the auto makers figure it out for themselves. So much for less government intervention. Things are getting way out of hand in the US these days, me think. I wonder if I can get the US government to give us the amount we discounted our US house a year ago in order to sell it??? Hmmmm.......

Treasury working on aid for GM, Chrysler merger


By Karey Wutkowski Karey Wutkowski – 1 hr 24 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government is considering direct financial assistance to facilitate a possible merger between General Motors Corp (GM.N) and Chrysler LLC, a private sector source familiar with Treasury discussions told Reuters on Monday.

The Treasury Department is weighing aid of at least $5 billion, which could include capital injections and government purchases of bad auto loans, according to the source, a financial policy executive who spoke anonymously because the discussions are private.

Emergency financing, at least initially, most likely would be focused on GM and Chrysler and not Ford Motor Co (F.N), which is struggling but still better off financially than its U.S. rivals, the source said.

A Treasury decision could come this week, the source said.

Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported the Energy Department is working to release $5 billion in loans to GM to help it finance the merger. The money, according to the report citing a person familiar with the matter, would come from $25 billion in financing approved by Congress last month to help domestic manufacturers make more fuel efficient cars.

If the world could vote?

If the world could vote?


Click on the above link and see what the results look like. Very interesting.
(I found this through a friend's blog)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Can it GET any funnier???

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com


Follow the above link to find out who the highest paid person was in the McCain/Palin camp for the first two weeks of October. I bet you can't guess???

Just out of sight...

I've been thinking lately about looking beyond my daily routine to discover new things, even small things, that make up this new place where I live. New climate, new geography, new COUNTRY! I've been working for about 2 1/2 months now and, although I love my ride to and from work each day, there are some spots along the route that have teased me with glimpses from the road of something grander, just out of sight. I decided to take my trusty digital camera and do some impromptu exploring during my commute. My discoveries are pictured below and why not try this out, take a peak at things that are just out of sight of your normal routine, yet oh so close. You just might be as pleasantly surprised as I was!

This view is just over a ridge, on a curve that I pass every day, but all I can see from the car are the distant mountains. This is what I can see if I venture 20 feet from the road.



As my route snakes down along the water, not too far from home, all I see is water sparkling through the trees as I pass. I pulled over, walked maybe 15 feet down to a rocky beach, and this is what I found - Anderson Cove.




Another view of Anderson Cove.



A view from another curve, just over a berm that is maybe 15 feet from the road. Usually all I see from the car is rock, dirt and the tops of some small trees. Imagine my surprise when I saw this lovely little marina in Becher Bay.




A close-up of the marina at Becher Bay.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Crazy Day!

I just had to post a couple of things that happened today.

The first was at home this morning. I was just about ready to leave for work, the sky still not quite light with the morning, when I looked out the windows and spotted a flock of geese circling over Whiffen Spit. As I watched they rose higher in the air then appeared to be heading my way, gaining altitude to fly over the hill behind us and on to Victoria, so I surmised. WELL, as they got closer they went into landing mode and they were heading right for the house! I was not sure where they were landing because our yard slopes down a hill, away from the house, and there certainly is not any body of water on our property, something I thought attracted geese. I guess I was wrong because they landed in our lower yard, which grows wild with grasses and such, right next to our shed! I went to a side window, to get a better look, and sure enough, there they were, about 30 of them, just strutting about picking at the grasses and making some strange, cute sounding noises - noises that sounded way to delicate to eminate from a goose, which carry a bad reputation with me. After my initial amazement wore off I thought of how much comes out the other end of a goose, and that they were in an area frequented by us and the dog, so I decided they had to go. I went downstairs, turned on the outdoor light and opened the rear door from the garage. That was all it took and they were off in a flurry of wings and noise and back down to Whiffen Spit. Crisis and dirty shoes averted! My saving grace is that I saved a cute little lizard from certain death the day before as I moved it from in front of the garage door back to the garden, where it belongs.

Incident number two happened in the afternoon at work. My phone rang and I answered, as I usually do, and was greeted by the now quite familiar sounding friendly Canadian who announced that she had seen my blog, was from CBC Radio and wanted to ask me about how we handled the power outage that hit Vancouver Island on Sunday! I told our tale of woe, how we got cut off at The Spaghetti Factory, just as we were about to order, yet were cajoled with warm sour dough bread and tea & coffee. (how did they know I LOVE warm fresh bread??) Forty five minutes later we found the IMAX also without power and cancelling the evening movie. As a neighbor noted today our venture to see The Dark Knight turned into The Dark Night. (groan!) I have no idea if my horrible voice will show up on the radio and drive listeners to the competiton, but I did pass the interviewer off to a co-worker who has a much more colorful voice and who actually had a turkey in the oven at the time the lights went out.

So that is my day, so far. Don't forget to click the button on the left to Help the Animals. Thanks for tuning in.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Part of our Sunday...

We had decided to treat ourselves to dinner in Victoria and The Dark Knight at IMAX on Sunday evening. Our plans, unfortunately, were interrupted by the massive power outage described in the story below. We had just sat down at the restaurant when the power went out. We were served a warm loaf of fresh bread and tea & coffee, while we waited, but at 6:15 decided to call it quits and made our way over to the IMAX theater. We initially were told that the power was out for the block that the restaurant was on but found that the theater was without power also, as was almost all of downtown Victoria. The drive home was interesting to say the least, navigating downtown streets with no traffic signals, but most drivers were civil and taking their time, even letting pedestrians cross when needed. Shortly out of downtown we found sporadic areas with power and when we arrived home all was well, although it was apparent that our power at home had been out for about 45 minutes at the beginning of the outage. We settled in for the evening and have made tentative plans to try the movie again this coming Saturday.

Monday is Thanksgiving and we are having a nice dinner at home. The weather has turned damp, drizzly and foggy so we are hibernating and actually going through some boxes that have not really been opened in the year we have been in the new house. Upon reflection we have a lot to be thankful for: friends and family to talk to, a home to shelter us and provide us with happiness and pride, food on the table, stable jobs in a somewhat stable economy and not much of the financial drama that has plagued the US recently. We really are living in a great place.

Doug

....................................................................................



Power restored to Vancouver Island following massive blackout
Cindy E. Harnett, Canwest News Service
Published: Sunday, October 12, 2008

A massive power outage hit southern Vancouver Island Sunday night, knocking electricity out for about 200,000 customers on the south Island and the Gulf Islands.

The entire region south of Ladysmith on Vancouver Island lost power for an hour because of transmission problems, according to B.C. Hydro.

The lights went out at about 5:40 p.m., as Thanksgiving turkeys were roasting in ovens. About an hour later, power returned to some areas in and around Victoria, although service remained spotty.

Many customers are still without power, said Ted Olynyk, spokesman for B.C. Hydro.

Olynyk said the power company was patrolling transmission lines trying to find the source of the problem. He said he does not know when power will return to all customers.

Traffic lights went dark and police departments and hospitals automatically transferred onto emergency backup systems in Greater Victoria. Sirens and honking horns could be heard throughout downtown.

Suzanne Germain, spokeswoman for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, said the affected hospitals continue to function.

"We have back-up power and the generators kick in automatically. They are up and running and all is fine," Germain said.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Very good news, for sure.

We've been watching the financial debacle unfold in the US, and now the World, over the past weeks and have not been too worried up here, north of the border. I just found this story online and it makes me feel pretty good about things and the choices we have made over the past few years.


Canada rated world's soundest bank system: survey
Thu Oct 9, 2:41 PM


By Rob Taylor

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Canada has the world's soundest banking system, closely followed by Sweden, Luxembourg and Australia, a survey by the World Economic Forum has found as financial crisis and bank failures shake world markets.

But Britain, which once ranked in the top five, has slipped to 44th place behind El Salvador and Peru, after a 50 billion pound ($86.5 billion) pledge this week by the government to bolster bank balance sheets.

The United States, where some of Wall Street's biggest financial names have collapsed in recent weeks, rated only 40, just behind Germany at 39, and smaller states such as Barbados, Estonia and even Namibia, in southern Africa.

The United States was on Thursday considering buying a slice of debt-laden banks to inject trust back into lending between financial institutions now too wary of one another to lend.

The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report based its findings on opinions of executives, and handed banks a score between 1.0 (insolvent and possibly requiring a government bailout) and 7.0 (healthy, with sound balance sheets).

Canadian banks received 6.8, just ahead of Sweden (6.7), Luxembourg (6.7), Australia (6.7) and Denmark (6.7).

UK banks collectively scored 6.0, narrowly behind the United States, Germany and Botswana, all with 6.1. France, in 19th place, scored 6.5 for soundness, while Switzerland's banking system scored the same in 16th place, as did Singapore (13th).

The ranking index was released as central banks in Europe, the United States, China, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland slashed interest rates in a bid to end to panic selling on markets and restore trust in the shaken banking system.

The Netherlands (6.7), Belgium (6.6), New Zealand (6.6), Malta (6.6) rounded out the WEF's banking top 10 with Ireland, whose government unilaterally pledged last week to guarantee personal and corporate deposits at its six major banks.

Also scoring well were Chile (6.5, 18th) and Spain, South Africa, Norway, Hong Kong and Finland all ending up in the top 20.

At the bottom of the list was Algeria in 134th place, with its banks scoring 3.9 to be just below Libya (4.0), Lesotho (4.1), the Kyrgyz Republic (4.1) and both Argentina and East Timor (4.2).

RANKINGS

1. Canada

2. Sweden

3. Luxembourg

4. Australia

5. Denmark

6. Netherlands

7. Belgium

8. New Zealand

9. Ireland

10. Malta 11. Hong Kong

12. Finland

13. Singapore

14. Norway

15. South Africa

16. Switzerland

17. Namibia

18. Chile

19. France

20. Spain

--------------------------------------------

124. Kazakhstan

125. Cambodia

126. Burundi

127. Chad

128. Ethiopia

129. Argentina

130. East Timor

131. Kyrgyz Republic

132. Lesotho

133. Libya

134. Algeria

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Scary stuff, if this is the case.

RFK Jr., Mike Papantonio: "Is Your Vote Safe?"

»

by: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Ring of Fire

photo
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has expressed concern for the safety of the vote in the 2008 election. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

Transcript from Ring of Fire on Air America Radio

Bobby: "There are about 30 scams the Republicans are deliberately using, particularly in the swing states to get Democratic voters off the rolls. These scams originate in the so-called Help America Vote Act which was passed after the Florida debacle in the year 2000. It was originally suggested by Democrats and Republicans but it was passed by a Republican congress with a Republican senate and a Republican president. And instead of reforming what happened in Florida it basically institutionalized all the problems that happened in Florida. And institutionalized a series of impediments that make it very difficult for Democrats to register, for Democrats to vote and then for Democrats to have their vote counted.

"One of these requirements under HAVA is called "the perfect match" and what that does is little known but it is devastating. A quarter of the voters in Colorado have just been removed from the rolls because of this - just this one scam. And what it does is they use a computer system to compare your registration application to all other government records of you in the state. So they'll look at your social security records, your motor vehicle records and any time you've had any interaction with the government and if there is any information on your voter registration that is different than the information on another government record that they find they remove you from the voting rolls.

"Are the Democrats Suing to Stop This?"

Bobby: "No, the Democrats are doing nothing to stop it. In New Jersey, which is a swing state, 300,000 voters in New Jersey were just sent letters saying that they are now ineligible to vote. New jersey is nice enough to actually notify them - most states will not even notify them. And New Jersey intends to send out 870,000 letters so that is three quarters of a million people off the voting rolls in a state that could decide this vote by 50,000 votes. And these are Democrats that are being pushed off the rolls.

Bobby: "Let me tell you about one other of these scams people should know about. If you're a newly registered voter - and of course the Democrats have done these gigantic registration drives - 12 million people on registration - if you're a new voter you MUST include your license or some other state I.D. when you come to vote. What that means is that if you're a college kid (and college kids now - they're sending in absentee ballots - they're not going to the voting place, they do everything online or they do everything remotely - they don't dream of going to the precinct house voting on election day and waiting in a long line) so if they send in the absentee ballot and they don't include a color copy of their license their vote is going to be thrown into a trash can. And none of these people know this because you have had to read the law in order to know it. So there is no notification for when you fill out your registration form, so all of those 12 million people that the Democrats have registered: those ballots are going to be just thrown out.

Pap: "And if Democrats won't talk about this how the hell's anybody gonna know about it? I'm involved with this kind of thing every day - I didn't know that until you just told me. The media is not talking about it. How in the hell is somebody gonna find this out? It's just incredible.

Bobby: "Hopefully - Obama is getting 66 million dollars a month - hopefully somebody in the Democratic organization is going to pay some attention to this before election day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In the US???

In hard times, tent cities rise across the country

By EVELYN NIEVES, Associated Press WriterThu Sep 18, 1:03 PM ET

A few tents cropped up hard by the railroad tracks, pitched by men left with nowhere to go once the emergency winter shelter closed for the summer.

Then others appeared — people who had lost their jobs to the ailing economy, or newcomers who had moved to Reno for work and discovered no one was hiring.

Within weeks, more than 150 people were living in tents big and small, barely a foot apart in a patch of dirt slated to be a parking lot for a campus of shelters Reno is building for its homeless population. Like many other cities, Reno has found itself with a "tent city" — an encampment of people who had nowhere else to go.

From Seattle to Athens, Ga., homeless advocacy groups and city agencies are reporting the most visible rise in homeless encampments in a generation.

Nearly 61 percent of local and state homeless coalitions say they've experienced a rise in homelessness since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007, according to a report by the National Coalition for the Homeless. The group says the problem has worsened since the report's release in April, with foreclosures mounting, gas and food prices rising and the job market tightening.

"It's clear that poverty and homelessness have increased," said Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the coalition. "The economy is in chaos, we're in an unofficial recession and Americans are worried, from the homeless to the middle class, about their future."

The phenomenon of encampments has caught advocacy groups somewhat by surprise, largely because of how quickly they have sprung up.

"What you're seeing is encampments that I haven't seen since the 80s," said Paul Boden, executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, an umbrella group for homeless advocacy organizations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., Portland, Ore. and Seattle.

The relatively tony city of Santa Barbara has given over a parking lot to people who sleep in cars and vans. The city of Fresno, Calif., is trying to manage several proliferating tent cities, including an encampment where people have made shelters out of scrap wood. In Portland, Ore., and Seattle, homeless advocacy groups have paired with nonprofits or faith-based groups to manage tent cities as outdoor shelters. Other cities where tent cities have either appeared or expanded include include Chattanooga, Tenn., San Diego, and Columbus, Ohio.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently reported a 12 percent drop in homelessness nationally in two years, from about 754,000 in January 2005 to 666,000 in January 2007. But the 2007 numbers omitted people who previously had been considered homeless — such as those staying with relatives or friends or living in campgrounds or motel rooms for more than a week.

In addition, the housing and economic crisis began soon after HUD's most recent data was compiled.

"The data predates the housing crisis," said Brian Sullivan, a spokesman for HUD. "From the headlines, it might appear that the report is about yesterday. How is the housing situation affecting homelessness? That's a great question. We're still trying to get to that."

In Seattle, which is experiencing a building boom and an influx of affluent professionals in neighborhoods the working class once owned, homeless encampments have been springing up — in remote places to avoid police sweeps.

"What's happening in Seattle is what's happening everywhere else — on steroids," said Tim Harris, executive director of Real Change, an advocacy organization that publishes a weekly newspaper sold by homeless people.

Homeless people and their advocates have organized three tent cities at City Hall in recent months to call attention to the homeless and protest the sweeps — acts of militancy, said Harris, "that we really haven't seen around homeless activism since the early '90s."

In Reno, officials decided to let the tent city be because shelters were already filled.

Officials don't know how many homeless people are in Reno. "But we do know that the soup kitchens are serving hundreds more meals a day and that we have more people who are homeless than we can remember," said Jodi Royal-Goodwin, the city's redevelopment agency director.

Those in the tents have to register and are monitored weekly to see what progress they are making in finding jobs or real housing. They are provided times to take showers in the shelter, and told where to go for food and meals.

Sylvia Flynn, 51, came from northern California but lost a job almost immediately and then her apartment.

Since the cheapest motels here charge upward of $200 a week, Flynn ended up at the Reno women's shelter, which has only 20 beds and a two-week limit on stays.

Out of a dozen people interviewed in the tent city, six had come to Reno from California or elsewhere over the last year, hoping for casino jobs.

"I figured this would be a great place for a job," said Max Perez, a 19-year-old from Iowa. He couldn't find one and ended up taking showers at the men's shelter and sleeping in a pup tent barely big enough to cover his body.

The casinos are actually starting to lay off employees.

"Sometimes I think we need to put out an ad: 'No, we don't have any more jobs than you do,'" Royal-Goodwin said.

The city will shut down the tent city as soon as early October because the tents sit on what will be a parking lot for a complex of shelters and services for homeless people. The complex will include a men's shelter, a women's shelter, a family shelter and a resource center.

Reno officials aren't sure whether the construction will eliminate the need for the tent city. The demand, they say, keeps growing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Friends.

Out of the blue we receive an e-mail on Sunday from a couple that own a coffee shop we used to frequent back in WI. It seems they were on a short vacation in Sequim, WA, just east of Port Angeles, and wanted to visit Victoria for a day and wanted to see us. So, despite Monday being the first workday of the week, we met them in Victoria after work and had a very nice 2.5 hour visit. We tried the food at Red Fish Blue Fish, (check their website!) right at the waterfront, and it was VERY good. If one didn't know any better they might just walk past this great little establishment, with it being in what appears to be an overseas cargo container and all. But, one would be most sorry for missing it and their wonderful seafood menu. It is all take away but they do have some waterfront seating available. They offer sustainable 100% Ocean Wise* seafood and an Earth friendly Reuse and Recycle system. Dixon and I each had the Grill Seared 'Thetis Queen' Tuna Sandwich with spicy spot prawn mayo, tartar, organic greens and pickled cucumbers. It was VERY good! Terry and Kerri each had Fish and Chips, I think, but I don't recall if they had Halibut, Salmon or Cod. All of us also sampled a side of Mushy Edamame (their version of Mushy Peas) and Tempura Pickles, which are dill pickle spears dipped in a tempura batter and deep fried. That sounds very odd but, with the dipping sauce, they are actually rather yummy. I know Dixon and I will be back to try other selections from their menu, us being seafood fanatics and all. We also wandered about downtown, checked out the Jade Shop and even had some dessert at Rogers Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shoppe, all while enjoying another picture perfect sunset over the harbor, and perfect weather. I had a waffle cone with one scoop of Ultimate Chocolate and one scoop of Bananas Foster, my favorite combination! Kerry had the same but Dixon and Terri sat this one out. Their loss I guess. We then walked around the Inner Harbor and said our good byes as our visitors prepared to board the MV Coho for the ferry ride back to Port Angeles. This is the same ferry we are planning to take to Washington in about a month and we found out that US Customs does not allow you to bring DOG FOOD into the US from Canada!!! How positively absurd! Seeing that we are taking the pooch I guess we'll just have to buy some in the US when we get there. Crikeys!!

Thanks for tuning in and don't forget to click the link on the left to Help the Animals.



Friday, September 12, 2008

12 on the 12th.

I found a new thing on a blog, where you post 12 pictures from your daily routine on the 12th of the month. I thought it sounded like a fun kind of diversion so here goes. My only problem is they are not chronological and I could NOT get the dang things rearranged, so just deal with it. HAHA!


1. Me at my desk at work, just waiting for that phone to ring!


2. The veggie stand down the road from the office, which I pass every day on my walk to get the mail. I got a zucchini today for $1, and it is all organic stuff!


3. The view from our deck at work. It is a bit foggy on the water today so you can't see the mountains across the way, but they ARE there.


4. Dixon's suitcase, after he got home from a week of travel to the mainland for work.


5. Dishes all washed up! The dishwasher has not worked since we moved in and we can not figure out why. I can't wait until we get a new one!


6. First thing to do when I get up - feed the dog!!! She is SO patient.


7. MY usual breakfast - coffee with French Vanilla creamer and Honey Nut Cheerios. Hey, at least it's something!! Sometimes I indulge by adding an expensive banana to the cereal.


8. I glance out at the weather conditions before I get in the shower and figure out what outfit to wear today. Gee, fog again, but it will be sunny when I get to work.


9. On the drive to work. It is 20-25 minutes and I RARELY encounter another vehicle. If I do they are usually headed in the other direction. My kind of rush hour.


10. Well, here it is - my place of employment, nestled in the woods with beach access.


11. A beautiful sunset to end another good day!

12. Frying up some mushrooms to make an omelet for a late lunch, after Dixon got home from his travels.