Pumpkin seeds

Washing pumpkin seeds before the last pumpkin pies of the year from my modest garden.  These were very nice sweet pie pumpkins with rich golden orange flesh, and I look forward to growing next year from the saved seeds.  Just thinking of how many pumpkins the seeds from one pumpkin could produce, and then how many pumpkins the following year…it’s as boggling as counting stars!

I drove to Ontario with my cat.  I was going to stay a month so I had to bring her.  I also brought two passengers from the rideshare board, to mitigate the environmental impact, maybe.  I just couldn’t be a single occupant vehicle for 3000 miles.

It was just during the coldest snap of the winter, when Regina was seeing -35C.  Almost miraculously, we didn’t see one speck of precipitation the whole transit.  And the coldest weather was scuttling away in front of us, or something, because the coldest my outdoor thermometer ever read was -22C. 

My right hand drive caused a bit of a frenzy at a truck stop in Northern Ontario.  A half dozen friendly natives were swarmed around, looking at everything inside, asking questions all at once and exclaiming in amazement.  They were just thrilled.

We drove the north route as one of my passengers was headed into Quebec.  After we left him, the girl and I were sitting up front talking when we passed a big billboard proclaiming “Book Store 75% off” .  We sighed together and looked at the time.  It was just after six, there wasn’t a chance that a small town book store would still be open.  Sigh, alas.

A half hour later, she bursts out, pointing to the right, “Hey that was it!  The lights are on!  And there’s cars.”  I screeched to a halt and whipped a Uey (or the transCanada equivalent), and we went back to it.  Open!  Until eight!  Oh frabjous day!

What. A. Bookstore.  Continue reading

Olympic excess

The fastest, bottom corner of the course

Took a tour of the Sliding Centre, where luge, skeleton, and bobsleigh events happen.  This was illuminating, and not only because it was very brightly lit.  I had to wonder why flash photography was verboten when the lights are so bright, and the luge athletes aren’t looking where they’re going anyways.  They memorize the course, because looking up slows you down.

The luge course is absolutely a feat of engineering.  A km and a half long, a four story drop just into the first corner, and athletes reaching speeds around 158 km/hr and hitting 5Gs.  However, the infrastructure to do this is hyperbolic. A building the size of an arena is for refrigeration- just to cool the course and allow ice to be built.  Pipes for the ammonia coolant run from the building the length of the (km and half) concrete and steel structure of the course.  The entire course is not just brilliantly lit, roofed for safety (so no one goes flying out of the track), wired for electronic speed and start/finish sensors that measure thousandths of seconds, but because the sun can change the quality of the ice, or snow can interfere, the whole course has blinds (not unlike roll-down window shades) to cover the open side, which if needed, will be vigorously manned by a large workforce who will roll them up for the cameras as riders pass, and then pull them back down to protect the precious (hand-groomed! and “spritzed”!) course from the elements.  Seriously. Continue reading Olympic excess

I was expecting chaos, mayhem, and frantic over-budget preparation, but Whistler is ready.  What construction is still on is placid and small-scale.  In fact, the only work-related phrases I overheard were “ahead of schedule, almost done, let’s take a break”, and “totally primed.”  Whistler is almost holding its breath for the onslaught, I think, but it sure seems ready.

My steez here was to find out what my job description was, and to sort out a place for my bro and I to live during the Games.  Done, and not done.  I’ve been chewing through my cell minutes, driving to and fro the breadth of Whistler, studying maps and knocking on doors.  Sigh.  I’ve learned a great deal, and am very glad I made this mission.  It’s invaluable to learn the town so well while I can still drive everywhere and park everywhere, and I wangled my way through the front line of security at the Athlete’s Village to meet the right people and get a sense of what I’ll be doing Games-time.

Accommodation on the other hand… I was parking in different neighborhoods and knocking on doors, randomly- a very humbling experience.  I was forcing myself to knock on the doors of the really nice homes, too, since I’ve learned from hitchhiking that the prosperous are often very nice and generous- perhaps those attributes contribute to prosperity.  People were unfailingly nice to the strange mendicant on their doorstep in the dark, generous with advice, and I got to hear many peoples’ opinions of their neighbors, neighborhoods, and the Games.  Continue reading