Thursday, July 29, 2010


Also known as Hardhack and Steeple-Flower, spiraea douglasii is a common native wetland plant in our area. It is the dominant species in much of our swamp, and this time of year it is in full bloom.
Looking down from the observation platform, the swamp looks like a lush meadow sprinkled with bright spikes of fluffy pink flowers. But as is so often the case, looks can be deceiving. It's actually an impenetrable thicket, a thick, 8 foot high tangle of small woody stems growing over the soggy and uneven ground. No frolicing in this "meadow"!

Spirea is often thought of as a nuisance plant. It's a common weed in my flower beds and garden, and has to be cut back away from outbuildings, trails and driveways every year. It's vigorous, opportunistic, and tolerant of just about any growing conditions. In its proper place, however, it's a magnificent plant, and I am really enjoying the blooming of our swamp this year.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saturna Island Wedding

On Saturday, July 17th my cousin Fergus married his longtime sweetheart Svea in a lovely beach-side ceremony on his "hometown" island of Saturna, BC. We traveled up to the island on Thursday beforehand, so we were able to help out quite a bit with the preparations as well as visit with the rest of our family and Svea's. Essentially, we had a three-day celebration of family, with lots of good food, beautiful scenery, and wonderful weather.
Conan had a lot of fun, first with riding the ferry over to the island and then with seeing all the people and reading books with Great Grandma Joy, Mammie (aka Grandma Debbie), Poppy (aka Grandpa Dennis), and anyone else he could get to sit and read to him. He learned the names Mammie and Poppy from his cousin Chloe, they are her names for my Mom and Dad. Conan and Chloe were very cute together, and she learned to say his name almost immediately. "Conawn? Conawn?" she asked, whenever she saw me without him.

The wedding preparations were intensive, as we had to turn the island rec center basketball court into a banquet hall, complete with a tulle canopy and hanging globe lanterns, flower arrangements both large and small, and of course keep everyone on the crew fed and watered throughout the whole process. It all came together seamlessly, a great testament to how much a motivated group of people can accomplish! It was neat to get to know Svea's family from Nunavut by working alongside them to prepare for the formal bonding between our two families. I really only had a vague idea about Nunavut beforehand, so I was fascinated by all their stories of life in the remote arctic.

Conan & Chloe of course didn't do much in the way of wedding preparations, but they kept busy going on walks an exploring the beaches, and cooling off in the afternoons playing in buckets of water on the deck. Cousin Odessa joined them for some play time as well, delighting in soap bubbles and romps through my Aunt Pam's amazing flower garden. I showed them how to roll down the small hill in the yard, which was entertaining for babies and grown ups alike.

After the wedding ceremony, there was a splendid reception, complete with a catered banquet featuring an 85 lb beef hip roasted to perfection, a delicious 3-tier cake, toasting and roasting the bride & groom, an open bar, and finally dancing into the wee hours with a fabulous 9-piece live band. It really was a night to remember! I found myself marveling at the wonder of it all: here I was, dancing in a community gymnasium on a small Canadian island to a rousing rendition of Disco Inferno with family and friends from Japan, the US, France, and all across Canada, including some really remote parts of Nunavut. And all of that while my baby slept in his stroller in the beer garden! Life is pretty amazing, when you stop to think about it.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Zoo Zoo Zoo

Yesterday we went with the Ericsons to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. It was amazing. It was Conan's first time at a Zoo and he had so much fun.

Some of highlights: Feeding the birds in the Australian bird exhibit, looking for penguins in the underwater viewing portals, seeing the Sloth Bears "wrestling", watching the Orangutan play peek-a-boo, and seeing the Snow Leopard mother & cubs playing out and about in their exhibit. The real tigers were sleeping, but we had brought along our own tiger anyway. The Lions gave us a nice show, stalking about their enclosure and evoking many good loud roars from our little guy.

We also saw Elephants, Giraffes, Brown Bears, Otters, Mountain Goats, Zebras, Meerkats, Kangaroos, Emus, and many snakes, bugs, and other birds and animals. Conan loved seeing the animals, although with the snow leopards and the elephants he was much more interested in the big ball in their enclosure than with the animals themselves.

By the end of the day Conan was super tired, but even so he stayed awake in the car for nearly an hour on the way home, happily babbling and making animal noises and generally telling us all about the fun he had at the zoo. It was a great day.

4th of July

Some pictures from our 4th of July celebration with the Ericsons. Watermelon, smoke bombs, black snakes and pop-up pagodas were are BIG hit with the kids! Tombi's grill-smoked BBQ beef and custard fruit tart were big hits with the grown ups. The weather was cool and drizzly, but we had a great time sitting around the fire and watching the fireworks over the rooftops.

Sunday, July 04, 2010


Yesterday we put up a swing for Conan. It met with imedediate approval.

It's a big-kid swing, so for the moment little C needs help getting onto the seat and pushes to help him go. But I expect that with a little bit of practice he'll soon be able to get on by himself, and push with his feet.
He's already practicing jumping off of it, because he's such a little daredevil.

Swinging with Mama is pretty fun too, although it's a bit too close to the ground to feel very comfortable for anyone over 3 feet tall. My hope is that he'll soon become skilled enough with the swing that he can play on it by himself.

I remember the first swing my Dad put up for me in our yard. It was a board and a rope, and I loved it. I would pretend I could fly, and just swing for hours in the warm summer sun.

Update: After I wrote this, Conan and I went out to the swing. I pushed him until he was swinging higher than ever, laughing and shreiking with joy. Then he started saying "Moo! Moo!" I asked him if he was going to fly all the way up to the moon, and he replied with what may have been the most enthusiastic "Yes!" I've ever heard.