Thursday, December 31, 2015


Today is the last day of 2015 and the first day of Tavas' life. Here's how his day went.

In the morning, everything was nice and warm and dark, the way it's been forever.

...but something was afoot. A fool in scrubs was a clue to the day's grand events to come.

Mother was ready in her birthday party outfit.

Inside the party tent, the magicians performed a great trick... and Tavas' made a spectacular entrance to the party.

It turns out all the blue-hands people are very interested in you when it's your naughth birthday.

Trust me, I'm a doctor. Not that kind of doctor... but whatever.

The rainbow sunshine panda measured Tavas' weight. This is the sort of fun fact inquiring minds want to know.

Mother was stuck in the party tent, but did get a chance to wish happy birthday.

Even on your birthday, there's always some kind of paperwork that needs to be done.

Tavas' birthday hat was a hit at first - until he discovered that what goes on, can also come off.

More than one of the people in this picture might be ginger. Sorry son.

Mother eventually got out of the party tent and came to join us.

Happy 2016 everyone - it's time for a nap.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Stocking Stuffers

Happy holidays, Christmas, and anything else you celebrate!

Jingle bells
Lately here in Vernon, everything has turned white. It turned brown for a while, but it's white again now. I don't think anyone around here is going to win anything for betting on a white Christmas...

Due to all the white stuff on the ground, my bike - the one with the big tires which according to our local bike shop owner, I'm not allowed to call it a Fat Bike or a Snow Bike - has been coming in very handy. On Tuesday night I did my first bike ride on groomed snow trails up at Silver Star, with an experimental slide run down a ski run. There was a predictable amount of going sideways, backwards, over the handlebars, and generally getting away with things you can't do on dirt without losing a lot of skin. Fun times indeed. Kal Park is also all white again (as it just about everything), so rolling on the fat tires looks to be the way I will keeping things - unless I get around to going skiing.

During the brown phase, before the white came back, Lina went for a paddle which I just found the pictures of:

Hello ducky
So many browns
Is that some green? No, just greeny-brown
During this period I got around to finishing a project I started months ago, which coincidentally is mostly brown:

I finally got my welder hooked up to something appropriate - the power supply for the oven.
Don't worry - the oven still works, but we can't weld and make granola at the same time.

Here we are - our neighbor in Vancouver's old stairs combined with some stainless rod from Chris' family's cabin roof. Mix together with some electricity and you get shelves.

And speaking of making things, it's getting very close to the time something small and loud will come out of Lina's belly. Whenever we're asked whether we're ready, I find it hard to say yes... but we've run out of things to do to get ready. We are at least feeling ready to meet Junior when they come out - which is now tantalizingly close. Things are about to get very different.

The last belly picture?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The weather forecast

Being a British person I pay attention to the weather forecast. You don't have to be British to be interested in the weather, but it helps. Here's what the forecast says:

That's right - our recent run of sub-zero weather, that has been keeping everything crisp and frozen for the pat two weeks, is about to end. That's going to bring brown goo that snow turns into when it reaches the end of it's life. Yuck.

I've been enjoying the cold and clear days, especially for riding my newest bike.

And then this morning we got what I missed the first time around. Freshies! Ok, it was only about 2 centimeters, but it was fresh snow. I also used this opportunity to test out two things:

Thing #1 - Uphill vs. downhill grippiness. I claimed in conversation at the bike shop that the bike with 5 inch wide tires was good for the uphill but "had too much grip" on the downhill.

Thing #2 - New cranks. Due to a combination of good and bad fortune, I have a fancy new pair of carbon fiber cranks on my Banshee. I broke the fancy pair of carbon cranks I used to have, but I won the warranty department lottery and got fresh new ones. Happy days.

So here are my scientific observations:

Thing #1 - The uphill was mostly nasty, on the fat bike it was fun (as much as uphill can be). The comical sliding all over the place on the downhill was worth it.

Thing #2 - They go around and around. Success.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Crisp and even

Winter! First we had some precipitation pass through BC, and then an arctic air mass set up shop over the province - as a result everything turned white. Fitted around the storm, we made a trip to Vancouver with a bonus stop on Coquihalla Summit for the first (real) ski of the season. The conditions could be described as "intermittently loud", but in between the concrete-hard crust there were some brief moments of better-than-survival-skiing.

Lina chose slow-shoes for the journey, and added to our collection of "tummy with mountains" photos.

The gang

Now we're back in Vernon and things are all white. It's also a bit chilly (like -10 at night)... which means my pump track is the driest it's been in ages, though a little slippery.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Like any good 1960's North American house, ours came equipped with a "Recreation Room". I like the way that sounds. However, the faux-wood paneling and once-shag carpet were not what they had once been and so the finale (for now) of our home improvement was to do something about it.

The theme was decided by using up paint we already had and doing everything else as cheaply as possible. Using office carpet tiles meant I could lay it myself, and it should cope with the boisterous activities this room is likely to have to deal with. All that remained was for me to make a little wheely-base for the slightly weary ping-pong table that's been in Alan's yard for a while and the recreation could begin.

As it was. Sadly the incredible carpet had reached the end of it life (some years ago)

As it is now. Surplus office carpet tiles, surplus paint from the living room, and a surplus ping-pong table from Alan's house.

The new home of part of Lina's trophy collection

Thursday, November 12, 2015


My new blogging schedule seems to be monthly. The problem with that is that my memory-span is about four days - and scheduled to get dramatically worse with the lack of sleep and abundance of things to do associated with the arrival of our first offspring in January. Given that one of the reasons I started writing this blog in the first place was to remember what I had done, I seem to be spiraling into a world of memoryless drifting though the infinite void. You know, that sounds quite nice when I put it that way.

However, let's not give up on me just yet. I have some thing s to say about the changing of fall to winter.

To me, the first sign of the end of summer here in Tropical Vernon was the last night of the Starlight Drive-In. That's right, the famed Enderby time-vortex has paused movie-going in the 1950's and we went there for the last show of the season. It would seem appropriate to have watched something with Grace Kelly in it, but they were showing  Straight Outta Compton, which has a notable lack of 1950's heroines. Still, it was a movie, and we drove-in and watched it. Good times.

Then it was Lina's birthday. We've been exploring pregnancy-friendly activities (for obvious reasons) and decided on an out-of-season visit to Banff for the weekend could be fun. Banff fits conveniently with my "Sphere of Vernon" theory, whereby anything worth leaving Vernon for is approximately 4.5 hours journey away. Except Revelstoke. Our visit to Banff was great fun, dodging tourists, doing some scenic hikes, and happening across a night of music from artists and bands who had been studying at the Banff Center who put on a show.

Lina's Birthday

Then there was a trip to Tofino and Ahousat. The primary objective was the 2015 SUP Surf Champs, which Lina was competing in in the "Mother and Child" category. Just kidding. We were mostly there to watch and enjoy the sunshine (a bit of a surprise there), but I did get out for a few nice rides. Phase two of our trip was to head out to visit friends at this house on a very tiny island. Here are some pictures of what we got upto:

Tofino and Ahousat

...and then there was the Not-Mud Ride. We had an annual tradition of The Mud Ride, but this year things got complicated with the hosting arrangements. So, we took on the hosting of a surrogate - the Not-Mud Ride. There was actually some mud, so that's confusing.

I enforced a strict regimen of bike riding, which was largely successful, despite mechanicals conspiring against us on Day 1 and time conspiring against us on Day 2. Still, we covered most of my favorite trails in Kal Park in two rides. The hot-tub also conspired against us and my efforts to find and fix its leak resulted in the discovery that there is more than one leak, and I can't find where at least one of them is. So, there was no hot-tub. I did receive vigorous encouragement to do something about that, so I will try.

It was great to gather everyone together, so great that I didn't take any pictures when everyone was together. I also failed to make the advertised pump-track challenge actually happen, so there's room for improvement there. Maybe we'll have to try Not-Mud Riding again next year.

Round 'em up, head 'em out

No explanation necessary - right? This is also the last evidence of out excellent (and tired) orange carpet.. stay tuned for thrilling basement renovation news.

Mmmmm... frozen pumptrack.

BREAKING NEWS: Brad took a photo with is phone that has almost everyone who rode bikes in it. Thank you Brad!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thanksgiving in Mazama - we did it again.

Another year of bikes, food, and this year a little bit of snow. 

Full meal deal

Is there a collective noun for flannel?

A "logpile" of flannel?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Last chance saloon

Winter is coming, so the next few weeks are the last chance for getting up into the mountains on a bike around here. We were lucky enough to get a break in the weather (up high at least) for my last venture into the Monashees before the snows come. Fingers crossed for next weekend in Mazama!

I found this nice orange bike up the mountain, so that was useful.

Was the abyss staring into us? I'm not sure how you tell.

Someone filled the valley with cotton wool.

Monday, September 28, 2015

What I do in my free time

When I don't have much free time (like when I'm supposed to be working), I might do this:

...and when I have a bit more free time, we might do something like this:

Glacier National Park September 2015

So now you know.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

You say tomato.

Last weekend was the first Vernon Homesteading Weekend. There was also bike riding, but I write enough about that already, so today I'm going to focus on tomatoes.

Lina was given the task of foraging for 100 lbs of tomatoes before the Vancouver canning (and biking) enthusiasts arrived. The farmer's market is winding down at this time of year, but Lina found half of what we needed there - and the other half was not far away. It turns out living in a place surrounded by farms is useful when you need to buy vegetables. Amazing. Are tomatoes vegetables? I digress. 

The farm with the tomatoes was around the corner, so Lina went and woke up the farmer. There were more tomatoes but some of them were still on the plants, so Lina and the farmer in pajamas went picking. With the necessary tomatoes secured, we were ready for action.

Incidentally, "Lina and the Farmer in Pajamas" is the title of my new children's novel which will be available in time for Christmas and would make a perfect gift for your loved ones.

Not really.

Canning things is a bit mystical to me, but I do have a slightly better understanding of it now. I even made a photo-essay of some of it. We haven't tasted the evidence yet, but they do look pretty.

100 lbs of blanched and peeled tomatoes, in a big bin.

Lemon juice, then tomatoes go in the sterilized jars.

Topping-up the jars with water and measuring the headspace (man).

Squeezing out the bubbles and squishing down escaping tomatoes.

Lids on, and into the canning contraption for 40 minutes.

And another thing... the "landscaping" is coming along quite well.