Hurricanes and Cyclones

Over the past six months I've been sampling and even obsessing over a couple recent albums. Last year I listened to Jon Foreman, The Weepies, and Kings of Leon nearly exclusively. Over the summer I could only listen to Neko Case's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Recently, we've been listening to a fair bit of Regina Spektor since our pastor preached on one of her songs (Laughing With).

But the really amazing albums are a couple new releases from this fall:

Switchfoot's Hello Hurricane features some electric grinding tunes (Mess of Me, The Sound (John M. Perkins' Blues) and the title track) along with their signature introspective ballads (Yet, Sing it Out). Jon Foreman delivers song writing to the same caliber he did on his seasons EPs and the band keeps the same Switchfoot sound they've built a following on. Gorgeous music!

Neko Case, my music crush for the summer, released Middle Cyclone last winter, but I had to digest Fox Confessor before moving forward in her albums. While her older stuff has a quite a bit of country influence, her new stuff is more alt-folk. Some great new anthems from this diva.


Cold Crank

We planned to leave my sister's house west of Edmonton at 11:00 am on Dec 13 in order to make it to a birthday party in Calgary. Instead, our car wouldn't start.

By brother-in-law gave it a boost with his truck. Nothing.

We tried charging the battery. Nothing.

Canadian Tire tried charging it. Nothing.

So, I have a new battery now. The -36°C temperature was a little hard on my poor little old import vehicle.

- - - - - - - - UPDATE - - - - - - - -

It wasn't -36°C, it was closer to -46°C (and with windchill, it was as cold as -58°C) and it was the second coldest place on the planet at the time.

Bright Enormous Moon

Dec 2, 2009 over Calgary.

That was a big moon.

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

On Amber's birthday, between a tasty brunch put on by Alanna and an evening of delightful food at a Greek restaurant, we spent part of the afternoon at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary with our friends from Whiskey Jack Cohousing. I wasn't too keen on the whole thing since it was chilly and I've seen birds before and they usually aren't around much in the winter.

But the sanctuary showed me! Right in the middle of the city! This gorgeous park on the Bow River with a great path! A full moon shone in the late afternoon clear, deep blue sky. The snow crunched under our feet. And we even saw some birds: lots of ducks and geese heading south, plenty of chickadees and a great horned owl.

And I got to fool around with my camera too. Always fun.

Vinyl Cafe

CBC's Vinyl Cafe presented by Stuart McLean came to Calgary on December 4th. I went with Amber, Mom and Alanna. It was splendid! Mr. Stuart McLean really did well to connect with his eager audience. He gave us three vinyl cafe stories (spiked punch, bicycle, and Stephanie's books), a story exchange story, and a story about his first Christmas away from home. He also presented a couple stunning musical guests: Jill Barber and Matt Andersen (check this New Brunswicker out!). It was a treat! Especially since we had to drive through a blizzard to get there.

I've been listening to McLean's musings, stories, and music selections and guests for about 6 years. My mom has been a fan and introduced us by lending us one of his CDs.

I remember listening to stories about Dave and Morley on the CD in our old Tercel driving from Red Deer to Edmonton.

I remember listening to the VC on the radio while laying on the living room floor with a newborn and rather jaundice Blaise laying beside me under the sun's rays.

I remember listening to the weekly podcasts on my iPod while I tended and milked my goats in Guatemala.

I listen to Stuart McLean on my way home from church now and then continue as I help Amber get a quick lunch ready for the kids.

It is a rare program that I don't find my eyes welling with tears.

Shades of White

Today we had fluffy cottonwood snow fall down.

I enjoy how the snow outlines everything, brings out the geometry and patterns that exist everywhere.

Details of my Daily Commute

8.3 Km One Way
Five Sets of Lights
One Stop Sign
Four Left Turns
Four Right Turns
Five Different Speed Zones
I Pass: 7-11. WalMart. Remand Centre. Youth Detention Centre.

. . . and . . .

Bright pink sunrises that stretch 180° from north to south. Rolling hills covered in wild shrubs and grass that meet at gullies and creeks. Moose. Deer. Coyotes. Owls. Hawks. Crows. Gophers. Geese flying in formation.

Uncle Wolf (1937-2009)

So, I should say from the get go that Uncle Wolf wasn't related to me. Everyone just adopted Wolfram as their uncle.

I had the privilege of knowing Uncle Wolf while working at Foothills Summer Camp for four summers during my university years. He and his wife Bonnie were the caretakers at the camp and lived there for years.

My first memory of Uncle Wolf is as a young Pathfinder at a camporee where hundreds of upper elementary students camped out at Foothills. My counsellors had miscommunicated and our unit was left without any direct supervision for the three days. The six of us pitched our tents and cooked for ourselves (I remember making the french toast). We received a stern lecture from this older man with a thick German accent about not having doused our campfire with enough water. This was in 1988.

From 1996-1999, I spent nine weeks every summer working alongside Uncle Wolf. I was inspired by this man. He offered nature nuggets at the morning programs for the adventurer kids and junior kids and shared his talks with such passion. He always had something to show them whether it was a bird's nest or something taxidermic.

His garage/workshop was pristine. Every tool had its place and you could barely find a speck of sawdust or any kind of dust for that matter on his counters. He kept his BMW motorcycle under a sheet there and I only saw him ride it a couple times, though I know he went for long rides during the off seasons. He also kept a team of gorgeous Belgian horses that he would harness to a wagon - a magnificent sight that no campers could dismiss, not even the blind ones.

Uncle Wolf worked hard too. From dawn until dusk and even after, Wolf was cutting grass, mending fences, fixing plumbing, replacing window screens, monitoring the pool's chemicals, securing ropes down at Sherwood Forest, and doing anything we asked him to. I remember him making a grand set piece for a weekly play I produced: a three sided rotating backdrop on wheels.

He had his flaws, certainly. Anyone who worked with him knew how stubborn he was and how angry he could get. But these incongruent characteristics didn't outshine his passion for God, life, nature, kids, and his wife.

The last time I saw Wolf, I was at a wedding of two former camp counsellors. He and Bonnie sat across from me and we had some good laughs. That was over nine years ago. I was thinking this past summer how I should track Uncle Wolf and Auntie Bonnie down and pay them a visit, but time rolled by too quickly.

Wolfram Hackenberg passed away rather quickly after succumbing to an infection in mid-November. I attended his memorial service at Foothills Camp and sat among former camp staff as we heard details of a man we loved who was born in Germany just prior to the Second World War, who only really knew his father when he returned from the war, who escaped with his family from East Germany through Check Point Charlie to the West, who immigrated to Canada as a young man and worked in the trades all across the continent, who dedicated his life to God and service to Him.

I raise my glass to you my dear friend. Until we meet again.


Koujibouguac National Park

Located on the northern end of the Northumberland Strait, Koujibouguac is a gorgeous collection of dunes, beaches, and coastal forest. I hadn't visited the park since childhood before returning in 2001, probably almost 20 years later, but I could still remember the boardwalks and dunes.

This past summer I took my family there (Amber, my papa, and my two kids). It was fantastic! Because at this point of the New Brunswick coast, P.E.I. doesn't form a barrier to the ocean, the waves crash harder than where we normally go to the beach (in Cap-Pelé).

Blaise and Acadia had fun in the waves (Papa and I did too). Amber enjoyed the sun under 20 mL of sunscreen. We all enjoyed a beautiful time at a preserved and protected beach.