Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Helicopter Ride, Part 2

I've just been over to my helicopter-hating brother's blog and had to laugh at his video response to my first Helicopter Ride post.

He writes: "The video below captures my true feelings about flying.Like the ride described by my sister, we are flying high in the mountains above a glacier. Yes, it is pretty. See the beautiful blue glacial lake? Now see the helicopter fly downwards at breakneck speed like a demonic roller coaster that has jumped the track. Now see the man clutching the seat as his heart tries to jump free from his chest. Now see the response he gives the cameraman for filming said event...."

You see, diversity is what makes family so great. Me, I grin my fool head off when I leave the ground. I love that perilous feeling when the helicopter banks and tilts on its side as you circle a mountain-top.

My brother...loves it, er, not so much. At least, that's what I got from his eloquent hand-gesture gesture to the camera-man on his helicopter ride.

Mind you, I don't have to get in a helicopter routinely as part of my job (he's a forest technologist, otherwise titled as the Grand High Treeplanter.) Our pilot (who owns a logging company) showed us some crazy mountainside spots where heli-loggers are sometimes required to land and honestly I wouldn't really want to try to disembark in any of those places.
No, I think I'll just sit back in my comfortable seat and enjoy the ride.

We flew over Mount Washington, somehow looking far less large without its crown of snow and with all its summer-bald ski-runs on display.

We flew over some of the logging areas near Cumberland---it all looks so neat and tidy from above. (It's much uglier from the ground, trust me.)
From our vantage point near Cumberland, we could see Kim's house!

Then we flew down-island towards Union Bay and flew over the log-sort there. We skimmed very low over the water, like a scene out of the old Beachcombers TV show titles, and some of the seals sunning themselves on the logs dived into the water as we approached.

Other seals just regarded us lazily, as if they couldn't care less that a strange metal bird was hovering beside them.

Now we were starting to head for home, back over my town and then....


See where that red car is turning the corner? The house surrounded by shrubbery is mine. It looked so cute from up high. We circled around twice.

The coolest thing about seeing my house from a thousand feet up was that I couldn't spot a single weed in my yard....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Helicopter Ride Birthday Present: Part One

I'd like to share my birthday present from Jeff with you all---a helicopter ride! I love helicopters! (And I certainly don't mind stretching my birthday celebrations into their second week.)

Our whirly-bird belonged to Jeff's boss, a wonderfully sweet guy who flew us all over the Valley this sunny August morning , taking us soaring over the Comox Valley Glacier and beyond......
I took so many photos that I'm making this a two-part blog post. Here we are flying over the pretty green farmlands and beyond.....

Comox Lake.... Everything is so clear and beautiful from the air. The trees look so small. I can see the old road to the lake I used to ride on the schoolbus.

We fly higher, up into the mountains, flying between rocky hills, wreathed in smoky mist. I am reminded that I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

We are flying at 2300 feet, rising up over the mountains toward the glacier. Our pilot cautions us that we might be disappointed at the size of it---it has apparently shrunk over the years and is not as magnificent as it once was he tells us.

I can assure you: I was not disappointed.....
From my street I can see the glacier. It's been part of my daily landscape since I moved to Vancouver Island as a young child. And I've always wanted to see it up close.
It's something so familiar and yet suddenly so new. Life is good.

Beneath the glistening expanses of snow, ancient blue ice shone out.
And the feeling as we crested the face and the world dropped away on the other side is unforgettable.
Look at the colour of this glacial lake rimmed with ice--it was just the most unreal jewel-like blue I'd ever seen.

We swung around the top of the mountain for a second pass over the glacier. Down below, hikers waved and we flew over a group of people camped on one of the exposed rock faces.
It's beautiful--but I'd rather be flying than walking. :)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Undersea Birthday

When I was a little girl, about five years old, my Gran would take me to the Vancouver Aquarium. Not just once or twice.

No, we might go once or even twice a week to stand in the blue-green underwater light to look at the fishes, to be splashed with sea-water at the killer whale show, and to have irridescent butterflies land on our shoulders in the ferny paths of the Amazon rainforest gallery. It is a beautiful, cherished childhood memory.

So last weekend, for my birthday present, Jeff and I left our island Rock (enduring an excrutiatingly long wait in the ferry lineup) and travelled to the mainland. We visited with four long-unvisited friends, wandered the living-room and kitchen showrooms of IKEA, and visited the Aquarium for the first time in many years.
While part of me has worries about the ethics of capturing whales/tropical fish, I still want to see them. I rationalize that there is an argument to be made for the educational value of the aquarium. There is a strong environmental/caring for the oceans message in many of the exhibits displayed. One underwater gallery highlighted the diverse sea-life to be found in our own waters off British Columbia---Sechelt, Tofino, local inlets, coastal microcosms.
The Aquarium also runs a marine mammal rescue program (you can contribute an extra five dollars to your admission price if you wish to help with this).

But I am quite sure that all I really cared about as a child coming here was the sheer wonder of peering about under the water, imagining I was a fish. Fascinated and feeling brave as I watched the sharks swim by...eye to eye with the octopus...giggling at the tickle of sea anenomes in the children's touching-pool.
And that's all I really wanted to re-experience. Thirty years later, my eyes are older but still-wondering at it all.

What would it be like to be a jellyfish anyway? Your body is as ethereal as imagination, you pulse and undulate and float through the depths all your life--what does a jellyfish think about I wonder...I think its whole life must be like a meditation.
And here in the aquarium, I was able to see a little of what Jeff saw when he snorkelled in the shallow Indian Ocean off Zanzibar---white sand, coral and small, brightly-coloured darting fish. I didn't go on the dive then because there was a strong current and I am a very poor swimmer. I didn't want to get pulled too far away from the boat.
"It wasn't so bad", Jeff told me. "All you needed to do was snorkel up-current of the boat and then stop swimming. Then you'd just bump right back into the boat."
Perhaps. But although I'm fascinated by the element and mythology and beauty of the ocean, I'm a little scared of it too. I like the Aqarium much better.
And I love the insights it gives you. See these starfish? When you watch them they seem calm and sedate and almost motionless. But watching the video feed from the time-lapse camera next to their tank reveals that these little sea stars motor all about, crawling frenetically over and about the rocks and each other, wiggling an incredible amount.
And mostly unseen. Unless you're at the Aquarium.

Friday, August 17, 2007


This is me, at work. Why yes, I am a princess.....

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bumper Boats

There we were, bereft of bathing-suit or towels, spinning about a swimming pool in saucer-boats that had two controls: GO and SQUIRT YOUR FRIENDS WITH WATER . Previous plans to not get too wet were quickly abandoned..... favour of an all-out aquatic assault on each other!

Oh sure, Jamie picked the boat that seemed to have more awesome water-volume power---but he simply didn't bet on the power of his friends GANGING UP ON HIM. :)

It was merciless.

And I was just reflecting the other day how I hadn't gone swimming or gotten wet much this summer.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Out the Door Again!

It's probably a sign that this is a good summer---I have no time to blog!

In fact, in a few minutes I'm out the door again to go and play mini-golf....

There's been a sheaf of tickets I've carried around in a little envelope in my purse all summer. At one point I could fan out all the tickets for events I was going to like a deck of cards. It was daunting! (In a good way)

The last two nights I finally used the last remaining tickets on the very excellent Showcase Festival productions of the Canadian set-in-wartime play Waiting for the Parade , and the lingerie-clad musical Cabaret which had everything going for it except for Liza Minelli herself.

As well, in a few short weeks I've attended:

*the entire CYMC musical line-up including the Jazz festival, three chamber music concerts, a student orchestra recital, and a night of opera selections

*Jekyll and Hyde the musical

* the Filberg Festival --one day to look and shop, and another day to see Bruce Cockburn in concert

Friends have been visiting me, and I've been visiting friends, and the summer is somehow nearlygone.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Canadian Mermaid

Mermaid sightings are rare. Canadian mermaids seem even rarer. So I was astonished to find that a mermaid had once been seen off my own Vancouver Island.

Did you know that in 1967, B.C. Ferries passengers saw a mermaid sitting on some rocks in Active Pass near Victoria?

Reports in the Times Colonist newspaper at the time said that the mermaid had long blonde hair, the body of a porpoise from the waist down, and was apparently eating a salmon when sighted.

The brief article on the tourism website also mentioned that a man in an aircraft took a photograph that supported the ferry passengers claim, and the Victoria newspaper printed the picture. Unfortunately, the passengers involved are "no longer available for comment".

How could I not know about this? We Vancouver Islanders have our very own rumoured sea-serpent Caddy ("Cadborosaurus"), we're home to the elusive Sasquatch, a healthy population of ghost-stories, indeed, why not mermaids?

So, I have been searching the internet for the alleged mermaid photo. But I can't seem to find it. My co-worker (an ex- Saltspring islander) nodded when I mentioned the article and said she'd once seen the picture.

How would she describe it? She frowned skeptically. "Well, somebody must have digitally altered it, I guess." Then she fell silent. I guess it looked like a mermaid.
While searching for the picture I came across other mermaids though. I include this mesmerizing YouTube clip for your enjoyment.
It is said that Christopher Columbus mentioned mermaids in his log book during his ocean travels. Apparently he was disappointed. "I somehow thought they'd be more attractive..., "he wrote. I'm sure he didn't see anything like the mermaid in this movie.
Underwater mermaid model Hannah Fraser is about as close to a real mermaid as a human can get. An article on Hannah said that through yoga and breath-control practice she has learned to become comfortable staying underwater....I think she's beautiful.