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Harry

Vancouver Diary XVI : Fall 2007

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Harry

Vancouver Diary XVI: Fall '07

fall05.JPG

Welcome to the sixteenth season of Vancouver Diary.

I trust everyone has had a great summer and is busy back at work. This is the time of year when Vancouver gets down to business in a big way, and one can see it from the upramp in traffic immediately after Labour Day. This is also the time of year when the bears get down to serious eating for hibernation in November. We have not seen them this year so far, though. It is also the season when the clouds roll in and the rain really starts...November being really bad!

Many Fall gardens still have lots of flowers, though, as hinted at by the picture. In this, Vancouver differs from most of the continental Canada, where the flower season is pretty much over. I leave it to the folks in those parts to prove otherwise.

I've been manning the Van Diaries for almost 4 years now and I've now been in Canada for 7 years and 3-1/2 months. So, my own experience with this immigration thing is now highly dated. Many rules have changed in both Canada and South Africa. Quite possibly I do not know anymore what is NOW important to people who want to settle here or have just arrived.

Over this period the value of the rand almost halved and I saw South Africans arriving here crying. Then it almost doubled again and then started slowly sliding again from a Canadian dollar being R4.5 to now about R7 in its traditional style.

Inflation in SA first skyrocketed and then went down to the lowest in decades again...and then systematically climbed while no-one was watching. House prices there had stagnated when I left and then took off in hysterical fashion in the last four years, increasing five-fold in some cases. I did not live through any of that in SA. I cringe at the prices I hear folks now have to pay for stuff in SA. Back, when I arrived in 2000, things cost 2.5 times as much in Canada as in SA. Now they do not differ dramatically. And, yes, this is almost verbatim what I wrote last year this time.

I just know that my life would have been vastly easier in 2000 if SACanada had been around at the time. So I carry on with the Diaries in the hope that they're helpful in some way. I have reduced the frequency of posting dramatically from its orginal multiple times a day. Now it is closer to once a week.

Cretainly, once a quarter, at the start of a season, I ask that folks tell me what they'd like to see or hear on this thread. I repeat that request...again!

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Island Life

Harry,

I compliment you on your sterling efforts with this diary. I have never been to Vancouver, but feel like I have! Before my work moved me up to Canada I got great enjoyment reading your detailed perception of life in Vancouver coupled with your amazing photographs. A picture is worth a thousand words as the old saying goes! I am now in Canada, and although it is not Vancouver I can use your diaries to compare the weather / flowers / views / colours of leaves, etc. to what I am experiencing here in Edmonton, so I say keep up the good work! You have a great photographers eye, and I enjoy looking at your pictures.

THe hardy marigolds in our garden are still hanging in there, despite the handful of frosty mornings we have had lately, but all the other flowers have packed up for the winter. The autumn colours in this part of the world are truly spectacular, and set off nicely against the green shades of the evergreens. We took a drive up to Jasper at the weekend, and to see that combination, along with the backdrop of snowcapped mountains reminded me of why I came to Canada!

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Harry

Thanks, Island Life...the diary gets lonesome at times.

Keeping the Deep Dark Forest at bay

As many folks know, we live on the edge of the deep dark rain forest in Deep Cove, at the far eastern edge of Vancouver's North Shore. The hill against which our house is situated faces east, over seawater!! It is an old fossilised Fjord which stretches some 12 miles ( yes miles) up into the permanently snow-capped Coastal Mountains.

With this situation of our place, comes the reality that we get some 2150mm of rain a year and less sunshine than most places. The benefit is that we see the sunrise through our bedroom window and we hardly ever feel any wind. The downside of all THAT, is that the massive towering forest looms over our place.

As the trees get older, they get uglier underneath and the huge spear ferns grow under them. The problem for us has been that it has proved impossible to draw a clear line for where our property ends and the forest starts.

This weekend we set out to finally remedy that, at least in part, by putting up a "fence". I put the word in quotes, because it is really just a farm fence....a delineator of property. This will make me (hopefully) feel better about not tending to the entire forest behind the house. At the same time it does not destroy the "look and feel"of the place, as a solid cedar fence would have done. We waited until now so that the flowers will have gone down. If I were to try and do any form of landscaping in the graden, my mother would appear as by magic at the bathroom window and then tap on it in a warning if I step on one of her plants (SIGH!) :o...the Flower Police!

I show the "before" and "after" pictures. Problem is, I am sore in places I did not know I had places. All this from lugging concrete bases around uphill and holding landscape ties (those beams) in position while fastening them. Our property climbs 40 foot from the street to this fence! Soos Filemon hy is nie hier nie!

7-09-24fence1.jpg

7-09-24fence2.jpg

And then....in true female fashion...I don't get thanked ( let alone a hug and a kiss) for the fence, but get yakked at for not taking all the tools away from that site after I finished yesterday! Sheesh! My mother never warned me about that aspect of married life(!!??)...I guess I should have asked my dad. :(

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Moonstones

THank you Harry, I always look forward to your photographs!

Agreed with Island Life, the odd marigold is still hanging in there. I have been trying to get some good Fall photographs but the weather has not been playing with.

I will post some of my pics in a separate post. :-)

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Liz

Harry, your photographs are always a pleasure to look at, no matter what time of year it is for the diary! Keep it up!

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Harry

Sunset on the Trees

I just liked the way the sun played on the trees tonight.

7-09-25trees.jpg

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Ingrid Brunkhorst Hurrell

The only thing missing from your lovely garden/rain forest, Harry, is a sign that says: "Beware of bears!" ;)

I love the way you worked the fence in with backdrop of the forest. Looks very natural. Mmm...like a place for Ole' Bear to rest his foot. :lol:

Thank you too for starting the Fall Diary.

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Gordon

Harry, thank you for all your time and effort. It is appreciated................. For me the pictures do it, as has been said elsewhere, "a picture tells a thousand words" I just hope the forthcoming winter will not be as bad as the last! I seem to recall a few months ago that you said that you were considering leaving your current abode and moving elsewhere in Vancouver?

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Harry

Gordon,

I hope to retire in the next ten years...if I can afford to stop working.

However, when we went looking at Vancouver Island I was so outraged and disgusted by their pricing, that I dropped the entire thought. The place is infinitely more ridiculous than Vancouver. On the Saanich peninsula ( where there is actually b-all for a human except a cursory view of the sea) they wanted precisely double the price of a Deep Cove house of similar calibre....also with a view....like ours.

It remains true that Deep Cove is more cloudy than the rest of Canada ( closer to Prince Rupert in sunny days) and we really could use more sun. So, we might still move around the Lower Mainland, but I have dropped the Saanich Peninsula as an option...they're frankly bloody insane.

...I wanted to use half the value of my place when I retire. I will not be able to pay twice as much as I get for the present place...that is 4 times out of my league.

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Cathy K

I have to agree, Saanich is definitely not cheap. It's also not the only beautiful place on Vancouver Island. Why not visit a little longer next time and explore the other, far more affordable towns and cities in the southern and middle parts of the Island? I think you will be pleasantly surprised, Harry :lol:

What exactly are you looking for? Chemainus is beautiful, but rural. Nanaimo has many suburbs that are superb. Ladysmith is a quaint little town that has seen a lot of development in recent years. All of these places are close to ferry routes and to the Nanaimo Airport.

Then there are Oak Bay, Mill Bay and even Nanoose Bay, Parksville, as well as my personal favourite, Lantzville.

Cathy K.

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Harry

Cathy,

I'd like a newly built place, ideally a rancher, that gets sun in the morning and afternoon, with some privacy and some bit of view, which does NOT have to be the sea. I'd like to be near the normal chain stores and within striking distance of a city. Surely I should get that for $450,000 on Vancouver Island somewhere?

Today's picture shows yesterday's thunderclouds hanging over the mountains here. They were replaced during the night by low cloud and by rain this afteroon.

7-09-29clouds.jpg

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Cathy K

Hmm, sounds a bit like our area: Woodgrove Centre (biggest mall on the Island) within 2km, Costco about 1km, Canadian Tire within walking distance, sea about 200 metres down the road......

Price is about right too, although it keeps on rising nowadays. Why don't you google North Nanaimo house prices? Eagle Ridge, Eagle Point, Hammond Bay Road, etc. Prices in Departure Bay might be a bit higher. Westwood Lake and Brannen lake areas are also nice. It's difficult to buy a house in Nanaimo without a view. :)

Only drawback? Vancouver weather!

Cathy K.

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Harry

I'll look again in future, Cathy.

Outside my Window.

7-10-03fog.jpg

In the background may be seen the same tower as in the previous photo...but more close up.

November has arrived a month early. MAy left a month late. It seems as though all weather patterns have shifted south and our summer has been reduced to near zero here in Vancouver. I would not be surprised to see snow in late October this year. Usually it happens in December.

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Adele

With the amount of hail we just had, I thought the snow had arrived! What a downpour we just experienced! Reminded me of those in JHB on a summer afternoon, but somehow the sun got lost and I doubt it will be returning as used to happen in SA!

But the lightening and the thunder made spectacular displays!

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Harry

We had some hail on the North Shore as well...no thunder or lightning, though.

The first snow has fallen on the mountains above the house....winter is early....my words were not even cold.

Summer was a feeble, perfunctory affair this year...sommer snert. I never even had a fan on. It was hotter in April than in summer. What a total bloody disaster.....and now the cold weather is early.

Now we know why the flowers were late...and then rushed really quickly to flower and duck for cover. They're programmed to somehow know this stuff.

Just keep fat Gore away from me....he has a lot to answer for here.

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Groenies

It's going to get a lot wetter here in Vancouver over the next couple of decades. We had record percipitation this last winter and the climatologists predict that this will increase by about 10% to 30% over the next couple of decades. The fact that the pacific ocean is warming means a lot more water will be dropping on our heads as the weather systems meets the coastal mountians here on our doorsteps.

Here is a report with good information on the climate change and projections for the Vancouver area. This will also give SA'ns that are considering to settle here a good picture of what to expect weather wise. I must say that I was caught off guard by just how wet Vancouver is. It can literally by depressing.

I went to see Al Gore speak last Saturday. He was also supported by David Suzuki and premier Campbell. The premier didn't seem to think the oll Al is a fat-whatever. In fact they seemed to be very much in agreement about the fact that serious action needs to be taken. Well that's politics for you. I'm sure that after the show they both got on their private jets and flew back to heir 30000 sft heated homes.

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Harry

The Fall part of Autumn has gone.

Most leaves are now off the deciduous trees. This year the maples in our garden lost all their leaves in one week flat...the fastest in our seven years here. In the picture one can still see some deciduous trees with yellow leaves.

Since I have not posted in three weeks, I thought I'd share a picture taken through the window a few minutes ago, around 9:15am. This is pretty typical for late October....double digit temperatures during the day and dropping low enough for frost on the roof at night, if the sky is clear, like last night....which is rather rare.

7-10-26fog.jpg

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Harry

And so we had quite a windstorm again yesterday...just like last winter/late autumn. We get these when deep low pressures head straight for Vancouver or a little south of it, so that the wind ahead of the low-pressure eye is directly from the south, or south-south east. All other times we are protected by hills and mountains and we do not even know there was a storm.

I happened to look up from my PC through the window at the swaying trees yesterday, just in time to see a blinding flash as a smallish 40ft tree broke off 18 inches above the ground and fell against the power cables. The sound it made was quite peculiar...a bit like a bad welding plant...."krrraaaannngggk!". The power went out instantly, and then flickered on again for a moment ..... followed by another blinding flash and "krrraaaannngggk!".....at that was the end. All power was gone.

We spent two hours without power this time while the fire brigade roped off the street and kept the traffic away from the teetering tree and wires.

Two more trees had gone down through the wires and Cates Park had been hit yet again, just as on 14 Dec 2006.

Ek sien net swarigheid kom! I reckon I should go buy a Hitachi generator and snow tyres. This global warming stuff is junk....ask anyone with a thermometer in Vancouver.

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CharleneK

We had an (albeit cheap) little greenhouse on our deck with a tubular steel frame (albeit thin steel...). The frame snapped like twigs in the wind, and we're looking for ideas for overwintering the frangipanis and lemon tree again.

Climate change? I can dig that. Global warming? Fugheddiboudit! Fortunately, most of our utilities are underground, so hopefully they'll hold.

Charlene

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Cathy K

...She forgot to mention the dozen-odd clivias.... :)

Our fence went during last year's major storm; it was smashed to smithereens and knocked over the trash cans. Pierre and I dashed all over the neigbourhood in galeforce winds and driving rain trying to collect the trash. :)

Cathy K.

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Harry

Yet another tragedy...ai tog!

A few weeks ago our neighbour to the south, and my mother's best friend ever in her life, finally succumbed to cancer. You'll find her picture earlier in my diary ( earlier years).

Two nights ago there was a huge commotion and the fire brigade pulled up next door to us. Over here they are the "First Responder" service because their depot is literally about 3 minutes away; maybe less...about 1.2 km.

Then the ambulance arrived and they took away our neighbour to the north! About two years ago her husband died from a terrible genetic progressive lung disease. He had known it was his destiny.

It turns out that our neighbour had had a stroke and that she had been lying on the floor in her house for possibly a night and a day. She is now stable and out of the Intensive Care Unit and in the Acute Care Unit, stratingthe slow road to recovery.

However, all this brings to mind for me the problems around the Canadian phenomenon of personal private space. If this is the consequence of this social norm, then it is a wrong social norm to develop. We noticed that her lights were on very early that day, but assumed that she had left on one of her early morning walks with the dog, like on the previous morning. In the day we could not see the room lights of the house.

Her daughter came to check that evening when our neighbour did not answer the phone and found her mother on the floor. The daughter should have had our phone number. The daughter should have been in a position to phone us to go knock on the door and check when she did not get an answer first time round. The daughter should have FELT FREE to do that. I have that relationship with the neighbour on the other side.

This is just simply not right. As far as I am concerned, this is the consequence of the Canadian phenomenon of not having "house friends". Right now I feel like walking to every near neighbour and insisting tnat they have my phone number. We obvioulsy feel absolutely horrible and are ripping ourselves apart...which is very stupid, but one can not really do any different. This should not have been. This is all wrong

I reluctantly enclose the photo of the fire brigade and ambulance. I certainly hope no member here needs to live through the event depicted in this photo. On the other hand, those still in SA might like to see the evidence that the emergency services here actually work.

7-11-23ambulance.jpg

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Cathy K

Right now I feel like walking to every near neighbour and insisting that they have my phone number.

Harry, this is exactly what I have done. While Pierre was "bones in the light" during his recent operation, I left the front door unlocked and our neighbour's telephone number next to him whenever I had to run some necessary errands.

I also leave contact information with them when we go away.

We never visit with them, and the only conversations we have are when we're in our gardens, but we know we can depend on each other when in need.

Our sincerest sympathy to your mother and your other neighbour's family.

Cathy K.

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shaun

The old lady diagonally behind use passed away sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning last week.

92 years old with no family or decendants in Canada.

My neighbour ran errands for her whenever she called him.

He was still commenting to me on Friday morning that he has better go and check on her because he had heard nothing from her all week.

When he drove around the block to get to the front of her house he was greeted by two fire trucks an ambulance and two police cruisers. The red cross nurse that comes in once a week had found her two hour earlier. She had died of a presumed heart attack 5 days earliers, alone in this huge big house...this is very sad!

Worst of all was that my neighbour had turned her heat up for her on Sunday afternoon just before she passed away :huh::lol: .

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Harry

Hmmm...Dis Sulke tyd!

We're essentially in the middle of what passes for a "blizzard" in Vancouver. We have "blowing snow". The temperature is at about -1.5C and it is sowing and every now and then there is a wind gust that blows the snowflakes level with the ground.

We'd normally expect this in the frist week of January!!...not on 1 December! What was that about Global Warming again?

Either way, it kept me from taking my car in to have its cracked windshield replaced. This week the crack ran all the way from the right, where there was a small crack ( too large to "paste"), across to the left....very disconcerting to watch this systematically happen as one drives along in heavy traffic and rain and cold.

7-12-01snow.jpg

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Harry

BRRR....!

While the sun has been out all day, and it has not snowed since the weekend, and the temperature has since risen to above 10....and then fallen again with no clouds.....we found that the frost on the deck simply did not leave today. Here you can clearly see the projection of our deck railing onto the deck itself...the frost shows exactly where the sun did not get.

7-12-07frost.jpg

It also shows very nicely just how low in the southern skies the sun really is at midday this time of year.

The temperature outside at 2pm is 2.3C. It was considerably below freezing last night. Most of the morning hovered at 0.5 - 1.0C

I mention all this because it shows nicely what the climate in Vancouver would be like if there were no bad weather and there were no clouds. This picture would be the typical result.

Fundamentally the sun provides less heat during the day than what the earth radiates out into the clear night sky....so we naturally get ever colder in clear weather. Of course our place faces east and so we lose the sun at 1pm tis time of year. So many other places are better off. But the air is the same temperature where they are and they get wind...which we do not have. Believe me, wind in winter is not nice around here.

Folks should remember this stuff next time they complain about the clouds in winter.

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