Archive for November, 2008

I sleep in until 09:30. Man, it’s sweet. Cass has to force me out of bed so we can go have Dim Sum with Mark and Diane. Afterwards we have a pleasant cup of coffee with them at Bean Around the World.

We drive up to the barn to meet the horse clipper, Ashley. she gives Alli a shave of his neck and belly which is known as an Irish Clip. We then walk over to Seabrook Andalusians (the local rental arena) where Cassie exercises Alli while Otis and I look on.

Now that the horse has been exercised, it’s time to take the boat for its walk; from there we head to Oak Bay Marina, fire up the boat, and head over to RVYC where we have a prime rib dinner that can’t be beat. We bring the boat back to OBM in the dark and then head home. (5 hours on the new engine.)

It’s been a long, fun, satisfying day. For the first time in months I have not required a rest in the afternoon due to exhaustion. Things are looking up.

However, I have to be careful not to get too impatient. Today could have just been a very good day as I slowly climb up. Maybe I had good endurance due to sleeping until 9:30 am? I have to make sure I don’t get discouraged if tomorrow or the next is not as good or better.

“The problems of victory are more agreeable than the problems of defeat, but they are no less difficult.” SWC


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We get up early and go to see a barn. It’s near Heal’s Range off Wallace Drive. I can tell that Cass is liking it. The people seem sane, the little barn is pleasant, the stall and paddock that Alli would have are roomy and the footing in the ring is firm. The turnout areas look like they have good drainage too. We would be one of two boarders at a three horse barn. Cass cements the deal. We’ll move the horse here sometime in January. It’s a big relief. Cassie will sleep well tonight.

After this we go to Reynold’s School to vote. This is a different process than is followed for our federal and provincial elections. In those elections the ballots are marked with an X in a circle and are counted by hand. In this election the ballot is marked with a special marker. You make a line that connects a space beside the name of the person you are voting for. The ballot is then validated by a mechanical/electronic ballot reader which tells you immediately if you have spoiled your ballot. Cass goes through with flying colours but my ballot gets a “blat” of failure. I have marked too many candidates for CRD director so that section cannot be counted. I’m surprised that I have options. I can either get a new ballot and try again or let my ballot go through and the areas that are correctly marked will be counted. I decide to get a new ballot and try again. Success this time. I suppose all those years of education should allow me to mark a ballot in less than three tries.

I imagine there is a need to have a process to allow people to try again because of the relative complexity of the ballot. However, my own moronic attempt aside, it isn’t really complex. If I had taken the effort to actually read the directions on the ballot I wouldn’t have made a mistake.

The other thing that is interesting is that they didn’t really check our identities. We had our passports and driver’s licenses with us but they didn’t want to see them. They just wanted to know if we were on the voters list and what our names were. I actually think they should have been checking our IDs but were just lazy or misinformed.

We’ll be having tea with Rob and Hilary at the yacht club this afternoon. Actually, it’s not tea, it’s Tea. Yes, the Englishman’s meal of sandwiches and cakes that occurs in the middle of the afternoon. How bloody civilized.

“Tea’s proper use is to amuse the idle, and relax the studious, and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise, and will not use abstinence. ” Samuel Johnson

“Mr. Churchill, if you were my husband, I’d poison your tea!” Lady Astor
“And if you were my wife, I would drink it!” Winston Churchill

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Tomorrow we vote for our municipal representatives. The Capital Region District (CRD) on Vancouver Island has a total population of about 325,000… similar to a city like St. Catharines, Ontario. However, St. Catharines has a single municipal government while the CRD has thirteen. THIRTEEN! Thirteen mayors and city councils as well as a set of CRD directors trying to look after central services like water supply and sewage treatment. There are multiple local police forces, including the RCMP in several of the cities, as well as multiple fire departments. There is so much overlap and redundancy that the mind boggles.

This leads to some bizarre inequalities. Some of the municipalities are almost entirely rural and have no industrial or commercial tax base. Problems of homelessness, drug abuse and crime are focused in the urban centres that are represented by Victoria and Esquimalt. We live in Saanich which is the most populous of the thirteen. Saanich has a large suburban population and lots of rural acres too. Development is a huge issue. It’s a constant struggle between those who would like to pave everything and those who would not want anything, anywhere changed, ever.

I have never voted municipally before. However, I am civic minded. I have never missed voting in a Federal or Provincial election since I have been eligible. But I have never had enough interest to determine a preference municipally. I think it’s because I haven’t had any issues. My taxes are reasonable. Our water is clean and even tastes wonderful right out of the tap. The toilet flushes and what got flushed does not return. So, there doesn’t seem to be any need for concern or interest.

We have been election happy lately. We voted federally in October, the US voted last week and BC will vote provincially in May. With this confluence of elections I’ve decided to make it a triple crown and vote in our municipal elections too. So, how was I to do this with some credibility or at least a methodology? I picked an issue of interest to me and decided to vote based on that issue. I am in favour of legalizing secondary suites in residential homes in Saanich. I believe that, properly regulated, they will help provide affordable housing. I decided to vote for any of the politicians that are supportive of legalizing secondary suites. However, this gets a little difficult because this issue has become almost motherhood… all the politicians are in favour of this to some degree. So, I had to examine how “enthusiastic” they each seemed in their campaign literature. This finally yielded a short list and that is what I am taking to the polling booth tomorrow.

I feel grateful that I live in Saanich because I am dealing with 2 candidates running for mayor and 11 candidates running for 8 councilor positions. In the City of Victoria 7 candidates are running for mayor and 35 (you read that right… 35) are chasing 8 councilor seats. There are lots of obvious fringe candidates but still… how can you make a decision? I have pity for the voters in Victoria and have some empathy for those who will not vote because of sheer overload.

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Winston Churchill

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Today is a better day. The sun is shining. I feel like I have a little more energy. I had a massage at the fitness centre at Saanich Commonwealth Place. I got up on the elliptical trainer last night and today. It was exhausting and I had to turn the intensity way down but I feel better afterwards.

Cassie makes me a steak dinner which, as usual, can’t be beat. It’s still a wonder that I only weigh 100kg. Given how much great food I eat and enjoy, 200kg would not be a stretch.

We’re looking for a new home for the horse. It turns out that the exercise ring at the current barn is unusable when it’s any wetter than a damp hanky (this one is wet… this one is wet… did you dry this horse ring in a rain forest… those who find this funny, you know who you are). And now all the hay the barn manager bought for the winter has gone moldy due to being improperly stored. We saw a couple of barns today that weren’t suitable and are seeing another one on Sunday. Hopefully this one will be good. One of these days we’ll find a long-term home for the poor horse.

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I have been quite upbeat throughout my Hodgkin’s treatment but for the past week I have been feeling blue. I am quite fatigued and I assume that this despondency is just the whole cancer and treatment cycle catching up with me. The weather isn’t helping… overcast and rainy. However, I haven’t ever been affected by the lack of light in the winter before. So, I don’t have much to say because I don’t have much going on.

Cassie is doing her best with my current state of mind and is being very kind to me. We both assume this will not last and soon I will begin digging out and climbing up.

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Tomorrow is Remembrance Day here in Canada. At the 11th hour of the 11th month we will commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of the first world war and remember those who fought and those who died in all of Canada’s military history.

This day is poignant to me since my father was a navigator with RAF bomber command during the second world war. He flew 21 missions in a heavy bomber with 625 Squadron out of Kelstern in Lincoln. He was shot down by a Nazi nightfighter in the winter of 1945, captured, and became a POW. In April 1945 he and one of the gunners from his plane escaped and evaded being recaptured until they reached allied lines. And he did all that before he was 25 years old. I know that he was proud of his many accomplishments after his return to Canada: his career as a Doctor of Optometry, his marriage, his children, his place in society and everything else that followed. However, I always had the impression that to him it was all an anti-climax compared to his contribution to fighting fascism in the 1940s.

He died of complications due to Parkinson’s disease just about six years ago. I remember him and his contribution every day, but particularly on November 11th. Cass and I will go to RVYC where they will have a ceremony and a wreath laying in honour of our veterans’ contributions. This all seems more current with the casualties our Canadian forces have suffered in Afghanistan this year.

My father became best friends with the gunner that he escaped with: Joe Williams. Their friendship spanned the decades from the war until my father’s death and included several visits back and forth between Europe and North America. I had the privilege to go with them to Czechoslovakia in 1988 to visit the site where their plane crashed. In 1983 Joe wrote a detailed account of their war experience including their escape and visits to europe to try to see where they had been in 1945. It’s a compilation of three accounts entitled “A Timely Reminder”, “No Turning Back” and “Death of a Warbird, Sequel”. They’re reproduced here with permission of the author. It’s long, but if you have an interest in this period of history it’s a fascinating first hand account.

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Today I sleep late while Cass goes to visit her horse. She comes home and we spend a pleasant morning shopping in Langford. This tires me out so I rest while Cass goes to ride. Afterwards, she comes home and then we go and exercise the boat’s engine. We have 2.7 hours on the engine. It’s just a baby.

The weather is benign, unlike the weather reports. We offer a tow to a couple of young club members who are stranded in their 29er. The wind is almost calm. They can only get enough speed to be standing still versus the ebbing tide. With the sun setting rapidly we want to help them get back to the dock before the sun goes down. Just as we get a line to them, a RIB comes up from the club wondering where they got to. We cast off the line and head back to Oak Bay Marina while the RIB tows them. We put the boat to sleep. 3.5 hours on the engine now.

We go for dinner at Brasserie L’Ecole. We try some Belgian beer. I have a Piraat at 10.5 percent alcohol and Cass has a Duvel. It’s a nice treat in a week of treats. Now we’re relaxing at home. Time for bed. Zzzzzz.

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