Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fisticuffs on the quarterdeck

Looks like the crew are getting fractious, captain!

Well, at least it gives us a chance to see the decked stern section. Now very close to having a fully useable play structure, with only the waist deck to rib and plank. Still loads of work to do, but everything after that is really cosmetic: side planking, top masts, rigging, and (of course) we need to find a wheel.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Wipdither vb. (intr.) To be in a state of indecision over which work in progress to pursue.

Yes, I'm wipdithering again. Since the last time I suffered this affliction, I joined Critique Circle and got feedback on the first chapter of Ghosts which confirmed what I already suspected: that it still needs substantial work to keep the average reader hooked.

I'm working at it slowly, but it is hard going compared to the comparative ease of actual writing so I started looking for a bit of light relief. I picked up Electrons' Breath again, and really enjoyed what (little) I'd written. I feel a lot more positive about it since setting it aside to marinate, although I'm not sure if I'm quite ready just yet to attack it again. All the same, I've posted that one up for critiquing to see what comes back. I had good feedback on it from the Specfiction group, and have made some revisions since, so it will be interesting to get some different perspectives.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer fun

Once upon a time the summer holidays seemed endless, especially here in Canada where it is usually ten weeks rather than the six or seven in the UK. Yet the summer months seem to be almost over with barely time to draw breath.

Then come the complaints of "but we never got to do..." - fill in the gap with a hundred-and-one missed opportunities.

As a family, we've started making a list of all the things we can think of that would be nice to do, and then each picking our top few and making an effort to accommodate them. Even so, it takes a bit of planning to fit things in between camping expeditions and various summer camps. Last week turned into "check stuff off the to-do list week".

While I was at work (boo...hiss...) Ali took the kids to play mini-golf, and then took them crabbing off the pier at Sidney. First day, they kept catching and throwing back either undersize crabs or females, but they did come back with a bucket of shrimp that someone else had surplus to requirements. The next day, they caught enough good-sized crabs for us all to have a crab salad. Yum. Sounds like there might be more crab on the menu next week too if we're lucky.

Then, something we've been talking about for ages, Ali took them whale-watching. I had to give it a miss (there are too few free weekends left) but didn't mind. I still have fond memories of our wonderful trip from Telegraph Cove fifteen years ago. This was a long-promised treat for the kids.

Saturday evening we went to the famous fireworks display at Butchart Gardens. Given that the place fills up by early evening, the best way to do this is to plan on a leisurely outing. We arrived at 5pm, parking lot already getting full, and spread out a blanket on the grass in the viewing area. We took a stroll around the gardens, enjoying both the party atmosphere and the corners of shade after the afternoon heat, then fetched a gourmet picnic from the car. Live music helped to pass the time until darkness fell. By the time we returned to our strategically-placed blanket, the field had filled up.

The show was spectacular. Not so much for the large high-flying starbursts (which were pretty good) but for the lower-level set pieces and displays.

Yesterday, we stopped by at Victoria's largest little air show. This is one of our annual favourites, so no photos this year but I'm cheating and showing one from earlier.

To round off "things to do", we finally mailed off our Canadian citizenship application today.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Avast behind

And other bad nautical jokes!

After two weeks hiatus work has resumed, and the bum end of the ship is now taking shape. Here is an overall view, where you can see a definite galleon shape emerging.
And a closer view of the stern section.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pacific Playgrounds 2010

I can't promise a visual extravaganza to match David Batista's, but we are back home, photos downloaded, and ready to share.

This was our fourth consecutive year in the Black Creek neighborhood. For the first two expeditions Miracle Beach Provincial campground was great for tenting, but with the trailer last year we were looking for somewhere with hook-up facilities. We struck gold with Pacific Playgrounds, and had no hesitation in returning there for a longer stay this year.

The campground makes the corner between the beautiful Oyster River and the sandy expanse of Saratoga Beach. In the end, apart from walking Gypsy, we only made it to the beach once this time. The river was a much greater attraction. It was running higher than this time last year, high enough to go tubing down the rapids beside the campground. After the hasty acquisition of some proper river tubes, this was our main activity most days.

The river offered things other than swimming and tubing. There's a short trail down the far side which leads down to the headland, where we cycled one day.

And upstream the kids found freshwater crayfish. Tubes abandoned in favor of nets, they eventually returned with just enough to be worth putting on the barbecue.

Because we enjoyed the river so much, we only made two real excursions off site.

The first was to Mt. Washington, and the stunning Paradise Meadows. To protect the fragile ecosystem and keep people on track, they've laid miles of boardwalk. There are lots of more serious hiking trails further up, but we found these short loops of trail more than enough for one day.

After lunch, the kids spotted the bungee trampoline at the base of one of the ski lifts.

Another day we paid a visit to Seal Bay regional park. Walking through the trails one side of the park, the kids found themselves in huckleberry heaven. They spent so long picking fruit that we made only slow progress. On the other side, we hit the trail down to the beach. The path wound down through a deep, fern-filled valley that looked like something from The Land That Time Forgot. We had the eerie feeling that a dinosaur could emerge at any moment.

We were fortunate to have ideal weather for our whole stay. There was a threat of rain towards the end of the week, but it held off until the day after we got home, when it poured all day. Not bad timing. We needed it though. The one unusual meteorological phenomenon we encountered was an evening of smoky haze drifting from the wildfires in the Interior. Hope the rain has helped dampen things down.

Back to work tomorrow. I'm resisting checking email ahead of time, I don't want to know how many hundred unread messages are waiting for me. All in good time. I want to enjoy my last day of freedom.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Current conditions - 28 degrees, smoke

This was the slightly alarming summary on the Weather Network for Courtenay yesterday afternoon.

Apparently "smoke" is an officially-recognised weather condition, something which we'd not heard of until yesterday. But the summary was spot on. The thin haze spreading across the sky was not water vapour, but smoke from the many wildfires burning in mainland BC this summer.

By late afternoon, the sun, still high in the sky, was blood red. When we walked Gypsy along the beach the headlands on either side were almost lost in haze, like a sea mist apart from the unmistakable whiff of woodsmoke.

Another "first" for us ignorant immigrants this vacation.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Homo Imbecilicus

Common name: Yoof.

This shy and elusive creature made a rare appearance at our campground last night.

A nocturnal scavenger, a small herd of Homo Imbecilicus ranged through the campground rummaging through cool boxes in search of beer. They are easily startled, but if you watch quietly, you might catch a glimpse of one of them pissing in the road in front of your car.

A creature of limited intelligence, Homo Imbecilicus occasionally collects and discards other objects such as bicycles and fishing rods, presumably mistaking the tubular shapes for some sort of beverage container.

Their communications appear to be limited to utterings such as "whatever", and "I just tripped over a shoe". However they must have something in common with canines because none of the many dogs nearby appeared to be bothered by their activities.

The species does display some rudimentary form of culture. This particular herd collected cool boxes and arranged them in fetching pyramids as if building shrines to some primitive deity.

Another interesting entry for the wildlife log.
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