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Harry

Vancouver Diary XV : Summer '07

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Harry

Vancouver Diary XV: Summer '07

Welcome to the '07 Summer Season of Vancouver Diary.

summer06.jpg

At around 11:07 am PST this morning the summer formally starts here in Canada. Tonight will have only about 6 hours and the glow in the north will not leave the sky. The gardens are getting some colour and Vancouver is starting to tentatively recover from its worst Winter in living memory and a Spring that had the least June sunlight since 1981. We have truly suffered dismally from Global Cooling these past 7 months.

My job is still wall-to-wall US attorneys and patents. Like I said last year, I like working with Americans...my head relates to their open, direct and straightforward "take" on matters. Being part of a large corporation again is somewhat irritating because all the moves are so tentative. I liked the smaller company can-do atmosphere.

My wife is back on a contract that keeps her very busy this time of year. They always come looking for her from Spring to Fall. My mother is busy with her flowers again now that there is hope of some sun in the future. We truly despaired these last seven months on that subject. The garden took a massive blow in the process, mostly due to sheer abysmal lack of sun, the likes of which I have never ever experienced before in my life. The concrete staircase also blistered to pieces this winter from salt impregnation. So, it has been bad...really, really, really bad. All the locals just shake their heads in disbelief, and disappear from work if the sun is out. I kid you not...I'm dead serious!

Our son is in his fourth year at Simon Fraser University, studying for a Bachelor of Business Administration. Last year this time I gave advance notice of his impending cochlear implant. It was a roaring success and in his latest tests a week ago he could repeat 65% of sentences spoken off a CD in an American accent, using only the cochlear implant. A year ago, the same test was conducted using his hearing aids with the volume jacked up louder, and he got between zero and 10%...basically he guessed most words back then. The audiologist is thrilled out of this world with his performance and he is enjoying music, having hijacked my iPod. Obviously we are awfully thankful for this success. With it, his speech has improved markedly now that he can hear himself to at least some limited degree.

This summer holiday we hope to load up the Toyota Highlander and just drive west to the Prairies and see what is there. The furthest east we have driven before was Lethbridge in Alberta.

12 June 2007 was my 7th anniversary of arrival in Canada. My family arrived 2 months later. We're pretty much settled here now, and South Africa has largely faded from our lives, though it intrudes every now and then.....usually negatively or ridiculously, via the news. I said the same a year ago. Now the news is just consistently worse than before and the sense of despondency it radiates is deeper.

I shall try to continue the diary, but some feedback here and there would be most welcome. Otherwise I 'll have to rename it to the Vancouver Monologues, like I threatened precisely a year ago.

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Moonstones

I for one enjoy reading your ramblings and looking at the photos you post here ;) ;)

I hope to visit Vancouver sometime once I am settled in Canada. Errr - in the summer, most likely. :D

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Ingrid Brunkhorst Hurrell

Yeah, Harry's photo's and informative posts on our area are back!

Thanks Harry. :D

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Alwyn

Great pictures Harry.

The more pictures I see of Vancouver the more it reminds me of Cape Town. You've got all this magnificent nature around you, but all you can do is look at it from your concrete office or while you sit stuck in traffic :)

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Harry

Alwyn,

I can't complain too much of not getting the view. And, yes, the nature is kind of around us here in Deep Cove. Here is the view that the bears have of our place when they come out of the forest:

7-06-21indietakke.jpg

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Harry

Seven Years of Growing

Having been here 7 years, I went outside and took another picture of the side of the house. That allowed me to compile a comparison montage of the "cold 'n ugly" northern side of the house. When we bought it, I was horribly worried about the fact that there was a stack of old firewood lying there and that the stoep in that area was in a bad state. There was also no ceiling under that deck. I slowly fixed all that up and then planted an English Laurel tree to hide those reinforcing diagonal beams. I could not remove the unsightly cross-beams, because there is, after all, more than a tonne of water up there in a hot tub on the deck, together with another 1.5 tonnes of decking material. The beams brace the deck against earthquakes, which would otherwise cause the deck to swing like a pendulum.

This evergreen laurel, which grows like a weed in Vancouver, has now finally grown so big that it has covered the side of the entire carport. I'm trying to grow it into a hedge to be trimmed back.:

7-06-22comp.jpg

-------------Picture 1 : late 2000 --------------------------- Picture 2: late 2002 ----------------------------- Picture 3: today (2007)

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Adele

Harry, I also noticed the growth of the shrub in the foregorund. Nothing in pic 1, but pic 3 shows a fabulously full shrub. Grass looks healthy too. And of course the little trees on the side of the carport which shrub/tree is it?

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Harry

Adele,

the main shrub nearest the camera is an Azalea, while the rest that grows through it is a mix of two crane's bills of two different colours.

The small trees along the front of the car port are "dwarf" cedars. They grow rather slowly, but are "well-behaved".

Behind the azalea is hidden a collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, spirea and heathers. I showed that rhodo in bloom in the previous diary series.

Here is that same azalea a month ago, with the same Rhodo in the background:

7-06-22azalea.jpg

A year before, the same area look like this, looking precisely the opposite direction. The heather was already going off. The rhodo did not flower last year.

7-06-22lastyear.jpg

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Dax

Beautiful azaleas Harry! It makes me feel almost jealous, Azaleas will nevr do so well here where we live in our part of Adelaide - our summers are a bit too hot and dry. We had nice axaleas inPieretmaritzburg, but that is a light year or two ago.

So you guys in Vancouver also have salt rot problems. we have the problem here in Adelaide as well, and in the damper, colder months one have too a look-out for the fluffy grey stuff.

We had the opposite of a cold wet winter here in South Australia. Our summer was hot and extremely dry. It seems as if Australian weather patterns are closely related to the El Nino phenenomen.

A bit of a worry is that in Antarctica most of the Ross Ice Shelf, and just about all of the Larssen Ice Shelf have broken off and driftef away into the blue yonder. It is commonly assumed global warming is to blame. (Wonder if the ANC will blame it on Apartheid? :) )

But the sobering thin is that these shelves acted as a type of brake on the continental glaciers. Worse, there are projections that we can expect changing weather trends in Oz due to these factors on top of general global warming.

Seems as if in inverse ways we are in the same boat on opposite sides of the Pacific.

Already enterepeneuring Kiwis take tourists on "iceberg spotting" trips.

Enjoy th esummer in Vancouver - it is a beautiful city!

Cheers,

Dax

Edited by Dax

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Island Life

Hi Harry,

to hide those reinforcing diagonal beams

That would be diagonal bracing (not beams)! Sorry, I'm an architect!

Kevin

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Harry

Island Life,

Don't sweat being an architect. It happens to the best of us! :)

....and you'd be right of course, but if I said "braces" or "bracing", half our readership would tell me their kids have those on their teeth. :cry:

I took this next shot yesterday in the garden:

DIS SULKE TYD!

It's that time of year again...the foxgloves have erupted all over the place, both pink and white ones.

Don't look now, but their correct name is digitalis purpurea.....yes ! THAT DIGITALIS! Used wrongly it is a deadly poison. Used correctly it is heart medicine, containing the heart stimulant digitoxin and a derivative called digoxin. Mostly the stuff is just called "digitalis". I'll leave it to Charlene to make sure I have not screwed up the medical side here. Those who watch the TV series "House" will remember that it featured on there in one episode.

SO, if my heart feels a bit weak, I'll just go chew the garden a tad. :P (... and then phone 911!!)

7-06-22duckl.jpg

Yes, those would be our South African crocosmia in the background.

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CharleneK

Yep, Harry, you have your digitalis facts right. Crops up as the murder weapon in many a detective mystery as well. (But don't you guys who are being prescribed the stuff by your doc worry, it's safe in small doses...)

Charlene

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Cathy K

I had to get rid of the crocosmias in the garden, they took over! Another South African favourite that really grows well over here (Vancouver Island), is agapanthus. And I always try to find some space for bokbaaivygies (stanley daisies).

The garden looks beautiful, Harry. Did the lots of rain also cause a snail plague over there?

Cathy K.

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Harry

Cathy,

yes! You know, my mother looks after all forms of life....including spiders and the like. However, snails do not count with her...one just sees her charging back and forth in the garden after these endless snails.

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Cathy K

You know, my mother looks after all forms of life....including spiders and the like.

We're kin. :) I hunted far and wide for the correct slug bait. In the end I found Safer's Slug and Snail Bait. It's guaranteed not to harm birds, pets or wildlife (which I hope includes my precious earthworms). Where are a couple of decent ducks when one needs them?

Cathy K.

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Harry

Cathy, that is exactly what she uses.

Learnt that from the neighbours.

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Gordon

Harry, please continue with your diaries. It is always a pleasure to read and see what life in Canada is really about. Your diary makes a welcome change from the other threads which in general have become a dialogue of doom and gloom and tit for tat comments which actually have nothing to do with living in Canada. By the way what happened to your web site with all your photos?

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Guest
Harry, please continue with your diaries. It is always a pleasure to read and see what life in Canada is really about. Your diary makes a welcome change from the other threads which in general have become a dialogue of doom and gloom and tit for tat comments which actually have nothing to do with living in Canada. By the way what happened to your web site with all your photos?

I second what you say Gordon, Harry’s information on BC has been invaluable. Thoroughly enjoyed my visit to BC and Nanaimo August 2006.

:) Regards,

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Harry

Gordon, Lawrence....I hear you guys, and thanks for the faith, but I run sadly out of stuff to post. And with the weather having been pathetic for nearly seven continuous months, the photography has been equally pathetic. After seven years here, it is proving more andmore difficult to figure out what to focus on. After 14 seasons of the diaries it is even tougher to figure out what to post.

SO, if you'd care to tell me what to address, I'd be happy to oblige.

My website is still going. You can find it HERE.

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boeg
SO, if you'd care to tell me what to address, I'd be happy to oblige.

How about giving us a feel for the different neighbourhoods/suburbs: Kitsilano, Richmond, New Westminister, Langley,etc focussing on malls, houses, schools, the things that people see and interact with every day. Its great to give folks going to Van realistic expectations. I for one was kind of blah about the malls, for example, I think Sandton City beats Metrotown (although considering Joburg has zero natural beauty, its not surprising that we should excell at indoor pursuits :o ). On the other hand, the skytrain was just the most fabulous thing. It appears not to have a human driver, is this impression correct?

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Harry

boeg,

Malls:

the malls here do not impress at all in my opinion. Folks in SA underestimate the degree to which SA leads in the retail area. I think SA is much more of a consumer society than Canada. Of course, in SA it is combined with lack of competition. Raymond Ackermann owns way too much stuff in SA.

Nowhere else on the planet will you find stores with 120 cash registers like in SA. I had to take the Beyond 2000 TV team around in SA in the 90's when they made an episode about our technology and, when, I walked them through the front door of Checkers in Pretoria (not the biggest by a long shot), they dropped their cases on the ground and the suave little producer lady was utterly dumbstruck...she just stood there and said "Holy S#!t! Oh my Gawd! I don't believe this. I don't be-LIEVE this!". The Sainsbury people and the French chains all went to SA to learn how to profitably run huge outlets at low markup. I met with them.

SO, no, the malls and shops are less than impressive to South Africans. What is interesting is the phenomenon in Toronto and other colder cities of having the malls underground joined together with underground passageways so you do not have to go outside. Vancouver has pretty much zero of that.

I'll leave it to folks from there to comment

Skytrain

Yes, there are no drivers on the skytrain. It is computer operated, remotely controlled and hugely efficient and useful. I have never waited as much as 5 minutes for a skytrain.

7-06-25skytrain.jpg

Suburbs

Take a look at the pinned subjects at the top of the Vancouver, BC community on this board. We have some bits in there. As for the the suburbs/cities you mentioned, I'd have to rely on the folks who live there.

Here's one about the suburbs: http://www.sacanada.org/index.php?showtopic=2887

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Ingrid Brunkhorst Hurrell

Just to show there are really days when it's warm enough to swim in the Lower Mainland, lol!! :lol:

pool2Musketeers.jpg

Pic taken at our home in Langley-oppie-plaas.

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Cathy K

The steam clock in Gas Town.

636653746_498640c73c.jpg

Ingrid, surely that photo wasn't taken in this June! :lol: I spoke to a 95-year old Nanaimo resident today and she says this last winter and present summer are the coldest that she's experienced in more than fifty years!

Cathy K

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Ingrid Brunkhorst Hurrell

Photo taken yesterday, CathyK. :lol:

Today temps were 25-26 C so they swam longer.

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Harry

According to Mark Madryga, the most famous BC weatherman, the numbers looked like this so far for June up to the 22nd:

Rain on 17 out of 22 days ( and that's away from the mountians where I live)

Temperatures average 3C lower than last year

Rainfall last year 140mm; this year 280mm

Yesterday he forecast sunshine. It clouded over 8/8 ( that is, 100% cloud) around lunchtime!

This morning he swore never to forecast total sunshine again. A few minutes ago he described June as "a washout". When the sun is out a bit these days, everyone phones in to say they are taking a day's leave. I swear I have never seen anything like this.

Here is what it looks like right now. This is what passes for "good" these days. It will disappear this afternoon in a forecast for yet more rain.

7-06-27sky.jpg

We have become Prince Rupert: The wettest place in Canada with the least sunshine.

I think we are at a point where people need to be paid extra danger pay to settle here, because they run a risk of health problems....mental and otherwise. The Government has already started advising people to take more Vitamin D supplements to minimise the risk of cancer. They'll have to increase the dosage for Vancouver. Like the bushman from The Gods must be Crazy, I now look at myself ( instead of Sandra Prinsloo) and feel I see "a white thing that lives under a log".

errr...come to think of it, I do...the house is built from planks.

I'll see what it looks like a week from now when we enter July. But ...for now....

1. It has truly been the most utterly pathetic miserable year since I settled here.

2. Actually, It has been the most utterly miserable year since any of my friends have lived here.

3. In fact, according to some, it has been the most utterly pathetic miserable year in recorded history.

Die eerste donder wat weer Global Warming met my probeer praat gaan sy g#t sien. I frankly don't care if all the polar bears float off into the darned sunset anymore. TAke a movie of it and put it in a museum for all I care. Would it be OK by Al Bloody Gore if I actually saw the sun THIS YEAR SOMETIME?

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