We have a
community garden plot just down the street from our condo.
The kids like it because they can "Garden" for a few minutes
(watch Mom water) and then run to the playground where they play
without us helicopter parenting.
we had some in-fill planting to do - a new row of Bok Choy.
Helen is very patient - dig a trench, put in the seeds, cover with
dirt and water. We harvested some radishes. The kids
got their hands a little dirty.
Pond Dipping at VanDusen
Last year Nara and I stumbled into a class
of kids doing pond dipping on the zigzag bridge at VanDusen.
The class was full and most of the kids were well past five - the
minimum age. I asked if Nara could participate but there
just wasn't enough equipment. We signed up Nara this year
for the afternoon session during Claira's nap. Turns out
they had attendance issues this year - the afternoon class was
canceled and the morning class was only half full. The
teachers were quite accommodating and it turns out the average age
was about 4 years of age.
The kids did dig small animals out of the pond. Nara got a
small fish and other kids got damselfly and dragonfly
nymphs. They got a few backswimmers. The kids did
enjoy looking at the animals swim in their tubs.
Claira didn't last the whole hour and a half - we needed to go for
a walk to see the turtles and just generally jump around.
One of the two naturalists managed to grab a turtle that was
sunning itself on the rocks (not a very bright escaped pet) so the
kids got a "not to close!" look at a turtle. A duck and it's
babies swam by - the kids had a good time.
With the long days, I've
been trying to do little trips in the evening. I took a trip
out to Jerhico beach to try some long lens work. I didn't have
much luck with anything but freighters.
Last Gymnastics Class
On Saturday mornings Claira has Gymnastics
Classes at the St. James Community Square. There is one
class per season where you can bring a camera and you still need
to prevent your child from falling. Claira has a few
favorite activities - she likes the trampoline the most.
Claira really developed jumping in the last few months and I
suspect the weekly bounce on the trampoline helped a lot.
Claira also really likes the rings and the balance beam.
I'm not sure if it's her overall
favorite, but she definitely looks forward to the stamp at the end
of the class. We all sit in a circle and every kid gets a
stamp on the foot and a high five before the next class streams in
to replace us.
If you are trying to beat the heat of the
city, nothing is better than a glacier fed lake. Alice lake
is just past Squamish - about an hour from our house if the
traffic is good. It's quite a popular destination - if you
arrive at noon expect to wait a while to find parking - we arrived
early and had no problems.
Helen had prepared a picnic lunch in
advance. There is something about spilling crumbs everywhere
and then shaking the blanket to clean up that kids love.
Dragonflies buzzed us as we ate and a band of Canada geese walked
by looking for hand outs.
The lake is an excellent attraction, but
Alice lake has another attraction - a small scale bike park that
is good for new riders. It doesn't take much space to pack
the bikes in the car and the kids had a great time going around
the park finding small hills and obstacles to bike over or
around. I like it because it's a loop - the kids don't get
farther and farther from you making you run after them.
Amazingly, we got in swimming, a picnic lunch and bike riding with
enough time to get home for a nap. Great use of a morning.
City at Sunset
Bob at work organizes the photo club and
sometimes we have photo club outings where Bob shows us how to
improve our technique. I was lucky enough to participate in
Bob's city at Sunset shoot on a Friday night. We started at
the Conference Center downtown - it's really touristy but it does
use the low angle light fairly well. There was a Great Blue
Heron just off shore from the building that took a leap into
flight. Both Bob and I were there to shoot it - I got a
blurry mess and Bob got a sharp image.
Next we went down to Chinatown to get a
panorama of the city from the top of a parkade. At this time
of the day the elevator is locked down so we had to walk up the
stairs. The top floor is leased out to someone (like a car
lot) and is locked off so you can only get to the second highest
floor. From the second highest floor you can still get some
nice views. I just wish there wasn't a squeeler trying to
keep people from sleeping in the stairs.
We finished at the Inukshuk at English Bay (next to the sea
wall). It wasn't really a city shoot (no city in the
background), but the Inukshuk makes for a nice silhouette to use
the dying light from the sunset.
Happy Birthday Claira
Claira's third Birthday happens to fall
on a weekend my parents couldn't come over to visit so we decided
to move it up a weekend. Claira knew her birthday was coming
- we kept telling her "Happy Birthday - no more soother!" and she
seemed to get it. On the Saturday she started asking for
pizza - not her favorite food, but we went out for a pizza lunch
none the less. Then we figured it out - Nara had pizza on
her birthday two months back and Claira thought after pizza comes
cake (the real point of a birthday) so if she pushed pizza, she
would get cake too. We hadn't told her she was having cake
Claira needed a little treat (ice cream) to go down for her
nap. We did got to dinner and Claira did get cake for her
A combination of poor lighting and bad planning
makes this probably the least photographed childs birthday
ever. My bad.
Dragonfly Day (Our Anniversary)
My parents were over, our wedding
Anniversary was this weekend so my parents offered to take the
kids for a few hours so we could enjoy ourselves. We decided
to do a walk at VanDusen followed by lunch in Chinatown and then
Helen went for a massage at Tinseltown. I don't know if it's
the weather or what, but there are a ton of flying insects in the
air right now.
Turns out VanDusen has lots of dragonflies but they seem to be the
same two species. We went downtown to the public side of the
Dr. Sun Yat Sen garden and I was surprised to find a Cardinal
Meadowhawk flying around the pond. This is a very colourful
dragonfly and it kept returning to the same perch making it easy
to take photos of.
Visit to Courtenay
We had originally planned to go to
Courtenay for the May Long Weekend but Helen was too sick to go so
we had to delay. By the time everyone was well and we could
get a day off, a month had gone by! My grandparents are
always gracious hosts and agreed to have us over on short
notice. My Mom was also in town for a day so Claira even got
second birthday cake!
It was actually a trip to Courtenay that
got me thinking of buying a big lens. There are so many
wildlife opportunities in the Comox Valley, I was getting
frustrated at not being able to take photos properly. I
figure trips to the Comox valley can serve as practice for more
exotic destinations to iron the bugs out of process. This
time I got up early and went for a drive to see some hot
spots. Sure enough I had bugs - I had the lens in the wrong
VR mode and I didn't bring bug spray. That said, I still saw
a bird species I hadn't seen before and I had a great morning
walking in the morning light.
When we last visited at Christmas we took my Grandfather up to the
alpine lodge at Mount Washington. It's wheelchair accessible
and he had a good time having team upstairs while we alternated
going out to get cold and coming in to warm up. I did some
research and it turns out the meadow trail is wheelchair
accessible as well. This is a first for me - I've never
taken someone hiking in a wheelchair!
One of the reasons I like alpine hiking so
much is the large number of plant species that are in bloom later
in the year. Many of these species are actually native
(unlike what you find in the city) and they are often quite unique
- adapted for the short summers in the alpine.
We had a good time, but not a long time. I've learned the
hard way - it's better to have a good short day than to have a bad
long day. That and we had picnic plans back at the Ocean.
My Aunt David and Jennifer kindly put
together a dinner for my family. It's been hot in the Comox
Valley so a picnic at the beach really was welcome. New to
me, they arrived in their 1930's Model A Ford - a small sized
truck that has been in David's family for years. It
certainly turns heads - people came over to complement the
vehicle. It's not a big truck, but it had lots of space to
pack a picnic.